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Building a Pergola Paradise

Here are some ideas and tips on how to design and build a pergola paradise right in your backyard.

Posted in Home Exterior over 15 years ago, 0 replies

No matter the size of your backyard, you can build and design a new pergola to fit the site. Pergolas are absent of the traditional walls and a roof, which makes them very accommodating and not obstructive of the activity flow of your backyard.

Considered as a structure for training climbing plants, a pergola can be used a focal point of your backyard, a moderately veiled structure to shield out neighbors, or a decorative shelter and respite supplied with outdoor furniture where your friends and family can relax.

What’s It Made of?

The simplest method of pergola construction is often from wood. Softwood that has been pressure treated with a preservative is used most. You can buy the preservative in any home improvement store, and it will help maintain the wood for about 25 years. You can also use hardwood for your pergola, which has a natural durability and does not need to be treated at all.

Wood pergolas are very popular, but pergolas can be built using a whole host of materials. You can buy pergolas that are pre made that all you have to do is erect it yourself. But most often, your best bet is to create your own pergola from scratch and adapt it to your own site and design specifications.

Another good pergola material is brick or stone. Both materials usually cost more than wood but will take more weight. If you choose to use brick or stone for your pergola and your house exterior has exposed brick or stone, make sure you get similar materials to use on your pergola so that the pergola matches your house.

In addition to the abovementioned materials, metal is also used to build pergolas. Think wrought iron steel. You can purchase metal pergola frames from manufacturers who specialize in metal. Metal pergolas are sold in kits that can be easily erected with bolts, and you can request plans that will fit your site’s specifications.

Prepare your site

Determine your pergola site carefully. A good tip is to examine the perspective pergola site from as many angles as possible—for example, you should try to view the perspective site from all the windows in your home that overlook the perspective site. If you are having trouble deciding on specific site try to put your pergola on your property where it will pull two disjointed aspects of your yard together. That is, use your pergola to make your vegetable garden and your lawn a cohesive mix.

Once you have decided on your pergola’s site, clear all the vegetation away where you will erect the pergola. If you plan to erect your pergola on the patio, simply remove pavement where the uprights will be installed. Level the site if the ground is uneven.


Chalk line
Circular saw
Drill/driver with bits
Dust mask
Hearing protection
Jig saw
Mason’s line
Miter saw (optional)
Ratchet and socket
Tape measure
Water level

Building the Pergola

If you have purchased a pergola kit from your home improvement store, follow manufacturers instructions. If you are having a go at this pergola project with your own designs and a lot of ambition, good luck and I hope these following steps can help.

First, you will need to purchase sawn timber from home improvement store. Sawn timber will last longer than most because it is better treated.

Next, you need to make a rough sketch on the ground to mark where the pergola is to be placed. The point of this task is to make sure the pergola design you have created on paper will translate into real life. Is the pergola large enough to walk into or place a seat inside?

To mark your design, you can use a chalk line to snap out a design on the ground or pour sand on the ground to create a rough design. Whatever you use, make sure it can be easily removed after you have finished your project.

Once you have finished marking out the rough sketch, dig out the area for the postholes and toss the soil to the side. Next, hammer the metal spikes into the ground and make sure they are all level. Use your level and a straight piece of wood to check for level pieces.

Usually, pergolas are best constructed when they are built with a goalpost and cross bar type of construction. The reason for this construction is to allow the pergola to be built sideways for a seating area and to achieve that bendy and curved shape that is so desired. You will likely need some help (at least three people) to install the posts and cross bars because the posts and cross bars need to be level, and this feat is a bit complicated with only two people doing the work. Tip: the best way to install a cross bar joint is to have them close fitting so that you can easily adjust its top bar position by tapping on it with a small hammer.

It is good to construct the pergola with 100mm square timber. This lends a weighty feel to the pergola. Also, always use metal spikes and not wooden spikes to anchor the pergola into the ground because even treated wood will rot in damp soil. Plus, metal spikes are easier to install. Now as soon as the position of the main sections is set just the way that you like, pour a small amount of concrete around the metal spikes to add additional stability.

After you have poured the concrete, the pergola base is set and you can now add the “roof”. The roof design is completely up to your personal taste—you want a roof that is heavy and solid, or light and airy so that whomever sits under it gets plenty of sun? Once you are satisfied with the look of the entire pergola, it is best to screw all the pieces together in order to prevent the wood from warping in the future.



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