What is the Point of a Pergola, You Ask? We’ve Got Answers.

If you’re contemplating why pergolas exist, we’re here to help. Pergolas have withstood the test of time from the Roman era to the 21st century. They’ve been used historically to support climbing plants and provide shaded seating areas. Today they’re commonly found in gardens, parks, and as outdoor features for single-family homes. Read on to learn more about the reasons people choose to build or purchase a pergola!


A Little Bit of History on Pergolas


The word pergola is derived from the Latin word “pergula”, meaning a projecting eve (or edge of the roof). No one really knows where the pergola structure first originated, but some believe that came from the Romans. Similar structures like arbors and green tunnels were created during late Medieval and Renaissance times. 

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In 1498, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint a botanical lattice pattern on the ceiling of the Sala delle Asse in Milan. This represented the vining plants draping over a pergola structure.

One of the earliest mentions of a pergola was from John Evelyn, an English writer and gardener who visited the Tinità dei Monti’s cloister (enclosed churchyard) in Rome. While watching hare coursing (hares being chased for sport by greyhound dogs), he wrote about the structure he sat under watching the sport. 


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Pergolas later in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were featured in wealthy European gardens and landscape designs. In modern-day times, they can be widely found in gardens, parks, and as outdoor features for single-family homes. 


What is the Point of a Pergola?


We’ve come up with six different points and purposes for having a pergola:

  1. Provide sun protection and versatile shade
  2. Create a sheltered walkway to another structure
  3. Designate an outdoor entertainment space
  4. Support climbing and creeping plants
  5. Increase your home value
  6. Add affordable beauty to your dwelling

We’ll take a deeper look into each of these points and hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to see what ways a pergola could be beneficial to you!


Provide Sun Protection and Versatile Shade


Pergolas can offer sun protection and versatile shade depending on your preferences. In their traditional lattice-form, they offer part-shade part-sun shelter. But your own design and preferences give you the creative freedom to add more shade or sun depending on the space between the lattice boards. If you’d like additional shade for your existing pergola, you can add climbing and creeping plants, such as wisteria, to fill the top of your lattice and provide shade. You can also purchase a retractable shade cloth or a shade canopy for extra coverage.


Create a Sheltered Walkway to Another Structure


With more shade coverage added, your pergola can also have more shelter from the elements. If you would like to connect your home with another structure via a sheltered walkway, a pergola could be a good option for you to consider. Guesthouses, detached garages, greenhouses, and saunas can have beautiful sheltered walkways with the addition of a pergola.


Designate an Outdoor Entertainment Space


Pergolas help you add structure to your outdoor space. It can serve as a spot for barbeques, outdoor workouts, a reading nook, a remote “office”, or as a place to sip your morning cup of tea or coffee. They’re a space that balances openness with shelter and privacy. 


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Support Climbing and Creeping Plants


Historically, as we mentioned, pergolas acted like a trellis for climbing and creeping plants. Honeysuckle, passion flowers, potato vines, grapevines, clematis, climbing roses, ivy, wisteria, and trumpet vine are all fantastic choices for your pergola. You can also hang flower baskets from the rafters or posts. Just make sure to shop for plants within your zone! In Boise, Idaho local nurseries such as Edwards Greenhouse can help you discover the best options within your zone.

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Add Affordable Beauty to Your Dwelling


Studies show that there are psychological factors behind interior and exterior design, and one key contributor to a successful space is creating a feeling of safety. Small nooks, warm spaces, and natural lighting can make us feel comfortable and relaxed. Pergolas are beautiful and functional, and are usually cheaper than their close relatives: large patio covers, pavilions, or gazebos. Add outdoor lantern lights, soft curtains, plants, or intricate privacy screens to add extra coziness and beauty. 


Increase Your Home Value


Did you know that adding a pergola to your home can increase the value of your home? In fact, the W/W Team says, “Since outdoor living has become especially popular, the value of homes with pergolas has been on the rise. A safe gauge for a backyard improvement or deck is about 50% to 80% for your ROI. That said, to the right buyer, an alluring pergola could earn an even better return while providing the X-factor that attracts future buyers to your house.”

That’s a big return on investment, especially for something that enhances your own living experience.

In summary, people buy pergolas for many different purposes. But no matter your reason, we hope you’ve found a reason to love pergolas as much as we do. If you’re interested in seeing examples of our MOCKWOOD pergolas, check out our gallery for your project inspiration. Or if you’re ready to schedule a free in-home estimate, contact us today!

Wondering how tall your pergola should be? Learn more now!

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