Turning a Pergola into a Green Space – Gardening Tips and Tricks

Do you have big garden plans this year that include the addition of a pergola in your backyard space? Pergolas are not only beautiful looking, but they also act as the perfect place to put your garden furniture, relax, and have that little bit of shade, making the hot summer sun more manageable. But did you also know that you can add greenery to your pergola and in fact use it as an anchor point for a new garden?

Here we’ll take a look at some gardening tips and tricks that will help you turn your pergola into the ultimate green space setting. They are all easy to implement, so if you have some time on your hands now you are stuck in lockdown, read on!


Choose the Pergola Placement Wisely

First things first, you want to be sure your pergola is placed in the ideal spot in your backyard that will allow for plants to grow. For example, corner pergolas are ideal for tucking into that sunny spot in the yard. These are also great for people wanting to maximize the amount of open area, as they still leave plenty of space for grass and other options.Corner pergolas can be a triangle shape, semi-circular, or even an l-shape. The shape will help to dictate your garden design.

If you have more space, construct a larger pergola to add shade to an open area of patio or decking. This is a job anyone with a bit of DIY knowledge and the right tools can do over a weekend. As long as the main supports are correctly fixed to the ground, the rest is fairly straightforward.

Sime pergolas attached to a south-facing wall are a great feature if you love outdoor entertaining. Use this as your dining area. With some climbing plants and attractive lighting, it will rapidly become your go-to area when you want some shade during the day or a nice place to sit out in the evening.

Vines Are a Simple and Quick-Growing Option

If you’re looking for quick and simple results, then vines can be the best option. Climbing vines will start to climb up the structure of the pergola and then weave their way around the roof. After just a few short years the entire structure can be covered in greenery making for a very natural and organic focal point in your yard.

In terms of what kind of vine to plant, some great options include the royal trumpet vine, bougainvillea, bower vine, Carolina jessamine, and wisteria. It really depends on the sun/shade conditions, and what kind of look you're going for.

Be careful with some vines, as they have a habit of taking over. Ivy is a good example. Whilst ivy looks lovely, as it’s evergreen, it can cause issues when it grows up the side of a house. Ivy shoots are extremely tenacious and find their way into all sorts of nooks and crannies, sometimes causing problems.

Grapevines are a wonderful addition to any pergola in a sunny spot. There are dozens of varieties of grapes you can try, so look for one that best suits your climate and the type of soil you have. Once the vine is established, you can harvest grapes.

Use Planters and Planter Boxes

Another great option is to line the perimeter of the pergola with planters and planter boxes. Of course, you will need to leave an opening to enter and exit the pergola, but these can be a great way to actually give structure and “walls” to the pergola if you will. By placing these on the outside perimeter of the pergola you will also allow them to receive the maximum amount of sun since they won’t be under the shade of the roof.

Break it up with different types of planter. Mix and match small and large planters and paint them in interesting colors. For example, if your pergola is stained a pale blue, paint your planters various shades of yellow. This creates a lovely sunny theme in your garden, which is bound to be a talking point when you have a garden party!

Create a Garden-scape in the Ground Perimeter

If you’re not into the idea of planters and want to have a more open-air feel, then you can always dig out ground gardens around the pergola and plant whatever you like. Again, they will get maximum amounts of sun and you can choose either low-lying plants or those with height.

Look for plants that grow up as well as out. Many plants can be trained to grow up and over a trellis, even if they are not climbers. Good examples include ornamental roses and other fruit trees. Prune them carefully and use strong ties to keep the branches fixed to the site of your pergola.

Edible Plants

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow plants you can harvest. The vertical supports of a pergola are a good spot to grow plants like runner beans. These plants need a vertical support system, so a pergola is useful. You could also use your pergola to support tomatoes, either in planters or a growbag. Just make sure the area is in full sunshine and not too windy.

Rather than just plunking the pergola down in your yard and letting it speak for itself, why not look for ways to add nature and a garden to the space and really create something eye-catching and serene looking.The end result will be something that you will no doubt get a lot of use out of.

Finally, don’t forget about lighting. If you plan to sit outside in the evening, lighting is essential. Hang solar string lights through your pergola and draw attention to impressive planting with spotlights and post lights. The right lighting can really enhance a garden. If you have put in a lot of hours creating a beautiful green pergola, of course, you want people to admire it!

Turning a Pergola into a Green Space – Gardening Tips and Tricks
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Tina Martino

My passion is gardening. Along with my husband and children, each year we grow a garden large enough to provide our family of five with over half of our needed produce. Besides vegetables and a small berry patch, I also focus my attention on beautifying our home with strategically placed flowers, herbs, and flowering plants. Gardening is more than just a hobby; it is a way of life.

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