Outdoor-Living-DestinationYou have many choices for outdoor accents. We here at Broward Landscape are going to go over the differences and advantages of pergolas against gazebos and solariums. So let’s get right to it and talk about pergolas.

A typical pergola has four sturdy beams holding up the structure itself, including crossbeams with a stylish lattice across the top.

The size of an ordinary garden-variety pergola is fairly large, spacious vertically and horizontally, and rectangular. The space underneath, defined by the pergola, opens up all the possibilities.

The lattice at the top, where the cross beams intersect, is not totally necessary. It can simply have cross beams going one way without the lattice.

Pergolas can even be elevated off the ground, as long as they have a solid surface to sit on.

Visually, pergolas are usually large enough to be striking when people see them, drawing people’s attention visually, and, aesthetically, they can come in many different designs and colors. They are a definite “eye catcher”.


What is the Purpose of a Pergola

The purpose of a pergola is to provide an area for you, family, & friends to mingle in.  You can choose whether you want to use it as an area to entertain, or if you want it to be a more private area to relax in. You have choices.

Once you have the pergola set up, that’s when the real creativity comes in.

An average 10′ x 18′ pergola creates a space that is large enough to fit a hot tub in, or perhaps some sectional furniture, creating a space in which you can luxuriate.

Now keep in mind, you won’t get a lot of shelter under a pergola from the elements. But that is not really its point, as the idea is for it to be open, and allow for these elements to be part of your experience.


When looking at a typical pergola, it has a minimum of four support beams (often there are more), which can be made from materials like wood or stone, and then cross beams overtop to form a lattice, but no solid roof. 

The idea is that we sit under a pergola where we can relax and socialize. It provides us with a designated area to do so, and yet, it need not have anything shading us from the sun or rain in terms of a solid roof. 

Pergolas Vs. Gazebos and Solariums

With pergolas, there is some protection offered by the lattice or the open roof of a pergola, but there is usually plenty of sun coming in. 

There are generally no walls, curtains, or netting surrounding a pergola. This is usually left to gazebos and solariums, to keep us fully separated from the elements. 

The other big difference here with a gazebo is the roof.  Gazebos always have a roof whether it’s hard top or soft top, while pergolas do not.

Both are still usually square-like or rectangular in shape, the main difference is the roof.

Gazebos more often than not don’t have solid walls.  Gazebos either have no wall between the struts, or a curtain or netting used to make a type of wall.

Some gazebos do have solid walls.  They do exist, except the walls are made out of glass. These structures are known as solariums, because they allow sunlight in, allowing for heat to collect inside, due to the walls and windows.

A solarium is similar to a gazebo, in that it has a roof, but it also has the solid walls, kind of like a little cottage, or enclosed room, but often with a distinct octagon shape that gazebos do not usually have, and which pergolas never have.

Pergolas Vs. Arbors

By now, you know the difference between a pergola and a gazebo.  But what about arbors?  Arbors look similar to pergolas in several ways, but they serve very different purposes. In fact, many people use the term arbor and pergola interchangeably. Imagine that?

In middle English, arbor means “lawn” or “flower bed”. It has a very different meaning from “pergola”, which means “outcropping eave”.

In defintion, pergola lends to something protective, and arbor suggests vegetation, which is logical, as arbors are almost synonymous with gardens.

Physically, like a pergola, arbors are not enclosed, and they have at least four struts holding them up, and then crossbeams over the top. They come in a variety of styles and are made from a variety of materials, but usually, are made from wood.

However, unlike pergolas, most do not spend a lot of time under an arbor.  It is meant to function almost like a doorway, or entrance / exit to or or from one part of your yard to another.  Often it leads to or from a garden. It is a decorative sort of structure.

While arbors can be kept free of vegetation, they can also be a place to feature plants and flowers, just like certain pergolas.

After looking at a few different arbors, you can see how arbors are not the same as pergolas.

Pergolas create a sitting area, arbors do not, so their function is different.  Pergolas are much larger than arbors.  Height-wise, they are comparable.  Length-wise, they are very different.  They both be highly ornate, or very simple, design-wise.

And In Conclusion

Broward Landscape hopes that this article provides some useful information on pergolas, gazebos, solariums, and arbors. You now have a better understanding of the differences between these outdoor structures.

All in all, if you feel like we missed anything, or got something wrong, we’d love to hear from you.

Broward Landscape are the South Florida leaders in landscape design, outdoor living spaces, outdoor kitchens, bars, outdoor fire pits, exterior lighting, pavers, decking, walkways, tree care, sprinkler repair, pergolas and arbors. Our reputation and results speak for themselves. This includes large-scale corporate environments, city parks, shopping malls and apartment complexes, condominiums and homeowner associations. Our experienced landscaper designers set the standard each day in landscape design and hardscaping. We are the landscapers that light up your life!