The Japanese have used pergolas in their landscaping designs for decades. If you want to design a Japanese-style garden in your yard, you will need to include some type of covered walkway or pavillion. Pergolas are arbors with cross-beams spanning the top which are commonly used to create formal entrances to gardens or to offer a covered area for relaxing and chatting. Although the roofs of these structures are not water tight, you can grow vines over them to provide for a shady retreat. While the ancient Japanese built pergolas of stone, modern tastes have changed to wooden structures which are loads more reasonable to build. As well as models made of wood, arbors are also available that are fashioned from iron, vinyl, and fiberglass.
Japanese pergolas are knock-offs of the first pagodas which were built to house the ashes of Buddha. Their design often includes straight crosspieces with scrolled ends. Through the centuries, the structures lost their spiritual connotations, particularly when the designs caught on in the western world where Buddhism is barely practiced. Though these classic bowers went out of favor during times of the 18th and 19th centuries when fashionable gardens went through a natural trend, they have come back into vogue in the 21st century in a big style.
One of the cool things about today’s pergolas is that many of them are available as kits that house owners can simply assemble without professional help. These kits can either be stock models, or you can find companies that will custom-build your design at their factory and then deliver it to your home for installation. Some websites offer tools so that you can learn about the different elements that are used to design the perfect arbor to fit your lawn, deck, or other application.
To give your pergola a more Oriental flare, you might wish to consider adding Japanese lanterns for soft light and tatami floor mats. You also might like to add to your pergola building plans by enclosing all or part of the pergola with Shoji sliding doors and Japanese screens. A pergola will add architectural interest to your yard or patio, and adding plants that are generally found in a Japanese garden,such as bamboo, azaleas, moss, and carefully-pruned pine trees, can give your garden a really Oriental flare.