Pergolas or outdoor umbrellas for shade

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on Oct 24, 2017 8:20:42 AM

When making improvements to your outdoor areas, shade is an important factor. Giving yourself, your family and friends an area to enjoy that protects against harmful summer sunshine will improve the value, attractiveness and practical features of your garden, patio or outdoor area.


You will need to consider whether you need a permanent, immovable shade structure like a pergola, or something retractable and perhaps even movable system, like a shade umbrella.

A pergola is a permanent garden feature which consists of a mostly wooden framework covered with climbing or trailing plants that provide a canopy for shade protection outdoors. Some of the finest gardens host immaculately constructed pergolas and when covered in foliage, they provide a nice little haven in your outdoor area.

Outdoor shade umbrellas meanwhile come in a wide range of styles, allowing you to get a specific, custom shade umbrella that perfectly suits what you need.


Here are few things to consider when weighing up the pergola versus umbrella equation:


1. Construction

Pergola’s often require specialist skills to build so they won’t buckle under the weight of the plant foliage that will eventually cover them. Climbing plants like Wisteria are prolific and quick growers, which is what often gives pergolas their strong shade coverage, but such a prolific canopy needs strong support so don’t look to build a ‘do-it-yourself’ pergola unless you really know what you’re doing. Shade umbrellas meanwhile are easy to install, durable, and provide perfect shade from the moment they are put up. 


2. Rain shade

Shade structures like awnings and umbrellas will also help protect you from rain, however, the organic canopy of a pergola will generally provide no rain protection at all. A fully enclosed, rain-proof pergola roof is also an option but these create extra maintenance hassles as you can’t fold them away like shade umbrellas, so they remain out in the conditions to get dirty over time, or damaged by extreme weather, which again is something you can protect umbrellas from.


3. Fixed Structure

Pergolas are also fixed in one place from the moment they are built, other shade structures, like cantilever offset umbrellas, can be moved around to follow the sun, but a pergola does not allow any level of customisation after they are built beyond what plants you grow on them.


4. Maintenance

Pergola canopies can take several seasons to grow in, and then subsequently require regular maintenance to keep them looking good. Other shade options like high quality outdoor umbrellas and awnings require very little maintenance and, provided they use the best fabrics, will keep looking good for years and years too.


5. Customisation

You can also customise your pergola design before construction to a large degree, adding outdoor furniture into the plan, as well as lighting, artwork and choosing a range of plants to cover it. Pergola’s thus can provide a very detailed outdoor feature in your garden but not one that can be moved around. With shade umbrellas you also get a wide range of options, from umbrella style to canopy colour and more. 




Overall, Pergola’s remain a popular garden feature, but if you need quick, movable good looking shade all year round, you may be better off with an outdoor umbrella system, or even a gazebo, to provide this. For outdoor umbrella options, please view our product range.



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Topics: Shade Systems, Pergola

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