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Deck Pergola with Plant Hangers

Make your deck feel like an outdoor room with this easy-to-customize pergola. Cables and exposed bolts add an up-to-date flair and places to hang plants.

Deck with a pergola

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Circular saw or compound miter saw
  • Drill and bit set, including a 5/8-in bit
  • Screwdriving bits
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Level
  • Square
  • Hammer
  • 1-in wood chisel
  • Clamps with an 8-in capacity
  • Cable stop swaging tool, #348539


  • 4-in x 4-in x 12-ft treated posts, #1763
  • 2-in x 8-in x 16-ft treated lumber, #201519
  • 2-in x 2-in x 8-ft treated lumber, #204231
  • Galvanized post base
  • 1/2-in x 8-in hex lag bolts
  • 1/2-in hex nuts
  • Flat washers
  • 1/2-in x 5-in lag screws
  • 3/16-in galvanized cable, #62803
  • 3/16-in ferrules and stops, #348538
  • 3-in deck screws
  • Cabot stain, Sycamore and Foothill, #238846

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources


These instructions and the project diagram will help you build a pergola similar to the one shown that was created for a 12-ft x 14-ft deck. Use them to help customize the structure to suit your home’s deck and yard. Work with a Lowe’s associate and local building code officials to make certain this design is allowed on your property. Before digging the footings for the posts, call 811 or have your local utility companies locate buried pipes and lines.

Size and Cut the Parts

Step 1

Design the pergola for your deck with at least two 4-in x 4-in posts (A) to hold the long lower supports (B) on both ends and single posts with short lower supports (C) about 4 feet apart in between, as shown above. Post lengths should allow 8 feet between the lower supports and the floor of the deck.

Step 2

To avoid burying the posts, dig and pour concrete footings centered beneath each post (A). (The required depth of the footings will vary by climate and local building codes.) Cap each footing with a galvanized metal post base while the concrete remains workable. After the concrete dries, screw or bolt the bottom of each post to a post base. Then drill and bolt the post to the deck at the rim joist or attach it at the corners with angle brackets.

Good to Know

When working with pressure-treated lumber, wear goggles and a dust mask. Do not burn leftover scraps of treated wood; dispose of them with your household trash.

Step 3

Cut to length two pairs of 1-1/2-in x 7-1/4-in boards for the long lower supports (B). For each post between the deck sides, cut two 48-in-long short lower supports (C) and two 17-in.-long cable-bolt holders (D). We used the posts at their full 12-foot lengths, but these can be trimmed as needed after you assemble the pergola.

Step 4

Apply two coats of stain to the posts (A), long lower supports (B), short lower supports (C), and cable-bolt holders (D).

Attach the Lower Supports

Step 1

On a piece of scrap wood, stack a pair of cable-bolt-holders (D) with the ends flush and make a centered mark 6 in. from one end. Drill a 5/8-in. hole through both boards and repeat for the remaining pairs of cable-bolt holders.

Step 2

Apply adhesive to a cable-bolt holder (D) and clamp it perpendicular to a post at a hand-rail height with the bolt hole exposed. Drive four 3-in screws through the holder and into the post. Repeat for the holder on the opposite size of the post and for the remaining holders.

Good to Know

For any joints you reinforce with an adhesive over stained wood, use an outdoor construction adhesive instead of waterproof wood glue and make certain the stain you applied earlier has dried completely on both parts.

Step 3

Measure and mark the two corner posts (A) at the front of the deck 8 feet from the deck floor. Stretch and snap a chalk line between the marks for the posts in between and repeat as needed along the sides where you'll attach the lower supports (B, C).

Step 4

Working with a helper, clamp the first pair of long lower supports (B) to the posts on one end with the bottom edges flush with the chalk marks. Drill pairs of 5/8-in holes through the supports and post, and fasten them together with bolts, nuts, and washers. Repeat for the long lower supports on the opposite end.

Good to Know

Need plenty of places for hanging baskets? Mark identical bolt locations along each of the long lower supports (B) and add bolts you can later use as plant hangers.

Step 5

Stack the short lower supports (C) with the ends flush and drill a 5/8-in hole through both. Clamp a pair of short lower supports to the post (A) with the bottom edges even with the chalk line. Drill only the top hole through the supports and post. Add the bolt, nut, and washer and fasten them snug -- but not too tight to move -- with the supports level. Repeat for the remaining short lower supports.

Step 6

Cable connection to  bottom bolt

Cut two galvanized cables about 8 inches longer than the distance from the holes in the supports to the holes in the cable-bolt holders. Make 2-in loops on both ends of each cable using a chain ferrule, and then anchor the loops with stops fastened on the cable ends with a swaging tool.

Step 7

Short lower support assembly

Tilt a pair of short lower supports (C) to raise the long ends 2 inches higher than level. Pass a bolt with a washer through one lower support, thread the loops from two cables onto the bolt, and pass the bolt through the other support. Hold it in place with a washer and nut tightened using only your fingers for now.

Step 8

Fasten the other ends of the cables to the cable-bolt holders (D). Gently pull down the long ends of a pair of lower short supports (C) until they're level. Drill the second bolt hole through the supports and post. Then add a bolt, nut, and washers. Repeat for the other short lower supports and carefully tighten the bolts holding the cables.

Complete the Pergola

Step 1

Cut the long upper supports (E) to length. Clamp one long upper support in position on the lower supports (B, C), leaving equal overhangs on each end. Mark the long upper support where it crosses the lower supports and unclamp it from the posts. Now clamp the marked long upper support to another one of equal length and transfer the marks along both edges. Set a circular saw to cut 2 inches deep and cut along each mark for the edges of each notch. Then add saw cuts about 1/4-in apart between each pair of outside cuts and break out the remaining waste with a hammer and chisel. Repeat for the remaining marks and apply two coats of stain to each support.

Step 2

Reposition the long upper supports (E) with the notches on the lower supports and the sides clamped against the post (A). Drill a 5/8-in hole centered on the width of the supports through the upper supports and post, and then fasten them with a single bolt, nut, and washers. Repeat the previous step and this one to install the remaining upper supports.

Step 3

Where the long upper support (E) connects with a short lower support (C), drill 1/8-in pilot holes at an angle that allows a 3-in screw to pass through one support and into the other. Then drive screws on the upper edges of the lower supports and the bottom edges of the upper supports to connect them.

Step 4

Cut the short upper supports (F) to length and notch them using the same technique as in Step 1. Apply two coats of stain and bolt them to the posts (A).

Step 5

Cut each slat (G) to length and apply two coats of stain. Where you need slats longer than 8 ft, join two boards with the ends together over a short upper support. Space the slats along the upper supports (E, F) as you prefer with equal overhangs on each end. (We used 3-1/2-in spacing next to the posts and spaced them as evenly as possible in the sections between the posts.) Drill 1/8-in pilot holes through each slat where it crosses an upper support and fasten it using 3-in deck screws.