When the summer months come around most people enjoy sitting out in the backyard, soaking up the sun. But what can you do if your outside space is in direct sunlight? Areas such as this, can be uncomfortably bright and hot during the day, making your time spent outside not quite as pleasant. The addition of a gazebo or pergola creates an architectural feature you can add to your space that will also save you from the expense and hassle of electric or roll-up awnings.
So first things first, what is the difference between a gazebo and a pergola? A gazebo is a freestanding structure with a closed roof and often partially enclosed sides that provides shelter.
A pergola on the other hand, can either be freestanding or it can be attached to the side of a building or home and it usually consists of posts or columns supporting an open lattice or crossbeam roof. The pergola does not actually provide much shelter until covered by a climbing vine or plant; grapes are often grown over pergolas and they will grow over yours, if you live in the right climate. More often they serve as structures for flowering vines such as morning glories. Pergolas are not to be confused with arbors, which are small arches, used in gardens and outdoor weddings.
Whether you choose a gazebo or a pergola the material used is also an important consideration. Wood, treated for outdoor use, is an eco-friendly choice. Vinyl and metal options are also well worth considering, but remember to look for a rust-proof finish on any metal materials and try to find a VOC-free vinyl or one created with a good percentage of recycled content.
Both gazebos and pergolas come in many sizes and it is important to measure your outdoor space and consider your lifestyle before choosing the one for you. It may be that you enjoy entertaining guests and are looking for a gazebo or pergola that will accommodate your outdoor dining set. If that is the case, keep in mind that you will need to include not only room for the table and chairs, but also 3’ or more behind the chairs so that guests can comfortably get in and out of their seats, or ideally enough space that you can walk around the dining set easily when all the chairs are pulled out from the table.
If you do not have a large yard this size of gazebo or pergola might take up too much space, especially if your yard also contains children’s items like as a swingset. If you must use one of these structures in a small yard the pergola is preferable. It is more open that a gazebo, having no partial walls, and can be mounted to your home on one side, so that it becomes part of the architecture of the home rather than a large separate structure taking over your yard.
Multiple small gazebos and/or pergolas can also be used around a yard to create shaded resting areas, along a garden path, or in the sunnier areas of patio around a pool for example.
Gazebos can also be useful for providing shelter in the winter.
This red cedar gazebo is more ornate and has a large vented top to prevent it from getting humid inside. Its screens help keep bugs out and it even has its own door.
This gazebo is less ornate and has regular roofing shingles as opposed to cedar shingles, the rounded top of this gazebo is referred to as a Belle Roof and is enhanced by the glass-windowed topper.
This Belle roofed elongated vinyl gazebo was built with power running to it. Lit up at night, this gazebo creates a sense of relaxation and luxury.
Many gazebos are built on platforms so that you must step up into them. This makes it harder for animals to get inside unnoticed.
Gazebos can be used decoratively even when shade is not particularly needed. This small gazebo simply creates a focal point in the garden while sheltering a few plants.
This vinyl gazebo creates a resting place at the end of a path and frames a gorgeous view.
This treated pine free-standing pergola shelters some outdoor tables.
Adding laser-cut panels to your pergola can add shade and privacy from neighbors, without waiting for plants to grow.
This Red Cedar pergola provides shade for the few chairs in the pool area that are in direct sunlight.
Dressing up a Pergola with twinkle lights and/or curtains can make for a romantic evening or party atmosphere. However, remember to keep curtains and barbecues separated for safety.
This pergola provides shelter and prevents ice build-up along the pathway between the house and the garage.
This vinyl pergola adds shade to a garden rest area.
This vinyl Pergola has been enhanced with a fabric roofing material for light blockage and easily seats and outdoor gathering of 10.
This treated pine pergola is supported on one side by a wall and is enclosed on another by a latticed wall. Imagine how lush and shaded this deck area would become if covered by local climbing plants.
This white vinyl pergola helps prevent falling leaves and twigs from entering the hot tub.
This large pergola, which extends from the house to the edge of the raised patio, makes a grand statement in this backyard. The carving and detail in the square columns add to the traditional stately look.