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Pergola Perfection: A Journey through History and Versatile Design Options

by Heather Day / July 22, 2023

When it comes to creating enchanting outdoor spaces that blend beauty and functionality, few architectural features rival the allure of a pergola. These elegant structures have graced gardens and landscapes for centuries, evolving in style and material options to suit diverse preferences and purposes. By now, you’ve seen our most recent project, Steel & Cedar, in which we highlight a charming pergola perfect for the Texas backyard landscape. In this blog, we embark on a captivating journey through the history of pergola design, exploring its enduring charm and the myriad of style options and materials available today. At Native Edge, we believe that a well-crafted pergola can transform any outdoor area into a sanctuary of relaxation, while embodying the principles of sustainable and environmentally responsible landscape design.

Heavy cedar timbers are joined with exposed hardware to form the structure of this pergola, topped with corrugated metal roofing that protects this gorgeous outdoor kitchen space from the elements. The back wall of a pergola cleverly houses spacious storage concealed behind sliding barn doors.

The Roots of Pergolas: A Historical Overview

The origins of pergolas can be traced back to ancient civilizations, from ancient Egypt to Rome. Initially serving as shaded walkways or passageways, these structures provided respite from the scorching sun and often supported climbing plants, creating a natural canopy. As the concept spread throughout the Mediterranean, pergolas adorned Roman gardens, draped with vines and foliage.

Varieties of Pergola Styles

Classic Mediterranean Pergola

Inspired by the timeless charm of ancient Greece and Rome, the classic Mediterranean pergola exudes a sense of elegance and simplicity. With sturdy columns and clean lines, it becomes a captivating focal point in any landscape. Adorned with climbing plants like bougainvillea or wisteria, this style infuses vibrant colors and delightful scents into the surroundings.

Zen Pergola

Embracing the principles of Zen gardens, this style reflects simplicity and tranquility. Crafted with natural materials like bamboo and timber, the Zen pergola provides a meditative space, inviting a sense of calm and harmony to the garden.

Contemporary Pergola

Celebrating modern aesthetics, the contemporary pergola features sleek lines and innovative materials like metal and composite options. This style harmoniously complements contemporary architecture and design, adding a touch of sophistication to outdoor spaces.

Rustic Wooden Pergola

Radiating warmth and charm, the rustic wooden pergola celebrates the beauty of natural materials. Crafted from reclaimed wood or rugged timber, it adds authenticity to the landscape, seamlessly blending with the surrounding environment.

Partial Pergolas

Occasionally, only a bit of shade for seating or plantings is needed, or you're simply looking to highlight a particular area or feature in your space. A partial pergola may provide the perfect solution. Plant with vines and let even a small space become a dreamy focal point.

Materials for Pergolas: Exploring Sustainable Options

Cedar Wood

A popular choice, cedar wood combines elegance with sustainability. Sourced from responsibly managed forests, cedar is naturally resistant to decay and insects, making it a durable and eco-friendly option for pergola construction.


Renowned for its rapid growth and renewability, bamboo is an excellent eco-conscious choice for pergolas. Lightweight yet robust, it creates a Japanese Zen-inspired pergola with ease.


Materials like aluminum and steel offer contemporary pergola options. These metals are durable, weather-resistant, and can be recycled, making them a sustainable choice.

Recycled Materials

Embrace sustainability further by using recycled materials such as composite decking or salvaged wood. Integrating recycled elements reduces environmental impact while adding character to the space.

Throughout history, pergolas have stood as timeless symbols of elegance and beauty in outdoor design. From their ancient origins to contemporary interpretations, these open structures continue to captivate our imaginations and enhance the allure of outdoor spaces. At Native Edge, we believe that pergolas not only provide shade and architectural elegance but also exemplify our commitment to sustainable and environmentally responsible landscaping practices. Whether you seek a classic Mediterranean retreat or a Zen-inspired haven, our expert team can bring your pergola dreams to life, merging style and sustainability for a truly transformative outdoor experience. Let us craft a pergola that aligns with your vision, turning your garden into a sanctuary of relaxation and serenity, while embracing the principles of a sustainable future.

Cherrywood Charmer

by Erin Spencer / May 5, 2023

The home owners of the Cherrywood Charmer were seeking an aesthetically pleasing, environmentally sensitive landscape that would complement the existing large custom deck, which is used both as a peaceful refuge and for some entertaining. This project involved a full-property landscape renovation as the landscaping around the home had been largely untouched for twenty years. It had been in a state of decline in recent years, accelerated by the recent Austin freeze.

The design solution in the backyard focused on expanding the idea of the peaceful refuge by installing meandering paths through diverse plantings intended to draw the user into the landscape, highlighting the presence of the large shade tree that is central to the sense of privacy and enclosure of the space, and implementing a large, calming water feature. The stone borders and pathways are comprised of nicotine limestone sawed chop block that beautifully compliment the impressive three-pump water feature.

We also installed a custom key hole garden made from red cedar with built in trellis supports and a nearby slimline rainwater cistern for produce gardening and irrigation.

In the front yard, our focus was an update to the existing landscape to increase curb appeal and provide a sense of connection with the backyard landscape. New bed lines were defined to capture the areas in which lawn would thrive, and native and adapted planting were implemented along the perimeters of the landscape to draw the eye of passersby. A new railing was also added to the front porch to provide better accessibility for the home owners. 

The Cherrywood Charmer is now a beautiful and sustainable landscape that reflects the homeowner's vision and the expertise of Native Edge Landscape.

Helping Monarch Butterflies

by Rowan Marney / August 6, 2022

The Monarch Butterfly was recently added to the endangered species list which means helping them out is more important than ever! In this blog we will discuss plants and other items you can easily add into your landscaping to provide food, water, and shelter for these important little butterflies!Read More »Helping Monarch Butterflies

Corten Steel: Your Next Custom Project

by Rowan Marney / June 4, 2022

Corten Steel can give your space a rustic yet modern feel while lasting for years. 

Living in Austin, you're bound to see Corten Steel incorporated into landscaping. Not only does it look nice, it lasts longer than any other material you could use for raised planters. Let's take a look at all the benefits, as well as view some examples where Corten steel has helped elevate a space.

Read More »Corten Steel: Your Next Custom Project

South Austin Suburban Sanctuary

by Erin Spencer / January 6, 2022

These homeowners came to us with the desire to turn their basic grass lawn into a fun hangout space. In the new design, they wanted a large patio, a gathering place for a fire pit, native plantings, outdoor lighting, and a grassy area to accommodate yard games and the family dog all while addressing some drainage concerns! A designated space was left to accommodate the future hot tub; Designer Erin included pre-built steps in her plans when designing the layout of the patio so that they would have easy access in the future.

A cut out was added to the deck to leave an area for a water feature to be installed, and to give the deck additional interest and sharp angles to mirror zig-zag bridges found in traditional Asian style landscapes. The Gabian wall was added to help define the space while also giving a variation of texture from patio to lawn. The water feature itself was inspired by the Japanese bamboo “deer-scarer”; Erin’s interpretation uses the corten metal instead of the traditional bamboo. The issues and concerns with drainage were addressed with a French Drain and dry creek bed with also gave interest and a sense of movement to the landscape. Our final task was to add a small planting area to the front of the home to dress up the entry and bring a cohesive feel to the entire home.

Read More »South Austin Suburban Sanctuary

Hilltop Haven

by Dillon Tuttle / December 11, 2021

These homeowners have a beautiful hill country property and were looking to match the aesthetic of the home with an updated landscape design. The primary goals for this project included completing the landscape left unfinished around the existing pool, replacing as much lawn as possible with native plants to attract pollinators and birds, and reimagining the front yard hillside. Custom entry stairs and a bridge were added with steel raised planters to give dimension to the sloping walkway to include a formal path to the front door for guest parking at the street. The bridge gives a clear path over a dry creek drainage system made with river rocks, giving excess water a clear path to follow that avoids important areas of the home and landscaping. We added a custom address marker as well as a few bubbling boulder water features in the front and back yard to provide interest and water source for wildlife.

Read More »Hilltop Haven

Fall in Austin: Time To Plant & Winterize

by Rowan Marney / November 9, 2021

We sat down with the experts over at Garden Seventeen to create the ultimate planting and care guide for your landscaping this fall and winter! The specific products we discuss will link to their online store where you can place online orders for curbside pickup. For any and all help with landscaping upkeep, seasonal planting, and other general maintenance, contact us today! We would love to help your landscaping look great year round.Read More »Fall in Austin: Time To Plant & Winterize

Mid-Century Ranch Makeover

by Dillon Tuttle / October 8, 2021

This mid-century ranch makeover was designed to create an exciting outdoor living space to compliment the homeowners’ in-ground pool and outdoor movie theatre. We wanted the unique style of the home to extend into their outdoor space. Architectural plants paired with the movement of softer flowers and grasses blend into a visually striking and relaxing space for this young family to entertain and enjoy! Texture was a big influence in this landscape with a mix of hardscape and foliage to fuse the space into a modern rustic charm. Windmill palms, cacti, and yuccas were paired with flowering perennials and ornamental grasses to provide seasonal bursts of color and amplify the southwestern ambiance.

Cafe lights and hitching-post towel racks were selected for a cozy and eccentric Austin flare. Artificial Turf was installed to replace the pre-existing pea gravel to soften the landscape and create a more pet-friendly backyard for their dog to play in. An outdoor kitchen with a raised countertop for extra seating was built within access of two doors for hosting and cleaning convenience. With this backyard makeover, the hosting possibilities are endless!

[before_photos_toggle]Read More »Mid-Century Ranch Makeover

Mount Bonnell Native Oasis

by Dillon Tuttle / June 24, 2021

We have had the pleasure of working on multiple projects for this property over the past few years! It has been great to watch the property change and turn into the native oasis it is today! The most important aspect of this property that the owner wanted to maintain was that all the plantings were native to Central Texas. The back of the property was filled with native plantings around the pool, and the property owner wanted a cohesive look with her beds in the front yard that had become overgrown. We removed the old plants and added in some of the same native plantings that were found in her back yard. Yaupon Holly was added along the property line to provide extra privacy from the neighbors and flowering natives were clustered to make the property more pollinator friendly!

Another request from the owner was that we make the property more inviting during the evenings. We added in some outdoor lighting to highlight the trees, as well as lighting that illuminated the pathway up to the house and around the back of the property. This added a dreamy element to the space, making the property more inviting to guests.


Georgetown Wildflower Wonderland

by Erin Spencer / June 1, 2021

Located in downtown Georgetown, this family transformed their front yard into a wildflower wonderland! They envisioned a welcoming entrance with seating and native landscaping to host both guests and pollinators on their property. They wanted to ditch their grass yard in favor of colorful native plants that would create a charming scene for friends and neighbors alike. They dreamed of a gathering space in their front yard that looked out over their native plantings, so we added a seating area with cafe lights and raised steel planters so that the plantings could be enjoyed while seated. Black star gravel was added for furniture and plant contrast, making them pop against the home and landscaping. This family now has a relaxing area to gather, host friends, and watch the pollinators visit their beautiful wildflowers!=