What is a Garden Pergola?

Nadia Miller
Nadia Miller
A garden pergola is often used as a cover for outdoor seating.
A garden pergola is often used as a cover for outdoor seating.

A garden pergola is an open-framed outdoor structure that can be used as a decorative way to display climbing plants or as a way to shade an outdoor seating area. Pergolas are traditionally made of wood, but are commonly made of aluminum or other materials that resemble wood. These non-natural materials are more weather resistant and require less maintenance than their wood counterparts. A garden pergola can be large enough to walk through or a small decorative piece meant to enhance a garden.

In designing a garden or other outdoor landscape, a garden pergola can be a prominent feature. Whether the designer is looking to create a focal point or a seating area, a pergola can help. The height, texture, and color can all enhance and create a special space. Pergolas generally have four posts that act as legs and an open-framed top. The smaller, decorative structures may have lattices on two of the sides, while the larger covers tend to have open sides and decorative posts.

When used as a focal point for climbing plants, a garden pergola can either sit off to the side of a yard or as a structure that crosses a path. In the case of a path, the top of the pergola is either arched or flat, with enough height for an average-sized adult to be able to pass through. Some have planter boxes on the sides where vines or other climbing plants can be housed. Others will have plants growing from the ground around them that eventually climb up the posts.

A garden pergola used as a cover for outdoor seating can be very different. First, styles will vary depending on the type of house or garden where it sits. The posts and beams generally have some sort of overlapping pattern that creates shade. Also, there is a lot of room to customize this sort of structure, either with paint color or the furniture beneath it.

The use of a garden pergola can help create an outdoor room in a warm climate. The structure can be permanent with the posts poured into a foundation or temporary where the pergola sits on a concrete slab or other outdoor surface. The open nature of the pergola can add interest and shade without being overwhelming to a space. Also known as a patio cover, a garden pergola can help define an entertaining area. Pergolas can come in a variety of styles that may have Asian, Greek, Spanish, or Cape Cod features.

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    • A garden pergola is often used as a cover for outdoor seating.
      A garden pergola is often used as a cover for outdoor seating.