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Buildings in the Garden

GARDEN BUILDINGS:
GAZEBOS, PERGOLAS AND GREENHOUSES

Garden buildings can be used for many different things. They provide a place to get away within the garden, somewhere to escape and do things you need shelter for, but don't want to do for one reason or other in the house. Some people use garden buildings as a workshop or a storage area; others might use them to play loud music or read a book; where you won't disturb other people or be disturbed yourself. Whatever your reason for having a garden building, there are lots of different structures to choose from.

THE CHOICES
A building or structure is effectively made up of three parts; the walls, the roof and the floor. The first thing to do is decide what you want for each of these. Work through the following checklist to get an idea of your requirements.

1. Types of Walls
Do you want solid or open walls? Should the walls be insulated or not?
Do you want privacy?

2. Windows
Do you want windows or not? Should windows let maximum light in? Should windows be insect proof when opened? Should windows be lockable? How many windows and how much light do you want?

3. Views
Is it important that people can't see inside from any particular angle?
Do you want to block or enhance views seen from inside, in any particular direction?
Do you want to see the structure from other parts of your property?

4. Security
Should the structure be lockable? Should the structure be difficult to damage or break into?

5. Appearance
Some buildings are put into gardens as "follies". These are extravagant structures built for there appearance rather than for any significant practical purpose. As such, they provide a visual feature in the garden in the same way an attractive statue or tree in full bloom might. If a building is not attractive at all (eg. a cheap metal shed), but is still needed, maybe it should be hidden behind a fence or bed of shrubs.

6. Use
What will it be used for? Are you going to use it for eating in, housing a spa, playing music, a reading room, or as a work area?

7. The Roof
Consider what is the purpose of the roof? Is it to simply provide a sense of enclosure or shade or should it keep rain out or protect from extreme cold or heat.


Table: Alternative roofing and wall materials

Material Comments
Pole or post frame work provides sense of enclosure, little else
Wire mesh & creepers Cheap, provides enclosure & shade
Thatch Cheap to moderate cost, good insulation, if
done properly can be waterproof, looks
attractive.
Wood

Good for walls, rarely used for rooves.
Needs treatment (eg: paint, preservative).
Easily worked with, durable, doesn't transmit
light, good insulation properties.

Shingles Looks good, waterproof, but expensive
Tiles Waterproof, can be hot underneath without
insulation, appearance variable. Expensive.
Metal Traps heat, blocks light passage. Moderate to
expensive, waterproof, durable. Large sheets,
weight varies according to type of metal and
thickness of sheeting.
Glass Traps heat, transmits light, can be easily
broken if knocked. Expensive. Can require
extensive framing. Waterproof if joins sealed.
Coreflute/polycarbonate Traps heat and transmits light, lightweight,
& Acryllic sheets large sheets (less framing required than
glass), waterproof, medium cost. Good roofing
material.
Shadecloth Allows some light transmission (amount varies
according to grade of shadecloth), not
waterproof, doesn't trap heat, low to moderate
cost.

FLOORS
The cheapest floor is to just leave it earth, but that can turn into mud in wet weather, particularly if the building has high ground on any side of it, and dust in dry weather.
Gravel will help overcome these problems to some extent, but if you want to keep the inside of a building clean and dry, the floor needs to have some other surfacing material.

When deciding on what material to use it is important to consider drainage, how easy to keep clean, maintenance requirements, appearance and how much it will cost.
Concrete, asphalt or paved floors are ideal inside greenhouses, shadehouses, gazebos or pergolas. They're also good in sheds, but if you plan to stand on a floor for long periods (eg. in a workshop), these hard surfaces can be hard on the legs. A timber floor, or at least rugs on the floor will help overcome such problems.

Council regulations may govern the flooring if a building permit is required for construction.

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