First, thank you for my first learning experience of the day. I had no idea what a pergola was. I quickly Googled it and saw what you were talking about. All I can say is they are for looks. If I dig deeper I guess they would be a great frame for you to plant climbing plants. Friends of our have a grape arbor. A pergola would certainly be great for that purpose. They'd look good until covered. Just a thought.
There's a small park nearby that I recently discovered. In the middle is a nice spot to sit under a lengthy pergola. I love it. The plants have grown in and it provides shade and a serene setting. But until the plants do that I agree it seems like a waste.
Actually now that I think about it our back patio has the same sort of thing covering it. There are no plants anywhere near it and it's not really designed to have plants growing through it. It truly is a waste. I told my wife the other day that my plan in the future is to pour a bit more concrete to extend the patio out to the hot tub and I'm getting rid of that "pergola." I want something with a roof.
my parents have a huge back deck, the sun would beat down on us, it was brutal! Then one year they had a friend build a pergola over the whole deck, we hung up shades from the pergola, flower boxes and they have a pretty vine growing over it. If you could see it, you might change your mind on that one!!
We're hopeless as far as plants and landscaping, so we hired a Landscape designer. Now we plan (after the deck gets finished) to put in a ground level square deck with a pergola over it - I've always seen it as a 4 post frame with a lattice type cover on top. we'll plant some vines that will creep across. It's going to be on the east side of our yeard so I expect that for warm sunny mornings it will give us enough shade to enjoy sitting out for brunch without baking in the sun.
you can still enjoy the spring sunshine without being so chilled in the shade of a porch roof in the spring. You don't have to worry about the weight of snow on the top and get up there and shovel off a flat roof, it just doesn't build up the way it does on a flat roof which is what many covered patios end up having on them. If you have them on the ground level, you can grow flowering vines or just vines along the sides for added shade and decorative value. There are a variety of styles and they add definition to an outdoor space, I suppose.
I agree with rhythmsticks and canteach- it depends what you do with them. They can look VERY nice. A lot of people around my neighborhood have them and I have been trying to talk DH into getting one. I am interested in just blocking the sun a little- not getting rid of it altogether. In the afternoon, the sun really beats down on our patio, and I would love to be able to sit out there and enjoy it without frying!
about getting one--but dh pointed out that if we had vines planted around it I would never sit in/under? it because I am bug phobic and I would be scratching and swatting things that weren't even there!