Adding a simple deck pergola can change an ordinary sitting area into a beautiful, shaded environment, laced with colorful flowers, and the scents associated with them. The term pergola itself is derived from the Latin word pergula, which means "eave," and pergolas are often used to connect buildings as a sort of unprotected extension of the buildings eaves, or used to connect multiple buildings with an open latticework. An open deck with a beamed pergola adds sophistication, and offers ample opportunity for hanging plants or even a base for climbing ivy or honeysuckle.
The Arched Pergola
Another popular method of incorporating a pergola into your outdoor décor is to create a continuous arched arbor, forming a semi-open passageway that leads up to the deck. A nice touch is to build the pergola wide enough to allow bench seats to be placed on either side. Light the passage with discreetly placed solar lighting, similar to those used to line drives and walkways.
Pergolas Make Excellent Arbors
If an arched arbor is not to your pleasing, or if you'd rather the pergola were mounted to the deck, consider using large hardwood beams tied lightly together using lighter lumber, such as 2 x 6. Similar designs are used in Europe to support sprawling grape vines, allowing the fruit to hang within easy reach as it ripens.
Build According to Load
Keep in mind that the more weight your pergola will have to support, the larger the columns and beams will need to be. If there will not be any additional weight, 4 x 4 posts will serve nicely as the columns, but if you plan on the pergola coming to life with climbing plants such as wisteria, then increase the columns to at least 6 x 6. A traditional load bearing pergola is usually constructed using lumber ranging from 2 x 6 to 2 x 10, while larger, more expansive pergolas may even be built using 4 x 8 beams.
Variations on Pergolas
There are many decorative pergola ideas. Japanese lanterns may be mounted on the support columns, providing a soft light. another idea is to build table and benches around the columns, effectively masquerading the pergola supports. You can even notch the cross-beams so that they interlock with the main beams, providing a more solid, visually appealing structure.
While a pergola does not provide much shelter from sun or rain, a deck mounted pergola can be easily converted to shelter by spreading a tarpaulin across it. It may even be feasible to add a retractable awning that can easily be rolled out when needed, but leaving the pergola open the rest of the time.
Pergolas Add Accent
A pergola is a unique structure that implies walls and a ceiling in a space that has neither. It may be a simple architectural design that has been passed down for hundreds of years, but it is also a fresh alternative to traditional deck and patio designs, offering aesthetic appeal and unlimited ways to make it a personalized design. It is also an affordable way to accent a lawn, garden or deck.