For the love of the great outdoors



glulam outdoor structure

Based in Devon, being outdoors is more of a way of life, than a nice to do, for many of us who work at Buckland Timber. We’re dog walkers, marathon runners, wild swimmers, cyclists and surfers. And we were feral farm children (well, our MD Robin was anyway!).

The benefits of being out in nature

Mental health charity, Mind, says that being out in nature has these benefits and more for your mental and physical health…

  • improves your mood
  • reduces feelings of stress or anger
  • helps you take time out and feel more relaxed
  • improves your physical health
  • improves your confidence and self-esteem
  • helps you to be more active
  • helps you to make new connections

Let’s take this outside

Of course, being outdoors is even more appealing now we face a global pandemic. Walks, picnics and workouts in the park have really come into their own.

We’re starting to see the European alfresco bistro culture break onto the British shores as the government relaxes the licencing for pubs and restaurants to put seats on pavements and is allowing them to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas with their existing licences.

Creating outdoor spaces 

If we are going to be in the office or factory, then what better way to spend that time than creating outdoor spaces for other people to use.

We’ve probably made glulam canopy frames for 50 schools which are used to create outdoor covered spaces, giving the children their own place to use outside the classroom which we’ve been told makes such a difference.

One of our favourite school projects was a canopy we made for Able Canopies for Jo Richardson School in Dagenham. At 35 x 11-metres, the size of this one was impressive. A chance meeting with a member of staff from this school gave us an insight into the positive impact the canopy had made for the students. This isn’t an extravagantly costed solution and is competitively priced when comparing it to a similar steel structure. Large glulam canopy frames can cost as little as £75 per square metre.

“In 2017, we decided that we needed a creative solution to meeting the catering needs of our expanding year groups. In the school, we have three courtyards and we identified one of these as a space that we could utilise for both Year 7 lunches and as an outside teaching and performance space, should it be covered by an appropriate canopy.

Buckland Timber was an excellent company to work with. They understood our needs and responded to requests and changes with flexibility and creativity. The installation was carried out to the highest standard and the project was delivered within the timescale planned. The finished canopy is now a real feature of our school and a number of other headteachers have come to visit to see the quality of the design and structure. I can recommend this company without reservation.”

– Ges Smith, Headteacher at Jo Richardson Community School

school glulam frame plansdome glulam school canopy


Veranda structures for houses, hotels and restaurants create a perfect halfway setting between inside and outside where you can happily leave some furniture. They can often be made on a very fast turnaround and take a day to install. Canopies can be as small as two-metre square and up to a twelve-metre span on similar design principles and much larger spans are possible if required.

One of our favourite small outdoor projects to work on was a gothic garden marquee which Robin made for his daughter’s first birthday. It was an ideal size for small weddings and parties and we even attached a swing to the apex of the roof and left it up all summer for impromptu gatherings and hanging the washing under on rainy days! At 6 x 9-metres, it could cater to about 40 people and would cost approximately £6,000 for the frame and £1,000 for the cover.

And then there are the outdoor sculptural commissions, making statements and making super cool commercial spaces like our secret garden structure for Chris Beardshaw at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the Talk To Me glulam giant who stood over five-metres tall in Kings Cross, London.

At Buckland, we do have to spend more time in the office and factory than climbing trees these days. But we do still get to climb the odd tree!