How to build a corner pergola

Updated February 21, 2017

A pergola can add beauty to an outdoor space. Pergolas define an outdoor space by giving an area an open structure. A corner pergola is an ideal way to create a focal point in a corner of a garden. A corner seating area with a pergola overhead provides a sense of living space. It draws the eye towards the space. A corner pergola can be made by a homeowner as an outdoor home improvement project. Good choices for wood include cedar and Douglas fir. Both are naturally rot resistant and weather beautifully when left natural.

Measure in 15 cm (6 inches) from each end of the 5 cm by 10 cm by 1.8 m (2 by 6 by 72 inch) cedar boards. Mark the measurements with a pencil.

Set up the table saw with dado set to make a 7.5 cm (3 inch deep by 5 cm (2 inch) wide dado cut. Set the fence on the table saw so that the dado cut starts at the 15 cm (6 inch) mark on the ends of the 5 cm by 15 cm by 1.8 m (2 by 6 by 72 inch) cedar boards. Run each end of the 5 cm by 15 cm by 1.8 m (2 by 6 by 72 inch) cedar boards through the table saw. These are the rafters of the corner pergola.

Cut a 45-degree angle on each end of the 5 cm by 15 cm by 1.5 m (2 by 6 by 60 inch) cedar boards. These are the top frame boards and the leg support boards. Place the boards together to form two squares. Fasten the boards together at the joints by screwing two 7.5 cm (3 inch) coated screws evenly spaced into each joint on both squares with a screw gun.

Measure out a 1.5 m by 1.5 m (60 inch by 60 inch) square in the corner that the pergola will be placed. Mark the corners by sticking the post hole digger into the ground enough so that it marks the dirt. Dig a 60 cm (2 foot) deep hole in each of the corners with the post hole digger.

Fill in approximately 15 cm (6 inches) of each hole with gravel to allow drainage at the bottom of the posts. Mix quick setting cement according to the instructions provided with the cement mix in a bucket.

Place a post in each hole. Pour the cement around each post up to approximately 5 cm (2 inches) from the top of the hole. Check to ensure that the post is level by placing a level against the posts as complete pouring the cement. Allow the cement to dry according to the instructions provided with the mix. Fill the remaining hole in with the dirt that you removed using a shovel.

Have a friend help you place the leg support frame over the top of the four posts down approximately one foot from the top ends of the posts. Fasten the frame to each post by screwing two 7.5 cm (3 inch) coated screws into each side of the post through the support frame boards using a screw gun. Follow the same procedure to fasten the top support frame over the posts. The top support frame should be flush with the top ends of the posts.

Place the four rafters evenly spaced on top of the top support frame so that the notches made on the table saw lock over the side boards of the top support frame. Space the rafters evenly on the top support frame. Fasten them in place using 7.5 cm (3 inch) coated deck screws and a screw gun. Drive the screws through the top of the rafter into the top edges of the top support sides.


Place seating, a bistro table, and potted plants under the pergola for a relaxing afternoon tea spot.


Wear eye protection when working with wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Four 5 cm by 15 cm by 1.8 m (2 by 6 by 72 inch) cedar boards
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Table saw with dado set
  • Eight 5 cm by 15 cm by 1.5 m (2 by 6 by 60 inch) cedar boards
  • Mitre saw
  • 1 box of 7.5 cm (3 inch) coated screws
  • Screw gun
  • Four 10 cm by 10 cm by 2.4 m (4 by 4 by 96 inch) cedar posts
  • Post hole digger
  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Gravel
  • Quick setting cement mix
  • Bucket
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About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.