Pergolas have both aesthetic and practical significance in the landscape. Traditionally used for connecting different parts of gardens or shading walkways, these open-air structures have a rich history beginning in the gardens of ancient Egypt. A pergola is a set of pillars or posts joined overhead by a trellis-type roof. Vines can be trained to cover the posts and the roof if desired. Pressure-treated wood is the most common material used for pergola construction. A wood pergola makes an attractive, sheltered, outdoor living space. A six-foot square pergola project can be completed in a day.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Post-hole digger
- Plastic bucket with bottom cut out
- Marking chalk
- Metal mallet
- Quick-setting concrete
- Red ribbon
- Small stakes
- Measuring tape
- Wood clamps
- Post level
- Oversized triangle
- Carriage bolts
- Metal brackets
- Galvanised nails
- Drill and carriage bolt bit
- Four 4-inch-by-4-inch lumber for posts (cut to desired height)
- 11, 6-inch-by-2-inch chamfered beams for sides and roof (cut to eight feet)
- One 2-foot-by-2-foot board
Locate and mark any underground utilities. Clear all debris from the pergola site and level the area if it is uneven.
Mark the front edge of the pergola using a 2-foot-by-2-foot board. Place a stake at the front right corner. Attach a string to the stake.
Position an oversized triangle on the front edge board at a 90 degree angle. Run the string 72 inches to the back corner. Adjust the string until the front-right corner is 90 degrees. Mark the back-right corner with a stake and string. Continue this process to each corner of the pergola, joining the stakes with string. This will form the six-foot outline of the pergola.
Place a bucket, with its bottom removed, centred on each post and outline it with chalk. This will mark the area to dig for each hole.
Using a posthole digger, dig out a hole for each post measuring 1 foot wide and 2 feet deep.
Pour a 3-inch layer of crushed gravel into each hole. This will help with drainage. Place posts in the holes, one at a time. Attach temporary braces with clamps to the poles so they stand alone. Use a pole level and make adjustments until the pole is plumb. Repeat this process with all four poles.
Pour quick-setting concrete and one gallon of water into each hole. Wait about 10 minutes for concrete to set before proceeding.
Working on one side, fix temporary horizontal braces to support the chamfered beams that will run on either side of each side post. Pre-drill two holes for the carriage bolts. These will join the chamfered beams to the posts. Stagger these holes to avoid splitting the post. Repeat this process on the opposite side.
Using a metal mallet, drive the carriage bolts through the pre-drilled holes. Secure washers and nuts to the carriage bolts on the outside of the pergola.
Attach crossbeams perpendicular to the side beams with braces and galvanised nails at equal distances on top of the pergola structure.
Tips and warnings
- Check all building code requirements for your area before beginning this project.
- Paint the pergola with coloured stain and treat with a water repellent.
- Add climbing plants with supports to grow up the posts.
- This project requires assistance.
- Wear eye protection when working with a drill.
- Use caution when on a ladder.
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