Feature Article - October 2006
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Helpful Havens

Gazebos, pergolas and the wide world of outdoor shelters

By Kyle Ryan

As much as humans enjoy fresh air and the outdoors, they also need a refuge from those things. A park without shelter is a park with some unhappy visitors. Never underestimate the power of shade on a hot, sunny day or a dry place when the clouds open up.

These outdoor shelters not only offer respite from Mother Nature but also become attractions in and of themselves. A structure like a gazebo is essentially a low-cost multipurpose facility: It can host weddings, picnics, concerts, reunions, official events and more. Additionally, they make everything look classier—when has a well-maintained gazebo or pergola ever brought an area down? Building one is practically like planting a tree or other landscape attractions.

In this age of undaunted prefabrication, outdoor shelters have become cheaper and easier to install and build. Their quality also has improved; they can withstand heavy winds, resist vandalism and require little maintenance to stay functional. It could be something as simple as a shade over a baseball dugout or as complicated as a large octagonal gazebo with multiple-tiered cupola. No matter what it is, the basic function boils down to one simple thing: shelter. Creating it is simpler than you may think.