Pergolas are a pretty easy and relatively low cost way to enhance your backyard.
The kicker is:
They give you the best of both worlds, a way to retain privacy and add shade, and you can make the most of them in the summer and, if you add a canopy, even when the weather might not be great.
But before you go ahead and buy a pergola there are a few things you will need to consider.
So without further ado let’s dive in:
What To Consider When You Buy A Pergola
Ok so in this article I have selected the best wood pergolas (although I have offered one metal alternative) as it is the most traditional choice, however there are other options so lets start there:
As I mentioned wood is the most traditional choice. You also have an element of variety as different woods will have different colors and different looks. You might need to reseal or stain them, but you will never have to worry about rusting.
Now if you don’t want wood you could consider a metal pergola. Metal pergolas are usually very sturdy and often easier to put together – however of course you do have the problem of rust…
Vinyl is easy to clean and pretty maintenance free – but lacks the elegant look you would get with a wood pergola and the strength and durability of a metal pergola.
Finally plastic is often a cheaper alternative, and you don’t have rust or splintering to worry about. However again it won’t look as sophisticated as a wooden pergola.
This is pretty self explanatory – the size of your yard will govern the size pergola you can get. Try and scale your pergola to the rest of your yard, if you have a reasonably small yard you don’t want a huge pergola that dominates it.
You will also want a flat open space to erect it.
Define Your Style
Again style is a personal choice. There are a whole range of styles of pergola – from the traditional post and beam style pergolas to lattice panel roofed pergolas – they come in all shapes and sizes and what you choose will be down to your tastes.
Don’t Get Left In The Shade
Unless you want to of course! Different pergolas will have different roofs offering differing degrees of shade. This is something you will need to think about.
You can of course add things like a fabric roof and lanterns to your pergola to give it that extra touch and if you want to enjoy it at all times.
Keep On The Right Side Of The Law
Before you start doing any of this check with your local council/city hall to make sure there are no issues with what you have planned and that you don’t need any planning permissions.
Pergolas, Arbors and Gazebos – What Is The Difference?
Arbors are similar but not the same as pergolas. First of all they are generally much smaller and second of all they are commonly used as a gateway or entry point into a garden or a part of a garden.
They can be used to give shade to smaller areas or just to grow plants or vines on their lattice framework.
Gazebos on the other hand are structures with a solid roof and are normally octagon or oval in shape. They are very sturdy and often have a raised floor and built in seating. They are more permanent buildings.
Pergolas are much bigger structures than arbors but lack the permanent roof and stability you might get with a gazebo. Falling somewhere between an arbor and a gazebo (although nearer on the spectrum to a gazebo).
Often they will be the same size as, if not bigger than, a gazebo and will have a lattice style roof that you can add a fabric cover to to give you shade and protect you from rain.
The video below shows some creative pergola ideas you could implement in your yard…
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The Best Wood Pergolas
#1 Suncast 10 x 12 Pergola
BEST FOR… Those wanting terrific value for money.
Overall Size (feet) – 10 H x 10 H x 12 D
Interior Space (feet) – 8 H x 8 W x 10 D
Inside Pergola Height – 85 inches
Overall Product Weight – 346 lbs
Ten Year Warranty
PRICE GUIDE: $$
Now this Suncast 10 feet x 12 feet pergola is not the cheapest wood pergola around, but in terms of what you get it may well be the best value for money.
So let’s get busy:
This measures 10 feet long by 10 feet wide by 12 feet high overall. The interior space measures 8 feet by 8 feet by 10 feet – the overall product weight is 346 lbs. It is made of Cedar and comes with a ten year warranty.
No doubt about it:
Pergolas can be expensive. If you are looking to get yourself the best wood pergola on the market then the truth is you are going to have fork out a lot of money.
Now I am not claiming this is the best wood pergola, BUT at the price point for the size and quality it is fantastic.
But not just that:
This is made from a Chinese Fir that looks like North American Cedar. It has fantastic resistance to weather and has a elegant knotted look that will add value to any yard.
The design is spot on. The arched roof lets in natural light and it stains really well. It is strong but not too bulky.
Assembly is good. All hardware is included, along with brackets, the instructions are clear and easy to follow and all the holes are pre-drilled and at the right height.
It is stable, durable and should withstand pretty harsh weather.
You get a great ten-year warranty – a sign of the confidence of the manufacturer in it and rightly so.
There are a couple of small issues that could be ironed out. The posts could be made slightly longer so they could be set in the ground into concrete.
Also the one area aesthetically that could be improved is where the main support poles meet the decorative caps towards the base. There is a gap that looks a little out of keeping with the rest of the design so you might want to invest in some trim to cover it up.
All things considered:
This is a wonderful investment. It offers great value for money, is sturdy and made of nice wood and is easy to assemble.
It looks and feels like a pergola twice the price – it is great!
BEST FOR… Those wanting an elegant looking pergola.
Overall Size (feet) – 12 W x 10 D x 7″10 H
Interior Space (feet) – 7 x 9
Headroom (feet) – 6’7″
Weight – 383 lbs
One Year Warranty
PRICE GUIDE: $$
A sturdy and elegant item, the Backyard Discovery Cedar Pergola will look good in any backyard.
Let’s take a closer look:
The pergola in total measures 12 feet wide by 10 feet deep by 7 feet 10 inches high. The actual headroom under the pergola is 6’7”.
Measuring from post to post the dimensions inside are 7 feet by 9 feet. It weighs 383 lbs and comes with a one year defect warranty and a five year warranty on the wood for rot and decay. Note the wood is stained, but it isn’t sealed.
The cool thing is:
This pergola has a really nice criss-cross style design that has the dual benefits of looking good, and also providing a strong and stable structure that should withstand inclement weather.
Aesthetically it will suit most yards and the lattice style design means you can easily hang a blind, lights or grow vines and roses on the body of the pergola.
In addition to that:
I like the cleverly designed foot covers that hide the anchors that stabilise the pergola and keep it secured to the ground.
With 63 feet of interior space – you have a good amount of room to relax and fit furniture in.
The wood is nicely sealed with a light coating of varnish.
The wood is Chinese Cedar (which does have its downsides – see below) – but it is light and easy to transport, which aids with getting it set up.
Even if you don’t add blinds or some kind of covering this pergola provides a good amount of shade.
As alluded to above the wood is Chinese Cedar, whilst this means it is lighter and easier to transport, it definitely isn’t as sold as normal Red Cedar. It still feels sturdy, so I don’t think it is too much of a concern.
And the nuts and bolts that come with this could be better. Some of them feel like they are made of poor quality steel, and you have to be careful when you are putting it together as you can quite easily damage the threads.
To cut a long story short:
With a beautiful look and clever design this is definitely one of the best wood pergolas around and will perfectly suit most backyards.
It will give you plenty of space to relax and you can easily beautify it more with lights, plants and all kind of extra things.
BEST FOR… Those wanting a more modern looking pergola.
Overall Size (inches) – 98 H x 144 W x 144 D
Interior Space (feet) – 8 H x 10 W x 10 D
Weight – 390 lbs
One Year Warranty
PRICE GUIDE: $$
Thanks to the lovely design of this Yardistry Pergola it is easy to forget you are outside – with the spacious feel and arched roof you can easily feel like you are in a room in your house.
So let’s jump right in:
This measures 12 feet long by 12 feet wide by 8 feet 2inches high. The dimensions of the base are 10 feet by 10 feet.
Inside the space it is 8 feet high by 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep. It is made of cedar, weighs 390 lbs and comes with a year’s warranty on the pergola kit and the wood itself has a five year warranty against rot and decay.
The key here is:
The design. It bucks the trend slightly from a lot of pergolas as it has a more modern feel with X designed corner panels and a unique arched style roof.
As mentioned it feels really open and spacious and you can easily feel like it is another room in your house.
There are some clever aspects such as the way the metal angle pieces, which provide support in the corners, are concealed nicely so you can barely see them.
And what’s more:
At just under 400 lbs this is a sturdy and stable pergola – you probably won’t even need to anchor it down, it certainly doesn’t feel like it will blow over.
This comes as a ready to assemble kit – the wood comes pre-cut, the predrilled holes all seem to be in the right places and the step-by-step instructions make it easy to put together.
Strange thing to say about a pergola – but this has a really lovely cedar scent!
It looks really attractive – as I mentioned, a bit different but in a good way.
It gives you a lot of space to put tables and chairs without feeling cluttered or cramped.
Just a warning though:
The wood is again soft and feels like it might chip and crack so you need to be careful with it. And this leads on to my second point you will need to seal it, paint it or stain to ensure it is protected against sun and rain.
In a nutshell:
This is one sturdy pergola! And it looks slightly different too – a step away from many pergola designs – but it looks great.
Perfect for anyone wanting something a little bit different.
If you are in two minds over getting a wood pergola than the Sunjoy Large Naples Pergola is a wonderful alternative with its nice sturdy, steel frame.
This measures 10 feet by 8 feet and comes with a retractable sling fabric top. Each leg has four holes on the base where you can anchor it down. It comes with a 12-month warranty.
Here’s the deal:
This comes with a sling roof you can pull back and pull across and the roof is extremely high quality. The fabric is really thick and heavy weight.
It is also made of a textilene fabric – almost like a plastic mesh coated material that repels water really well, whilst at the same time allowing wind to pass through to retain the utmost stability even in more extreme conditions.
The ‘roof’ is extremely easy to open and close – you literally slide it back and forward in seconds – it is a nice and intelligent design.
The steel frame has a rust-resistant, powder coated finish that should ensure it lasts for years to come.
You can easily add extras to this – for instance a roller blind on the shorted end of the frame – without interfering with the roof canopy.
The colors are really nice – the frame has a matte black finish and the canopy is a nice shade of grey, so the whole things looks really pleasant.
For a pergola this size it is fairly easy to assemble.
But be aware:
There are issues with the top trim moulding on each post acts almost like a cup, retaining rain, which won’t drain unless you manually clear it out – you will need to keep an eye on this otherwise it might rust.
Again, and I am not sure what it is with pergolas, but the instructions are really poor – the drawings are bad and some of the directions are very vague at best, again it is lucky that this is fairly intuitive to put together.
In a nutshell:
This is a nice pergola, and if you don’t want a wood pergola then this is a really good choice. It is solid and durable and the roof canopy is absolutely top class – as good as you will get on any pergola, and incredibly easy to open and close.
BEST FOR… Those wanting an arbor that can support a lot of plants.
Outside Dimensions (inches) – 64 W x 85 H x 28 D
Inside Dimensions (inches) – 42 W x 78 H x 22 D
Post Dimensions (inches) – 2 x 2
Weight – 32 lbs
20 Year Warranty
PRICE GUIDE: $
This Dura-Trel Arbor is one of my favorites – it looks very striking and would act as a wonderful decorative piece in any garden.
But before we get into that:
The inside measurements of this are 42 inches wide x 78 inches high x 22 inches deep. Outside dimensions are 64 inches wide x 85 inches high x 28 inches deep.
The posts are 2 inches by 2 inches in size and it has a pergola style top. It comes with a 20 year warranty.
The truth is:
If a pergola will be too big, but you want something beautiful looking that will support fairly heavy plants, vines and/or fruit you can’t go wrong with this arbor.
The 2 inch square posts are very sturdy and it is made with PVC vinyl – all in all this is one solid, heavy duty arbor – perfect for brightening up your yard.
It doesn’t stop there:
As mentioned this is made of PVC vinyl – high quality PVC vinyl and boy does it feel like it is built to last – it really should withstand even the harshest of conditions.
And you can tell how much confidence the manufacturers have as this has an amazing 20 year warranty!
To top it all off this comes with 16 inch, high quality, anchors, to stake this into the ground. Even in the strongest winds it will prevent it from moving.
It really does look beautiful – it looks like a very high quality piece of manufacturing
But, taking everything into consideration, it is really well priced! Considering the quality and the 20 year warranty I think the value is hard to beat.
That isn’t to say this is perfect:
Being picky I don’t like the white screws which are not that attractive when you look at the arbor close up and it comes with super glue to glue parts of it together.
Also the instructions are terrible. A couple of paragraphs and a few not very helpful photos. Luckily it isn’t too hard to work out how to put it together yourself.
But to sum up:
This is a wonderful arbor for growing plants on as it is so sturdy and well built it can support a lot. To top it off it looks wonderful and will last you – I mean it comes with a 20 year warranty, that is pretty unheard of!
BEST FOR… Those wanting a simple but elegant arbor.
Outside Dimensions (inches) – 63 W x 86 H x 23.6 D
Lattice Side Panel Width (inches) – 18
Distance Between Side Panels (inches) – 51.5
Weight – 32 lbs
One Year Warranty
PRICE GUIDE: $
Another good arbor, if a pergola is too big for you is the Giantex 85” Wood Arbor – with a simple, but eye catching design it will add a real charm to your yard.
Let’s dive in:
In total this measures 63 inches wide by 23.6 inches deep and is 85 inches high. It has lattice side panels which are 18 inches wide. The distance between the side panels is 5.15 inches.
It weighs 32 lbs and is chinese fir wood that is stained. It has a one year warranty.
It would be unfair to call this a no-frills arbor, because it is far more than that. But all in all it is simply made and put together.
That isn’t to say, despite the low price tag, it is a cheap product. That would be doing a disservice to a very nice arbor.
What I really love is:
This is nicely constructed. It has well fastened side panels, is moisture resistant and delicately constructed.
It is really simple to put together – the side panels are pre-assembled, every screw and pin has its own code that corresponds to the instructions. You will have it up in no time.
Despite the wood being light it does feel sturdy and solid – you will need to secure it to an adjoining surface with L brackets, or bury it in the ground – but it should hold up to most weather conditions.
It is pretty versatile – ideal for weddings or parties, as a nice arched entrance to a garden, for growing plants and flowers on and more.
It is a really good garden product for a very good price.
A word of warning:
The wood is very light – it isn’t Cedar it is Chinese Fir, so you do need to have something to anchor it to or it may blow over.
If you plan on having this out in the elements you will need to seal it otherwise it will weather rather quickly.
But the point is:
This is beautiful and affordable – the perfect combination. Whilst the wood is quite light you can’t tell that by looking at – it has an elegant look and can act as a lovely natural gateway in your garden.
Steve is a one time gardening hater turned into gardening obsessive.This was all thanks to going to University where a two year stint spent transforming the previously horrific garden of the student house he lived in left him addicted to all things horticultural!Now with a new house in tow and due to some fortunate circumstances he is free to test out a whole host of gardening equipment.Find out more about Steve or drop him an email at email@example.com.