If you're looking for a leafy way to put a special part of your yard in the shade, why not construct an arbor and drape it with a gracious canopy of vining plants?
Erect this structure in only a couple of days, several days apart: one to dig postholes and set the posts, another -- after the concrete cures -- to cut and assemble the components. We used pressure-treated 4x4s for the posts and redwood for the superstructures.
Making the tea-house's trusses isn't as tricky as you might think: You simply miter one end of two rafters, lay them out on a flat surface, then measure and cut the cross brace. For the short, vertical stud, make two miter cuts on one end. This creates a point that fits up into the peak, providing rigidity.
Secure the joints with special galvanized metal truss nailing plates, available at most lumberyards and home centers. Some plates come with separate nails, others have sharp prongs that you pound into the wood. Space the posts no more than 6 feet apart. If you want to extend the distance to 8 feet, increase beam sizes from 2x6 to 2x8.
1. Set your posts. Size the tea house to suit your site. Ours is approximately 6 feet long by 3-1/2 feet wide. Site and erect four posts, setting them as deep as the frost line, but at least 24 inches deep and set in concrete. Trim the top of the posts to 6-1/2 feet (or a little taller) from the ground. For beams, we notched a motif at the ends of 2x6s and lag-screwed them to the posts. Check frequently to be sure that everything is plumb, level, and square.
2. Assemble trusses. Angle-cut 2x4s and assemble roof trusses with nailing plates as shown. (Cuts are either square or 45 degrees.) You'll need plates on only one side of each truss. Our design calls for a total of three trusses.
3. Set the trusses. Set each truss in place and toenail it to the beams. For appearance sake, arrange the trusses so the nailing plates holding them together face the arbor's interior.
4. Add the 2x2s. Nail 2x2s to the trusses and posts. Use a 2x2 to ensure equal spacing between boards and a short scrap of wood to assure that the ends of the boards extend the same distance beyond the outside trusses.