You’ve already got the gazebo, right? So why not take your pergola a step further? Why not incorporate the structure into the rest of your yardscape? Dressing your gazebo in the right landscaping can put the finishing touch on your backyard retreat.
Of course, you should consider a couple important issues before you call your local landscaper or hop in the car and head for the nursery.
How big is your gazebo?
Choose your plants based on the size of your pergola. You don’t want to overwhelm a small gazebo with greenery that’s too lush or too big.
How big is your yard and how is it landscaped?
Best case, your gazebo will blend with and enhance the rest of your yard. Then again, if your backyard tends toward bare and treeless, you might want to transform your gazebo into a lush mini oasis.
How do you want to use your gazebo?
Do you want to create a private retreat where you can relax out of sight of possibly prying eyes? Maybe you prefer to have a view, maybe overlooking the pool, or want to set up an extended living area adjacent to your patio?
Taking these considerations into account is step one in coming up with the perfect plan for your pergola.
Next up: the gazebo entrance. Regardless of the size of the structure, you’ll no doubt want to invite visitors in by highlighting entrance. Lead them to the door via a curvy crushed gravel or flagstone path between the gazebo and the house, patio, or pool deck. Set off the path with a border of solar lamps or graceful greenery.
Flank the gazebo door with compact, low-maintenance, mid-sized evergreens. Mature plants are best, since their size will stay more or less constant. Measure a distance out from the structure before you dig, because you don’t want to sink plants so close they’ll branch into the gazebo itself. Basically, you want them just close enough to give the entrance a softer, more natural line. Bright flowers spilling from stone planters angled between the evergreens and the entrance will add a colorful pop. Fill the planters with annuals if you’d like to be able to change up the view each year, perennials if you don’t have the time or inclination for annual replants.
Once you’ve dressed the entrance, create a bright skirt of flowers around your gazebo. “Many people like to add some color to their Gazebo and Lattice work structures with flowering plants,” says Ray Resnick, owner of LandCrafters of Clearwater. “They often use plants such as Bougainvillea which produce magnificent flowers, but keep in mind they have sharp thorns that may be incompatible with small children and pets.” Keeping in mind the types of flowers, you’ll want to plant those safe, colorful blooms in raised beds 12-24” high to show them to the best advantage.
If you want to indulge your penchant for privacy and beautify your gazebo at the same time, train climbing roses or flowering vines up the poles. (You’ll probably want to trim these plants back every once in a while, so your floral privacy curtain doesn’t swallow the entire structure.) A wall of dense shrubs or evergreens planted between the poles on the side of the gazebo exposed to the neighbors also provides an excellent, attractive privacy screen.
If you’re the type to go all out landscape-wise, you can set your gazebo at the heart of a backyard aquascape. Perch the pergola on the edge of a small pond and surround it with lush tropical plants: ferns, elephant ears, and dwarf palms, for example. Don’t forget to waterscape the pond itself. You can even add koi!