Covered walkways are a beautiful way to add elegance to your garden by providing shade and focus. Pergolas are overhead structures that can make the outdoors more inviting, and may also stand as the main element in your backyard landscaping plan. They can also attach to a house and then lead into the garden or another element in your yard, providing a structured walkway.
While there are lots of pergola designs to choose from — two-post pergolas, triangular pergolas and whole walkways, just to name a few — some people prefer to have a custom-built pergola specifically created for their landscape. These pergolas are usually put together in a pergola kit and shipped out to the consumer, who then puts it together from the materials using the enclosed pergola plans.
There are a couple of things you'll have to decide upon when choosing and building your pergola kit with the manufacturer. The most important is the material of the pergola. Wood is the traditional choice and can be versatile enough to show a rustic trail or create a polished arch. Wood can also be painted or stained to match the look and feel of the rest of your property. A vinyl pergola is long lasting and low maintenance, but is typically a more expensive initial investment and may actually have fewer color options than wood.
While the supporting structure of the pergola is relatively simple — basically posts and support beams — the roof is what makes the pergola such an elegant addition to your garden. There is a standard open roof, which allows sunlight to pour through the roof slats, or the lattice roof, which provides a little more shade. A lattice roof can also be used as a sort of trellis for climbing plants, which provides even more shade, as well as an elegant look.
Pergolas can be built by one or two people, and usually completed within a day. When using a kit, most of the beams, posts and other components of your pergola come precut and predrilled for easier installation.
When building your pergola, all posts should be anchored. If you're attaching them to concrete or stone (such as a patio), anchor bolts work best, but those attaching to wood (such as a deck) should use lag bolts instead. You can also anchor a garden pergola in undeveloped ground using a post-hole digger and some concrete to create an artificial anchoring point. However, this option should not be used for some woods like young redwood or Douglas fir, since those woods tend to decay when underground.