• How To Build A Pergola

    | by Holly Wood

    Ever wondered how to build a pergola? You’ve landed on the right page.

    Creating an outdoor sanctuary isn’t just about planting flowers or laying out a plush lounge chair; it’s about constructing spaces where memories are made and moments are cherished. One of the most beloved elements of such havens is the pergola.

    With its elegant lattice and sturdy pillars, a pergola offers more than just architectural charm—it promises pockets of dappled sunlight, the whimsical touch of trailing plants and a newfound seating area.

    In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the steps of constructing a pergola, ensuring you’re equipped with all the details.

    What Is A Pergola?

    A pergola, in essence, is an open roof, supported by sturdy wooden posts.

    These versatile garden structures not only provide shelter and shade during those sunny summer months, but their wooden posts also serve as charming frames for vines and other climbing plants.

    Whether positioned on an existing deck, patio or a fresh new space in your garden, building your own pergola allows you to introduce a personal touch to your outdoor haven.

    How To Build A Pergola: Laying the Groundwork

    The first step? Deciding on the pergola materials. While many opt for free pergola plans available online, some enthusiasts choose to design their own.

    Either way, ensure that the pergola project plans you select or create resonate with the aesthetics of your house and garden.

    Ensure your pergola is constructed away from significant tree roots and underground utilities.

    Setting Up: From Paper to Patio

    Depending on your terrain, you may either dig holes for the posts or use base anchors. Prioritise the pergola’s stability over the time it takes to install.

    Gather Your Materials

    Once you’ve finalised your design, create a list of required materials. We suggest opting for treated carcassing timber. Not only does it age gracefully, but it also stands strong against decay.

    To make it even more aesthetically pleasing, consider staining or sealing the timber to match your garden’s vibe.

    Furthermore, using a circular saw can greatly expedite the process of making numerous precise cuts, especially when working with pergola joists and bracing. Plus, with the advent of laser-guided technology in many of today’s models, you’re almost guaranteed a perfect cut every time.

    How To Build A Pergola: Laying The Foundation

    For those considering building a pergola, especially one with a slat roof, understanding the foundation requirements is crucial.

    While many pergolas can be set on compacted soil with gravel and terrace slabs, it’s essential to be aware of any local building regulations.

    Some pergolas may not require a separate foundation, especially if they’re anchored to an existing patio.

    The type of soil, potential utility needs, and the specific model of your pergola will guide your foundation choices. There are four primary foundation types:

    1. Paving Slabs: Suitable for smaller pergolas, these are cost-effective and relatively easy to install but can only support lighter structures.
    2. Strip Foundation: This robust foundation is made of concrete strips and can support even large pergolas, but its construction demands a significant amount of work.
    3. Concrete Slab Foundation: Providing maximum stability, this option is best for loose or swampy soils. It requires extensive preparation and is cost-intensive due to the vast amounts of concrete needed.
    4. Point Foundation: A more economical choice in terms of material, it consists of individual foundations placed under the pergola’s columns. It’s ideal for solid soil but demands precision during setup.

    Always ensure you pick the most suitable foundation for your pergola to ensure stability and longevity.

    Setting Up the Posts

    When it comes to setting up posts, many opt to pour concrete into a hole and place a wood post directly in it. However, we advocate for the use of steel brackets when anchoring pergola posts.

    By using metal brackets, you avoid the unnecessary use of several feet of costly lumber that would otherwise be submerged  underground. Additionally, these brackets offer superior height flexibility and simplify the process, ensuring a more precise installation of the pergola posts.

    If you’re digging post holes, always check with local utility companies to avoid hitting any underground lines. When marking your post locations, ensure precision by measuring diagonally from both corners. Your measurements should match.

    Dig the holes using tools like a Fencers Grafting Tool or Power Auger, keeping the depth approximately a quarter of the post’s height. Secure your posts with stakes while waiting for the concrete to set. Postcrete is the preferred product here, as it dries very quickly and generally removes the need to stake posts.

    On the other hand, if you’re using post-base anchors, measure positions accurately and then secure the anchors with screws or bolts. After this, align each post and secure them.

    Installing the Crossbeams and Rafters

    After your post foundations are firm, it’s crossbeam time. Remember to adjust the beam height, considering the additional height your rafters will contribute.

    For additional stability, use both inner and outer beams. Attach each beam using screws temporarily and then fasten them using galvanised bolts. Next, position your rafters, ensuring they’re evenly spaced.

    If you’re looking for an artistic touch, craft decorative ends for your rafters before installation.

    7. The Finishing Touches

    If climbing plants are part of your pergola vision, twine can be your best friend. Loop twine around the pergola’s sides and gently wrap the vines around it. As the plants mature, they’ll naturally reach for the rafters.

    You can also anchor planter boxes onto the pergola posts.


    Building a pergola is not just about erecting four posts and a roof; it’s about crafting a structure that beckons, offering shade and beauty in equal measure.

    The journey from selecting materials to the finishing touches is one of creativity, diligence, and passion. With this guide and the right set of tools, you’re well on your way to enjoying a beautiful pergola in the heart of your garden.

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