Coming up with a concept for your outdoor entertainment space can be a pretty exciting thing. Along with hardscape applications like patios, decks, outdoor kitchens, lighting, and fire features, you might want to also consider structural additions like a pergola or a covered porch.

Including a quality pergola in your outdoor entertainment area plans serves several purposes. Depending on the type of roof you want to have it can provide you with shade structure, and even a place to go when a stray rain shower passes overhead. Some covered pergolas even have insect netting walls that run on rails and zipper together. When you don’t want them they stay tied to the foundation posts looking like little more than attractive curtains.

Some pergolas are designed to take the weight an accommodate vining plants. While it may take some time for them to fully cover the roof area. This can be a great way to add some organic elements to the shade structure.

A well-designed and professionally installed pergola can allow you to observe the beauty of your natural surroundings with some shade and much of the feeling of indoor privacy. A pergola can also provide you with additional outdoor living space for dining, relaxing, or entertaining family and friends.

They are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and materials, with many special features to consider. CM’s design team can help you sort through all the various options to come up with a pergola design that matches your vision while also accounting for your available budget.

Pergola Placement

Most people choose to place their pergola near their home on a deck or patio. However, a pergola can be just as much at home near an outdoor fire pit or other entertainment space. Some people will choose to place their pergola near the pool, or as a shade cover for their outdoor kitchen.

Aesthetics can also be a factor in choosing where to place your pergola. Since most are visually attractive a pergola can be used as a visual accent to the rest of your landscape concept. If you don’t have it placed immediately near your home, you might want to keep it at a location where you can easily see it.

Sun exposure can also be a major factor with pergola placement. Most people choose to add a pergola to their landscape concept to give them a place to relax in the shade. They can be especially beneficial if your outdoor kitchen, deck, or patio is in a sun-soaked location. If you have a nice view at sunrise or sunset, you might want to place your pergola accordingly.

Wind can also be a factor in pergola placement. If you choose to have a roof or some form of shade cover the wind can be a factor. Strong straight-line winds can potentially damage things like a canvas shade cover or naturally growing vines.

The height of the pergola and the height of surrounding structures can be a factor in pergola placement. Ideally you don’t want to place your pergola immediately under the drip line of a roof, unless you have a high capacity gutter system.

Choosing Between An Attached Or Detached Pergola

While most pergolas are free standing there are benefits to having an attached pergola. If it’s immediately on your deck or patio the seamless transition helps it feel like a porch. The addition of removal screens can even help you transform your deck into a three-season porch.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are situations where an attached pergola may not be feasible. Subsoils with the potential to shift with seasonal changes and the exterior of your home may limit your ability to attach a pergola. There are also some homeowner’s associations that have covenants against such things. The designers and specialists at CM’s can assess these factors to help you make the best choice for your outdoor space.

Choosing Between An Open Or Covered Roof

A pergola can be designed with either slatted or solid-covered roof. Some have a simple shade cloth that can easily be removed in just a few minutes. Some people choose to leave their pergola uncovered and then grow attractive vines on the slatted wood. The choice of plants can vary. Vining roses, aromatic hops, and cold-hardy varieties of kiwi can serve as attractive perennials to add to an uncovered pergola. However, most annual vines, like pole beans or flowering sweat peas simply don’t grow fast enough to create an effective cover a pergola in a single summer season.

If you want your pergola to keep its roof through all four seasons, then you will also need to account for things like snow load. A canvas roof likely won’t be able to support the snows of winter and could potentially damage a pergolas structural frame. Thick polycarbonate sheets and tin might handle snow load, yet they may have a major impact on the pergola’s appearance. CM’s design team can help you choose the type of pergola cover that is best for your outdoor space.

Size Considerations

The overall size and basic dimensions of your pergola will be largely influenced by the size of your outdoor space and any permanent features on your deck or patio. It’s visibility and physical influence on the view out the windows of your home might also be a factor. As a point of reference, a 10-foot by 10-foot pergola has roughly enough space to accommodate a bistro table and chairs with a small grill nearby. If you say wanted to integrate an outdoor kitchen, or you want to be able to accommodate four or more diners, you may be interested in a larger pergola.

When it comes to height, most pergolas have a minimum clearance of at least 7 and a half feet. Some covered pergolas will also have domed roofs that go higher, which allows heat to rise instead of being trapped in your immediate entertainment space. In general, you want the highest point of your pergola to remain under your existing roofline to minimize the impact of the wind on a shade cloth or other roof feature.