As in our story on rooftop gardens, pergolas are an ancient idea. Though old as the ancient Egyptians, they’re enjoying a backyard renaissance, and it’s easy to see why.

Pergolas not only offer much needed shade and/or protection from rain (depending on the day and type of roof) but also add a great deal of beauty. And they’re also quite versatile. They can extend off your house or stand alone in the middle of your backyard.

Although some people use the word “pergola” and “arbor” interchangeably, they’re not the same, though both are designed to support climbing plants. Often seen as entryways, arbors are usually arched, smaller, and have a continuous run of latticework from one side of the “tunnel” to the other. Pergolas, on the other hand, simply have posts supporting a roof-like structure.

Ancient walkway - near Turin, Italy

Ancient walkway with grapvines in Settimo Vittone, northern Italy

I love the look of flowers climbing around and over a pergola and since I’m crazy about all things purple, Wisteria’s my favorite plant/pergola combination. However, you also won’t go wrong with these three: Clematis, Morning Glory and Trumpet Vine.

Pergolas used to be just for the elite due to the heavy (expensive) stone and brick used in their construction. Now, however, most are made of wood and you can build them yourself or buy them from a retailer like Lowes or Home Depot.

My favorites

Instead of flowers, the first two have climbing vines to blend with the color scheme of the house and landscape.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Classic Country Garden

Classic Country Garden by Deborah Cerbone Associates, Inc.

The pink flowers offer a small splash of color.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Porch - Michigan

Michigan Porch by Gail Olsen

As you can see, this one has more vegetation on the roof, and, as a result, offers more protection from the weather.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Patio - Los Angeles

Los Angeles Porch by Sandy Koepke


 

Pergola with Architectural Interest

These next three pergolas add architectural interest without climbing plants, which aren’t always practical in a drier climates.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Entrance - Phoenix, Arizona

Arizona Entrance by Bianchi Design

Notice the roof to shield friends and family from the sun.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Pergola Patio - Asian - Japanese

Japanese Patio by Kikuchi & Associates

This one has a contemporary, minimalist look.


 

Home Away from Home

These three, away from the house, are like separate rooms.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Patio - Toronto - Canada

Toronto Patio by Duncan Consultants

We particularly love the way the vines and flowers are incorporated into the structure.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Pergola Patio - Wisteria

Patio with Wisteria by Tatiana

This one is also very contemporary, but different from the minimalist Asian one we saw above.

Pergola: Modern, Beauty, Practical, Backyard, Walkway, Gardens - Patio - Contemporary

Contemporary Patio by Farinelli Construction

Do you have a pergola in your backyard or attached to your house? Upload a picture to our Facebook page. We’d love to see it!
 


Outdoor Rooms: Part of the Castle
Rooftop Gardens: Old Idea, Modern Benefit
Decorating with Color: Carla’s Style

 


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