Adding a pergola to your patio design is a great way to add both shade and privacy to your outdoor living space. Both decorative and functional, these permanent structures can be constructed using wood, vinyl, fiberglass, aluminum or cellular PVC.
Pergolas are a natural fit in expansive hardscapes designs as they help define areas. Pergolas are typically seen over a dining or lounging area. If you are thinking of incorporating or a pergola into your patio design, or adding one into your backyard living space, you may want to consider adding a retractable canopy as well.
When in Rome…
The concept of pergola canopies can be traced back to window shades (or blinds) and dates back to about 70 A.D, when Rome was under heavy construction. Massive stone projects, such as the Colosseum , threw a lot of dust into the air during construction. In order to prevent the stone dust from entering their homes they hung wet cloths over their window openings. This “curtain” would catch and hold the dust particles, therefore, preventing them from coming into the home. It didn’t take long for them to realize that hanging this cloth in the window also helped to keep the home cooler by blocking out the sun’s hot rays. It didn’t take long before this new trend caught on and residents began hanging curtains in bright colors and bold patterns as a decorative element as well. Much like today’s modern Roman shades, it was discovered that they could be made to retract (or pleated on to themselves) when not needed.
After the massive amphitheater finished they discovered that it became uncomfortably hot to be in the hot sun in the upper stands. Taking the lead from these new “Roman shades” the engineers got busy and conceived a horizontal blind that could be suspended out over the crowds, like an awning, to shade the spectators.
Pergola Awnings: Made in the Shade
It didn’t take long before folks with pergolas in the backyard started adding fabric overhead to cut down on the sun’s rays. Following the Roman’s lead, it was fairly easy to scale down and install a retractable shade system for use in smaller commercial and residential settings.
Because of the ever increasing popularity of the outdoor living lifestyle, outdoor fabric manufactures were quick to add to their collections. As a result, there is a wide selection of colors and patterns to choose from. These fabrics, with the look and feel of cotton, are specifically formulated to hold their color and resist mildew.
Mother Nature’s Shade
If you have the time and patience, flowering vines are another way to add shade to a sunny backyard pergola. Perennial vines, such as roses, wisteria and trumpet vine, will add a canopy of flowers overhead in due time. Keep in mind that they will need vigilant pruning as they could get too heavy and damage your pergola.
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