Building a Pergola

This has been in the makings since my wife and I bought our first home in 2008. When we bought the place, it was new, and the builder hadn’t bothered to do anything with the yard. No grass, no landscaping, nothing. It was just a bare sandy lawn. We decided then that we were going to make this place look nice while we lived here.

This is what it looked like when we moved in:
Backyard & Patio Building
I was beginning to lay out the patio and pour the concrete footings to prepare for the pergola nearly 2yrs ago.

We got a couple tons of flagstone delivered to make the patio.
Backyard & Patio Building

Then prepared the base by mixing portland cement with our native sand.
Backyard & Patio Building

We wet the mix down as we laid each stone.
Backyard & Patio Building

Before long, we had a patio.
Backyard & Patio Building

I mortared all of the joints, but I have no pics of that. It was tedious work, actually.

Skip forward to 2010. Patio is done and we have all the lumber to build the pergola. Construction began by installing the posts by mounting brackets onto the bolts that were sunk into the footings 2yrs ago.
Pergola Construction
Pergola Construction

Then we had to measure and cut the wood for the beams.
Pergola Construction

We started by going around the perimeter to plumb all of the posts close to each other. They’re not perfect, but you can’t tell.
Pergola Construction

Then we started getting the rest of the beams installed.
Pergola Construction

Taking a break after assembling some long 20+ft beams.
Pergola Construction

Using hurricane straps to join two pieces together to form a long beam.
Pergola Construction

Getting some of the last beams installed was a little tricky. Those long ones tended to be warped or bowed and took some muscle to get into place.
Pergola Construction

This is the view from the back door. The main structural elements are installed. What’s left is primarily detail work, but there are still some minor supports that need to be installed yet.
Pergola Construction

Measuring out some corners to cut off for aesthetics. We want it to look pretty, right?
Pergola Construction

The tops have been cut off of the posts with a sawzall and some of the corners have been trimmed. It’s starting to clean up!
Pergola Construction

Close-up of those trimmed corners. All of the overhanging beams will get this treatment to make ‘em look purty.
Pergola Construction

The pergola isn’t finished yet. I intend to install benches into the corners (the four sides each get entry/exit points), and the corners will then be covered with lattice to improve shade and allow vines to grow. Over the top, we’re going to put up a temporary string net to support the vining plants until they get woody enough to support themselves.

But before we plant anything, the whole structure will be painted white to match the trim of the house and offer a bit of a country feel to it.

We’re working on a stepping stone path from the pergola to the vegetable garden with some of the leftover stone from the patio. I’m tilling up the soil for the walkway, sinking the stones, and then back-filling so they sit flush with the soil surface. I want to be able to just run the mower over the tops of them and avoid bringing out the string trimmer to get the grass that comes up between them.

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