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Gazebos: Architectural Elements



There are many different types of architectural elements that may be incorporated into landscape designs. The choices range from arbors, pergolas, overheads to gazebos.

These architectural elements add functionality and style to gardens and yards. Only one of these stands out from all the others, the gazebo.

It offers the most versatility along with functionality. Gazebos have long been associated as a beautiful quite garden getaway, but today they can be the stage for parties or used for privacy for hot tubs.

What exactly is a gazebo? It is an outdoor roofed structure that features elements on all sides and provides an enclosed space. There is a fine line between what is described as an arbor and a gazebo.

The deciding factor is usually the roof; a gazebo typically has a solid roof. Another genre that gazebos cross over into is the summer house.

Summer houses often have siding and are screened in while gazebos are not. With a gazebo it’s all about enjoying the garden view in an open airy covered space.

The most common style of gazebo is the Victorian; however, there are different styles to choose from. Finials, cupolas, benches and decorative railings are all finishing details that can be mixed and matched to achieve custom styling. These special structures may feature utilities such as electricity and water. This presents unique opportunities to incorporate functionality and décor.

When selecting a gazebo it is important to consider your local climate. Will the gazebo be subject to hurricane winds or heavy snow loads? Some manufacturers design for the highest wind load zone areas including Florida and Hawaii. Other pre-fabricated gazebos are also built for snow loads and earthquakes.

Always make sure when purchasing a gazebo kit or pre-assembled units that the manufacturer provides documentation on wind loading, snow loading, and seismic loading. When having a custom gazebo built, you may also wish to obtain design loading data from a certified structural engineer.

The gazebo is considered a permanent structure subject to building codes and falls under the jurisdiction of local building departments.

In most localities permits are required to assemble or build. One very important rule to remember which homeowners often forget is that these permanent enclosed outdoor structures often count towards lot coverage. Height and set back rules are other common restrictions.

It is always a good idea to check with the local building department to find out what rules and restrictions apply when building a gazebo on your property.

Most often gazebos are thought of being used for residential backyards; however, they are also used in commercial properties and in community areas such as parks. They can be used in conjunction with decks or as stand alone structures. Gazebos are more than just mere hardscape elements for gardens; they are truly an element of architecture.