The art and science of landscape architecture are the harmonious coexistence of people and Nature.
Imagine waking up in the morning and stepping outside to breathe in Nature’s freshness and aliveness. Now imagine going further to your gazebo where you will enjoy magical moments as the sun rises.
These structures, arbors, pergolas, and gazebos, punctuate, transition, and facilitate the dance among people and Nature. This is why they are instantly noticed in exceptional landscapes.
Landscape structures, for the most part, are permanent and should be carefully planned for now and the foreseeable future. It’s advisable to work together with a landscape designer or architect to explore possibilities.
Before making that investment it’s helpful to consider the activities and events that you anticipate experiencing.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the more common landscape structures and how they may also suit your personal style.
Pergolas For Understated Elegance
No outdoor garden feature makes a statement like a pergola. This may be due to the fact they are not utilitarian, they are more of a want to have than a must-have element.
Pergolas are typically partially open on all sides and constructed of wood. They are usually simple in design with an understated elegance that is enhanced by their bold stature.
Old world timbers are sought after materials for pergolas, especially for cross-beams that gently filter sunlight as the sun’s orientation changes throughout the day.
Pergolas may be attached to the primary residence or other structures, such as a pool house. More often they are free-standing on at least three sides as they frame views and horizons.
The visual weight of pergolas is typically achieved with equally substantial building materials. For this reason, they must be well-anchored in concrete footings to withstand Minnesota’s freeze-thaw conditions and occasional high winds.
For a more old-fashioned look climbing hydrangea and other vining plants may be trained up the supporting and across the horizontal timbers. This provides additional shade and shelter but requires a horticultural commitment.
The key to growing vines on pergolas is planning for rich soil near the columns.
Gazebos For Privacy and Intimacy
It’s regrettable that gazebos have lost their place as a valued space for intimate gatherings.
Cheaply built gazebos in the ’70s and 80s tarnished the reputation of this traditional structure. Not to worry because well-designed and constructed gazebos rightfully elevate ordinary landscapes.
Unlike pergolas, gazebos are more utilitarian in that they can provide protection from insects and the elements. They may be built close to the primary residence or serve as a destination, possibly overlooking a lake or mountain view, for example.
Their design may be simple or ornate, open or partially closed, private, or openly situated. You may wish to install lighting and electricity if you are planning a larger gazebo that comfortably accommodates six or more people, or pets too.
It’s essential to consider how your gazebo will be used to achieve the best design. There is a balance between safety and protection from the elements and the feeling of openness. A creative designer can suggest flexible treatments to balance most environmental conditions and uses.
You may wish to make it a three or four-season structure by incorporating heat sufficient insulation to retain it. You may be envisioning warm summer nights but chiller fall evenings can be spectacular too.
Arbors For Personal Style
Arbors are generally somewhat ornate, freestanding arched structures that are positioned at a garden entrance. How they are used will be determined by your personal style.
Many of us have a picture in our mind of a white arbor with delicate wooden lattice because this is the common design for pre-made arbors. Custom made arbors find roles that extend beyond simply highlighting an entrance.
These custom-made arbors may also incorporate stone, brick, or metal columns, substantial elements often used for building pergolas and gazebo. Thus, all of these landscape structures can make an ordinary landscape extraordinary.
In the photo above the arbor anchors a section of the landscape, framing the view to the lake and providing soft privacy to the neighboring property.
Take notice of the leafy vines that will create additional privacy over time and soften the angular rooflines of the adjacent home.
As you can see, traditional definitions of pergolas, arbors, gazebos, and similar structures are blurring. Their design and use are limited only by your imagination and the skilled professionals that build them.
You may already be thinking of how these and other landscape structures can be combined for more dramatic effect, and with the following:
Landscape Structures and Features
- Fire pits and Fireplace
- Outdoor Kitchens and Grills
- Outdoor Lighting
- Water Features
- Stone Sculptures and Outdoor Art
- Seating and Furniture
- Pools and Spas
- Patios and Decks
- Studios and Offices
Complementary Natural Elements
To sharpen your vision for shaping the environment to reflect your personal style, don’t overlook the natural elements that change throughout the day and seasons.
- Trees and other woody plantings
- Colorful flowers and perennials
- Open Space
- Cool Breezes
Pergolas, Arbors, and Gazebos complement spaces, plantings and the weather that we love. What that means to each of us is personal and often defined by the activities that make us feel alive.
- Entertaining and outdoor living
- Family gatherings
- Sports and Play
- Lawn games
- Reading and relaxing
- Gardening and sharing
In his seminal book, Gardens Are For People, landscape architect Thomas Church encouraged a movement that greatly influenced outdoor living and landscape across the United States.
Landscape structures hold an important place in this garden tradition that blends the best of indoor and outdoor living.
Is your garden one of those special places?