How to Build a Bamboo Pergola
A rustic bamboo pergola defines garden passageways and provides a focal point for your yard. According to Carol Stangler, in her book "The Art and Craft of Bamboo," these simple square or rectangular structures have been used in gardens around the world for centuries as subtle outdoor architecture. Allow vines or climbing fruits and vegetables to envelop your arbor-like framework for a more picturesque and practical garden accent.
Choose an area for your pergola. Find a flat space with room for a 6-foot by 6-foot square. Decide where you want to have the corners and measure 6 feet between each spot. Mark the places you've chosen for each corner.
Dig a hole 1 inch larger in diameter than the diameter of the larger ends of your 8-foot poles. Dig each hole 6 inches to 1 foot deep, depending on the stability of the ground in your garden.
Lay two of the 8-foot bamboo poles parallel on the ground, 7 feet apart. If your poles are not the same circumference on each end, make sure the larger ends are facing down, since these will be the base ends of the structure.
Lay a 6-foot pole 6 inches below the top of the first two poles, creating a bridge between them. Secure both junctures with twine or hemp rope. Weave the twine front, back and in between the poles to create an X-shaped pattern.
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 to make the other side. Lay the other two 8-foot pieces, crossing them with a 6-foot piece, and tie them together with your twine.
Test to make sure all the junctures are secure before standing up each side, one at a time. With the upper poles facing out, secure the poles by placing the bottoms of the poles in their respective holes. Make sure the structure is facing in your chosen direction.
Fill in the holes and pack the dirt around the bottom of the poles. You can pack clay or even concrete around them for greater stability. Have someone help you hold the poles until they are set.
Place one pole across the top of each side, connecting the two structures. Position them so that they rest in the joints of the wall and roof poles. Test all the poles with a level to make sure they meet at the appropriate angle. Secure the new poles to the previous structures. Wrap the twine among all three pieces of bamboo at all four connection points. At this point, your structure should be able to stand on its own, if it hadn't before.
Lay the last two 6-foot poles across the open space on top of the structure to complete your roof structure. Tie the poles to the cross beams with the twine. If you wish to make a more enclosed roof, continue tying down more 6-foot poles until the open spaces are filled.
- Popular Mechanics: How to Build a Backyard Pergola
- "The Craft and Art of Bamboo"; Carol Stangler; 2009
- Double-check your first few knots along the way to make sure they remain secure. Tie secure, double knots to tighten the hold.
- Bamboo is heavy and the pole ends can be sharp. Use caution and wear protective gloves when handling untreated bamboo.
Page Turner was destined to be a writer, publishing for the first time at the age of 14. Since that time, she has worked as an writer and editor for publications and websites including The Ray and The Howler. She has published her first children's book and founded a multi-lingual literary magazine while working as a communication studies scholar at the College of Charleston.
- bamboo image by fotografiche.eu from Fotolia.com