1. The word "pergola" is derived from the Latin "pergula," a term which refers to projecting eaves. While pergolas can extend from your home to provide shelter over a patio, they also can be used as freestanding elements to shade a walkway.
2. The basic pergola is comprised of a series of large pillars supporting a roof made of cross beams and open lattice. Traditionally, vines are trained to grow up the pillars and across the roof, providing additional shade and cool ambiance.
3. Ancient pergolas were made from stone, or simply tied-together branches to form a natural arch. Today, most pergolas are made from weather-resistant wood that can be stained or painted white for a charming, cottage look.
4. Climbing plants can be trained to grow on a pergola. Fragrant flowers add delicately scented ambiance to a seating area, while fruiting plants like grapes or berry vines provide a convenient snack along a walkway.
5. Current landscaping trends favor stone patios over wood decks. It is important to shade your stone patio so it doesn't get uncomfortably hot, and a pergola will cast unique, dancing light patterns over your patio so it stays cool and enticing on hot days.
6. Pergolas are ideal for use in hot climates, as the vine-draped lattice roof provides refreshing shade while the open sides allow the breeze to blow through. The vines are natural air conditioners, as the act of photosynthesis removes warming carbon dioxide from the air while adding cooling moisture.
7. As architectural elements, pergolas ease the transition from an indoor space to an outdoor space and welcome you into the garden. The straight lines of the pergola will contrast nicely with the flowing forms of nature to provide visual interest in addition to a delectable outdoor seating area.
8. A freestanding walkway pergola creates a sense of direction in your garden and provides a welcome respite from the hot sun as you stroll along. Consider placing a bench or a swing under the pergola to encourage a leisurely rest.
9. Although most people consider pergolas and arbors to be similar structures, they actually serve very different purposes. Arbors are relatively small structures that are usually arched at the top; they often mark the "doorways" into the garden. Pergolas are larger structures with flat roofs that provide shade over a seating area or along a walkway.
10. Vinyl and metal are good alternatives to wood or stone as pergola-building materials. Vinyl pergolas require little upkeep, while metal versions are incredibly sturdy. Look for UV-resistant, rust-proof finishes to ensure your pergola will stay beautiful for years to come.