How to Build a Pergola
To Suit a Small garden

How to build a pergola correctly.

To do this make a frame using battens with small crosspieces at each corner to make the frame rectangular and rigid.

Lay the frame on the ground so the corners mark the post positions. Drive in four small stakes at the corners.

How to Build a Pergola
Start By Measuring

Now saw four posts to length.

Mine are about 8’ in length because I’ve added an extra two feet to go into the ground.

Treat the Ends While Digging
The Pergola Footings

I've taken a few  photos to help me explain the procedure of how to build a pergola.

Use preservative and treat both ends of the posts. Standing them upright in a bowel of preservative for an hour or so.
Read the instructions on the tin carefully.

While you are waiting, dig the pergola footings for each of the posts.

A hired auger is your best bet. Dig to a depth of two feet for each post.

You may need them longer. Oversize them for now. They will need exact sawing later.

Place the first post in the hole and position it vertically using timber supports. Repeat for each of the posts and make sure they line up with each other and are not twisted.

Pour the ready mix concrete into each hole and bring the level to slightly above ground level. Add water as directed.

Make sure the posts remain perfectly vertical by using a level. Smooth the concrete down so that any rain will run down away from the posts.

All you can do now is wait for the cement to dry overnight before going onto the next stage.

Once the concrete is dry the next step is to cut the posts to the right size.

Using the lowest post - use a level to mark the top of each of the other three posts. Square round each post using a pencil and saw each post using the pencil lines as a guide.

When building a pergola roof  in any small garden use smaller timbers. These pergola photos show the small size timbers to use.

We now have four perfectly upright posts just cut to a size where the tops are all level. Make two notches on the right hand pergola posts to take the small pergola beam. And repeat for the left hand side. The beams over hang each post by 12”. Shape the ends of the beams and nail each beam into place.

More pergola photos coming up.

Now cut and shape the five pergola rafters so they overhang the beams by 12”. Equally space them across the beams. For a tight fit it’s best to notch out each pergola rafter to sit snugly on top of the beams.

Another way to you can attach the pergola rafters is make half joints on the rafters and the cross beams. We used this on the house pergola and it gives a nice strong joint and clean finish.

Pergola plan

 for a bench which take you...

from a quiet reading spot one moment...

... to a children’s playground the next.

Jumping from bench to bench the young ones would grab the rafters, swing and have fun.

You can see how I built it with the help of some of my pergola photos.

When learning how to build a pergola bench use
a wide piece of timber. It can be 3/4" or better still 1" thick.

The piece I used was probably not wide enough at 10.5”.  Maybe 12” would have been better.

To get the right length for the seat, measure from outside of post to outside of post. Using a square, cut a slot at each end to fit snugly against each post.

Have you got a carpenter's square?  It's a must for accurate work. But if the posts are not...

 ... aligned properly don't worry - you may have to tweak your cut a bit. I confess I did.

To curve the corners draw a curve using an [empty] coffee mug. Sandpaper the edges to make the bench 'user friendly'.

Next decide on the height you want the seats.

I have used a different height for each - 15.5” and 20.5”.

For reading I prefer the lower bench. Caroline my partner is happy with the higher seat.

To support the bench seat screw a length of batten across the posts – leaving it 1” short of the post ends.

Add another along the inside of each post.

Place the bench seat onto the battens and screw it down.

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