I made this covered area for our community garden and wanted to design something that was as minimal as possible. I used materials we'd reclaimed and this is what is needed:
Four fence posts or scaffold planks at least 2m long
8 solid pieces of wood around 50 to 60cm long
A fence panel used on building sites for the roof
16 screws and four thick plastic bags
A tarpaulin or awning canvas big enough to cover the panel (which I don't have yet)
Tools needed: Saw, electric drill, spade, step ladder
Step 1: Making the Braces and Shaping the Posts
I found out 8 pieces of wood to brace the posts. Make sure they're unlikely to bend or snap and cut them as shown so they will sit at 45º angles with no corners sticking out that could damage the tarpaulin needed for the cover.
For the posts, I wanted the panel to sit in a groove so it didn't even need to be fixed on so I cut these angles into them. I also cut the posts to be 250cm long with the intention of 30cm to be set into the earth.
Step 2: Protecting the Posts From the Elements
Instead of using wood protector, I wanted to try another method so decided to use thick plastic bags to cover the lower parts of the posts. As they are not biodegradable and have no holes in, they should work in theory. I taped them on with what we refer to as gaffa tape (strong plastic tape) and made sure they were firmly stuck down.
The panel for the roof we had left over from the initial ground work that was done when we started the garden and I want to find some use for it. This one measures 350x200cm so is a good size for a decent covered area.
Step 3: Setting the Posts in the Ground
I dug holes 30cm deep and set each post in and filled the gaps in with the soil, tamping it down to make it as solid as possible. The distance between them is very important to get right so where they were placed depended on the size of the roof panel. The plastic bag should be above the ground level so that water seeping in should be less likely.
They were all set the same way so that the panel would rest on top, in the grooves.
The panel was then lifted from one end to rest in the posts that are nearer to each other (the left as you see it). I used a step ladder for this, of course, then went to the other end and lifted that up. It will need to push the posts out a little to get to the top but this is no problem as they were then fixed in place. The braces that you can see came in the next step.
Step 4: A Different Way of Bracing
It would have been a bit more complicated fixing wooden pieces to the metal so I wanted to come up with a way that would be very simple. I decided to cut a groove halfway through the wood that would then slot over the wire. The braces were then screwed in with two screws each to ensure that no movement could take place.
Each post should have two on as shown so that they counteract each other and stop any swaying. You could make larger pieces but they shouldn't be any shorter than these as they wouldn't have much effect on such long posts.
I tested the strength of it all and there was no real movement possible. We'll have to wait to acquire a tarpaulin or something else and we will only put that on when it's needed to reduce the chance of the wind lifting it and damaging this simple to make gazebo.
It only took two days' work and cost nothing at all.