The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Outdoor Oasis with Pergola Design Software

Feeling like something is missing in your backyard? Something to give it that air of class and sophistication?

Often overlooked and underrated, a pergola is one of those humble home additions you didn’t know you needed – until you’ve got one. And now with the help of pergola design software from SketchList 3D, the design process is made even easier.

Say goodbye to a boring backyard and hello to an outdoor oasis.

Ok, but what is a pergola and why invest in 3D pergola designer software to design one?

A pergola is similar to a pavilion or a gazebo (which you can design with SketchList too), but with open sides and a roof that’s typically made of wooden beams. They’re great for creating shade, defining a space, and adding some serious style to a yard.

But here’s the thing, designing a pergola is not as simple as just slapping some beams together. It requires careful planning, precise measurements, and an eye for design and detail. That’s where the software element comes in, you see?

Pergola design software, also known as a pergola planner, is the secret foolproof success factor when it comes to planning the structural aspects of your custom pergola. We’re not just talking about getting the size of the beams and the placement of the posts right. We’re talking about having the ability to visualize, design, and customize, your pergola to your exact specifications down to the very last detail and seeing how it will look before you even start building.

Let’s talk more about pergolas themselves

Like we said, gazebos, pavilions, and pergolas are very similar and often confused for each other, so let’s first clear up any confusion:


A gazebo is a standalone structure that typically has a roof and four walls, or railings. It’s like a mini house for your backyard, and it’s great for creating a shaded and more sheltered seating area or a place to entertain guests.


A pavilion is almost exactly the same as a gazebo minus the walls, so it’s essentially a closed roof held up by pillars. Pavilions are great for providing shade and shelter, but they also allow for some airflow and a better view of your surroundings. These are the ideal guys for picnics and party events.


Lastly, we have a pergola, the star of this particular show. A pergola is also an open-sided structure, but it’s more like an arbor on steroids. It typically has a roof made of wooden beams, and it’s great for creating shade and defining a space. They’re also perfect for growing climbing plants like vines or roses. Pergolas can be freestanding or attached to the side of a house or another building. They are a great option for those looking to add some architectural interest to their outdoor space without fully enclosing it.

Ready to get more specific?

The different styles

There are a few popular options to choose from: traditional, modern, and rustic. A traditional pergola typically has a simple design with straight lines and a symmetrical appearance. A modern pergola, on the other hand, has a sleeker and more contemporary look, often with a minimalist design. A rustic pergola, as the name suggests, has a more natural and rugged appearance and is usually made of natural materials like wood or stone.

Moving on to materials

The most common materials used for pergolas are wood and vinyl. Wood pergolas have a natural and traditional look, but they do require regular maintenance to keep them looking good. Vinyl pergolas, on the other hand, are low-maintenance and long-lasting, but they don’t have the same natural look as wood. Aluminum and steel pergolas are also becoming popular options due to their durability and low maintenance requirements.

The different types to consider

A freestanding pergola is a standalone structure that can be placed anywhere in a backyard. An attached pergola, as the name suggests, is attached to the side of a house or another building. A retractable pergola has a canvas or fabric roof that can be opened and closed to provide shade as desired.

Another type of pergola is the gazebo pergola, which is a hybrid between a pergola and a gazebo. It typically has a solid roof and walls for added privacy and protection from the elements.

And lastly, we don’t call SketchList “the ultimate custom pergola design tool” for nothing. Create a custom pergola which can be whatever you want them to be. There are no rules when it comes to creating a truly unique pergola – well, maybe only the laws of physics.

Pergola Software Features:

User-Friendly and hassle-free

What really sets SketchList’s pergola design software apart is its user-friendly interface. With the ability to toggle between different features and materials, you can make changes and adjustments to your design with just a few clicks. Plus, for those who want a hassle-free experience, SketchList’s pergola software also comes with an extensive library of predesigned pergolas that you can use as a starting point for your project.

3D visualization

One of the best features of this pergola design tool is its 3D visualization capabilities. You can see your pergola design come to life in real-time, making it easy to make any necessary adjustments before construction begins. Plus, you can see how your custom pergola will look in your specific outdoor space, giving you a realistic idea of the finished product.

Customize until your heart’s content

With SketchList, you can choose from a wide range of materials and add custom features like a built-in bench or intricate arches. These go a long way in helping you truly define the style you want.

Getting the nitty gritty out of the way for you in less time

Additionally, SketchList has a professional tool set, providing advanced features such as detailed dimensioning, the ability to draw and build a wide variety of structures, and the ability to generate a detailed material list and cut list. With this pergola design tool, you can easily create professional-grade plans and drawings, which you can use or share with builders and contractors to ensure that your pergola is built to your exact specifications.

How it works

  1. The first step (after you have signed in, of course) is to create a new project. You can start with a blank project or choose from a variety of pre-designed templates; but for the sake of the more adventurous woodworkers out there, let’s say we are starting from scratch. Once you have your project set up, you can begin by adding the dimensions and basic elements to your design. Or use the library of pergola elements, including columns, beams, rafters, and more.
  2. Now the fun begins. Experiment and toggle between different styles, materials, and colors along the way until you’ve created a truly unique custom pergola design.
  3. Next, you can use the 3D feature to get a better sense of how it will look in a real setting. You can also use the software’s visualization controls to view your design from different angles. This helps you make sure your design is perfect before you start building.
  4. SketchList also includes a feature that automatically generates a list of materials needed for your pergola design. This list can be exported and taken to your local lumberyard or hardware store.

Here’s a great example of some pergola designs made by one of our users:

pergola design 1


How about those wood grains and textures? You can import any grain image that you have.

pergola design 2

What is not shown – but apparent – is the use of cloning parts and rotating and moving them to where they are needed. A great time saver.

Shape the various parts to show the details.


Arches are really a great touch too

A pergola is a great addition to any backyard as it provides shade, defines a space, and adds style. However, designing a pergola can be more complex than it seems and requires careful planning and precise measurements. Of course, there are no worries about that when it comes to SketchList’s 3D pergola design software.

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