When most people think of gardens and gardening, they think of plants. However, there are many other things to consider when creating a garden, especially an ornamental garden. Structures and their placement in the garden is one such issue to think about. Garden structures are one of the components that turn a garden into an outdoor living space that can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Although space restrictions can limit what structures you can actually fit into your garden, many structures can be tailored to fit gardens of any size. Structures can serve various purposes in your garden from creating a defined outdoor living space, to acting as a gateway from one garden area to another, or acting as a support for plants.
It can be challenging to find the right combination of garden structures that not only provide shade, storage, and protection but also enhance your landscape. Fortunately, there are some wonderful options that can quickly solve this dilemma and transform your backyard into a stunning outdoor living space you’ll love.
If you’re not familiar with garden pods, you can be forgiven. They’re a relatively new development in the world of garden structure ideas, and they come in a dazzling range of styles and designs. Essentially, a garden pod is an enclosed or semi-enclosed “room” that sits in your garden area, on a patio or next to a pergola or gazebo. They can be many different shapes and sizes, from small cubes to large rectangles. There are even spherical garden pods available for those who want a touch of the unusual.
Pods can provide posh seating for a small group, complete with plush seats and a table, or they can provide almost all the benefits of a full home. More expensive pods may have closing doors and windows, a sealed roof, and four full walls. Depending on where you source your pod, you can have it outfitted with built-in features like desks, corner windows, lighting and more.
As a note, these garden structure ideas can be very expensive, costing tens of thousands of pounds in some cases, so they’re definitely not for everyone. If your budget can’t take that sort of hit, but you still want at least a semi-private area in your garden, consider a curtained pergola instead.
Gazebos allow you to create a covered area away from your home. They can be small or large, plain or elaborate, but all of them allow you to do more with your garden area. In essence, a gazebo is nothing more than a roof with multiple supports (usually eight).
You’ll find quite a few premade options on the market, many of which combine a fabric or plasticised roof with metal uprights for support (and an underlying metal frame for the roof). Other options are much more elaborate, and are made from wood with shingled roofs. Most gazebos are octagonal in shape, as well.
Many of the more expensive options include a raised floor of wood, but this isn’t true for all of your options. Some of the simpler gazebo styles use your lawn as the floor. Because of that, you might want to use caution when erecting a gazebo. Will you use it enough that the soil becomes compacted and the grass dies? It may be a better option to install a gazebo with a brick or stone floor, or build one with a raised wooden floor.
Using a gazebo allows you to do anything you might like outside in the garden, without worries about the heat of direct sunlight or the threat of rain. They’re ideal for cooking out, but you can also add chairs to create an outdoor seating area. If you have a solid wood or metal structure above, supporting the roof, you can even hang a swing where you can relax with friends, family or just on your own.
When considering these garden structure ideas, you’ll need to think about the size of your yard, as this will impact the size of the gazebo. A large gazebo in a small open space will dwarf the yard, while a small gazebo in a large open area will be overwhelmed. Of course, your budget is also a consideration. The good news is that there’s an option available for just about any budget.
It can be easy to confuse pergolas with gazebos, even though they’re not all that similar. Where a gazebo is usually octagonal or round, a pergola is generally rectangular or square. Where a gazebo has a solid, domed roof, pergolas generally have a flat, open or latticed roof (ideal for covering with vining plants). Where gazebos generally have eight upright supports, pergolas usually have four, although this is not a firm rule.
Pergolas are sometimes less formal than gazebos, but that’s also just a generalisation. You can add any number of elements to these garden structures to create the atmosphere and environment that you want, ranging from stone surrounds on the uprights to outdoor curtains to provide shade and a sense of seclusion.
If you’re interested in adding a pergola to your garden, you’ll first want to think about the size you’ll need. These structures can be small or large, and can host groups ranging from small family gatherings to larger events, although they are not as spacious as pavilions (which are ideal for large outdoor events). As with gazebos, the size of your outdoor space will influence the size of the pergola.
You’ll also want to consider construction materials. Is wood the right choice? Would a mix of wood and stone or wood, stone and metal better reflect your overall sense of aesthetics? Your usage needs will also play a role. Do you want to build a pergola over an outdoor kitchen? If so, you’ll need room not only for food prep and cooking, but also for seating and eating.
An arbor is an open structure often built under trees. They are created to provide an enjoyable and shaded seating in nice weather. It can also be used as a divider in the garden or as a garden entrance. It may be free-standing or attached to another building or structure in the garden. It is often covered with vines.
A patio is an outdoor living area typically attached to the home. The word patio is of Spanish origin and means, backyard or back garden.
Lovely Lattice Garden Structure
A swing surrounded by a lattice arbor says “summer relaxation” like nothing else. The airy structure visually anchors the deck. Lattice on top of an outdoor garden structure provides a great place to hang baskets of shade-loving plants, such as the ferns shown here.
There’s no denying the utility of greenhouses, but they can also be beautiful additions to your yard, depending on the style and design that you choose. Of course, a greenhouse is about more than just adding visual appeal to your outdoor space. It will allow you to extend your growing season considerably, possibly even through the winter depending on your climate, and whether you invest in heating for your plants during the coldest parts of the year.
Greenhouses can range from small to massive, and can be cobbled together from scrap materials and built on your own, or can be purchased in kit form, or constructed by a professional. Perhaps the simplest option is a greenhouse made from PVC piping and plastic sheeting. This is also the most affordable, although probably the least aesthetically pleasing.
In addition to the overall design and materials used to construct the greenhouse, you’ll need to consider the interior. Will you be planting directly in the ground? Will you be using tables and containers? What about lighting and ventilation? Will you want heat during the winter to help you grow year-round? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to answer before investing in a greenhouse, but no matter what you decide, these can be outstanding garden structure ideas.
If you’re looking for garden structure ideas, let me recommend the use of arches. They can be large or small, bold or subdued, wood or metal (and other materials). They can be used in many different ways within your garden, as well.
An arch makes an excellent addition to the entryway to your garden, particularly if you have a more formal garden. However, they can also be used in less formal situations. Combine an arch with hedgerows or willow fencing for an elegant design, or go with wrought iron and climbing vines for something with a Victorian-esque feel.
You can even go international if you like. You can buy (or build) arches that reflect Asian themes, or that connect to the UK’s history and heritage. Add climbing and flowering vines to your arch in order to get a more natural feel, or leave it freestanding if you prefer.
You’re also not limited to the conventional “arched” shape, either. You’ll find rectangular designs in archways, as well as circular options, ovals and many more. Really, the sky’s the limit in terms of design and even use within your garden. They can also be combined with other garden structures, including pergolas and gazebos, to create a truly unique setting in your yard.
There’s nothing quite like swaying in a hammock while relaxing with a good book or a beverage, while the sun shines down and the breeze cools you. Not only are hammocks ideal for relaxation, but they can make eye-catching garden structure ideas. There’s a wealth of options out there, ranging from metal and wood framed hammocks that can accommodate one or two people, to attaching hammocks to the uprights of a pergola.
When you’re not using the hammocks, the pergola can be used for other things, including group seating during parties or events. If you really want to draw the eye, add a patio or deck beneath your hammock with a stylish roof overhead.
A spa can consist of just a hot tub placed in your back yard for relaxation and enjoyment, or it can contain the whole spa experience. It can be enclosed, covered, or open to the stars. Check out the at home spa guide if you want to incorporate more into your spa experience.
A terrace is a patio area that is attached to the house. It is typically raised above ground level and generally does not have a roof. (This is not addressing the issue of a sloped area that requires terracing for use and erosion prevention.)
Whether you’re interested in using them to grow vining vegetables like cucumbers or pole beans, or you’re trying to add a bit of fun and whimsy to a children’s garden, living teepees are excellent garden structure ideas. They can cost very little, and can provide some pretty substantial benefits.
Really, these are nothing more than teepees made from bamboo (or a long-lasting hardwood). If you have bamboo growing at your home, you can harvest it, or you can buy it from a DIY store if you prefer. You’ll need several uprights, but the exact number (and length) will depend on how large you want the teepee to be, as well as how open the design is.
Start by roughing out where you’ll want the teepee. Put the bamboo poles together (bind the top loosely with twine if necessary) and then mark where each upright will sit. You can do this with a stone, a pile of sand, or by scoring the earth. Make sure you leave room for a doorway/entrance.
To ensure that the teepee is as stable as possible, you’ll need to dig a hole for each of the uprights. Put the pole in place, leaned to the appropriate angle, and then add rocks or soil to support it. Continue doing this until all the poles are in the ground. Now, you’ll need to connect them. Again, twine can work, but you might want to use something that will weather better (metal wire can work).
If you want a completely enclosed teepee (other than the doorway), you’ll need to interweave other sticks or branches horizontally between the vertical uprights. Then, choose what sort of vine you’ll grow. You have many options, from vegetables like cucumbers to gourds to flowering vines. Plant the seeds at the base of the uprights and water them in, then keep them watered as they grow. Eventually, the vines will climb the teepee, creating a secluded hideaway for your little ones, or an interesting structure for your yard.
A trellis is a framework of wooden, bamboo, and/or metal strips or bars, often woven, welded, or tied together to support climbing plants.
A pavilion is a temporary or semi-permanent structure used in gardens. A pavilion is typically a large and airy garden room with a high peaked roof similar to a large canopy.
An obelisk is a four-sided tapering structure that can be used to support climbing plants and vines. Plans are available to build an Obelisk. Most obelisks are solid structures such as the one pictured below.