A garden pergola is a simple yet striking structure that will enhance your garden appearance, improve household livability and increase property value. Available in different shapes, sizes and styles, these structures can be either bought as ready made kits or built as DIY projects.
Pergolas can be made of vinyl, aluminium or wood, and while the first two materials are maintenance free, a good quality wood can last for decades with minimal care conferring a feeling of warmth and coziness that man made materials lack. Top woods for pergolas are western red cedar, redwoods, cypress, pressure treated woods and tropical hard woods.
The most convenient for availability and value for money are redwoods and cedar, as they are naturally resistant to decay, sun rays, insects and water at an affordable price. Tropical hardwoods are the toughest of all but are also very expensive and difficult to get hold of. There is also an ecological concern about their harvesting in South East Asia. Southern cypress has properties similar to redwoods, is golden in color but need proper kiln drying or it will warp after construction. Pressure treated lumber, mainly pine or fir, is the cheapest option but is usually chemically made insect repellent with arsenate, a very toxic insecticide, while the other woods are naturally resistant.
Garden pergolas share the same basic layout as arbors, as they are both built with main posts joined at the top by beams, upon which all the joists and cross joists are assembled. The only difference is that arbors are smaller than pergolas and located over walk ways with a side bench for resting. These accents are more ornamental than functional, as they are meant to join two adjacent areas and break the monotony of the garden, while full size pergolas are more practical, allowing for furnishing layout and socializing.
A typical free standing garden pergola is built square or rectangular with four or six posts. The open top can be either flat or curved and climbing vines can be trained upon it to offer a natural parasol of cooling foliage. In fact, this is what pergolas were originally invented for, to offer a hold for Grape Vines so as to repair from the sun and have a supply of fruits. Today, Bougainvillea, Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Morning Glory and many others are commonly used for shading purposes. They require little maintenance and grow fast.
Garden pergolas can be built over a deck or a tiled patio. The foundations must be dug in a utilities free are so as to avoid accidents or even injuries while digging. If you do not know whether you have underground water or gas mains in your chosen location, a call to your local municipality for an all clear is highly recommended. For pre existing patios or decks, the posts can be fastened with strong metal braces.
Trellises can also be used as complementary features to pergolas to partition the sides and increase coziness, while hanging flower baskets can add a splash of color to the greenery. A four or six posts garden pergola will easily accommodate a full set of sofas or chairs, tables and hammocks. Some pergolas may be made up like open air living rooms, with lights, outdoor fans and barbeque sets.
While not as expensive like when they were first invented, pergolas are still an important investment, especially if purchased ready made. However, a DIY pergola is a reasonable feat to accomplish even for a novice, helping you save up to 70 percent over and an equivalent pergola kit. Providing that you use a quality wood as above, a self made pergola will repay you the small effort invested, about three working days, with considerable savings and a striking feature that will increase property value and improve household livability. The only prerequisites are the help of a friend for safety reasons, a full set of manual and electric tools, a top quality wood and a garden pergola plan. Read more about DIY garden pergola and this garden pergola project.