What to Do Before Installing a New Pergola

Installing a new pergola on your deck, over an outdoor kitchen, or in the yard is one of the most aesthetically pleasing elements in outdoor living design. You can opt to grow vines over a pergola, hang decorative curtain panels, or, put a fire pit in the center to serve as a cooking, warming, and entertaining space. Regardless of what you envision, you obviously would like the best results possible. To achieve that, you need to have a good, actionable plan before you install a new pergola.

You have two options for your new pergola: go the do-it-yourself route or hire a professional installer. Since this isn’t a complicated task, but one that will require substantial elbow grease, you can make it a DIY project.

Pergola Uses and Ideas

The great thing about pergolas is these are not one-size-fits-all features. Pergolas come in a wide variety of designs and materials: steel, gabled, open top, sail, and pitched. Most homeowners choose a wood pergola because it can be refinished periodically. In addition to coming in a variety of designs and materials, pergolas have different uses. You can install a pergola to frame an entrance, situating the feature near the back of the home. Another great use is for shade, which is ideal for the Sarasota climate. By covering the top and hanging curtain panels, it can serve as a wonderful retreat from the sun.

Pergolas and arches have long been used successfully in garden design to provide strong vertical elements. Their purpose has usually been twofold: to frame views and openings, and to provide welcome shade over areas set aside for entertaining and relaxation. Covered by climbing plants, pergolas can form cool retreats in shaded walkways and arbors. —HGTV.com

Another popular use for arbors and pergolas is for a covered walkway. You can also choose to do other things, such as arrange outdoor furniture under it for a place to relax and entertain. It can also be a home for a beautiful water feature, like a fountain or waterfall. Some homeowners install a pergola over a grill or outdoor kitchen, like the nearby image. As you can see, the possibilities are nearly endless because of their versatility.

What to Do before Installing a New Pergola

When you are ready to install a new pergola, unfortunately, you can’t just make a quick decision. If you don’t have plan, it won’t come out right and probably take a lot more time, money, and effort to get it setup. Here are some helpful tips on what to do before installing a new pergola so you get it right the first time:

  • Think about function. As you read above, there are several uses for a pergola: a covered walkway, a place to relax and entertain, a home for a water feature, framing an entrance, and more. So, before you buy a pergola, know precisely what you will use it for to ensure that it will function in the way you imagine. For instance, if it’s to be a place to sit, relax, and entertain, it’s got to be large enough to cover the outdoor furniture.
  • Consider the appropriate size. This definitely bears repeating because you won’t be able to change its size. It must have the appropriate dimensions, being tall enough, wide and deep enough to accommodate whatever is going under it. In addition, think about how much space it will take-up so you don’t deprive yourself of otherwise usable space.
  • Know what material will work. Like fences and other outdoor fixtures and features, pergolas come in different materials, including steel, wood, aluminum, wrought iron, and PVC vinyl. Wood is a popular choice because of its natural look and blend. If you do choose another type of material, know what kind of maintenance it will need to keep it looking good. For instance wrought iron will likely experience peeling paint and rust, while PVC vinyl might become discolored and need to be cleaned.
  • Learn where it can be installed. One big mistake you really want to avoid is to discover during initial installation are utility lines. Whether in the air or buried in the ground, you definitely don’t want to rupture an irrigation line or cut into a cable. Call your local utility providers to learn precisely where these are located in your yard.

Finally, take into account future possibilities. The purpose for which you install it today may change in the future. It’s also a good idea to think about other improvements you would like to make later on so you don’t have to contend with such a large structure. Also, look into local building codes to ensure that you aren’t installing something that requires a permit to put-up. Look into all you want to do with it and set a realistic budget.

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