Freestanding vs Attached Pergolas: Which is Better?


A well-planned pergola or patio cover is a great addition to your home’s outdoor space. Not only does it create usable outdoor space so you can make the most of our beautiful northern Nevada weather, it can be a smart investment. These multi-purpose structures add definition and ambiance, serve as focal points, and give intention to specific areas. But once you’ve decided that this outdoor feature is what your outdoor space is missing, it’s normal to have questions about next steps. People often wonder whether a freestanding or attached pergola or patio cover is better. At Harris Landscape Construction, our team has extensive experience installing both. Here’s how to decide which option is right for your space.

Attached vs Freestanding Pergolas

There are advantages to both attached and freestanding pergolas, which means the decision largely comes down to logistical considerations and how you’ll primarily use it. A pergola or patio cover that attaches to your home creates a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces. A freestanding version, meanwhile, is often set away from the home with intention to create a separate, distinct space with a specific use in mind (taking in a beautiful vista, for example, or creating a sheltered pool-side relaxation area).

Let’s break down the differences between these two structures.

Attached Pergola

golden-eagle-builders-pergola-patio-cover-renoAttached or wall-mounted pergolas are anchored either to the home or another structure, such as a pool house. The structure’s support comes from this wall and a minimum of two posts anchored to the deck, porch, or patio. An attached pergola has structural considerations and requires footings to be dug, which means that these sorts of installations in Reno and Sparks require permits.

Homeowners can pull permits for landscaping projects, but given the structural details mentioned above, it’s generally wise to work with an experienced, licensed contractor to ensure all work performed is done properly and with compliance.

There are a few situations in which an attached pergola or patio cover works particularly well:

  • To define specific areas on an existing or new deck or patio. Creating shade on a new or existing patio or deck help turn open and undefined spaces into areas that serve a purpose, including dining or just relaxing. In that case, protection from the sun is a nice perk.
  • To shade, protect, and define an entry. An attached pergola over the front door is highly functional and adds style and substance. Depending on the size of your entry and attached pergola, it can replicate the people-watching space of a classic front porch. Smaller versions still add curb appeal and create an inviting flow into the home.

Freestanding Pergola

Harris-landscape-construction-reno-best-patio-cover-northern-nevadaAs the name suggests, freestanding pergolas aren’t connected to your home or another structure. Instead, these structures are supported by their own posts, beams, and rafters. That makes them quite flexible by design, so you have a lot of options for the finished project. While there are DIY pergola kits at big box stores, don’t overlook the high winds here in northern Nevada. Plus, even with a freestanding pergola, you’ll need to dig sufficient footings and pull permits. It’s worth the investment to have a freestanding pergola installed properly to create a space that will perform for decades.

Some projects lend themselves beautifully to freestanding pergolas:

  • Creating a separate gathering area. If you have the space to create gathering spaces in multiple parts of your landscaping, a freestanding pergola delivers that definition.
  • Defining an in-ground pool or hot tub. A freestanding pergola turns an existing pool or spa into a real oasis.

What Next?

Whether your project is best served by a freestanding or attache pergola, there are other details to consider. The team here at Harris Landscape Construction is ready to discuss your project and answer all of your questions. Contact us today to get started!


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