An Elite Vinyl Railings freestanding pergola

Great Pergola Designs to Enhance Your Outdoor Space

Do you currently have a pergola you want to update? Or, are you looking for more information on how a pergola can enhance your backyard experience? In this blog, learn about how a pergola works and how the many pergola designs available can help you to create the backyard environment of your dreams.

Whether you are simply looking for a beautiful way to add shade, want to enhance your garden, or would like to add more privacy, a pergola from Elite Vinyl Railings in Lancaster, Pa., might be your answer.

How Does a Pergola Work?

Unlike screened-in porches, pergolas add shade and architectural charm to your backyard and other outdoor spaces without a solid roof or sides. Instead, pergolas have open sides and a slatted roof of beams or rafters. Pergola designs vary in size, materials used, purpose, and intended location. Read on for what to consider first when updating an existing pergola or adding a new pergola to your backyard.

What to Consider for Your Pergola

Since pergola designs can vary greatly, it is essential to research a few elements of your pergola project before you begin. Consider budget, placement, and any local building restrictions your area might have.


Before you start on any pergola project, take the time to decide if you have any budget restraints. Your budget may affect what type of pergola designs you can consider.

What You Intend to Cover

You may be looking for poolside shade, additional patio or porch shade, or even adding a pergola to your garden area to allow your plants to climb.

Whatever you intend to cover may require specific sizing, materials, or structural design elements. It’s best to talk with an experienced pergola builder and installer to work out the details.

Building Codes & Zoning

Even though a pergola does not have walls or a solid roof, it still counts as an outdoor structure. With that in mind, know that building one may require permits or approvals from your city, township, or borough.

Local building codes and zoning restrictions may also have limitations on where your pergola is located on your property. Whether you are looking to have a freestanding or attached pergola, an experienced pergola builder in your area can help you navigate these limitations.


Pergola designs can include many materials—wood, vinyl, fabric, glass, and more. Since your pergola is an outdoor room, it’s good to keep your seasonal weather in mind when choosing materials for your outdoor living space.

Covered Pergola Ideas

Even though pergolas do not generally have a solid roofing structure, they may have coverings that can help protect against the elements. The roofing grid of beams or rafters remains a strong design element even with covered pergola designs.

Glass-Covered Pergola

A glass-covered pergola adds a layer of protection against the elements but does not block sunlight from coming through the rafters. These glass-covered pergola designs often look modern and add a clean element to your outdoor room and living space.

Fabric Canopy Pergola

There are many uses for fabric when it comes to pergola designs. Whether you are looking for more shade and protection from the elements, or you want to create privacy walls around your pergola, canvas fabric is an excellent material to add to any pergola design.

Plant Covered Pergola

Since pergolas tend to be open on the sides and top, they make the perfect structure for climbing plants. Allow your plants to climb and grow overtop your open pergola to create shade.

You can also use your pergola to hang planters and allow those plants to create natural shade for you as they grow.

Open Pergola Ideas

Since pergola designs naturally have an open roofing structure, many homeowners choose to creatively employ slats, accent screens, fabrics, and more to create additional shade.

Bali Blind Slanted Pergola

Bali wood blinds can add warmth and texture to your pergola design. These slanted blinds also create added shade for your outdoor room and living space. Like the glass-covered pergolas, Bali blind slanted pergolas add an extra layer of protection against the elements and create a modern look in the process.

Metal Screen Accented Pergola

If you are looking for a way to accent your pergola without losing access to natural sunlight, consider decorative metal screens. You can add these to the top or sides of your pergola as accents to match your outdoor living space or even your outdoor furniture.

Louvered Slat Pergola

Louvered slat pergolas combine the best of having an open outdoor room with the added shade and elemental protection. Often, louvered slat pergolas are adjustable and can increase or decrease the amount of sunlight allowed into the pergola.

Want to Add a New Pergola to Your Outdoor Space?

At Elite Vinyl Railings in Lancaster, Pa., we build custom pergolas to match your backyard, porch, patio, garden, and more. Ask us about our pergola designs and see how we can help you create the perfect outdoor atmosphere for your home.