As the subtitle of this article suggests, the word “gazebo” probably originated from the words “gaze” and “about.” Anyway, that’s what historians say. Whatever the source, to gardeners “gazebo” means a beautiful structure in which to sit and “gaze about” while relaxing and enjoying their garden.
The word “gazebo” often brings forth visions of an octagonal white garden structure with gingerbread trim. Many gazebos do fit this nostalgic description; however, today’s versions are often square, round or rectangular. They can be modern-looking, sleek, metal, canvas, logs, or other materials and shapes. But whatever their makeup or style, they usually serve a primary purpose in the yard: a place to sit, relax, enjoy friends, music, books or food and drink. They are also usually focal points of the garden, designed and prominently placed with the view in mind.
The furnishings of the gazebo are entirely at the discretion of the owners, who have usually decided beforehand what the primary purpose of the gazebo is to be. Perhaps it is to be a pleasant outdoor place to dine. A gazebo furnished with a dining table and chairs allows for meals beneath the stars or for enjoying a cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. The table could also play a secondary role as a place for board or card games, doing school homework, or—heaven forbid!—working on a business project.
The gazebo could serve as a “comfort zone,” with a hammock or even a bed with piles of soft pillows—a quiet place for a restful nap. How about a “romantic retreat,” a place for the two of you, decorated with candles, flowers and wine and pull-down shades! Whatever your desires, a gazebo is sure to bring many hours of enjoyment in your yard.
There are three possibilities while making plans for your gazebo: building your own from a set of plans; putting together a kit; or hiring a professional to do the building.
Building your own requires excellent carpentry skills and a set of good, easy-to-read plans. A more manageable option is to assemble a gazebo from a kit. These kits contain pre-cut sections that fit together easily, following the detailed instructions that accompany them. If money is no object, or you just don’t have the time for the project, hire a building contractor. You may find that commissioning a professional is not much more expensive that purchasing a gazebo kit. You’ll be relieved of all the pressure of getting everything “just right,” and you can watch the progress from the sidelines with a cool drink in your hands.
Focal Point or Destination
Deciding whether you want a focal point in your yard or a destination with a real reason for going there will help you in determining the size and placement of your gazebo. A focal point will most likely be a smaller, 8-foot building. A destination will need to be large enough to hold all of the furnishing needed to enable you to use the structure for its intended use: dining, sleeping, entertaining friends, and so forth.
Choose a site for your gazebo where you can enjoy viewing it from several areas in the house as well as in the yard. Make sure your chosen location is not a low-lying area where water can collect. And, be sure to check your local building codes to see if you will need to obtain a permit before beginning the project.
To get you started thinking seriously about a gazebo, check out some designs on the Web by entering “gazebos” in a search engine. And dream on about gazing about from your GAZEbo.