Pergola off House
This pergola was placed in a spot that takes advantage of a view of the pool as well as the scenery beyond.
When NOT to build a pergola
- Crowded spaces
If you have an exceptionally small space, such as a narrow breezeway between home and garage, a pergola might make your landscape feel dark or confined.
- Difficult window placement
Sometimes the window placement or a low roofline on the home just doesn’t leave enough room for a pergola to be attached to the house. In that case, pulling the pergola out into the landscape is a better plan.
- Shading a nearby window
In overcast climates, additional shade over a window just makes the room feel dark. If you want to maximize light in a room, building a pergola right outside of it may not be the best plan.
Pergolas and similar structures work great both within the landscape and right next to the home. When placed within the landscape, a pergola is visible from indoors and sets a beautiful scene. “They act as a visual element to draw you out into the landscape, ” says Dan Berger of LandPlan's Landscaping, Inc. in Pleasanton, CA.
When deciding where to place a pergola within the landscape, think about where you’d most enjoy spending time.
- What area of the landscape has the best views?
- Are there any spots that are sheltered from wind?
- What time of day do you want to sit under your pergola, and which areas of the landscape are most pleasant at that time?
- Pro Tip: Consider the position of the sun at sunset and sunrise before determining where to build your pergola. The angle of the sunlight will determine how much shade is produced.
Ryan Aakre of Signature Landscapes Inc. in Fargo, ND points out that pergola placement has a lot to do with the movement of the sun. “They’re never going to give you shade all day long, just because they’re stationary and the sun is moving, ” he says. So take your lifestyle and schedule into account when planning where to place any outdoor structures to make sure you create the best environment for the time of day you’re likely to spend time there.
Of course, if you prefer to entertain closer to the kitchen or extend your indoor space onto your patio, then a structure that’s attached to the house or right next to it can be a better choice. When placing a patio cover, which is a pergola structure that’s attached to the house, the architecture of the home will determine many of your decisions.
- What door will you use to access the covered patio?
- Are there any windows which influence the placement of the support beams?
- How tall is the roofline? The patio cover will usually sit below that point.
You may also want to consider whether the patio cover is serving some purpose from indoors. If you have south-facing windows that get too hot during the day, a patio cover lets you reclaim these previously overheated parts of your home by casting filtered shade on these windows. However, if you have a low roofline or a side of the house where you don’t get as much sun, the pergola can sometimes make the inside of the home feel dark.
Attached vs. detached
There are varying opinions about whether to create a pergola structure that is attached to the home, or freestanding. Attaching a patio cover to the house can save money on materials and installation, because fewer support beams are needed to hold up the roof. However, Berger points out that any time you pierce the shield of a home, it has the potential to make insulation or other protective measures less effective.