8 Awesome (& free!) Pergola Plans for DIYers

Add a beautiful new dimension to your outdoor space with a pergola, and gain shade, privacy and some relief from hot summer days. Constructed with sturdy columns that support a grid of beams and rafters above, a pergola gives you some protection while allowing sunshine and air to filter through.

A pergola can stand alone or be attached to your house, in the backyard or along the side of your house. It’s ideal for training vines such as ivy, grape, wisteria or climbing roses, and provides support for hanging planters. Make sure you choose strong materials for your pergola so that it will be able to support the grid roof and vines or planters. Some versions, such as arbors encourage relaxation with a swing or bench.

Before you get started

Consult your local building codes and check if you will need a construction permit.

Before you start digging for the post footings, check with your local utility and cable companies for the location of underground services.

Plan your pergola

We recommend that you source a plan that has been tested by professionals and will result in a safe and sturdy structure. You can always ask experienced designers for their advice.

We’ve sourced eight pergola plans to give you some inspiration!

You can also find many free online design software options. Sketchup is used by professionals around the world, is user friendly and straightforward for the novice designer. You’ll get a beautiful illustration of the pergola you’ve been dreaming of. This helps you visualize how your pergola will look and how you can integrate it with your home and garden. Autodesk is a more detailed software program.

Cost

A DIY pergola will save you money when compared with buying a prefabricated pergola or hiring a professional to construct it.

Pricing will also depend on the materials you choose.

To make sure you get a well-built and long-lasting pergola, you will need a certain level of skill plus the right tools and enough time.

Construction tips

When building a wooden pergola, choose solid timber to make sure your pergola will be strong enough to support vines such as wisteria.

If your backyard is long and narrow, try breaking up the space with a pergola partway through.

In smaller spaces, take care to keep your pergola light and breezy to avoid a closed-in feeling.

Types of materials

  • Cedar is strong, insect resistant, and turns a nice gray as it weathers. It is more expensive than pressure treated but tends to have a longer life.
  • Pressure treated wood is generally more affordable and can be stained or painted.
  • Steel and glass are popular for urban and modern homes.
  • Combining copper, limestone and wood gives an original and eye-catching look.
  • A low-maintenance option is vinyl, which comes in a few different colors.
  • Fiberglass is more expensive, but is great for covering larger spaces due to its strength.
  • Consider using sustainable reclaimed wood or unrefined materials.
  • You can also use old tree branches and logs for a rustic pergola.

Pergola Plan 1

10x12 Pergola Plan by Construction 101

This sturdy 10×12 pergola will give you lots of shade and privacy. You can get started by downloading the user-friendly instructions online or in PDF format.

A great size for most back yards, this pergola plan includes a list of materials you’ll need with drawings, measurements and clear step-by-step instructions.

Find it here.

Pergola Plan #2

Triangular pergola for corner plan by Ovidiu, My Outdoor Plans

Here’s the perfect plan for that special corner in your backyard, to give you shade and even more privacy if you choose to add lattice to the sides. An easy project, this plan gives you step-by-step instructions with diagrams plus a video showing how the pieces come together. This is an easy do-it-yourself project you can complete in one weekend with a friend.

See the plan here.

Pergola Plan #3

Classic rectangular pergola plan by Jack Sander

This 10 x 18 pergola plan by how-to specialist Jack Sander is ideal for larger terraces and garden areas. Jack Sander recommends using good quality wood such as cedar or pine. You can personalize the modern design to suit your home’s architecture. Give yourself a week to build this sturdy and attractive free-standing pergola.

View this pergola plan.

Pergola Plan #4

DIY hurricane resistant pergola plan by Ron Hazleton’s House Calls

A great choice if you live in hurricane-prone areas or if you want a sturdy structure that will stand up in extreme wind and harsh weather conditions. This helpful video will show you how to build a free-standing structure to add shade, beauty and a welcoming seating area to a corner of your garden.

Watch the YouYube Video.

Pergola Plan #5

DIY Arbor by Ananda, home and garden designer

Build this enchanting pergola or grapevine arbor to welcome visitors to your garden and create inviting outdoor rooms. This is a user-friendly DIY project with helpful instructions and illustrations. Add your personal touch for more privacy with your favorite vines or climbing roses.

Pergola Plan #6

Style and Shade Pergola Plan by HGTV

Add some stylish shade this summer with a pergola design by HGTV. Helpful photos and detailed instructions in six main steps make this a straightforward and fun DIY project. Link to video

Read the article or watch the video to learn how.

Pergola Plan #7

Pergola attached to your house plan

An informative video and full instructions to learn how to properly build and attach a pergola to your house. You can also adapt this version to build an attractive covered walkway along the side of your home. Check out this  

See the instructions or watch a helpful video to see how it’s done.

Pergola Plan #8

Free-standing pergola plan by Family Handyman

Add a classic free-standing pergola to your patio or garden. This plan’s detailed step-by-step instructions and photos will help you build your own free-standing pergola. The classical columns are strong and paintable hollow-core composite material, which you place over 4 x 4 posts.

This is an ideal pergola design for building over your existing patio, or you can always add your patio later. Give yourself at least a few days for this rewarding DIY project.

See this project's plans

Whichever route you take to build your pergola, we hope that you will enjoy the process of creating a special outdoor oasis. A pergola creates intimate and inviting garden rooms for you, your family and guests to enjoy for years to come.