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25 Best Pergola Ideas for the Backyard, Patio or Deck

Jan 13, 2024Jan 13, 2024

Turn even the smallest space into an outdoor oasis.

When your outdoor space feels comfortable, functional and stylish, you're bound to spend more time enjoying the fresh air. There are endless ways to use a pergola to craft a dreamy backyard design — whether you favor a rustic, wood pergola covered in vines or a sleek structure paired with modern outdoor furniture. Use the garden feature to shade an alfresco dining table, establish a cozy conversation nook or protect a walkaway. From small gardens to spacious patio designs, we've rounded up charming pergola ideas to elevate your exterior and get it ready for outdoor entertaining.

"Aside from their practicality, there's also a certain amount of charm and achievable luxury you immediately get with a pergola," says Kendra Poppy, trends expert at Yardzen — an online landscape designer. "Pergolas are having a moment and we don't think they’ll go away anytime soon. Though it's a simple structure, it can make your backyard feel like more of a destination — a place where you plan to stay awhile."

When browsing these pictures for inspiration, you'll find there are a lot of options — from modern fiberglass pergolas to traditional wood, metal and lower-cost vinyl options. Poppy's advice: "You’ll want to consider your budget, style preferences and appetite for maintenance (wood requires more), before deciding a pergola." Luckily, we've rounded up simple DIY ideas (think small wood structures) alongside luxury setups complete with shade sails, retractable screens and gorgeous outdoor lighting. Start scrolling to find a favorite!

Allow climbing and creeping plants to take over your pergola, as landscape architect Janice Parker does in this inviting space. A few of our favorites: ivy, honeysuckle and climbing roses.

RELATED: Best Ground Cover Plants That Require Little Maintenance

Put a pergola in the front or backyard to create the illusion of a large living space. "One of our favorite ways to incorporate a pergola is to convert a back patio or front entrance into a porch by adding a pergola overhead," says Poppy.

Elevate your pergola with curtains, whether you buy a set or make them yourself. They look great, but they can also help protect you from harsh sunlight, cold winds or rainy weather.

Get the tutorial at A Beautiful Mess »

Create a dreamy backyard setup with string lights, just as landscape designer Kate Anne does here. Not only will the glow make it possible to enjoy the space at night, it creates the perfect ambiance.

Design a backyard with separate zones, like a dining area, lounging space and small gardens. "Pergolas create a distinct outdoor room and at the same time, their open structure allows for connection to the rest of the yard," says Poppy.

Create your very own backyard cabana with a poolside pergola that provides a nice amount of shade when you need it. Use UV-blocking curtains for further sun protection!

See more at Bless'er House »

If you've got a corner of your backyard that isn't living up to it's potential, consider adding a pergola — along with some pavers and comfortable outdoor seating. Here, Tilly Design surrounds the wooden pergola with grass and greenery to make it feel like it's own cozy corner.

Adjacent to a forest of greenery, Yardzen uses fresh white hues to make this outdoor lounge space pop. Under the white pergola, find a natural wood dining table, white wicker chairs and white pebbles as flooring.

If you're looking to elevate a small space, consider making a pergola yourself! It shouldn't take much time as long as you have some basic power tools on hand.

Get the tutorial at Lovely Indeed »

Bring the luxury of the indoors straight to your backyard with striking lighting fixtures and contemporary furniture. Plus, landscape designer Kate Anne went for a pergola with extra shape and pattern for another touch of elegance.

Reinvent your backyard with not just one, but three pergolas over the patio. For this dreamy design, Janice Parker layers in gorgeous greenery for an elevated appeal.

A dark structure adds drama and creates contrast in this neutral backyard. And since black absorbs more sunlight, the dark pergola may actually keep you cooler.

Turn to natural materials like stone and wood to make your outdoor design feel comfortable and relaxed. To keep it casual, the white pergola is made to blend seamlessly with nature.

While some pergolas are retractable, you can add roofing material to make the structure more permanent. Interior designer Jessica Risko Smith elevates the space with wicker seating with blue cushions and white round tables.

This tiny pergola — illuminated by paper lanterns — exudes a charming, rustic vibe. Important to note: You shouldn't leave paper lanterns up for an extended time outdoors, especially if it may rain.

Get playful with your seating choices, considering most pergolas can support the weight of a porch swing. Cushions or no cushions, swings provide fun and relaxation for all ages.

For a sense of privacy, add a living plant wall on one side of your pergola. Our suggestion: Ivy (think pothos) and vines that survive year after year.

Great backyard design ties back to nature, which is why we love how Yardzen used raw woods to build this pergola. "Overhead, pergolas establish an intimate feel, but with no walls, they allow you to be immersed in nature," says Poppy.

Use a pergola to shade a walkway, which might even help your surrounding plants if they can't tolerate full sun. Take a note from landscape architect Janice Parker and choose a curved design for a more unique aesthetic.

Protect a beautiful patio design with a wood slat pergola, then add shades or a retractable screen on the side for more privacy. Keep in mind that the way in which the roof is slatted will provide more or less shade.

Alyssa Gautieri (she/her) is the associate lifestyle editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers all things home and interior design. Prior to joining GH in 2022, she wrote for publications including ELLE Decor, Chairish,, Unique Homes Magazine and LODGING Magazine, in addition to crafting product copy for home brands like BrylaneHome and VIGO Industries.

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