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Imagine this: it’s a blistering, hot summer. You finished all of your planned DIY projects. You love your home, but it’s missing something and you can’t quite put your finger on it. You already combed through your storage shed and nothing sparked your imagination. Did we mention the heat?

We have some good news for you. Did you know that you can revamp your living space and cool down once it’s done?

If you don’t want to do the hard work in the sun yourself, that’s okay. We have some ideas for you to run by your local landscaping company.

If you love DIY home improvement projects, you can try to build your own outdoor structures.

Today, we tell you all about the most popular ideas for outdoor structures of 2021. You won’t be able to help but be inspired by the best pergolas, shades, ponds, arbors and trellises.

What Makes an Outdoor Structure

What Makes an Outdoor Structure?

An outdoor structure is a number of things. But maybe you tuned in to HGTV and heard someone mention a gazebo and a pergola. Aren’t they the same things?

The basic answer is no. You’d be hard-pressed to think of all the outdoor living structures out there. We don’t expect you to know what all of them are. But that’s why we’re here to help.

Outdoor structures, or garden structures, are any addition you tack on to your outdoor living space. They have multiple functions and can see you through various seasons.

See what we mean? That leaves a lot of room for the imagination. Let’s break it down.

The categories of garden structures therefore includes:

  • Garden buildings
  • Fencing
  • Garden ponds
  • Decking
  • Garden railways
  • Grottos
  • Garden steps
  • Greenhouses
  • Gazebos
  • Garden walls
  • Follies
  • Moon bridges
  • Patios
  • Moon gates
  • Pergolas
  • Terraces
  • Water features
  • Zig-zag bridges

And they really are all different. For example, a gazebo stands by itself. It is shaped like an octagon. It has a solid roof but all of its sides are open and free. They might have nets or screens to prevent bugs from intruding on your summer afternoon. You might see these around public parks or on a lake. They even sell Costco gazebos, so you might have noticed one while out shopping.

We get into more specifics about shades, ponds, pergolas, arbors and trellises. But if any of the above landscape structures catch your eye, feel free to reach out to us for more information.

Outdoor Shade Ideas

If you feel that radiating heat that you imagined earlier, you know how important shade is. It’s a sigh of relief when you’ve been outside in the beaming sun all day.

If you have a backyard patio without a shade canopy or other source of relief, you’re missing out. Not only are shade structures beautiful. They can also prevent the harmful effects of sun exposure.

Here are our top four outdoor shade ideas.

The Shady Shelter

If you really want to impress the neighbors, The Shady Shelter is the structure for you. It’s multifunctional, comfortable and we can’t stress this enough: a gorgeous addition to your property.

One shady shelter, in particular, stands out in our minds. A certain family wanted to unwind outside after their jam-packed days. As you well know, summer evenings can stay bright and hot for hours after you get home from work or school. So their landscaping company built them a patio shade with all the bells and whistles.

It has a pizza oven that doubles as a fireplace for cool nights. This is a great addition as you transition through the seasons. Their shade structure even has a vegetable garden, custom-made cabinets and a mural wall.

Here’s the kicker: they were able to incorporate an A/C unit. The unit is out-of-sight and out of mind so it doesn’t take away from the beauty of the structure.

Sail Design Pergola

A pergola might sound intimidating to you because you don’t know what it is. But you won’t soon forget after you know what a great addition it is to your home.

A pergola is a stand-alone outdoor structure. It stands on pillars for support and has an open roof. You can use them as patio covers or near a pool or footpath. You can use them in pretty much any outdoor living situation.

If you like modern architecture but hate high maintenance, the sail design pergola is your best bet. This is no standard Costco pergola, but it’s easy to keep up with and a pristine structure just the same.

There’s one home that has a perfect example of the sail design pergola. Landscapers built a patio as a base. In two weeks, they finished the pergola. They used outdoor lighting and sandstone edging to finish the design.

You can even use this structure as a deck cover because of its height. 

Retractable Canvas Awning

According to Oxford Languages, an awning is just a piece of material stretched over a frame. But don’t let its basic definition fool you. An awning can be a perfect outdoor addition.

We love the retractable canvas awning. It sounds simple, but don’t confuse simple with tacky. It’s a solid option that fills the holes for all of your patio roof ideas.

It’s easy to operate with a single track. It also works with almost every frame, metal or wood alike.

You can customize the color, material and pattern of your shade. It’s a personalized approach to shades that we know you’ll love as much as we do.

Natural Tree Shade

Maybe all of the other options aren’t your favorites. But if you like natural structures and a clean look, a natural tree shade is right up your alley.

Can you think of a time when it was hot outside and you had to go to a soccer game or other outdoor event? If you can, you know the power of a tree’s shade. Bonus points if the tree has huge branches.

You might not know it yet, but landscapers can build outdoor living spaces around the best tree in your backyard.

Another plus of using a natural tree shade is that you play a hand in the environment. A lot of people cut down their trees because they want a man-made shade to replace it. Now, you don’t have to.

Outdoor Pond Ideas

You probably know what a pond is. But you may not know the benefits of building a pond as an outdoor structure. They’re also more affordable than you might think.

If you want a serene touch to your property and the mirage of extra space, dive into our outdoor pond ideas here.

Puddle Drop Pond

Puddle-drop ponds are a good option if you have a small space to work with. They have an organic appearance since they look exactly like their name: a big puddle.

Landscaping companies add rocks along the border, too.

You’ve probably walked by one or two of these before. A lot of people add koi fish or plants, which helps with the easy upkeep of the pond. Goldfish, koi fish and certain plants eliminate algae and unwanted bugs.

Pave Pond

A pave pond is an elevated take on the puddle-drop pond– literally.

First, you have to line your structure with a commercial pond liner. A pond liner is a geomembrane liner that keeps water where it’s supposed to be.

Then, you add pavers to raise up your pond. Clay, brick, stone and concrete are some of the paver materials. 

The result is a raised pond that makes your garden stand out. You can even add potted plants into the water. You can plant a miniature garden with soil around the edge of your pond, too.

Symmetrical Center Pond

Do you love your garden area? Maybe you wish it had a little something extra to catch your eye.

A symmetrical center pond is a way to go if you like the combo of water with your flowers.

They are a more elaborate version of a classic raised flower bed. These ponds add depth and height to ordinary outdoor structures.

A typical symmetrical center pond has sharp, balanced lines. A popular choice is to build it with flat stones. The pond is in the center, in its own structure. Other neat structures full of plants and flowers surround it. 

Blended Backyard Pond

All blended backyard ponds are based on the same idea. But they have a ton of room for creativity.

This is the perfect option if you want to go all out for your pond structure. Landscapers know how to mix together the different materials you want.

Some people like the tropical look with waterfalls, bright plants and rocks.

Others want a pond with bridges, bricks and an island.

The details are up to you. But at the end of the day, a blended backyard pond is a luxurious outdoor structure. It’s an elaborate way to maximize your big backyard.

Pergola, Arbor and Trellis Ideas

You already know what a pergola is. But what’s an arbor? Why is it different? Where does a trellis go?

Let’s tackle the arbor first. Think of an outdoor wedding. Have you ever seen the couple standing under that beautiful arch for their nuptials? That’s an arbor. It’s a small structure that you can use for climbing plants. A lot of people just use it as an open take on a gate. If you don’t like that open concept, you can build one over an existing gate or walkway.

A trellis is another way to grow climbing plants or vines. It is a flat structure with a netlike pattern called latticework. They give you privacy, height and dimension. They’re great if you don’t want to spend a lot but want to remodel your outdoor space.

Here’s some inspiration for your pergolas, arbors and trellises. 

Breeze Cedar Pergola

Breeze Cedar Pergola

Do you like simple designs and materials? Maybe you have a fancy pool house. You might want to add something, but you don’t want to take away from its glory.

A breeze cedar pergola is your new best friend. You can build it over your outside dining area. It makes it feel like its own separate area, but it doesn’t block your view of the outdoors.

It provides a little bit of shade, but you also get to feel the breeze on those warm summer nights. Since it’s made of such a sturdy material, you don’t have to worry about it falling apart in inclement weather.

Arch Trellis

An arch trellis could be the simple home improvement fix you’re looking for.

It adds life and layers to any outdoor structure. You might want to prop it against the side of your house to give your plain walls some oomph. Maybe you need some climbing plants for a more vibrant garden.

If you have a dull deck canopy but can’t spend the money right now to replace it, think about building an arch trellis next to it. It might be the solution you need.

Metal Arbors

Metal arbors are a fun way to spruce up your yard.

You can find ones with intricate patterns or simple ones that work just as well.

Some people like to put them at the front of their garden as a magical entryway. Ornaments and decorations hang perfectly from your metal arbor’s rungs.

Others like to grow multiple climbing plants on it for a pop of color. Most of them are weather-resistant so you don’t have to worry when a summer thunderstorm blows through your town.

New England Arbors Mirage Pergola

New England Arbors Mirage Pergola

Do you love charming New England-style designs? Light color palettes, cozy cottage moods and the mix of the rustic and the refined. If any of those sound like your interior, your exterior should reflect it too.

The New England Arbors Mirage Pergola is both decorative and functional. Put it on your patio or poolside for a charming addition.

Queensbrook Resin Pergola

The Queensbrook Resin Pergola is a nice touch if you don’t have a lot of space. It’s a smaller size, but its height makes up for it.

It dresses up any outside area with a clean style.

At Exscape Designs, we know that everyone has their own vision for outdoor living spaces. We design and build those spaces for you with that in mind. Our mission is to bring your ideas to life. With our help, we don’t just increase your property value. We upgrade your quality of life.

Read more of our blog posts for tips on home improvement. Once you look through our portfolio, we’re sure you’ll be excited for us to tackle your next outdoor project.  Big or small, we’re ready to take it on.

Contact us today to request a consultation or ask us any questions.

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