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Guide to Choosing a Pergola for Your Backyard

Adding a pergola to your backyard is a stylish way to create a defined space for outdoor entertainment and enjoyment. Whether you’d like to add a relaxing area beside the pool, a centerpiece for your garden, or a simple sitting area for backyard barbecues, it’s hard to beat the stylish appeal of a well-built pergola.

However, choosing the right pergola for your needs and budget can be overwhelming, with so many beautiful options available. Here’s how to narrow your choices.

What’s your design style for choosing a pergola?

Whether you’ve started building your backyard oasis or are still considering your options, your existing yard can tell you a lot about your style preferences.

Look at your current outdoor space. What do you like about it?

  • Do you prefer a rambling garden with lots of plant life at different heights or a more ordered garden with plants and flowers planted in neat and tidy rows?
  • Do you tend to keep your shrubs and trees neatly trimmed or like a bit of extra growth and disorder?
  • Do you have a defined patio space or established walkways?
  • Do you prefer rustic, country styling or modern sophistication?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. It comes down to personal preference. And those preferences can point you to the perfect pergola for your backyard.

For example, our arched pergolas are built with natural lines and curves that mimic nature’s grandeur, while traditional pergolas offer straight, clean lines for a more modern feel.

The pergola you choose will likely set the tone for your backyard space, so you’ll want to choose one that matches your personal style as closely as possible.

How will you use your pergola?


One of the best ways to decide on the right pergola for your needs is to consider how you will use it, both in your everyday life and on special occasions.

Many of our customers want to create a quiet oasis where they can relax with their morning cup of coffee. Others envision backyard barbecues or elegant dinners for two under the stars. Some dream of a centerpiece in the garden, where elegant vines climb and explore.

How you plan to use your pergola can help you narrow your choices in terms of size and features. For example, if you plan on doing a lot of entertaining outdoors, you’ll probably want a larger pergola to accommodate your guests. Also, if you’re planning to add outdoor kitchen features like a built-in grill or bar you will need additional space.

Garden enthusiasts may prefer a smaller, less obtrusive structure that blends with their plants more easily, creating a private, relaxing oasis. Arched pergolas also work well in garden areas, with their natural curves that complement nature’s beauty.

If you plan to spend time outdoors for some late-night stargazing, you’ll want to choose a more open-style pergola that gives you the best view of the sky above.

What materials and colors do you prefer?

Pergolas are available in both wood and maintenance-free vinyl styles and there are many reasons to choose either option.

pergola-lightsWood pergolas provide a more traditional look and feel, with the rich grain of the wood setting the tone. Plus, you can choose a variety of colors from natural clear-coat and light stains to darker, richer stain colors.

Vinyl pergolas offer maintenance-free convenience and are available in just two colors – white and ivory, making them easy to blend with just about any backyard decor.

Of course, if you like the look of both wood and vinyl, an Artisan pergola can be built with vinyl posts and a wood top for the best of both worlds.

 What size pergola should you get?

Ultimately, the size of your outdoor space will determine the right size pergola for your needs. Generally, the larger area you have, the larger the pergola can be.

You’ll want to factor in scale as well when deciding on the right pergola size. Choose a pergola pergola-size-dimensionsthat closely matches the size of other buildings and structures in the space. For example, if you have a small pool, you won’t necessarily want a large pergola in the same area. Each structure should be sized to match the scale of other elements for a balanced, cohesive look.

Finally, pergolas work best in flat, open areas. Be sure to measure the area where you’ll install your pergola to be sure there is sufficient space around it, so it doesn’t look crowded or intrusive.

How much shade do you need?

While pergolas are designed with an open-style top, they do offer a surprising amount of shade. The amount of shade a pergola provides will depend on how closely spaced the purlins and crossbars are. The closer they are, the more light they block.

If you plan to install your new pergola in an area that gets lots of sunshine, you may want to choose one with closely-spaced purlins or a lattice roof to give your space additional shade. However, if you prefer a more open top, an EZShade canopy gives more shade protection when you need it.

What pergola features do you like best?

While pergolas are designed to define a square or rectangular area in your outdoor space, there’s more to a great pergola than these simple shapes. You can easily go beyond standard posts and cross beams to give your pergola a unique look and feel.

For example, adding wider posts or columns completely changes the look of your pergola, giving it a more majestic feel.


Want your pergola to really stand out? Choose an arched or artisan-style top that gives your new pergola a bigger, more solid feel. Lattice roofing or privacy panels can also add to the style of traditional pergolas while providing extra privacy.

Choosing a pergola and the features give you lots of flexibility to create a pergola you’ll love for years to come.

While there are plenty of factors to consider when choosing the best pergola for your needs, opting for the simplest approach will make the task less daunting and much more fun. Determining your personal style, deciding how you’ll use your pergola, measuring your available space, exploring pergola materials, colors, and features and planning for the right amount of shade are all great ways to narrow your choices and choosing a pergola for lasting outdoor enjoyment.

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