A pergola is a shade structure, usually covering a walkway or patio. Although not a solid structure, the garden feature is usually constructed of vertical pillars or posts that support a lattice of cross-beams.
Plants like grape vines or climbing roses are often trained over the cross-beams, making a cool, shady walkway or place to sit on a sunny day. Pergolas are commonly used to link buildings to each other or to a backyard or garden area. They also add visual interest to an area, and some height to a treeless yard.
Although pergolas of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were usually built with stone or brick pillars, there are other easier, more affordable options available as well these days.
Wooden pergolas are usually built with weather resistant woods such as cedar or redwood, treated for outdoor use. Other modern pergola designs use aluminum, fiberglass, or PVC pillars and cross-beams as well, which usually require less maintenance than wood. The most important thing to remember is that the structure should be very sturdy to start, since maturing vines and vegetation add a lot of weight overhead.
With careful design and planning, a pergola can provide a cool, comfortable oasis for your backyard or business.