Gazebo vs Pergola: Which Is Right for Your Oyster Bay Home?

The fine homes in Oyster Bay, NY go back to Theodore Roosevelt's Victorian “summer White House”. Many smaller versions were built, as well as Colonials with wrap-around porches. Later, split-levels and ranch homes came into fashion. Custom-built homes in personalized designs have increased over the last couple of decades. No matter what the style of the house. or the size or shape of the backyard, outdoor living in Oyster Bay spans the late spring, summer and early fall. Residents look for new and better ways to relax or entertain outdoors, whether while catching some rays or bathed in moonlight. Many use gazebos and pergolas to add living space to the landscape while increasing both the aesthetic quotient and the resale value of a home.

The words “gazebo” and “pergola” are often used interchangeably, but they are very different. They both give you a sheltered area in your backyard, but that is about all that they have in common. So read on to learn their distinct characteristics and uses.


A gazebo is an octagonal or round structure that is freestanding and situated away from the house. It has a domed or cone-shaped roof, floor, and railings that enclose the interior. The sides can be left open or screened in should flying insects be a problem. With the materials used and the solid construction, a gazebo is extremely durable and can hold its own in heavy winds or any turbulent weather.

Gazebo vs Pergola: Which Is Right for Your Oyster Bay, NY Home?


A pergola, on the other hand, is square or rectangular. It can be freestanding but more often isn't, and is usually attached to or close to the home, such as on a patio. Four posts or pillars support cross beams in a lattice-like design and the “roof” is flat and slatted. Because of the open design and only four “legs” supporting it, a pergola is less likely to withstand a hurricane, but it's also not going to fold when it encounters its first windy day.


Choosing Between the Two

Now that you know how to identify each, here are some things to think about before choosing which will be perfect for your backyard.

It may be an easy choice if space is limited. A gazebo takes up more space, and needs some distance between it and your house to gain the full advantage of its functional and aesthetic value. Oddly enough, you have less usable space with a gazebo because of its closed structure. The open design of the pergola allows for the expansion and contraction of space, particularly when entertaining, and can easily be added to with future construction if needed.   

If weather protection is your primary goal, a gazebo provides shielding from the sun and the rain. A pergola, by itself, does not. However, on the plus side, you can dress up a pergola with beautiful vines that climb and cling and wrap themselves around and through the latticework. Sometimes that alone is reason enough to install a pergola. When the vine has grown sufficiently, it provides a canopy of foliage, creating shade and a natural ambience, although rain protection is limited.