Pergolas, Patio Covers, and Gazebos Add Shelter and Function to Your Yard

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Updating your outdoor spaces can extend your enjoyment of your yard through the fall. You can do it sustainably, too.

Pergolas, Patio Covers, and Gazebos Add Shelter and Function to Your Yard Image courtesy of Landscape East & West

Outdoor living is all about enjoying every part of your home. With the right covered structure, you can transform an ordinary deck or patio into an outdoor room that’s perfect for relaxing, entertaining, and spending time with your family. By adding weather-resistant outdoor furniture, heat lamps, and some decorative elements, you can enjoy your backyard oasis all year.

Here’s a look at some of the most common types of covered structures:

Cedar Pergola


Pergolas are freestanding structures that usually cover walkways, decks, patios, or open areas of landscaping. A pergola has an open-roof system supported by columns, creating the perfect space to grow climbing plants. Some of the best known pergolas are those at the Medici villas in Tuscany, particularly the ones at La Petraia. Pergolas provide the following advantages to your yard:

  • A timeless European style that always looks elegant,

  • Added privacy, and

  • Shade from the hot summer sun.


Perfect for large yards, gazebos are freestanding pavilion structures that can be round, square, or multi-angular. Traditional gazebos often have six or eight sides (or walls). Adorned with steep, pitched roofs, gazebos often feature decorative railing. Gazebos create the following benefits for your home:

  • Shade and shelter;

  • A picturesque boost for your curb appeal;

  • A way to draw attention to a favorite garden feature; and

  • (With the addition of screens, windows, lighting, and a ceiling fan), the addition of a multi-seasonal "outdoor room."

Attached Rood with Paver and Cultured Stone Columns

Patio covers

A patio cover is typically attached to the home and provides protection for a deck or patio. Patio covers with closed roofing systems can match the roof of the home or can be made from materials that block UV rays. The benefits of patio covers include the following:

  • An affordable way to add value to your home,

  • Protection from the sun and rain, and

  • Instant transformation of a typical patio into a high-functioning "outdoor room."

How to Create an Eco-Friendly Covered Structure

The first step in adding a covered structure to your home is to plan carefully, taking into account property lines and possible underground utilities. As you plan the structure, you’ll need to determine its height, length, width, the depth of support posts in the ground, and the types of materials you want to use. If you are on a tight budget or want to create a design that has minimal impact on the environment, look to eco-friendly covered structures.

Reuse a gazebo or pergola built from a kit. If another homeowner is finished with a pergola or gazebo that was built from a kit, you may be able to take it apart and reconstruct it in your own yard. After you assemble the structure, give it a fresh coat of paint or stain to make it look new. Depending on the condition of the structure, you may need to replace some of the components, such as mesh screens or roofing materials.

Use reclaimed wood. Old barns, homes, and buildings sometimes have prime wooden beams that would end up in a landfill if they were not salvaged. The building owners may sell you lengths of lumber or give you permission to salvage some. However, if you’re not sure about which pieces to choose, visit a business that specializes in selling salvaged items you can use for construction purposes. Keep in mind that you can also use reclaimed wood to create benches, steps, tables, decking materials, stools, and other components for outdoor structures.

Use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified lumber. If purchasing virgin wood, look for pieces that are certified by the FSC, which were harvested by using methods that are sustainable for the local ecosystem and the economy.

Eco-Friendly Landscape Design Ideas

The components in your landscape can be green and complementary at the same time. With the following ideas, you can accent a covered structure with an envious green landscape that is simple to maintain.

Reduce the size of your lawn. How much of your lawn do you really use or appreciate? By reducing its size, you also reduce water consumption. Consider replacing parts of your lawn with walkways, flowerbeds, or raised garden beds.

Opt for crushed concrete instead of gravel. Crushed concrete is a recycled material that costs about 50% less than gravel but works just as effectively. Use it in your landscape to level land, create pathways, or to set posts in holes.

Purchase new-to-you furniture. Thrift stores and garage sales can offer great finds on backyard furniture to which you can give new life. When you find something you love, make it your own with a fresh coat of paint.

Landscape East & West

Landscape East & West is an award-winning, full-service landscape and design company based in Portland, Oregon. Landscape East & West specializes in landscape maintenance and design services, including outdoor kitchen design, retaining walls, and more.


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