Cheap Ways to Cover a Pergola

Inexpensive options are available to cover your pergola.
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Pergolas are outside structures constructed of wood, aluminum or vinyl. Slats at the top of the structure provide partial shade. By adding a cover to the pergola, you can increase the amount of shade, protect the area beneath from the elements and make it a more comfortable space to use during most times of the year.


Adding plants to a pergola will give it a natural look. Vigorous growers, such as trumpet vines, will wrap around the sides and top of the structure. You can also plant large trees near the pergola if you want more shade cover.

Straw, Branches or Bamboo

If you would like to add a natural cover to your structure, but don't want to maintain living plants, opt for a roof made from bamboo or branches. Tie the branches or bamboo to the pergola slats with strong string or twine. Another affordable option is to use straw for the roof.

Portable Canopy

Erect an inexpensive portable shade canopy or tent over the pergola. Install the stakes for the canopy near the pergola to keep it in place.

Fabric Sails

Fabric sails are large pieces of fabric that can be stretched over an expansive space. They can withstand wind and rain, but they may need to be removed and stored for the winter.

Drop Cloths

Canvas drop cloths are sturdy fabric covers used by painters, but you can use them as a covering for your pergola. Use grommets to attach the drop cloths to the existing pergola. You can install the drop cloths by weaving lengths over a few pergola slats and then under the next few slats.

Roller Shades

You can create a simple covering by attaching shade fabric or roller shades to your pergola with a staple gun. If you choose window roller shades, choose those made of thick fabric. Measure the space that you need to cover to determine the number of roller shades or yardage of shade fabric to purchase.


Use an inexpensive mesh to make your outdoor space more comfortable during hot temperatures. Mesh is commonly available in a variety of colors, including brown, blue and green. Match the mesh to the color of your pergola or choose a color that will match the natural setting.

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