The Neat Retreat: The Popularity of Pergolas

Suzanne Oliver
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Taming the wild outdoors with indoor comforts.

Images and pergola designs by Outdoor Living Today.

This post is dedicated to the pergola, a backyard structure that provides shade and privacy. It’s more than an arbor or trellis, yet not quite an awning or gazebo. There was a time, not so long ago, that I didn’t know what a pergola was. (And I still struggle with how to pronounce it. Purr-gola?!)

But they seem to be growing in popularity. Suddenly, there seems to be one in every back yard. You can build your own or buy a kit.

To start with, pergolas form shaded walkways or sitting areas and often have woody vines growing across the crossbeams. The first mention of the pergola dates back to 1645 in Italy. They were originally constructed for the comfort of royalty as they passed from one building to the next. In the 19th and 20th centuries, they were built with handsome brick and stone pillars. Today, painted or stained weather-resistant wood such as Western Red Cedar is more affordable and therefore more popular. Modern pergolas can be freestanding or attached to another building.

Greg Bailey, one of the owners of Outdoor Living Today, started seeing pergolas crop up 15 years ago, he says. His British Columbia-based company sells prefab kits to customers and merchants like Home Depot. The structures have since become a hot commodity for those wanting to get more out of their back yard, Bailey says. Plus, it’s an economical way to add value to your property, he adds. After all – who doesn’t want their own little oasis? (The company’s target demographic is between the ages of 45 and 65 living in the Sun Belt.)

Your Outdoor Living Today pergola is shipped with all the lumber and hardware necessary.

Sold as DIY kits, the pergolas come with all the lumber (100% Western Red Cedar known for its strength and durability) and hardware required. Only the footings are not included. For easy assembly, the wood comes precut and pre-drilled.

“We try to make a kit that a wife and husband can put together,” Bailey says. “You don’t have to be a contractor.” It should only take an afternoon to erect, he adds. The instructions are so thorough that for every 1,000 kits sold, the company “might get 10 calls with basic questions,” Bailey says.

Outdoor Living Today’s basic 8×10 Breeze pergola starts at $2,140. And an optional retractable canopy is priced between $1,000 and $2,000. And every kit comes with a free salmon cedar plank for cooking, Bailey adds.

Ideas to dress up your pergola

hammering a pergola

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