frame Outdoor kitchen and dining area under a pergola at the spacious patio of a home

Pergolas are a popular garden feature, used for relaxation, work, and socialising. If you are looking to install a pergola within your garden, or looking for new ways to decorate your pergola, our guide features 7 great ideas for making the most of a garden pergola. Whether looking for style, comfort, or function, our range of pergola ideas showcases just how adaptable a garden pergola can be. Alongside these garden design ideas, you’ll find some of the best choices for plants and lighting on a pergola.

Installing a Pergola Over Decking

Terrace of a house with pergola roof and wood planks flooring

Installing your new pergola over decking can be an excellent garden design idea. This structure can either be connected to your house or further into your garden, leaving you a sturdy area that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. You can either install your new pergola onto an existing deck, or build a pergola and deck together. 

Adding a pergola over garden decking can help provide shade, and can also be used for lights, allowing use late into the evening. A pergola over wooden or composite decking could even be installed with hanging curtains, to give shade and privacy. If installing curtains in your garden remember to make sure they are waterproofed. A patio pergola can also help create an amazing space within your garden, with fittings available to install pergolas into a patio.

Installing a Wooden Pergola Over Your Hot Tub

3D illustration of modern urban patio with white bio climatic pergola and whirlpool. Barbecue and white pallet couch next to hot whirlpool bath.

For a stunning garden design, a hot tub with a wooden pergola overhead can create a beautiful outdoor space either as part of garden decking or as a standalone feature. There are also clear practical benefits to installing a pergola over your hot tub, as it can be fitted with lights to allow you to use your hot tub late into the night. You could also fit your pergola with a solid roof, allowing you to use your hot tub during adverse weather, or with hanging curtains for privacy. The rustic look of an oak pergola can also make a great contrast to many other water features, such as koi ponds.

Using a Pergola as a Shaded Garden Walkway

Garden with Pergola structure with bright colors during late summer season. This architecture and design have been inspired by the nature.

Pergolas have traditionally been used as garden walkways, such as the green tunnels of renaissance Italy. Recreating this historic look can be a great garden pergola idea, with a shaded walkway used as either a garden entrance or as a feature. As a garden entrance, either over a door or in the place of one, a smaller pergola design can welcome people into your green space, acting as a potent transition, particularly when decorated with running vines and plants. For a walkway within your garden,  a longer pergola design can act as an attention-grabbing focal point, whilst creating a fantastic shaded space, perfect for a bench or seat.

Using a Pergola as a Dining Area

Beautiful modern terrace lounge with pergola

Another great garden pergola idea is to use your pergola and decking to create a stunning dining area. Larger pergola designs can easily cover a dinner table and chairs, with a green roof for shade during summer days, and hanging lights for visibility in evenings. Having a protected, functional outdoor living space can enable outdoor dining with family and friends. Whether hosting dinner parties or BBQs, using a pergola to create a dining area will bring both style and practicality to your garden.

Using Your Pergola as a Garden Work Area

With many of us looking to work from home regularly, an increasing number of people are using garden pergolas to create shaded outdoor workspaces. Installed over garden decking or a patio area, you can create a space big enough to fit a desk and chair. 

Your pergola can be decorated with either a roof or plants for shade, and lights can be installed to ensure a comfortable working environment. An outdoor office can be comfortable and relaxing, improving your mood and allowing you to utilise your garden spaces. Smaller pergolas, such as corner pergolas, can be used on top of a small decking to make the most of a limited garden space.

Enhancing Your Garden Pergola With Plants

Installing plants can be a great garden pergola idea, adding beauty and protecting you from the sun’s gaze. Running plants can be grown around the supports and beams, building you a natural green roof over time. A trellis can be attached to aid growth around the supports of your pergola. You can also install hanging baskets from the beams, bringing lush colours and scents to your pergola. 

Adding plants to your pergola can bring benefits for many different uses, creating shaded walkways, allowing you to work or socialise during the peaks of summer, and making your pergola a more attractive centrepiece within your garden.

Enhancing Your Garden Pergola With Lights

If you wish to use your pergola as a social space later into the evening, then installing lights within it may be necessary. There are a variety of choices for lights, including fairy lights, strings of bulbs, and hanging spotlights. This can allow you to choose the perfect lighting options for working, relaxation, or entertainment.

The Best Plants to Use With Your Garden Pergola

White wicker basket, flower pot with colorful Petunia, Lobelia and geranium flowers hanging from wooden pergola in the summer garden

There are many plants that can be used to decorate a garden pergola, bringing colour, fragrance, and life to your garden. Here are some plants that would make excellent outdoor garden ideas.


A fragrant and colourful plant, Honeysuckle is fastgrowing, covering your pergola with semi-evergreen flowers. You can use multiple species of honeysuckle to get a medley of colours, such as the pinkish tatarian honeysuckle or the red coral honeysuckle. Honeysuckle flowers have a warm and fruity aroma, aiding relaxation within your garden.


Grapevines can be grown around your pergola, either between the beams or up the supports on trellises. They bear fruit from midsummer to autumn, giving you a brilliant shaded canopy, with large leaves and hanging fruit. Grapevines could make an excellent covering for a garden walkway, building a consistent shaded roof.


If you’re looking for colour throughout the year, clematis plants can be used to create an evergreen roof on your pergola. Different varieties of clematis flower throughout the year, allowing you to use a blend of plants to ensure year round coverage. Clematis flowers come in a range of colours, with a scent reminiscent of almonds.

Hanging Baskets

Another great garden pergola idea is to attach hanging baskets attached to the beams. With hanging baskets, you can use your choice of potted plants, prioritising aroma, colour, or variety. You can use larger hanging baskets as a centrepiece, or multiple smaller baskets. You can also change the contents of your baskets easily, to include different seasonal flowers throughout the year.

The Best Lights to Use With Your Garden Pergola

Side view of a multi-generation Caucasian family sitting in the garden outside their house at a dinner table in the evening for a celebration meal together, talking and eating

Installing lights around your pergola can allow you to use your garden spaces into the evening and night. There are several great options available.

String Lights

String bulbs can be hung around the outside of a garden pergola, or between its beams. String lighting allows you to use regular bulbs, offering a strong level of light around your pergola. If looking to use your pergola over a hot tub this could be a perfect choice.

Hanging Lights

For a stronger or more centred light source, hanging lights can be dangled in the centre of a pergola. In conjunction with a stylish light fixture, this can be the centrepiece over a dining table.

Fairy Lights

Another option to brighten your garden pergola is fairy lights, which can be twisted around the beams and supports of your pergola, to create a beautiful wall of light. Fairy lights are vibrant and modern, perfect for creating a relaxing ambience in your garden space.

Our Bespoke Wooden Pergolas

The Porch Specialist produces a wide range of bespoke pergola kits, for sale across the UK. We can tailor the design of your pergola around your needs, with height and dimensions tailored for you. If you are looking to build a small pergola for a garden relaxation space, a larger pergola to cover a dining table, or a long pergola to make a garden tunnel, we can build it for you. We build our pergola kits from sustainable wood to exacting quality standards, ensuring the longevity of all of our garden buildings. Building a pergola is easy, with our traditional jointing and clear instructions.

To learn more about pergolas, we have a guide to building a pergola within your house, and another on luxury pergola designs.

We offer bespoke free quotes on our pergolas, so simply enquire through our website today, and soon you could be building the pergola of your dreams

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