Pergola Ideas - How to Include One in Your Garden Design

Pergola Ideas - How to Include One in Your Garden Design

Do you like the idea of having a pergola? The right pergola, in the right place, is a wonderful structure that can enhance your garden in no time at all. And it will reward you handsomely for many years to come. With this in mind, let's look at why you might include one in your garden.

There are several things to consider, in order to get it right. These are -


These are important factors in making your pergola sit comfortably in the overall design. An inappropriate type, style or position can jar the eye, upsetting the general feel of the garden design. Therefore, before going ahead, a little careful planning is required to make sure your pergola has a clearly defined purpose.

Having said that, there may be more than one reason for building a pergola. Take a look at the six main purposes and see if your ideas fit in any of the categories -

1. Creating a journey through the garden.

It is really important to create an element of surprise in a garden, leading the eye from one feature to another, whether that feature is another structure, a plant, border, statue or pond. It gives the feeling of the garden being an exciting place to be, with something new to experience just around the corner. A pergola is an excellent way to divide a garden in to sections, and can be used with trellising to great effect. This type of pergola is often called a walkway, because we walk under it rather than sitting under it.

2. Adding height and interest.

Height is desirable, too. A flat garden is restricted in the interest it gives, although height can be achieved through careful placement of trees and plants. A pergola, however, gives a permanent, solid anchor around which to base other design features such as patios, paths, water features and planting. And, of course, the use of climbing plants can be a huge bonus, adding both beauty and fragrance. Pergolas are inviting. We are drawn to them, whether it is to walk through them or relax under their canopy on a warm summer's day.

3. Providing a shady or sunny spot.

Often pergolas are used as a shady retreat, especially for 'al fresco' dining. Think about whether you would need sun or shade. It might be that you would use it to sit in the warm evening sunshine, or for sunbathing. The position of the sun would need to be considered carefully to make sure the pergola caught the sun at a good time of day, for you. If you would like the best of both worlds, there are pergola shades on the market that can shield you from the sun when needed.

4. Socializing

Pergolas are great for this, and can have dining furniture and barbecues added. Or, for a more informal feel, use comfortable garden furniture and soft furnishings such as outdoor beanbags, hammocks, hanging chairs and cushions. For the ultimate accessory, with a definite 'wow!' factor, you could always try a hot tub! And for evening use, there are always patio heaters and chimneys, candles and lights, to keep you feeling warm and cozy. The pergola is usually positioned near to the house, but it could just as easily be in a corner pergola at the end of the garden. Just think cozy and welcoming.

5. Romance

This can be achieved in several ways and doesn't necessarily involve more than one person! A walkway pergola or a swinging arbour might be just the job, with plenty of fragrant and beautiful plants to give your garden a wonderfully romantic feel. For a more intimate romantic setting, look at the ideas in the socializing section, applying them a little differently: for instance, calming colours, stronger smelling climbing plants or even incense, soft and luxurious furnishings, warmth and subdued lighting - all to heighten the senses.

6. As an extension to the house.

This is what is known as a lean-to pergola, and can be in the form of a porch, carport, log store, patio pergola or any sort of walkway found next to a building or wall. The wall serves to support the structure on one of its sides. The patio pergola can, indeed, extend the indoor space by drawing people out into the garden, and the upright posts are ideal for supporting wonderful climbing plants.

These ideas are mainly concerned with the type and position of your pergola. For the style aspect, this is really down to personal preference. Styles might include cottage garden, modern and sleek, rustic or oriental. Then, of course, there are the different materials - rough sawn wood, planed wood, rustic poles, bamboo, wrought iron, aluminum, brick pillars, vinyl, and those using a combination of materials.

Whichever pergola you choose, make sure it fits in with the look and feel of your overall design. Have fun creating a truly wonderful, relaxing and inviting space.

Diane Turnbull has designed and built many gardens. For further information on pergolas, including pergola plans for beginners, pergola kits, sourcing and choosing climbing plants, pergola ideas, garden furniture, accessories, and more, visit