Pergolas: Planning, Designing and Implementing

Posted by Joseph Hanauer, ASLA & Abbigail Friday on Jun 18, 2018 4:00:00 PM

As the popularity of outdoor rooms and spaces have grown so have pergolas. I have built several for my clients. Pergolas are a great way to make the space more comfortable as the posts and open ceiling provide just enough structure to make a large space more quaint. They do a great job at creating a ceiling and the perception of walls really do become the defining element of a space. I also love how pergolas can be personalized.

What is a Pergola?

A pergola is a garden structure consisting of posts that support beams and rafters. Some pergolas have trellising on the sides to provide privacy while others have more substantial roofs to keep rain out.

What is a pergola

Pergola vs. Arbor

Often people think that pergolas and arbors as synonyms. I generally think of a pergola as a larger structure that can provide a seating area underneath whereas an arbor is more a covered gateway that you can walk through. Both can provide structure for grape vines, climbing roses and hydrangea or other vines.

Why a Pergola?

Most of my clients request a pergola to offer shade or because they like the look. I believe a pergola has several other benefits and purposes:

  • It helps define a space and create a more finished outdoor room.
  • Provides a different way to grow plants
    • Adding plants such as vines, hanging plants, pots and cascading plants can make your pergola unique to your space
    • Here are a few great plants for your pergola.


Plants Pergola

  • Fun and festive
    • You can add lighting such as bistro lights or add banners to create a festive atmosphere.
    • Your pergola can transform with the seasons do with you. Think holiday lights or a place for Halloween decorating.


Festive Pergola

  • Shade
    • If you want a space to sit with filtered sun
    • Provide shade over a grilling area
    • Provide shade on a counter so your food won't sit in the sun


Shade 2 Pergola

  • Privacy
    • From above. If you have a neighbor with an upstairs window looking down over your patio, a pergola can block their view of you.
    • You can add panels or lattice to the wall to create a fence like privacy without fencing in your yard.


Shade Pergola

  • Adds value to your property
    • Pergolas add value and is less expensive than a gazebo or screen porch. You can make the space virtually mosquito free with a mosquito abatement system such as Nutone Haven Mosquito fixtures. 
    • HGTV agrees with me when I say that a pergola adds value to your space.
    • According to this article, for every $1,000 spent, you can expect a $3,000 in your return investment
      • It is important to note that a pergola accompanies an entire outdoor space. That space can include an outdoor kitchen, patio or deck.


Adds Value Pergola

What does a Pergola Cost? 

In the Madison, Wisconsin market most pergolas we build cost between $4,000 and $12,000. A smaller simple pergola over a grill will be on the lower end. While a larger more complex pergola will be more. We sand and stain most of the pergolas we build but some customers opt to do this themselves. Adding trellising, ceiling fans or other amenities increase cost as well.

Pergolas are a great at defining a space and creating a comfortable space you want to be in. They can accompany any designed space. Our pergolas are all custom made so that they fit your needs and space. If you have any questions, please contact me.

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Topics: Pergola, Pergola Plans, Pergola Design, Pergola Cost, Pergola Plants, Pergola Plant ideas, What is a pergola?, What are pergolas?, Pergola Price, Pergola Decor

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Landscape Architecture LLC

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