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  • Barry Lenson

Questions to Ask when Planning Your Pergola . . .

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

How to plan an outdoor space your family and guests will love

Pergolas are cropping up everywhere, and with good reason. No other home enhancement can offer what a pergola does – a quiet shady refuge, a haven for family fun, a place to entertain, an elegant setting for your spa, and much more.

But what is the optimal location for your pergola? This is the most important question to consider during the design phase. Some homeowners just take out a tape measure and ask, “Where will a pergola fit?” And although that is an important question to ask, it is not the only one.

A white framed pergola attached to a home on two sides with an outdoor eating area

Other considerations come into play when installing a pergola, including:

  • What will the purpose of your pergola be? Will it be a spot for outdoor dining, the location of a full-featured outdoor kitchen, the setting for a hot tub, or simply a quiet place to read and relax? First define your vision and goals for how you will use it. Then go on to answer the following questions.

  • Which location best supports its purpose? The biggest consideration here is how close the pergola will be located to different rooms inside your home. If you want your pergola to be a center for entertaining and outdoor dining, for example, it should be located near your kitchen indoors. If it will be the home to a soaking tub, your pergola should be located near a room where people can change into bathing suits and enter and exit your house with wet clothing and towels. Note that positioning a pergola near a basement room that has been converted into a tiled changing and showering room can be a good option.

  • How will users go from inside your home to the pergola? Again, the first consideration is, which rooms within your house will be closest to the pergola? But you should also think about the doors and stairs from your house that people will use as they go back and forth to your pergola. A little rethinking and redesigning in this area can make all the difference in how much you and your family and guests will use your pergola, and how much they will enjoy it. If you will be carrying trays of food from your kitchen to your pergola, for example, it could be a good idea to replace a small standard outside door and stoop with a large sliding door that leads out to a small, raised patio area.

  • How will users reach and enter the pergola once they are outside? You will want to remove any obstacles that block the path to it. If users will walk across your lawn, would it be a good idea to install a gravel or paved path? If the pergola will be installed on a raised platform, should your lawn be graded to allow for easy access, or should you install a step at the pergola’s edge? And if you plan to use your pergola at night, think about the kind of exterior lighting you would like and where it should be placed. Smart pergola planners don’t leave these issues to chance.

  • Is privacy a concern? If you want to create some visual privacy from neighbors, roads, etc., would certain locations be better than others? Remember too that a pergola design can include fabric or other “walls” to protect the privacy of your pergola sanctuary.

  • What about sun protection? Nearly by definition, pergolas offer protection from direct sunlight. But if you are working in a setting where trees are present, some locations can be better than others, offering more or less shade. Walk around the area at different times of the day and see if one location – or orientation – is preferable. And remember that different pergola roofing structures, ranging from wood to fabric, provide varying degrees of sun screening.

  • Where is the access to water, electricity, and gas? Modern pergolas have water and electricity. Plus, if you will be cooking in or near your pergola, you will want to think about running a gas line to it. Because you will be running pipes and electrical cables to your pergola, consider the locations of water, electricity and natural gas inside your home. What will the challenges be of running pipes and electrical cables from your basement or other location? How exactly will it be done? In cases where several sites are possible, one pergola location might be better suited to supplying water, electricity, and gas than another. It’s another question that is best to ask – and plan for – early in your planning phase.

  • What size should my pergola be? After considering the variables we have described in today’s article, think about whether you have been considering a pergola that is too large or too small. While it is tempting to think that the most enjoyable pergola will be the biggest one that will fit in the space you have allotted for it, sometimes a smaller one will simply work better. So consider this question well before construction begins.

  • Should I have an attached pergola? Don’t forget that not all pergolas and pergola-like structures are freestanding. Some can be attached at one side, or by two, to your home. Step back and take a close look at your plans. Could an attached or semi-attached pergola be the one that meets all your needs?

In summary . . .

Don’t just say, “The pergola I want to install will fit right here.” Instead consider the factors we delve into in today’s post. Asking the right questions ahead of time and making smart plans will result in a pergola that delivers the greatest pleasure for years to come. Visit privlux, the leading provider of high-quality custom-made pergolas. While you are visiting, be sure to fill out the online form and get a free quote on the pergola of your dreams.

Follow Privlux on Instagram for design ideas and to see more of our projects.

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