Having a peaceful outdoor space is good for your mental and physical well-being. According to a study published in the North Carolina Medical Journal, green spaces are ideal environments for exercise. Fortunately, you don’t have to go on a trek through the woods or even drive to a national park to enjoy these benefits. Simply spending time in your backyard can improve your mood. However, it can be hard to relax or exercise under the burning summer sun, drenched in the rain or the snow.

Permanent outdoor structures, like patios and decks, allow you to make the most out of your outdoor space while protecting you from harsh weather and insects. They can even add value to your home should you sell it in the future.

Popular Permanent Outdoor Shade Structures

There are many types of outdoor structures, some offering full protection against the weather while others provide partial shade. The following are some examples to help you make the right choice for your home, family and lifestyle.


Arbors have been used to decorate yards and provide shelter in the U.S. since the 1800s. They are small and simple freestanding outdoor structures
that can be built over a gate, bench or patio. Additionally, they can serve as the entrance to a garden path or be used to separate areas of a yard into “outdoor rooms.”

Arbor roofs are usually slotted and arched, but they can be flat or pointed, depending on your preference. They are typically made of wood, with two or four posts supporting the roof and creating a “tunnel.” You can grow climbing plants and flowers, such as roses, over them to provide “living shade” and to give your yard a romantic look.


Pergolas are very similar to gazebos, except they’re usually larger. Dimensions can vary depending on the outdoor space’s size and the homeowner’s preferences. Pergolas can be built as freestanding outdoor patio structures or attached to homes. While timber is the most popular material, pergolas can also be made from metal, PVC, brick or stone.

Pergolas often have slanted roofing that provides partial shade. For more protection, you can opt for a retractable louvered roof. This allows you to adjust the amount of coverage you get from your roof. When fully closed, a louvered roof allows water and melted snow to slide off it to the ground. Compared to traditional awnings, louvered roofing is stronger, more weather-resistant and longer-lasting.


Due to their attractive design, gazebos are popular among homeowners who want outdoor shade structures that enhance the look and function of their landscape. Their roofs are usually shingled, with or without cupolas. A fence or rail partially encloses the bottom half, while posts provide support to the roof.

Traditional gazebos are made from wood that is treated to make them more resistant to weather and pests. However, to make them last longer and perform their function as permanent outdoor shade structures better, gazebos can also be made from metal and vinyl.

Gazebos can serve as the focal point of an outdoor space. They’re an ideal place for small outdoor get-togethers, taking in the view or relaxing with family and pets.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Outdoor Structures for Your Home

Planning is essential to ensuring your satisfaction with the outcome of your outdoor structure project. Before you call your trusted design and building company, it helps to have a clear idea of what you want in your new addition to your backyard. Here are some factors to consider to help you make the right choice.

The Purpose of the Structure

Take a moment to visualize what you want from your outdoor structure.

Do you need a place where you can hold family barbecues and small parties without worrying about the harsh sun or sudden rain? Then a gazebo or a pergola might be right for you.

Do you want a relaxing lounge area where you can have some “me-time,” soaking up the sun while reading a book? Then you might prefer an arbor over outdoor seating, such as a bench or a pergola with a slotted roof.

The Size of Your Outdoor Space

Some outdoor patio structures are larger than others. Consider how much space you have available for your structure, and work with your building contractor to find options that will fit. Make sure not to choose one that’s too small for your intended purpose or so large that it minimizes your yard space.

Where the Structure Will Be Located

Some outdoor patio structures can be extensions to a house, but keep in mind that attaching one will result in additional stress to your home. If this is what you have in mind, consult a builder first to see if it’s feasible.

Meanwhile, other structures, such as gazebos, are best if you want a space that’s not connected to your property but can be easily accessed from your home.

Other challenges come with situating outdoor structures in areas near ponds and creeks or on hillsides. Let your designer or builder know so that they can let you know what changes to the space or the design of the structure need to be made to accommodate your preferences.

The Climate in Your Area

Is it sunny year-round where you live, or do you frequently get rain in the spring? How many inches of snowfall do you usually get during the winter? The answers to these questions will help you decide what type of structure to choose.

Arbors don’t protect much against rain or snow, but they’re good for providing partial shade on summer days. Gazebos are ideal for all-weather use, while a pergola offers shelter from the weather as long as it has the right roofing.

Neighborhood Restrictions

Some neighborhoods have strict rules on what can and can’t be built on a property. Be sure to reach out to the Homeowners’ Association (HOA) to check whether your planned outdoor structure’s size, shape and style go against existing regulations.

Add Beauty and Functionality to Your Backyard With Permanent Outdoor Structures

Pergolas, gazebos and other outdoor structures help turn your backyard into a space perfect for outdoor dining, socializing, exercising and relaxing. Since these outdoor structures are designed to be permanent, unlike awnings, you can enjoy them year after year.

The Complete Backyard is a design and building firm specializing in transforming outdoor spaces into oases through meticulous design and high-quality construction. To learn more, contact us today.