Pergolas, Gazebos and Canopies
Posted By Rosette Garcia @ Jul 10th 2023 10:45am In: Just For Fun

The centerpiece of your backyard? Your pergola, which supports lights, shades your guests from the sun and adds visual appeal to your seating area. And now that outdoor heaters are easy to obtain and use, your backyard can be a great spot to entertain all year-round.

Do you long for a yard with a pergola? Or maybe you're not sure exactly what a pergola is. Design gurus define them as stately structures with vertical pillars to support a series of open crossbeams, frameworks or canopy coverings overhead. Pergolas differ from gazebos in that they lack traditional solid roofs and feature an open, airy construction, welcoming diffused sunlight and summer winds into the structure.

You can go with a sleek and modern pergola with straight lines on a side wall and a roof that makes it look more contemporary. You can choose a generous size that allows seating and dining areas. You may want to go in the opposite direction with a small corner pergola for your small backyard patio. Along with a bench, you can add a hanging chair for extra seating that doesn't take up much space.

At about this time, you may be finding yourself wondering why pergolas don't tend to have roofs. You love the openness idea, but you may be worried about leaves falling off the surrounding trees and onto your guests' dinner plates. And then there's the openness that lets in the elements.

How about adding a glass panel recycled from an old conservatory on top? It could become your favorite breakfast area, protected from the weather, with no obstructed view of the sky.

Other design elements

Now that we're thinking about natural decorative elements, what about a cedar pergola? Cedar wood is weather- and mildew-resistant, doesn't tend to warp and naturally repels insects. Add a vintage fireplace and mid-century furniture, and now you're living large.

Another way to go is to soften your pergola by hanging sheer curtains — a gauzy, lightweight fabric will give your outdoor gathering space a cozy feel. How about a bamboo and wood pergola? You can finish yours with bamboo screens, offering privacy and preserving the breezy openness that you crave.

If you're thinking of installing a back patio pergola, think about one located right out your back door. Extended living space, indeed. Add stenciled concrete for a decorative touch that's durable enough to withstand the elements. By treating your pergola as an outdoor living room, you'll create a comfortable conversational area.

You can even attach your pergola to your home. Paint it white for a bright and inviting space and coordinate it with black and white chairs, and even a black and white deck railing.

With a pergola, you create a shady outdoor oasis for alfresco dining and outdoor lounging. Pergolas — and even gazebos — remain the mainstays of outdoor and garden designs and for good reason: They diffuse sunlight, support climbing blooms and create a haven while adding style to your yard.

If you want to reprieve your patio from the harsh afternoon sun, these structures diffuse light in the day and can be hung with glowing lanterns or citronella candles in the evening. Include potted flowers and a beverage cart in a corner, and you'll have an extra living space as part of  your home.

Even more ideas

  • Choose a structure with a vinyl coating to withstand rot, weather, warp and UV rays.
  • A powder-coated steel pergola holds its own against rain, wind and shine. You can add a retractable weather-resistant canopy as a shelter from sudden rain showers.
  • A minimalist silhouette enhances your space rather than creating an overpowering presence. You may want a spot to cool off while working in your yard or splashing around in your pool.
  • An unstained solid wood pergola can be stained to the same shade as your wood deck.
  • If you like solid roofs, add a gazebo to paved patios, poolside decks and formal gardens. Consider your exterior architecture and color palette as your cues to find one that feels organic in your setting.
  • Add function and flair to your outdoor structure, or go old Hollywood glamour with privacy curtains to allow you to block out sunlight while in use. Or you might like a modern pagoda-style roof on your gazebo, complete with mosquito netting and an air vent for enhanced airflow.

Like to go camping? Why not add an outdoor canopy to your yard — it's easy to set up and gives shelter during games, picnics and grilling. Canopy tops can easily be replaced with fabric. You can even add wall panels. Whatever you choose, ensure it makes your backyard entertainment center enjoyable.

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