Building your own pergola is a project that 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.
You can decide to build the pergola from a kit that cuts all of the wood for you or build it from scratch with materials sourced at your local home center or lumberyard.
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.
Cost of 16-Foot Square Pergola
A small aluminum pergola is usually cheaper than a wood pergola and sometimes 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.
Expect to pay anywhere from $2,000-$6,000 for a pergola but a bit more if you are using high-end materials. Cost varies based on size, style, choice of materials, and local labor rates.
Pergola Cost Built From Scratch
A basic garden pergola built of pressure-treated wood and mounted in the ground with concrete varies in price depending on location and current cost of materials. Remember, this basic 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.
The cost to build the pergola from scratch can be as little as $1,000 to $2,000 for a small 10-foot square pergola, using pressure-treated 4x4s as the posts and setting them into post holes by yourself with a post-hole digger or auger.
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 the top is a lightweight partial cover constructed of 1x3s—ideal for trailing plants.
The most difficult part of building this pergola is digging the post holes, then setting 4x4 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 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|