How to Add Shade to a Pergola

What You'll Need
Large Piece of Cloth Suitable for the Outdoors
Crimp Fastener
Eye Bolts
Sewing Machine
Grommet Crimper and Grommets
Creeping Vines

One great way to stay cool while outside in the summer is to sit underneath a pergola shade. Pergolas are archways typically made from latticework, onto which creeping vines are encouraged to grow. When built correctly, these structures provide architectural character and shape to a garden, as well as a cool place to relax. Occasionally, you may need your pergola to provide more shade than it currently does. In this circumstance rather than buy an expensive kit to add shade to the pergola, try following the steps outlined below.

Step 1 – Choose Which Method to Use

There are two simple ways to shade a pergola: naturally and artificially. The natural method uses plants to provide shade, while the artificial method will involve hanging a thick cloth on the structure. The natural method will, in many places, work for only part of the year, whereas the artificial method can be used all year round regardless of the climate. If using the artificial method, skip to step 2. If using the natural method, simply dig a hole on each end of the archway. Plant creeping vines that are native to the climate that the pergola is in (native plants will thrive better and require less upkeep). Fill the holes back in with a good deal of fertilizer mixed in to encourage growth. Finally, train the vines to grow through the pergola by adjusting them as they grow. Simply weave them through the latticework until they cover the entire archway.

Step 2 – If Using the Artificial Method, First, Prepare the Cloth

One benefit of the artificial method is that it is almost instant. There us no waiting for plants to grow over the structure. First, get a piece of cloth that is 5-inches longer and wider than the area of the pergola that is to be covered. Prepare the cloth by folding the edges back 2-inches and stitching them with a sewing machine to create a hem. This adds strength to the area of the cloth that will be attached to the pergola.

Step 3 – Secure Grommets to the Hem

Using a grommet tool, punch holes though the doubled-over hemmed edges of the cloth and press the grommets into place. Place a grommet every 6 to 12-inches for support.

Step 4 – Install Eye Bolts

On the bottom of the archway, screw an eye bolt onto both the front and back supports on both sides. Next, cut two pieces of cable which are about 1-foot longer than the total circumference of the archway (from the bottom of one leg, all the way over the arch, and down to the bottom of the other leg). The extra foot of cable is important so that there is enough cable to weave in and out of the latticework.

Step 5 – Thread the Cables

Using a crimp fastener, secure the cables to the eye bolts at the bottom of one side. Then, thread the cable through the grommets in the cloth and then through the lattice work as well. Make sure to thread the cables through the lattice work just as a vine would grow and to do so tightly so that wind cannot lift the new canopy off the pergola.

Step 6 – Crimp the Cable Onto the Final Eye bolt

Once the cable reaches the other side, use the crimp fastener again to attach it to the eye bolt installed at the bottom, and repeat the steps for the backside of the pergola.