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This article was published in Architectural West Jan./Feb. 2008, Nursery News Jan. 2008,
and Pond and Garden Lifestyles, March/April 2008.
Concrete Garden Bridges
By Scott Cohen
Garden bridges span the gap between one outdoor room and another. The placement of a bridge inspires visitors to cross over from one area to another and explore the garden in total. These functional ornaments perform double-duty in the garden, both connecting and dividing space at the same time. Proper bridge placement can improve transition and flow throughout your garden or poolscape design. Bridges can be made from a variety of different woods, but all have the disadvantage of requiring maintenance. Why sand, stain and seal a wood bridge year after year when you can build it out of concrete? Nearly all of the bridges in my garden designs are constructed from cast concrete to mimic either wood or stone. A concrete bridge is structurally superior to wood, requires little or no maintenance, and will never splinter. Costs to construct a concrete bridge are comparable to a wood bridge but have the added benefit of a much longer life-span. While not easy to build, any mason with stamped concrete experience can create a cast concrete bridge.
Designing Your Bridge:
Consider the amount of traffic flow the Garden will receive to decide how wide the bridge must be. Typical residential gardens require a bridge 3-4 feet wide for basic traffic. If you have larger parties and need comfortable passing space in both directions, then use a minimum width of 5 feet. In order for a bridge to look proportionate consider that the wider you make it, the longer it needs to be.
Footings and forms:
On this project, we constructed a faux wood drawbridge to serve as the entrance to the home. The stamped concrete bridge has been detailed with a little acid stain applied with a sponge across the "boards".
Related Article: Build Your Own Concrete Bridge from Ponds Magazine Oct 2008