Artisan style wooden pergola with outdoor seating area and a nearby dining area.

Pergolas and Gazebos Beyond the Backyard

Pergolas and gazebos have been regular fixtures in backyards and outdoor landscapes for centuries. Their simple yet versatile designs, paired with the range of available building material, making them a staple in so many yards. Outdoor structures such as gazebos and pergolas provide a level of decorative and functional use that make them appealing for an assortment of locations, including parks and homes of all sizes.

While the two structures feature different designs and shapes, they’re both quite at home in the backyard. However, contemporary designers have expanded the use, location, and function of pergolas and gazebos to make them a welcome addition to other parts of a property.

Alternate uses for pergolas

Pergolas are for more than just the backyard. Determining the best place for a pergola should involve deciding how to best utilize the structure’s shade and distinct shape.


1. Outside the yard

They can provide shade for spaces as small as a sitting area, or as large as an entire walkway. This means they’ll be right at home out front or along a stone pathway leading to the yard or house.

2. Entryways

Station a smaller pergola at the entrance to a garden, yard, or back door to create a whimsical entryway. Their partially shaded top and sturdy post sides make them excellent for accentuating gated entrances or for framing more rustic-looking doors. The shape of a pergola also makes it ideal for creating an impromptu entryway where there is no fence or existing barrier.

3. Along park walkways

A pergola could also be an eye-pleasing way to guide visitors through a park by creating a tunnel covered in climbing plants and flowers. A Wisteria-covered pergola would actually be a very modern replacement for the classic green tunnel, especially given the more permanent nature of the pergola’s architecture.

4. Sitting areas

Create a unique sitting area anywhere—in the front yard, in a park, by the water’s edge. Wherever you think a cozy bench would be right at home, capitalize on the pergola’s strong design lines and covering to lend shade to the spot.

Other ways to use gazebos

Gazebos have always found their home in lush parks and beautiful outdoor landscapes, but they’re more than just bandstands.


1. Waterside shade for fishing

A smaller gazebo placed by the lake or pond can provide fishers with a shaded place to fish and enjoy the water. Some gazebos can be found at the ends of docks or even on the water, built on floats. Besides shading fishers, they can be outfitted with seats or other fishing essentials to make the outing more productive and relaxing.

2. Wedding fixture

Gazebos make lovely spots to exchange nuptials. They can be decorated for the occasion, or constructed for that very purpose. A gazebo’s ability to become the focal point of any gathering makes them perfect for weddings, especially if it’s in an open outdoor space.

3. Camping

Meals can be taken on more rustic gazebos in the woods, and even tents can be set up if you’re looking to make camping a little more comfortable.

4. Outdoor lunch areas

A shaded lunch area is always on the menu when it comes to eating outside. Whether it’s a bigger lunch or a picnic meal for two, a gazebo has both a cover and a sturdy surface sitting. Larger gazebos can accommodate tables and chairs, and make great additions to the exterior of schools, businesses, and rustic restaurants.

5. Poolside

Poolside structures are definitely in style. Gazebos have a lot to offer pool owners, promising shade, a comfortable lounge area, and more. Some owners even incorporate the gazebo into the pool design, using slides and floating bars in conjunction with the gazebo structure.

A new way to use a pergola may come to mind when you realize that the end of your pier is looking awful lonely and that it would be great to have a little shade when you’re down by the water trying to enjoy the sunset.

There are many ways to refresh the concept of outdoor structures. It all depends on your budget, imagination, and needs.

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