Build Your Own Pergola (Part Three – Plants and Styling)

Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Yay, pergola post #3! Thanks for letting me share this journey with you. It’s been so much fun recapping the entire process with you guys. This post is going to go over planting the herbs and some other little things we did to make the pergola cozier. Let’s start with herb planting. I listed the herbs I used in the previous post. I also used potting soil and gardening gravel for drainage.

Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) We went to a local nursery for all of our herbs and most of the other plants. We have a great one here in Springfield called Wickman’s. Nurseries are great because the staff are usually pretty knowledgeable and can answer questions. Sarah and I love nurseries. Sometimes we go just to walk around. It’s like going to a botanical garden, but it’s free (super cheap date idea). I had a list of herbs I wanted to get, but after getting those, we just walked around and picked out plants that would fit in our space and/or just basically looked cool (i.e., we didn’t over think it). Except I did want to add some color to the herb garden, so we got some hanging flowery plants called purslane.

Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more) Build your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more). jpgBuild your own pergola - planting herbs (click for more)Here’s my planting process:

I drilled some holes in the bottom of the the planters, then poured in the garden pebbles. I only wanted about an inch of pebble layer. Placing the herbs in their respective places was next. I wanted to keep the mint separate from the others, so on one side I planted tarragon and thyme. In the back planter I planted a ton of basil plants (I love basil, ‘specially with homemade chicken phở) with rosemary in between them. On the remaining planter I put in chocolate mint and regular mint. The purslane made its way into the ends of the planters for some color. Purslane is pretty viney, so I’m looking forward to when they make their way down the posts.

Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) After the herbs and plants were planted, it was just matter of placing a few pillows on the chairs and a candle here and there, and the space cozied right up. The chairs came with the house. I eventually want to put a little table with chairs in their place. We had a candle chandelier that Sarah picked up in Phoenix which fits right in. I hung some outdoor lights around the perimeter. I think that is an official policy; pergolas must have party lights. Another must was putting the grill nearby (I’m going to grill nonstop now). I’m sure we’re going to get a bunch more plants (especially tomato plants), and the space will grow and evolve over the years. We’re happy with it now, though. Sadie Dog even thinks it looks pretty good.

Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) I hope you guys got something out of this little series. It was so fun building and planting and even writing about. Leave any questions or comments below.

Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Build a pergola - before (click through for more info) Credits // Author: Joshua Rhodes. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Willis from the Folk Collection and Piper from The Signature Collection.

  • Love the herbs & the lights you chose – I have a soft spot for those little round glass lights.

  • Your work is top notch, I love the pergola. I have a question that is slightly off topic, but still pertains to your backyard. I notice you have a rock pathway. I tried doing something similar, but failed miserably. I used concrete pavers, but didn’t get the width right, so the walking pattern is off. I also used too big of a rock size, I think I need pea sized gravel and sand underneath that, but I am not sure. I like yours from the picture, can you explain how you made it? James Wright – Community Manager ~

  • This is SO lovely! I can’t wait to have an actual house where I can make something like this!

  • Hi Rachel – Josh mentioned in the first post of the series that the total cost was about $700, and gave a few tips on minimizing expenses. (:

  • This looks like a wonderful little retreat – totally agree about the party lights, and the chandelier is such a special touch! I would probably attach rain gutters to the top of the overhead slats and grow some strawberries (à la that thing on Pinterest). They would love the sun and stay off the ground! Watering might be the only tricky part…

  • I am so utterly envious! I would love to do something like this in the future~ what a wonderful read.

  • love the way this turned out!! and imogen is SO cute!


  • I love how this project really game together. It’s obvious you spent tons of time in the planning stage, since the assembly was so efficient.

    My only question is about the planter boxes. Are you concerned about water damage on the wood with no lining in the boxes? You took great steps for excellent drainage, but won’t there still be constant moisture directly on the wood?

  • Hey Wildandscruffy, that’s awesome that you’re redoing the bus! It would definitely be easy to make the pergola bigger, I just wanted to stay in county code, so I didn’t have to get a permit .

  • Thanks Marlene. I agree, hot wax would not be pleasant. Thanks for your concern, but we made sure that Imogen stayed wax free.

  • Thanks Katie. I actually found out out that purslanes are edible after I bought them, which was a bonus! Thanks for the link, I really do need to try them out. It’s crazy that some people consider it a weed. I guess one man’s weed is another man’s nutritional delicacy.

  • It’s so beautiful! Thanks for sharing this, I hope someday we’ll have something similar 🙂

  • This is marvelous! I love the pergola and the way you’ve made your outdoor space a place you’ll spend time and share joy. Which is pretty much a constant goal of mine, so… Extra hoorays from me!

    I just wanted to let you know–if you don’t already–that purslane is edible and awesome! You mentioned that you guys got it primarily for aesthetics, but it’s tasty as well as pretty. And it’s really, really good for you; growing up, my mom used to add handfuls to our salads in the summer because it’s so full of vitamins. Here’s a roundup of some recipes and ideas to get you started: I hope you’ll get to enjoy some before the summer’s out; perhaps a garnish for all those great grilled foods?

    Again, many congratulations and claps on the pergola. Super-great, aspirational project.

  • KIllin’ me with the envy over here! Beautiful pergola…maybe I’ll dream about this all winter and attack it in the Spring.


  • I can’t help but be a little concerned about the dripping wax from the chandelier. Especially since your child is shown in the photos. That wouldn’t be pleasant to have land on anyone.

  • (Okay hoping 3 comments don’t come up from me – I can’t see the post/cancel buttons down below they are covered up by a ‘powered by TypePad’ button…Trey??! Have tried Explorer and Firefox)…but just wanted to say that I love this project, Josh! Those plants really lighten it up I think and yes, the party lights are a must. Do you think it would be easy to make slightly larger? Will have to make this a project..after we finish building our bus! 🙂

  • Plants add so much coziness to the pergola… Imogen is the cutest…


  • This is my favorite of the steps so far! I love how some plants really bring the project together. The hanging ones are my favorite because they take advantage of the pergola’s size and add some dimension!


  • OH wow, it looks so comfortable and beautiful… all the plants and the lights… I love it, but I guess I would need a lot of space to build it

    Wish you a wonderful start of september

    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-

  • I love seeing Josh’s woodworking on the blog! It adds a really wonderful new element to ABM that makes me — I didn’t think this was possible — even more excited to read it everyday. I’m looking forward to trying some of these projects out soon.

  • Love it! I’ll have to go get to work on this ASAP!

  • Thanks! The entire process from planning to styling took about a week, maybe a week and a half.

  • This is amazing!!! Such a fun project. How long did it take from start to finish?

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