Best Pergola Ideas For Deck, Patio Or Backyard

While everyone loves a gazebo, it’s certainly not in everyone’s budget. In fact, even a small gazebo, with screened-in doors and a reasonably sturdy roof can still end up costing thousands of dollars. Not to mention a lot of townships, and cities require building permits and sometimes costly inspections. Of course, homeowner’s insurance companies also want a piece of the action by raising their premium rates, just in case the gazebo is damaged by fire or storms. Compounding all of these problems is that the cost of a gazebo does very little to improve your home’s overall resale value.

Answering these problems at a price tag that’s easy to afford, and a better percentage return on investment is the humble, yet tasteful pergola concept.

What Is A Pergola?

A pergola is a relatively simple outdoor structure that can serve as a roof, or even to help shade a walkway. Most people who purchase pergolas for their home do so to add a little shade to their deck or patio.

It usually had four or more sturdy vertical support beams with a variety of cross beams. Some pergola concepts are open, some use heavy-duty materials like canvas to create a three-season canopy roof, and some even double as a trellis for vines and other types of sprawling vegetation.

Japanese architecture tends to have a strong influence on a lot of wooden pergolas. Though there certainly are some that are basic metal with canvas.

What’s The Difference Between A Detached And An Attached Pergola?

Most of the pergolas sold in stores are classified as “Detached Pergolas” meaning they aren’t permanently affixed to your home in any way. These stand along structures are designed to be able to bear the weight of rainwater and a reasonable amount of wind from your average summer storm. While many of them still weigh hundreds of pounds, they can often be partially disassembled, to move it from say your patio, to a section of your lawn.

Most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover detached pergolas as they aren’t technically a part of the home. Though there are some that can bolt to a wooden deck that might qualify for coverage in your insurance policy’s fine print. With most detached pergolas, you don’t need any sort of builder’s permit or inspections.

Attached pergolas tend to be more robust. Often times, they are made from wood and require a licensed contractor to install it. Since it’ is permanently attached to your home or garage, you will likely need a builder’s permit and inspections. Though an attached pergola will add both actual and perceived resale value to your home. In this capacity, an attached pergola could even be noted on a real estate listing as a “Porch.”

Pergola Canopy

There are some pergolas that are simply open-air structures that do little to block out any sunlight. Though these tend to be rare in the United States and Canada. Most pergolas sold in stores come with some type of cover.

What Is The Difference Between A Pergola vs a Gazebo?

The roof. Essentially a pergola lets sunlight shine through, while a gazebo is completely covered, blocking the the sun, and protection from rain.

A Removable Pergola Canopy

This is often a piece of heavy-duty marine-grade canvas that attaches firmly to the frame. Most are designed to handle the rain and a fair amount of wind. Though a strong hail storm can punch holes through most canvas pergola canopies. If it’s not attached to your home, the damage to the canopy won’t be carried by your homeowner’s insurance. The cost to replace a damaged cover is usually between $100 to $300. The average canvas pergola cover has a lifespan of 7 to 12 years.

Most people who have a removable pergola cover will uninstall it in the fall to prevent damage from snow load. You can then install the canvas pergola canopy in the spring to enjoy the cool shade it provides.

The Best Pergolas With A Removable Canopy

Pergola With A Retractable Canopy

Here again, we see the concept of a canopy or pergola cover, except there are built-in mechanisms that allow you to deploy the canopy when you see fit. This is a great option for times when you want to lounge on your patio for stargazing. Yet you can also close the pergola canopy to give you some shade on a bright sunny day.

Most pergolas with a retractable canopy stay installed all year long. In areas where winter brings with it significant snow and ice, you can retract the canopy all the way back and then seal it off from the elements with a secondary cover or case.

The Best Pergolas With A Retractable Canopy

Open Concept Pergola For Vegetation

These days ecologically friendly outdoor spaces are increasingly popular. One of the most popular is a standalone pergola with a frame that is designed to support vines, flowers, and other types of vegetation. As spring turns to summer the plants fill in the roof and sides of the pergola. This tends to provide dapple shade and an organic ambiance. However, it gives you little in the way of protection from the rain!

The Best Open Concept Pergolas For Vines & Vegetation

Add stylish outdoor living space to your yard with the Leisure Time Products 12' x 10' Cedar Pergola. The natural cedar wood construction enhances the look of any outdoor area. This pergola offers long-lasting durability and the handsome walnut finish resists fading due to sun and harsh weather...
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Yardistry Madison 10 x 14 Pergola Barsunshade, YM11783
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Relax and entertain guests outside with this Member's Mark Savannah Pavilion gazebo. The premium cedar lumber, coffee brown aluminum roof and modern design make your yard more visually appealing, and the large interior provides plenty of space for grills and patio furniture. Cool off in the shade...
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The Laguna Cabana Pergola with Conversation Seating is Backyard Discovery's unique, all-in-one backyard structure created with your needs in mind. Turn the heads of guests at your next outdoor party with this versatile take on relaxing and entertaining. An open concept design offers flexible...
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New England Arbors 12 ft. x 12 ft. Camelot Pergola
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What Are Some Of The Most Popular Plants To Grow On A Pergola?

This can vary depending on your USDA growing zone, as well as how accomplished you are as a gardener. Many of these vines and flowers do require additional special care. If you don’t tend to them adequately they could wilt or die on you unexpectantly turning your vine covered pergola into a landscaping eyesore.

Vining Roses

Are classic but they have special soil requirements and require seasonal pruning as well as special winter care. They also tend to take a year or three to fully establish on the roof of a large pergola.


This vining flower will take years to fully establish, though it is arguably easier to maintain, and tends to flower more prolifically, which makes it a great option for a modestly experienced gardener.

Japanese Honeysuckle

Grows vigorously and releases a beautiful fragrance from it’s small flowers. It’s also relatively easy to care for throughout the season.

Grape Vines

Evoke the feeling of being in the south of France of the northern coast line of Italy. Just like roses, they take additional care and pruning. They may take several years to completely fill in a pergola roof. If you choose a variety you can eat out of hand, you might even have a tasty treat living on your deck or patio.

Kiwi Vines

While not thought of as a traditional vine for a pergola, once established certain New Zealand vining kiwi varieties can be vigorous. Here again there’s the opportunity for a tasty treat.


Another non-traditional pergola vine, hops tends to grow vigorously once it’s established. As a perennial vine, you can cut it back at the end of the year. The hops flowers also give the air a crisp refreshing odor. Not to mention you can harvest them at the end of the year for any homebrew enthusiasts in the family.

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