pergola with climbing perennial vines surround a brick patio with benches and fountain
Photo Richard Felber (Styling by Michelle Lay)
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Create a feeling of enclosure—and some shade—with an overhead structure

A little cover from the hot sun will make an outdoor room more comfortable, but that doesn't mean you need a solid roof.

What was done here: Building this vine-covered pergola over the patio casts a pleasant dappled light on the recycled bricks—and any seated occupants—below. Bruce's garden designer, Tim Cleary, used pressure-treated 6x6 posts to support a grid of 2x10 beams and 2x6 rafters fastened with through bolts. The beefy construction was required for the American wisteria that Mary Cleary, Tim's wife and business partner, trained up the posts. Otherwise, the thick, twining vine, which grows quickly but can take years to flower, will pull apart nailed boards and crack small ones. Mary also planted clematis to cover the posts with summer blooms. (For more vines, see the list on slide 11.)

More take-home tips: A retractable fabric awning off the side of your house or a patio umbrella can also provide cover, keeping diners and loungers from baking in the heat. Outsize and cantilevered umbrellas can shade most of a small terrace or deck. (Giant Umbrella Company and All American Pool and Patio offer a look at some of the latest.)
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