How to build a beautiful backyard pergola
Follow these step-by-step plans to build a pergola that will transform your landscape.
Here's a structure that won't provide shelter from wind or rain, and is only marginally better when it comes to the midday sun. So, why build it? Because in the absence of walls and a roof, it defines an outdoor space without constraining it. It's a unique architectural blend that places you both inside and out at the same time. The structure is called a pergola, and it's just the thing to bring backyard landscaping to life. Pergolas were common features of Italian Renaissance gardens, often covering walkways or serving as grape arbors. Today, the same design can be used to define a passageway or frame a focal point in your yard. Add a climbing plant such as wisteria or, yes, grapevines, and your pergola will provide color and shade as well.
Our pergola fits on an 8-foot square, but it's easy to modify it to suit your site. Cedar is our material of choice because it resists decay. Leave it unfinished and let it gradually turn gray, or apply a stain or sealer designed for exterior use.
Installing the posts
The posts are composed of pressure-treated 4-by- 4-inch cores that are sheathed with 1-inch cedar. We secured the post cores to a concrete pad with steel post-base anchors. If you're not building on a pad, use longer posts and set them in the earth below the frost line.
Lay out the post positions and mark the screw locations.
We used 1/4-inch Tapcon screws that thread into 3/16-inch holes bored with a hammer drill.
Hold each post plumb and drive nails through the anchors into the wood. If necessary, brace the posts so they stay plumb.