Our Brand New Pergola

Mike has been working crazy hours lately at his new job and in his few hours of down-time he managed to build this pergola in our front yard. All for under $80- and this is despite buying the wood from an overpriced local place since we don't have a car to use to transport wood from cheaper places.

Mike wanted to do a pergola for the entire yard, front and back, but it wasn't something that particularly appealed to me (since I didn't really grow up with them the way he did), until I saw what the one in the front looks like and it makes me really happy.

Eventually (when Mike has a few minutes breathing room) he'll be building another one in the backyard, probably even bigger than this one.

To make the side beams, he screwed together the pieces of wood to look like this. 

Yes, it is connected right now to our fence with cable ties. Eventually he'll change it to something more permanent, but we love our cable ties.

For the roof pieces he cut notches in the upper beam, and then notches in all the wooden beams sitting on them, so that they fit together like puzzle pieces.

Here's another view of the pergola, from the outside.

Yes, it still needs to be painted with something to make it more weather proof, but in the meantime, I'm really liking it.

Our zucchini and tomato and amaranth and lemon grass plants are along the walls on the inside of the pergola, and we're thinking of possibly training a vine, like maybe grapes or passion fruit to grow across it like a canopy, but we have to weigh all the different options and possibilities first.

Can't wait for our next pergola for the back.

Do you have a pergola in your yard? What are your thoughts on pergolas in general? If you built it yourself or paid someone to build it for you, how much did it cost you?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. First, I want to tell you that I admire you so much. I am a grandmother, and mother to two wonderful grown sons who also, like your husband, are creative and talented, and who also are challenged by a dwindling housing market and high costs. So I'm always on the lookout for ideas to share with them!
    I don't want to compromise your privacy, but I'm having trouble visualizing this structure, and what it does for the yard that you started with. I can't tell what the yard looked like to begin with? It looks like it was little more than a balcony?
    Thank you for your inspiration and sharing!

  2. How beautiful! You will enjoy that so much.

  3. Actually, I never heard of one before.

  4. My aunt had an amazing garden with extensive overhead supports (not quite a pergola), but she & my uncle grew gobs of green beans and melons, enough to freeze, can, eat fresh, and share with family and friends. She had lots of natural compost and munched the ground extensively, and watered by soaker hoses on a timer. It was beautifully green and shady underneath, and the beans and melons were easy to pick, as they would hang down like lovely little treasures! I bet many different veggies would grow this way, like zucchini, cucumbers, etc. My mom used to always tell me not to grow things that were cheap to buy at the stores. For us, potatoes and carrots are cheap, but home grown tomatoes, green beans, and zucchini are cheaper to grow and so much better tasting! One good summer I had to bring in grocery bags of zucchini and tubs of cherry tomatoes to work, as I just couldn't keep up, even sharing with everyone I knew. The more you pick, the more the plants pump out, trying to make seeds! Sort of like cutting off flower heads. Green beans heavily produce until it frosts here! Love the pergola and house updates, and your blog in general...your kids have grown up so fast, it seems.

  5. It looks lovely. Just a reminder that if you have plants growing on it, you'll have a major problem painting and repainting the wood to keep it in good shape. The vines are best on a metal one. So, you can do one in metal and the other in wood.

  6. I truly think he did a great job, but I have to ask what the point of a pergola is? I have seen them a few times before but never really understood them :). Is it just for looks or is there a practical function?

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