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Outdoor Pergolas - Tips on Design and How to Use it in Your Landscape

Jun 9, 2008
An outdoor pergola is a standing structure which typically is used for shading or covering a specific area in an outdoor living space. The two separate design styles of pergolas are described as being either free standing or attached to a solid wall, such as the side of your home. Pergolas can be designed in a combination of different shapes and sizes, the most popular shape being a rectangular. That being said, a pergola can be almost any shape, even curved. Curved pergolas, however, can be quite costly due to the additional labor involved. They are often designed in the shape of an arc. These fit nicely along a curved hardscape surface.

A free standing pergola gives you the flexibility of being able to cover any area of your garden, patio space, or pool. For example, you may have a patio space which was designed adjacent to your pool decking. A pergola could be built over this area, regardless of the shape of the patio, for the purpose of decor and shade. It's beautiful to look at and provides much comfort on very hot, sunny days.

If you choose to attach a pergola to your house, it could give way to the perception that extra space has been added to your home. It can be attached directly onto the side of your house similar to a porch covering. Pergolas can also be placed free standing directly next to the house, say, to shade a portion of the walkway up the side of your house or a sunny patio. Pergolas often become interesting architectural elements, which creates some excitement to the total landscape design.

When attaching a pergola to a house, certain things must be considered. The height of the pergola must be looked at as compared to window heights. You don't want the structure to be in the middle of your window. In addition, think about the view looking out from the interior of your house. Viewing the lattice at the top of the pergola may be something that you don't want, yet sometimes this is not considered an obstruction.

Once the pergola is placed in the desired area, it can then be beautifully designed with an array of arbor vines, plants and flowers. The most commonly used vines are Roses and Wisteria which add beauty to any type of pergola design. The lattice design on top of the pergola, as well as the high columns which are indicative of a pergola, would welcome either of these types of vine.

The pricing of a pergola takes into account many factors. The type of wood used, the design itself, and the expertise of a contractor are just a few of the things taken into account when pricing your pergola. Heavy columns, intricate lattice work and other details will add to the cost. As a rule of thumb, if you simplify the structural design and concentrate more on the landscape design around the pergola, this should cut down on the cost of the overall project.
About the Author
Susan Schlenger is a Landscape Designer with a degree in Landscape Architecture. You can read more about the Outdoor Pergola at her website.
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