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What’s a Pergola and Why Do I Want One in My Yard?

You already know about decks, gazebos, sun shades, awnings, and various other attachments and amenities for your home. Maybe your property already features one or several of these. Maybe you’ve seen the neighbors enjoying a deck or gazebo, and you’re considering the pros and cons of investing in something like that for your own property.

But a Pergola? For many people, this is a new piece of vocabulary. Even if they’re vaguely aware of what a pergola is, they might not really understand the difference between a pergola and a gazebo, or even an outdoor deck. And they probably understand even less why they should want a pergola on their property, or whether it would even be worth the investment.

Let’s start with the obvious: What is a pergola?

Pergola with patio area

A pergola is essentially a custom-built outdoor structure of columns, a grid of beams, or rafters over the top. Most pergolas are intended to be a support structure for plants and vines, adding a natural aesthetic and increased privacy. Sometimes the roofing grid is left completely open to provide partial shade and protection; other times it’s completely covered in plants or other materials, offering full shade. It depends on the desired effect and functionality.

Some pergolas are attached to the home and others are freestanding. In terms of material, they’re most often constructed out of wood, aluminum, or even vinyl. Prefabricated pergola “kits” are widely available in home goods stores, while custom pergolas are designed and built by qualified contractors.

Now on to the next obvious question: Why do people invest in pergolas?

With an average cost between $2,000 and $5,000, building a pergola isn’t the biggest investment you’ll ever make as a homeowner—but it’s still a substantial amount of money. You want to be sure you’re going to use something like that, and that it will help your property value.

A well-built pergola not only provides a stunning aesthetic feature when viewed from the street, yard, or any exterior location. It’s also a way to seamlessly blend your home with the natural environment, providing a valuable “transitionary” element between indoor and outdoor spaces. Many homeowners use pergolas for al fresco dining and entertaining. Others use them as a space to cultivate herbs and plants or build them directly over a rock pond or other landscaping features. The possibilities are virtually endless. Most homeowners go with a relatively simple design, while others go for a more complicated pergola, such as one with an integrated fireplace.

Seeing is believing

Pergolas may not be as prevalent as outdoor decks, but increasing numbers of homeowners are catching on to their unique aesthetic benefits. When designed and constructed by a qualified builder, a custom pergola can truly become a unique and distinguishing characteristic of the home. On top of that, pergolas are versatile and can be used in any number of ways, from entertaining to simply highlighting a specific area of the home’s landscape. This combination of aesthetic value and practical usefulness makes pergolas a compelling investment for the discerning homeowner.