details like arched supports add structural
interest to a pergola that is attached to a
house, such as this one designed by Horiuchi
Solien Landscape Architects.
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underscore the importance of selecting the
right material to work with the overall design.
Unlike the stone pillars of yesteryear,
today’s pergolas are generally composed of
weather-resistant wood or composite materials
to prevent rot. “Usually, if it’s a wood unit, we
use western red cedar,” says Bruce McCarthy,
owner of New England Pergola and Shade
in Rutland, Massachusetts, “but we do make
some out of a wood-grain aluminum.”
In addition to adding visual interest, pergolas serve a practical purpose, providing shade
for walkways and seating areas. McCarthy notes
that many homeowners use a pergola to make
a hot deck or pool patio area more habitable.
He has recently erected pergolas with built-in retractable awnings from
for more Shade Tree, an Ohio-based com-
see pany, that add protection from
resources the elements. The hand-crank
ceiling covering features fade-proof fabric and
resembles a Roman shade.
But nothing epitomizes a pergola more
than creeping leafy greenery. Honeysuckle,
bougainvillea, climbing roses, clematis, and
simple ivy transform the man-made structure
into a living oasis. Planting beds can be situated at each post (or along one edge for an attached pergola) to enhance the space with
blossoms and scent.
“Most frequently I design a planting
around the pergola that accents it but does
not visually cover it,” says Christie Dustman,
principal of Christie Dustman and Company,
a landscape design firm in Roslindale, Massachusetts. “This is the best way to add color, fragrance, and seasonal interest while respecting
and celebrating the beauty of the structure.”