Apr 03, 2017 09:57AM ● Published by Ashley Pape
Texans welcome warmer temps and budding blooms, but give us a few weeks and we’ll start complaining about the heat, sun, mosquitoes and pollen. Sure, we love to spend time outdoors—especially if we’re poolside with a refreshing beverage—but too much sunshine (and the resulting heat) makes us a little cranky. That’s when shade structures become our salvation—a place of refuge from the Texas sun.
Unlike an enclosed patio, a pergola’s open-sided design and absence of a solid roof won’t shield you from rain or strong winds, but it helps define your outdoor space without confining it. When evening breezes begin to blow, you’ll enjoy the reprieve.
Typically built from decay-resistant treated cedar, pergolas can be stained or left to weather a natural gray. Roofs are often constructed with crossbeams, slats or adorned with latticework. Aside from supporting posts, you can opt for built-in seating, planters, railings or any other accessories as your space and budget allow.
GO AU NATURALE
Perhaps the most appealing accompaniment to your outdoor structure is the addition of natural elements. The earliest Renaissance gardens featured the forerunner to pergolas—pliable limbs bound together, woven with long slats and then arched to make shaded passageways. Vines were encouraged to climb upon the structure, further aiding the natural cooling system and enhancing its appearance.
Today’s well-planned pergolas often feature plants growing up the posts and even over the roof. In our area, a hardy variety of climbing vines will soften the hard edges of your pergola, provide more shade and add a touch of color and fragrance. Consider Carolina jessamine, clematis, hyacinth bean vine, Confederate Star jasmine, honeysuckle or wisteria, to name a few, but keep in mind bloomers may also attract bees. Certain perennials—such as wisteria—can add a significant amount of weight to your structure and make it difficult to restain the wood as it weathers.
Unless you have woodworking experience and a slick set of power tools, hire a pro to build your pergola. It might seem like a simple structure, but like most DIY projects, this one can be more work than you expect. No reason to sweat when summer isn’t even here yet!