If you are considering adding a pergola to your outdoor living space, also plan to add elements to the structure to provide shade and protection from the sun. Pergolas have been built for centuries to protect from the sun and provide shade. They are simple frames covered with a variety of materials that tend to vary according to geography. Our pergolas here in North America are really an idea that is incomplete when only rafters are overhead. A fully featured pergola includes a sunscreen of some sort. Most people build a pergola to relax outdoors in a space that is inviting, comfortable and provides some privacy. These characteristics encourage spending more time outdoors and that’s what outdoor living is all about. Grapevines can grow over pergolas and will provide shade in the summer and sun in the winter when the leaves fall. Wisteria is also a common grower over pergolas. Climbing foliage can help to add shade to your pergola. The best choices include Clematis, Honeysuckle, Grape, Climbing Rose, Trumpet Vine, Black Eyed Susan Vine, and Morning Glory. Lattice is a popular and easy addition to the top of a pergola. It is available in 4X8 panels at home improvement stores. Lattice is a fast easy and affordable way to make create pergola shade. Consider how much sun you want to pass through. Some lattice can allow as much as 50% while others as little as 25%. Canvas and awning fabrics can be fastened to a pergola as a one-piece cover or in multiple strips. A common way to use solid fabric is to weave a series of strips through the rafters in an over/under pattern. This can make the pergola a stylish addition to your outdoor space. A single piece of retractable fabric covering the area under a pergola is convenient and can provide rain protection as well. The ability to retract the shade cover at any time allows for the enjoyment of the sun on cooler days. When the sun gets too hot you extend the canopy for full shade and full protection from UV. Side curtains can help to protect from low evening sun that can still be strong mid-summer. If your pergola is exposed to the southwest, side curtains may be needed. Making a pergola practical will add to your enjoyment of it. Whatever options you choose, look for a way to make your outdoor space the ultimate in comfort, luxury and style.