Add Functionality and Beauty to the Backyard with a Pergola

Build your own pergola with tips from top home improvement pros

As fall hits full stride, now is the perfect time to enjoy backyard time with family and friends. Top landscape designers say autumn is also a good time to dig into projects that can take your backyard living experience to the next level.

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A pergola adds visual interest and a comfortable, protected gathering area to the backyard living space. (Photo: Business Wire)

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, pergolas are a popular backyard addition, and for good reason. They add both functional value and aesthetic interest to virtually any outdoor living space.

“In addition to creating a comfortable, protected outdoor gathering space, pergolas are also a beautiful addition to your yard,” Scott said. “They inject a certain level of architectural interest, while complimenting your home and your property’s other features.”

After years of partnering on its Done-In-A-Weekend Projects videos, Scott and Exmark are raising the bar with a new series featuring larger, more impactful do-it-yourself projects. In the new Exmark Original Series, Done-In-A-Weekend Extreme Projects, Scott helps homeowners better understand and conceptualize how to transform their outdoor living spaces.

In a new episode of the series, Scott walks through the steps to building a backyard pergola with Mike Jones of Flowery Branch, Georgia-based Jones Refinishing. Built from easily sourced lumber, with concrete-set posts at the four corners, the pergola features a wood plank deck to provide an even, level space for people to congregate.

The first step is marking the outer perimeter of the pergola on the ground using grade stakes and mason twine. The goal is to make it square and guide placement of the post holes at the corners.

Jones said squaring the stakes is a critical step in the process.

“If step one isn’t square, it’s not going to be square at the last step,” he added.

The next step is to dig the four post holes, then set the 6- by 6-inch square posts into the holes. After squaring the posts at the bottom and top, the posts are braced, and concrete is poured into the post holes to set the posts. Once the concrete begins to set, the crew installs the cross braces and rafter pieces, which are constructed of 2- by 6-inch boards. The rafter sections are notched to fit together, much like puzzle pieces. The rafters are topped off by 2- by 2-inch wood sections set perpendicular to the rafters.

The deck structure is constructed of a mixture of 2- by 10-inch and 2- by 8-inch boards, with five quarter inch pressure-treated decking boards forming the deck surface. Once the deck is complete, final structural supports are added to ensure the long-term safety and stability of the pergola.

Watch the complete Done-In-A-Weekend Extreme Projects episode and find inspiration for your own backyard projects at Plus, watch other Exmark Original Series, including Done-In-A-Weekend Projects, Dream Yards and Prime Cuts.

About Exmark

Exmark Manufacturing was incorporated in May 1982 as an independent manufacturer of professional turf care equipment. Today, it is the leading manufacturer of commercial mowers and equipment for the landscape professional. Exmark mowers are trusted 2-to-1 over the next best-selling brand of zero-turn mowers by landscape professionals. In addition to designing, building and marketing quality turf care equipment, Exmark’s goal is total customer satisfaction. All Exmark products are designed to help customers increase productivity while delivering unmatched quality. Products are sold to distributors and dealers who share the company’s commitment to customer service and quality products. Learn more at

About Backyard Life

With a focus on giving home and acreage owners tips and know-how to make the most of their outdoor experience and live more life outdoors, Backyard Life is a unique one-of-a-kind multimedia destination. Content focuses on lawn-and-garden, outdoor cooking and living, and rural lifestyles. Learn more at

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Matt Gersib
(402) 314-2150
[email protected]

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