The pergola can offer a beautiful architectural element to many outdoor living spaces and can also add curb appeal to a home. As in adding any structural element to our home and landscape, great thought and research should be done prior to starting the project of adding a pergola.
There are pros and cons to the pergola, I tend to think the pros outweigh the cons. But then it could be the beauty of the structure that sways my opinion too! The pros are obvious so I won't get into those. Some things to consider if planting vines over the pergola: attracts butterflies and hummingbirds (also attracts bees and spiders), provides shade but can be messy (vines may drop leaves and debris), maintenance (requires sweeping and trimming).
One advantage that can prevent some other cons like the promotion of dry rot because vines retain moisture are the innovation in wood alternatives. However, the beauty of a plant-free pergola might just create another dilemma in your decision to plant vines or not to. The vines to add weight to the structure as the grow and mature which is an important factor in the design and maintenance of the pergola and its location.
Sometimes the landscaping around your planned pergola location has already provided planting, like trees, that create that shade factor that is so appealing. No need to add vines, but then I say potted plantings are a must.
The play between shadows and light that the architectural design of a pergola offers is such a delight whether plant free or vine covered. So you won't miss out on that no matter your decision to plant or not.
Vines will bring your structure to life. Living, breathing plants not only contribute to the shade factor, but they also bring color and fragrance. Here are some of my favorite picks: Bougainvillea, Chinese Jasmine, Wisteria (careful can be toxic to dogs when eaten), Passion Flower, and Royal Trumpet Vine.
The function of the pergola will dictate the final design, structural materials, vines or no vines, placement on the property and flooring, should it be a pergola for seating. I also love the entrance pergola, awning pergola, pergola over the garage doors, and by the pool.
Just as one's design style doesn't effect the feel of a room inside our home, neither does the architectural design of the pergola. Whether traditional, rustic, or modern - the pergola still holds those appealing benefits of shade, warmth, comfort, cocooning, and beauty.
Yes, I could totally see myself spending many hours under a pergola. But I also love the stunning look of a pergola over the garage, at the entrance to a home, and as an awning. Restraint is important, too much of a good thing is just that; too much!
Image Sources: Houzz, Elle Decor, Pinterest, Brabourne Farm, Home Design Collection, Beyond the Picket Fence, Only for Girls, Indulgy, Better Homes and Gardens, Squidoo