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What is the point of a pergola?

pergolas can provide shade and sun

What's the point of having a pergola?

Shade and Protection

One of the primary purposes of a pergola is to provide shade. By supporting climbing plants, vines, or fabric, it creates a partially shaded area underneath, offering relief from the sun's intense rays. Some pergolas come with retractable canopies or louvered roofs, providing flexibility in controlling shade and protection from light rain.

Outdoor Living Space

Pergolas often define outdoor living spaces, such as patios, decks, or gardens, by creating a designated area for activities like dining, lounging, or entertaining. They add structure and visual interest to these spaces, making them more inviting and comfortable.

Aesthetic Appeal

Pergolas enhance the visual appeal of outdoor areas with their architectural design. They add height, dimension, and character to gardens, yards, or other outdoor landscapes, serving as focal points or accentuating certain features like pathways or seating areas.

Support for Plants

Pergolas provide a framework for climbing plants and vines to grow, which can create a lush, green canopy overhead. This natural greenery not only adds beauty but also helps cool the surrounding area and provides a sense of privacy.

Customization and Personalization

Pergolas come in various styles, sizes, and materials, allowing homeowners to customize them to suit their preferences and complement the existing architecture and landscape of their property.

pergolas can offer sun AND shade

Why don't pergolas offer complete shade?

Some pergolas do! Adjustable pergolas, AKA louvered pergolas, can open and close. This means choosing whether you want the benefits of a closed roof or a traditional pergola. See one in action here.


While a pergola may let more sun in than other types of patio covers, the gaps between slats can allow for air to flow better, which may help cool down your space.

What are some pergola options & alternatives?

Wood, vinyl, and aluminum

Wood pergolas can have a classic look, but tend to wear easier. On the other hand, vinyl and aluminum don't require painting or staining by the customer. Aluminum is an especially strong choice. Pergola vs Louvered Pergola vs Gazebo vs Arbor

What's the difference?

  • Pergolas traditionally offer a mix of shade & sun, at the same time.

  • Arbor: kind of like a mini pergola, often placed along a path or gateway instead of by a home.

  • Gazebo: has a solid roof that constantly provides shade and protection.

  • Louvered pergolas open and close, offering the best of both worlds.

Pictured above, left to right: Louvered pergola, arbor, gazebo, then pergola.

In Summary 

  • A pergola is a versatile outdoor solution that combines a functional mix of shade/sun with aesthetics, creating inviting and comfortable spaces for relaxation, entertainment, and enjoyment of the outdoors.

  • If you want full shade, a gazebo or a louvered pergola can be a great alternative.

  • If you want low maintenance, aluminum and vinyl are the best options.

  • The most functional and most durable option is an aluminum louvered pergola.

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