“Pergola” — that’s a flower, right?   As in “While strolling through the lush garden, he picked a red  pergola and gently placed it in her hair.”

No, a pergola is not a flower.   It’s an Italian pastry. cream filled chocolate pastry As in “Her favorite treat on Sunday mornings was a cream filled pergola, warm from the oven, covered with chocolate sauce.  Mmmmmm!”

Unfortunately,  the truth is more mundane.  A pergola is not exotic, nor is it delicious.  It’s the snooty word for a trellis.  You know a trellis – that airy structure in the garden;  it’s got no roof, just a sort of open canopy, perhaps with vines growing on it.  Webster¹ defines it as a structure usually consisting of parallel colonnades supporting an open roof of girders and cross rafters.”  Huh?  That sounds complicated.  A pergola can be simple.  Here comes one now:

Garden pergola

So a pergola has posts that support beams and rafters above.  A more elaborate pergola might have layers above the rafters — purlins and maybe even laths above the purlins:

Pegola Labeled, North Andover

Pergola with Laths Labeled, Winchester MA

Pergolas have been around for ages.

They shaded ancient Romans² from the hot Mediterranean sun, like this:


The Romans were inspired by the even more ancient Egyptian pergolas.  Here’s a mosaic from the Roman city of Palestrina depicting earlier life on the Nile³:

Mosaic from the ancient Roman city of Palestrina depicting life on the banks of the Nile c75BC

Modern pergolas are usually square or rectangular.

Pergola on Yellow house

But they can incorporate curves:

Walpole Curved Pergola

Or other interesting shapes:

Bay shaped pergola in Stow, MA

Flared Trellis by Archadeck in Wilmington MA

Pergolas can be made of wood, but fiberglass and PVC have become popular because they eliminate maintenance.  Imagine climbing on the top of a wooden pergola to stain the purlins and rafters.  Wobbly…or worse.

So, why would your deck want a pergola?  Not to protect you from rain;  a pergola has more open space than protection.  Not to provide shade – again, too many spaces.


Unless you plant some vines and wait five or eight years for them to grow over the top to give you that shade.

Now, you could add a canopy to your pergola to get some instant shade.  Good idea.  Or a retractable canopy — even better.


People build pergolas to create a sense of enclosure.  With a deck floor, some natural or fabric walls, and a canopy roof above, a pergola creates an outdoor room.


It works on a patio as well.

Curved roof pergola

A pergola can create a special space.



Or even add some romance….


Serious romance….


Want one?  Add some class to your deck or patio.

Krantz Trellis3 bright

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  White Pergola by Archadeck

Pergola with Canopy over hot tub


  1. On-line, see:
  2. Indeed, the word “Pergola” comes to us through mid-17th century Italian, “pergola”, from the Latin word pergula, meaning “projecting roof,”. Reference: Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 05 Dec. 2015. <>.
  3.  From 75 BC, according to Robin Lane Fox in an informative book on Roman pergolas, see a review here.

We at Archadeck of Suburban Boston offer professional design and build services for clients west and north of Boston.  Over the past 25 years we have designed and built over 950 projects.  We have enhanced the depth of our expertise by limiting our work to decks, porches, sunrooms, and patios.  To view some of these projects, visit our website. To learn how we treat our clients, check our ratings on Angie’s List or read an article about us in Remodeling Magazine. For a free design consultation and a relaxed and rewarding design and construction experience, contact us via e-mail, or by phone, 781-273-3500.


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