While winter in Kansas City can be harsh, the rest of the year offers fantastic weather for enjoying the great outdoors. If you enjoy spending time in your yard with friends and family, consider adding an outdoor structure to maximize your yard’s potential. Here are the advantages of adding a gazebo or pergola to your yard.

Extended Outdoor Season

Plenty of pergolas are mere shade structures. But both pergolas and gazebos can give you an extra room. You can also add a patio heater in winter, or misters in summer. And either of these outdoor structures can be fitted with curtains that help keep heat in and cold out.

Privacy and Screening

This gazebo shades a hot tub. Credit: Candace Nast, CC 2.0.

Although many pergolas and gazebos use open construction, by adding drapes, screens, or lattices, you can achieve a high level of privacy. These elegant outdoor structures can be used to create intimate nooks for enjoying morning cups of coffee or for dining alfresco. Many people construct the structure to enclose a hot tub or as a complement to a backyard pool. No matter how close your backyard is to your neighbor’s, an outdoor structure is an ideal way to create a space that feels completely tucked away.

Even if you don’t need privacy, a pergola or gazebo can help to screen undesirable views. Latticework and plants around your pergola can screen a neighbor’s unkempt yard, imposing architecture, or busy roads. For less than you might spend on a privacy fence, you can create a private pocket that contributes to your backyard oasis.

Property Value Boost

In addition to carving out a defined space, outdoor structures can add value to your property. Studies show landscaping can raise the value of a property by up to 11%. Keep in mind: Not all landscaping adds value to a property. It needs to be of high quality and professional to make a property more desirable to buyers. Hardscaping, in the form of decking, pavers, or cut stone patios and walkways, is another valuable addition you can make to your yard. And when you’re planning hardscapes, outdoor kitchens, porches, or patios, adding a pergola or gazebo simply makes good sense.

Shade and Shelter

Your outdoor area is only as user-friendly as you make it, and a pergola or gazebo adds a lot of use-value to your space. These structures offer scaffolding for outdoor lighting and make it easier for you to enjoy your yard year-round. The shade cast by a pergola or the plants climbing on the structure makes it possible to stay outdoors on the sunniest days. Adding lighting to one of these structures allows you to extend the amount of time you can spend in the yard long past sundown. If you have an outdoor kitchen or a grilling set up, this added measure of shelter enables you to get the most out of it.

Vertical Gardening Space

Grapes growing atop a pergola
Grapes, like these draped over a pergola, make both shade and fruit. Credit: Kathryn Greenhill, CC by SA 2.0.

One of the most useful aspects of a pergola or gazebo is the opportunity they create for vertical gardening. Traditionally, outdoor structures are planted with vining perennials that provide shade and privacy. This is an ideal place to plant fragrant flowering vines or climbers with leaves that provide seasonal interest. They also give you a perfect place for fruiting vines, such as kiwis or grapes.

Marlin Bates
Marlin Bates

“If there’s one crop gardeners have a hard time finding room for in the landscape, it’s grapes,” says Marlin Bates, director of the Douglas County, Kansas, Extension service with Kansas State University. Bates, a horticulture specialist, recommends preparing using high-tensile wire to direct shoots into a curtain formation. Bates adds, “Whether you grow seedless table grapes or wine grapes … they can be an attractive, productive addition to the landscape.” The extension department in neighboring Missouri also offers advice for home-growing grapevines.

No matter your goal for constructing a pergola or gazebo, you’ll find the advantages are vast. Whether you add a small patio pergola onto your home or an extensive, freestanding gazebo in the middle of your yard, you’ll reap the benefits. Extending your living space into the yard with an outdoor structure is a way to add to your property value and your quality of life.