If the desire to create a structure burns within you, there is no better way than to build your own pergola. This DIY project is ambitious enough to permanently change the look of your yard, yet it requires only intermediate building skills and simple materials available at your local home center. And best of all, the cost of the pergola may be balanced out by the value that it adds to your property.
DIY Pergola Cost
One of the best things about a DIY pergola is its moderate cost. A DIY pergola usually will cost less than more complex outdoor structures such as patio covers and gazebos, yet more than arbors and trellises.
As with any DIY home project, you pay only for the materials, not for the labor. One exception may be with the paving. Stone or concrete patio pavers can be laid successfully by many homeowners, but large concrete slabs usually look and perform best when poured by a concrete professional.
Pergola Cost From a Kit
A small aluminum pergola measuring 10-foot square begins around $400 and ranges up to $800. This type of pergola usually includes a retractable cover.
Wood drives up the cost of the pergola, both in terms of the cost of the materials and the increased shipping weight. Cedar pergolas measuring 10-foot square with lattice covers begin around $1,200. Cedar pergolas that are 10-foot by 16-foot with arched or pitched open lattice roofs cost between $5,000 and $8,000.
Pergola Cost Built From Scratch
A basic garden pergola measuring 8 feet wide by 16 feet long, built of pressure-treated wood and mounted in the ground with concrete, can be built for around $570. This cost does not include taxes, delivery fees, or pavers. Appearance-grade pressure-treated wood will raise the price.
Since this pergola includes materials such as ready-mix concrete, gravel, and over 40 pieces of heavy lumber, you may want to have the materials delivered rather than picking them up by yourself.
DIY Pergola Installation Basics
Building your own pergola is labor-intensive but simple to understand. Just six posts define the perimeter of this 8-foot by 16-foot structure. At top is a lightweight partial cover constructed of one-by-threes—ideal for trailing plants.
The most difficult part of building this pergola is digging the post holes, then setting four-by-four posts in concrete in those holes. Renting a gas-powered earth auger for one day is usually sufficient time to dig those holes. Otherwise, if the soil is soft and you have a post hole digger, you can use that.
Pergolas vs. Other Outdoor Structures
Traditional pergolas that often span for miles to shade paths for horseback riding have since been modernized and adapted for residential use. Backyard pergolas are shorter and are more akin to open-air patio structures than to long pathway covers.
But pergolas still share the same spirit of honoring the flora and the occasional visiting fauna. Adorned with trailing plants such as jasmine and even lighting, backyard pergolas provide a gorgeous space for relaxing, dining, socializing, or just having some quiet downtime.
Easier to build than many other types of outdoor structures
Encourages growth of trailing plants
Does not shield against sun or rain (though a sun cover can be added)
Untended pergolas can become unsightly
Difficult to move
A patio cover is a structure attached to the house that provides full coverage to the area below. The roof is usually kept to a low angle. Since one side of the patio cover is supported by the house, the other side is supported by two or more posts.
A gazebo is a large detached outdoor structure, usually round, hexagonal, or octagonal. Its roof is usually pitched at a high angle. Inside, the gazebo is sheltered from the elements and it may have permanent fixtures, such as benches.
Built over an outdoor pathway, an arbor is a short arched or flat passageway meant for growing trailing plants. An arbor can provide a beautiful entrance to a property.
A trellis is a flat, ladder-like garden structure that attaches to the side of a house, shed, or fence. A trellis is simple and cheap to build. A trellis is only for plant growth; it provides no shelter.
|Description||Solid Roof||Climbing Plants||DIY Difficulty|
|Pergola||Large detached structure with no roof.||No||Yes||Moderate|
|Patio Cover||Full, solid roof, usually low-angle and attached to the house.||Yes||No||Moderate|
|Gazebo||Detached structure with a full pitched roof, often with a round footprint.||Yes||No||Difficult|
|Arbor||Short pass-through arch (or other shape) over a walkway.||No||Yes||Easy|
|Trellis||Plant ladder attached to the house or other building.||No||Yes||Easy|