What Is a Gazebo and What’s it Used for?

By   | Last Updated :   August 27, 2021 | Filed In :   Garden Furniture Ideas

A gazebo is a freestanding garden structure that provides shade, shelter and somewhere to sit and admire a scenic view. It has a roof and open sides—just perfect to create an airy, beautiful shelter outside.

Gazebos tend to be geometric. They come in hexagonal, octagonal, rectangular, and other similar shapes, and they are made of wood or metal. They may also feature built-in seating, classic fencing, and drapes to create a sense of privacy.

A gazebo will add a nostalgic, old-world charm to your garden or yard. You can use a gazebo for relaxation, reading, and also to create an outdoor entertainment space.  Read on to learn more about different types of gazebos, their history, features, and how you can best use them.

A brief history of gazebos

The history of gazebos goes back over 5,000 years. But their use hasn’t changed much in time.  Gazebos were a popular garden feature in Ancient Egypt and Rome. They were a great retreat from which to relax and delight in picturesque views. They were also used for traditional tea ceremonies in Asia.

But back then, they weren’t called “gazebos”. The name itself is an 18th-century invention. It’s a humorous combination of the words “gaze” and the Latin suffix “ebo” meaning “I shall.” Gazebos are a great addition to any French or Italian styled gardens, and of course fitting for a Japan-themed garden. And true to their name, gazebos are often used today to relax and enjoy nature.

Types of gazebos

There are many different types of gazebos, varying in shapes, sizes, materials, and styles.  Some gazebos are octagonal while others are rectangular, oval, or dodecagonal. They come in classic wooden as well as modern vinyl and aluminium styles. The roofing can also vary from a country style to a pinnacle roof.

But don’t be overwhelmed by all the different types of gazebos around. Focusing on their key characteristics makes it easier to choose the right gazebo for your garden.

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Gazebos come in many shapes and sizes.  Photo by Lisa Yount on Unsplash

Gazebo sizes

Today’s gazebos come in all sizes. Some are great for a family of four while others can comfortably host a small gathering. Before adding a gazebo to your property, consider the space you have.

You don’t want to squeeze a large gazebo into a small yard. Likewise, you don’t want it to look like a dollhouse in your sweeping garden. Going for just the right size of gazebo will complement your outdoor space.

Gazebo shape

Traditional-looking gazebos are generally octagonal or dodecagonal. Since these have many posts, they’re suitable only for large backyards.

Choosing the shape of your gazebo again depends on the space you have. For smaller spaces, hexagonal, square, rectangular, and oval gazebos like in a classic Greek Garden are ideal.

Gazebo material

Gazebos are commonly made of wood, which lends them a rustic, natural beauty that can accent any outdoor space. Plus, there are many design and colour options to experiment with. But wooden gazebos are difficult to maintain. They will need to be repainted or repaired over time.

Vinyl gazebos are also gaining popularity. They are sturdy, modern-looking, and easy to maintain. Vinyl units can also be made to resemble wood and other materials.

Aluminium gazebos are another option to consider. They are lightweight and affordable. You can paint aluminium to match your outdoor furniture or enjoy its natural finish.

And finally, you can opt for a steel gazebo. It’s the most expensive material. But the versatility it offers you in terms of design is worth it. You can design it to look like traditional ironwork or add wood around the frames for a classy look. A well-built and properly maintained steel gazebo can last a lifetime.

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Aluminium gazebos are weatherproof, modern and can come with shuttered roofs for instant shade. Credit: Suns Lifestyle

Roofing material

Your gazebo roof can have asphalt, rubber, or cedar shingles. These materials are available in varying colours to match your gazebo and other structures around it.

Asphalt shingles are affordable and easy to install. Rubber shingles are durable and less likely to crack in extreme weather. Cedar shingles are wind-resistant and have a nice classic look. Remember these key points while choosing your roofing material. Take a look at our gazebo roof building guide for more information.

Roof style

A gazebo roof is more than just a shade over a frame. It’s a way to make your structure stand out in your landscape.  So, your gazebo roof style is something you cannot overlook. Some popular styles to consider are pinnacle, pagoda, cupola, and country-style roofs.

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Gazebo roofs come in many different designs. Credit: Summer Garden Buildings

Gazebo must-have features

Your gazebo can have seating, privacy drapes, and lighting. These extra touches will turn your gazebo into a space that will keep you coming outside time after time.  Consider adding comfortable chairs and sofas to your gazebo. You can also go for built-in benches around the framework—or maybe you love hammocks?

Tip: Don’t forget to add cushions and rugs to your gazebo for a cosy feel.

A privacy screen is a must-have for those romantic evenings, especially if you have curious neighbours—or have to put up with lots of mosquitos during summer. There are a lot of gazebo curtain options, you can opt for a mesh screen, latticework, or outdoor drapes. These are also great to keep out bugs and pests.

Another important feature is adding some lighting to your gazebo. Lights will transform your gazebo at night and create an inviting, cosy feel. Take a look at our garden lighting list to get started.

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Adding strings of lights to your gazebo is a must. Credit: Shutterstock

What are the uses of a gazebo?

A gazebo will be more than a nice feature in your garden. It will offer breezy shade on a warm summer’s day or a snow-free spot to enjoy winter views. You can also relax in your gazebo on a rainy day with a hot cup of tea and a book, or even put a hot tub under it!

On special days, you can use your gazebo to host parties with friends and family. And if your gazebo is spacious, you can hold special ceremonies and outdoor functions in it.  A gazebo will also act as a covered picnic area. Plus, you can use it as a romantic backdrop for photoshoots.

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Gazebos offer the perfect place to relax and unwind. Credit: Shutterstock

A window into the past

Classic, romantic, and airy, gazebos are a window into the past. Just the presence of one in your garden can make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time to simpler, less stressful days.

To make the most of this experience, break free from all electronics. Leave your computer, laptop, and phone out of the gazebo. And just enjoy the simple pleasures of your garden.

This time-honoured outdoor structure will also add beauty to your space. It will invite you outdoors season after season.  Use this time for quiet contemplation. And who knows, a window into the past can help spark brilliant ideas for the future.

Are you thinking where can I buy a gazebo?! Well, before splashing out find out how much does it cost to build one yourself. And if you like to get your hands involved check out how to build a simple rectangular gazebo.


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