Stylish, creative backyard pavilion ideas—including pergolas—that can transform outdoor areas for entertaining and relaxing.

A backyard pavilion or pergola can transform your outdoor space into a tranquil retreat, offering shade, shelter, and an inviting ambiance for relaxation and entertaining. Whether you envision a comfortable oasis for outdoor living or a spot for hosting gatherings, an outdoor pavilion can be the perfect answer for expanding the use of your home’s outdoor areas during every season.

Backyard pavilion and pergola
This rustic wood backyard pavilion with curtains and lights provides a cozy retreat for guests, gatherings, and more. Randy Fath, UnSplash

What is a pavilion? It’s a versatile outdoor structure that’s typically set apart from the main house. It can be open-air, with a lattice-like roof, or walled and covered for total shelter. It can be made of natural wood, pressure-treated wood, fiberglass, vinyl, steel, aluminum—or all of the above, depending on your preferences and budget. It can be small and simple, or decked-out with all of the bells and whistles of modern living, such as smart-phone controlled roof louvers, retractable canopies, heaters, fans, lighting, fire pit, outdoor kitchen, and more. It can be assembled from a DIY pavilion kit or designed by a landscape architect and built by a building contractor. The number of available options are off the charts.

So read on! Here we’re offering an assortment of pergola design ideas for backyard pavilions and structures that will inspire you and get you started toward creating the perfect outdoor living space for your own backyard.

Aluminum Pavilion with Retractable Canopy

pergola pavilion on deck
Creating a covered conversation area on the waterfront outside this HGTV dream home in Gig Harbor, Washington, this Trex® pergola features strong aluminum-core construction and a retractable canopy. Trex

Fiberglass Pergola with a Classic Look

fiberglass pergola
Stately fiberglass pergola stands proudly over this hillside stone patio. Fiberglass and composite parts are particularly strong and lightweight, and they won’t rot, split, warp, bow, twist, or be eaten by bugs. Structureworks

Wood Pavilion Is a Garden Delight

wooden pavilion
Plants climb this classic wood pavilion’s latticework panels, providing a natural and shady getaway. Wood has rustic charm and blends seamlessly with natural surroundings—and it’s the most familiar material for most contractors. On the downside, wood requires maintenance such as painting or staining to protect it from the elements. Dreamstime

Elegant Pavilion Welcomes Evening Conversation

pergola with lighting on tile patio
Classic columns support the roof of this elegant pavilion. Lighting sets the mood after dark, making it an ideal evening destination. Dreamstime


elegant pavilion in backyard
Another view shows the above pergola’s relationship to the house and yard. Dreamstime

Fiberglass Pergola Beckons as a Garden Destination

fiberglas pergola
Bold fiberglass pergola, placed on a patio slab in this large backyard, is an impressive destination. Crisscrossing rafters and battens filter sunlight significantly, helping to shield from the summer sun. Structureworks

Minimalist Gazebo for Two

small pergola is like a gazebo
Built for the HGTV Smart Home, this diminutive, cube-shaped aluminum Trex gazebo provides a stylish, easy-care platform for conversation and enjoying the expansive view. Trex

Multi-Colored Poolside Pergola

poolside pergola
This multi-colored poolside pergola, made of cPVC with an aluminum core, offers filtered sunlight and a “sense of place” for gatherings. Trex

Tips for Hiring a Service for Backyard Pavilion or Pergola Construction

Once you’ve had a chance to check out some of the many backyard pavilion ideas available, it’s time to make your dreams come true. Here are a few suggestions:

  • When opting for a pavilion designed and built by a pro, seek recommendations, check portfolios, and request quotes from reputable landscape or building contractors.
  • Ensure the contractor is licensed, insured, and provides clear timelines and written contracts.
  • Prioritize experienced contractors who specialize in building pavilions or pergolas to ensure a seamless and successful project.

A backyard pavilion can transform your backyard into a wonderful outdoor living space, providing a charming, functional, and inviting oasis for year-round enjoyment. Enjoy!


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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort