Deck Design and Construction

When designing a deck, it is very important to decide how the deck will be used.
How many tables and chairs will accommodate your family and guests for a cook out?  I am sure this deck was designed and built by the house contractor the first problem, this deck should have been extended to the end of the house on the right.  The traffic pattern from the existing door to the stairs will require part of the deck area which is not good.

This deck is not wide enough from the house to the stairs to allow chair movement on the stair side without the fear of falling off  the deck.  It would be better to remove the existing stairs and install a new from the right side of the deck toward the driveway.

Upper deck off of the kitchen with stairs off to the left to a walk way which wraps around to the lower deck area.  The lower decks include three decks at different levels to the fit ground elevation changes.  The deck on the right includes a Hot Tub for the family to enjoy.

The bottom of the this plan shows the deck construction details needed including all lumber sizes to meet the county construction code.

This large deck provided ample space for entertaining.  The problem with this deck was the hand rail.  The hand rail was constructed with no posts.  I started to remove the hand rail pickets when all of sudden the whole hand rail broke away and fell to the ground.  If some one was leaning on the rail, they could have fallen with the rail.  This construction is a home builders special.  The contractor found the cheapest sub-contractor to build this deck.

The shape of this deck fits the area left by the sidewalk pattern.  However, always place the stairs off of the deck so the traffic pattern will not interfere with the larger area for seating and the table for eating.  The stairs should be near where you see the gas grill in the picture.

I designed this deck many years ago.  Before construction started soil had to be removed away from the back of the house.  Since this was a home remodel job, I was concerned about the depth of the house foundation.  The contractors employees dug down to see what was present.  There was no foundation along the back and sides of this house.  The soil had to be removed very carefully and a new concrete foundation installed in sections.  What kept this house from falling apart, I will will never know.  The test digging that was done saved this house from collapse. 

The deck support construction was designed and constructed so the deck boards would be running at the same angle as the traffic flow.

A deck off of the kitchen and a separate deck off of the master bedroom.

In between each deck floor joint, decks must be bolted to the house plate.

Some city codes require that the deck posts must be steel when the deck is more then 8 feet off of the ground.

Hand rails can have many different looks and patterns.  In this picture, the design called for the basket weave look.  The rail should be 3 to 4 inches off of the deck floor to allow debris to be cleaned off of the deck.

The deck you see in this picture has no stairs to the patio area below. If you are concerned for you security, maybe this is a good idea, but from a designers stand point the deck and the patio should be tied together.

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First things first - As the name suggests, raised bed gardening involves planting your plants in a bed that is off the ground rather than planting directly into the soil. Raised beds come in all different sizes, and there are many different kinds of receptacles for raised beds, depending on the size and where you want to hang the beds.

The ability to manage the soil is one of the most significant benefits of using the raised bed. Because you choose and mix the ground yourself, you can create the perfect soil environment for the plants you want to grow. That means even if you're going to grow plants that don't typically thrive in your area because of your local soil composition, you can grow them in raised planters in which you have created the perfect soil for those plants.

There are other benefits to raised areas as well, even if the soil is not an issue in your area. Another significant advantage to consider is the way the raised beds let you target the use of things you put on your garden. Apply fertilizer and mulch where they are needed - and there only - so you end up using less and do not accidentally apply these things where they are not required. If you use chemical pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, you can use a smaller amount of them, and again, you can target their use. Because you apply them only to the raised bed, you don't have to worry about runoff or the effects these chemicals can have on your pets or kids who play in your yard. All in raised bed gardening makes for more efficient planting.

One great benefit of a raised gardening bed that is the fact that the planting area is, in fact, elevated. Since the garden is not ground level, it is much easier to tend. Garden enthusiasts with back problems will love being able to see their plants and manage them without bending over and dealing with hours of painful work. Raised areas are ideal for people with joint pain and injuries that make it difficult for them to garden traditionally.

Although raised garden beds have all of these benefits and make different kinds of gardening possible in areas where the soil is not ideal, the beds can't trump every problem a garden may face. You still need to consider the climate in your area and choose plants accordingly - raised planters or not, and tropical plants won't grow in snowy climates. Also, you will still need to pay attention to what level of sunlight your garden area gets and choose your plants with that in mind. Further, although most people with raised beds deal with less pest infestation, you will still need some way to deal plant-munching insects. Even though raised beds can't fix everything, however, they are still a great option when soil limits the way you garden.

Lawrence L. Hoyle, author, 57 years in the Landscape Profession. Check out his main website at: This website has free Landscape help for Do-It-Yourselves and a online Landscape Design Services for Homeowners, Landscape Contractors and Home Builders. Designing online since 2003 with designs in 40 states. Get Your Special Landscape Design today.!

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