Garden Design Details: Pergolas

Sometimes being a designer means solving a mystery.  I’d like to say that clients’ desire for structures and elements to be incorporated into their garden’s design was consistent and cyclical, but it’s not.  This spring I find myself being asked for several pergolas and outbuildings to be part of the landscape designs I’m working on.

I like to show clients inspiration early in the design process.  I find that these images not only help them to clarify their vision, but they help me to understand it as well.  Pergolas all follow the same format…it’s the details that change.  What color is it? What materials are we going to use?  Will it be a transition from one place to another or a place to linger?  Will it be attached or freestanding?  Will it be contemporary or tradtional?   With that in mind, below are several pergola ideas for a wide range of clients and styles.


A pergola with a pitched roof and weathered finish
A rustic stickwork pergola
Uber contemporary rooftop 'pergola' structure


Clean, geometric detailing
Planters between posts (this is one of mine btw)


Pergola and vertical garden hybrid!

There are just about as many variations as the imagination can dream up.  Some are simple to build, some complex.  Please click on each photo to be taken to its source.

3 thoughts on “Garden Design Details: Pergolas

  1. Pergolas are far and away one of my favorite garden structures. I especially love the last one with built in planters. How fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing. =]

    Fifthroom Living
    I believe as people strive to become more in touch with the areas outside of their homes that we’ll see more and more of these types of outdoor structures being requested.–s

  2. Enclosures are perfect for gatherings and provide a sense of coziness. The stick work pergola is great with the mix of stones.
    Not many clients would understand without an image how sophisticated this mix of materials can be…–s

  3. Thanks for sharing those inspiring structures. Whether called “ramadas” in the Desert SW or “overheads” in San Diego, there is really nothing that carries out the indoors outward than these.

    And in the high desert, they take far less time to provide shade than a limited selection of arid-adapted trees, still only sold in diminuitive initial sizes!
    Thank you for giving me more names…I live and work in the very conservative NE so pergola it is for me althoug ‘ramada’ sounds so much more romantic and ‘overhead’ not so much!–s

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