Designing a New Patio or Deck

Have you ever wanted to take on a major patio or deck remodel?  Not sure where to begin? Maybe I can help you get started on that dream.  Currently my patio and deck are being remodeled.  Over the years, I had spent lots of time on planting the gardens and working on our home.  The area in the pictures was the last part to be finished. We have done most of the work on our property and felt very confident in doing remodeling. This project would be a big undertaking.  The pool had already been installed years ago but the area around the pool was not meeting our needs. It was not very big for entertaining or relaxing.

The time had finally come to start the project.  I had looked at pictures in magazines, books and on the Internet for ideas that I would like to incorporate in this area. When I went to a garden show, I would take photos of patios and decks that I liked.  After collecting up ideas, evaluating our needs, I measured the area, got out the paper and pencil and started designing.  I could have hired a landscape company, but I knew what our needs were and what we wanted.

At the time of this blog post the project is already under construction.  Over the next few weeks, I will share with you photos on the before, construction and final completed project.  Here are pictures of the area before the project got started and some of the problems that we have.

In the photo above, you can see the pool and that there is very little patio area around it for entertaining.  The stairs from the upper deck go right down to the pool cover, leaving very little space to walk.

The existing table and sitting area is small with an electrical box to the spa exposed. The spa sits in the corner of the garden on stepping stones and provides very little privacy.
Under the deck, are some very old 16 by 16 inch stepping stones, that over time had sunk and are not level.  Also a septic system clean out is in the area with pipes sticking  up and out of the ground. The  wood deck above, had been painted over the years, but the wood is starting to show it's age and needs to be replaced.
Under the deck, is a vinyl under decking that was designed to keep the area dry from rain, but it is in bad shape and starting to come down.
My husband and I decided that this project, would require more expertise in some areas than we possessed. There would also be lots of  manual labor in dirt removal and that was something we did not want to do ourselves. The deck and patio areas would be contracted out and I would take on the fish pond construction and all the removal and replanting of the shrubs, trees and perennials.
If you take on a project like this, here are some suggestions:
 1.  Research ideas and products. Collect photos of your ideas and know what you want.
 2.  Know your abilities.  Can you do the work, part of the work or do you need to hire someone.
 3. Always check for the location of utilities, septic systems, etc. and have those areas marked.
 4.  Draw up a plan. If your hire someone to do the work, share your ideas and plans with them. You can also hire someone to do the design work.
 5.  Remember you will have to deal with delays, weather, mud and other unknown problems that will occur. Be patient!
 6.  Check with your local neighborhood association for restrictions. Will you need permits?
 7.  Plan more in the budget than what you think you will need.
 8.  If you contract out the work, get three bids on the project.  Ask lots of questions as to who is responsible for what.  Check out your contractor and their workmanship. 
 9.  Read the fine print in the contracts.
10. Avoid trends in hardscaping.
11. Take photos of your garden when the plants are up, if you plan to do a winter project. Those photos will help in plant location.
Our final decision was to hire a landscape company to install a paver patio. I provided my plans for the area and the company who got the job provided us with a CAD drawing of what I had designed.  We also contracted with a deck builder to remodel the existing deck.
If I hire out to have work done in my gardens, I like to have that work done when the plants are not up in the garden.  It keeps me from stressing out when someone is working and walking in the garden beds. Many landscape companies will discount their price to keep their people working in the off season. By the time spring arrives, everything should look great!
Check back for my next blog post on the project. I will be covering how to prepare the area for construction.
Happy Gardening!


Angelina Garcia said…
It’s good that you decided to seek help from professional deck builders, but it is also great that you also know what you want so you were able to design and plan how your deck and patio would look. Thank you also for sharing some tips for the project.

Angelina Garcia
Cristen Eacret said…
I think that if the deteriorating wood material in your deck affected the vinyl part under the decking, it will be better if you'd use pure vinyl, instead of mixing it wood since the latter material rots. In any case, there are vinyl materials that look like wood—this is good if you want the visual appeal of wood but you prefer a durable and waterproof material.

->Cristen Eacret
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