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How to Build a Ramada in Phoenix, AZ

September 14, 2020

Picture this — it’s a gorgeous summer afternoon, and you’re sitting in the backyard of your Phoenix home. You’ve got a landscape begging for attention, but you’ve never known quite what to do with it. Now, looking over the dirt expanse, it dawns on you: you can spruce up the area by adding in a pool or even colorful landscaping. And, one thing you don’t want to forget is a covered structure to relax beneath to escape the Arizona sun. 

You know just the solution — a ramada. But how do you get started with one? An online search for how to build a ramada shows you that it’s a great feature to add, it certainly has several benefits and there is no shortage of design options. Now that you’re ready to develop your backyard into the oasis you know it can be complete with landscaping and possibly a water feature, you’re ready to add on that ramada as part of the project, too. Fortunately, a complete overhaul is right at your fingertips.

Always Put Quality First

When you have any type of landscaping work done, it’s important to put quality first. Some companies skimp on materials or do shoddy work, which means in a relatively short time, whether it’s 6 months or a year, you’ll be paying to have your yard or structures fixed. 

Don’t make this mistake. Instead, hire professionals who put quality first. Ask them about the materials they use, if they’re designed to stand up to the semi-arid climate of Phoenix, AZ. If they can’t give you a straight answer, they’re not the ones you want to work with. 

What Is a Ramada?

When you look up backyard structures, you inevitably come up with a few common results: pergola, gazebo and ramada. A ramada is a covered structure that’s commonly built over outdoor kitchens to protect your appliances and furniture from rain, dust and other elements. 

However, it doesn’t have to be over an outdoor kitchen. Many ramada plans are freestanding and then become a center for grilling and smoking equipment. You can even add them on as a shelter near a pool or spa. Ramadas are also commonly referred to as pavilions, so you may hear the terms used interchangeably.  They’re commonly added as part of a larger landscaping project that involves the entire backyard area.

Types of Ramadas

When you’re researching how to build a ramada, you’ll likely come upon a few different types. These should not be confused with pergolas, though they are often compared to them. Instead, ramadas have unique features that draw customers to choose them over other options. 


There’s the freestanding ramada, which has four columns and open walls. These are good for an outdoor kitchen area where you’ll want access to the other backyard features or a view of your landscaping from the area.

If you’re looking to get fancy, you can opt for closed walls and create a full-on entertainment space complete with a wall-mounted TV that has your neighbors clamoring for an invite.

You can opt for one full wall, leaving the other three open for passing lanes or choose to close in three and have a single main entrance.


Ramadas can be 100% freestanding, in the middle of your yard, poolside or wherever you desire. They’re flexible structures, and as long as you have space and a suitable landscape, you can build one anywhere.

If you decide to go with an add-on, to cover an outdoor kitchen just outside your home for example, you’ll want to match the roofing for a cohesive look.


Some people like the openness of the structure, while others want just a little more protection. If this sounds like you, consider an awning. It offers additional shade from the sun and can add a resort-like feel to your space.


What’s the point of having a ramada if you don’t choose to get fancy? Maybe when building a ramada, the plans include custom lighting or stone countertops to create a bar or conversation area. The idea is to create your own private space, and that means all the add-ons you want. Create a nook for watching TV, a sound system for entertaining or ceiling fans to circulate the air — the choice is yours!

So how do you choose which type you want? Consider the size of your yard as well as the type of landscaping you’re planning to have done, and where you’d like to place the structure. Bring in your landscaping professionals to make sure it can be done or adjust your ramada plans accordingly.

Materials to Consider

One of the most important decisions you’ll make in regards to building a ramada is the type of materials to use. Since Phoenix has a semi-arid climate, it’s important to choose materials that can withstand the elements. Some of the most popular options include: 

  • Stone — Stone adds a certain luster to your structure. In Phoenix, you need a stone that’s not prone to oxidation, and with Arizona’s climate, it’s a high possibility. Some stone options include sandstone, marble, tuff, slate and granite. Talk to your contractor about other options that may be available. 
  • Brick — Brick is a versatile material for many reasons. You can go bold, with colorful tiles or intricate patterns. Not only does it make a great addition to the walls, but it also works for flooring. It’s easy to maintain and stands up very well in the Arizona desert. It may be a commonly-used material, but nobody ever said it had to be boring! 
  • Wood — Hickory, oak and maple, oh my! The options for your ramada are plentiful. You also can’t go wrong with red cedar or pine. The most important part is that in addition to being able to withstand the elements, it’s treated for longevity. Treatments help keep bugs — i.e. termites — away and safeguard against wood rot. 
  • Concrete — Concrete is a hardy material that stands up to just about any climate. It’s also easy to maintain and like brick, you can hose it off to clean it. Don’t think simple means inelegant, though. There’s a lot of fancy design work that you can do with concrete, so don’t be afraid to try it. 

There may be other materials available for a ramada, so be sure to speak with your landscaping design team to see what other options they offer. Alternatively, get our detailed take on the materials and decision factors to consider for a dry-climate landscape.

What Steps to Take Before You Build a Ramada or Overhaul Your Landscape

We’re just as excited as you are that you’re considering adding a ramada to your home. But before you do that, there are a few steps you’ll need to take — don’t worry, they’re simple! 

  • Decide where you want to build a ramada and what surrounding landscaping you want your team to design.. 
  • Browse through Pinterest or other image galleries of ramadas to determine which type fits your needs. Things to consider: materials, overall aesthetic and size. Check out popular home and gardening magazines for inspiration. Save your ideas to show your contractor so they know exactly what you’re looking for. 
  • Contact Straightline and get the ball rolling on your new landscaping project that includes a ramada. 

The Process of Building a Ramada in a New Backyard

If life were magical, you’d be able to snap your fingers, and poof! Your beautiful ramada appears instantly in your backyard. However, real life requires a bit more work. Here’s what you need before you can get started. 

  • A level surface — this is a must in order to create stability and a solid surface to cook, entertain or relax on. If your backyard is bumpy, your design team will need to level it out first. This can involve digging up the area then filling it again to create an area stable enough to support your structure. If your surface is already level, they will still dig up the area to create a foundation, this involves removing grass and other greenery or landscaping. 
  • Columns for support — like a pergola, you’ll need to add columns to support the structure. These will be inserted about the same time the flooring is laid, so it’ll look like it popped up overnight. 

Ramada building — once the support is up and ready, the rest of your ramada plans will come to life rather quickly. From the support, the walls — if you have them — are built, then the roof is added. All extras are implemented as the structure comes together.

Process – What to Expect of Your Full Landscape Build

When you’re looking up how to build a pergola, you’re likely wondering what our process is like. Rest assured, it’s quite simple, but thorough. You’ll never wonder where your design stands with our team. We pride ourselves on remaining in contact, communicating through every step of the way and ensuring you get the design you’re dreaming of. 

  • The first thing we do is talk with you over the phone, so we can learn about your designs for building a ramada. 
  • Our photo galleries provide much inspiration, and here you can pick out features you like and let us know which you want and don’t want in our Online Project Inquiry Form. 
  • An in-person meeting is beneficial for you and for us, so we get an idea of how to proceed. At this time, your landscaping is also evaluated by our expert design team. 
  • Working with the information collected at the meeting, the design team uses either a CAD drawing or a 3D rendering incorporating your specs. 
  • You’ll come to the office for a meeting that lasts approximately 30 to 60 minutes. We’ll review the design, note any changes and discuss the budget, timelines and other important details. 
  • Changes, if any, are implemented and we’ll meet one last time before work starts. Here, we’ll finalize colors and materials, and go over the price breakdown, keeping you fully in the loop. Contracts are signed at this meeting. 
  • We’ll create a scale drawing and choose a start date that’s mutually beneficial. 
  • Construction is underway! Sit back with a drink and watch how quickly and efficiently we work. 
  • Construction is complete and now we’ll review everything with you. We’ll confirm the work is to your standards, discuss maintenance and complete the contract. 
  • Now you get to take in the beauty that’s your own ramada and start planning all those gatherings that’ll take place within.  

Hiring – How to Find a Great Contractor for a Complete Landscape Project

Contractors are a dime a dozen, great contractors are a bit harder to find, but they are out there. Don’t trust your landscaping project to just any old Joe calling himself a landscaper. Do your research and make sure you hire a company that comes not only with gorgeous galleries of work they’ve done, but also with recommendations from prior customers. 

Talk and meet with several companies or contractors before making a decision. Go over quotes, see what’s included and how they differ in terms of timeline, processes and partners they work with to obtain materials. 

Your backyard landscaping project took a lot of thought, now Straightline is going to give it the care it deserves. Our design team is professional and they’re experts at taking a molehill and turning it into a majestic mountain. Let us take on your landscaping project that includes your brand new ramada and give you the entertainment or relaxing space you’ve dreamed of since the moment you moved in. 

Contact us, whether by phone, email or through our online form and let’s get started!


Author: Holly Banghart

Holly, our senior designer and sales manager since 2010, brings expertise in design, industry certifications, and Master Gardener qualification. She crafts functional outdoor spaces tailored to clients' needs with manageable maintenance. Holly excels in conquering design challenges, turning yards into captivating landscapes. If you seek to enhance your outdoor space, Holly stands ready to transform your vision into reality.

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