Pergolas are a widely used and even more widely varied functional part of a zen garden or backyard outdoor garden. Once the basic concepts of Pergola design are understood, each Pergola can be built to adapt to the needs of the building site and of the garden owner.
Building the pergola frame
Vertical support posts are sunk into the ground in a square. A good average height for this is a 10 feet 4×4 buried 2 feet in the ground. These posts can also be cemented in for extra support (optional).
Be sure, either way that your 4×4 posts are level and square to each other. To do this, measure diagonally from corner to corner both ways. If the measurements are even, the supports are square to each other. Once this is achieved, across the front and the back of the pergola, attach two 2x6s – 10 feet long, flush with the top of the posts. Add another 2×6 that is cut to fit in between the two, attached flush at the sides.
Cutting the support beams for the pergola
The next part is slightly tricky and the cuts should be made prior to installation since it is much easier to work on the ground than in the air. Eleven – 10 foot 2x6s, should be laid out, each one measured down from the outside top edge 2 inches and marked. From the bottom outside edge, mark inward 6 inches. Now make a line between the two marks and cut this off. Do this on both ends of all eleven boards so that all boards have a straight edge down 2 inches and a diagonal cut to meet the 6 inch mark. I desired, this angle can be a curved line to create a little more interest.
Finishing the pergola
Use a ladder or scaffold to get above the pergola so you can make marks on the boards that you’re going to install on top. Center each board, starting from an outside edge and make marks where it touches your front and back supporting 2×6. Now make a mark on each side where the support 2×6 touches the 2x6s that have the diagonal end cuts. Use these marks and a 2 inch depth to cut slots so the top beams slide down onto the support 2x6s. Each one should be toe-screwed into the support 2×6. When you have attached all 10 of your angle cut 2x6s on top of the pergola, you can add sides (optional, of course), build a bench into the upright supports, buy a bench that you like and place it in there or even possibly hang a swing inside the pergola from one of the supports. All are good ideas, but remember this is your zen garden so do what you enjoy.
This is just one of many jobs around your house that make it possible for you to be your own home improvement contractor.
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