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Choosing a Covered Structure for Beauty and Functionality

January 26, 2024

Landscaping professionals harness human creativity to seamlessly integrate manmade structures with the natural environment, creating a functional and enjoyable space. Here in the Pacific Northwest, that often means adding a covered structure that offers protection from our abundance of rain. At Landscape East & West, we are experts at designing practical covered shelters that add a layer of functionality while also adding to the charm of area landscapes. 

Types of Covered Structures

There are three main types of covered structures that offer protection from our damp days, 

Patio Covers are an extension of a home’s roofline providing a seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors. The only standard on a patio is that it has a roof. The possibilities for what can be put under that roof are endless. The area can be enclosed or open on the sides, and have any variety of surfaces underfoot, it can be wired for electricity, and we can even design the covers with skylights. Dreaming of an outdoor kitchen or a sitting area with a cozy fireplace or firepit? A patio cover is the perfect solution to enable the use of such spaces even in the rainy season. 

Pergolas offer some flexibility as they are open structures allowing light in when you want it, but they can also be covered with fabric for added protection. A pergola can also provide the perfect place for growing a canopy of vines, whether fragrant wisteria or edible grapes. A framework of vertical posts or pillars supports crossbeams and open lattice that combined define an outdoor living space. Our hand-built pergolas add a bit of elegance to any yard and we custom design them to complement your overall landscape. 

Gazebos are freestanding covered structures with a roof and open sides that are often used as focal points in a landscape that provide a small sheltered space for private meditation or something a bit larger for outdoor gatherings. The gazebos we design can be simple structures or have intricate details and decorative elements to give a more romantic feel. Whether you picture a place to sit in wicker chairs enjoying iced tea or envision a circle of Adirondack chairs around a fire pit, Landscape East & West can custom design exactly what you envision. 

If waterproofing isn’t your goal, but you’re looking to add an enticing entryway or walkway or would like to frame specific areas within your landscape, we can also work with our expert woodworkers to build an arbor or trellis. These are arched structures with latticed roofs that create a tunnel-like effect. They can be covered with vines, arch over a water feature, or simply be flanked by greenery. An arbor or trellis just adds a dramatic focal point to any landscape. 

Choosing the right Covered Structure

Because there are options when it comes to covered structures, it pays to take some time to consider what the right solution is for your landscape. Any covered structure you choose would enhance your yard’s aesthetic appeal and meet your functional requirements. Our landscape designers have the insight and expertise to help you choose, but there are some preliminary considerations you can evaluate to make an informed decision. 

Primary Function- What is the purpose of your covered structure? Decide if the space is for relaxing or entertaining, if you want protection from rain or sun, and how many people it needs to accommodate. 

Available Space- Evaluate how much space is available in your yard for a structure. A covered structure should fit comfortably into the landscape without overwhelming the surroundings. You should also consider where the structure will sit in relation to environmental factors such as the sun or wind, and also how close you’d like it to your house. A structure that sits far away from the house and is bathed in blinding light as the sun sets, may not be ideal for a homeowner who wants to have outdoor dinner parties under cover. 

Aesthetic Preference- Choose a covered structure that complements your landscape as well as the architectural style of your home. A pergola or covered porch may have the right modern lines to fit with a mid-century modern home, while the arches of a gazebo or trellis may be more fitting to a graceful Victorian. 

Material Choice- The materials used for a covered structure should be able to withstand the local climate with minimal need for maintenance, while also blending in with your home and existing landscape elements. Common material choices include wood, metal, composite, and vinyl, each of which has its own advantages. Assess the maintenance needs to determine if regular sealing, painting, or other upkeep will be required. 

Functionality- What features will you want in your covered structure? Do you want the option of removable walls for added protection from wind and rain? Will adjustable louvers or retractable awnings help minimize sun exposure? Consider the flexibility and ability to adapt to different weather conditions that you want from your structure. 

Budget- The budget you have for designing and constructing a covered structure, permits that may be required, and local zoning rules, are all items that should be considered as you choose the type of covered structure that you want in your landscape. 

The covered structure that you choose should match your vision for its function and look, but an added benefit is that covered structures are also versatile meeting the desires you have for your yard today as well as wishes you may have in future years. Landscape East & West can work with you to select the right type of structure to transform your landscape into a beautiful and functional oasis. 

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