types of outdoor structures

Choosing the Right Outdoor Structure for Your Backyard

Colby Coward Lifestyle and Entertaining

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Spending time outside boosts your vitamin D, improves your mental health, and contributes to relaxation and concentration. The best part is that you and your family don’t have to wander far to get these benefits. You can find them in your own backyard.

The key is to make your backyard a cozy and welcoming space so that you want to spend more time out there together. Then, it’s not a chore to soak up all of the perks you get from the great outdoors. Keep reading to find out the types of outdoor structures that can benefit your family and your home value.

Types of Outdoor Structures Explained

Before diving into the details, you should know the three main structures you can choose from: a covered patio, a pergola, or an arbor.

Covered patios are an extension of your home, usually connected to or right up against the home itself. They include a solid roof, protecting you from nature’s elements. Covered patios can have open walls, bug screens, or solid walls.

A pergola is a large, open structure shaped like a rectangle or square. Its flat roof can either be open, closed, or a mix of the two with a lattice design. Pergolas offer partial shade, airflow, and natural light.

An arbor is a smaller version of a pergola, often used as an entryway leading you somewhere else. They can have a rounded or flat open roof, perfect for growing lightweight plants. 

To decide which one is right for your home, ask yourself the questions outlined below. 

What Do You Hope to Gain?

When planning an outdoor living space, your imagination is the limit. To give your creativity some guidelines, imagine what you’d like to do beneath the structure. If you want to entertain friends and family for game day, you may want a covered patio. This allows you to protect your TV and gives you plenty of space to gather around the event.

patio cover - latticed patio cover

If you’re aiming for casual lounging and parties, you could go with either a patio or a pergola. A patio would provide cover for an outdoor kitchen and guests in the case of inclement weather, while a pergola would give an enjoyable alfresco feel. For a more intimate experience, you could utilize an arbor in one of two ways. First, you could nest a bench for two beneath its cover. Alternatively, you could use the arbor as an entryway towards a firepit for relaxed evening hangs.

Should you be looking to add green space, consider incorporating vining plants on a pergola or arbor. Pergolas can hold heavier vines like grapes and cucurbits, while arbors can hold lighter plants like vining jasmine or climbing roses. If you go this route, be sure to choose native plants for your area, as invasive species spread like wildfire.

No matter which structure you choose, it will add value to your home as well as your family’s lives. You can also make each structure private by adding slatted walls or growing sprawling plants on it. That way, you can create a sectioned-off area of your yard private from neighbors and other yard installments.

Are You Concerned About Lighting in Your Home?

A backyard structure could potentially infringe upon your home’s natural light and heat. Passive solar heating occurs through windows that are within 30 degrees of true south without any shade. This decreases your energy use in the winter, but it also creates limits on what you’re able to install in your backyard.

Luckily, you can overcome this issue for each of the aforementioned structures. Patio roofs can include a skylight, which also brightens up your outdoor area. For a pergola or arbor, you can use a material called poly golf or top gold to cover the roof. It’s a plastic covering that allows light to shine through, while also providing a little extra rain protection underneath it.

While outdoor structures naturally block some light from entering your home, this could be an unintended perk during hot summers. Outdoor structures offer a buffer of shade wherever they are placed, meaning the closest rooms in the house will feel cooler during the day.

What Do You Want the Focal Point of Your Yard to Be?

The final question to ask yourself when choosing an outdoor structure is where you want the aesthetic focal point to be. Think of it like choosing the main room of your home, except it’s outside rather than inside. If you want the structure itself to command attention, go for something bigger and multipurpose. A patio with space to entertain, cook, and relax becomes a second living room for your family.

types of outdoor structures: covered patio

If you’re hoping to use the structure as a way to enjoy another facet of your yard, consider a functional and simple structure. For example, if your family spends a lot of time in the pool, you may want a nearby pergola to dry off and cool down in the shade. In the case that you have a large and impressive garden, you should let that be the focal point. From there, you can install a simple arbor to relax and read in the shade without detracting from your plants.

Request an Estimate Today

Now that you’re thinking of the main types of outdoor structures and their uses, you can create a concept that works for your family. Keep in mind the purpose of the structure, whether natural light in your home is a factor, and where you want the focal point of your backyard to be. Once your gears get turning, reach out to request an estimate on your concept.

Outdoor Living

Whether it’s an outdoor kitchen, elegant custom natural stonework, or any other Outdoor Living project, you and your family can be assured that whatever you can dream, Texas Best Fence & Patio can build it.