Build a Pergola or Purchase an Umbrella?

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on 19-Oct-2017 08:43:44

When making improvements to your outdoor areas, shade is an important factor. You want to be able to enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer, right. 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 movable like a shade umbrella.

A pergola is a permanent garden feature which consists of  wooden framework that can be covered with climbing or trailing plants to provide an organic canopy for shade protection. Pergolas are often synonymous with quality gardens. When covered in foliage, they provide a nice little haven in your outdoor area.

Outdoor shade umbrellas come in a wide range of styles, allowing you to get a specific, custom shade umbrella that your needs. High end premium umbrellas are installed in some of the world's top homes, resorts, cafes and hotels. 



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

1. Construction

Pergolas often require specialist skills to build so they won’t buckle under the weight of the plant foliage that will grow to cover them. Climbing plants like Wisteria are prolific and quick growers, which is where pergolas get their shade from, 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 provide no rain protection at all. An  enclosed, rain-proof pergola roof is also an option but these require  extra maintenance, installation and other hassles as you can’t store them away, so they remain out in the conditions to get dirty over time and damaged by extreme weather.


3. Fixed Structure

Pergolas must be 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 regardless of what time it is or what month it is. 

4. Maintenance

Pergola canopies can take several seasons to grow in, and then 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 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 a quality outdoor umbrella system.


Topics: Shade systems, pergola

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