Introduction: Rustic Pergola

About: My name is Niki, I am a mum of three amazing grown up kids as well as a Grandma. I am a keen hobbyist and a full time carer for someone with a disability. In my spare time I indulge in my eclectic crafting …

This is how my son and I made my outdoor living room pergola. I hope it inspires you as I found the process much easier than anticipated.

I am not a woodworker and, quite honestly, sometimes haven't got a clue. But I had the plans in my head so my son had to do his best to give me my vision. I'm also terrible CGI creator too so I will apologise in advance for my little drawings in here :)

I was mostly the labourer and tea maker for this project.

The whole ethos of my garden is ... Everything reclaimed, reused, recycled or upcycled. Where possible, only essential base materials are purchase from the DIY store.

Step 1: We Used the Following

The rustic pergola wood was claimed from the local area. As I mentioned, I had no drawn plans, all I knew is, it that to be taller than me :-)

My son insisted that the four main poles had be be as straight as possible, so we claimed two at about 9 feet and two slightly shorter (large). This is because I wanted it taller at the front than the back. My garden also sloped toward what was to be the front.

Read notes on types of wood used below written by my son

We also claimed six 6-8 feet lengths of thinner wood (medium) for the edges of the roof, a further two 6 foot lengths for supports, one other medium length for an additional roof support and claimed between 20 and 30 lengths of slimmer wood (small) for the roof.

My pergola was to be the natural frame for my wisteria, which had become too big for where it was. I needed it to be picked up and become the roof cover. A nice, peaceful area for enjoying the summer whilst reading and chilling with a coffee.

In addition, I used membrane to cover the ground and blue slate gravel to cover that.

I also used coppiced willow for a screen, two reclaimed tree stumps and some salvaged planks of 8x2 for a bench

My son and I had secured permission to take only what we needed from certain areas and given freedom to take the thin lengths from an already managed / coppiced area. I'd like to thank the landowners for this permission.

An additional note on the types of wood used:

  • Main supports are Ash, as this it grows relatively straight very fast and is extremely hardy (the stump will regrow).

  • Medium supports ( main cross members) are also ash because of its strength.

  • The 20-30 small supports are hazel because they are flexible, lightweight and again fast growing. Also, taking only a few whips from each tree will benefit the plant as a whole.

  • Finally the willow fence. Has willow uprights (as willow is such a massively hardy plant it will begin to grow from fresh cut 'sticks' in the ground. With more willow and hazel as the weave (flexibility)

Step 2: Corners & Main Uprights

The four large posts we sunk into the ground at each corner and postcrete was used to secure them.

We used a level to ensure they were as straight as a naturally wonky length of tree could be.

Step 3: Roof Frame

We used four long lengths of the medium wood to edge the roof.

Cut them to length and use wood screws to secure.

This left us with four posts joined together with four lengths of wood.

Step 4: Roof Supports

Using to remaining medium lengths of wood, measure from the upright to the roof support, then cut a length of wood.

Screw the wood into place. This now made it even more secure.

Before we went any further, we double checked all the screws and went around the frame and covered them all with the rope

Step 5: Centre Roof Support

The lengths of this wood had a relatively large expanse to cover, so we placed, tied and secured a centre roof 'strut'

Step 6: The Roof

We secured, only with rope at this time, all the lengths of thin wood onto the supports to make the roof.

I wanted these roof struts to overhang at the front to hang lights and decorations on at a later date

Step 7: Additional Support

I realised that the back cross support needed something extra, so I added an additional upright.

This piece had a "V" at one end, this end I used for the top.

It was forced in and, at this time, is still not sunk into the ground and remains quite solid

Step 8: Topping Off

I topped the one corner off with a Welsh Dragon from a salvaged weathervane.

Each year, when the wisteria grows long enough, I weave and tie it over the roof struts. As this has become older, the roof struts have become even more secure and is held by the wisteria.

Step 9: Willow Screen

Because of the shape of my garden and the fencing that had previously been erected, there was an open section in addition to the anticipated entry route.

I wanted to guide people only to the entry area I had planned, so I made a willow screen.

I knocked a few thick lengths of willow into the ground and weaved in thinner lengths of hazel and willow. Knowing, of course, that the willow will root and sprout.

It all adds to the cosiness

Step 10: A Makeshift Bench

I'd been given two chinks of tree for chopping logs on. My husband salvaged two lengths of 8X2 that were to be burned and worked his magic and knocked up a bench for me (to the right of the image)

The bench looks and feels perfect.

This has been here a few years now, the wisteria has taken hold, the bench has aged and all adds to the quiet little escape 'living room' in the garden.

Step 11: Enjoy Your Space

Over the last few years this corner haven of my garden and aged and matured.

I adore wind chimes, so this is where I hang them. My Grandson loves his wind chime 'orchestra'

I also cover it in solar powered lights for those late night coffees

My cat, Wayne, also adores this shadey space and spends most of the sunny days in here.

The wisteria has almost covered the roof, except for one small patch, which I think will be covered next season.

I hope this has inspired you to chose a natural look for your garden than a chunky straight edged one, although, there's nothing wrong with them, they're just not for me.

Thank you to Ryan, without you, Mam's tanquil corner would not have been possible

Enjoy your secluded little space in your garden.

Step 12: 2017 Update

The Wisteria is growing rather well, however, there are a few areas that need attention.

After the number of years it's been there, holding up the increasing weight, one cross beam needed attention.

The main, front beam has broken in some bad winds we had last winter, so I have not exactly replaced it but, added a new one to the top and lifted up the old beam and anchored it to the new beam.

Also, as anticipated, the front and the one side needed extra supports due to the weight. The new upright supports are now in, so I will see how this manages in seasons to come.