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Gazebos, "back-yard temples," and other friendly garden gathering places.

Gazebos, "back-yard temples," and other friendly garden gathering places Like a beckoning friend, a back-yard garden structure invites you to come outside, walk across the lawn or patio, or amble down a path to enjoy a place away from household bustle. It can be a place for quiet sitting, for late-day reading, for a warm-evening party. As shadows lengthen at dusk and seasons come and go, it offers ever-changing views of your house and garden.

On these pages, we show seven such structures, with forms as simple as an open rectangle or as complex as a Thai temple. Each has open sides with posts carrying the roof shape, but none of the roofs are solid--they allow views up to the sky to remind you that you're outdoors.

Quite different from the usual delicate, Victorianesque lattice gazebo, the examples we chose are contemporary, individualistic, and bold. The pyramid-roofed, poolside structure at right and the gazebo below both group 4-by-4s at each corner for a solid, permanent look. Another uses hefty corner posts of stucco-covered concrete blocks--in scale with the heavy beams they carry. Two structures use layers of 2-by-12s to give their roofs more visual impact.

Thinking of your own garden

When most of us say we're going to sit outside, we walk out our back door directly onto a patio or deck. We survey the garden from this vantage point and usually don't venture any farther.

But putting a structure away from the house immediately changes how you perceive and use the outdoor space.

To find the best site, walk around the perimeter of your property, glancing back at the house. Look for a vantage point that provides long, diagonal views across the garden but avoids unsightly areas. Make the visual experience as different as possible from that of a back-door patio.

Take into consideration what sort of exposure you want--if your main deck or patio is in full sun, you may prefer to find a shady corner, or vice versa.

Depending on your time, budget, and woodworking skills, you may choose to plan and build your own structure. Most of the examples here were designed by an architect, landscape architect, or designer, but we have added sketches of construction details to help your planning.

No matter who designs it, the one person sure to get involved in your project is the local building inspector. The inspector can help you determine the dimensions of footings and what size of posts and roof components you'll need to use. If the structure is far from your house, it's a good idea to run electrical lines for lighting the area; once again, the building inspector will get involved. Also, check on local setback and height regulations.

From simple to complex

It doesn't take much to define an outdoor area, as you can see by the simple framework on page 65. Little more than four posts connected at the top by pairs of 2-by-6s, the structure is like an "Emperor's New Roof"--more implied than real. Built of pressure-treated wood, it is part of a landscape project sponsored by the American Wood Council.

The remaining six examples have more lumber overhead.

For the poolside structure at far left, landscape designer Nick Williams opted for limited cover with large-scaled members.

Above it is a structure with a Monopoly-house silhouette that carries the weight of climbing roses. (Adding a deciduous vine to a sturdy framework can provide summer shade, winter sun, and a springtime display of color or fall fruit, giving another dimension to the structure.)

Viewed from the front, the exotic, layered roof of Jean Pope's "back-yard temple" looks solid. As the side view above shows, it's really made of equally spaced 2-by-12s set on edge. They rest on the top plate of a shallow structure reinforced by the built-in bench along the back. Architect Mark Hajjar of Orinda, California, designed it as part of a remodel of the sloping back yard.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1986
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