Pergolas provide cool shade during hot sunny days through a series of rafters and beams overhead. They are outdoor structures consisting of columns that support a roofing grid of beams and rafters, or forms an archway in a garden or park. This roofing grid may be left open or covered so as to create an area sheltered from the elements. Pergolas may be freestanding or attached to a house.
It’s helpful to compare and contrast pergolas with other outdoor structures with which it is sometimes associated, including arbors. Pergolas differ from arbors in that they are usually larger, more complex and often do not have curved arches at the top. Pergolas are usually free-standing, not connected to a home or other structure.