An Asian Inspired Pergola Design Complements Simple Garden Styles

This asian inspired pergola design uses a red stain.

Red paint or stain, ornate hardware, and a privacy lattice can all help to give your pergola an Asian flair.

I have a client who is in the middle of a feng shui redesign. You might know already that feng shui is an Eastern design style used to maximize energy flow. The garden is one of the most important parts of this design philosophy, which is why my client was looking for an Asian inspired pergola design to set off her new, Eastern-style garden. I thought this was a great idea, as pergolas are easy to adapt for this type of design and there’s a wide range of options to choose from.

In an Asian design, pergolas are used to highlight water features, mark garden paths, and even to expand a home to include an outdoor living space complete with privacy screens. Often more elaborate than standard pergola designs, Eastern-type pergolas can be a bit more challenging to put together. However, with the right hardware and a good plan, it’s possible to create a beautiful, unique, and feng shui-friendly Asian pergola for your yard.

What Are Some Common Attributes of an Eastern-style Pergola?

There are a wide range of Asian inspired pergola designs to consider. Which one you choose will likely depend on your overall purpose for the pergola, whether you’re looking for a purely decorative design or something more functional. However, Asian inspired designs do tend to have some things in common:

  • Light- to medium-colored wood: Generally, part of an Asian inspired design is choosing tones that blend into the nature around it. As a result, Asian inspired pergolas tend to use light wood sealed with transparent stain to make the pergola look like part of nature. An exception to this is the frequent use of the color red, which is common in feng shui-based designs.
  • Privacy screens: Asian inspired pergolas frequently make use of latticework to add an additional layer of privacy and complexity to the design. These are usually made of lightweight wood or canvas, which make the pergola more private while still allowing the breeze to flow in and out.
  • Ornamental inserts or designs: Often, Asian-style pergolas use additional ornamentation such as ornamental metal inserts on the posts or on a privacy screen to add more elaborate detail. These designs may mirror the nature around them to tie the pergola to the scenery. An example of this might be a flower insert in a pergola set in a flower garden or a star insert in a pergola designed for nighttime stargazing.
  • Domed or stacked roofs: A common attribute of an Asian inspired pergola design includes a domed, peaked, or multi-level pergola roof, rather than the traditional flat roof. The roofs on these pergolas are designed to draw the eye upward and make the most of narrow spaces. These types of roofs will require sturdy, weather-resistant rafter clips to hold the layered rafters in place.
  • Unique shapes: While traditional pergolas are square or rectangular, Asian inspired designs are often created based on the space available. Circular, triangular, and half circle pergola designs are common for these types of structures as the pergolas are built to fit the landscape.

A big part of designing a pergola for an Eastern-style garden space is making it a seamless part of the scenery. To do this, you’ll want to consider what the main function or purpose of your pergola will be, as well as what would suit your home and garden best.

Choosing an Asian Inspired Pergola Design That Suits You

When my client was working on her feng shui redesign, she paid a lot of attention to the flow of her garden. A major part of that flow was creating a long, meandering walking path. What she was looking for was a structure that could be used to mark and ornament that path while also working with the feng shui of her property. Luckily, there are a lot of Asian-style pergola styles to choose from. Some to consider include:

  • Radial pergola: The radial pergola can be circular, like a gazebo, or can be part of a circle, such as a 90-degree wedge. It uses four posts like a traditional pergola, and the rafters fan out, a bit like a wheel and spokes. The center top of this type pergola will often feature a wooden carving or fixture to draw the eye upward.
  • Temple-style pergola: These are common in feng shui. They are designed to highlight a statue or water feature that is meant to create good energy in the space. In these designs, the roof is often gabled and finished, much like the roof on a gazebo. Sometimes curved rafters are used to create a roof shape that mimics that of Japanese temples.
  • Garden path pergola: In this case, the pergola is used to set off the start of a garden path. These simple designs are trellis-like, though their roofs are often convex. Often, these are painted red to mark the beginning of a path and because red is considered a powerful color for growth in many Asian cultures. These pergolas can be very long, in which case they will be dependent on a lot of posts. Usually, the best way to ensure the stability of a pergola of this type is to use galvanized steel post anchors.  
  • The home extension pergola: In this design, a pergola is attached to the home as a means of adding an additional outdoor living space. It is often placed on a patio and then closed in on the sides with privacy screens.

My client wound up going with the garden path pergola, and she chose to do a very long one as a way of covering part of the path. She was able to create a sturdy, stable structure with just a few adjustments to a basic pergola plan.

One thing that really helped her out was the hardware available from OZCO. She used their post anchors to create a strong foundation, and their ornamental hardware to add a bit of complex detail. The structure really helped to set off her Eastern-style garden and she swears that the entire feng shui setup makes her happier and healthier overall.  Pergolas can be a great addition to an Asian inspired garden because of their beauty and adaptability. You can give your garden just the right energy with the right style and shape of pergola, the right additions and accessories, and hardware that’s beautiful and tough.

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