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Small Details That Add Extra Style to Your Space

Building a Pergola for Function and Style
A water feature like this one is the perfect complement to a pergola.
A water feature like this one is the perfect complement to a pergola.

You've seen those trellises and arbors in the movies that have ivy, climbing roses, or bougainvillea growing all over them? Instead of looking like they're in desperate need of a haircut, they look wonderfully natural and romantic, don't they? Pergolas are like that. A pergola is made up of a trellis framework outfitted with vertical support columns and a roof. Pergolas are often installed over doors or gates. You'll probably recognize them as a classic cottage garden accessory.

As an outdoor room addition, a pergola can help solve a lot of problems with a minimum of fuss and financial outlay. They make an easy DIY project, too. If you can install posts and cover them with inexpensive lattice, you're good to go. It's almost that easy. Even if you're not very handy, you're still in luck. There are pergola kits available that use lightweight vinyl materials which go together fast and easy. Once installed and outfitted with your favorite climbing plants, it'll be hard to tell the difference between an all-wood custom pergola and a vinyl model from a handy kit.

Here are some ways adding a pergola can enhance your outdoor spaces:

  • Added privacy -- If you like the idea of getting romantic in your hot tub or smooching on the porch swing, a pergola can provide privacy without the formality (and expense) of putting up a fence. The climbing plants you add to the structure will grow a lot faster than a hedge, too. If you decide you'd like to change out that clematis climber in a couple of years, making the switch to another plant variety will also be a lot easier than yanking out a boxwood hedge or Japanese holly.
  • Continuity -- If you have a shed, detached garage or other outbuilding in your landscape, adding and arbor that connects that building to your fence, deck or house will help integrate the look of your property. Think of it as a visual bridge that connects disparate elements. This one change can help increase your home's curb appeal and maybe even the value of your property.
  • More shade -- A nicely planted pergola or other trellis arrangement provides a lot of shade and some shelter from the wind and drizzling rain. It can be cheaper than installing a fiberglass roof on your patio, and it looks a lot nicer, too.
  • Beauty -- If your deck, patio or fence looks bare and bland, installing a pergola and plants will add height, color and texture to your landscape. If you want to disguise the view of your neighbor's compost heap, a pergola will effectively curtain less desirable views without the expense of putting up a wood fence, too.