Garden Gazebo: Calculations and Measurements

a modern gazebo in a garden at night

Once you have decided you want a garden gazebo, you'll need to take some measurements, perform some calculations, and determine exactly what your options are. Make sure you have a large enough area, that your gazebo's large enough to suit your needs, and that you plan for paths or other methods of access.

Step 1 - Configure Placement

Some people want their garden gazebo in a distant corner, others make it the centerpiece of their backyard garden. Think about the movement of the sun throughout the day to figure out where your gazebo can best offer relief from hot afternoon rays. Evaluate distance from surrounding trees that could grow into your gazebo or cause a safety hazard with falling branches.

Consider, too, where the gazebo is likely to get the most use based on your goals. If you’re looking for a place of solitude for reading, the backyard might be a good location. If you hope to entertain in the space, placing it closer to the house might make more sense.

Once you decide on a location, make sure your measurements include an open area around the building itself. You don't have to build with extra space in mind, but when the time comes to perform maintenance or repairs, you'll be glad you planned ahead.

small classical gazebo in a flower garden

Step 2 - Evaluate Size

When building gazebo pedestals, make sure you're building something large enough to serve your purposes, but don't make the gazebo so large that it overpowers the garden area. Keep in mind that the presence of a gazebo will affect sunlight distribution and you may want to move some of your garden plants to be sure they get the required amount of sunlight. Also evaluate what you want to put under the gazebo. Will you have a firepit, lounge furniture or hot tub? Make sure the gazebo size adequately covers anything you plan to put beneath it.

Step 3 - Consider Height

Gazebos serve all types of purposes and, therefore, can come in a variety of sizes. You may want a simple, small cottage white gazebo as a visual accent or you may desire a large wooden gazebo worthy of a wedding ceremony. Wherever you fall on the scale, you’ll want to make sure you have enough clearance. While the inside pitch of the gazebo is traditionally peaked, you will need to calculate how tall to make the roofline and entrances. Again consider what it will be used for. If you will have a firepit inside, allow extra height for airflow and fire safety. To create a more secluded feel, bring the height down a bit.

wooden gazebo close up on a sunny day

Step 4 - Plan Pathways

The landscaping surrounding your gazebo makes as big of an impression as the structure itself. Consider privacy from neighbors or the main house. If this is the goal, you may want to include railings and tall foliage. Alternately, work in accessibility for a centralized gazebo meant to be a focal point.

Figure out how many openings you will have, considering access from the front, back, and sides. While a smaller gazebo may just have one pathway and set of stairs, another may have three or four. You may also decide to leave your gazebo mostly open except for the supporting columns.

Step 5 - Create Supply List

Gazebos can be made from a variety of materials. Wood is common, but metal and plastic are options as well. You can even buy kits that include many of the supplies you’ll need. When making your supply list, consider standard wood lengths. For example, if your roofing planks will be 10 feet, you’ll need to cut two feet off of every 12’ board.

Also remember to plan for the support beams being set into the ground. You will sink posts into cement underground, burying at least ⅓ of the post. This means if you want your posts to stick eight feet above ground, you will need to purchase 12’ posts and bury them four feet. Also include your cross-supports, railing pieces, embellishments, and roofing trusses. Also provide for the concrete pad or wood decking that will make up the flooring for your gazebo. Finally, remember to include hardware for attaching posts, sides, roofing, and decking planks.