April 02, 2023 3 min read

Gardener placing ivy inside of their shopping cart at garden center

Garden structures are a great addition to any outdoor space, providing both aesthetic appeal and practical functionality. Choosing the right materials for these structures is crucial, as they will affect not only the appearance but also the cost, durability, and maintenance of the structure. In this article, we'll explore three key considerations when choosing materials for garden structures: upfront cost, modularity and reusability, and long-term maintenance.

Upfront Costs

One of the first things to consider when choosing materials for a garden structure is the upfront cost. Many people choose wood for its natural appearance and versatility, but it can also be expensive. Untreated wood also requires frequent staining or sealing to protect it from the elements, which can add to its overall cost. You'll also want to think about the upfront cost of building tools, if you don't own them already. To build garden structures out of wood, you will most likely need power tools like saws and drills.

Raised garden bed and sunshade made with EMT Conduit and connector clamps

An alternative material to consider is EMT (electrical metallic tubing) conduit and Maker Pipe's clamp style fittings. EMT Conduit is often used in electrical installations, but it can also be used for garden structures and other things around the house and garage. EMT is often less expensive than wood and is made from steel which bodes well for its outdoor longevity. It is also lightweight and easy to work with, making it a popular choice for gardening structures and other DIY projects. To build with EMT Conduit and Maker Pipe Connectors you only need a few hand tools. This means you can create your custom garden structures easily even if you're new to building.

Modularity And Reusability

DIY raspberry trellis made with emt conduit and connectors

Another consideration when choosing materials for a garden structure is modularity and reusability. EMT conduit and clamp style fittings are designed to be modular, which means that they can be easily assembled and disassembled. This makes them ideal for garden structures that may need to be moved or reconfigured over time.

The modularity of EMT conduit and fittings also means that they are reusable. If you decide to take down your garden structure, you can reuse the materials next season or for another project entirely. This makes EMT a sustainable choice for garden structures, as it reduces waste and minimizes the need for new materials year after year.

Long-term Maintenance

DIY compost tumbler made with wood and EMT Conduit

The third consideration when choosing materials for a garden structure is long-term maintenance. Untreated wood structures require regular maintenance to protect them from moisture, insects, and UV rays. This can include staining, sealing, and repairing or replacing damaged boards. Over time, the cost of maintaining a wood structure can add up.

DIY hoophouse made with electrical tubing and clamp connectors

EMT Conduit and clamp-style fittings, on the other hand, require very little maintenance. Because EMT Conduit is galvanized and made from steel, it is resistant to moisture, insects, and UV rays. Both the silver and black coated connectors from Maker Pipe are corrosion resistant and will remain durable for years to come.

DIY garden trellises built on top of a steel raised garden bed

Another benefit of EMT conduit and clamp-style fittings when it comes to long-term maintenance is the simplicity of making changes to the structure. If you need to swap out a pipe or change the design of your garden structure, it's as easy as undoing a hex bolt. This means that you can make adjustments or repairs quickly and easily, without the need for specialized tools or skills.

Man building a diy project outdoors with emt conduit and clamps

With wood structures, on the other hand, making changes or repairs can be more time-consuming and difficult, requiring sawing, drilling, or hammering. The ease of making changes with EMT conduit and clamp style fittings adds to the overall convenience and durability of this material for garden structures.


Huge garden enclosure fence made with EMT Conduit, cattle panels, and connectors

When it comes to choosing materials for garden structures, there are many factors to consider. Upfront cost, modularity and reusability, and long-term maintenance are three key considerations that can help you make an informed decision. While wood is a popular choice for its natural appearance and versatility, EMT conduit and clamp style fittings offer a cost-effective, modular, and low-maintenance alternative. Consider your needs, budget, and long-term goals when choosing materials for your next garden structure.