Decks and Pergolas: Everything you need to know

Decks and Pergolas: Everything you need to know

Decks and pergolas are the perfect pair! Over the last couple of years, gardens have become an escape, away from the rest of the world. And with Spring and Summer fast-approaching, utilising and beautifying outdoor spaces is high on the agenda.

Having an outdoor seating area is a great way to utilise your outdoor space, making it a multi-functional area for socialising and relaxing with friends and family. And as much as we love the sunshine (when it’s showing its face in the UK), it’s always a good idea to have a structure that offers a little shade. 

Pergolas are free-standing or wall-leaning structures, that are usually attached directly to the ground (or whatever they are over). But, if you are creating a seating area then you might want to add something to elevate you off the ground slightly - to prevent flooding and dirt from accumulating. That’s why pergolas for decks are the perfect partners, and why they are so popular.

So, in this blog, we’ll explore everything you need to know about putting your pergola on a deck area, plus give you some ideas on how to style it.

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    Can you put a pergola on a patio or decking?

    So first things first, is it possible to put a pergola on the patio or decking?

    Yes, absolutely! 

    In fact, decking and pergolas are the perfect partners. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

    However, you will have to make sure the patio or decking construction is strong enough to hold the weight of the pergola (and whatever else you put on it). 

    A pergola, plus a table, some chairs, a BBQ, some climbing plants - oh and all the people - it can be a pretty heavy load. And you’ll need to accommodate that load to ensure that it’s safe and secure for your family to enjoy.


    What kind of deck can support a pergola?

    So, can every type of deck support the weight of a pergola and everything else on it?

    Pretty much! 

    There are very few types of deck that cannot be designed to hold the weight necessary. However, we advise that you speak to whoever is building your decking to ensure that it will be safe. 

    Let’s look a little further into what types of decking it’s common to install a deck over.


    Traditional wooden decks with pergolas…

    A wooden deck is a traditional choice in most homes, and this can stand solitary in your garden or be raised to be level with your back doors. This creates the perfect canvas for a free-standing or wall-leaning pergola to be constructed. 

    The ideal wooden deck for a pergola is low to the ground and structurally sound. It will require ample support underneath to hold the weight. If you are having one built then your contractor will be able to advise and build a suitable decking area 

    If you have an existing wooden deck that isn’t strong enough to support the weight of the pergola, then it’s usually easy enough to cut out holes and sink the pergola foundations. 

    Remember, wood needs to be maintained (ie. painted and treated) in order to retain its integrity and strength. We recommend using pressure-treated wood and painting it regularly to ensure that the wood doesn’t rot - leaving the decking unsafe for your pergola.


    Composite decks with pergolas…

    Can a pergola be installed on a composite deck?

    Composite decking is made of a blend of wood fibres and plastic products. Giving it the look of wood, with the durability and maintenance-free advantages of PVC decking. 

    This makes it an ideal choice for harsh climates (ie. parts of the UK), or for people who don’t want to continually maintain their deck  

    However, composite decks are usually more expensive than wooden decking and they won’t look as natural. So you’ll need to make a decision on what suits your needs and aesthetic more.


    How do you anchor a pergola to a deck?

    Keeping your pergola safe and secure on your decking should be one of your main considerations. The last thing you want is to construct a beautiful pergola on decking, for it to fall over or blow away. 

    So, how do you attach a pergola to a deck?

    First things first if you are attaching your pergola directly onto your decking then you need to ensure that it is securely attached. The pergola posts should be joined to the joint structure below the deck (or directly into the ground). They should not be secured to the floor of the deck as the planks can break away. Think of it like attaching directly into wall studs. 

    You'll also need to ensure that you are using the appropriate bolt and supports for your pergola and the decking that you are attaching.


    Do you need planning permission for a pergola on a deck?

    It’s very rare that you need planning permission to install a pergola in your garden. However, we always advise that you double-check that you aren’t breaking any rules so that you aren’t fined by your council. 

    Check out these questions to see whether or not you’ll need to apply for planning permission:

  • Does the pergola cover more than half the area of your land?
  • Is the pergola on the front of your house or the side of your house?
  • Do you live in a conservation area?
  • Do you live in a listed area? 
  • Is the pergola built on a raised platform such as a balcony or veranda?

  • That last one is the one we’re really concerned with decking. It’s not that you aren’t allowed to build a pergola on a deck, but that there are some height restrictions when it comes to planning permission.  

    So, how tall should a pergola be on a deck?

    There are usually height restrictions when it comes to any garden constructions, and your pergola is no different. 

  • If your pergola is within 2 metres of the boundary, then it can’t be higher than 2.5m
  • If your pergola is further than 2 metres from the boundary, then it can’t be higher than 3m.
  • If your pergola has a pitched roof (A-shaped) then it can’t be higher than 4m.
  • The further away from the boundary, the more leeway you have with the height of your pergola. Assuming you fall within these restrictions your pergola will come under permitted development and you can install it without any permissions.

    Our pergolas are all 2.4 metres high, so under normal circumstances, they fall within permitted development no matter how far they are from the boundary. 

    However, a deck will raise the platform slightly and it’s the overall height that the planning department is concerned with. So, if you are building a pergola on a patio you need to consider where you’ll put it to comply with permitted development, otherwise, you might have to apply for planning permission.

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    What are the best pergolas for your deck?

    This is the exciting and fun part! 

    Imagining and planning how your decking and pergola will look in your garden. There are a couple of different options for pergolas for decks that you can choose between.

    A wall-leaning pergola is a popular option that creates a flow from your indoor space, to your garden. This is a natural candidate for outdoor dining, BBQ and seating areas, as it’s close to your home and easy to carry food and utensils. 

    Decking will help to level out the ground level alongside your doors and creates a solid base to walk on (rather than the ground).

    The alternative is a free-standing pergola on decking, which will help to create shade anywhere in your garden.

    This is brilliant if you have more space in your garden or a particular spot that is a suntrap that you want to utilise.


    How to plan a deck, pergola, and furniture together…

    If you’re building your deck and pergola at the same time then there are a couple of different options that you can get creative with to create your dream outdoor space. 

    You can build your seating area directly into the decking if you want to have a uniform look. This gives a very sleek and minimalist design and can help save you money as you just have one contractor build it all.

    Just throw on a couple of scatter cushions, and blankets and you are good to go. Comfy, minimalist seating and socialising area. You can even build it around a fire pit to help you keep cosy even as the sun goes down.

    Another great plan is to create a dedicated seating area or dining area on your decking underneath your pergola. This might look a little more stylish, and will give you the mandate to get creative with it. 

    You can install an outdoor sofa, rattan furniture or dining table - or a mixture of all three. You can mix and match to create a unique, and personalised outdoor area that suits your style and decor taste.

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    Ready to get your own pergola?

    Looking to take your decking area to the next level?

    Then a pergola could be the perfect solution and can be easily installed over an existing decking area, or one that you are currently building. As long as it is properly installed on your decking a pergola is a stunning addition to your garden and offers both practical and aesthetic functions. 

    We have 3x3m, 3x4m, 4x4m and 6x3m pergolas available in 2 colours to help you enhance your outdoors. Take a look at the pergolas we have on offer here, to find your perfect garden addition.