Used in ancient Egypt, the pergola was a common feature of early Renaissance gardens in Italy and subsequently throughout Europe. Its purpose was, and still is, to provide a foundation on which climbing plants can grow to give shade. Houston landscapers use pergolas as a type of landscaping structure designed to provide shade in otherwise sunny areas that allow guests and homeowners to enjoy the sky and light.
Most pergolas are commonly made of wood and use simple beams or latticework for coverings. It is on this latticework that vines or other plants grow to add a leafy addition to the yard and also vertical interest. These days, pergolas make use of new materials. Aside from the prevalent and classic wooden pergolas, you will also see vinyl, aluminum and others as materials in its construction. Often concrete, stone and brick may be used for the pillars. Vinyl pergolas have also moved into prominence and make for a sophisticated look befitting either a simple or elaborate design. The advantage of using vinyl is that it won’t warp, stain, crack, or rot.
There are several pergola styles to choose from, plus many different variations on these styles. Columned pergolas tend to have strong, large columns instead of the simple posts that the earliest pergolas used. Often these columns are made of a contrasting material, like stone or concrete. You will even see elaborate pergolas using two columns at each corner for more dramatic effect.
Adjacent pergolas use only two posts and the roofing beams run across to a side of the house, garage or other structure. This type of pergola is useful for patios and decks that are built adjacent to the house, hence the name. The deck and pergola therefore can be combined into one unit. The problem is usually in construction. The pergola beams typically need to be installed into the house siding, which requires some extra work so using a skilled craftsman is recommended.
A garden room pergola is designed separate from the house; likewise it is detached from patios and decks entirely. These pergolas are commonly located in the middle of lawns and gardens and often are shaped like a square, although any shape will work.
There are many ways you can integrate a pergola into your landscape:
- Create a pathway, made of brick, gravel, pavers, or some combination thereof.
- Place a water feature in it, such as a custom outdoor fountain or hot tub.
- Build a pergola over the spa end of pool to create sense of enclosure.
- Make it the focal point for a large yard.
- Coordinate your building materials to match those used in your landscaping or house.
The plants you might want to use, of course, run the gamut of climbing vines and blooming plants acclimated to our weather. Some suggestions:
- Clematis climbs using tendrils that twine nicely around posts and columns.
- The sun-loving deciduous climber trumpet vine produces gorgeous orange-pink trumpet-shaped flowers from late summer to autumn.
- A classic, the twining annual morning glory has a superb flower display throughout the summer and autumn.
- Another classic is the honeysuckle vine whose fragrance, which is particularly heady at dusk, encourages anyone passing through to pause a while to take in the surrounding beauty and peacefulness.