The name "gazebo" is thought to come from a classicised form of the English word "to gaze," as the small pavilions were originally intended as places from which you could view the garden. Gazebos characteristically have a open frame with eight sides and eight poles supporting a pitched roof. However, with a little ingenuity, you can adapt a basic gazebo structure to serve as a small greenhouse.
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Replacing the Roof
The main roadblock to converting a traditional gazebo structure to a greenhouse is the roof. While a gazebo has a closed roof structure that allows it to serve as a shelter during rainstorms, a greenhouse usually has a transparent glass roof that allows for maximum sun exposure. If your gazebo is built on a high point, is relatively uncrowded by trees, vegetation and buildings, or is fairly tall, you may have enough light coming in through the sides to leave the roof covered. Otherwise, your greenhouse will benefit from a clear roof. For roofing materials, select plastic or glass varieties that are specially designed to endure hail or flying debris. When selecting a transparent roof for your gazebo, check with local building codes and neighbourhood ordinances to ensure it meets all requirements.
Recycling Doors and Windows
If you invest in a ready-to-build or ready-made gazebo of the right dimensions, you may be able to fit used doors or windows to each of its sides. Glass is the traditional material used to build greenhouses as it remains transparent, unlike some plastic alternatives. In addition, it is very strong. However, it does have a tendency to become brittle and shatter, and is more expensive than other materials if bought new. If you choose to recycle doors or windows for use in your greenhouse, there is the possibility that they will not have any shatter resistance. For added protection, coat any recycled glass products with film to reduce the chances of accidents. Check public auctions, yard sales, local window installers or suppliers, and junk yards for old doors or windows that fit the bill.
For an inexpensive and easily built alternative to greenhouse design, you can simply cover your gazebo with polythene film (PE). The film is far cheaper than glass or treated plastics. You can select clear PE for general plant growth or white PE if you will be growing lowlight plants or delicate seedlings. To keep the greenhouse sufficiently warm throughout the winter, place two layers of the material over the building. While PE is a far less expensive alternative to traditional materials, it's also far less resilient to weathering. Expect to replace the film every two years, at least.
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