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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

How to Accentuate Your Outdoor Living Space With a Pergola

Posted by Worthington Millwork on 11/29/18 5:00 AM

Wood Columns 1One of the most varied and creative options for enhancing your property's landscape is the pergola. The definition of this outdoor living beauty is simple: An open-roof gazebo with slats across the top. From there, though, pergolas offer endless opportunities for personal expression.


A pergola can accentuate spaces that are casual or elaborate, commercial or residential, simple and natural or oh-so-elegant. You can construct a pergola as a DIY project, or buy a pergola system that comes with its own installation kit to complete yourself or install with a professional's help. A pro can also design the look from the first Tuscan column to the final tendril of your old-fashioned rose canopy on top.

What's probably most important is to enjoy yourself throughout the design and selection process, just like you'll enjoy this visual focal point for years to come.

But before you fall in love with a given design (and it's easy to do!), make sure to follow these tips for choosing the pergola that's going to work with your space, budget and style:

Choose Your Spot

It's hard to slow down and think, "where would we put this?" when you catch your first glimpse of a Tuscan-style pergola with its dramatic columns or a simple wood version with alluring trailing vines serving as a focal point at a local arboretum.

But it's essential to know where it will go before you purchase a pergola or even hire someone to design and install it for you. Some good ideas to start with include a walkway in need of a cover, a corner of the garden crying out for an architectural element, an entrance to an existing seating arrangement in an outdoor living space, or a covering for a gathering area on your side or back yard.

If you plan for a flower- or vine-covered pergola, consider only spaces where the plants can get the sun they need or meet any other growing conditions. Some vines don't do well in breezy areas, for example, while some tropical vines or roses really appreciate full sun.

And while some pergolas lean against a wall of a home or business, you'll usually need a flat area where you can provide enough support for the structure to stand on its own.

Make Sure You Have Enough Room

Once you've decided a pergola would look lovely leading to the boat dock or covering the picnic area near your fire pit, or any number of other options, make sure the design you have in mind will fit there. To give you an idea, Worthington Millwork pergola system options include 8-foot and 10-foot wide options, but also include custom pergola systems in designs and sizes that fit most any space you might want to accentuate with a pergola.

When you're determining how much space a pergola will require, make sure to account for any nearby trees that may grow larger and eventually block the pergola from view (or make it hard to reach), along with space needed to reach the pergola for tending any vines or to sit down in the space it covers.

Choose Your Degree of Shade

While a pergola is not an architectural element that's meant to provide shelter from wind or rain, it can cast shade. Your decision is, how much?

If you plan to dine beneath the pergola, you might want to choose the fastest-growing shade-providing vines to be able to enjoy the structure all summer long. On the other hand, some pergolas that are part of a garden with other sun-seeking plants below might be best with the slats left open so the sun can shine below.

A few twists on the pergola theme add shade beyond what vines growing up the pergola will provide. Cladded pergolas, for example, involve cloth, steel, plastic or PVC cladding beneath the slats to block sun. Some gabled pergolas that have triangular roofs like a typical home that can be clad with a shade material, or feature only the open slats of a traditional pergola.

DIY or Hired Designer?

The same way pergolas offer lots of ways of adding visual interest, there are many options for making your dream design a reality. Options include completing the entire pergola as a DIY project, hiring a professional to design and build it, or buying a pergola system and making it your own with greenery and placement.

However you proceed, it's important to plan a pergola that matches your property's design and complements the materials you've already used in landscaping and outdoor living spaces.

And since you'll want the pergola to last a good, long time, you'll want to make sure either unique designs or pre-purchased systems are durable and viable for the long haul. Worthington Millwork standard and premium pergola systems, for example, offer a 25-year warranty.

For Pergolas That Pop

Worthington Millwork is an "all in one place" resource for high-end architectural products for a pergola or numerous other outdoor living projects. We offer an extensive array of pergola systems in standard and premium styles, along with custom pergola options. We're happy to advise or help you browse and you can also shop our architectural elements online. Get in touch with us today and let's get started.

Topics: Pergolas, Fiberglass columns

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