Overhead structures provide many benefits to the homeowner. They extend your outdoor living space, provide protection from the elements, and enhance the beauty of the landscape. These structures allow you to spend more time relaxing and enjoying your garden in a comfortable environment.

Choosing a type of overhead structure can be difficult. There are lots of options you can go with, depending on your preference and budget. To help with this decision-making process, there are two main considerations to start with: type of structure and type of material. Here is a brief analysis of each:

Structure Type

Patio Sail

Shade Sail

  • The most inexpensive option for filtering out the sun.
  • Versatile; can be combined with multiple sails for creative options.
  • Easily anchored to existing structures and/or posts.
  • It can be taken down or put up seasonally.
  • Heavy-duty, waterproof fabric needed to be used in rain.

Patio Cover

  • Attached to the side of the house.
  • It can be a fabric awning or solid covered structure.
  • Covers can be translucent polycarbonate panels or fabric to filter out the sun and the rain.
  • Fabric awnings can be retractable to allow maximum versatility.


Wood Pergola

  • Freestanding
  • Fairly easy to build – usually consists of four poles with crossbeams and rafters connecting them on the top.
  • Provides filtered sun/shade, depending on the type of cover: 
    • Solid coverage with translucent polycarbonate panels will protect against rain
    • Retractable fabric can provide both sun or shade
    • Crossbeams spaced closer or further apart will offer filtered sun/shade
    • Vines provide natural, filtered sun/shade


Wood Gazebo

  • Freestanding
  • Can be highly ornamental.
  • Solid roof material provides constant shade and rain protection.
  • Can be purchased as a kit, but usually requires professional installation.

Material Type

Material options differ in price, durability, and assembly:


  • The simplest and least expensive ways to create shade.
  • Examples include umbrellas, awnings, and shade sails.
  • Lots of color options and shapes.
  • It can be removed or attached when necessary.
  • Less durable than other, more permanent solutions. Need heavy-duty, waterproof type to keep the rain out.


  • Rich, natural-looking. There are a variety of wood-types to match the house/environment.
  • It can be enhanced with stain or paint.
  • Eventually degrades over time due to weather exposure.
  • Needs regular maintenance including staining, cleaning, and repairs.


  • Popular framing for awnings or patio covers attached to the house.
  • Extremely durable, corrosion-resistant and lightweight.
  • It can come in many colors and styles.
  • Competitive cost to wood.

Vinyl or Composite

  • Extremely strong and corrosion-resistant.
  • Composite material can be made to look like wood.
  • Will last as long as the house.
  • Somewhat more expensive than wood or aluminum structures.

Hopefully, this will help you narrow down your choice of structures to one that will give you the most value and fit your budget. Contact Blessing Landscapes when you’re ready to enhance your outdoor living area!