The next step was putting all the pieces of the structure together. I cut a small triangular piece off of the end corners of the 2x6 beams with a miter saw to make them look more rustic, and pre-attached the Simpson ties that would hold the 5 cross beams. With the 4 corner posts up, I put up 2 2x6' beams on top of the left and right set of posts, the 6"-side attached vertically to give the structure more height. I attached the beams with Simpson ties that fit directly on top of the 4x6 corner posts, and have a bracket that the 2x6s fit into. I drilled them into place. At this point, the posts were still somewhat wobbly.
Next, I cut off the corners of 5 more 2x6" beams to look like the first 2. I carefully lifted them up on top into prepared Simpson ties and drilled them into place. The structure was more secure, but it still felt too unsteady for my liking. After consulting some builder friends and online posts, I decided to add the diagonal cross-braces in the corners shown at left, attached with more Simpson ties and deck screws. Though it is not as simple-looking, it definitely helped with stability, and the structure is much more sturdy.
Next, it was time to put up the 2x4" beams, flat on top of the cross beams, and drill them into place. My plan started with using 7 2x4s, but I decided to add 6 for more shade. They were all pre-stained, pressure-treated lumber pieces from Home Depot. They cost a little more than the unstained wood, but it's worth it because I didn't have to deal with staining the structure, or re-staining it later on for upkeep.
With the structure in place, it was time to add some landscaping. I decided to use grape vines, as we already have 2 in our yard that do well here in the sun and heat. They grow quickly, can be trained to climb up structures, and are bare in the winter, allowing the sun through to warm up our house. I purchased 4 terracotta pots and 4 1-gallon grape plants, to put one at each corner post, in hopes of training the grape vines to climb up and on top of the pergola.
Here is the final product!
The pergola itself, including lumber and hardware cost just under $500.
The plants and pots were another $100.
See my next post on Pergola Irrigation to see how I designed a drip system to water the grapes.
*Please note, I am not a professional builder or designer. Please be familiar with your local building requirements and safety issues before beginning your own building projects!
**You are welcome to use my designs or improve upon them, I just request that you send me a photo of your project when you are done!