11 of the best pergola design ideas

A pergola is something many Luxury homes have in their backyards, but what is it, and how do you build a good one?

What is a pergola?

A pergola is a basic yet practical garden structure that can serve multiple purposes. According to the dictionary, a garden pergola is defined as ‘an arch or a structure with a roof over which climbing plants can be grown’.

An outdoor pergola can be a place to put your outdoor setting to ensure it is undercover, or it can simply be a place that offers shade and privacy within your garden.

What makes a good pergola?

“A good pergola design idea should be fully functional to suit your needs and lifestyle; it should be affordable, low maintenance and offer good privacy and excellent sunshade. A specialist pergola builder will be able to advice on the best style, size and materials based on your requirements and budget.”

What is trending in pergola designs and ideas right now?

Skew shapes, cantilevers and transparent pergolas have all become very popular recently.

What can a pergola are made of?

A pergola can be made from timber, metal or aluminum.

Timber pergolas have the advantage of being a natural product with a natural look, feel and texture which many homeowners seek. Hardwood or treated pines are most common though both require regular maintenance in order to protect it from the elements.

Metal pergolas, such as those made from Color bond, won’t rust and can be constructed quickly if bought in kit form .They can cover a wide area with less structural support required than timber.

Aluminum pergolas are lightweight and strong options that also won’t rust. Powder coated aluminum comes in a greater range of color options and offers greater protection.

What are the Advantage and Disadvantage of a pergola?

There are a few Advantage and Disadvantage to having a pergola in your backyard.


If a pergola has thinly spaced slats or a climbing plant growing over it, then it will provide shade when protection is needed for the sun. If the pergola has a deciduous climber growing over it, then it will offer shade in summer and sun in the winter when you want it. Another benefit of having climbing plants growing over your pergola is that it will make the structure feel like it’s tied to the garden.

Pergolas can be great for breaking up a space, creating a secondary seating area or resting place when meandering through a garden, defining different zones in an outdoor area, and also creating visual interest to draw the eye to. For example, you may want to attract family or friends to a particular part of the backyard for entertaining, or to deter people from certain areas that may be less attractive or safe. A pergola can provide the perfect solution for this, drawing people in for entertaining, relaxing, cooking – whatever you want people to do in the pergola space.

Pergolas are versatile in the way they can be used, but also in the way they can be designed. They come in a variety of sizes, materials and finishes and are suitable for many different budgets and styles of home. They’re also great for hanging plants and vines from, and you can even attach and alternate lights and awnings, depending on the look you’re trying to achieve.


When installing a pergola, you’ve got to make sure it works not only in terms of functionality, but also in terms of your existing outdoor aesthetic.

There can be a temptation to DIY a pergola because there are plenty of low-cost, in-store products on the market that can be assembled very quickly and easily. However, the problem with these types of products is that they’re often mass-produced with very little consideration for quality and design. Their materials are often not durable, and can look quite cheap. The biggest caution would be against going with the cheapest and quickest option on the market, because you’ll likely get far less use out of the pergola in the long run. And if you really want a top-quality pergola that can be used season-in, season-out over many years, get a professional in to the job and use quality materials. You’ll get much more bang for your buck over time.

Pergola is also less versatile than a fully covered outdoor structure which can be used in all weather conditions.

Complete cover protection, on the other hand, can be insulated, with heat pads and fans to assist with comfort. They also allow for down lights, power, fridges and the like so they’re often easier than pergolas to justify the spend on.

3 tips for designing a pergola

Get the aspect right. “Facing north is good because it will provide shade in the summer and allow the warm sunlight through during winter.”

Use quality materials. “A chunky hardwood that can be left to weather and go a little rustic. This will not only look good, but it will also save you time and money on maintenance.”

Detail trims. “If you have a contemporary space, stay away from doing too many details in the timber or swirling corner braces. Keep the cuts square or add a simple angle cut, but nothing more.”


Different types of Pergolas


  1. Pergola with a shade-cloth roof 

Although small and simple this timber pergola design has been given a dark stain and the shade cloth has been chosen to match the it. The result feel Asian-inspired and exotic.

  1. Louvered pergola

The benefit of a louvered pergola is that you can change the roofing to allow in more light or provide more shade thanks to the adjustable mechanisms. This particular design is attached to the house and wraps around the side of the property, providing shelter and a place to hang out during summer. The navy and cream colour palette is a classic colour combination. For the most versatility, have the pergola roof made to be retractable and adjustable so it caters to all events and weather.

  1. Cantilevered pergola

A cantilevered pergola is the perfect option for those looking for a way to create a little extra shade over a spot in your garden or over a pool, as it is here. A reasonably simple structure, it works best in gardens with a modern vibe.

  1. Modern pergola

Drawing in the 70’s interior trend of sunken conversation pits, this timber pergola design idea is perfect for adding a little luxury to a garden or backyard.

  1. Pool and deck pergola

Made from timber and wire this particular pergola design is perfect for climbing plants to grow on. As it develops it will provide a beautiful, lush and natural shade position within your garden. Locating it on your deck or by the pool give it extra tropical vibes.

  1. Free standing pergola

A freestanding pergola can appear in any backyard whether it’s covered in grass or concrete. Here a timber pergola with a pitched roof has been built to provide pool-side shade in a modern and low-maintenance backyard.

  1. Pergola with a pitched roof

Attached to the house this pergola design idea has a pitched roof and lattice enclosing it, providing the residents with extra privacy, a spot of shade and the perfect place to entertaining alfresco.

  1. Pergola attached to house

This timber pergola idea is a simple yet effective design that will complement most homes. Being attached to the main house makes is excellent for entertaining and provides a little extra shelter when the weather cools down.

  1. Thatched pergola

A thatched pergola is the perfect way to inject jungle vibes into your garden, or make you feel as though you’re on permanent vacation on some tropical beach. The structure is the same as any traditional pergola, and the roof can be pitched or flat, just use a natural plant-based product to thatch the roof rather than timber, color bond or Perspex.

  1. Traditional pergola

Made from timber and located within a small backyard, this traditional pergola design idea shows just how romantic and beautiful climbing plants can be. Just add fairy lights and lanterns for a fancy occasion.

  1. Steel pergola design

More suited to a house with industrial design features, this steel pergola design idea features strong lines, is robust, minimalist and probably fits better into an urban environment with concrete than soft gardens.

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