How to build a rustic wood pergola

Updated April 17, 2017

A rustic pergola can bring visual appeal to a garden while still being functional. Use a pergola to grow vine plants such as grapes. A pergola also provides shade and is an ideal place under which to place patio furniture. Making your own rustic pergola requires a few basic tools and a good eye for picking out branches that are solid enough for your project and also attractive and interesting.

Set up your work area near or in the place where you plan on standing your rustic pergola.

Gather and clean all the branches you are using to build your rustic pergola. You need four long branches for the legs, four thick branches for the roof's frame and at least 12 branches of varying lengths to help stabilise the structure and add decorative appeal. Saw off smaller branches and leaves from all your branches.

Measure the branches you have gathered and saw them down so they are approximately the same size. The branches serving as the legs, for example, should be the same size so the structure does not wobble. The four branches you are using to form the roof's frame can overlap, but measure them to make sure they are not too different in size.

Begin to assemble the pergola on the ground. Put two of the long branches that will serve as the legs parallel to each other and one of the longer branches that will form the roof's frame between them. The roof branch should overlap the leg branches by an inch or two on each side so it truly captures that rustic feel. Pre-drill holes in these three branches you are about to attach to one another and then use long screws to secure this half of the structure in place. Use two long screws for each side for a total of four screws. Repeat this step for the other side of the pergola with the other two legs and longer roof branch.

Place one of the two shorter roof branches on one of the sides of the pergola you assembled in Step 4. The two shorter roof branches complete the roof's frame and should both overlap the width of the pergola by an inch or two on either side. Pre-drill holes on either side of the shorter roof branch and use two long screws on either side to attach it to both already-assembled pergola sides. Screw through the top so that the screws go through the leg branches. Repeat on the other side with the final roof branch so that you have one main structure.

Put the structure on its side and screw in shorter branches across the top of the structure so that it creates a type of ladder effect. Use some of the smaller branches to bracket the corners to stabilise the pergola. Stand the structure up and add vine plants as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 long, thick branches (legs)
  • 4 long, thick branches (top)
  • 12 branches of varying lengths
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Drill bit
  • Saw
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About the Author

Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.