What Is A Pergola? Is It The Superior Outdoor Structure?

What is a pergola? Is it the superior outdoor structure? There are many different types of structures you can use outside in order to make the most of your outdoor space. One of these unique structures is called a pergola and it is one of the best options out there. 

What Is A Pergola

If you’ve never heard a pergola then you are missing out. A pergola is a great use of outdoor space that can be used for barbeques or just spending some alone time in the half-shade, half-sun.

Many people tend to focus only on their indoor space but it is much better to give your outdoor space some love. Getting fresh air and enjoying nature is very important. Even if you don’t have much of nature to enjoy. 

What Is A Pergola?

According to Merriam-Webster, the pergola definition is, “a structure usually consisting of parallel colonnades supporting an open roof of girders and cross rafters.” But let us put that in layman’s terms. 

Pergolas are structures that offer shade to users by having slats that can be covered with a canvas for full shade. The canvas can be pulled back when you want the sun or moonlight to shine through the slats. 

A pergola is similar to other outdoor structures and it is easy to get them confused. We will go over the different types of outdoor structures like pergolas later. But first, we need to let you know why to get a pergola. 

What Is The Point Of A Pergola?

What Is A PergolaView in gallery
Beautiful terrace lounge with pergola and wooden table with chairs

A pergola is a structure that you use in your outdoor space. It provides a bit of customizable shade for you without blocking out all of the sunshine. It’s a great happy medium to use in your yard for gatherings and relaxing. 

If you still don’t know the best reasons to get a pergola, then don’t worry. That’s what we are here for after all. Here we have laid out the best things about a pergola and all that they have to offer you. 


Pergolas are perfect for gathering together with family or friends. You can all fit under them to eat or relax. They are perfect for pool parties, birthdays, and so much more. It is a shame not to appreciate them.

Because pergolas come in so many different sizes, you can get multiple pergolas and put them in choice places around the yard. You can get a personal one, one for grilling and one for picnic tables. Whatever works for your space.

Sun Or Shade

With pergolas, you get the best of both worlds. You can have full shade or nearly full sunshine. The same can’t be said for other similar structures. That’s why pergolas are so unique and popular in private homes

There are so many options here. You can leave the shade up most of the time or leave it off all of the time. It’s like a convertible car in all the best ways, only it’s much easier to put the top up and down manually. 


You can use a pergola as a carport for multiple cars. There are even pergolas tall enough for pickup trucks to derive under. Then you can choose to keep the shade up or leave it down to show off your truck. 

We will talk more about the pergola carport later. But it is a great way to use a pergola if you don’t spend much time outside or if you can’t afford a garage. Not to mention, you can show that car off easier. 


Some people just like the way that pergolas look. They offer a nice summertime aesthetic so it’s easy to see why some people choose them for this reason. They are wide, open, and can have plants grown around them. 

If you add lattice or don’t plan on using the shade cover for the pergola, you can grow vines across the top. This offers a natural shade but it will draw in insects and need to be kept trim for safety reasons. 

Gazebo Vs. Pergola

Gazebo Vs. PergolaView in gallery

This is a question we get more than any other regarding pergolas. The same goes for pavilions, arbors, and patios. Because there are many different types of outdoor wallless spaces, it can be easy to get them mixed up. 

So let’s break down each type of covering and outdoor structure to give you a better idea of which one is which. Here are the primary types of outdoor structures that often get confused for pergolas.


Gazebos are the first thing to get confused with pergolas. But the two are not the same at all. Gazebos are usually small but come in many different shapes and sizes. But the main difference comes from the purpose.

Gazebos are there to offer full shade at all times. But a pergola has a retractable cover if any cover at all. The two most common types of gazebos are the large square ones and the smaller polygonal ones. 


Arbors and pergolas are very similar. The biggest difference is size. Arbors are also open and can be walked under like pergolas. But arbors are much smaller and usually used in the garden or as an arch. 

But pergolas are large enough for many people to ist under at the same time. Arbors are usually just for walking under and are almost always placed on a walkway as part of it, much like the secret garden. 


A patio is more similar to a deck than any other type of structure. That’s because a patio is the floor of the outdoor area, not the cover. A patio can actually be covered with a pergola to offer the area shade. 

A patio is different than a deck because a deck is made of wood and a patio is made of concrete or gravel. Gravel patios are cheaper alternatives to concrete patios but concrete patios are quite durable.


A pavilion is very similar to a gazebo. The truth is that the two words are often interchangeable. Some people refer to the hexagonal-shaped structures as gazebos and everything else as a pavilion, including pergolas.

So it can be difficult to tell a pavilion apart from other structures like it. But in short, a pavilion is a more generic term for this type of structure and most often refers to a large open gazebo that isn’t attached to another structure.  


A trellis isn’t too similar to a pergola but it is a wall that has latticework. Some arbors are called trellises because they are made of lattice and have plants growing on them, which is the purpose of a trellis.

In short, a trellis is a large piece of lattice used for growing plants and vines. They are put in gardens or yards to showcase plants and give a more natural environment. A trellis is cheaper than the other options. 

What Is A Pergola Carport?

What Is A Pergola Carport?View in gallery

A pergola carport is a carport made out of a pergola. It is a pergola that is used to park your car underneath. Having a carport is a wonderful thing when you don’t have space for a garage, especially if you want it to be mobile.

A pergola carport offers your car shade and frees it of debris. You can park it without having to open a garage door and you can make it any size that you want. Unless you buy a premade one which is also great. 

Just make sure that the pergola that you buy is plenty big enough for your vehicle. The pergola needs to have similar measurements to a garage. A one-car garage is a minimum, though it can give or take a couple of inches. 

How To Build A Pergola

How To Build A sunshade protectorView in gallery

Building a pergola is easier than it sounds. If you are accustomed to constructing things alone then it may be overwhelming to think about building a pergola. But it can be quite a satisfying project.

If you want to install a pergola on your own, then we have a great quick guide on how to build a pergola just for you. This pergola guide is simple and to the point, so you won’t feel overwhelmed by it.

Basically, what you will be doing is building the pergola by starting with four grounded posts. Them, add horizontal bars at the top. Finally, add the slats which will offer shade and support. These slats are not load-bearing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Does A Pergola Cost?

A pergola costs somewhere between $500 and $5000 to buy. The cost of building one costs less as far as materials are concerned and more as far as labor is concerned. 

How Do You Pronounce Pergola?

Pergola is pronounced pr-gow-luh with American pronunciation and puh-guh-luh with British pronunciation. Try not to be self-conscious of your own pronunciation as pergola has multiple pronunciations. 

What Is The History Of The Pergola?

It’s possible that no one knows when the first pergola was built. More than likely, it was built by the Egyptian high court for a hanging garden. The word pergola didn’t appear until the 1600s.

Are Pergolas Always Attached To A House?

No. You can attach a pergola to your house or you can allow it to be a freestanding pergola. It doesn’t change the term of the structure because it is or isn’t attached to a building.

Do You Need A Permit To Build A Pergola?

It depends on your region. To be safe, you should seek out local building permits as the word “pergola” isn’t listed in many codes. Asking is your best bet.

Getting The Right Shade Structure For You

If you don’t get all of the hype around pergolas and prefer to use another type of structure outside then go for it. These structures are all about enhancing your quality of life and transforming your outdoor space.

If you want something small, cozy, and closed-in then a hexagonal gazebo may work better. If you don’t want any shade, any of the time, then a deck or patio is probably your best bet. It’s all up to your needs and taste.

If one doesn’t work for you then that is completely fine. It’s not a one-size-fits-all deal. It’s all about customizing your experience, just like it is with trees you plant in your outdoor space. So find your perfect fit.