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Hard Landscape : Garden Buildings

Greenhouse | Conservatory | Summerhouse | Pergola

The house itself can be considered the largest, most important garden ornament. As much as the garden sets off the house, the house sets off the garden. It is very important to consider the house when deciding aspects of garden design. For example, paving and walls should be in keeping with the house materials. Climbers effectively link the house and garden.

It is also important to keep garden features in scale with the house. Thus a tiny patio will look ridiculous beside a large house; a large area of paving near a small house tends to look bare and harsh, unless it is softened by plants.


Aluminium glasshouses are most unsympathetic to a garden, because of their materials and shape. A greenhouse can be difficult to fit into a garden scene; polythene tunnels are even worse. Old-style wooden glasshouses perhaps with half-walls of brick can be very attractive, particularly if they have ornamental details, but they tend to be expensive. In general, greenhouses are best hidden away behind a screen.


A conservatory ‘fits’ into a garden much better than a greenhouse. Being attached to the house, a conservatory does not stand out as much as a free-standing greenhouse. This effect also works in reverse with the conservatory helping to link the house and garden, particularly if there are plenty of plants inside, and directly outside, the conservatory.


A summerhouse, or pavilion, is usually a small wooden house, often opening onto a grassy, or paved area with trees around. A loggia is a more elaborate kind of summerhouse – an open-sided small building of concrete, or stone, with a solid roof, often of concrete tiles. A loggia usually opens onto a paved area with, perhaps, a pool or a fountain, and is often contained within a sunken garden or courtyard garden.


A pergola is not a building as such but has a roof of sorts. A pergola is very ornamental when well located, but nothing looks worse when it is badly positioned; for example, a pergola in an open area, perhaps needlessly emphasising a path.

A pergola can be effectively used to screen a paved area from surrounding buildings. However, it should never cover the whole of the area. When associated with a sitting area, a pergola looks best supported on one side by a building or high wall. To be successful, a pergola must have a real function, or appear to have one.


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