Gazebos are stylish and regal structures which have graced high class lawns and gardens for centuries. These days homeowners can afford garden gazebos themselves, and so they are becoming a more common sight. With mass produced gazebo kits and even portable gazebos, you can often find a solution for less than a hundred dollars. Though the old adage that you get what you pay for is always an important consideration.
In some cases this widespread nature of prefabricated gazebos can undermine the sophisticated look that they are known for. A the same time it also opens up a great deal of room to make your gazebo and landscaping into a unique and functional combination. There is a tremendous variation in the styles, materials used, and price range for gazebos these days, and so there should be an option that is right for every yard and every budget.
In general there are two types of prefabricated gazebos that you can buy. Portable and lightweight gazebos that function much like camping tents, and more sturdy kits that you assemble on site. Each has a specific purpose they can fulfill. Understanding how they fill these purposes will ensure that you can choose the right gazebo for your garden.
Roles that Gazebos Play in Gardens
In a garden, a gazebo can do a lot for an outdoor structure. The style of the gazebo can of course be a wonderful aesthetic addition to the garden. Not just in it’s own right, but in how it interacts with the more natural aspects. Wooden gazebos are especially adapt in this regard, as the natural look and feel of the construction materials will feel right at home among the rocks, bushes, and trees which decorate the landscaping.
A gazebo can also serve as a foundation upon which to build that landscaping. For instance, much like the potting shed, a gazebo can have built in planters and places to hang pots from, creating a great area to grow plants which could use a little bit of protection from the elements. At the same time, these plants can help give the gazebo an even more natural appeal. In some cases, an arbor integrated into the gazebo can even make for a privacy screen, and increased shading in the hot summer months. This is an especially useful addition to the south facing side of a gazebo if there isn’t adequate shade from trees.
Benefits of Hardtop Gazebos for Your Garden
Most gazebo kits are heavier and have wooden structures with a conventional wood slat roof. This allows for the gazebo to be used year round, whether snow or shine. The roof is sturdy enough to stand up to snow accumulation, and during the summer the shade is complete to provide a very cool place to enjoy the beauty of your garden from.
Since the framing of hardtop gazebos is generally heavy duty, you can use it to support heavier objects. This could mean hanging pots from the rafters or eaves, or even stringing a hammock between two of the posts. With a hardtop gazebo in your garden, you will have a comfortable place to rest and relax and soak in the beauty of nature.
There are some problems with hardtop gazebos though, especially in gardens. Often these roofs aren’t as high quality as you’d expect, and can have problems with water damage within just a couple of years. Using the gazebo as a trellis can increase the likelihood of water damage occurring, due to the plant canopy increasing the humidity the roof and structural components face.
Another problem is that often the roof isn’t as high quality as you’d expect. Wood slats bring a picturesque look, but they have to be made of the right wood to resist water and pest problems. Also, regardless of the wood used, you will need to maintain the finish so as to keep it well protected from the elements.
In cheaper kits though, poor choice of wood for the slats is a common problem. Even with reapplying protective sealants, wood like pine can have problems with water damage, dry rot, or termites within just a couple of years. Wood such as cedar, redwood, and teak are far better suited for such applications. So choose your kit carefully.
Why Gazebo Canopies Help in Gardens
Gazebo kits aren’t too difficult to set up, but for those who just want a gazebo now without much effort, canopy versions are available. While some of these are still rather heavy duty in regards to their framing, there is a whole range between that and the instant pop up gazebos that are also available. In between you will find lightweight gazebo canopies, often with aluminum framing, which can be moved around without much effort.
This can be a real benefit in a garden. When plants are first sprouting, they need protection from the hot sun and heavy rains. With a fabric cover like canvas, you won’t get total shade. In fact, you can choose just about any amount of shade you want by choosing the right gazebo canopy. Canvas, depending on what weight of material it is, is somewhere in the middle ground, with lighter fabrics allowing more sunlight through.
So having a lightweight gazebo canopy can give you a rain shelter and screen house for your new plants.
Drawbacks to a Garden Gazebo Canopy
The problem with gazebo canopies is that they aren’t able to stand up to heavy weather, especially snow accumulation. This means that you can’t leave them out all year in colder climates. Heavy winds can also damage them, leading to tears in the stitching or even bent framing poles.
Also, the structures aren’t very hefty in most cases, so can’t hold up a lot of extra weight. You may be able to get away with hanging a planter or two from the frames, but a hammock is out of the question. You can get around these drawbacks by using stands for planters, or even for hammocks. In fact you may find that a standalone hammock frame is the perfect accessory to a lightweight garden gazebo. That way you can have a shaded spot to enjoy your hammock when it’s too hot outside. At the same time, you always have the option to remove the canopy and enjoy the extra sun while taking a nap during the cooler times of year.
Turning Your Gazebo into a Garden Screen House
Most prefabricated gazebos have accessories that you can add to them. This can be lighting or curtains, privacy screens or insect nets. For the garden, the insect netting offers an interesting possibility, especially for gazebos with very lightweight cloth canopies. In this case you can create a simple greenhouse that doesn’t cost much money. It can be a wonderful place to grow light-sensitive plants and seedlings.
A gazebo canopy makes for a great addition to any yard. Easy to set up, yet stylish enough to add a bit of beauty and charm to your landscaping, there’s no simpler way to add an outdoor gathering place.
Your yard instantly becomes a much more comfortable place with the shade that a gazebo canopy provides. Protected from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun, you can enjoy outdoor activities with your family all summer long. Because the canopies are lightweight and breathable, the heat of the sun is readily dispersed, rather than being radiated downward like can occur with some hardtop gazebos.
Portable Gazebos For On The Go
Some gazebo canopies are so lightweight that they qualify as portable. These come in many styles and flavors, with most of the functional differentiation in how the support structure is set up. Folding gazebos tend to have aluminum poles that the canopy is stretched over. They can be set up very easily and are rather stable. Pop up gazebos can have aluminum or fiberglass poles, and generally are lighterweight but less stable.
There’s a fine line between these portable gazebos and tents in many ways. Many portable gazebos end up looking a lot like a 4 sided camping tent. So much so, that they’re often actually the very same thing. In the end it doesn’t really matter what you call them, as it’s how they fit your needs that counts.
Common Gazebo Canopy Sizes
You can find canopies for gazebos in just about any size imaginable. However, there is an important consideration in this regard. That is, not all gazebo manufacturers use standard measurements or attachment points for their gazebos. This means that even if you have the same stated dimensions for a frame and a canopy, they may not fit at all.
To make sure that you can find replacement canopies if/when they are needed, it’s a good idea to research the availability of replacements before you decide on a model of gazebo to purchase. Sticking with standard dimensions will help some too, as there are “universal” gazebo canopy replacements that can fit most frames. To help in this regard, here are some of the more common dimensions which you are likely to be able to find universal replacement canopies for:
- 8 x 8
- 10 x 10
- 10 x 12
- 12 x 12
While there are many other sizes available, if you stick to these sizes mentioned you are much more likely to be able to find a suitable replacement canopy later on. Of all of them, 10 x 10 gazebo canopies are the easiest to find.
Drawbacks to Gazebo Canopies
Perhaps the biggest problem with gazebos of these sorts are how flimsy the canopies often are. High quality fabrics are available, but more often than not the stitching or fabric will leave something to be desired. High winds or just the wear and tear of rain and ultraviolet light will degrade the canopies in just a couple years.
Storage of the canopy is a big concern too. Since you can’t leave the gazebo up during the winter in areas where snowfall occurs, that means breaking it down and stowing it away for months at a time. IN storage, dry rot and pests can attack the fabric, leaving it useless when spring rolls around.
Gazebo Canopy Accessories
Gazebo canopies can be rather simplistic structures. That doesn’t mean they have to remain so though. Manufacturers often offer accessories for their gazebos, and often you can add your own if you have a DIY attitude.
Perhaps the most common addition to gazebos are insect netting. These nets usually drop or roll down from under the eaves, providing protection against insects. This can make spending the evenings out in the yard much more tolerable, and is also great on portable gazebos that you take with you camping.
Another common accessory are gazebo curtains. These curtains are much like any others, though they tend to be heavier fabrics that can stand up to moisture. While usually decorative, sometimes they can serve as windbreaks or privacy screens when necessary.
Sometimes these fabric coverings are more extensive, and generally are referred to as gazebo canopy panels. Generally made of the same materials that the canopy is, these are waterproof and sturdy enough to stand up to the wind. Also, they can provide the same protection as the insect netting. However, they don’t generally look very pleasant, and can ruin the views from your gazebo as well.
Often overlooked, but just as important for night time enjoyment of your gazebo canopy, are gazebo light accessories. Generally these are LED string lights, which are simply strung around the framing underneath the canopy. Solar LED string lights are wonderful additions to a gazebo, as you can always count on them providing light whether the power is on or off.
Gazebo curtains are going to be used the most often on metal gazebos. This allows you to take an inexpensive wrought iron gazebo that you install yourself and give it more of a permanent appearance in your yard just through the use of curtains. Outdoor fabrics tend to be plainer and more expensive than what you’d find in interior design. This makes sense because you need to get more durable fabric choices and they need to be fitted to your existing gazebo structure.
The hanging system that you choose for your gazebo just depends on whether you’re going to open and close it often. You can choose more stationary panels just for decoration. Sheer panels work well for this. This might just use a Velcro hanging system.
Another system can use metal grommets. Just like with all of the other outdoor materials you need to choose quality metals that won’t rust. Grommet systems look modern. It has a metal ring built right into the curtain instead of a traditional rod pocket. I’ve also found that these open and close quiet easily as well.
You should pick an outdoor fabric dependent on the area where you live. This could be really durable such as a PVC material or even a treated cotton or polyester. You may need to bring these into your home during the winter. You need a fabric that is both mold and mildew resistant which is the biggest problem with outdoor fabrics.
You’ll also want to take the actual design of your gazebo into consideration when choosing curtains. You might choose a gazebo for its intricate trellis or lattice work on the posts. You’ll usually pay much more money for these features too. In this case look for sheer style curtains. This will be purely decorative; although some mosquito screens mimics this pretty effectively. Just make sure the fabric doesn’t cover up the architecture that you spent extra money on.
Gazebo Curtain Transformations
You can take a basic iron gazebo with neutral color top and transform it depending on the style of gazebo curtains you use. The most important fabric element is the top and where you want to spend the most of your money. The canopy is what is going to provide you with shade and protection from wind. It’s also the most difficult piece to find and fit for your specific type of gazebo so usually you want to start off with this piece.
If you want a true canopy look then you just need to match the top of your gazebo to the replaceable curtains. This gives you more of the appearance of one piece but it’s easier to install. Plus, you can get a wider variety of fabric and color choices and use different materials too.
Sheer curtains are a great look for outdoor use and probably the most aesthetically pleasing. However, usually you need heavier canvas weights to actually be practical. You can choose sheer curtains for the sides and if the screen is small enough it can even help protect you from bugs. If you want to showcase the ironwork of your gazebo or see the scrollwork designs you can choose sheer curtains to show them off.
You can take the same gazebo but get a totally different look that still matches a plain taupe top. For more of a tropical look you can find bright orange sheer curtains. A more modern style uses heavier weight curtains in gray designs too.
Little details actually go a long ways in the great outdoors. It’s not just the curtain panels themselves that are a chance to set themselves apart. You can also look for more intricate canopy tops. This uses a Greek key design which is a fretwork border usually in two contrasting colors. This adds an architectural element through the fabric instead of having other architectural details on the actual structure.
A scalloped canopy is the most feminine style. If you want a shabby chic effect and you just have a darker metal gazebo then going with more ornate canopies and curtain panels is a must. If you have an event then you have a much bigger variety of fabric choices available to you. You can get interior curtain panels as long as you can hang them easily like tie designs. Just make sure you take them into the house before the weather changes.
Sometimes it’s not the fabric you choose but the volume. Typically fuller curtain panels look more expensive and you also want to consider the weight of them when using fabrics outside. You may need to anchor them down with tie backs depending on the weather. If you have a hexagonal gazebo then this requires more than the typical four curtain panels. Skip patterns for this design because the sheer volume of curtains for this type of gazebo makes a statement all by themselves.