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How to Build a Pergola for Backyard Shade

Keep cool under this backyard pergola structure that brings beauty, shade, and comfortable outdoor living to your property.

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Bountiful sunshine makes our gardens grow, but all living things need a little shade sometimes — especially people. These step-by-step plans will show you how to build a pergola to create your own backyard shade. The finished product will add stylish definition and shape to your yard and garden.

A pergola (also known as an arbor) can be an elegant entranceway over a path, a quiet place to sit, or a frame for vines to climb over a deck or patio. Our pergola plans create a structure that’s large enough to span a picnic table, but you can make the dimensions narrower and shorter so yours can serve as a garden entrance. The 6-by-6 and 2-by-8 lumber used in these plans looks great and is more than strong enough for the job. You can use thicker or thinner planks, or even peeled poles you’ve foraged. (For instructions on how to build a pergola using logs and poles, see “How to Build a Pergola Using Peeled Poles” below.)

Pergola Project Video Tips From Steve Maxwell

Check out the following video for advice from author Steve Maxwell on how to get the best results
from his pergola plans, then keep reading below for all the details.

Full Pergola Plans


Steve Maxwell is known as “Canada’s Handiest Man,” he’s an expert builder and cabinetmaker who values honesty, hard work and beautiful craftsmanship. Contact him by visiting his website and the blog, Maxwell’s House. You also can follow him on Twitter, and like him on Facebook.