Gazebo vs. Pergola

A pergola in the middle of a spacious yard, surrounded by trees.

When it comes to outdoor living, nothing is more relaxing than sitting in a gazebo or walking through a pergola. Every spring there are more and more gazebo and pergola designs to accent that special area of your yard. But how do you choose between the two? Will a gazebo fit your needs or would a pergola make a better fit? Which one will highlight your yard better?


When it comes to outdoor living, nothing is more relaxing than sitting in a gaze

A gazebo is a large, octagonal structure in a private or public garden space, often used as a location to congregate and relax.

In the late 18th century gazebos were built into hillsides to accentuate the grandiose countryside views and also doubled as a way to watch for intruders. They are typically open on all sides, but nowadays they can be screened in for protection from insects. Some communities build them large enough to double as a bandstand.

Most permanent gazebos are built of wood, but you can get a less expensive, less permanent gazebo as well. Less permanent gazebos are more like a screen tent. Even though they are temporary, they still add a bit of zing to your yard. The frames are usually aluminum and can be assembled within hours. Because most of them are square they aren’t a true gazebo, but that is what manufacturers are merchandising them as.

Kits for gazebos can be purchased online or at big box hardware stores. And for the adventurous, there are sites where you can design your own gazebo.



A pergola is a structure with posts or pillars supporting cross-beams and an open lattice, forming a shaded walkway, passageway or sitting area.

Pergolas are prominent garden structures in desert climates, but are growing in popularity elsewhere. They are more popular in warm climates because pergolas provide a place for vines to grow, and in turn, the vines provide shade. Currently, pergolas don’t necessarily have to have vines to provide shade. Some of the newer designs put lattice on top of the cross rafters that provide dappled shade, but still let a lot of sun shine through.

Pergola kits can be found online and at big box retailers.

Which One Is for You?

The three biggest differences between gazebos and pergolas are in their visual structures. Gazebos are typically round or octagonal, while pergolas are square or rectangular. Gazebos have a roof, while pergolas have cross beams, but no roof. Finally, gazebos are separate from any other structure while pergolas can link two structures together or stand alone.

Think about where you want a structure in your yard. If it is to accent a deck or patio, then a pergola would be the way to go. If you want a structure further out in your yard, incorporated into a garden or at the end of a path, then a gazebo is for you. Either way, both structures dress up your yard and make a fine place to relax and enjoy friends.