What Is The Difference Between a Pergola, an Arbor, a Trellis, and a Gazebo?

pic of a pergola built in loveland, co

When planning to spruce up your backyard, you first need to understand the various landscaping features and options available. After all, you cannot design an eye-catching landscape if you do not know what is possible. To this end, you ought to understand the various decorative architectural features used in landscaping and how they affect your landscaping design. 

While the terms are often-times used interchangeably, pergolas, arbors, and trellises, and gazebos are different in design and purpose. What’s more confusing is their immense similarities in appearance. Do an image search of these terms, and you might end more confused than before. The architectural elements borrow a lot from each other on the design front, making them appear quite similar. You might choose a landscaping design that incorporates one or several of these structures. 

With that in mind, you need to ensure that you understand the design of all these landscaping features. A proper understanding will help you create a relaxing, beautiful, charming, and even functional space in your backyard. 

Herein, we will explore the difference between pergolas, arbors, and trellises, and gazebos to help you understand these options. Crucially, I will help you gain a better understanding of how these features are used and their impact on your landscape.

What is a Pergola?… and how is it different?

Pergolas are sizeable wooden shade structures that traditionally consisted of permanent columns affixed into the ground supporting an openwork lattice or slated roof or a solid roof. This is different from arbors, which use a latticework sidewall to support vines and other climbing vegetation. And unlike gazeboes that have a full roof, pergolas have simplified roofs.

In the past, pergolas were defined as free-standing structures used to provide a shaded seating area in a backyard. The classical definition also incorporated the use of vegetation to add to the shade. This is especially true when the structure was draped with climbing plants forming an “outdoor room.” As such, pergolas are designed and custom-built to meet the needs of a particular homeowner. 

Traditionally, these architectural elements were used to shelter a secluded hideaway at the end of a garden path, the modern interpretation of pergolas has seen them used as an attached extension of a house. The use of pergolas in manner is popular among homeowners looking to add some shade into their patios. The pergolas are used to cover the patio, oftentimes without the addition of foliage. In fact, it is common for many people to use the term “patio cover” interchangeably with the term “pergolas.”

When used a patio cover, pergolas offer protection to your outdoor living spaces such as the patio. To further improve protection from the sun, many homeowners are adding a retractable canopy to their pergolas covering patios. They also tend to be easier to construct as the feature will use the pre-existing walls instead of constructing new ones.

What is a Trellis?… and how is it different?

The trellis is, in many regards, the most misunderstood architectural element in landscaping among the populous. For some, any pergola that is covered with flora is a trellis. For others, the terms trellis and arbor mean the same thing. In reality, however, a trellis is a landscaping feature constructed of a flat latticework consisting of a tighter weave. 

Typically, this is a single-sided feature. Another distinctive character of the trellis is the non-permanency of the design. Most trellises are not permanently affixed to the ground and can be moved around with relative ease. The trellis is also unique among the landscaping architectural element in that it is the only feature not to have a roofing structure when installed vertically.

As you can appreciate, the trellis is a unique feature in its own right. While it might serve the same purpose of supporting flowering foliage and vines as many arbors and pergolas do, it does, nonetheless, meet the goal in a unique way. For instance, when used vertically, its main function is to provide shade and divide spaces. On the other hand, when used horizontally, it is used purely for shading purposes. 

As for supporting climbing vegetation, the feature provides support to climbing plants, enabling them to grow higher, longer, and fuller. While having a tightly weaved lattice, trellises allow some sunlight to penetrate through. Additionally, they do not shelter the foliage from the rain.

What is an Arbor?… and how is it different?

As an architectural element, arbores are typically open structures that consist of two lattice wall joined by an arched or squared top. The side walls sport a design very similar to a trellis, although with a looser lattice framework. Overall, however, an arbor must have a roof designed to support vines and climbing plants. Sometimes, it includes an actual gate where it makes sense to have one.

An arbor is typically designed to be an entryway or passageway covered with climbing foliage. As such, many homeowners use the structure to define the entryway into parts of the garden. It is also used to divide and define two distinct areas in your garden. Some landscaping designs use an arbor to protect garden beds from being trampled. 

Owing to the modern interpretation of what an arbor is, many homeowners are adding seating facilities (usually an L-shaped bench) in the “tunnel” of their arbors. In this use of an arbor, the structure is used to provide a vegetated shading area. Others still replace the lattice framework roof with a solid roof for improved weather protection.

Undoubtedly, however, this feature adds an element of character and mystic to any backyard. Moreover, given its versatility, you can incorporate an arbor into your landscape design, even when you have limited space. 

What is a Gazebo?… and how is it different?

Perhaps gazebos are the most famous of all garden architectural elements. Gazebos have come to symbolize prestige and luxury, thereby giving this feature considerable notoriety among the general public. So, what are they?

Gazebos are free-standing structures with an octagon shape and, in some cases, and oval shape. Like the pergola, the gazebo has columned side-walls, which can be screened from insects to provide an “enclosed” garden space. Otherwise, the upper wall is left open, giving the structure an airy feel. Most modern gazebos will have a built-in floor. Alternatively, the entire structure is built in a concrete base giving it a sturdy raised floor.

The structure must also have a solid pitched roof to be considered a gazebo. As mentioned above, pergolas can have a solid roof or a latticework or slated roof. Although not always, gazebos also have a decorative tiny done – cupola – topping the roof.

Inside the gazebos is a shaded area for seating. Many homeowners will add built-in benches for seating. However, some will leave the space open, which makes more versatility in terms of space usage. Owing to the unique design of the space, gazebos are ideally suited to host a large gathering outdoors.

While you can use them to fill large empty spaces in your backyard and to infuse some character to your backyard, gazebos are expensive to build. Additionally, in many cases, you will need a permit to install a gazebo.

The Final Word

As you can appreciate, backyard features come in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, the different architectural elements thrive in performing different functions. Some are best suited for supporting vines other climbing vegetation, while are best suited to provide shade.

When designing your landscape and installing these features, ensure the features complement each other, and the overall design of your landscape. 

Finally, ensure each element is high-quality, durable, and suitable for your intended purposes. Otherwise, the features will not yield the desired positive effects.

For help with your backyard oasis give us a call today at 970-663-2868 or email us here. To learn more about our patio cover and pergola building services click here.

All About Louvered Pergolas

pic of a louvered pergola built in Fort Collins, CO

Are you looking for the best way to make your outdoor living space great while remaining functional? We understand your problem and have the perfect solution for you – louvered pergolas. With our premium louvered pergolas, you get to enjoy all the fresh air and beauty that nature has to offer while transforming your deck, patio, or other outdoor living space into a functional space that can protect you from rain or excessive sunlight.

What is a Louvered Pergola?

It is an adjustable roofing system that allows you to enjoy fresh air, sunlight, and other positive qualities of nature but are adjustable to provide coverage from the less desirable qualities such as snow, sleet, rain, or excessive sunlight. The adjustable roofing can even be outfitted with ceiling fans to provide additional outdoor comfort by keeping out pests such as mosquitos and flies.

Benefits of Using Louvered Pergolas

A louvered pergola provides the best of both worlds – the abundant sun or an open backyard or the complete shade of a covered porch. A louvered pergola lets you choose how much sun you would like to receive at any particular time.

Using the convenient controls of the pergola, you can open the louvers to let through sun, or close them if you want protection from snow or rain. That way, you and your family can spend more time enjoying the outdoors throughout the year.


pic of a job in loveland, co featuring a new deck and louvered patio cover

Here are the top benefits of using louvered pergolas:

Protection from the Elements

A louvered pergola system can be angled to provide protection from harmful UV rays from the sun regardless of its position. Since most of them are made from aluminum, they are usually highly reflective, which makes them incredibly effective at shielding your space from light, infrared radiation, and even radio waves.

A louvered pergola can even be angled to provide both airflow and shade without actually blocking your view. It is also possible to fully open the louvers to allow maximum light into your outdoor space while minimizing uplift and resistance due to high winds.

A louvered pergola roofing system can even be completely closed to provide sturdy shelter from the rain. Most systems come equipped with an integrated gutter where rainwater is pitched into to ensure proper drainage. They can also be equipped with wind and rain sensors that open or close automatically depending on the weather.

Better Airflow and Increased Comfort

Outdoor temperatures are hardly ever perfect, which is one of the reasons why patio covers are so popular. However, even with the regular covers, many times property owners want to increase the airflow and create a refreshing breeze under the cover.

A louvered pergola can really make a difference over a regular solid cover. While a regular cover obviously provides shade, it tends to limit the airflow for people sitting under it. A louvered pergola gives you the advantage of opening the louvers to the angle you desire thus giving you control over fresh air, shade, and breeze at any time of day or night.

Easy Customization Options

We fabricate each louvered pergola based on your preferences and design them to your exact specifications for the best fit and finish for a lovely finished product. We can even customize your louvered pergolas with ceiling fans, outdoor curtains, accent lighting, and custom colors to enhance your outdoor living space.

True Convenience

Louvered pergolas, unlike solid covered patios or those with a lattice overhead, can be adjusted with the simple push of a button. Just imagine being able to go from completely covered to 50 percent airflow with our motorized louvered pergolas above your outdoor entertaining area.

Having a louvered pergola installed on your patio is perhaps one of the best investments you can make. You get the best of both airflow when you need it and a protected cover if that’s what you want. Perhaps the best thing about it is that it isn’t exclusive to residential properties.

If you have a commercial establishment such as a hotel or restaurant, you can take advantage of our louvered patio covers for your outdoor eating areas. When the sun moves throughout the day, the pergolas can keep your customers in the shade.

Environmentally-Friendly

Our louvered pergolas are made from aluminum that’s non-corrosive, which means that it won’t rust. Aluminum is also a flexible and durable metal that’s capable of flexing under loads or springing back from an impact. It also does not burn and does not produce toxic fumes, even when temperatures are high. It is also recyclable without losing its valuable characteristics.

Expert Louvered Pergola Sales and Installation

If you are looking for a beautiful and high-quality product that’s guaranteed to transform your outdoor living space, get in touch with us today to learn more about our louvered pergola systems. We are the go-to resource when it comes to outdoor living products. We are committed to supplying the finest products for your property.

We offer complete design, fabrication, delivery, and installation of premium louvered pergolas for both our residential and commercial customers to choose from. We have taken all the necessary steps to take complexity out of the process by offering you all you need to include a beautiful and high-quality pergola into your project. Give us a call today at 970-663-2868 to schedule your free consultation.

To learn more about our shade options, please visit our patio cover services page.

What Are The Advantages Of Building A Pergola For Your Outdoor Living Space?

Do you want to improve the appearance of your outdoor living space for the summer? Are you looking to improve the overall aesthetic appeal of your patio or deck? Do you need an area of your backyard that you can dedicate to your potted plants? If so, one of the fastest and easiest solutions to achieve all of these creative ideas for your yard is to build a pergola.

So, why a pergola? Pergolas are constructed using different types of materials such as vinyl, metal and even cedar.

Many people confuse pergolas with other types of structures such as arbors. Although they are similar, arbors are usually smaller and have a much simpler structure. Arbors are usually an archway that is typically found in yards, gardens, and parks.

On the other hand, pergolas are large, flat, open structures. Pergolas are typically attached to buildings or homes but can also be a free-standing structure. Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand the differences before you hire a contractor.

You can purchase a pergola-like shade structure from a home improvement store or membership club, but if you want one that is personalized for your specific wants and needs, it is best to have an experienced contractor custom build one for you. In fact, depending on what you are looking for in a pergola, they offer significant advantages when you are ready to create your perfect outdoor space.

They Add Definition

One advantage of building a pergola is that it can add purpose to your landscape. In other words, a pergola carves out a defined space in your yard that can be used for entertainment, lounging, dining and other activities. This is true especially if there is not a patio or deck that is connected to your house. When you add a pergola to your yard, you will be able to better establish how your outdoor living space will be used.

They Allow Privacy

Perhaps you do not want to have your activities on display for your neighbors to see when you are trying to relax and enjoy a warm summer evening outside. If you are not able to build an additional privacy fence, a custom-built pergola with screens, drapes, or even latticework on one or more sides can serve as an alternative to a privacy fence.

In addition, when a pergola is placed strategically in a yard, it can be used to block or cover an unsightly object from your view. For example:

  • The road
  • The rusty playground equipment
  • The next-door neighbor’s shed

In these types of situations, a pergola can enhance the natural beauty of your yard, while also keeping out any unappealing views that surround the yard.

They Create More Space For A Garden

Because pergolas can create space for open latticework (sometimes referred to as a trellis), they afford you the ability to hang vegetation. As a result, you will have a gorgeous garden near the clouds.

These structures are also excellent for climbing plants. As they grow from the ground, they can intertwine themselves around the structure. The result would be earthy, natural walls and/or ceiling for your pergola.

Some of the plants that you can choose from are:

  • Ivy
  • Grapevines
  • Honeysuckle
  • Wisteria
  • Clematis

All of these plants are able to grow and thrive on a pergola due to its open structure.

They Offer Protection And Shade

The most common shade-style of pergola that we build is a 50/50 shade to sunlight ratio. The top slats of the pergolas are usually 2″ wide and are spaced 2″ apart from each other eliminating 50% of the incoming sunlight. This creates a very comfortable outdoor living space and also makes for a very appealing home addition.

If you choose to add climbing plants and after they’ve made their way up the pergola, you will be able to enjoy even more shade whenever you want to relax underneath the plants. It may take one full planting season before the vines are able to completely take over the top of the pergola, but once the top is completely covered, you will be able to enjoy that much more relief from the sun’s UV rays.

More people are becoming aware of how direct sun exposure can affect their skin, and there has been an increased demand for pergolas that are available with canopies as an option. By having a pergola with a canopy addition, you will be able to open the canopy during the day for sun protection and then close it at night so you can enjoy the moon and stars.

They Can Increase Home Value

The bottom line is that the advantages of building a pergola of your own also adds value to your home. This benefit alone makes a pergola an investment that is well worth it.

According to home improvement gurus such as Bob Villa, having attractive and well-maintained landscaping can increase your home’s resale value by up to 20 percent. When you take care of the pergola and the vegetation that is hanging from it, this is the one addition to your landscaping that can truly make the difference for those who are in the market for a new home.

They Are Affordable

If you are looking to spruce up your yard without spending a lot of money, the best option may be a pergola. They are affordable, but they make a huge difference in the appearance of your yard.

There are some options that may cost slightly more than others, and that is based on the type of material that is used to build it. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a more durable, affordable and beautiful way to make your outdoor space livable than building a pergola.

Pergolas add a lot of beauty to a yard, and they also add plenty of interest to an outdoor space. For example, if you live in a gated, townhome community, having a pergola in your outdoor space could be the one feature that sets your home apart from the others. The pergola will make it much easier to sell or rent your home should you decide to move.

So, if you have done your research and you want to not only have a beautiful outdoor space but also increase your home’s value, consider adding a pergola. Contact us today at 970-663-2868 to see how we can build a pergola that will meet your budget and your needs. To learn more, you can also reach out to us via email at sales@tnthomeimprovements.com or visit our patio cover/pergola page.