how to build pergolas
'How do I build a pergola properly?' We show you step by step how to build pergolas properly, if you want to assemble a pergola kit yourself. We give you valuable landscaping advice, so get your spirit level, screwdriver, spade, tamper and cement mixer out and start building a pergola!
A pergola generally refers to linked, free standing arches creating a pleasant walkway, or shading a patio area. The following steps are for a wooden pergola. Be sure to clear the site beforehand and assemble all the landscaping materials in advance for a stress free project...
step 1 - clear the site and markout
Using a scaled plan of your pergola design, mark out the positions of your support posts. Most Silver Mediterranean designs have a pergola in the design along with a fully dimensioned landscaping plan.
step 2 - dig holes for pergola posts
Dig holes approx. 800mm (or approx.¼ of the post length) deep with a spade, for each post. Now pack a layer of hard-core or gravel around 100mm deep. Tamp it firmly with an off-cut piece of wood or metal pole.
step 3 - get your timber pergola posts vertical
Put the post in the hole, keeping it vertical and remember to check regularly with a spirit level. Continue to pack with cement and tamping down at each stage. Finish the concrete level just below soil level.
step 4 - temporary pergola wooden braces
Repeat this method for all the support posts, and allow the concrete to set for at least 24 hours, you may want to support them while it sets by nailing temporary wooden braces at 45° to the ground.
step 5 - assemble pergola cross beams & posts
Assemble the cross beams to the top of the support posts using galvanised screws. Some ready made systems have notches cut in the wood making assembly easier, this also makes the structure far stronger.
step 6 - pergola rafters for seating & climbers
Corner braces and rafters can now be put in place if you are using them. Rafters create more shade for seating areas, or can be used to support climbers. An alternative to rafters could be a slatted roof using a fence panel or trellis.
DIY tips for assembling a pergola project
• Nail a piece of off-cut wood at the bottom of the post at the correct height - when this is resting on the ground you are at the right height.
• Mix 1 part cement, 2.5 parts sharp sand & 3.5 parts aggregate.
• Check marked positions of support posts - lay crossbeams on the floor.
• Don't forget to treat any cut edges with preservative.