The Best Pergola Decorating Ideas: Vines, Fabric, and Decorative Hardware Spruce Up a Bare Pergola

Best Pergola Decorating IdeasDecorative, powder-coated hardware can take your pergola to the next level, making it look more finished and elegant.

I spent a couple weekends constructing my new pergola. I was really happy with the finished result, but when my wife emerged from the house to check out my creation, she said: “It’s nice….but it’s too bare. It needs some decoration!”

At first, I was a bit insulted. After all, I’d spent the better part of two weekends working on this project; how could it be anything but fabulous? But if I’m honest with myself, my wife’s words echoed a thought that had already crossed my mind a couple times. So we were tasked with coming up with some pergola decorating ideas. It actually turned into a rather fun project and as I looked at photos on my tablet, I found some great inspiration for new backyard DIY projects.

You have lots of pergola decor options to choose from, depending upon your own personal style and preferences. You’ll also want to be sure you consider the look of your home and any nearby structures to ensure a cohesive feel. Consider these pergola decorating ideas to bring your new structure to life.

Growing Plants on Your Pergola

Training plants to climb up a pergola is a classic way to beautify the structure, but climbing plants aren’t your only option. Hanging plants and even fake plants are also good options for decoration.

  • Ivy and Other Vines: You may be envisioning a lovely garden pergola that’s covered with vines, but it can take several years to achieve that look as the plants grow and fill out. The vines must be “trained,” which means you’ll need to use twist ties or twine to affix the plant to a trellis. As the vines grow, you’ll need to weave them through the trellis and then, once they reach the pergola’s roof level, you’ll want to wrap them around the rafters of the roof. Vines like wisteria, honeysuckle, clematis, ivy, climbing roses, and even grapevines work well for this.
  • Faux Ivy, Vines and Plants: If you lack the patience required to grow ivy and vines on your pergola, you can hasten the process using artificial plants (or use a combination of the two as your real plants get going). This can get rather expensive if you have a larger pergola, so you may want to take that into consideration. You can also intertwine the plants (artificial or real) with strings of lights that wrap around the rafters and pergola posts.
  • Hanging Plants for Your Pergola: Hanging plants can look beautiful in your outdoor space and they offer a great alternative to costly faux foliage, while filling out certain areas of your pergola as the in-ground plants grow. It’s generally best to opt for ivy and other fast-growing species that will cascade over the edge of the hanging basket. Ferns are also a great choice.

Wind Chimes and Other Hanging Decorative Items

Wind chimes can create a very relaxing, soothing environment in your pergola. In addition to hanging windchimes from the rafters, you can also hang other decorative items that can be found at the craft store or online. You can use fishing line or wire to hang birds, butterflies, fish, stars or any other items that come to mind. Paper lanterns–and other types of lanterns–are also an elegant addition, but you’ll want to be sure that whatever items you choose will stand up to the elements, namely, the wind and rain.

Fabric, Pergola Covers, and Awnings

Your imagination is truly the limit when it comes to decorating a pergola. You can drape fabric through the rafters to create a romantic look (this goes especially well with strings of lights). You can also buy pre-made awnings, a pergola canopy, or a pergola cover, although you may have a challenging time finding the right pergola cover if your pergola’s dimensions are unusual.

Staining and Sealing the Pergola

Staining and sealing the wood of your pergola can totally change the structure’s overall look, and also extend its lifespan. You’ll want to use a wood stain that matches or compliments your home or any nearby structures, like a shed, fence, or gate. Some products are a stain and sealer in one, while in other cases, you’ll need to use a separate sealer product once the staining is complete.

Integrate Decorative Hardware

This is something that’s best addressed during the building phase of your pergola, but it is possible to replace hardware after the fact. Hardware doesn’t have to be industrial-looking, shiny stainless steel. Some companies are making lines of hardware that are durable and corrosion-resistant but also have style and can add something to your structure. Some hardware lines also include ornamental elements that can help dress up your pergola, such as powder-coated aluminum stars.

If you’re planning on using decorative hardware items or pre-made pergola covers, canopies or awnings, you’ll want to ensure you build your pergola to common dimensions. I used some rather uncommon dimensions, so I encountered a few challenges during the decorating phase. But if you’re still in the planning phase and haven’t built your pergola yet, this is a great point to keep in mind!

You can find some great inspiration and even comprehensive pergola plans—complete with materials lists—on OZCO’s website. I’ve personally used their plans for a few different DIY projects and can attest to the quality of their plans, whether you’re constructing a pergola, arbor, pavilion or even a gate. OZCO’s stylish ornamental hardware can also add some flare to your project. They have virtually everything you might need, from nuts and bolts, to brackets, wood ties, rafter clips, truss base fans, truss accents, and more. And if you happen to encounter a question during your project, OZCO’s experts are easy to contact and can provide great advice for your summer DIY project.

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