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"Where better to care for the soul than in the details of our daily lives?....The soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment. It requires them like the body needs food and the mind needs thought... An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination where we find value, love and union with the world around us. As mystics of many religions have taught, that sense of rapturous union can give a sense of fulfillment that makes life purposeful and vibrant." ~ Thomas Moore.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My D.I.Y. Pergola

We built a new Pergola or arbor.

You've all probably seen the beautiful ones that go for a starting $$ of about $800.00 for a 10 foot by 10 foot size? I think this is ridiculous. I knew I could build one for much less and we did......for about $150.00 in lumber and cement, and some work in less than 2 days. This post is to show you how to do it.

Mine is not quite finished. I get these whimsical ideas in my head and unless I do them, the job is not quite done. I wanted to complete it with stenciling and some other details but its been too hot and humid to work outside anymore so it will have to wait. But the structure is completed and pretty much what I had in mind.

**UPDATE JU LY 2014 ~ An extra 4 x 4 will be needed on the center areas of the outer 2 x 4s which are holding up the 1 x prevent sagging, some of which has occurred but still 2 years later is a thing of beauty.

I had to make it a light affair, supply foods and lots of sole drinking water for replenishing minerals lost in working in the heat and sun and delish iced tea for electrolytes, in a large cooler and this prep for working in heat turned out to be a blessing.
First getting the set up for comfy work outside in extreme heat which I've learned the hard way, is constant drinking of fluids and it should be cool, even cold, even though cold is not good for you, but in this heat it is....lots of easily munching foods to eat as you go along, some wet bandanas and good mosquito spray ......whistling hi ho or something helps too :D

But here are the pictures as we went along in progress.
Here is a picture of what we had before. It was no use repairing it, only rebuilding.

The housemate John taking it apart.

The lumber was bought already in the size we needed.....
4 pieces of 4x4 10 footer posts
12 pieces of 1x6 12 foot lumber.
4 pieces 2x4 10 foot lumber to be a support for the 12 footers that lay across as I will show.
You will also need something to dig the hole for cement.... a post hole digger?....4 bags quick dry cement, a bucket and water hose to mix cement....a hand shovel..........a level, jigsaw, measuring tape, pencil, that power tool thingy that screws in nails I cannot think of the name!! but you know what I's late here...and lots of screws.
You will also need the painting supplies. I think that's about it....maybe.

I wanted the upper lumber to be 12 feet so one foot would overhang the 10 foot frame on both sides as in traditional Japanese pergolas.
Laying flat the 1 x 6's, ends were cut with a jigsaw and was easy according to John. Just going down one inch along the 6 inch side, then cutting a semi circle. The piece that was cut off was used as a template for the others......and that's it......for the Japanese look.

These are the 1x6's ready to be painted.

As I painted them I laid them on the grass in the sun to dry, they dried fast. I'm not into perfection of painting some things especially if I'm melting, so it was a quick job to give them two quick coats, turn them over then do the other side 2 quick coats.


These 4x4 posts 10 feet tall  for the basic structure being painted one side at a time I did the day before.

One post painted and cemented in. John used about a bag of cement dug one and a half  feet deep per post. He did this 4 times for each corner. Once each post was in the still wet cement, we used a leveler to make sure they were level and this little detail is critical for an even look in the final structure, as it happens LOL. The level was used four ways, one side of the 4x4, then the next side, the top flat surface of this 4x4 (see below pic)
and then when the 2nd, 3rd and 4th posts were put in, a 12 footer was laid across the first post then the one just cemented ......the leveler was laid on top of the 12 footer and checked for level between the two posts.....any adjustments made on the fresh post being cemented during this time for matching its depth with the first post...... then left to dry as he went on to the next that? I hope so because I don't have another way of explaining it. :D

One post in! this was an exciting moment for me LOL.....3 more laying there, left to go in.


Then when all 4 posts were in and dry within a couple of hours? or so? he began to attach the lumber. In the picture below you can basically see what I'm explaining here......
He first screwed in 2 of the 2x4x10 footers laying them on top of 2 posts on either end going from front to back, "front" being the side we see when we enter the Pergola from the house.
"front" here being the left side of the picture below, "back" the right side.
Then 2 of the jigsawed 1x6x12's got screwed flatside onto those 2x4's, one across the "front" and one the "back".
Then the 2 other 2x4's got screwed into the 1x6's, as you can see below.

Then the rest of the 12 footers, 10 of them,  were laid flat over the 2x4's and placed for spacing, marked with a pencil and screwed into the 2x4's. It turns out that they were about 6 inches apart.....roughly, this was good enough.

By laying them flat I got more shade under it.

That's really all there is to it!........ its not even a two day project with two people, and it looks beautiful.

You can do whatever kind of pattern you like, its your pergola and its your design. I wanted them flat and laid them flat, and in alternating configuration.
I would use more 1x6's next time for more shade but I didn't want to paint any more outside at
**Right in the center of the outer 2 x 4 from {top to ground} is where I would lay an extra 4 x 4 to prevent sagging.

I added some metal work I found at All Time Pottery but there is more I want to do with it but for now it looks elegant, and there is NO need to spend big bucks on these.....they never did in the past.

I think simple structures should maintain their simple costs.

With the metal work, which adds the whimsy I was after...........
People love walking beneath it, they have fun LOL

 I have added some reed from Lowe's ( $27.00 for a 6 foot x 16 foot roll ) laid across the top for more shade which I decided is more important these days.

But the reed is only 6 feet wide and so either end where the plants are still get alot of their much needed overhead sun.



There is my Pergola, and you can make one too.....for very little $ compared with anything I've seen anywhere online. Its not complicated at all. I like it alot :D
I hope you try to make one yourselves.

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  1. I love your Pergola!! If I had someone to help me I would have one for sure!!It turned out so nice and I hope you are both taking a much needed rest!! You have the best ideas! I love reading all about your latest adventures!!

  2. Great job on the Pergola. I love it. It will be so nice and you can enjoy it a lot more in the fall when it cools off a bit.
    The metal and the reed for shade are wonderful touches and very practical. I can just see some sort of outdoor chandelier or light fixture or maybe a string of white lights for romantic night lighting.

    1. Thank you Laura. I hope to enjoy it more soon too though every morning when I first look out the back door window and see it and the pond beyond with the lotus in bloom, water lights sparkling on the pergola and greenery, there is alot of magic already there!
      But your idea of a chandelier is a magical one! LOL and I adore it and am trying to figure out what kind of lighting I do want if at all.....we do have night lights on the grounds throughout the yard which makes for a magical effect.,....but I so love the chandelier anyway! I have a small one I may hang just for the appearance and show you! LOL love it!

  3. OOOO Lady!!! this came out beautiful!! I love the wrought iron pieces you put on it...Love that idea...Great job you two!!

    1. Thank you. I just HAD to do the wrought iron pieces, and now that the side of the house has a gate/door I have yet to paint that white too, do some stenciling as on the main gate and add some metal to that too to bring the house all ''together''. Thanks

  4. I am so impressed--this is lovely. My daughter needs one of these--I will share your post. Great job! Nice of your housemate to help.

  5. This is so beautiful!! Dear Lady, you have such vision..I love the shape of the wood on top, and the scrollwork is gorgeous...
    The hard work has more than paid off! Enjoy the splendor!
    Love and light, dear friend....
    - Irina :)

  6. Hi Lady, You did such a wonderful job of designing and building your pergola. I love the wrought iron touches. I wish our yard was big enough for something like this, I guess I will have to improvise. You have done another lovely project.Thanks for your comment on my post of the outdoors! Diane

  7. This spot was made for this wonderful pergola! I love how it turned out and how you made it in a thrifty way - I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

  8. I love your pergola project! It would be great if you could share it on I'm sure our members would love to see your amazing work!

  9. This is one charming the iron pieces on the corners. I have an awesome GIVEAWAY going on…like to shop? If you do…hop over and enter my $100 SHOPPING SPREE GIVEAWAY.


  10. great job! We plan on making one...when we get around to do it :)love the price too

    1. oh great someone was reading LOL.....let me know how it goes, if you have any questions just ask! good luck.

  11. Looking at the design, I would expect that the 2x4s laid on their sides over that long a span and supporting all those boards would sag. It's been almost 2 years now - has that been the case?

    1. Yes Kent, it has sagged a bit and I decided to put up a 4 x 4 beneath each center area of the outer 2x 4's which I have yet to do. It didn't help that I have hung a hanging basket on the 2 x 4 either lol, but it will be fine once the 4 x 4's are in.

  12. It's beautiful! My husband and I just ordered one the total plus shipping was $1200, it's not shipping for another 2wks so we will have time to cancel, we ordered it from Lowe's. Our son will put it up for us once it arrives but i'm not sure he's up to building one from scratch, I will ask him though and offer to pay him. We still would save lots of money. Both my husband and I have back problems so bending for large amounts of time wipes us both out for days.


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