Occasionally we are faced with a feature that is something of
an eyesore. We tend to think of pergolas as free standing but
they can also be used to hide an ugly wall, shed or garage.
Our client had just moved to a new property and the garden was
turf all over. The neighbour's house runs all down one side
of the garden, and the wall was rather hard on the eye. We had
been called in to create something that would make this area
look more attractive.
Before - a cold brick wall
After - bursting with life
Designing the Garden
The neighbour's brick wall really dominated the scene. It is
the most shaded area of the garden so lawn was never going to
be very successful. Softening the appearance could only really
be achieved by taking the eye away with another feature.
Our solution was a long pergola with a pathway underneath. Because
of the size of the pergola we felt the path should lead to something,
so we designed a curved patio to sit at the end. The patio is
slightly raised - a perfect spot to sit with your favourite
As the pergola is so large it has to be sturdy to ensure that
it can survive high winds. We used 4-by-4 inch timbers for the
posts and 5-by-2 inch timbers for the cross members. These are
the proportions, which from experience, we have found to work
well. Many pergolas are erected with 3-by-3 inch posts and they
are far too flimsy.
You must take care when you build close to an adjoining property.
Don't use your neighbour's wall as a support. This pergola was
free standing with the uprights set in concrete for stability
Tips from the Design Team
It is normally best to plant a pergola with a mix of both
evergreen and deciduous climbing plants. Then you will get
colour and interest throughout the year. However, if the
pergola is up against your house, you may want to avoid
evergreens. You will get shade in the summer, but not stop
valuable light from coming into the house in wintertime.