Awning Vs Pergola: Which Is Better for Your Garden?

Awning Vs Pergola: Which Is Better for Your Garden?

Adding a garden structure, like an awning or pergola, is a great way to give your outdoor space an update and refresh, providing shade from the sun. The only problem? Choosing which one is the best fit for your garden. 

That’s where Harbour Lifestyle comes in. We’ll compare the differences and similarities between these two increasingly popular garden features, taking a closer look at how an awning and a pergola function and helping you understand which suits your space, needs and budget. 

As a bonus, we’ll also give you inspiration on how to style and use an awning vs a pergola to make the most of your outdoor space. 

Whether you’re looking for a quick way to add shade or dreaming of a stylish outdoor feature, let’s dive in to find the perfect match with Harbour Lifestyle’s award-winning range of pergolas and garden accessories


Awning vs pergola definitions


What is an awning?

An awning is a retractable or fixed cover that extends over an outdoor area to provide shade and respite from the heat. The coverings are most commonly made from fabric but can also include aluminium or mesh, which can be an attractive and practical addition to any garden. 

You’ll typically find awnings attached to the outside of the home over a door or near a window. They are often used in smaller spaces that don’t have the acreage for larger structures or where adjustable shade is needed. 


What is a pergola?

A pergola is an outdoor structure that you’ll typically find over patios or decks, although they can also be installed over grass. Pergolas usually consist of four posts and a flat louvre or lattice roof that’s perfect for climbing vines and flowers and provides shade. 

Pergolas can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, where they were used to grow figs and provide protection from intense heat. 

Traditionally made from wood, pergolas now come in a variety of materials and sizes and are used to create a defined outdoor space to relax, dine or entertain family and friends. 

Newer designs come with handy features, like built-in LED lights, drainage systems and drop sides to protect you from the wind and rain.

What are the similarities between an awning vs a pergola?

Awnings and pergolas have several features in common:

  • Both elevate the aesthetic of any outdoor space, enhancing the overall look and usability of gardens, patios and decks.
  • The primary function of both awnings and pergolas is to provide shade, making your garden more comfortable and usable throughout the year.
  • Awnings and pergolas come in various styles, colours and materials, allowing you to choose and customise both to suit your home’s aesthetic and personal style preferences. 


What is the difference between an awning vs a pergola?

Now, let's take a closer look at what makes these garden features so different from each other:


  • Awnings have a retractable covering, usually made from fabric or aluminium, and are attached to the side of the home. On the other hand, pergolas can either be wall-mounted or freestanding and can be made from wood, aluminium or steel. 
  • Awnings are smaller and more suitable for providing shade for confined areas compared to pergolas. Meanwhile, pergolas come in various sizes and can be used to create a defined space, like a lounge or dining area, in small, medium and large gardens. 


  • Pergolas can provide various shade options, including dappled and full shade in louvre roof models that can be fully closed. Meanwhile, awnings provide adjustable, direct shade. They can be extended or retracted as needed, making them flexible when managing sun and weather exposure.
  • Pergola and awning price is a key consideration for many homeowners. While awnings are generally smaller in size, when it comes to cost, it can be a tricky decision. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between £350 and £600 for an awning installation. However, many patio awnings can be much more expensive depending on their size, material and the type of awning installed, going all the way up to £2,000 to even £9,000 for top-of-the-range models. Pergolas cost £2,500 on average but also go up in price, especially if they're kitted with the latest features, like built-in LED lights. Larger and custom-designed pergolas will also increase the cost further. 

What is better: a pergola or an awning?

Now that you know the basics, it's time to dive a little deeper to decide whether an awning or a pergola will be a better fit for your garden. 

This will all depend on your preferences and needs, as well as the space you're working with. Here are some key factors to help guide your decision between an awning or a pergola.


The cost-effective choice

Source - Pinterest

If budget is a concern or you simply want to make the biggest possible impact for the lowest possible price, an awning will be the best option—although this depends on the size and type of model you choose. 

Typically more cost-effective, awnings are a simple, less expensive solution for adding shade and style to your garden.


Optimising for shade

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in White - £3,999


For maximum shade control, it's an honest toss-up between an awning vs a pergola. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of preference. 

With its retractable design, an awning allows you to adjust shade throughout the day depending on the sun's location. However, a pergola with a louvre roof gives you ultimate flexibility with slats that can be opened or closed for complete control when managing sunlight and heat.

Creating a large outdoor living space

Monterrey 8 Seat Rope Dining Set with Oval Ceramic Table in Grey - £2,749

PergoSTET 3m x 3m Steel Square Pergola in Grey - £1,429


There’s no getting around it — pergolas are ideal for creating a large, defined outdoor living area. Their large structures can easily accommodate furniture and accessories, making them perfect for outdoor dining or lounging spaces.

Creating a luxury feel


Luna 6 Seat Outdoor Fabric Teak Firepit Bar Set in Grey - £3,849

A pergola can instantly transform your garden into a luxurious oasis, improving its visual aesthetic tenfold. Compared to awnings, pergolas' bigger structures have greater potential for customisation and adding luxurious features like an outdoor fire pit to socialise around and modern lighting pieces to create a warm and welcoming ambience. 

Plus, pergolas are perfect for climbing plants and flowers, creating an upscale focal point in your outdoor space.

Going for a modern look


Source - Pinterest

When it comes to creating a modern aesthetic, there’s no clear winner between awnings vs pergolas. What you choose depends on your vision for your garden, as well as its space and size. 

Newer automated awning models with contemporary materials, colours and patterns can look particularly sleek when attached to the side of modern properties. However, does it really get more modern than an aluminium pergola with built-in LED lights and a louvre roof that can close at the press of a button to protect you from the elements? We don’t think so.

Going for a traditional look


PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting with Wood Effect - £4,299

Nothing says traditional more than a wooden pergola. Its classic design adds a timeless, rustic charm to any outdoor setting. 

That being said, there is something about a classic awning that makes us think of heritage and grade-listed structures. It's a British classic, after all. 

Wall-mounted options 


Source - Pinterest 


For a wall-mounted solution, awnings are the go-to solution. They can be easily attached to the exterior of your home for a practical and space-efficient shade solution. 

Standing the test of time

PergoSTET 3m x 3m Square Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in White - £3,499


Due to their larger, sturdier structure, pergolas are more likely to withstand the test of time (and a good battering from the unruly British weather), especially with proper maintenance. However, your choice of material, like high-quality wood or aluminium, will also be key to its longevity.

Protection from the elements


PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,999

While both awnings and pergolas offer some degree of protection, a modern pergola with closed roof capabilities and drop sides is the best option to protect yourself from wind and rain. However, if you’re planning on choosing a traditional pergola with an open lattice roof, an awning might be a better option. An awning provides better shelter from rain and sun thanks to its full coverage when extended. 

DIY awnings and pergolas

Luna Outdoor Fabric Sun Lounger in Grey - £799


Do you have a DIY enthusiast in your life? Or maybe you are one yourself. Either way, both awnings and pergolas make good DIY projects. While installing an awning can seem daunting, it’s definitely doable, although you’ll likely need at least one other person to help as they can be pretty heavy to lift into place. 

Depending on your skills, a pergola could be easier to build. There are even ready-made pergola kits you can buy, complete with materials and assembly instructions. 

Awning vs pergola ideas

Cool down in the shade during summer


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Use an awning to instantly create a cool retreat on your patio, perfect for hot days. Choose a striped fabric reminiscent of the beach that’s both classic and contemporary for a summer feel, and add a comfortable outdoor sofa and colourful cushions to create the perfect relaxing spot. 


Build an outdoor kitchen and dining area

Napoleon 700 Series 32" Built-in Gas Grill - £2,220.00


Maybe you can't go to Naples this summer, but you can still enjoy Italian-style pizza. A pergola is ideal for designing and covering your own outdoor kitchen and dining space. Go all out and equip it with your very own pizza oven, a beautiful dining set, Kamado BBQ and some string lights for the perfect outdoor family meal setting.

Add a touch of romance with soft lighting and flowers

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Enhance your awning with soft lighting or your pergola with climbing flowers and delicate linen curtains. Pop the champagne, get cosy in an intimate lounge set for two and enjoy a romantic evening outdoors. 


Add heaters for year-round usage


    PergoSTET Wifi & Bluetooth Heater in Grey - £399.00

    Install stylish outdoor heaters under an awning or pergola to enjoy your outdoor space even when the weather starts to cool. Accessorise with bean bags, a plush throw and an outdoor rug for extra warmth and cosiness.


    Explore rustic garden furniture options

      Richmond Antique Wood Bench with Pop Up Table in Antique Grey - £199.99

      Rustic garden furniture creates a charming and natural atmosphere under pergolas and awnings. Think wooden benches and picnic tables or intricate, vintage-style wrought iron tables and chairs accessorised with wicker baskets.

      Add a bar for hosting garden parties

      Monterrey 6 Seat Rope Teak Firepit Bar Set in Grey - £3,699.00


      Set up a stylish outdoor bar under an awning with high stools and a drinks trolley for memorable garden parties. 

      Ready to commit? Invest in a bar set under your pergola, complete with a stash of spirits, wines, mixers, cocktails and maybe some fresh garnish from your herb garden. The cocktail shaker is optional, but we recommend it for a touch of professional pizazz. 


      Protection from the rain


        Source - Pinterest 

        An awning offers excellent rain protection for your patio, especially if you get one that extends fully. Add outdoor seating in stain-proof, rainproof and rustproof Luna fabric to enjoy the outdoors, rain or shine. 

        Create an aesthetic and covered hot tub space


        Source - Pinterest 

        Place your hot tub under a pergola for a protected, aesthetic home spa experience. Add leafy potted plants to enhance your privacy and soft lights for relaxing and illuminated evenings. 

        Add shade and décor to a patio


        Source - Pinterest

        Awnings are great for adding both shade and style to any patio. Choose a design that complements your outdoor décor and your home's style for a simple yet effective garden update. 

        Seamlessly extend your living space with a wall-mounted option

        PergoSTET 3m x 3m Square Wall Mounted Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,349.00

        Have you wanted to extend your home for a while but don’t want to splash the cash on an expensive extension or conservatory? A wall-mounted pergola does the same job, expanding your living space and making the most of your garden. 

        Create a luxurious seating area with a corner sofa and table, elegant pendant lighting and potted plants to create a fluid transition from inside to outside. 

        Cosy around a fire pit during cooler months

        Luna 6 Seat Outdoor Fabric Teak Firepit Bar Set in Grey


        A pergola can safely house a fire pit area for a cosy gathering spot with friends. Add comfortable seating, fairy lights, blankets and marshmallow roasting supplies, and you have the perfect evening.


        Protect yourself from the sun with climbing plants


          Source - Pinterest

          Nature can also be practical. Wrap climbing plants and flowers, like wisteria, ivy, sweet peas or climbing roses, for natural and eco-friendly sun protection that also looks stunning. 

          Add LED lighting for enjoying your garden in the evening

          PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in White - £3,999.00

          Integrate some LED lights under an awning for a beautifully lit outdoor area perfect for spring and summer garden parties that go long into the night. Or, go even further with a pergola with built-in LED lights in different colours that can change or dim depending on your mood — and at the touch of a button.

          Create a trendy, modern look

          Source - Pinterest

          Have fun with your awning fabrics and covers, playing around with patterns and colours to create a trendy, modern look. From minimalist colours with clean lines to fresh blues and yellows that remind you of Italy’s Amalfi coast, unleash your creativity and incorporate contemporary furniture and metallic accents to finish the look. 


          Transform your garden with Harbour Lifestyle 

          Whether you go for the adjustable shade of a classic awning or the elegant beauty of a pergola structure, both choices promise to take your garden to the next level. 

          Adding a hefty dose of comfort and style, awnings offer a practical solution for full and immediate shade. Meanwhile, pergolas are better suited for garden lovers who want to make the most of being outside by creating a clearly defined outdoor living space. 

          Interested in exploring your pergola options further? Discover Harbour Lifestyle’s range of award-winning pergola designs. 

          Our collection offers classic colours to complement any space, featuring integrated elements such as built-in LED lights, fully waterproof louvre roofs that close instantly and built-in drainage systems for sudden weather shifts.

          Or, have awnings caught your attention? Get creative and furnish and accessorise your space underneath with our wide range of premium garden furniture and accessories.


          Awning vs pergola FAQs


          What are the disadvantages of awnings?

          The main disadvantage of awnings is they don’t provide complete protection from the rain. While they are a great option for adding shade to an outdoor space, especially if you have a smaller garden or patio, rain can get easily blown in from the side, meaning they’re not the best option during colder months or heavy rain. 

          Retractable awnings can also get damaged or even break due to high winds.


          Are garden awnings a good idea?

          A stylish awning can elevate your property's aesthetic and add value to your home, making it a great addition to your outdoor space. They’re the perfect option for smaller gardens and patios that might not have the space for a larger structure like a pergola. 

          They’re also good for providing adjustable shade to protect you from harmful UV rays.