Whether it’s an outdoor dining table that needs covering, a hot tub you’d like to shade or just a patch of grass where you’d like to have a little shelter from the elements, a gazebo can be a little oasis in the middle of your yard.
The earliest constructed gazebos date back to ancient Egypt where royalty had them installed in their gardens, which many regarded as a paradise on earth that could be taken to the afterlife at will. Also popular in Rome and medieval France, they spread to England where gazebos often mimicked the shape of the main house and were used for entertaining.
In America, gazebos have fallen in and out of fashion depending on the popularity of wraparound porches, decks and patios, but for a mid-garden retreat there is simply no other type of structure that can hold a candle to the relaxation offered by one of these buildings. Generally constructed of wood, they can be round, square, rectangular, octagonal or practically any shape the imagination can conceive. They can be purchased pre-built or you can hire an architect to custom design the garden structure of your dreams.
The basic construction consists of a roof, platform and open walls, and they are usually built at some height off the ground or else in a place with a particularly pretty view. Regardless of how you acquire one, you will find few better at-home retreats than your own open-air shelter for removing you from the chaos of your busy home, even if for just a few minutes. Not to mention the fact that it will also add value to your home if you ever choose to sell. Add a hot tub to your gazebo and you’ve embodied the concept of a backyard oasis.
John Keirstead, CEO for Arctic Spas Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, (which also sells Visscher gazebos), says enclosures let customers use their hot tub in all weather conditions and create more privacy. “It also can have an aesthetic angle, as people often do not want a hot tub just sitting on their patio, the gazebo or pergola finishes it off,” Keirstead says.
The first thing you need to do as you plan for a gazebo is decide what you’d like it to be. Is it a mid-garden retreat or will you host parties in it? Will the whole family gather under it or will it be a small intimate space? Do you want seating included in the structure or would you like it to be installed over your hot tub for the purpose of creating shade? You’re limited only by your imagination (and budget).
A good landscape architect will show you a variety of gazebo options if you’re planning on incorporating one into a larger design, but if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can go straight to the source or order a kit that you assemble yourself. Spa retailers can also provide information about gazebo and pergola options, especially those made specifically for hot tubs and swim spas, like the Covana brand. You can also check out local home and garden stores to examine pre-built gazebos, either to find one to take home, or to become inspired for the model you’ll construct right in your very own backyard.
Spa Enclosure Manufacturers
Product: Automated spa cover/gazebo
Features: Turn-of-a-key automation for raising and lowering the cover on the spa. Serves as a gazebo when raised (side panel shades available). Four models available: Evolution, Oasis and Horizon tilt cover for hot tubs and the Legend swim spa cover. Various sizes available to fit all hot tubs.
Sequoia Spa Shelters
Rio Linda, California
Product: Spa enclosure
Features: “Basically, it’s a small building that wraps around the hot tub for weather protection and privacy,” Peterson says. Tubtop and open-air, freestanding models available.
Product: DIY pergola kits
Features: The box dealers sell contains all hardware needed. Homeowners pick up the lumber and can build the pergola in their yard in less than an hour.
Visscher Specialty Products
British Columbia, Canada
Product: pre-built gazebos
Features: Product comes pre-built in a crate, with some final assembly required. Three main products available: Open Air (pergolas and sunshade), Semi-Enclosed (post and beam with roof) and Fully Enclosed (wall panels, windows and doors)