Backyard landscaping ideas: How to build a pergola

If you’ve got grand backyard landscaping ideas, then how to build a pergola—that rocks—should be on your list. This pergola is a one-of-a-kinder with a multi-use space for seating and serving. We hope you love it as much as we do.


How to build a pergola

How to build a pergola: Make it awesome from the ground up.

After picking the perfect location and determining a size that fits the space we make the best how to build a pergola buddy going: A box. It’s not just any box. It’s a ‘full-size template’ and it rocks. We use it for layout, assembly and it can even be the starting point for a wood deck floor.

The posts are set in a 10-foot x 10-foot square so we built the box 131 1/2-inches x 131 1/2-inches so the posts will fit inside the box at a 10-foot spread. Next, we install bracing on it to keep it square and so we can lift or drag it easily.

We place the box on the exact spot where we want to dig our posts and use it to mark the post hole locations. Then we move it and dig the holes. Before moving the box, we found yet another use for our Hyde multi-tool—marking the ground so we knew exactly where to replace the template.

With the holes dug, we replace the template and then and use it to help hold the posts as we set them in the holes. Make sure the box is level before installing posts.

On this pergola, we fancied up the posts by making them from two 2x6s and one 2×4. It creates a cool, custom look we enjoy. And when it comes to how to build a pergola that’ll last and look good doing it, we used Western Red Cedar. It lasts outdoors and brings a great, natural feel to an outdoor space. And, cedar 2-by stock is great for ground contact.

We set the girder at about 9-feet above the ground. It makes the pergola feel comfortable. The rafters cross the girder. The purlins cross the rafters. Before we started building, we settled on a funky rafter tail design that we love and that fits the house style.

And Theresa’s dual-purpose seating/serving area might just be a pergola-first. It’s low and wide enough to use as a couch, but also high enough to lay out plates, cups and platters for a cookout.

We used a combination of deck screws (posts), gun nails (rafters and purlins) and structural screws (girder connections) to hold it all together for back yard fun.

How to build a pergola

Our ‘box’ (template) assists us in layout and installation. Note: We cut the tall posts to final height once the concrete dries.

How to build a pergola

We ‘traced’ a line in the grass with our Hyde multi-tool to mark the box location before moving it.


How to build a pergola

We tried out fun rafter tail designs before we started building.

How to build a pergola

Posts, girders, rafters and purlins all ready to go. If you want to even out the ground, framing a patio deck around the bottoms of the posts is a great call.


How to build a pergola

One how to build a pergola tip that should not be left out: Have fun, work safely.




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