How to Landscape with a Pergola

Sep 3, 2018

When you think about landscape design for your Sioux Center, Iowa backyard, you probably focus on the grasses, trees, shrubs, and flowers that are going to deliver the variegated greenery, color, aroma, privacy, and shade that will turn a boring expanse into a lush and inviting outdoor living space.  You want to create an oasis in your own backyard.

Of course, in order to enjoy your sanctuary, you’ll need to add a few more items, including patios and pathways, adequate outdoor lighting, and plenty of comfy furniture for lounging.  If you want to go all out, you might even include a fire pit or a water feature, or increase entertaining value by adding a full outdoor kitchen.

Shade is also a necessity, which is why many homeowners choose to add a covered site structure.  There are several options to choose from, including pergolas, arbors, and pavilions.  Many Rock Valley, Iowa homeowners appreciate the versatility of a pergola, which can be placed anywhere in the yard, from patios to covered walkways, to add filtered shade without impeding the view.

If you want to increase the beauty and shade-giving function of your pergola, you can incorporate it into your landscape design.  What are the best practices for landscaping with a pergola?  Here are a few tips to get the most out of this attractive and useful site structure.

Choosing the Right Pergola

There are truly endless variations when designing a pergola, from the materials used, to the dimensions of the structure, to the size of openings between support columns and roof beams.  If you have certain landscaping elements in mind prior to installing your pergola, it may affect the design of the structure.

For example, if you want to incorporate delicate climbing vines, it’s a good idea to choose a roofing configuration with plenty of small openings or structural additions that vines can cling to and use for spreading and support.  If you plan to use heavier, denser vegetation, you’ll want to make sure you have sturdy supports in place to avoid any chance for sagging or collapse.

When you work with an experienced landscape designer, you have the best opportunity to choose the flora and the structure that will best suit your needs and complement your overall outdoor design.

Adding Plants after the Fact

If you installed a pergola with no thought to adding plant life, or you inherited this structure with your home, it’s not too late to spice it up with suitable landscape additions.  If your pergola is bordered by turf, you could easily install tall shrubs near pillars to camouflage them, or put in a row of shrubs for added privacy.

Pergolas over decking or patios could benefit from the addition of pots and planter boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes, complete with dwarf saplings, tall grasses, and flowering plants, just for example.  If you have a pergola over a seating area that features robust roof beams, you could attach hanging planters full of trailing flowers to add vibrant color and fragrance.  There’s just no end to the ways you can enhance your pergola with suitable landscaping, whether you plan ahead or you work with what you’ve already got.