Gazebos are an excellent addition to any outdoor space. Because they are open to the outdoors but still have a roof overhead, they allow you to enjoy your yard without worrying too much about the weather. Sheltered from the rain and the heat of the midday sun, you can sit back and enjoy lunch with friends or a glass of wine with your special someone.
The most challenging decision may not be whether or not to build a gazebo, but what type of gazebo you want to build.
Gazebos are usually constructed of metal, vinyl, and wood. However, the location and use of the gazebo may dictate which material will serve you the best.
- Metal – Gazebos made from iron are sturdy and heavy, making them a good choice for public parks. However, they are often too heavy for homeowners to install in their backyard.
- Vinyl – Vinyl gazebos are much lighter and require little maintenance, which makes them an attractive choice. Yet, the smooth, white finish of vinyl can make it look like cheap plastic.
- Wood – For most homeowners, wood is the material of choice for building gazebos. Cedar wood and redwood, in particular, make for a stunning gazebo with natural resistance to weathering and wood destroying insects. Gazebos are designed to be decorative and complement outdoor landscaping. Nothing beats the natural beauty of wood.
The style you choose for your gazebo, in large part, will depend on the function that you want it to serve. Do you want protection from the sun and rain? Are you looking for a place to hold large gatherings, clandestine space for small intimate luncheons, privacy around your hot tub, or for a unique way to enhance your garden?
These decorative structures have served as eye-catching additions to the gardens on wealthy estates for centuries. These gazebos are more decorative than they are practical. Ornately adorned with delicate features, they do not provide protection from the outdoor elements, but they are a great backdrop for beautiful flowers and hedges.
The intricate design of the pagoda pays homage to the Japanese buildings from which it draws its name. In Japan, pagodas are large wooden buildings with tiered roofs used for mainly religious purposes. Similarly, a pagoda-style gazebo features a curved roof in two or three tiers. The support pillars are often intricately decorated. While pagodas can be functional structures, they are best suited to garden settings.
Like the rotundas you find in large European buildings, a rotunda-style gazebo is large and circular. A ring of simple pillars supports the domed roof. The gazebo has no walls and is open to the fresh air. Rotundas look grand and are often used in public buildings and monuments.
A pergola has an open framework structure that works well for climbing plants and flowers. The roof may be open or closed but often has slats across the top that provide at least partial shade while still allowing air to flow freely. Often pergolas are used to create covered walkways between buildings or to expand covered patio space. Because pergolas only provide a structural framework, they can be an inexpensive way to create an outdoor living space.
Like any outdoor structure, permanent gazebos are subject to wind, rain, and snow. Taking steps to ensure that your structure can stand up to these elements is vitally important. If the roof of your gazebo breaks off in a windstorm, not only do you have to pay for repairs, but you could be responsible for damage to your home or your neighbors. Taking a few precautions when you build your gazebo can stack the deck in your favor.
Deciding where you put your gazebo in your yard does make a difference. If it is out in the open, it is likely to receive the brunt of the wind as it whips across your property. Placing it near the house, a fence, or trees can help shield it from the worst weather.
The open-air structure of gazebos with pillars supporting a heavy roof allows the wind to flow through. However, a gust in the right direction can take the structure apart at pivotal points that bear the roof’s weight. Providing the proper support and even reinforcement for these junctures can prevent storm damage. You may want to check the hardware regularly or after a particularly nasty storm blows through and tighten any loose connections.
A structure is only as strong as the foundation on which it is built. Just as your house has footings to stand on, your gazebo should too. Embedding a long metal rod into a concrete footer at the base of each leg of the gazebo provides a permanent place for you to attach each leg, securing your structure.
Gazebos are an excellent way to step up the style and functionality of your backyard oasis. It extends your usable living space to the outdoors, where you can enjoy lazy summer evenings, good food, and the company of friends.