Garden pergola ideas to get your outdoor space ready for entertaining

Everything you need to know about a garden pergola and how to upgrade your outdoor space.

by Jules Barton-Breck and Natalie Corner |

It’s time to get your garden ready for a summer of outdoor living. Outdoor rooms are a huge trend this year and if you’ve got a garden pergola, you’re already halfway there.

These quick and easy garden pergola ideas will transform your structure into an outdoor room, turning up the style dial and making it more useful. If you don’t already have a pergola, then buying a cheap, standard pergola (expect to pay upwards of £250) and using these creative suggestions to customise it to your own design will stretch your budget much further.

Put aside a weekend to build your pergola, so your outside space is ready for the sunshine and your family and friends to enjoy a BBQ, a lazy afternoon or a garden soiree in style.

Garden pergola ideas for 2022

Hang a comfy chair from a beam

Make the most of the overhead beams of your pergola by adding a hanging egg chair to create the ultimate relaxation spot. Ensure the beam is strong enough by swinging from it yourself – throw a strong rope over the beam and carefully let it hold your body weight – if there’s no shift in the structure, you’re good to go. You’ll need a heavy-duty hanging swivel hook (from around £15 on Amazon), which you fix to the underside of the beam then hang your chair. Try the John Lewis & Partners Dante Garden Hanging Pod Chair, which comes in natural tan wicker or grey, and leave the stand to hang it directly onto your pergola.

Cloak with leaves to create a lush sanctuary

Our gardens have become vital to our wellbeing over the past year, and there’s a strong trend towards creating a hideaway haven in your plot. Follow Nigella Lawson for inspiration by using climbing plants to cloak your pergola with lush leaves that you turn into a living green roof. Our pick of plants to turn your pergola into a living structure is the gorgeous, quick-growing ‘Pippin’ climbing rose (£20.99/4L potted from Crocus). Its large, soft-pink, double flowers have a sweet, fruity fragrance, for ultimate relaxation. Position pots of tall grasses around the frame bases for added seclusion.

Create an airy retreat for afternoon snoozing

Plan for sunny days in the garden and perfect moments of me-time by turning your pergola into a dreamy day-bed haven. Tie or nail swathes of voile, nets or similar light fabric around the edges of the pergola and a swag across the top to soften the sunshine if you like (try Plain White Voile Curtain in White, £1.99/1 x 1.5m Then hang up a hammock and a Do Not Disturb sign.

Style it with oversized solar lanterns

You’ll be seeing lots of these spherical garden lanterns in all the most stylish gardens this year – the bigger, the better! Choose weatherproof lanterns that you can leave in place all summer, and hang a few to get a decent level of light from the solar-powered flow like these nylon cloud white Miami LED solar lanterns from Lights4fun.

Make a skeleton dining room

This looks fabulous, but is super-easy to create, especially if your garden dining furniture has an interior vibe. All you need to do is to paint your pergola black to make the shape of the ‘room’ stand out, then hang a pendant solar light (try Richmond Solar Garden Pull Cord Light, £19.99) from a central beam. For the ultimate finish, use porcelain pavers or smooth composite decking to create a sleek floor.

Best garden pergola to buy

Robert Dyas Monaco Metal Gazebo Pergola and Slide Away Sun Shade

Best garden pergola with canopy
Robert Dyas Monaco Metal Gazebo Pergola and Slide Away Sun Shade

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This sturdy metal pergola comes with its own slide away sunshade, which makes it ideal for when the sun is fully beaming. A simple pulley system makes moving the shade quick and easy with minimal effort and the sunshade folds neatly into a storage bag for the winter months. 

Dimensions: H230 x W300 x D300cm 
Material: Metal frame, polyester shade 
Weatherproof: Shade waterproof recommended for storage, metal frame withstands elements 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Additional fitted sunshade provides protection, sturdy metal frame 
Cons: Customers report it can be tricky to erect, had to drill extra holes in the feet, needs solid surface

Review: “Received the product very quickly, was easy to install and has made our outside experience a lot better, no more trying to stop the parasol blowing over, reason a gave the product only four stars was because the screw pack was spilt and some of the bolts were missing but managed to get some elsewhere rather than waiting for the manufacturer to sort it out.”

Homebase Forest Slatted Corner Pergola

Best corner garden pergola
Homebase Forest Slatted Corner Pergola

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This slatted roof pergola from Homebase is ideal to use up any unused corner space in your garden. This type of pergola structure is also perfect for supporting grape vines that you can trail over the beams to watch them grow and sprout fruit. This timber pergola can be planted on soft or solid ground but is recommended to be anchored so it is fixed. 

Dimensions: H213 x W294 x D147cm 
Material: Mixed softwood 
Weatherproof: Pressure Treated FSC certified timber which gives the pergola a 15-year guarantee against rot and fungal decay 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Treated wood to for long lasting, affordable 
Cons: Anchor base not included 
Review: N/A

Robert Dyas Garden Must Haves Pandora 3x3.6m Leaf Gazebo Pergola

Best garden pergola with adjustable shade
Robert Dyas Garden Must Haves Pandora

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Open slats allow sunlight to dapple through and turn your pergola into an airy, light retreat. This pergola will provide a sheltered area and plenty of space for you to enjoy without having to move around, thanks to the multi-directional roof that you can adjust whichever angle the sun is shining.  

Dimensions: H226 x W360 x D300cm 
Material: Aluminium/steel frame, textilene slatted roof 
Weatherproof: The Textilene roof is designed for use as a sunshade and does not provide complete waterproof protection. 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Strong sturdy weatherproof metal frame, multi-directional sunshade 
Cons: Needs 3-4 people to assemble, cover not completely waterproof

Review: “We are delighted with this new addition to our garden! The Pergola arrived on time and was reasonably easy for my husband to assemble with a little extra help for fiddly bits. Really pleased with the quality and the usage we've had so far has been an excellent provision of shade by just tilting the slats. Very pleased with our purchase!”

Homebase Forest Ultima Pergola and Decking Kit

Best garden pergola kit with decking
Homebase Forest Ultima Pergola and Decking Kit

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Go for the full package for your garden with this pergola and decking kit from Homebase. It will form an ideal area for entertaining by adding an outdoor rug and plenty of comfy cushions to lean back on or add in a dining table and chairs for a dining area. The pergola kit is also available without the extended decking area here.

Dimensions: (H)249cm x (W)487cm x (D)249cm 
Material: Mixed softwood 
Weatherproof: Pressure treated for longer life 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Contains all fixtures and fittings, includes decking base 
Cons: Check local delivery areas because of supplier shortage 
Review: N/A

Wayfair Dakota Fields Buck Wood Pergola Seat

Best garden pergola with seat
Dakota Fields Buck Pergola

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This corner pergola from Wayfair is best suited for small gardens, so if you have an unused corner space that will benefit from a lovely seat this is an affordable option that can be dressed up with climbing plants or fairy lights.

Dimensions: H197 x W130 x D130cm 
Material: Solid pinewood 
Weatherproof: Yes, no rain cover 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Includes bench and anchor mounting materials 
Cons: Needs professional assembly 

Review: “Very happy with this! Looks cracking in the garden, draped with fairy lights.”

Wayfair Dakota Fields Pollitt Solid Wood Pergola

Best garden pergola lean/awning
Dakota Fields Pollitt Solid Wood Pergola

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If you don’t have the budget for a conservatory, extension or brand-new patio, upgrade your outdoor area with a leaning pergola. You only need to worry about fixing the rafters to the wall of your property and you’ll end up with a classic, refined space for entertaining guests. Dress up the beams with climbing plants or oversized solar lanterns. 

Dimensions: Three size options H277 x W240 x D240cm, H277 x W300 x D300cm, H277 x W360 x D360cm 
Material: Pine 
Weatherproof: Yes treated, no rain cover 
Self-Assembly: Yes, partial assembly 
Pros: Three sizes available, high quality long-lasting investment 
Cons: Need to be fixed to a wall professionally, additional wall fittings needed

Review: “The quality is second to none! Provided everything we need except for the wall nails to attach the piece that the beams rest upon. Other than that brilliant quality. Would definitely use them again.”

VonHaus Garden Pergola with Adjustable Canopy

Best metal garden pergola
Vonhaus Garden Pergola with Adjustable Canopy

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If you are looking for a metal pergola for a modern style to suit your garden this one from VonHaus also features an adjustable canopy to provide extra protection. Suited to a bigger space, the pergola could easily fit a hot tub underneath as well as furniture for garden parties, picnics and BBQs.  

Dimensions: H230 x L230 x W300cm 
Material: Powder-coated steel 
Weatherproof: Rain and shower resistant canopy, remove in high winds 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Easy to assemble, good value for money 
Cons: Canopy is in two parts and if it rains the canopy can fill with water, some customers reported the poles were “flimsy” 

Review: “The frame sits perfectly in the garden. It is just slightly lower than the garage which means no neighbours complain about it. The cover is a little frustrating as in two segments. If it rains it’ll come through the middle. But I don’t intend on many days out in the rain. It’s great quality for the price. Fits two small sets of garden furniture inside. Really pleased with this. Brilliant. The overall design is well thought out and executed well. Looking forwards to finishing the garden to it justice.”

Arbour Garden Solutions Garden Wooden Pergola Kit

Best garden pergola multi-design
Amazon Garden Wooden Pergola Kit

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Have a larger space that you want to erect a pergola in? This multiple size kit from Arbour Garden Solutions gives you 42 different design kits meaning you can create stunning walk-way covered in climbing roses or a shorter feature centrepiece. The decision is all yours.  

Dimensions: Various sizes between 180cm-480cm 
Material: Softwood pine 
Weatherproof: Yes 
Self-Assembly: Yes 
Pros: Good instructions, pre-drilled holes made it much easier to fit together 
Cons: Reports of some wood splitting, difficult to put together 

Review: “Very good quality, a little tricky to get everything level but with perseverance we got it assembled.”

How to build a garden pergola?

The majority of the garden pergola kits on our list are all self-assembly, so this means deciphering instructions to build your flatpack structure. You will likely need a basic DIY kit, including an electric screwdriver, hammer and spare parts like hooks to hang your plants or fix climbing plants to the posts.

To make things easier, you may want to spend extra money on asking a professional joiner to build your pergola for you. By outsourcing the work it will mean less stress and it will be built correctly the first time, any joiner will also make sure that a wooden structure is secure and add any extra support as part of the job.

What is a garden pergola?

A pergola is a wooden or metal structure with an open slatted roof. Some pergolas have the option of fixing a canopy or sunshade across the slats of the roof.

Is a pergola cheaper than a gazebo?

When it comes to long-term investment for a pergola, a pergola is more affordable. If you are looking for a temporary shade fix for a smaller plot of land then opt for a parasol. A gazebo offers another temporary solution for entertaining and is quick to put up and can be taken down and stored away for winter, but pergolas are made to last for years.

Do I need planning permission for a pergola?

Always check with your local council for planning permission when building any type of new structure that may overlook or block any views for your neighbours, conservation area or on the side of your house between the house and the boundary wall. Your pergola must be no higher than 2.5m or further away from the boundary it can be 3m . A pitched-roof structure (A-shaped roof) can be up to 4m high. It is unlikely your build will cause any problems, but always get confirmation otherwise it could be a costly mistake.

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