Planning to put up a pergola this summer? Here’s what you should know.

Adding a pergola to your backyard is a great way to add both shade and privacy to your outdoor living space. The pergola is both decorative and functional and can be constructed using wood, vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum or cellular PVC.

Pergolas are typically seen over a dining or lounging area. Suppose you are thinking of incorporating a pergola into your patio design or adding one into your backyard living space. In that case, you may want to consider adding a retractable canopy as well.

The concept of pergola canopies can be traced back to window shades (or blinds) and dates back to about 70 A.D, when Rome was under heavy construction. Massive stone projects, such as the Colosseum, threw a lot of dust into the air during construction. In order to prevent the stone dust from entering their homes, people hung wet cloths over their window openings. This “curtain” would catch and hold the dust particles, therefore, preventing them from coming into the home.

It didn’t take long before people started to realize that hanging this cloth in the window also helped to keep the home cooler by blocking out the sun’s hot rays. This new trend caught on and residents began hanging curtains in bright colors and bold patterns as a decorative element as well. Much like today’s modern Roman shades, it was discovered that they could be made to retract (or pleated onto themselves) when not needed.

Because of the ever-increasing popularity of the outdoor living lifestyle, outdoor fabric manufacturers were quick to add to their collections and as a result, there is a wide selection of colors and patterns to choose from. These fabrics, with the look and feel of cotton, are specifically formulated to hold their color and resist mildew.

If you have the time and patience, flowering vines are another way to add shade to a sunny backyard pergola. Perennial vines, such as roses, wisteria, and trumpet vine, will add a canopy of flowers overhead in due time.

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