Although many of these terms are used interchangeably, we offer the following as a helpful definition of each. A Pergola is usually a structure built over a walkway or patio with open-air ceiling beams through which light and ventilation may flow but often can cast shade below as the sun's position shifts throughout the day. Some people choose to add covers or canopies over their pergolas to further shield from the weather while others train vines to grow for the same purpose. A Gazebo is typically an octagonal structure with interior seating featuring a closed roof and open sides that offers more protection from the elements than a pergola especially with the addition of screens which provide a safe haven from bugs. An Arbor is a pretty garden structure as a decorative statement within the landscape, many times built as an entry to a walkway or part of a gate through which pedestrians may pass, often with an arched top and lattice work on which plants and vines may grow. A trellis is a free-standing garden ornament on which climbing plants may find support for optimal display. A Ramada, sometimes referred to as a Pavilion, is essentially a type of pergola or gazebo with a closed roof but open sides.
While a pergola can be no more than a structural decorative element on your patio, it can also provide the architectural framework on which vines can creep and grow thick and full. When that happens, the pergola becomes more of a natural outdoor roof which filters light and protects from downpours.
This well-planned pergola situated at pool's edge but adjacent to the warmth of a handsome outdoor fireplace enjoys the best of all worlds. For those exiting the pool to partake of snacks, lunch or dinner at the patio table, the pergola adds much-needed shade from the harsh sun while still allowing the ambient heat to enter from the fireplace. Should you desire more shelter, some people add a canopy or roof-like covering which would serve as a shield from rain, converting the pergola into more of a gazebo-type structure.
A pergola can be as open or closed as you prefer. For those who use it as more of a decorative element on the outdoor landscape, it has more of a shady, open-air effect, as opposed to the actual purpose of keeping the weather out. With the addition of a rooftop cover, it begins to function more like a gazebo which provides complete shade within.
Acting as a transitional space between outdoor gardens and the home's interior, this pergola with enclosed roof allows for a sheltered dining area while experiencing the beauty of the open-air patio environment. Lit from above, the space enjoys protection from the rain without losing sight of the surrounding landscape.
While a pergola can be adapted in creative ways, and many of the terms used for such structures are interchangeable, pergolas are frequently also referred to as Gazebos, Ramadas or Pavilions. All are freestanding structures but are built with a solid roof on top, leaving those seated beneath in the coolness of total shade in summertime. The roof also is able to trap heat in colder weather, particularly if situated near an outdoor kitchen or open fire, not to forget protection from rain.
If you need escape from the rain, the hot sun, the insects or just want a peaceful place to meditate, a screened-in gazebo can do the trick. Perhaps you need to keep an eye on the kids as they play in the pool while sheltering a baby from the sun's harsh rays, or maybe you just want a place to read in the midst of your beautiful garden. A spacious gazebo with ample seating around a table solves all your goals with room to spare. Perfect for the company of a rowdy pup as you supervise the family's patio activities or an afternoon game with your entire bridge club, the possibilities are endless for many years to come.