Add a breathtaking pergola to your deck

If you're looking to increase your enjoyment of the outdoor space surrounding your home, why not consider adding a pergola to your deck or patio It adds value to your home, sets off a portion of your property in a stylish and useful way and allows you to enjoy life in the fresh air.

What's a pergola?

While everyone is familiar with a deck, a pergola is perhaps lesser well known. As defined by A Dictionary of Architecture, a pergola is "a covered walk in a garden, usually formed by a double row of posts or pillars with joists above and covered with climbing plants." Pergolas have been constructed at least as far back as the 12th century B.C.

To put pergolas in simpler and more modern terms, they usually consist of four freestanding posts supporting an open-style roof, most commonly formed from a series of crossbeams. Like decks, pergolas you can also attach them to the side of a home. The name, in fact, comes from the Latin pergula, meaning projection, as they used to jut out from garden walls in Roman gardens.

Landscape and use considerations

Deciding whether to build a pergola depends on your property and your needs. If you're looking to create usable outdoor space away from the home, a pergola might be a good idea, but you need to be sure that you have a flat enough portion of land on which to construct it. More hilly terrains might benefit from either a freestanding or attached deck, which can be made level regardless of the ground beneath them.

A pergola primarily provides shade, typically by means of climbing plants that wind themselves through the slats in the roof to create an arbor. If you have a yard that doesn't benefit from much shade, a pergola would be of great value. Likewise, a pergola attached to the side of your house and shaded with plants or durable outdoor fabric can create a haven from the heat as well as serve as a dramatic design element.

Unless you build a platform beneath a pergola, realize that anything you place beneath it will be sitting directly on the ground, so buy yard furniture that wouldn't corrode from moisture or poke into the ground.

Cost considerations

Pergolas can be relatively simple affairs or grand constructions full of embellishments. Of course, your cost will vary depending on how you design it. Unlike decks that typically require building permits, need to be installed by a contractor and require the installation of special footings, you simply place most pergolas on the ground. You can also buy pergola kits that provide an economical, do-it-yourself way to add some shade and structure to your yard.

If you're already building a deck, why not place a pergola on top of it? While adding to the cost of your project, you'll get the best of both worlds: an open space in which to enjoy the outdoors, with the style, sun-shielding and plant-growing benefits of a dramatic roof.

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