A customer wrote in asking to help them identify the differences between pergolas, arbors gazebos and trellises. They knew they wanted to add a structure to their yard that would provide shade but were not exactly sure what it would be called. Since we hear this question frequently we thought it would be good to summarize it here.
Arbors and trellises have a bit in common. They are not actually structures with roofs at all or really designed to provide shade for a seating area. Arbors are usually built to designate a transition between two places in a garden. You find them over walking paths sometimes with vines growing over them. A trellis is a one dimensional structure that is designed entirely to support plants and vines.
Gazebos are nearly complete outdoor rooms in that they have full roofs and also floors. They are typically round with solid walls at the bottom containing built in benches for seating. The upper half of the walls is open.
A pergola is more like what this customer really wanted. It is an open structure with a roof that would provide shade, but is not solid. There is also no floor but rather the posts supporting the open roof would be secured into the ground or on a concrete patio or a deck.
For more in depth descriptions and pictures of each, go here. If, like the customer in this story, you decide that you want to build your own pergola, then submit your email there and claim a free pergola plan. You will find everything there you need to add a pergola to your yard.