Solving Decking Dilemmas

Is your yard too small, too large, hilly, or shady? Don’t let these challenges keep you from creating the deck of your dreams.

Adding on a deck is a bit like hosting a party--in order to have a good time, you've gotta work with what you got, but what if your yard is too small? Too large? Hilly, sunny, or shady? I'm Lacey Howard and with creative design ideas, even the most challenging yard can host an amazing deck. If your yard slopes steeply downward, you may think you'll never have a deck. Take a cue from this home. Extend a platform from your home's upper level and then use the area below as a patio. This deck is cantilevered so it doesn't use posts to hold up the platform, definitely a project that requires an architect. Instead of cantilevering, you can rest a raised deck on a series of posts. You can also wrap the bottom portion with lattice or skirting, or use the area underneath for storage. Try this. Carve out a chunk from the landscape. Reinforce it with concrete and brick and then install a wood deck for an intimate hillside retreat. Is your yard narrow, small, or nonexistent? Don't worry, you can still enjoy good times on a great deck. Consider transforming your entire yard into a deck. As a bonus, you'll never have to mow again. Or, build a long narrow deck that hugs your house. And don't forget to look up. Rooftop decks offer fantastic views. Just be sure to work with an architect to see whether your roof is strong enough. Too much sun can turn your deck into a sizzling frying pan. Make the most of your roof's overhang to gain some shade. Then, add an arbor or other shade structure to lessen the sun's rays. Canvas panels, awnings, and umbrellas can all help to create all day shade. Simply put, trees rock. Do everything you can to keep as many as possible in your yard. Work with a contractor or a landscape architect to design your deck as a series of platforms that nestle between natural features. Connect the platforms with pathways, or cut holes for trees right in the deck. Be sure to allow several inches all the way around so the tree can continue to grow. Because many decks are elevated, people sometimes feel like they're on display so include privacy features in your deck design, or design a deck that quickly steps down from your home and connects to a ground level patio. If your backyard is blessed with a beautiful view, you may be reluctant to build a deck and clutter things up. Creative railing design can help. Build backless benches or low planter boxes that double as deck railings, or wrap the entire edge of your deck with stairs--no railings necessary. Check your local building codes to see if these solutions can work for you. If railings are a must, go with the design that features wire or glass panels. These elements will almost disappear before your eyes. With a little creativity, any yard can host a great deck. Now all you need to figure out is who's bringing the chips and salsa. Mmm.