Beautify Your Landscape With Pergolas

Pergolas, or archways in a yard or park made of a framework covered with trained climbing or trailing plants, have become a landscaping style of choice for discerning homeowners. Pergolas can take many shapes. However, the wooden structures of today, with thick crossbeams and massive height, have grown in popularity.

There are many advantages to pergolas apart from their aesthetic appeal. One of the most apparent is the shade they lend on hot, sunny days. Open beams allow breezes to penetrate but also dapple the sunlight. The addition of trailing plants on the pergola can provide even more shade.

Pergolas can be traced back to late Medieval and early Renaissance times. In fact, the word pergola originates from the Late Latin term "pergula," referring to a protective eave. Renaissance gardens featured tunnels made out of climbing plants that were bound together to make archways. Other plants were trained to climb up slats that were added to further complete these natural tunnels. The tunnels stayed cool and shady, as well as dry during a rain shower. Thus, pergolas were born.

Pergolas can add a cozy atmosphere to outdoor spaces. They can be built over a patio or as an overhang to a home. Some restaurants even use pergolas to create outdoor seating spaces that are somewhat protected from the elements.

Presently, wood is the primary material of choice for building pergolas. However, composite vinyl products are also available. Pergola kits make the erection of the structure easier for the do-it-yourselfer or one who does not want to hire a carpenter.

Pergolas, like their cousins the arbors and trellises, can also provide privacy, particularly if they are draped with climbing plants. One way to truly embrace the green history of pergolas is to train grape vines to grow on your pergola.

Grape vines produce dense leaves and succulent fruit if they are done the right way. You can enjoy wine, jellies, juice, etc., from harvested grapes. Otherwise, you can simply enjoy the shade and the wildlife that visits as a result of your grape plants.

Growing grapes well requires a long-term commitment. Vines require several years from time of planting to first harvested crop, and they normally do not reach full production until the fifth or sixth year. Grape plants can survive for 50 to 100 years, provided you care for them properly. It's important to consider carefully both site selection and site preparation before you plant.

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