Umbris Louvre Roof at Sky House Design Centre

What is the difference between a Pergola, Pergoda and Pagoda?

Posted on Posted in IQ Awning Retractable Roof, IQ Louvre Roof, IQ Lux Louvre Roof, Tips for Outdoor Living Spaces

Make sure you pick the right outdoor structure for your garden design

During the Summer months getting gardens and outdoor spaces ready for garden parties, BBQ’s and relaxing weekends in the sun is a major trend. Summer is the perfect time to make the most of outdoor living and update gardens. But we all know that the British Summer always comes with its fair share of rain showers to bring us all back indoors. So how can you ensure gardens can be used throughout our summer?

Have you ever thought about an outdoor patio structure to provide protection from the elements? Including a garden structure or patio roof into your garden design can really improve the usability of the outdoor space and make it practical throughout the year (and all summer!).

The minute you start doing your research into garden structures and outdoor roofs you will discover that there are a huge variety of patio structures on the market. So, which one is right for your garden project?

There are three main patio structures that come to the front of people’s minds when considering these garden features – Pergola, Pergoda and Pagoda – but what are the differences?

Rose Pergola in full bloom at Kew Gardens (Photography © Samantha Edgley)


A pergola is a wooden garden feature traditionally used to provide a shaded walkway, passageway or seating area in a garden. They usually have trained flowering vine plants growing up and along the structure to create beautiful overhead sun protection. Pergolas are often seen as a type of gazebo, as they can be extended from the side of a property to serve as a shelter for a terrace or a link from one area to another. Pergolas are often thought to be a type of ‘green tunnel’, however, this isn’t quite correct as green tunnels are roads with large trees (commonly willow or hazel trees) that have been weaved together at a young age to create a tunnel-like growth pattern naturally without the wooden structure.

An Arbour is also considered a type of pergola but upon close study, they are quite different. An Arbour is usually a fixed wooden bench with an attached wooden roof and a lattice style framework for climbing plants to grow up and over, offering a shaded seating area. This is very different from a Pergola which provides a sun shading for larger areas rather than one fixed bench.

Portland's Chinese Garden
Portland’s Chinese Garden (Rachel Cotterill)


Pagodas are common to Asia, specifically South Asia where they are traditionally built as a Stupa (a tall mound-like structure used for meditation and storing sacred relics), however, they have been further developed in East Asia and can now be regularly seen across Nepal, China, Japan and Korea. Traditional Pagodas are easily recognisable due to the tiered tower design with multiple eaves, usually decorated with traditional oriental designs.

In East Asia, the architectural design of these structures became synonymous with Chinese towers and pavilions, which also spread to Southeast Asia. The Chinese iconography is prominent in Chinese pagoda structures as well as other East Asian pagoda architectures. Buddhist iconography can also be noticed through the pagoda symbolism, due to these buildings becoming prominent as Buddhist monuments many years ago.

Although Pagoda’s are closely tied to oriental architecture you can see their influence seeping into the garden designs in the UK. Thanks to the increase in popularity in Japanese design and Zen gardens you will see Pagodas used more and more in modern garden design here in the UK.

Pergoda with loungers – Zanzibar Retreats


The Pergoda is a similar concept to the pergola in that it is a garden structure used to provide a shaded seating area, however, it is used purely as a sheltered seating area and not to provide a shaded walkway. You could say that Pergodas are a combination of both the Pagoda and pergola, as the pagoda resembles a fixed building with a floor, walls and a roof, whereas the pergola only offers a sheltered roof. Pergodas are normally constructed from wooden decking, with vertical wooden beam supports and a wooden slat roof – which can be painted or wood stained to any colour.

In traditional garden designs, you often see Pergodas in gardens as dedicated sheltered seating areas that can be used for dining as well as an outdoor summer room. Occasionally they are used for outdoor weddings instead of an altar in a Church, to create a focal point for the ceremony.

In modern garden design, you can see the use of Pergodas quite frequently, used as structures to create protected outdoor living and eating areas. Modern pergodas are normally made from aluminium or other durable metals. The resulting garden structure is easy to look after and maintain, as well as offering a modern finish to a garden space.

Patio Roof
IQ Lux Louvre Roof, Cassio Drive

Traditional Pergodas and Pagodas do provide some shelter from the elements, however, they are permanently fixed roofs that cannot be removed or manoeuvred during sunny days to allow the sunlight to shine through.

A Modern outdoor garden structure, like a louvre roof, is a more popular option for modern gardens. They are made from alternative materials such as aluminium with integrated technology to create a more versatile shelter. These contemporary garden shading systems, including the Pratic and IQ Lux Louvre shelters, are a fantastic combination of the traditional designs but with a more flexible addition to gardens.

Retractable Patio Roof
The IQ Awning Retractable Roof from Pratic

Modern shelters have an automated louvre roof or a retractable roof that can also have integrated wall screens and lighting for instance – each system has slightly different features, so the design and model are dependent on the project requirements. To discover more about modern styles of garden shelters visit our website or call us to arrange a viewing of these systems in person at our outdoor living showroom in Amersham.

Umbris Louvre Roof at the Sky House Design Centre

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