The Difference Between Patio Covers, Pergolas & Pavilions

The Difference Between Patio Covers, Pergolas & Pavilions
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The Green Scene

Landscaping & Swimming Pools

Spring is in the air and you’re already dreaming of evenings in the backyard. Improve your outdoor entertaining experience with the addition of an outdoor structure in your yard. Not sure which type to choose? Don’t worry! We’ll help break down the difference between patio covers, pergolas, and pavilions. 


Pergolas are free-standing and supported by columns. These structures are square or rectangular in shape and built using layered beams. They provide shade for your outdoor space while letting in filtered light, but won’t fully protect you from the elements. 

In his book, Scott Cohen’s Patio Covers, Pergolas and Pavilions, the Garden Artisan shares the benefits of pergolas. According to Scott, “A vine-covered pergola can actually be a cooler option. Not only does it provide shade without impeding air flow, it uses nature’s own air conditioning system.” Don’t have a green thumb? Don’t worry! “Even without vegetation, an open-slatted roof provides a significant level of filtered shade—especially when the shade bars are oriented to maximize protection during peak sunlight hours,” says Scott.

Patio Cover

“Although people often use the term ‘patio cover’ to describe all types of overhead patio structures, I usually use the word to refer to an extension of the house over an attached patio. These can be designed with either an open or solid roof,” Scott shares.

Think of it as an extension of your home. The look of a patio cover often matches the style of the home, giving it a seamless transition. Patio covers provide an outdoor living space for you and your guests, giving shade and protection from direct sun and rain. One major perk of an attached patio cover contributes to indoor comfort as well. How so? A patio cover can provide shade to a room inside your home or even act as a buffer to the wind on chilly nights. These benefits can even be seen in your energy costs


“Think of this as a building without walls. A pavilion is typically a large, solid-roofed structure with one or more open walls, and large supporting pillars or beams. It can be free-standing or connected to the home,” explains Scott. 

A pavilion will protect you from the elements—no more parties canceled due to rain or guests taking cover from the intense sun. If you’re considering an outdoor kitchen, a pavilion is a great place for it since it allows you to cook rain or shine. 

How to Choose

All three options would be a great addition to your backyard, but which one best meets your outdoor living needs? Here are some things to consider as you make your choice. 

Are looking for a space that offers shade while allowing natural light to be filtered through? Then a pergola is what you’re after. 

Do you want to extend your living space to your backyard with a look matching the style of your home? A patio cover is an excellent choice. 

A pavilion will give you the ability to host larger groups of people in an outdoor space while it protects you from the rain and direct sun. 

Whichever style you choose for your outdoor space, let our experts at The Green Scene Landscaping & Swimming Pools help design it. Call us today and speak to our experienced team!

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