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How to Stabilize a Pergola

By Mary Lougee
Backyard pergolas must be stabilized with support posts.
pergola image by titi78430 from Fotolia.com

Construction of any structure requires stabilization from the ground up, starting with the footing. Outdoor pergolas encounter winds, rains and storms that can sway or topple them if they are not structurally sound. Using large posts in larger postholes provides area for concrete in the footing to hold the posts in place. Additional lengths of vertical posts in the ground also add sturdiness to a pergola.

Determine the placement of the pergola. Stretch a string line to mark the exterior outline on the ground.

Dig holes with posthole diggers to one-third the depth of the vertical support posts. For example, for a 9-foot-tall pergola, use 12-foot posts with 3 feet underground for ample support. Dig a hole for each corner post to the correct depth and 12 inches in diameter.

Pour 3 inches of gravel into the bottom of each posthole. Tamp it down with a shovel or hoe handle.

Place a 4-inch-by-4-inch post in the center of a post hole. Level the pole horizontally and vertically, checking it with your level. Lean a 2-inch-by-4-inch board up against the post at a 45-degree angle with the other end on the ground. Nail the board to the post to support the post in its level position.

Combine ready-mix concrete and water according to the package directions. Place the dry powder in a wheelbarrow, add water and mix with a shovel until the concrete is consistent.

Shovel the concrete into the posthole around the post until it is at ground level.

Repeat this process for each vertical pergola post.

Let the posts set for 24 hours. Remove the two-by-four braces and continue the building process.


Things You Will Need

  • String line
  • Posthole diggers
  • Gravel
  • 4-incy-by-4-inch posts
  • Level
  • 2-inch-by-4-inch boards
  • Hammer and nails
  • Ready-mix concrete
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Shovel


  • Placing gravel in the bottom of a posthole allows drainage so the hole does not hold water.
  • Use quick-setting concrete instead of standard concrete mix to speed up the building process without waiting 24 hours for the substance to fully cure.
  • Add additional side posts to the pergola structure for extra stabilization in strong winds.

About the Author


Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.