A pergola can be just what you need for a bit of shade and protection from hot summertime sun and to anchor an outdoor seating space, but without the size of a gazebo or the care and upkeep of shade sails. If you're considering having a pergola designed for your outdoor space, note a few details you might consider and discuss with your builder, so you know you end up with a structure you love and that works well for your home, and for your outdoor seating needs overall.
Note the material of a pergola and choose this carefully; softwoods like pine are easy to cut and fabricate, but they can also absorb more moisture over time, causing them to warp. An exotic hardwood like teak or bamboo may mean less maintenance, as it's naturally denser and doesn't absorb so much moisture. These materials also don't hold a paint colour well, since the surface is so dense, but a tiger strand bamboo has natural variations in tones and colours that you may not want to paint over, which also means less work to maintain your pergola over time.
The roof of a pergola is generally a row of slats; a pergola designer can add louvers to these slats, so you can adjust their angle and control the amount of sunlight you get under the structure. You might also consider large and thick slats that would hold greenery. Adding trumpet vines or grapevines along the roof can mean more protection from hot summertime sun, and attractive vegetation that will soften the look of the space. Discuss this option with a pergola builder before work begins, as they may want to adjust the size of the slats so they're strong enough to hold the added weight of these vines once they grow and fill out completely.
Pergolas don't typically have walls, but you might request a privacy screen, roller shades, or a lattice is included in the design, at least along a wall that faces a neighbouring home, noisy roadway, or the like. This can also be good if you live in an area with bright, hot sunlight or very high winds. Having a roller shade you can close, or a lattice you can cover with climbing vines, will mean additional protection from such distractions when you're outside. Including these features in the design, before the pergola is built, will also ensure that they blend seamlessly with the rest of the structure, rather than having to add them to the framework after the pergola is built.
For more information, contact a pergola builder.