10 pergola roof ideas to add shade, style, and interest to your garden set-up

Stylish and functional ways to update your garden structure

Exterior colonial style house French windows patio garden steps table chairs
(Image credit: Future PLC)

A pergola is easily one of the most favoured additions to spruce up an outdoor space, acting as both a focal point and a necessary place of shade. While the structure itself is often people's main concern, paying extra attention to incorporate stylish pergola roof ideas can instantly make a dated timber frame feel bang on trend.

Similar to how there is a multitude of pergola ideas you can try out to add variety to the usual take on garden shade ideas by instead creating zones for al-fresco dining and outdoor entertaining, the creativity that spans choosing and styling a pergola roof is just as plentiful.

So, if you're considering taking on the project of building a pergola, taking note of the following pergola roof ideas can make all the difference in elevating the look of your garden and bringing it up to scratch for those summer garden get-togethers.

Pergola and wooden seating area and fire pit with surrounding potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'Transforming your pergola roof into a stylish and functional space for entertaining is an exciting opportunity to elevate your outdoor living experience. There are a number of ways to deck out your pergola roof ready for summer,' says Murray Michael, garden renovations and technical expert at Clear Amber.

Here are 8 of the best pergola roof ideas to update your timber structure ahead of the summer.

1. Create a light-strung arbour roof

Black pergola with strings of light bulbs, sofa with cushions, rug and table with plants in pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

A classic arbour-style pergola roof makes updating super easy and this style lends itself perfectly to being adorned in various lighting displays. One of the easiest ways to create impact is by extending your garden lighting ideas and wrapping festoon lights around the open roof.

'Lighting is the perfect starting point for customising your pergola roof this summer. Not only does it set the mood and ambience of your outdoor space, but it also extends the usability well into the evening hours,' explains Leah Tattersall, spokesperson at The Range.

This can include anything from fleshing out cosy outdoor string light ideas to incorporating garden solar lighting solutions for an eco-friendly touch. Leah explains that the 'right lighting choice can accentuate features and set the mood for outdoor gatherings', which is always a plus.

When deciding on lighting, Andrew White, outdoor expert at Harbour Lifestyle recommends always going for LED lighting. 'Not only is pergola LED lighting cost-effective – consuming less power than traditional bulbs – it also has a longer lifespan, making it a smart choice for anyone.'

2. Grow a living roof with climbers

Exterior colonial style house French windows patio garden steps table chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Using the surrounding natural greenery – such as putting your beds of fast-growing climbing plants to work – is a beautiful way to make your pergola roof feel cohesive with the rest of your garden.

'Using flower beds beside your pergola, or adding large planters, will allow gorgeous climbing plants like honeysuckle or wisteria to grow upwards and entwine around the pergola posts, not only looking beautiful but scenting your outdoor space too,' explains Mairi Devlin, head of outdoor at B&Q.

So, if you've been wanting to grow wisteria in pots, now might be the best time to get stuck into the gardening task to add colour and beauty to your outdoors.

3. Add a classic cross beam roof

Patio with pergola and hanging planters with dining table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

A basic grid roof is never a bad option for a pergola. Generally consisting of thick base beams crossed with thinner and lighter top beams, this look projects classic beauty.

If you like the look of this sun-dappled backyard deck, space your beams widely to allow more sunlight to filter in. Painting your pergola white will also give the entire space a lighter, more airy feel.

Alternatively, planting hanging baskets and adding them to a pergola roof also gives a similar effect to the last tip and adds a unique touch to your garden structure.

Better yet, if you plant these with pollinators, you can also help encourage a wildlife garden idea – killing two birds with one stone if curating a lively and colourful outdoor space is your biggest priority this summer.

4. Waterproof with corrugated plastic

Outdoor patio sating area with pergola roof and greenergy hanging

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Despite summer being on the horizon, it's no secret that British weather remains as unpredictable as ever. So, in the same way that you've likely opted for waterproof materials for patio cover ideas, it's also just as advisable when considering the design of a pergola roof.

'Adding a waterproof pergola roof or cover is a game-changer, providing shelter from the elements and ensuring your outdoor gatherings can proceed rain or shine because, in the UK, you never know,' notes Murray.

'Opting for materials like solid polycarbonate or corrugated plastic sheets offers durability and versatility, while tinted options provide additional shade during sunny days.'

5. Add versatility with a shutter roof

In the same vein as the last point in accounting for weather, it's important to also consider how you control how much sun you receive. While a lot of sun is never a bad thing per se, nothing beats cool shade on a particularly hot day.

'Adding shutters to your pergola provides versatility by allowing you to control sunlight and airflow depending on your personal preferences,' explains Leah.

Installing shutters to your pergola roof also doubles as a nifty garden screening idea that's a touch unique from other favoured solutions.

6. Extend a pergola roof with an awning

Retractable awning installed on pergola garden structure covering outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

More on the topic of increasing shade in a garden, installing awnings on your pergola roof also provides a reliable shading solution to your outdoor space that goes beyond the usual parasol.

'Pergola awnings are a brilliant way to utilise your outdoor space, especially in the summer months. They provide a more permanent shading solution, bringing a touch of style and comfort to your outdoor space,' assures Lisa Cooper, head of product at Thomas Sanderson.

This is a great way to spruce up your pergola roof while having the flexibility to choose a design that is true to your garden design tastes, as there are so many on the market to choose from.

7. Experiment with a breezy fabric roof

White curtain draped over timber structure with striped garden loungers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Thought we were done with suggesting pergola roof ideas that prioritise shade and comfort? Think again. Last, on the topic of utilising your pergola for cool shelter, why not opt for outdoor curtains?

'These can be hung from wires or narrow rods attached between the posts, to be pulled out and tucked away when needed,' explains James Ewens from Alexander Francis.

'White is the perfect colour for adding some brightness, but of course, you can choose from any other hue to match other elements of your pergola such as seat cushions or an outdoor rug.'

8. Create shade with a bamboo reed roof

Pergola ideas with outdoor living area

(Image credit: John Lewis)

If you need a little extra shade, rolling bamboo reed fencing on top of your pergola structure is a great idea. Not only is it super affordable but it'll also create a laidback, beachy vibe.

Add a few boho-inspired rattan garden furniture and an oversized outdoor rug like this beauty from Ruggable to add to the look.

9. Go for a pitched roof

outdoor kitchen under a pergola, wooden beams, wooden cabinetry, pizza oven, BBQ, storage, table and chairs

(Image credit: Industville)

Go for grandeur with a pitched roof to create a dramatic space a covered outdoor kitchen or an outdoor living area.

You could completely cover the structure with beams to add a lovely indoor/outdoor space so you can relax outdoors even if the rain starts, or just keep the structure open and lofty.

10. Incorporate a rattan roof for a coastal feel

Light blue grey painted pergola with hanging plants and patterned outdoor sofa cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona Walker-Arnott)

If coastal garden ideas are something you've pinned to your vision board, it's actually possible to bring this beachy vibe to your outdoor space by opting for natural materials reminiscent of these landscapes.

'If you're looking to achieve a fun beachy aesthetic within your garden then a rattan pergola roof is the perfect choice,' advises Tom Clifford, garden design expert at Gardenstone.

'Rattan is a material that is often seen in warm and beachy settings due to its natural and rustic design. In addition, its deep brown and orange tones will provide an element of warmth to your garden. Plus it offers adequate shade while still allowing small glimpses of light to shine through and keep you warm throughout the summer months.'

Considering we're huge fans of rattan garden furniture for making a patio look expensive, it only makes sense that it would have a place in pergola roof ideas too.


What is the best roof for a pergola?

There isn't really a singular best roof for a pergola as it's all down to personal preference, but it's important that you always consider durability first and foremost in any pergola roof idea.

'It's essential to choose durable and weather-resistant materials such as aluminium or steel. These will withstand the test of time and weather conditions including rain, wind and UV exposure, so you can utilise your pergola season after season,' advises Leah Tattersall at The Range.

Should I put a roof on my pergola?

Whether or not you put a roof on your pergola is completely up to your discretion. If you live in the UK, installing a roof onto your pergola could be a smart move as it'll allow you to enjoy your outdoor space outside of just the spring and summer months.

However, if you just want to decorate and spruce up the open roof design of your pergola then the easiest way to do this is by adding lighting and greenery.

Of course, there are still many other pergola roof ideas you can take into consideration before landing on one that best suits you, but hopefully this tiny deep-dive will help give you a feel for what it is you want to achieve in the design of your pergola ahead of the summertime.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.

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