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How to Build a Pergola in Your Backyard

Learn how to build a pergola in your backyard with these easy to follow instructions. With a few supplies from your local hardware store, you can have a beautiful pergola built in no time!

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A pergola is a garden structure with a trelliswork roof that creates a shaded passageway, outdoor sitting area, or walkway. They are built from vertical posts and frequently includes an open lattice for climbing plants. The word pergola originates from the Latin “pergula” which loosely refers to a projecting eave. These decorative yard structures can be quite elaborate and are often used as focal points in gardens.

Building a pergola can be a simple to challenging backyard diy project depending on what plan you choose so be sure to pick the right pergola plans for your skill level. The following pergola designs represent a few of the most common styles you will find.

Materials Needed

To build a pergola in your backyard, you will need the following materials:
-4 4×4 posts
-2 2×4 beams
-16 2×2 slats
-16 3″ screws
-16 4″ screws
-Circular saw
-Measuring tape

Step One: Planning and Layout

The first step in building a pergola is to determine its purpose. Do you want it to provide shade for your patio furniture? Define an outdoor living space? Or perhaps serve as a support for climbing vines or other plants? Once you know its purpose, decide on the dimensions.

Start by sketching a basic idea of the pergola’s footprint. Then use stakes and string to mark out the parameters of the area. Be sure to allow enough space around the perimeter of the pergola for comfortable walking and moving about. If you’re planning on adding climbing plants, allow extra space for them to spread out.

When you’ve settled on the size and location of your pergola, it’s time to start planning the structure itself. To ensure stability, wooden pergolas must be built with sturdy support posts set deep into the ground. The depth will vary depending on your local building code requirements, but it’s generally recommended that support posts be buried at least 2 feet deep.

Step Two: Building the Base

After you’ve decided on the perfect spot for your pergola, it’s time to start building! The first step is to construct the base, which can be made out of brick, stone, or concrete.

If you’re using brick or stone, you’ll need to lay a foundation of concrete or gravel first. Then, use masonry adhesive to attach the bricks or stones to the concrete. If you’re using concrete, you can pour the footings and columns all at once. Just be sure to use wooden forms to support the wet concrete until it dries.

Once the base is dry, it’s time to add the beams and rafters. For beams, we suggest using pressure-treated lumber that is at least 8 inches in width. Cut the beams to length and then attach them to the columns with galvanized brackets.

Next, add the rafters. These can be made out of lumber or metal, and they should be attached to the beams with screws or bolts. Make sure that the rafters are evenly spaced and level before moving on to the next step.

Step Three: Installing the Beams

After you’ve attached the posts to the concrete footings, it’s time to install the beams. The beams will give your pergola stability and provide a surface for attaching the rafters or crossbeams.

First, cut the beams to size using a power saw. Then, position the beams on top of the posts so that they’re level and evenly spaced. Once you’re happy with the placement of the beams, use a drill to screw them into place.

Step Four: Adding the Lattice

The lattice is made up of crossed boards that form a grid. It provides support for climbing plants and increases the amount of shade the pergola offers. Use 1-by-6-inch lumber for the lattice.

Cut eight pieces of lumber to the desired width of the lattice. For example, if you want the lattice to be 6 feet wide, cut eight 6-foot pieces.

Lay four of the pieces on a level surface, parallel to each other and spaced evenly apart. Place two more pieces perpendicular to the first four, creating a lattice frame. Nail or screw the frame together at each joint.

Repeat this process with the remaining four pieces of lumber, creating a second frame identical to the first.

Lay one frame on top of the other, aligning them so that the joints line up perfectly. Nail or screw them together at each joint, using two or three fasteners per joint for extra strength.

Step Five: Finishing Touches

Now that the majority of the pergola is complete, it’s time to add the finishing touches. For the main support beams, you will likely want to add some decorative touches such as brackets or corbels. These can be added for both practical and aesthetic purposes. If you are adding them for support, make sure that they are properly secured to the beam.

For the roof, you may want to consider adding a weather-resistant fabric such as canvas or polyester. This will help protect against UV rays and keep the area underneath cooler and more comfortable. You can also add hanging plants or vines to give the pergola a more finished look.

Once everything is in place, sit back and enjoy your new backyard oasis!


We hope this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to build a pergola in your backyard. This project can be completed in a weekend with the help of a few friends or family members. Be sure to follow all safety instructions and local building codes. With a little hard work, you’ll have a beautiful pergola that will provide shade and comfort for years to come!

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