My Backyard Hangout

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Many people struggle to make their backyards a comfortable space that can be used year-round. Not having enough shade or protection from rain or bugs can limit how often you use your backyard. If you have nearby neighbors, not having enough privacy can also affect the comfort of your space. Thankfully, these pergola cover ideas can help you remedy any of these issues you might be facing.


Even though they’re considered shade structures, pergolas offer limited relief on their own. This might not be so bad if you only use your pergola during certain times of the year, like fall or spring. But you’re still likely to encounter another issue; rain. Aside from further limiting when you can use your pergola, it also limits what you can place beneath it. For example, certain types of furniture or an outdoor fridge could not be left exposed. Adding a cover can allow you to get the full use out of your pergola.     

Pergola Cover Ideas for Sun

If you live in an area that doesn’t receive a lot of rain or are more concerned about the sun, you might consider buying a shade sail. These are often made of high-density polyethylene, a material known for its UV-blocking properties. Another pergola cover idea is a retractable canopy. They’re made from a similar fabric as the shade sails but can be adjusted to accommodate different conditions. Color also plays a role. To keep your pergola as cool as possible, buy a beige or otherwise light-colored fabric rather than dark.  

Pergola Cover Ideas for Rain

Pergola cover ideas for rain include transparent polycarbonate sheets like this one
Photo Courtesy of Yusuke Ide

The canopies and shade sails will provide some protection against rain as well. Depending on how you use your pergola and where you live, those will be enough. But if you receive frequent, heavy rain, you might want to consider a more permanent solution. For example, some people install transparent polycarbonate panels over the top. This offers the most protection from rain while still providing a less enclosed look. Another option is to apply tin. When rain hits tin, it produces an amplified sound, which some people prefer. 


If your biggest concern is privacy, you’ll want something that covers more than the top. One option is to buy shade cloths. Many are made from the same material as shade sails and can also be used for UV protection. The biggest difference is how they’re installed. Shade sails are pulled tight to form a sort of canopy under or over the structure. They’re not meant to cover the sides. But many people apply shade cloths to the top or the sides of the structure, depending on how much privacy you need. If this seems too enclosed, another option is to install outdoor curtains. This option gives you more flexibility because you can drape them back if you want to. Similarly, you could add some bamboo shades.            


Spending warm evenings in your backyard is a favorite pastime for many. But it’s also the prime time for pests like mosquitoes. One pergola cover idea to shield against bugs is to buy a netting screen intended for an outdoor structure. You could also buy some mesh fabric for a DIY option if your pergola isn’t a standard size. A third option is to use sheer curtains. Many have an opening along the bottom hem which you can use for adding weights to keep the curtains in place.


Adding a pergola cover can make your backyard more comfortable and usable. These pergola cover ideas address three of the most common backyard challenges: weather, bugs, and privacy. If you want a cover that provides protection from sun, shade sails, cloths, or retractable canopies are all great options. These will also help defend against rain. But if you live in an area that receives heavy storms, your best option might be installing a more permanent roof. For example, many people use polycarbonate or tin. Offering protection from UV, shade cloths are also ideal for privacy when applied to the sides. Other options for privacy include non-sheer outdoor curtains or bamboo shades. The best cover for bugs is either a netting screen or sheer curtains with added weights to keep them in place.

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Categories: Pergolas


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