Tips on building a bridge
There is no single way to build a bridge for a garden. Designs and construction can take on many forms. So here are some tips on building a bridge in the landscape that should guide you in your own form of construction.
Assuming you are building a bridge from scratch, the first thing you need to do is work out your DIY design on paper. Decide how big you want your bridge, where it will go and how you will be using it. A small decorative bridge that will not support much weight will need to be built differently than a bridge that will actually be supporting foot traffic over an unsupported distance. If you plan to build a bridge to carry the weight of a car or truck, then you will have to construct a structure that fits your local building and safety codes.
For decorative bridges in the garden, keep in mind you will want to use materials that can resist weather as well as handle weight. Use hard wood that wears well outdoors like cedar or redwood and give it additional weather-proofing with a coat of oil, stain or paint. Metal can also be used for building bridges and it, too, should be treated for weather resistance. Cement bridges can also be constructed but they must be done carefully with proper foundations that can support their weight.
Bridges that will span unsupported spaces should be well anchored with cement footings. And wooden bridges will be much stronger if bolted and screwed rather than nailed. Another advantage to using screws and bolts is that it is much easier to take apart any part of the construction that might later need repairs or replacement.
Make sure the frame of your bridge is strong and durable. You are safer to design your bridge for more weight than you expect — just to be sure. And consider what kind of railings you will use. Again, you will need to blend the artistic with the practical. In many parts of the county any permanent structure will need to be inspected and permitted. So spend time on the planning and research aspect of building your bridge. Find out what materials, tools, legalities and structural tricks will need to be considered when building your bridge. As with any project, proper preparation will make a world of difference in the success of your job – even for building bridges in the garden.
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