Patio and Garden Structures
Follow our step by step guide to patio and garden structures and shade. Read our ideas on selecting and erecting a garden pergola. Plus develop your understanding of the wide aray of decorative garden structures that can transform your garden
Decorative Shade Structures
A pergola is a garden feature that forms a shaded walkway or sitting area incorporated into the garden. Vines can be planted and designed to grow around the slats of the enclosure, giving it a natural and relaxing feature. Usually chairs are kept under the pergola for sitting and relaxation and even for entertaining guests.
Of course, type of pergola used depends on the size and location of the garden and the creative bent of the owner, as there are no hard and fast rules for pergola installation and design.
Pergolas can be placed at the entrance to or exit from the garden to highlight the plants in it. They can be incorporated into a house’s deck/patio or pool area. It can double as a space for entertaining guests, or create shade in a very brightly lit area of the garden when a shade or canopy is incorporated into the design. It can add an edgy look to an otherwise ordinary-looking garden, and the top can be left open to admit as much natural light as possible or could be covered for comfort.
There are two primary types of pergolas from which all other designs and types are derived: the flat pergola and the gable roof pergola. The flat/skillion type is very versatile and flexible. It can be customised to feature fans and lighting. Even though the design is basically flat, the roof is tilted at an angle that permits rainwater to run off.
The gable pergola has a high roof and open sides to allow circulation. The rafters are cut at angles and meet at the centre of the structure, and can be designed to blend into the roofline of the owner's house.
The common materials for pergola construction are metal and wood, but other materials like stone, bamboo and vinyl can also be used.
Ideally, the traditional material for constructing a pergola is wood. Wooden pergola kitsare versatile and easy to craft, and can be adjusted to fit the size of the space and the owner’s style and comes in many beautiful finishes. It can be painted or sprayed, doesn’t need special instruments for constructing it to taste, and is readily available. The type of wood chosen determines how long the pergola will last, if it must be maintained often or just from time to time, and how the pergola will look. In choosing the type of wood, its outdoor durability and ability to withstand the elements and pests should be put into consideration. The most common wood types are teak, cedar, redwood, pressure-treated pine (which is factory-treated with a copper-based insecticide) and fir.
For builders who want the option of painting the wood to match the house, it should be noted that different types of wood colour differently, so in order not to have a clashing symphony of several shades of the same colour, some mixing and matching is in order.
Steel Pergolas Kits
Metal pergolas are ideal because of their durability and ease of maintenance. They do not need to be painted as metal comes with its own unique finish. The most common metals available for pergolas are steel, aluminium and iron.
Aluminum pergola kits are desirable for a number of reasons:
• They are not expensive as compared to wood and vinyl
• With age, there is a gradual variation in the colour and texture of the metal. Instead of rot and degradation, age adds beauty and interest to the landscape.
• They are not susceptible to insects, rot, the weathering that causes cracking, expansion and contraction of wood.
• They can be matched to the other garden structures like benches, arbours, arches and gazebos.
• They do not need to be painted, but they can be to match the tone of the home and the other garden fixtures. This, however, will need regular tune-ups to maintain. Metal and wood can be mixed to create a sturdy and attractive pergola-for example, the legs of the structure could be metal while the support for the awning could be wood, and vice versa.
Gazebos are beautiful and functional outdoor shade structure that are enclosed on all sides except for one entry point and feature a round shape with a raised floor that protects the users from humidity in the rain. It is not just practical, it can add to the beauty of the garden too. A gazebo can be converted to an outdoor dining room or used as an entertainment centre and can also be an escape for the gardener to sit in and view the result of the hard work of many months in the form of an effusion of colours and the relaxing scents of nature.
The round gazebo is the most common design found in gardens. An Amish Gazebos has a nice natural shape that accentuates the landscaping of the garden and draws the eye, especially when tastefully designed to its full potential. Gazebos can be dressed up with fabric drapes, hanging flowerpots and furniture.
The position of a hot tub enclosures depends on the type and purpose of the enclosures. For security and boundary marking purposes, the garden enclosure should run around the border of the garden, separating it from the road or the neighbourhood or even from the home, depending on the tastes and needs of the garden owner. Boundaries can also be erected around individual plant clusters in order to organise the plants into type and colour and function and also improve the aesthetic of the garden. Screens can serve this purpose, as they are not made out of hardy material and create a lovely aesthetic.
Garden arbours are not to be confused with pergolas, even though this is a common misunderstanding. They are both outdoor structures, but there are major differences between them. Arbours are freestanding (they are not attached to the garden fence or the wall of the house); they are not built for leisure as an outdoor sitting area but as a sort of emphasis on the landscape and as an anchor for climbing plants and flowers. They could be in the form of covered walkways framed by trees, climbing shrubs or lichen to make a mysterious, dark corridor from which the viewer can burst into a beautiful, bright section of the garden. The walls of the arbour can be made into latticework, providing a frame for the plants to climb through and around and making the walkway dim and cool by shading out sunlight.
Arches are used to introduce a vertical element to a garden and to frame views and openings, thus they are windows through which glimpses of the garden beyond can be caught. They can be enhanced with stained glass panels for a more contemporary look. Archways can be metal or wooden, and are put in place to highlight an opening in a garden wall or to form a link between two areas of the garden.
These are towering, conical lattice plant supports made out of wood or metal. Obelisks are placed strategically throughout a garden-especially near climbing plants-to provide a support and a framework for the vines to entwine around. They add instant height and structure to a garden-especially gardens which a profusion of low, climbing plants and at the same time add a rustic aesthetic to the garden. If the gardener chooses, they can just be placed as decoration without vines growing in them and can be draped with fairy lights or placed to attract birds. They come in several shapes-square or round or triangular-but all taper off at the top to form a pyramidal cone. Obelisks add accent to a garden path, create an instant focal point to draw viewers’ eyes, and generally add interest to a garden.
Garden Canopies are a simple way to add shade without making the commitment of building a pergola or an arbour. They are usually made of simple canvas in various shades and patterns for an extra oomph. Attached to the side of the garden wall or held up by sticks, a canopy provides a temporary shade for a picnic or a nap. It can also serve as retractable shade for a particularly sunny part of the garden close to the house-maybe reflecting directly through a window or glass doors. In this case, it is directly attached to the wall over the desired part of the house. A couple of chairs, some lemonade and a good book and you can have a good view of the garden and enjoy nature without spending money on a wooden/metal pergola.
Trellises and Latticework
The trellis and latticework are space sculpters. They provide the same function, which is to bring vegetation to grow vertically, making them wrap around them in emphatic beauty and uniqueness. However, the difference between a trellis and latticework is that trellises are just a framework, while latticework has a network of criss-crossed or check-board pattern and acts as a sort of check to the direction the plant grows in. Latticework can be used on the sides of a pergola to prevent vines from growing into the structure, training their climb to the roof. Some common vines like bougainvillea, Virginia creeper and wisteria are mostly found wrapped between and around latticework and trellises in gardens. Trellises and latticework can be incorporated into fencing.
Benches are for sitting and viewing the garden in an airy, unenclosed space (even though they could be incorporated into gazebos or pergolas). Due to its supreme exposure to the weather, wrought iron is used to create beautiful garden benches that can stand the rain and sun and wind. Benches can be placed around a particular plant display or haphazardly at strategic positions in the garden. They will need to be cleaned regularly due to exposure-not just to the elements, but to birds and other pollinators and animals. Benches can also be of durable plastic.
Garden Sculptures, Figurines and other Fixtures
Garden sculptures, figurines and other fixtures like fountains, fairy lights and wind chimes bring a dimensional art and unique beauty to the garden landscape. There are boundless ideas for little touches to give the garden a unique look, ranging from illuminated flower planters to different types of lights to glow globes that can be strategically placed at garden corners. Figurines of swans can also be placed on or near ponds if they are unavailable. A beautifully decorated garden is a remarkable sight, especially at night when the glow and twinkle of the different coloured lights give the plants a new perspective and charm. It is important that whatever choice of garden a potential gardener makes can fit into the gardener’s lifestyle. Busy gardeners might opt for low maintenance gardens like rock gardens or xeriscape gardens, aged people should restrict themselves to smaller gardens that do not require much effort. Consideration should also be given to the finances available to the owner, the proposed space for the garden to be planted in, the types of plants that thrive in the geographical area of the garden’s location and the plant cycles (annual, perennial, etc) before choosing what to incorporate into the garden. No matter the type, planting and maintaining a garden is a rewarding experience for whoever has the initiative to make it creative and fun.