Spruce up backyard with a pergola

Structural design, materials are a matter of taste

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"Pergola" may not be a term you're familiar with. However, if you're looking for a backyard structure that not only provides shade but also offers hundreds of absolutely beautiful design options, it's one that's definitely worth knowing. Webster's New World Dictionary defines pergola as "an arbor, especially one with an open roof of cross rafters or latticework supported on posts or columns." In its most basic form, a pergola is simply four or more vertical posts with horizontal beams between them at the top. The beams in turn support a series of rafters on top of and perpendicular to the beams. As opposed to the typical patio cover, a pergola is not roofed. Instead, the overhead rafters provide filtered shade in an ever-changing pattern of sunlight and shadow. Pergolas tend to be more ornate then the more utilitarian patio cover, with an almost unlimited design versatility. Just visualize one of those graceful open-roofed structures above a broad patio overlooking the Mediterranean, ...