Eco-Garden Room Builds – Natural Materials Vs Man Made

Garden Room Environment Connections

Every garden in the world is determined by its own biosphere. In Asia a historic garden building is the ‘pergola’ where foundations, four posts and a tiled or a thatched roof is the convention. So humid is it that in parts of Asia this works perfectly and allows for quick cover during tropical rain.

In contrast the thickly walled, Scandinavian log cabin has played an important role as a garden room, housing the family sauna or as a barbecue room, in Norway and Denmark since the Bronze era. Due to a shear number of Scot’s Pine Trees available it offers a resourceful efficient building material. The USA and the west inherited a great deal of the building processes from Scandinavian regions and as a result it is a very common garden room style throughout the northern hemisphere of the world.

Here in Britain, life in the garden room varies from region to region. Orchard rooms in Kent, Boathouses in Norfolk, Summerhouses in Devon, potting sheds in Yorkshire, Offices in London, holiday cabins in Scotland, work houses in Lincoln and kiosks in Essex. Garden building use changes by terrain, and the needs of the local people.

In Europe the garden building has evolved from a long history of early ‘AD’ pavilions for religious worship and also, from the 13th century, glass structures are used in to cultivate fruit and vegetables.

Later in European history we find a noticeable third reason for a garden building: to demonstrate wealth through the building of a folly. To create an impression within the grounds of their mansions and estates, the gentry of Europe built everything from pineapples to towers and temples to tree houses. In Europe, the garden room has been built in every shape and form.

Mother Nature has also been at work and has engineered the odd garden room of her own. She has created tree houses, nests, caves, dug outs, hives, tunnels, canopy, natural sunshades and grass houses.

Distant childhood memories provide a further twist on garden room dwellings. As Beatrice Lillies elaborates in her 1934 record – there are “fairies at the bottom of the garden” and often the garden room takes center stage. Fairy tales and cartoons have fantasized of garden room flower pots in ‘The Wombles’; garden room tea pots in ‘Poddington Peas’ and let’s not forget Goldilocks’s experiences in the mysterious garden house or the adventures of The Three Little Pigs!

Throughout history the garden room has been more than a functional building. It is room for people to find themselves in, to explore their relationship with their own culture, their gods or themselves. It is a place of work, rest, play and worship.

The garden buildings protects its owner from demons. Used wisely the garden room protects your from extremes of weather, neighbors and intrusion. If you understand the peace and tranquility of the garden then the garden room is yours to cultivate, and thrive in.

The Product of Nature: The Garden Room

If your garden building is an escape into your own, personal, piece of nature, it makes sense if the structure is built from natural materials so that it blends into it’s unique garden setting.

A garden building should not be made out of plastic and PVC. This is an affront to the natural world and avoids the necessity for all of us to be more environmentally considerate. You can limit the carbon footprint of a new garden building by using locally sourced, natural materials that will automatically make the building blend into the domestic garden environment.

When the Pilgrims landed on the shores of the New World at the beginning of the 1600’s, they faced incredible hardships whilst building settlements and finding the means to survive. Materials that they had brought from Europe were unable to stand the new and harsh environments that the Pilgrims’ found themselves in. A source of help came from the local, indigenous peoples.

In the early days the Native Americans and the Pilgrims enjoyed a more friendly relationship than what came later. The early sharing that occurred between the groups is remembered in the American festival of Thanksgiving. One of the things shared by the Native Americans was the means to survive and build in the hostile American climate through the use of nature.

Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata) is the ideal material for roof shingles. It is a durable and waterproof wood that survives the elements for decades. It is the material that Native Americans used to build their canoes, fashioned simply from the logs of Western Red Cedar trees. Able to remain in the water for long periods of time without succumbing to rot, it is a natural and renewable roofing material source that for a sustainable garden room. The Thuja Plicata is also known for the smell of its cedar oil, which it keeps long after it has been cut into shingles, a welcome and soothing aroma in a garden environment.

As a proven example of the Western Red Cedar’s amazing endurance, many Native American Totem Poles have survived to the present day. Another Native American use of the Western Red Cedar’s wood.

It’s a given that anything that can be used to build a boat is going to be a reliable material to survive the elements. Like the Western Red Cedar’s use in Native American canoes, the best material for external wood cladding is Larch. It is a tough and durable wood, famed for its waterproof properties. Traditionally it was used in Europe for building fishing boats and it is still a favorite for yacht building. It lasts for years when used in salt water, one of the most corrosive natural elements on the planet.

As a living tree, the Larch is renowned for fast growth and its resistance to disease. These are properties that remain in the wood when it is harvested. It is extremely resistant to rot, even when in contact with the ground, which will give any structure built with this material an extremely long life. Larch is a fast growing tree, frequently grown in sustainable forests the UK. The British larch is known to be stronger and more durable than its European counterpart. This makes in a more sustainable choice than slow growing oak. Because the tree is grown in Scotland, its transport carbon footprint is small. A natural cladding wood for your garden room.

Comfort is important in the twenty first century garden building. As a nation devoted to home improvements the British are no longer interested in shivering in the garden shed of sizzling in the summerhouse Controlling temperature plays a huge part in comfort in a garden room. A functional garden room must be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insulation is the key ingredient in a comfortable and sustainable garden room. However, many insulation materials are made from PVC and are not good for the environment. So what can we use that is more environmentally friendly?

The answer to this question is another question – “what is it that keeps people warm?” Answer – “jumpers”. A pure wool jumper is always snugger than one knitted with man-made materials. Sheep’s wool can work as the perfect eco-friendly insulation. It grows naturally on the back of the sheep and is both sustainable and renewable. There are two major suppliers of sheep’s wool insulation the UK, helping to reduce carbon foot print of homes and garden rooms: Second Nature and Black Mountain Insulation.

Garden Room Design

When designers and builders combine simple, classic designs with the simplest, natural materials then something special is created. Every spring, birds in their millions prepare their own garden room up in the trees, using delicately chosen twigs and insulation. The materials they use remain far longer than the nest is needed and the result is a sustainable garden room.

A real garden room is a form of human nest building. The garden room owner seeks a natural habitat in the garden, where he or she can either enjoy the garden, or completely ignore the garden and pursue their work or hobby. The garden room provides the escape that nature offers whilst deadheading the roses or escaping from the merry-go-round of life.

So there’s an enormous value in having a garden room, and the process involved in commissioning the right one can be demanding. We’ve all planned projects like this at some time or another in our lives… an idea, a big prevailing vision, then inspiration, followed by pricing, conformity and regulations, revising our ideas and our budget and then finally – decision time. But, in the end, the important thing is to be happy in a room of our own, at the bottom of the garden.

Author Matthew Wright shares his gardens: http://www.iobuild.co.uk/environmentally_friendly_buildings_overview.asp

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