Pergolas are a great way to provide shade for an outdoor room and provide an aesthetic anchor for your outdoor living space. They’re easily customizable and can be shaped to fit almost any area. Whether you’re planning a new patio or wanting to modify an existing one, the basic design principles for a pergola are the same.


  • When attached to a home, pergolas create a graceful transition from indoors to outdoors.
  • Pergolas can be simple and rustic, or intricate and sophisticated. The choice is yours.
  • They filter sunlight, creating a shady area without using a solid roof or canopy.
  • When placed strategically, they create a focal point in your design.

You should consider four principles of design when installing your pergola: placement, attachment, roof cover, and size.


Photo: Eagle Bay

Figuring out where to place your pergola is as simple and asking yourself a few questions:

  1. Where are the best views?
  2. When will we use this most?
  3. Do we want to shelter any area from wind or excessive sun?

Pergolas are amazing design assets because of their flexibility. Treating them as a landscaping solution is a good way to determine the most strategic location for the installation.

“When installing a pergola, know how much you want to invest in it,” said Eagle Bay HARDSCAPE HERO winner Scott Prunty of Solid Structures. “Wood is the cheapest option, but pergolas can be difficult to paint, so you may be better using a synthetic material if you want a different color.”


Attaching your pergola to your house is a good way to save some money, as it will require fewer support beams. However, you also need to consider the style of your house. For example, older houses may have lower roofs, which in turn would lower the overhead clearance of the pergola, making it uncomfortable. Depending on your region’s climate, an attached structure could also pose a safety risk in high winds or heavy snows. It’s best to consult with a contractor about whether to attach a pergola to your house.


Pergolas can be built with open or solid roofs. How you design yours depends on your usage case. Do you want cover from the elements, or do you want more sunlight? Again, climate can affect your decision. For example, if you live in a rainy area, a solid roof may make more sense.


When it comes to landscape design, size matters. A pergola that’s too small will look out of place in a large yard. Conversely, one that’s too big will dominate your outdoor living space and could prevent the inclusion of other elements. Overall, the pergola should feel integrated into your larger design scheme.

As a point of reference, a 10′ x 10′ pergola is just big enough for two chairs and a small table. When planning your design, think about usage and how many people you’ll want to have using the space at any time.

“Don’t forget to consider overhang too. For example, a 12′ x 12′ pergola will have about 8′ x 8′ between the support pillars,” Prunty explained.

If you’d like to see how a pergola would look on your patio, make sure to ask your installer to use the Eagle Bay Design Studio. Our team of 3D design experts can bring your project to life.

“Pergolas are a great addition to any patio. Their versatility is unmatched, and you can add everything from a fan to speakers to them to make the space truly your own,” said Prunty.

If you need help getting started, contact one of our sales specialists today.