Use one DIY outdoor structure to create three customized outdoor rooms you can enjoy all summer and into the fall.
First, find the perfect place in your yard and level a 7-3/4-foot-square foundation with a shovel. Be sure to check your local building codes; some may require concrete footings for added stability. Use 12 wood stakes, 18 to 24 inches long, to create the basic structure.
Build the structure next to your garden for an easy-access -- and shaded -- planting station. Use 2-x-8-foot sheets of corrugated aluminum (purchased from a home center) to create the roof. Designer Jeni Hilpipre-Wright cut the sheets with tin snips and screwed them into the structure. She overlapped the seam at the top and covered it with an aluminum roof cap.
Tip: For a three-season version, Hilpipre-Wright suggests putting polycarbonate plastic siding around the exterior to create a greenhouse.
Use aluminum duct covers to create the window box. Attach a 2x4 to the cedar structure, then screw the duct covers to the 2x4. A potted plant fits neatly inside each cover.
Placing the structure under a shade tree brings it a sense of zen.
Build a fountain next to the structure for added relaxation. First dig a hole deep enough to fit a plastic tub with its top edge level with the ground's surface. Then place a fountain pump inside the tub and cover it with a terra-cotta pot with several predrilled holes. Fill the tub with rocks and water to conceal the pot. Finally, run a tube through a predrilled hole in the ceramic sphere (found at a local home center), connect the tube to the pump, and place the sphere on the rocks.
Tip: If you use a fountain pump that runs on electricity, make sure you build it near an outlet. Use battery- or solar-powered pumps for location flexibility.
To create the roof, stretch wires tightly across the roof beams. Attach grommets to the top and bottom edges of the outdoor fabric panels. The wire strings through the grommets to allow the panels to slide open as desired. Use a clamp claw to attach the wire to a turnbuckle, which attaches to the eye screws fastened to the wood frame.
Place the structure close to your house to create a nighttime eating spot. Use wires and curtains to give the room a breezy look. Use the same wire-and-grommets configuration from the relaxation station to create the roof.
Tip: For nighttime lighting, run electricity to this room and install an electric light fixture.
Use garden stones to create the floor of the room. Set the stones directly on leveled dirt. Use pebbles to fill in the cracks to make an even surface. In damp areas or areas with loose soil, dig a foundation, and fill it with layers of gravel and sand before placing the stone.
Windows were placed next to the table and in the roof of this structure to further enhance the room-like atmosphere. Keep the curtain "walls" open to take in the view, or slide them closed for an intimate dinner.
Tip: Prevent extra wear to your outdoor curtains by hanging them high enough to clear the ground.