What's the Difference Between a Pergola and a Gazebo?

What's the Difference Between a Pergola and a Gazebo?

At first sight, you may not think there is much of a difference between a pergola and a gazebo. However, both are actually very different structures which can be used for various purposes.

Gazebos have a fully covered roof, often slated, tiled or shingled, while pergolas have a slatted timber plank roof that is not fully covered and allow the sun, wind and rain to pass through. The purpose of a pergola is primarily for shade, while a gazebo will provide shelter.

Here are the key differences between a pergola and a gazebo.

What is a Pergola?

Of the two garden structures, the pergola is the most modern. The word itself derives from Latin, which roughly translates as having projected eaves. This gives an instant visual picture of a pergola, showing it to be a structure that is sturdy and in-keeping with the idea of a solid outside space.

Pergolas are practical, and for this reason will almost always have a roof, (which can be retractable), and sometimes have the addition of solid walls too. Unlike gazebos, which can often be quite ornate, a pergola will generally be much more minimalist in design.

The Purpose of A Pergola

The key purpose of a pergola is to provide shade and cover so that you can enjoy your garden or outdoor space whatever the weather. It is possible to add a pergola to an existing patio area without too much hassle. If you prefer, a pergola can also be built onto the side of a property too, depending on how you want your pergola to look and feel.

Pergolas can also be made in a variety of materials, from wood to aluminum or vinyl, so there is plenty of scope to find the right design for you.

What is a Gazebo?

Historically speaking, gazebos have been popular for thousands of years. First used by the Ancient Egyptians, gazebos continue to be in demand when it comes to creating extra garden space today. A gazebo will generally be either hexagonal or octagonal.

They will also most importantly not have any solid walls. Instead, a gazebo is supported by a number of structured beams and will sometimes have a roof covering it, but otherwise air can move freely. For this reason, many homeowners choose to attach their gazebo structure directly onto the side of their property, creating the illusion of a garden extension.

Gazebos can be made from a variety of different materials too, but are usually raised from the ground in order to prevent any issues with damp. Generally classic in appearance, gazebos are ideal for growing flowers or vines around their structure, or wrapping fairy lights too in order to create a magical evening scene.

The Purpose of A Gazebo

Gazebos are primarily used in the spring and summer due to their exposure to the elements. However, the addition of a firepit or outside heating, plus a covered roof, can make it into a cosy exterior space, even in colder months too.

Primary Differences

Now that we have looked at both pergolas and gazebos in turn, it's clear to see there are definitely a number of subtle differences -

  • Both can have a roof, but only a pergola will have walls
  • Both provide shade, but pergolas are a sturdier all weather option
  • Both can be attached to a house, although a pergola makes a sturdier choice
  • Both can have the addition of lights or foliage, but it is gazebos that are designed to be more ornate in structure than pergolas
  • Gazebos are ideal for period properties, whilst pergolas are the perfect fit if your home has a more modern design

By knowing how a pergola and gazebo differ from one another, it should now be quick and easy for you to decide which option would be most suitable for your garden or outdoor space.