A gazebo is an ornamental, freestanding pavilion structure often used as an outdoor sitting room in gardens or parks. Garden gazebos are still considered a standard decorative element of well-to-do gardens and yards.
Gazebos have most traditionally been built out of wood, but the metal gazebo and the vinyl gazebo have both been gaining popularity for their strength and lower maintenance requirements. Metal gazebos often provide an ornate skeletal structure, allowing superior airflow but not much protection from the elements. Vinyl-covered gazebos are the longest lasting, lowest maintenance gazebo structures available.
Hexagonal gazebos are the traditional shape and provide a more formal look, but rectangular gazebos are more versatile and can cover more area. Another traditional element of gazebos is the small, dome-shaped addition on the top. These structures, called cupolas, are not necessary, but admit light and vent air, making the gazebo more comfortable.
While it breaks with the traditional open-air feel, a screened gazebo can make your family more comfortable in the early evenings by preventing bugs from entering your gazebo. Some companies offer gazebos with removable screens, so you can decide if the season warrants the extra layer of protection.
Gazebos can be ordered either wholly prebuilt or as part of a kit that you put together yourself or with the help of a local handyman. Many garden gazebos require a building permit, and they may also have to meet certain hurricane or buildings codes, so be sure to check with your city and county building departments, as well as your homeowners' association.
When creating your gazebo plan, it's important to figure out how much space you need for the gazebo and where exactly you want to place it. You may want your gazebo available as a shaded pool retreat, as the centerpiece of your garden, as a picnic retreat further from your actual house or even as an airy extension of your own home or deck. The location will affect the size and type of gazebo you build, so make sure it's settled before you shop.
No matter where they're located, all gazebos need a hard, flat surface so that the base and joints aren't weakened through stress. While grass can work, it's better to put pavers under the skids and use shims to level the gazebo's base. Crushed gravel or a concrete slab can also work — in fact, some gazebos come without a wooden floor, meaning you can bolt the posts right into the concrete. In most parts of the country, gazebos don't require anchoring to the ground; their weight alone is enough to anchor the structure. However, in harsh or possible high-wind conditions, a foundation may be necessary.