Pergola Design for Portland Landscaping by Bjorn Nordquist at Landscape East & West

September 2013

Cedar Pergola Design for Portland LandscapingWhen adding a pergola to your Portland landscape, there are a couple of important questions to ask yourself: 1) What is my budget and 2) How do I want to use this pergola? Landscape East & West is adept at designing and constructing pergolas to perfectly fit your budget and needs. Whether you want to create a cozy gathering place, a private retreat, a shady sanctuary, or a landscaping focal point, we can create the pergola of your dreams. As a full-service Portland landscaping company, we can manage every step of the building process, from sourcing materials to adding electrical bells and whistles, such as built-in electrical outlets.

In a previous blog on covered structures, I described Landscape East & West’s process for adding a covered structure. That post also discussed material selection, structural support, drainage design, and permitting. Today we’re looking at design options for one type of covered structure: pergolas.

Pergola Design: Covers, Posts, and Bases
Traditional pergolas are open to the sky. To turn a pergola into a year-round outdoor living area, there is the option of adding glass or Lexan panels as coverage against the elements. Covered pergolas do require maintenance, as the translucent panel materials must be cleaned. Vines growing over the pergola will make it difficult  to clean panels, so if you’re looking forward to growing climbing plants on your pergola, it’s probably best to leave the roof open to the sky. To make your pergola inviting at all times of the day, and in all seasons, why not add lighting? This will not only increase usability, it will also wow potential buyers if you choose to put your home on the market.

While most people focus on a pergola’s overhead beams, the posts can also be a great way to dress up a pergola design. Posts may be constructed of a variety of materials, including wood, stone, and/or even siding to match or contrast with the home. A combination of materials will add visual interest, and posts can be sleek and simple, or intricately ornate.

For flooring/base materials, homeowners can choose gravel, concrete, pavers, stone, brick, or wood decking. Landscape East & West’s Portland landscaping experts can translate your pergola designs and ideas into executable plans.

Pergola Designs: Freestanding vs. Attached to the Home
Formal Arbor Design
Another major pergola design question to ask is whether or not the structure should be attached to your house. Freestanding pergolas create a retreat environment, as they are independent from the home. If you’re looking to add a new “destination” to your yard, a freestanding pergola will create the perfect focal point for your landscaping.

Portland homeowners can also see benefits from adding an attached pergola. First, an attached pergola gains structural strength from the home, so posts can be placed farther apart. For those who wish to create a strong indoor/outdoor living connection, an attached pergola is perfect, as it can be placed directly off of the kitchen, living room, dining room, etc. Finally, a covered pergola’s placement generally makes it easier to add utilities such as natural gas, power, lighting, and water. If you’re looking for an outdoor kitchen under your covered pergola, you can save some costs by selecting an attached design. With that said, we have the experience and expertise to add these features to a freestanding pergola, if you desire.

Here at Landscape East & West, we custom tailor each and every pergola to fit the client’s needs. Whatever the style of your home, we can complement it to ensure that the design flows naturally. And as a full-service landscaping firm, we can walk you through the pergola design process in a forthright and budget-conscious way.

The planning and design portion of a pergola project is crucial, as it has a big impact on overall success. Landscape East & West design experts are happy to review your design options, while explaining benefits and downsides of each material type. In the long run, this careful design planning will help maintain the value of your pergola investment.


Bjorn NordquistContributing author Bjorn Nordquist is the Sales Manager at Landscape East & West, Portland landscaping and design professionals. Learn more about Landscape East & West’s design/build services, including outdoor kitchens, pergolas, patio covers, and more.