Outdoor Gazebos: Not just for summer fun

At a big farmhouse destined for summer concerts, workshops, parties, and rousing matches of croquet and horseshoes, it makes sense to have a self-standing outdoor structure for dining, dancing, and rocking in hammocks and swings.

While in Asheville, N.C., last month, I visited a community garden with the sweetest gazebo. The structure is open air, with waist-high walls that doubled as flower planters and benches; and a very nice two-person swing hanging from the ceiling. The floor was made of poured concrete.

It is very doable to have some of the Jefferson County Amish swing on over and construct this thing in no time at Better Farm, but it would be a shame to only have access to this amazing space in warm months.

This got me thinking.

Outdoor heaters are popping up in cities all over the world as smoking bans take effect in bars and nightclubs. Ranging in strength and style, they can give you an extra boost on a cool summer night or warm up you and your friends as you sip hot cocoa against a backdrop of fluffy white snow. Best part—most outdoor heaters on the market are infrared, meaning they heat people and objects (you and the seat you're on) and not the air in between.

Buying an outdoor heater will set you back between $200 and $600, plus energy costs. But what you pay for up-front will give you countless more hours of use out of your sweet new gazebo, patio, or deck. And what's better than that?

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.