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Gazebos: The Perfect Spot for Backyard Entertaining

Forget the deck: If you’re looking for an eye-catching addition to your backyard that will give you maximum usability per square foot, you want a gazebo. “We see a tremendous interest in gazebos,” says Peter Lang, general manager for the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (WRCLA). “Homeowners have always chosen cedar for all kinds of outdoor projects, but cedar gazebos are true showpieces where people can make a real statement.”

What makes these mini-pavilions so appealing? For starters, the fact that they’re covered. While decks and patios depend on weather conditions to be usable, gazebos offer shelter from the rain and shade from the hot sun. They provide a natural focal point and work well for gatherings large and small.

Early summer is the perfect time to build a gazebo. It can be done in a single weekend, giving you the rest of the season to enjoy your newly created outdoor living area.

Ready to get started? Here are some considerations:

Plan it on Paper

Typical gazebo designs are eight-sided, with railings and a peaked roof. However, sizing and architecture can vary greatly to fit your yard, giving you a private retreat or a wide open seating area. Finishing touches such as lattice or a cupola can add distinction.

If you’re looking for ideas, you’ll find several free gazebo designs at www.cedar-outdoor.org. Detailed sketches and descriptions give you the direction you need to plan your project. The more thorough the plan, the fewer trips to the lumber yard.

Say it in Cedar

One of the most popular building materials for a gazebo is still western red cedar. Many people choose it because of its aesthetic appeal and physical properties.

“For centuries, cedar has been known for its exceptional beauty, versatility and longevity,” says Lang. “Cedar brings an exceptional all-natural look, warmth and character to outdoor spaces, and cedar is environmentally responsible.”

Cedar can be combined with other materials to give unique results. For example, by incorporating opaque acrylic panels between cedar posts, you can turn an open gazebo into a private teahouse.

Decorate it for Drama

Gazebos lend themselves to events, whether birthdays, weddings or holidays. With a little imagination, you can theme your gazebo to match the occasion, making it a festive location that enhances the moment.

The large amount of exposed lumber gives plenty of surfaces for attaching decorations. For instance, you can show your patriotism this Fourth of July by hanging red, white and blue bunting from the roof, streamers on the railing and flags at each corner.

Fill it with Foliage

Strategically placed plants can form a seamless transition between the gazebo and the rest of the yardscape. Cedar planter boxes are simple to build and can dress up your new gazebo when filled with colorful flowers. Best of all, they can be easily changed out to keep the look fresh.

Light it Right

Before you build is the best time to think about your lighting needs. Planning ahead will enable you to incorporate channels for electrical wiring and eliminate the need for unsightly extension cords later on. Lighting adds ambiance and gives you the flexibility to extend your outdoor gatherings past twilight.