Once that summer sun rolls in, the one thing that binds us all together is the need for shade. Even filtered shade is better than roasting away under those ozone rays. And the best way to achieve that much sought-after sun reprise is with a pergola.
Get Ultimate Shade With 16 Best DIY Outdoor Pergola Ideas
The concept of a pergola has been around for a long time but is becoming a modern design feature in today’s homes. It is a stylish outdoor feature - without walls and rafter roof - that gives shade while allowing summer breezes to waft through.
A pergola not only adds style to your yard but is an architectural feature that can bring value to your home. Many pergola designs focus on social gathering spots like covering an outdoor kitchen or sheltering patio furniture. Or, it may serve as a way to build a quiet, cozy corner in your yard for an outdoor swing. A pergola can also be a functional way to define an outdoor space, especially helpful if you are currently gazing out your window at a largely undefined space.
Whatever your intention, a pergola is a great DIY project for building the landscape of your Pinterest dreams. There are many pergola ideas, from simple to challenging, that will help bring shade and relaxation to your yard. Check out these 16 of our best DIY pergola ideas.
How to Build a DIY Pergola
What exactly is a pergola, you may ask? It is traditionally an architectural structure, often comprised of overhead wooden rafters, that brings filtered sun protection to an outdoor space. A common misperception is that a pergola offers full shade relief, like a porch. At best, a pergola is an overhead network of beams and rafters that provides some shade relief but also helps to define outdoor areas for social chit chats or quiet solitude.
Like any DIY building project, it’s advisable to have a plan! Many pergola designs extend 18-20” beyond the overhang so all measurements should be taken into consideration, especially if erecting a pergola near your home.
Unless you plan to level and grade part of your yard, you are advised to pick a flat area on which to build the pergola. And if already have trees in the yard, consider locating the pergola near them for optimal shade.
Pergolas come in all shapes and sizes. Some are free-standing structures while others are built onto existing decks. Most are made with pressure-treated wood although steel and vinyl pergola options exist. We have a great variety of pergola plans to get your shade-seeking wheels going!
DIY Wooden Pergolas
With a brand new deck to protect, Sue P. designs a two-legged wooden pergola, or “cantilevered” pergola. In this design, the posts sit outside the deck. This adds more stability to the pergola than posts that attach to the top of the deck. Her handy husband builds this architecturally stunning pergola for $400 in lumber!
Gail, at the blog Purple Hues and Me, also has a new patio to showcase. Her challenge is to create a pergola around a curved stone patio wall. With a few online ideas to gain inspiration from, Gail designs a pergola plan and hires a company to make this vision a reality. The highlight of the pergola is a decorative panel in the center of four pressure-treated wood posts with vinyl coating.
Many great things come from hand-me-downs. And for Larissa, it was second-hand patio furniture that sets off a complete patio and DIY pergola project. Amazingly, she and her husband transform their empty backyard canvas with six kids running around! They build a traditional wooden pergola large enough for a 10 ft. farmhouse table to fit underneath.
Rachel from The Olde Farmhouse uses an online design plan as the foundation for her backyard pergola. The DIY pergola is from the site Family Handyman and is tweaked for their outdoor space and needs. Rachel has since stained the wooden pergola and enjoys dining under the pergola on temperate evenings.
DIY builder, Kingdom By The Creek Design, builds a stunning multi-tier deck with two wooden pergolas. This great outdoor entertaining space not only offers filtered shade over their dining table but an additional pergola for plants and decor near an outdoor fireplace. The pergola overhangs have beautiful hand scrolled ends for a high-end finish on this all-hands-on-deck outdoor project. No pun intended.
Creative DIY Pergolas Ideas
Not all pergolas must be made from wood! Building a pergola for one’s yard can take on all sorts of iterations, like Hayley’s steel wire pergola ...made on the cheap.
She can’t afford a traditional wooden pergola but still wants some decorative structure on which to grow jasmine plants. She buys two large wooden posts and has them metered into her existing brick patio. She then strings steel wire between them and runs heavy duty garden wire to support the jasmine as it grows - as her natural shade structure.
Kerry also uses two wooden posts and extra large gardening buckets to create her affordable DIY pergola. She fills each bucket with both gravel and quick set concrete around the 10’ 4x4 wood posts. Thanks to a hook screwed into each post, Kerry strings pretty twinkle lights for easy outdoor ambiance.
See post: Kerry|Multipurpose Patio Posts
West Virginia Hometalker, Dixonscarol, has a unique solution to her desire to grow wisteria plants. In an effort to avoid the hard work of sinking large wooden posts into her hilly yard, she purchases and assembles TWO Amish wood swings. Across the top of the swings, she connects them with 12’ beams and lays rafters across the top. How relaxing it is to swing underneath the wisteria in this unique DIY pergola solution?
Good husband, Stephen Taylor, wants to create a relaxing backyard spot for his wife. He builds a cozy little spot for her to sit and overlook the harbor. He uses a bunch of 4x4 from an old project to build a slanted wooden bench that sits nicely under a small pergola. Stephen encases the pergola with a wooden trellis, perfect for planting climbing vines.
See post: Stephen Taylor|Pergola/Arbor/Seat
DIY Front Yard Pergola Plans
Not all pergolas must be built in the backyard. Many think of pergolas as primarily a backyard feature to cover an outdoor eating area or a hot tub. But pergolas can live just as beautifully in the front yard, filtering the front entrance of a home or as an architectural way to create an outdoor living space in the front yard.
A front yard pergola can also add immediate curb appeal. SpDad took his rather boring front yard to the next level when he creates an outdoor pergola with the roof at the front of his home. He lays patio stones under the pressure treated 4x4 posts and completes his free-standing pergola structure with furniture and hanging swing. His home is boring no more!
See post: SpDad|Front Porch Pergola
Hometalk contributor CK gives his 1960 home a facelift with the addition of a small pergola to cover his front entrance. He updates his old, sagging concrete landing with cedar planks and builds a very simple pergola on top. It definitely brings this retro era home into modern day!
How to Create a Pergola Canopy
When the Midwest humidity gets to be too much for this Rescued Furnishings blogger, she finds herself walking the aisles of her local home improvement store. She desperately needs shade to cover her brand new wooden pergola. Thirty dollars in 15’ long canvas drop later, she is able to fully cover the pergola. Now that’s some affordable shade!
Deb also creates her own pergola canopy using painter’s canvas, wire, and grommets. She punches grommets into the canvas, 18” apart, and inserts carabiner hooks to secure the canopy onto the top of the wooden pergola. The entire shade structure has wire supports and is tightened to prevent sagging.
See post: Deb|Pergola Shade
Remember Kerry’s affordable wood posts in gardening buckets DIY pergola idea? She purchases an outdoor sail cloth from her local Costco. When she brings it home, she discovers it’s about 5’ too long. No worries, though! She simply folds the excess and runs a simple seam through the sail to achieve both the aesthetic and functional purpose of summertime shade.
See post: Kerry|Multipurpose Patio Posts
Magazine-Worthy Pergola Designs
Larissa from the blog Prodigal Pieces compliments her DIY wooden pergola structure with reclaimed and repurposed finds, like the $1 hanging flower baskets she transforms into rustic lighting. Add some twinkle lights and you have the perfect alfresco dining room!
Tonya adds to her outdoor space year after year but is happy to declare her backyard done! After eight years, she builds a beautiful deck and entertaining zone with a great wood pergola. She compliments the pergola with DIY outdoor curtains. You’ll never guess what Tonya uses to make these curtains...
Chocolate and Sunshine blogger has the perfect solution to that blazing summer sun that shines through her back deck pergola. She erects a long curtain rod underneath the pergola rafters and hangs breezy, lightweight curtains. This helps to block that western afternoon sun.
When you think of quiet solitude in your own backyard, your mind may naturally go to a swing. It’s the best spot to rock your cares away! And the DIY duo, Kelly-n-Tony, want to add sturdy wood swings underneath their pergola for those last-night bonfires ...and summertime s’mores.
They find a free plan to build a DIY outdoor pergola swing online that requires little tool experience. Great news if you are new to Weekend Warrior projects, especially if you ask the lumber yard to cut the wood pieces for you. Eye Bolts on the sides of the swing secure the chains that hang from the pergola. Bring on the marshmallows and graham crackers!
See post: Kelly-n-Tony|The Perfect Pergola Swing
These Pergola Ideas Bring Value to your Home
Pergolas are a wonderful way to bring some much-needed shade to your yard or to create and define “zones” within an otherwise undefined space. A pergola can also bring quiet solitude when built to be small and cozy or to create welcoming yet intimate entertaining areas. Grow climbing plants or cover with lattice for shade and privacy.
Pergolas can often be seen as an extension of a house, expanding the living square footage of a home. It can serve as a nice transition between indoors and out. Cheaper to build than actual walls and roof, a pergola has the effect of creating an additional room. It can turn an otherwise ordinary outdoor space into something special.
Be sure to check building codes in your area if you need a permit or homeowners association permission before building a pergola structure. For complicated projects, consider working with a professional contractor.
For even more ideas on DIY pergola design ideas and other great DIY home projects, be sure to check out Hometalk today! How will you enhance your outdoor landscape today?
Written for the Hometalk community by: Victoria | Dazzle While Frazzled