Pergolas are an increasingly-popular garden feature, a type of shaded walkway that include climbing vines and plants. In addition to enhancing an already beautiful garden area or backyard, a properly constructed pergola can provide shade during hot days as well as some shelter from rain.
What You’ll Need
To construct your pergola, you will need a few items. Although a pergola can be built using stone pillars, most modern pergolas are built using wooden pillars. This is much easier to work with when building your own pergolas, and a wooden pergola is what this article will concentrate on.
Obviously, the first thing you will need is wood. It’s best to purchase weather-treated wood so that it can longer withstand the ravages of rain and snow. Before beginning the project, you might also want to stain or paint your wood as it will be much easier to do at this stage than later on. To build a simple pergola, you will need four posts 9.8 foot long by 3.3 by 3.3 inches thick. You will also need two wooden cross beams 5.9 feet long by 1.3 by 1.3 inches. You will also need several beams 9.8 feet long by 1.7 inches by 3.7 inches. If you would like to build a more complex pergola on your own, luckily you can find quite a few free pergola designs online.
You will also need several tools. Grab yourself a shovel, level, a wood saw, a cordless drill, safety glasses and a step ladder. In addition to these tools, you will also need ballast and concrete, lag bolts, screws and spare battening. Once you’ve got your wood, your tools and your supplies, you are ready to begin building.
Building the Pergola
The first step to building your pergola is to clear off the area where you are going to place it. Remove any weeds or debris in this area, and mark off the area where you are going to place your posts, about six feet apart. It might be necessary to level the ground; building the pergola on a slant can lead to a crooked structure that may fall easier.
Where you marked off the land, dig holes one foot wide by two feet deep. In these holes, place the posts. You can shore up the construction by screwing the battening between the two adjacent posts. The goal here is to have four posts that are able to stand well on their own. Once the posts are standing firmly, pack ballast in the bottom of each hole around each post and make sure the ballast is level. Fill the holes with mixed cement and let dry for at least 24 hours or until completely dried. Use the level to make sure the posts are standing as straight as possible.
Next, remove the batten and climb up on the ladder. At the top of each of the four posts, drill a hole. Also, drill a hole through each of the cross members. Use the lag screws to attach the cross members to the posts. Once this is finished, you will want to attach the beams, spacing them evenly, to the cross members with screws. If you wish to enhance your design, you can saw the ends of the beams at an angle.
Bring the Green
Now that you have your structure completed, it’s time to spruce things up. Plant climbing vines, plants or flowers along the base of each of the posts. A common choice are grapevines, but ivy and other forms of climbing plants work just as well. The pergola gives the plants a structure to climb on as they grow, and when they have covered the pergola, they will provide beautiful shade from direct sunlight.
About the author: Patrick Barnes is a DIY enthusiast and writer from Australia. He writes about diy pergola and verandah designs for Softwoods and several other home improvement websites and blogs.