Spending time outside during Chicago summers is ideal. It’s even better when you can spend more time in nature, without rain or darkness stopping you.

Enter the landscape structure. Pergolas and pavilions are two such structures that can enhance your outdoor living time.

These architectural elements can add height, aesthetics, and a unique functionality to your landscape. You can relax under them, watch a game with friends on your outdoor electronics, or enjoy dinner with family.

Backyard pergola and pavilion ideas are, in fact, endless. But the two structures provide two very different feels in your backyard. Let’s talk about their differences and all the ways they can benefit you and enhance your space.Pergola over an outdoor patio and grill

Backyard Pergola and Pavilion Ideas

Not sure which landscape structure is best for you? Let’s review their main differences.

A pergola typically has an open roof with layered beams overhead, while pavilions are small rooms with roofs and no walls.

While both can provide shade, a pavilion has the added benefit of protecting you from rain. Think of a pergola for adding charm and architectural detail and a pavilion for more of a multi-purpose and larger space.

Since each structure alone can come with so many custom options, we thought we would share some pergola and pavilion design ideas to inspire your creativity.

Pergola Design Ideas

A pergola’s exposed beams create an architectural element that is unmatched in the landscape. They also come in multiple materials to match your home design.

Watch Our Case Study Videos for Landscape Design Inspiration

Here are 4 pergola design ideas to whet your appetite for outdoor dinner parties and comfort.

Large pergola over paver patio

1. Add Extra Shade & Color

Many people add flowering vines that grow up and over pergolas during the growing season. These add color, additional shade, a wonderful floral scent, and color to their pergola design.

This is a great addition in a particularly sunny backyard where you want the extra shade and the vines will enjoy that sunlight and grow vigorously for you.

2. Break Up Sections of Your Yard

Pergolas are great for breaking up areas of your yard, providing you and your guests various mingling spots.

Connect them with winding walkways to ensure they cohesively mesh together. You can even use a pergola over a section of walkway to add special architecture and plant materials to a certain space -- maybe an area with a bench.

3. Add Light

Extend your enjoyment of your pergola with professional landscape lighting.

Cafe lighting or down lighting can give you some light into the sunset hours so you can continue chatting with friends or playing board games.

4. Add Privacy

Both pergola and pavilion designs start with open walls, but once one of these structures is in your space, you can increase landscape privacy by adding wonderful mixtures of plants and trees to create a great view in addition to seclusion. Evergreens are great for this because they remain green and lush all year long.

Another option is draping curtains that match your patio set or add another element of color to the space. They can provide immediate retreat when you’re not feeling like being social or in between seasons when some of your deciduous trees haven’t filled in as much.Pergola design for privacy

Pavilion Design Ideas

Maximize your outdoor living in the Greater Chicago area with a pavilion. The roof gives you the confidence to sit in comfort despite the surprises Mother Nature might bring.

Here are 5 pavilion design ideas to give you some ideas of what this landscape structure can do for you.Pavilion design for paver patio and seating

5. Finish the Ceiling

Pavilions start with open beams. But they can be customized with finished ceilings that bring another design element to the picture.

A finished ceiling also can be fitted with recessed lighting to keep the space usable into the evening hours or a ceiling fan to stay cool on warm days.Pavilion ceiling lights and fan

6. Match Your Home Design

Since a pavilion design element in your backyard is more of a home extension or addition even though it’s not connected to your house, it’s a great opportunity for you to match your home colors and design elements to align these architectural components.

Everything from stone to accent colors to columns can be taken into consideration.

7. Include an Outdoor Kitchen

There’s nothing better than the taste of outdoor barbecue, but the experience can happen rain or shine when your outdoor kitchen is under a pavilion.

Include your patio area in this space so the hot, grilled food can make it from your Webber to your table in seconds. Add granite countertops, a sink with running water, and a mini refrigerator, and there’s no need to go back inside the house.

8. Heat it Up

Fire pits and fireplaces are all the rage in Greater Chicago home landscapes. Enjoy that fire a little longer under the safety of a pavilion.

The extra warmth and light of this pavilion design idea extends your enjoyment time and enhances the cozy atmosphere by putting it under one roof.

9. Add Entertainment

Outdoor televisions are becoming big components of pavilion design today.

You and your friends can enjoy the football game and the sunshine all at the same time or you can have a movie night out under the stars.Pavilion with television

Ready to Add Some Structure to Your Space?

Whether you’re looking for a pergola to sit under and enjoy the scent of spring flowers or a pavilion to relax in while watching the kids splash in the pool, a landscape structure can change your backyard forever.

Since pergola and pavilion design ideas are endless, you might read through these trends and still wonder which one would best fit your lifestyle, space, and budget.

Let KD Landscape help. We have a lot of experience installing these structures in many different Greater Chicago custom landscapes and can review your priorities and present you with an array of ideas that can bring your vision to life.

Ready to see how KD Landscape can transform your suburban Chicago backyard into a space you can use from morning to night? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare a plan that guarantees you years of outdoor enjoyment.

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