How to buy the best gazebo for your garden
We’ve spent the last few weeks looking for the best gazebo for our garden.
And we discovered that finding the right gazebo starts with asking the right questions.
When our large cream table parasol broke, we had to decide whether we wanted a pop-up gazebo, another central table parasol or a large offset (cantilevered) garden umbrella.
So we found out what you get if you pay more. And when the budget option is just as good.
So here are the questions you need to ask yourself in order to find the best gazebo.
1) Do you need a gazebo, a parasol or a cantilevered umbrella?
In the past, friends have lent us a pop-up gazebo if we’re having a party. So we have some idea of what we liked and what we didn’t. I’d certainly recommend borrowing one before deciding what to buy if you can.
Although the cream parasol in the centre of our table was very large, we were never in the shade when we wanted to be. As the sun moved round, so did we. Sometimes we were all crammed into one shady corner of the table. Meanwhile the plants on the terrace behind us were in full shade.
Some friends have giant offset cantilevered parasols. These look like a large banana and are not beautiful when closed up. But you can move the umbrella sail around when it’s open, in order to get the best shade. And the best ones are fabulously large – even bigger than the central parasols.
However, several people told me that only the most expensive cantilevered umbrellas are strong and well made enough to be both large and fully flexible. I’d love one, but the premium ones range from around £200-500, or more. Cheaper ones are under £100 but I’m not sure how much more shade they would offer than the central parasol did.
Gazebos, also known as mini-marquees, are pop-up tents. They offer better shade and weather protection than either parasols or cantilever umbrellas. There are budget options at around £60 and premium brands at between £100-£300.
So we decided to buy a pop-up gazebo.
2) What’s the difference between a gazebo and a pergola?
When searching for something like a gazebo, it is worth checking that you have the right word.
The word ‘gazebo’ applies to metal or wood garden shelters, with or without sides. They always have a roof, so there is some protection from the weather. They can be built structures or they can be ‘pop ups.’
A pergola is a more open structure. It doesn’t have a weatherproof roof, just wood or metal struts, which plants can climb over. It’s always permanent.
Some people say that a pergola is rectangular or square while a gazebo is octagonal or round, but this isn’t always the case. You will find lots of square and rectangular gazebos offered for sale. It’s the weather-proof or weather-resistant roof that makes the difference.
The word ‘mini marquee’ seems to be associated with hiring rather than buying.
3) How to find the best gazebo
I am a great fan of Which Magazine. I have a subscription and turn to it before any major purchase. However, I couldn’t find any trials of gazebos or mini marquees.
In spite of the concern over fake reviews, I also find Amazon‘s purchaser reviews very useful. Only read the reviews which say ‘verified purchase’ against them. It means these people have bought these specific products via Amazon, so the reviews are likely to be authentic. Amazon has a filter, so you can choose only to read ‘verified purchase’ reviews.
And the more specific the review, the more likely it is to be authentic. ‘Great product, would recommend’ does not convince. But a long comment about the pros and cons, with details of a family wedding, are much less likely to be invented.
The ‘Best Sellers’ tag is also useful because it means that lots of people have bought the product.
By the way, I am an Amazon affiliate (see disclosure).
4) How much does a gazebo cost?
Using the principles above, I looked for gazebos with several hundred reviews on Amazon. Two ‘best gazebo’ brands emerged from this.
At the £100-£300 price point, the All Seasons 3x3m gazebo had hundreds of positive reviews. Ninety percent came from ‘verified purchasers’ and around 70% were 5-star.
And at the cheaper end, the Airwave 3x3m emerged ahead of the others at £60-£80. Only about 50% of the Airwave reviews gave it a 5-star rating, but I think that probably reflects the price point. You aren’t going to get the same number of useful features or level of sturdiness for half the price.
5) Why some gazebos cost more than others
When deciding how much to pay, these are the factors to take into account:
- Do you want ‘waterproof’ or ‘water-resistant’? Waterproof is more expensive, but you can carry on eating when it rains. Water-resistant only protects against light drizzle.
- Look for ‘pressure points reinforced with extra fabric’ or similar wording. It’s easy to rip the covering where the fabric is pulled tight over the struts. A gazebo will last longer if these points are reinforced but it will cost more.
- Easy to put up. You’ll get this from the reviews rather than the product description. Most companies will say that their gazebos are easy to put up.
- Adjustable leg heights. You can raise the height of the canopy on the more expensive gazebos, such as the All Seasons 3×3. Two of our family members are 6’4″ so when we have borrowed cheaper gazebos, they have caught their heads on the struts. Which is not nice if it is a pointy bit.
- Multi-surface feet. If you’re buying a cheaper gazebo, check that the feet will be fine on the surface you intend to place it on. Multi-surface feet can stand on lawn, stone, gravel, brick, concrete etc.
- Options for leg weight bags. The All Seasons comes with four bags which Velcro onto the legs. You can slip bricks or 2L bottles of water into the bags to keep the gazebo down. You can also buy extra leg weights to screw on.
- A strong carrying bag. The All Seasons comes with a bag, which will make it easy to store and transport. The cheaper options don’t.
- Colour choices. I counted 15 colour choices for the All Seasons 3mx3m at the time of writing. I counted 7 for the Airwaves Essential (still pretty good!).
6) Once you have a few ‘best gazebo’ choices…
Once you’ve short-listed a few brands, search the internet to clarify which is likely to be the best gazebo for you. It’s especially useful to find blogs or comparison websites. Although none are as thorough as ‘Which’, you can get a surprisingly fair idea of what’s what.
Sometimes you find ‘sponsored’ or ‘collaborative’ product reviews. This means the bloggers or vloggers have been paid by the companies whose products they’re writing about. Provided they’ve made this clear from the start, this is still valuable. (If they’re honest about being sponsored, they’re probably honest in what they say about the product!)
Even if there is no word of criticism, someone’s account of how they have enjoyed something is often surprisingly enlightening. A travel review of a resort with a vibrant night life, for example, would deter anyone looking for a peaceful, unspoilt atmosphere! And sometimes bloggers and vloggers just explain things more clearly than international companies do.
That’s why I said – earlier on – that we bought our gazebo. We haven’t had any contact with its manufacturers or any suppliers. And it’s also why I explained that I am an Amazon affiliate. See disclosure.
7) Which brands emerged as best?
Amazingly, my trawl of the internet for ‘best gazebo’ delivered universal praise for the All Seasons gazebo, followed closely by Airwave for those looking for a budget option. Almost every listing of ‘best gazebo 2019’ or ‘best gazebo UK’ featured several All Seasons and Airwave gazebos.
I say ‘amazingly’ because I wouldn’t have expected this level of consistency.
A brand called Outsunny also had a number of positive mentions. I’d already noticed Outsunny doing well amongst the four and five star Amazon reviews but their gazebos seemed larger or more elaborate than the All Seasons or Airwave. Perhaps they are aimed at the party or wedding market? We just wanted a straight-forward 3mx3m gazebo, which we could use for all occasions.
7) Best gazebo choice made!
I clicked ‘add to basket’ on the All Seasons 3mx3m in Navy blue. It was delivered the following day. The navy blue should be a good colour with our Black Blue front door, shed and bin store colour.
It took us about 15 minutes to set it up, which was pretty good for a first time. If you’re putting it up for the first time, allow an extra 15 minutes for reading the instructions. These were good and clear. Perhaps it’s worth saying that we have helped put up a gazebo in the past, so we’re not entirely new to it. Allow more time if you have never put one up.
All Seasons say that the gazebo shouldn’t be left up overnight or left unattended. But we know people who leave it up for a few days at a time. You don’t have to take the canopy off every time you fold it up, so it’s not much fuss to take down.
We also ordered the extra Gazebo Feet leg weights. These are made of plastic. You fill them full of sand or water. Then you clip or screw them onto each leg. It took less than 15 minutes to add these.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should explain that we hadn’t realised that it already came with leg weights. So check the product description carefully!
8) If you want a permanent gazebo
At the other end of our garden, we turned a pergola into a gazebo by adding a corrugated iron roof to the frame. It cost £300 in all and it is now a lovely private and secluded corner.
Pin this ‘best gazebo tips’ reminder
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