The gazebo is a garden folly that decorates the landscape, sets the scene for a garden party or invites some serious contemplation of a good book. It can be a peaceful retreat at the end of an arbor or a dock, an outdoor dining room for the family, or an elaborate trellis for climbing roses at the centre of the garden. Designs for a gazebo may stick to traditional shapes and materials, or riff on the idea of a fantasy or ready-made approach.
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Gazebos may be polygons--typically hexagons and octagons--squares, rectangles or circles. Plan yours to allow for maximum use of the interior space so you can fit a table and chairs for dining with enough room so guests don't feel cramped. Or keep it small to use as a private retreat in the garden. Near the house, a gazebo is convenient to the kitchen. Centred in the garden, the gazebo offers unobstructed backyard views. For a real retreat, tuck the gazebo in a spot distant from the house. Adding ceiling fans and lights cools the structure on hot summer evenings and allows everyone to socialise later. Enclosed or roofed gazebos are somewhat weather-protected. Open-sided designs allow for built-in side benches, hanging plants in open archways and more integration with the surrounding landscape.
Traditional gazebos may be made of wood, metal, or vinyl composites. Red cedar is weather-resistant and ages attractively, as does more-expensive teak. Metal frames might be covered in fabric like elaborate tents. Contemporary gazebos use bamboo and other natural materials for a zen look, and synthetics for sculpted shapes. A classic gazebo style is a Victorian gingerbread, often painted white, with a tin or closed roof, open side arches and lots of detail. Gazebos with wood floors may be a step or two above ground level. Casual gazebos have simple dirt, turf or paved floors. (See reference 1, 4)
Sail and Sari Gazebos
Create an exotic gazebo with panels of canvas and colourful saris attached to a spare frame. The gazebo can be customised to fit an existing patio or to transform another area of a yard. Triangular, sail-shaped canvas ceiling panels in a vivid colour form the roof. Bright silk or synthetic sari panels hanging from the sides are the walls of the structure, and can be pulled aside to allow more of a breeze to enter. At night, the gazebo glows with intense colour from lighting within. This type of gazebo makes a great party tent and can stay up indefinitely in a dry climate. Unhook the saris in wet weather and reattach them when the sun comes out.
It's easy to make a gazebo that takes no construction and breaks down fast to relocate to another part of the yard. Four identical arbors set in a square on a patio or around a garden terrace of pavers frame the space. Plant the arbors with flowering vines and surround them with evergreens and containers of annuals. Place a bistro table with a centre slot for a patio umbrella in the centre of the square. Add a canvas market umbrella, large enough to fill most of the space, for a roof. Market umbrellas come in round, square, hexagonal and octagonal shapes, solid colours and patterns. Paint the arbors to match the umbrella to unify the space. Add a couple of chairs and you have an instant gazebo. Fill in all the archways with plants, leaving one arch open as an entry, or run pavers from the terrace through the arbors for access from every corner of the yard.
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- "Ultimate Guide to Gazebos and Other Outdoor Structures"; Editors of Creative Homeowner; 2007
- "Sunset" magazine; Instant Gazebo; Peter O. Whiteley
- "Sunset" magazine; Flying colours; Sharon Cohoon
- Kansas State University Extension; Garden Rooms; 2004
- "Southern Living" magazine; Creating a Garden Getaway; Glenn R. DiNella; July 2003