Friday, June 29, 2018

Our new pergola!

Greetings! I hope you are all enjoying the official first week of summer and that it's not too hot either -- it reached 96°F here today, but until today it's been actually quite pleasant, with temperatures in the 80s.

My big news is that my final major improvement project of this year in my gardens is finished: A new pergola covering our east patio!

For at least five years, I've thought about having a pergola built over the patio -- it almost seems like the patio was designed specifically for one, the way it's laid out with beds all around it. But we never got around to it.

Then two years ago, enclosing our front porch into a sunroom eliminated our only shady outdoor place to sit. Last summer I tried solving the shade problem by buying a patio umbrella, but it never seemed to cast shade in the right place when we needed it, and it was pretty ugly, held down by sandbags to keep it from blowing over.

The patio umbrella was not very useful or attractive.... 

In early May this year, my husband's family came to our place for a visit. Most of his relatives wanted to walk around our gardens, but his elderly mother was too tired to accompany us. Sadly, there was no place for her to sit and rest in the shade, so she had to stay inside our house while we walked around. Time to finally do something about this unsatisfactory arrangement!

My husband and I had just built a very small pergola for my new Paradise Garden together, so I felt confident that I could design and build (with my handyman's help) a larger, more complex version over the patio.

The much smaller pergola in my Paradise Garden, which gave me the confidence to build a larger version.

Step 1: Design the pergola on paper (based on standard designs), estimate and buy lumber, and have it delivered.

Step 2: Prime, paint, and paint again.

Step 3: Dig four 4-foot-deep post holes, using an ancient manual auger I borrowed from our neighbor -- actually, I made my kids dig these holes, even though the 3-foot holes I dug for the smaller pergola were fairly easy to dig.

Then I had to wait for my handyman to schedule a couple of free days to help me. He finally came over last week:

  1. First he used a jigsaw to cut the ends of the lumber the way I wanted.
  2. Then together we carried the 12-foot-long, 6x6 posts (about 170 pounds each!) from the garage to the patio and put them into the post holes.
  3. He mixed up concrete in our wheelbarrow and dumped it into the four holes.
  4. We carried the four, 20-foot-long main support beams and each climbed up on a ladder and rested them on temporary support nails that he had driven in at a level height, and he attached the beams on either side of the posts.
  5. I carried all the rest of the lumber from the garage and handed it up to him piece by piece to install on top.
  6. Finally, I primed and re-painted the cut ends of the boards, and replaced some of the topsoil back into the post holes.

The Finished Project! (Except for the treated wood posts, which need to wait until fall for paint.)

The table and chairs I got last year now look more sheltered.

I planted a wisteria 'Amethyst Falls' on the southeast post, and will plant clematis
on the other posts.

I think the pergola balances the house within the fence, and will look even better after I paint the posts.

A good addition, all in all.

I will need to re-do the formerly full-sun beds around the pergola as they become shady in the next few years when the wisteria does what wisterias do, but I think I'll wait until next spring to move things around. I did find three 'Twist-and-Shout' hydrangeas on final closeout last weekend, and planted them next to the fence, under the pergola -- I hope they'll be happy there, as I've never had any luck getting hydrangeas to overwinter....

Anyway, that's my final big project of this year, and I hope we will soon have a nice, shady spot for our family and guests to relax.

Hope your own projects are winding up, and that you are enjoying your gardens from comfortable, shady spots. Thanks for reading! -Beth


  1. Another project completed and the pergola looks good. I'm sure you're looking forward to the time when the climbers grow up it and give you the shade you require. These construction projects need a lot of planning. Even a small project needs thought as we found out when looking for something suitable to extend the support of a climbing rose in our small UK garden! Our granddaughter was available to come with us when on a mission to find the right solution. She gave her useful opinion. At the same time we enjoyed her company and she learnt more about ways to make a garden look more attractive and meet the needs of growing plants. We're having a period of very hot weather. Watering the plants is essential, but once done it's nice to sit down in the shade of the biggest tree in our small plot (the fig tree, which is now in full leaf, with many figs maturing). Wishing you a happy July Beth.

  2. Wow, it looks fantastic! What a lovely place to sit under! Your handyman did a great job cutting those curves with the jigsaw. And how beautiful those vines will look on it!

  3. Oh well done Beth, it looks fabulous and goes so well with your house. Love it.

  4. What a great job! It looks lovely. And yes, it does seem to balance the house, and look as though it's always belonged there. Isn't it exciting to get big new stuff done? :~))

  5. The pergola looks good. what a lovely place to relax. Have a happy weekend. Greetings.

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