Barn Design Tips to Help Manage Horses on Stall Rest

Despite our best efforts horses often injure themselves or suffer illnesses that require a period of confinement in a stall. For the equine caregiver the task of managing a horse or pony over several days, weeks or even months to optimize their chances of making a full recovery by restricting exercise can be onerous task fraught with worry.

Thoughtful barn design features can help assuage the negatives associated with horse stall rest. Here are a few tips on equine stall layout and some helpful advice on how to navigate the confinement period and keep your horse or pony as happy and healthy as possible.

Divide and Conquer

There are many good reasons to have at least one dividing stall wall in the barn adaptable for combining two stalls into one should needs require. Foaling out a mare; housing a mare and foal; accommodation for a large breed of horse such as a draft horse; housing two or more animals such as donkeys together. In addition, a double stall can provide flexibility in space for the horse that is in rehab and requires more than the usual 10’ x 12’ or 12’ x 12’ stable but is not yet healed enough for turnout.

To help prevent boredom for the horse this stall should be carefully located. Placement of this stall could be close to an area of high activity such as next to a wash stall or tack-up area, a view to an indoor or outside arena where horses are exercised, or at the end of a barn where the open entry way offers some form of entertainment with a view of the house, backyard pool, driveway, or road.

The Lanai Option

Provision of a Dutch door with access to a covered area with limited space outside the barn is a great way to limit the horse’s access to turnout while still providing freedom of movement and a change of view.

Often colloquially referred to as a lanai due to its similarity in features to the popular patio/veranda/porch seen in hot regions such as Florida and Hawaii, it usually features a roof for shelter from the sun and rain and may be screened in some way from pesky bugs if situated in an area where excessive heat and flying insects are a problem.

If the barn design includes and overhang, a simple option is to extend the overhang from 4’ or 6’ to 12’ adjacent to one or two stalls. This will allow enough area to be converted with gates or temporary fencing to make an outside/inside lanai area if a Dutch door egress is provided.

This area could include rubber mats placed over concrete or it could be left as a stonedust surface to allow the later addition of rubber mats or a similar comfort flooring if needed.

Hang Tight

It is possible that part of the horses’ rehabilitation and recovery will require suspending an IV fluid hanger to administrate medicines and supporting fluids. This is a system of pulleys, cleats and ropes that can be mounted as a hardware kit to a wood post on a barn.

All barns should be built with substantial framing members and wood pillars are ideal for mounting these IV fluid kits. Placement in a stall of an additional wood pillar in the center of a front or back wall can be useful for the purpose and if a single stall is converted to a double stall the center pillar may suffice for use. When installed IV fluid kits should be checked to ensure there is no likelihood of a tube, rope or pulley becoming caught up on a pillar or other obstacle.

It is also possible that a sling to keep the horse from putting too much weight on a joint, soft tissue area or hoof will be needed. Substantial additional weight-bearing lumber may need to be installed to accommodate the sling depending upon its design.

While there is no necessity to build a full recovery stall with padded walls and a full veterinary clinic set up, the inclusion of a few simple factors in horse barn design can make the stalls flexible to accommodate temporary medical needs.

Aside from veterinary aids the confined horse will also appreciate toys and other products to minimize boredom. Hanging toys, special feed dispensers and other distractions can go a long way to keeping your stalled equine content.

Hand Walking Areas

The requirement for regular hand walking and stretching exercises should be expected to be part of the rehabilitation protocol after any period of confinement for the horse.

A center aisle barn with a wide aisleway offers the perfect all-weather space to take those first baby steps toward recovery. The exterior doors can be shut for security or left open to facilitate extra room to circle the horse and turn around.

If rubber pavers or rubber mats are utilized to cushion the center aisle and protect the horse from slipping and sliding on a smooth concrete surface, or is s stonedust base is installed and compacted, the center aisle can provide a safe area for hand walking the horse during rehabilitation. Remember to avoid tight turns if the horse has suffered a leg, shoulder, or hip injury.

Power Up

Routine veterinary care and the elevated level of care needed in the case of a stalled horse during recovery may be aided by having additional power sources for equipment, and video monitoring with Wi-Fi access in the barn.

Electrical outlets conveniently located to the stall will minimize the use of electrical extensions and the risk associated with their use, as well as negate the need for the horse to be moved more than necessary for evaluation during recovery.

Monitoring systems ease the mind of the caregiver and can give 24/7 views of the activity of the horse so any necessary adjustments to set up or practices can be made and provide a valuable insight into the horse’s mental condition.

Chew On This

Installation of metal edges for protection from chewing of wood by the horse on all exposed right-angled surfaces and tops of Dutch doors is essential to protect the building from the mischief horses can dish out when stabled.

During periods of extended confinement, the equine occupant is highly likely to ‘rail’ on walls with his teeth, kick out or rear in frustration and chew on the ledges of windows and edges of posts.

Smart barn design with properly constructed kick walls, grilled front walls and protected surfaces can greatly lessen the chances of damage to either the horse or the structure.

Seal The Deal

Before you add a horse to the stable in a new barn always protect interior wood surfaces from both chewing and staining by the application of a sealant. Not only will this action keep the walls protected from unsightly stains and marks, but this will also make cleaning the stall easier to accomplish.

Keeping a stalled horse’s environment clean and healthy requires a lot of effort and any labor-saving practice is a good idea to install at the outset.

Fresh Air Everywhere

Fresh air is essential for good health of the horse and should be especially considered in the design of a horse barn. Passive ventilation such as wire covered soffits (this protects from birds setting up house in the barn), gable vents, ridge vents, cupolas, windows, and Dutch doors can all aid in airflow within the structure.

In hot climates supplementing the movement of air by mechanical means such as the installation of commercial grade fans either on the ceiling, floors, or walls, (commercial grade offer sealed motors that are protected from dust and debris for fire safety), may be required for additional help in moving air through the barn and keeping the horses comfortable.

A sick horse on stall rest will need even more help managing his body temperature than a healthy individual, and provision of both safe heating and cooling options should be incorporated into the barn plans if possible.


Equine stall layout and design expertise can greatly aid in ensuring that whatever housing you choose, it has the adaptability to address future needs for medical care.

Choose a construction company that offers a variety of barn styles and will work with you on the budget as well as the aesthetics and the use of modern labor-saving materials that can help defray the need for future repairs and repainting such as siding and roofing options. Don’t be shy to ask for advice from the staff at the company on how to optimize your new barn design to accommodate horses that become ill or require special needs. Specialist horse barn companies are usually horse folks themselves, and have a wealth of experience in the design of horse housing that they are happy to share to help you make the best decision for your individual needs.

There are many awesome resources that address daily practices for caring for a horse on stall confinement. A suggested place to start is M Libraries, that offers supplemental notes on large animal surgery.

Keeping Chickens Chill in Hot Weather

As temperatures reach 85-90° F and high humidity compounds the ambient heat chickens are vulnerable to heat stress. Just as dogs pant when they are hot as they are unable to sweat to cool down through their coats and skin, chickens cannot sweat through their skin and feathered coated bodies and will pant when overheated. Learn how to keep chickens cool in summer and extreme heat below.

Both species rely on their feet to dissipate heat and both species will move their tongues back and forth to try and cool down. Chickens will flap their combs and take their wings away from their bodies to mitigate the adverse effects of heat. Lost egg production, lethargy and inappetence are all signs of heat stress.

Chickens dissipate heat through their blood flow through the comb, wattles and limbs. If the chicken’s average temperature exceeds 103° F then this method of cooling the bird will be insufficient to keep it cool. A pale colored, panting bird is one that needs immediate attention.

Also, just as in canines the heavier the breed the more likely it is to suffer from heat stress. Death can result from severe dehydration and overheating, and appropriate measures should be taken to minimize the health risks to the flock during periods of extreme heat.

Choose Your Chicken Breed Wisely

Chickens that are used to constant hot temperatures and humidity generally fare better than those subject to random heat waves where their metabolism and habits have not become used to the climate.

Certain breeds are more heat tolerant than others. The Australian Orpington, the Rhode Island Red and the Campine are all examples of breeds that are good choices for regions where temperatures regularly exceed the 85° F mark.

Ventilation and Shade

Passive ventilation is essential in the coop. When aided by gable vents, securely protected open windows and doors, the airflow in the coop can be significantly improved. Doors should of course be secured closed at night.

Mechanical ventilation by a solar powered or hardwired fan can aid the airflow on very hot days. Be certain to place any wires in conduit and secure them in areas out of the reach of pecking birds. It is also prudent to utilize a commercial grade versus residential grade fan, as commercial fans have sealed motors that mitigate the risk of fire caused by dirt, dust and debris entering the motor of the unit.

Misters and sprinklers can also be used in the run or yard to offer cooling for the birds. Even if the chickens don’t get wet the cooled air will improve their oxygenation.

Shade from a tree or large bush can be helpful but the best practice is to have a secure covered run that allows the chickens the choice to seek their preferred spot to sit out of the sun.

In very hot climates an open-air coop is a good option, but it should be roofed and secure from predators.

Don’t Overcrowd

Chickens generally require 3-foot square coop space per chicken but in hotter climates allowance of a larger space 4–6-foot square is optimal to maximize airflow and avoid overcrowding that may result in heat stress.

Think of the difference in airflow you feel standing in a crowded subway car versus sitting on an open-air terrace with just a few companions.

No Deep Litter – Take the Duvet Off

In cold months the deep litter bedding method emanates heat that is valuable in keeping the flock warm. For obvious reasons this is not desirable during sweltering summer weather. A 2- or 3-inch litter of pine shavings offers a cooler coop environment.

Akin to us removing the duvet and switching in a flat cotton sheet on a bed, a clean fresh bed with minimum cover will help keep the inhabitant cool.

Get A Pool And/Or Dust Bath

Taking a dip in a kid’s paddle pool filled with cool water is welcomed by a hot chicken. Fun to watch but also an invaluable aid in cooling down the chicken’s body temperature, this is a great way to play.

There is some controversary about whether a chicken likes water baths, but if the chicken will use one this method of cooling it down can be effective.

Tossing the chicken in a chlorinated or salt swimming pool is not a good idea!

Dust baths can also be helpful in helping to keep chickens cool. The added advantage is that the right mix dust bath can also help eradicate or mitigate fleas and mites.

Dining Delights – Cuisine Matters

Freezing the chicken feed for one hour or so before feeding can help cool the chicken but also improves the desirability of the feed. This is especially useful for chickens that are lethargic and off their food.

Treat your chickens to frozen watermelon, berries and other high moisture content fruit and veggies. Be sure not to over supplement with these frozen treats as they are no substitute for the regular feed. Less than 12% of the chicken’s regular diet should be in the form of treats.

Cold Water

Cold fresh water is essential year-round but in summer it is ever more important. Keep all water in the shade and as cold as possible and offer multiple sources. A gallon of water per 7 chickens is the norm and providing many sources can encourage drinking.

Photo credit:

Ice can be put in the water to keep it cool.

Electrolytes can be added to the water if the chickens show signs of lethargy, but this should be an alternate source not the only source of water. As with horses and other animals it is essential that they have a free choice between the treated water and regular fresh water so their bodies do not become overloaded with minerals and salts.

Remember to clean the water containers periodically with a 10% bleach/90% water cleaning solution and rinse thoroughly.

Treatment For an Overheated Chicken

Effective and immediate reduction of the chicken’s body temperature is best affected by submerging it up to its neck in cool water.

Provision of ice-cold water with electrolytes, placement in an air-conditioned space in an animal carrier, crate or other confinement option or in a cool garage can make a big difference to a heat stressed bird.

Good Reasons to Add a Water Feature to Your Outdoor Living Project

As you map out your fabulous new backyard project don’t forget to consider the addition of a outdoor living water feature. The gazebo, pergola or pavilion structure set amid a bounty of flower or vegetable beds, winding paths, green lawns, or succulent gardens will provide shade and shelter from the hot sun, but the inclusion of a water feature can elevate the enjoyment of the space to new heights.

In certain cultures, water is a central theme in any garden design and is given pride of place. For example, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean gardens consider water a primary focal point as it represents wisdom and renewal. While gardens in these regions were created as places for reflection, rituals and prayer, Zen gardens are dry spaces with no water. A ‘Short History of Water Gardening” written by Kit Knotts, explores the use of water for irrigation and the development of aquatic plants we have come to love such as the Lotus and the Water Lilly. The latter so ‘impressed’ the impressionist painter Claude Monet that he painted over 250 paintings of the plant at his home in Giverny, France.

A backyard water feature can be a small fountain, a rill or a large pond. A trickle or a ripple, a still reflective surface, or a waterfall of sound. Whatever your preference, the benefits of including moving water in a garden are many.

  • Improves air quality
  • Gentle sounds of running water are soothing and add a relaxing ambience and tranquility
  • The sound of moving water can mitigate neighborhood noise pollution
  • Softens hard landscape lines in the garden
  • Adds a textural element to the space
  • Can be used to water plants
  • Provide an eco-system for wildlife
  • Increases property value
  • Perfect garden for small urban spaces

A Variety of Options

The simplest outdoor living water feature to include in a garden is a bird bath. It requires no pumps or involved installation or excavation and will encourage wildlife to visit the garden. Water walls and rain curtains, pondless and standard waterfalls, scuppers, sconces, and water jets are all options to consider depending on your preference and budget.

The garden pond is a popular choice of water feature as its installation is relatively simple, but the amount of maintenance required should also be a consideration in the selection of a water feature. Running water will generally require less maintenance than still water to keep clean, but each feature will require some form of attention and care.

Fishing For Fish

Much pleasure can be derived from creating a fishpond and filling it with your favorite fish. Goldfish, Koi, Guppies, Minnows, Pond Loach and Molly Fish to name a few. But you will need to protect the fish from predators who see the pond as their perfect restaurant with plenty on the table.

Netting, fish line across the pond (doesn’t impair the view as much as netting), the inclusion in pond design of tunnels and caves and floating plants where the fish can hide, decoys, and lights and water sprayers hooked up to motion sensors, are all good methods to protect your fish habitat from unwanted intrusion from predators.

It’s not just birds like Blue Herons that will take advantage of the handy food source in the pond, raccoons and other night visitors including feral cats can also be a hazard to the well-being of your fish. Motion sensor products that emit light, sprays of water and noise are the best deterrent for these visitors.

The Natural Beauty of Aquatic Plant Life

Avid gardeners love the added dimension of water features as it broadens their opportunity to explore new plant life and learn new growing and nurturing habits for a myriad of flora.

Elegant Lotus plants and floating Water Lilies and Water Poppies add sophistication to the garden while other species such as Rodgers Flower and Water Smartweed are perfect for masking muddy spots and can be prevented from rooting and spreading by placing them in pots around the edge of the pond to curtail their inherent ability to quickly root and cover the floor of a pond.

Horsetail and Purple Pitcher offer height and the former is a medicinal plant that can be harvested as can Creeping Jenny.

Some plants actively help mitigate algae bloom in the pond. The purple Water Hyacinth being the most used pond plant of all for this reason. Others to consider are Water Lettuce and Pickerel. Certain plants actively help oxygenate the pool such as Water Iris and Dwarf Giant Papyrus offers the help of a natural water filter.

Mosquitoes can be a problem around any standing water and the provision of a water surface plant cover can help defray their ability to lay eggs on the water surface. Mosquito fern is a good choice for this purpose.

Variety – The Spice of Life

Whatever backyard water feature you choose to add to your garden design, the enjoyment of the outdoor space will be enhanced as water provides occupants with additional input to their senses of sight, sound, smell and even touch.

Picture yourself dining by a cooling mist of a waterfall ensconced in your screened gazebo or lounging under the dappled light of the pergola reading a good book listening to the gentle babble of a rill. We all need time to sit and be mindful, to reflect and to relax and unwind from the stress of our busy lives. Nature brings us gifts galore to help us. Why not meditate on adding a water feature to your outdoor design and enjoy its benefits.

Beat The Heat Strategies in Horse Barn Design

Cold winter months may dampen the spirit with the arduous chores breaking ice, digging out from snowfall, and switching blankets on horses, but summer heat poses its own set of challenges.

Hot, humid days with their sultry still air can cause horses and their human caregivers to become dehydrated. The impact of direct sunlight can cause sunburn around sensitive areas of the horse such as eyes and muzzle. If you’ve ever seen a pink-nosed horse standing with his head over the water trough on a humid day trying to improve his own oxygen intake and cool down, then you’ll probably also experienced rushing to the pharmacy for diaper creams and sunblock supplies in an attempt to fix sunburn that your horse suffers as a result of his effort to stay cool.

As with all things health wise, prevention is better than cure. When considering how you design and set up your horse barn it’s smart to plan for those ‘dog days of summer’ and add barn ventilation features that will be useful daily to mitigate the negative effects of high temperatures and humid days.

Passive Ventilation and Mechanical Intervention

Cupolas, Monitor style horse barns with gable venting and a high ceiling with a long line of windows that can be opened, plus stall windows that can be opened in every stall can all aid in passive barn ventilation.

Siting the barn so that the sun arcs over the center of the building rather than along one side and for center aisle barns facing the entrance doors toward a prevailing summer breeze can all improve air circulation within the building.

Roof and wall insulation can further mitigate ambient heat from metal roofs and/or siding.

Mechanical intervention via commercial grade horse barn fans (any fan used in a barn should have a sealed/enclosed motor that is protected from dust), ceiling fans and fans located at the base of a cupola can all aid in moving air throughout the building.

The addition of shades on windows or shutters, can prevent the sun’s rays from entering the building and heating up the interior.

Shelter From Direct Sun

Horses turned out should have some form of shelter from direct sun. Ideally a large run-in shed that is sited to catch summer breezes without direct sun glare to its open side is best.

The addition of a grill protected window on the rear of the shed can improve airflow across the horses’ backs when they shelter inside the space.

A stand of mature trees, a wall of a large building that is close by a pasture may offer shade and some protection from the sun.

Figure out how to keep your horse cool and how you can manage your horses’ turnout times to minimize their exposure to sun during the heat of the day. The routine of turning horses out at night after dusk and bringing them in early in the morning works well if your pasture has no available shelter from the sun.

For horses prone to laminitis, grazing grass during night hours also minimizes the risk of hoof inflammation as the sugars are lowest in the grass stems during this time.

Water and Wash Stalls

Incorporating a designated wash stall within a barn may seem like a waste of space when stall space is at a premium, but it is a significant boon to have a wash stall available especially during the summer months.

Standing outside the barn with a hose at hand also works, but you will have to deal with the biting horseflies and won’t be able to escape the sun.

An outside wash stall space with a pavilion style roof can also serve well if a frost-free faucet or other water source is readily available outside.

A cold-water wash down using a sponge and bucket of water is also a great way to cool down a hot horse. Pay especial attention to the large muscle groups of the hindquarters and neck area.

Horses dehydrate quickly in hot weather so ensure a supply of fresh clean water whether the horse is inside or outside.

If you suspect your horse is overheated and application of cold water hasn’t lessened his respiratory rate after 15 minutes, then call the vet as this indicates sincere heat stress and requires medical intervention.

When designing your horse farm property or horse barn, a permanent year around water source is essential. It should be accessible, regularly cleaned and refilled to keep it fresh and prevented from icing up in winter or drying up or becoming contaminated with algae and other detritus in summer months.

Freedom to Choose ~ Let the Horse Decide

The beauty and benefit of adding Dutch doors to stalls that open to enclosures where the horse can decide it’s preferred spot to hang out during different times of day is a boon. The addition of an overhang to the barn design further enhances the opportunity to shelter from the sun and allows the horse to pick the best possible location for its comfort.

The inclusion of Dutch doors in the barn design can also facilitate additional airflow throughout the interior of the barn.

Moving still sultry air is essential to mitigate the negative effects of humidity on the horse’s ability to cool down and dispel body heat.

Riding High

Horses don’t get to choose when and where they are ridden. If you are riding high on your passion for working your horse in readiness for a competition, or schooling in a hot dusty outdoor arena focused on the task at hand, it is easy to overlook the stress you are subjecting your horse to by working him hard in hot weather.

Ensure your horse is fit enough for the job you ask him to do by building up to the workload. If possible, avoid riding during the hottest times of the day. Choose the shady forest trail over the hot sandy mountain ridge, pick showgrounds that have good facilities such as barns with mist fans outside, mature trees for shade etc. that is, use your common sense.

Take lots of breaks between schooling sessions, provide electrolytes either in an additional water bucket to his regular water supply, or by administration of electrolyte pastes if necessary.

Always wash sweat off a horse at the end of a workout or if he has sweated up in a stall as the latherin and salts/minerals in the coat will hamper the ability of his skin to breathe and to continue to perspire to cool down if sweat is left to dry. There are different types of ‘sweat. A horse that has lathered into a white foam versus a stall bound horse that is perspiring to help dispel body heat both require a thorough wash down but the need for intervention with electrolytes may be different.

Age Matters

Pay especial attention to the very young or older horses, as both ends of the age spectrum are more readily affected by dehydration and ill effects from high temperatures and humidity than other equine age groups. This is because their ability to regulate their body temperature is compromised.

Whatever age your horse, you owe it to him to pay extra attention to his needs during extreme weather conditions. And don’t forget to manage your own too!

Let the Head Rule the Heart ~ Horse Barn Selection by Logic

Making the dream of owning your own horse barn a reality is not an easy task and let’s face it, building a horse barn is not an inexpensive endeavor. The size and scale of the structure that horses require for housing needs means a capital outlay that, despite financing options, horse owners often cannot contemplate being able to afford. But don’t despair, there is a logical way forward to realizing the dream of horse barn ownership.

Financial constraints should not dim the dream of keeping horses in the backyard for the horse lover or put equine aficionados off starting their own horse training/lesson or boarding business. But it is essential that the horse owner allow their head to rule their heart and ensure that logic is the driving force in their horse barn selection. Otherwise, there is a good chance that the entire project will fall apart, possibly even resulting in financial failure that requires foreclosure on a property.

Think Big Start Small

The most common mistake folks make when developing a horse property is to think too big. Going big can mean not going home with your horses at all. While budget overruns can pop up in any project, the savvy shopper nails down their prices with ‘to the penny’ quotes, not estimates with open ended language, and does their due diligence when it comes to who they choose to collaborate with on every aspect of the building process.

Planning Perfection

Success in any project will be determined by having a clear idea of the start and finish point of the venture and how each step will be achieved throughout the process. In terms of a horse property, areas for service lines such as water, electricity and possibly sewer, vehicular and pedestrian access, fencing needs and the horse barn itself all factor into the plan.

While fencing may be temporary and moved or added to later with the use of electric rope/wire, and overhead electric power lines can be moved and new wells drilled, the reality is it is not easy to move a substantial structure like a barn. Even if you have the stalwart Amish attitude and manpower to make it happen. Aside from a run-in shed with tow hooks installed on its corners that facilitate moving the structure from A to B with a tractor or large ATV/UTV, the barn’s positioning and size will likely dictate the rest.

Barns Big and Small

When on the hunt for a horse barn builder search for a company that can provide barns big and small in a myriad of designs. This will provide maximum choice as well as offer a great deal of flexibility later if you decide to add to the initial design and want buildings to match.

For example, a straight shed-row barn can easily be added to later with adjacent buildings placed to either side in an ‘L’ or ‘U’ configuration to create a courtyard to the inside. A neighborhood of large run-in sheds placed in a line can provide hay and equipment storage opposite a center aisle barn built in the future but be used in the short term as shelter in fields and placed later in the perfect position to serve as storage or even be finished across their open sides as quarantine stalls in a location set distant from the main barn.

There are many advantages to working with a modular construction company over a stick-built on-site construction crew. Two key factors are the accuracy on pricing and the ease with which the design and details can be ‘nailed down’ too. Shopping for a new horse barn should be painless and fun. Choose your collaborative partner with due diligence, to ensure a happy experience.

There probably isn’t any simpler or less stressful way to add a new barn to your property. Delivery is straightforward, site prep minimal and there is no upheaval caused by the yard becoming a worksite with all the negatives of noise, mess and traffic that entails.

Think Outside the Box

The advantages of working with a modular/prefabricated barn building company are without question the nailed down price, and the almost instant set up and readiness for use as soon as Day 1 (for a run-in or shedrow barn) but typically not later than 1 week (for a modular, center aisle barn) after arrival. Monitor barns that arrive in three sections via truck and then are cleverly placed 2 in parallel with the 3rd on top offer a neat way to have the advantages of a center aisle barn in a budget friendly manner.

Consider the placement of each structure in relation to its future neighbor barns carefully. Dutch doors that open to large runs outside can save on labor cleaning stalls and moving horses back and forth to pastures. They can also offer an ideal ‘dry lot’ for equines prone to laminitis or in rehabilitation following an injury they may have sustained that requires limited freedom of movement during recovery.

The Indoor Arena Expense

A great way to utilize your planned riding arena space is to first finish it regarding footing and drainage as an outdoor ring and provide in advance any special requirements for the addition of covering it as an indoor when funds allow.

These factors may include increasing the overall size of the ring to facilitate an apron around the building later, laying in services such as electric and water to the site, and leaving plenty of space around the area for construction equipment such as cranes and large trucks.

It may be prudent to avoid siting the outdoor arena close to neighbors’ property lines or mature trees where their roots may compromise construction, or their swaying canopies pose a hazard to the structure during high winds. Ensure the location offers sufficient space for parking and tractor access ideally on multiple sides of the building for arena grooming later, as well as plenty of room for construction material deliveries that will be required for the big build.

The Budget Bear

Unless you are blessed with unlimited financial resources managing the budget for your backyard horse property project or envisioned full-blown horse boarding and training enterprise is an absolute necessity.

Most of us must deal with unexpected increases in running costs such as hay and feed prices, electric hikes, pasture management expenses and wear and tear on the property such as driveways and fences. The more logic you apply now to how these direct and indirect costs will be managed and how they factor into the capital outlay you anticipate for the new barn and horse property development, the better off you will ultimately be managing the issues that will surely arise.

The most significant component of running any successful business is cash flow. If you have good income but high costs too, eventually the lack of profit margin will limit not just your opportunity to expand your business or horse owning project, but it could also lead to a cash crunch crisis that takes you down a road nobody wants to travel.

Be realistic with your expectations when it comes to building a horse barn and equine property development. There is a great deal of pleasure in building as you go and doing some of the work yourself along the way. Over time many initial ideas become irrelevant or impractical and needs and wants do change as more experience is gained in managing a life with horses in your care, custody, and control.

When building a barn work within your budget and immediate needs to get what you need now and add what you want later. Remember, going big can mean not going home with your horses at all.

Don’t be afraid to dream but at the same time, don’t be tempted to jump in with all four hooves and build too big out of the gate if your funds are limited. Stay the course and plan your best route but take it one fence at a time.

The Four Seasons of Greenhouse Gardening

Keeping your green thumb busy all year is possible with the help of a greenhouse. Spring time may be the most exciting gardening part of the year with Mother Nature kicking into high gear, but tricking or working with the change of seasons can yield a bounty of produce for the table with the application of a few simple greenhouse techniques.

You may be green to greenhouse gardening but there is no reason to be green about how to best enjoy their delights! An important first step is to plan ahead and know harvesting as well as planting times. Let’s peep inside the greenhouse seasons and see how this can be achieved by the hobbyist gardener.

Steamy Summers

The summer weather is perfect for growing the heat loving veggies such as cucumbers, peppers, melons (take a lot of space), and tomatoes. But the greenhouse can become too hot for comfort for the sun seekers such as the herb brigade of basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, and the fruit and veg contingent.

When temperatures climb high in the day, above 90°F for example, damage to fruit can occur. Pollination can also be negatively affected by too much heat.

Defeat the heat by adding shades or blinds, passive and mechanical ventilation and keep the greenhouse humid by damping down the floors and surfaces with water from a hose.

It is essential to also avoid water stress to the plants you are nurturing. Regular small amounts of water should be fed to the plants themselves but keeping the greenhouse humid with a humidifier unit or frequent manual watering down of the space will significantly help the plants thrive. The more humid the environment the better you limit the amount of water that is evaporating from the leaves of the plants which will help mitigate any wilting or burning of the leaves. This is essential in the care of young plants who are more fragile and thus more susceptible to big variances in temperature or extremely high temperatures.

Different plants prefer different watering techniques, so if you aren’t certain of what prefers what it is well worth investing some time to learn about plants that prefer wet leaves, dry leaves, root watering etc. Don’t forget to fertilize the soil, attend to its looseness or mulching capacities too and of course be on the lookout for annoying visitors like aphids and red mite spiders. It pays to know your bugs and be vigilant when it comes to protecting your hard work from invasion.

Many plants can be started outside in the garden in Spring and then brought inside during summer months to bring them into fruit production more readily and increase the yield. Strawberries and salad greens are two examples of produce than can be brought along quickly and efficiently inside the greenhouse.

Delights for the summer dining table include mocktails and cocktails made with muddled mint and lemonades, oregano plants to dress the center of the table and mitigate the attention to the space of pesky flying and biting insects such as mosquitoes, and cool refreshing cucumber and cantaloupe soups to ramp up the health of the diners without filling them before the main course. Dips for fresh bread and crackers made from dill and cilantro or parsley chimichurri’s on a grilled protein add a fabulous touch of flavor and visual appeal to the fare.

Don’t Fail to Find Fall Favorites

 Don’t get yourself in a pickle about pickling. The method of making jams from the fruit harvest, chutneys from a balance of fruit and veggies and an array of pickled peppers that any Peter Piper would enjoy are all simple tasks that can be quickly learned and implemented to salvage large quantities of left-over summer produce and provide something for the Fall feasting season that includes Thanksgiving.

Cooking and canning, pickling and preservation methods do require some safety measures to ensure the seal on mason or other style jars are properly executed.

Aside from banking all the produce you can from the garden before a deep freeze occurs the Autumn offers the opportunity to get set up for winter produce by seeding plants for their wintertime inside. The greenhouse offers the ability to provide a consistent temperature haven for the plants, but you don’t want to be switching temperatures back and forth during winter so seek to grow produce or flowers that like similar conditions.

If you live in a region where winter temperatures dip below freezing and you don’t want to have to heat your greenhouse too much in winter then think about planting produce that likes cooler temperatures such as kale, lettuce, collards, and onions and certain herbs. You can also use the greenhouse to accelerate the growing time of early maturing veggies likes radishes, chives and onions.

Consider the length of growing season the vegetables will need and the amount of space they are likely to require before planting out longer maturing delights such as beets, carrots, leeks and cabbage.

The Winter Challenge

The greenhouse is a great environment to grow tomatoes for winter harvest if you have the money to spend on keeping the greenhouse sufficiently heated and adding grow lights to lengthen the daylight hours the plants will need. Most climates across the U.S.A. will dictate that some form of heat and light source is needed for greenhouse growing through winter.

This can get expensive fast if not properly managed.

Greenhouse techniques to minimize the spending on keeping it sufficiently heated include adding bales of straw around the base of the greenhouse. Packed tightly together a low hay or straw wall can protect the greenhouse from wind and snow while still allowing the light to enter the greenhouse from above.

Remember that plants need heat and humidity to thrive. But plants won’t be the only thing that enjoy the cozy environment inside the greenhouse, so will plant diseases and pests. It’s a good idea to provide some system of air ventilation and plant some marigolds between produce to repel insects or purchase ladybugs to release in your greenhouse to help protect the crop.

On a sunny day the temperature inside your greenhouse may be high enough to be detrimental to winter vegetables. This is easily resolved using a fan or by simply opening the doors.

You can help keep the temperatures inside your greenhouse equitable between day and night using a water barrel. This is a common practice and very effective method of mitigating the risk of high variances in temperature inside the greenhouse, regardless of whether your greenhouses is sided with plastic, glass or polycarbonate. The latter material has the added benefit of providing 100% protection against ultra-violet rays.

Flowers and house plants can also be grown throughout the seasons in the greenhouse and there is nothing better than being able to decorate your holiday tablescape with fresh greenery and colorful blooms you have harvested from your own backyard. Popular winter flowering plants include Amaryllis (from bulbs), orchids, gladioluses, pansies, lilies, and impatiens. For flower lovers check this Chicago gardener’s blog out for help.

Spring Will Spring

Every gardener loves the advent of Spring. Preparation for Spring greenhouse growing should start late winter and the plants from the previous season should be harvested and pots and beds cleared out and prepared for what is to come.

The advantage of the greenhouse in Spring is clearly the early start that vegetables can be given in their growth cycle. To germinate seeds, you’ll need interior temperatures to be in the 70°F to 80°F range. There is a huge range of options for the early Spring season seedlings, peas, broccoli, Swiss chard, garlic to name but a few.

Enjoy this great resource on what fruits, vegetables and flowers to start and how from The English Garden.

Take Home Message

As with many things in life with a little thought and planning there are many rewards to be enjoyed throughout the seasons, and gardening delights bought to the table or household décor are one of them. Long winter nights sat by the fireside reading seed catalogs are fun but being able to get outside and still play with your garden in a greenhouse can provide some relief and gives you a head start on the growing season. Don’t be shy to take your greenhouse all season. It’ll keep you entertained and fingers in the soil, and all of us gardeners love that!

Simple Ways to Elevate the Outdoor Living Entertainment Experience ~ Your Recipe to Success!

The 1753 Italian expression ‘al fresco’ translates to ‘in the fresh air’ and outdoor living lifestyles embrace the health benefits of eating outside with the delights of “Al Fresco” dining.

It is interesting to note that both physical and mental health can be improved by eating outdoors. Stress reduction of lowered blood pressure and heart rate and less muscle tension, increase in vitamin D levels helping the immune system and the release of ‘good mood’ endorphins are all triggered by outside living, and food tastes better outdoors than indoors as all your senses are heightened when eating in the great ‘outdoors.’

Here are some tips to help you elevate your outdoor living entertainment experience in the following ways:

  • ‘Chef up’ your food offerings and provide tasty delights and ensure food is safe to eat
  • Have time to sit down and enjoy your guests’ company
  • Provide a pleasurable seating and set up arrangement for your guests
  • Keep the children entertained

Food and Food Safety, First and Foremost

 We’ve all heard or even experienced the food poisoning or tummy upsets that can come from sunbaked mayonnaise potato salads, the unappealing sweating cheese board pass around, the fly buzzed cold cuts and lukewarm or undercooked chicken or hamburgers.  Nobody wants to make their guests ill as a result of poor food safety practices at a backyard barbeque or family get together dinner. Here are a few simple rules to follow to help prevent bacterial food poisoning.

Bacteria will thrive in temperatures between 41° and 140° F. This is why you’ll hear chefs say, “Serve hot food hot and cold food cold.” Ensure that when food leaves the kitchen in any stage of preparation it is either on ice or if cooked kept on a heat source as the type of food dictates. Keep food out of direct sun and temperatures above 90°F warrant special provision for cooling and/or limited time outside. Protect food from flies and pesky flying insects with mesh covers.

Safe temperature when cooking meat is 165° F for chicken/turkey. Fish, pork, and beef (whether steaks or chops or roasts) to 145°F and ground beef/pork/lamb to 160°F. Use a thermometer to check the temperature before serving.

In Italy and other hot climate Mediterranean countries where al fresco dining is common, food is often served in multiple courses rather than all at once to ensure it is eaten quickly once set upon the table and not left out in a buffet style extravaganza for hours on end for people to pick over. This is a great idea as washing up can be completed as the meal progresses and dishes are cleared away regularly leaving the table clear of detritus and unappetizing half-finished plates and dishes of food that will attract wasps and other stinging or biting unwanted visitors.

Follow the 2-hour rule as a maximum time frame for leaving prepared foods outside and only 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F.

The Grill Meister

Center stage for the outdoor dining production is often the grill. The variety of grills and outdoor kitchen set ups can be lavish and include everything from wood-fired pizza ovens to charcoal grills to high end gas cooktops, rotisseries and fridges safely ensconced from the weather under permanent cover of pavilions with drop down shutters.

Whatever outdoor cooking set up is available, the use of a grill or grate can add an appealing texture to the offerings. Increase flavor of the veggies or meats with the use of fresh herbs, spicy dry rubs and prevent veggies sticking to the grill by rubbing them with olive oil before placement. This will also help prevent firm texture veggies like zucchini, asparagus, eggplant, broccoli, peppers, and onions from drying out.

Prep In Advance and Enjoy More Time at the Table

 Part of the obligation of hosting or throwing a party or event, or even spending time with immediate family dining al fresco, is the endless up and down from the table and walk to and fro to the kitchen.

Alleviate the number of journeys required to the fridge by keeping multiple coolers handy well-iced or plugged in if available to source beverages. A cooler (especially a large one with wheels like luggage) also makes a great transportation unit for prepared foods that can be plated in advance and delivered in one shot out to the diners. Investigate the hot and cold food savers that are available on the market. Many are glass, that are covered with a plastic lid and are pretty enough to go straight on the table for serving with lid removed. A quick tableside dressing with a garnish of fresh herbs or squeeze of lemon can add vibrance and freshness at the last minute.

Think outside the usual barbeque fare when offering dining delights. Consider healthy alternatives and add elegance to your fare with blinis dressed with smoked salmon and chives, or a seasonal summer peach cake made from grains such as polenta or quinoa. Many foods can be prepared days in advance or even weeks in advance set in the freezer until needed. When serving alcohol, it is always advisable to offer your guests a food source whether that be hors d’oeuvres with cocktails or dessert snacks with after dinner drinks.

Set the Scene

Making the table décor pretty and attractive is not hard and does not have to be expensive. Hanging outdoor lights stretched in rows across a pergola or trees in the garden, hurricane candles on the table or more modern LED lighting options, mix and match placemat color schemes with a variety of textures and designs all add pleasure to the outdoor dining experience. Mapping out the table landscape with colorful ceramics, rustic or elegant stemware and fabrics, and including different light sources can create an ambience that relaxes guests and offers a warm welcome.

Flowers from the garden can be plucked and placed in any style garden container or vase. Herb plants like oregano placed up and down the table offer a fragrance that guests will love and provide some protection from bug attraction to the table. Oregano plants placed on tables are widely used in Greece for the purpose of mitigating bug traffic around diners at tavernas up and down the country and across their beautiful islands.

Ensure the table is also set to be functional with everything in easy reach for every diner. Set multiple salt/pepper, serving cutlery options, stemware including water jugs and an ice bucket kept handy is always a good plan.

Don’t make the mistake of making guests feel uncomfortable by sitting them close together unless your visitors know each other well. Careful selection of the size of the chairs and the size and shape of the table is essential if the outdoor patio or level space is restricted. Elbow room for use of utensils is needed to eat. You don’t want to seat people so close together they can hear their neighbor swallowing.

It is important to allow sufficient room around the seating area of the table for guests to be served food and for them to leave the table without upsetting other guests with requests for moving chairs or squeezing by. For ease of movement armless chairs are excellent. A 36” space behind each chair is usually sufficient to allow both actions, with a distance of 24” between the center of one chair to another to facilitate companionship without feeling confined.

Obviously, family gatherings especially those that include children can be less constrained, and it can even be helpful to sit closer to young children to help them navigate their dining experience.

As a rule, round tables are best for conversation, narrow tables with bench seating offer intimacy for conversation and food sharing. If you are seating your guests at a rectangular or long table, try and place the conversationalists in the middle seats opposite each other, and the quieter guests at the end if you want to maximize the flow of conversation.

A Word About Glass

The use of throwaway cups and plates and cutlery for outdoor use does save on the washing up after the event, but it also does not elevate the taste or presentation of the food or drinks served.

Pool side use of glass stemware and china/ceramics should be carefully considered for the obvious reason of the chance of breakage occurring that could result in injury to bare feet of patrons around the pool or actual broken shards or pieces of glass or china entering the water itself.

Modern materials utilize innovative glass feel products that are guaranteed not to shatter or chip. These items offer a good compromise for use around the pool where it is wished to avoid the use of plastic, non-recyclable, or paper products.

 Final Note: Keep the Kids Entertained

Multi-generational gatherings offer the very best type of meaningful memory making opportunities. Where young and old mix together, much pleasure can be derived from the outdoor living entertainment of watching the interaction between the two. However, it is not easy to keep kids’ high energy levels at bay for long periods, so distractions to occupy their inquiring minds and divert their high jinks is an essential part of making your event a happy time for all parties.

Consider providing age-appropriate board games, pool toys, football or sport activity like a quick and easy set up badminton court where the shuttlecock won’t hurt the windows, crafts, playset or other distractions in your backyard where kids can mingle and let off steam. If you have a brick wall or side of a garage or building handy it makes a great movie screen for projection from a tablet or other device with the simple hanging of a large white or light-colored sheet.

The addition of a kids’ table is often employed for younger children, although my British self always enjoyed being part of the main party and sitting with the grown-ups sampling the same food they did and enjoying their repartee during mealtimes. With permission to leave the table early, the adults were still able to enjoy their own conversations after the meal while my young compatriots and I would be allowed to run about the garden and play.

Memories are made today, and your backyard offers many opportunities to make plenty of good outdoor living experiences!

Bring Heritage Home with Traditional Board and Batten Siding

The advent of the sawmill in the 1830’s changed how homes and barns were built and sided forever. The common and garden ‘barn siding’, board and batten, has seen a huge increase in popularity in the home market in the past few years, with its rural appeal and legacy look.

Board and batten traditionally consisted of wide boards of wood placed side by side, with narrow battens (thins trips of wood) placed over the seams.

The thin flexible wooden strip of wood is named after the batten of similar nature that was used to flatten out sails on a ship and is also credited to the expression ‘batten down the hatches’ from its use at sea where it was placed across door handles to secure them from flapping open.

The use of traditional board and batten siding began in the Gothic Revival period of architecture as a new style of vertical lapping of thin ‘baton’ strips of wood placed over wider boards to seal out moisture and drafts. As trees grow vertically their timber was milled the same direction and it was simple to use the long planks of wood in the same direction and gave the advantage that rain and snow would not collect on each projecting batten.

Sawmills were able to churn out vast quantities of lumber in these thin strips and when added to fill the gaps between wider boards they vastly improved the seal of the siding of a building.

The use of board and batten in barn and house construction was easy to install and offered a user-friendly alternative to building a log cabin. The addition of the batten made the interior of the barns and homes warmer than a log-built structure.

Originally, log homes were not energy efficient having multiple gaps and crevices that allowed heat out and cold air in during winter months. Additionally logs often harbored insects and creepy crawlies of many species and allowed vermin access to the interior space. While the gaps in logs were commonly stuffed with moss or lichen, clay or dirt, the inevitable dampness and stickiness that emanated from their surfaces as they aged provided a less than perfect environment in which to live.

Farmers quickly embraced the board and batten because it was less expensive than a log built, less arduous to construct and more efficient. It also offered the amazing ability to construct buildings taller than before, as log homes were commonly only built to a man’s height, as that was as far as he could reach!

Today modern board and batten home siding is designed for effect and there is no addition of battens after the boards are placed across stud walls. There is a tremendous variety in colors, materials available (wood, vinyl, steel and fiber cement), and size of boards. It is an aesthetic architectural choice that offers the appeal rural and traditional characters.

When it comes to building a horse barn, the pros and cons of board and batten siding are similar to those in days gone by, but not the same. Amish craftsman in the barn building industry have long used board and batten installed in the traditional manner as separate pieces of wood, and the rustic quality of the finished result is hard to equal when it comes to mirroring and honoring past traditions.

The Pros of Board and Batten

  • Easy install
  • Effective for making an airtight seal
  • Varietal materials can be used, including wood with its natural insulation properties, steel, fiber cement and vinyl
  • Battens used in certain modern-day products are purely decorative offering versatility in design
  • Wood can be stained with long lasting products to offer protection from insect damage and water damage
  • Siding can be painted or produced in a range of colors
  • Traditional, rustic appeal when wood is used
  • Flexibility in creative design – the closer together the battens are spaces the more textural/3 dimensional the finished appearance
  • Boards and battens can be installed horizontally or vertically

The Cons of Board and Batten

  • Installation can be a lengthy process increasing labor costs
  • Bottom of unprotected/sealed boards and battens may rot with ground contact
  • Requires due care and attention to install with specific spacing for girts/studs or framing support members
  • Steel and fiber cement materials can be more expensive than vinyl and wood options

When resourcing the best siding option for your horse barn consider products such as low maintenance LP Smartside and Duratemp ( a manufactured wood siding), as well as traditional board and batten wood products. All offer pros and cons and with research the barn building budget can be ‘brought into line’ with clever use of the right siding option

Consider however the long-term costs of implementing a siding that will require repainting, re-staining or other maintenance. Stains today are available with a 15-year warranty. Also bear in mind that factory applied stains and paints will necessarily last longer than those applied on site, as moisture and humidity is controlled in the factory environment for optimal temperature and conditions during application.

The type of wood used, and its grade also significantly affect its longevity. While a Grade 1 (less knots) or top of the line wood such as cedar is not necessary, products such as Southern Yellow Pine or Cypress can make fine siding choices. When housing animals there are many safety advantages of opting for wood over metal siding too.

Placing the boards vertically will increase the appearance of height of the building while placing them horizontally will promote an appearance of a wider building with a larger footprint.

The closer together you place the battens the more each effect will be impacted.

Vertical placement offers better water shedding capability and offers less opportunity for small insects such as hornets to nest.

Color considerations are also important to factor into your selection of traditional board and batten siding, as the color of the side of the building dramatically influences the overall aesthetic of the structure. Barn color choice does matter! And not just for appearance, it also directly affects how hot or cool the building will be to use during extreme temperatures.

Try to locate a horse barn building company that can offer multiple options in the siding style and materials used to give you a complete choice to enable you to make the perfect selection for your needs and wants that also offers warranty protections for products utilized.

Making The Most of Your Hobby Greenhouse

The acquisition of a hobby greenhouse is every gardener’s dream event. The virtually bug-free, temperature-controllable environment is a boon to not just the length of the growing season but also offers an opportunity for experimentation and creative flair.

There are a few things to know before you grow. Pre-emptive measures can save plant loss and increase the satisfaction of owning your very own backyard hobby greenhouse. Let’s dig in…

Enhance Temperature Control

The addition of fans and shade cloths to a greenhouse can make all the difference to counteract the effects of extremely hot weather. Not all plants enjoy being baked under polycarbonate or glass despite regular watering. The use of humidifiers and the ability to modify the temperature of the greenhouse interior are valuable tools for creating a microclimate where plants will thrive.

Automated fans work well, and additional oscillating fans can help defray heat spots within the greenhouse.

Coordinating some form of wireless temperature transmitter to communicate any huge variances in temperature that may occur and require immediate action.

Ant Invasion

Inevitably the busy and resourceful ant fraternity will discover your plants and the feeding supply keeping them healthy and growing. While wiping down surfaces with acidic products such as vinegar and lemon juice may deter their travel across certain surfaces, it is best to deal with their activities on a more permanent basis and eradicate their presence.

An effective but simple trick is to dissolve some sugar in warm water and add a teaspoon or two of boric acid (easy to source at your local pharmacy and inexpensive) to the recipe and place the mixture in a saucer or shallow vessel with access for the troop of ants to find during their reconnaissance. The clever ants tell each other where this rich new food source lives and before long with military precision a long line of ants will march back and forth from sugar mixture to their nests to store and digest the feast. This ingestion will cause their demise.

Water Management

Don’t forget to add gutters to your backyard hobby greenhouse if you don’t want muddy ground on either side of the greenhouse or water migrating into the interior of the space. The collection of guttered water for watering needs may be an option if the roof contains no toxins or toxic chemicals within its construction at seams or materials used for roofing.

Many gardeners use the long sides of their greenhouses as handy additional beds to set up plants that may benefit from their proximity to the warmth of the siding of the greenhouse during summer months and/or protection from strong winds.

Know Your Bugs

It is inevitable that bugs of some sort will either fly into the greenhouse when the screen door is ajar or arrive on a plant moved into the greenhouse from elsewhere.

Some research into the more common pests that attack plants and the ability to recognize and treat them can prove useful in preventing an infestation and attacking any emerging threat before it takes hold.

Common pests include aphids, mites, cabbage loopers, caterpillars, slugs, and whiteflies.

Biosecurity measures such as placing screens on the open greenhouse windows and at doorways and regular checking of plants within the greenhouse are good ways to mitigate the risk of pest intrusion.

You may consider adding yellow sticky cards and other user-friendly safe ‘traps’ around the space to capture unwanted residents that try to set up shop. However, be aware these sticky mats can also capture beneficial visitors that actually help plant life stay healthy such as ladybugs and spiders.

Fungus and Diseases

All plants can host diseases from time to time and being able to recognize and treat common issues quickly is a smart way to minimize their damage. This is a great resource for handling everything from powdery mildew to mites.

Write It Down

Keeping a record of high and low temperatures, and your growing pattern and success of growing and going green is a huge asset when it comes to those long winter evenings pondering about how life with the backyard hobby greenhouse could be more productive.

Every location and even micro-region provide different challenges and tracking daily changes can help you manage a better trajectory next season.

Bottom Up

Water seedlings and plants from the base to avoid the myriad of issues that can occur with damping off. Don’t use ice cold water as this can shock plants and lead to plant loss.

Remember to dilute all fertilizers and apply carefully away from roots. Follow recommendations from the manufacturers of these products carefully.

Be careful not to use soil and mulch products that are chemically treated as this may negatively affect the safety or organic benefit of vegetables or fruits that are to be ingested. There are many remedies that can be used to safely preserve, treat, and grow healthy plants and vegetables that do not require the use of risky or untested products in the greenhouse food chain that you are likely planning to feed the family.

Don’t Delay Your Planting Building a Greenhouse… Buy PREFAB!

Horizon Structures Greenhouses are Delivered Fully-Assembled and Ready for Immediate Use
Learn More HERE.

3D Your Backyard with the Whole Kit and Caboodle

Making the most of your backyard space may include creating lawns and areas for the kids to play, the addition of a playset, designing functional vegetable gardens and increasing the aesthetic value with pretty beds of flowers, spectacular shrubberies, or majestic trees.

If you want to make the world of difference to your property, consider going 3D in a simple and fun way by building a pergola or pavilion. These structures not only look great, but they also offer a boost to your outdoor living lifestyle by increasing the amount of time you can spend outside regardless of weather impediments such as hot sun or summer showers.
Building an outdoor living structure is like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle and it’s a fun filled experience that the whole family can be involved in making it a satisfying and educational event that yields more than just a great structure at the end of the day. Ensure you keep children a safe distance away when moving, lifting, or raising the heavier parts of the kit such as headers and posts. Kids love to be involved in finding the right bolt or handing you the right screws on the ground and are all good learning opportunities.

The ‘whole kit and caboodle’ arrives with components all pre-drilled/measured and all materials included. Building it is akin to working with a massive Lego set that is all pre-engineered to fit together in perfect unison. It’s the best jig-saw puzzle ever.
A two-person crew may be needed to lift rafters atop the frame and secure framing members for the roof of a pavilion and finish the roof. Detailed instructions arrive with the kit and just a few tools are needed that are usually readily available in most homeowner’s toolbox.
Let’s Dig In
The site needs to be level and ready to go before you start building a pergola or pavilion, and the kit package should be set as close as possible to the site and left unopened and protected from the weather until you are ready to start.
Timewise you should allow approximately 4-5 hours for two people to put together a pergola that is 10’ x 14’, but of course the timeline depends on the talent and experience of the crew. A pavilion will require more time as it is a bit more involved. The roof will require ridge installation and roofing materials will need to be laid.
Measure Carefully
In any building project the number one rule is to be accurate with the measurements. When you purchase a kit for a pergola or pavilion a lot of the guesswork is taken out of the project as the materials are prefabricated making the construction easier to do right and more pleasurable to undertake.

In fact, building from a kit can make Mom and Dad with very average construction talents look like rockstars of the building trade! As long as you don’t mind climbing a ladder and being on the roof of the pavilion wielding a hammer or stapling down tar paper.
Read. Read. Read.
The manual provided with each kit is simple to follow and has illustrations that showcases exactly what needs to be done and in what order. Unlike working with a 2D jigsaw on the coffee table over the holidays the 3D jigsaw will be a bit more involved. You can’t just start with the straight pieces and go to the middle later.

A few thorough read throughs of the entire manual will help you retain and understand the process. Try and pick a good weather day without blistering heat or rain to complete the project and take lots of breaks to refresh and reread the manual. It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time.
More Posts More Labor
A simple rectangular structure with four posts will obviously be easier to assemble than a larger 6 or 8 post structure. That’s something to consider when you are sizing the project before you purchase the kit.
Maintenance Madness
If you are like many busy homeowners, you like doing things once and not having to come back and repeat and repair the job later.
Think about choosing modern products such as Azek and vinyl rather than traditional wood if you want a low maintenance option. Similarly, a metal roof rather than a shingle roof may be your best choice as it will last longer without requiring repairs.
The Pergola/Pavilion Advantage Over the Gazebo

All three outdoor living structures provide added value for a healthy outdoor lifestyle, but the advantage of building a pergola or pavilion is that they offer a gathering space that is readily adaptable for both small and larger family events. They will accommodate varying numbers of visitors whereas the gazebo will be limited in its ability to host the number of guests at an event by its interior space defined by the fixed walls.
The EZ Shade Advantage
To provide additional protection to the occupants of the pergola or pavilion from the sun’s rays or cool breezes, consider purchasing an EZ Shade. The versatility this product offers is a valuable adjunct to the functionality of the structure.