Once upon a time, an essential component of the large manor house was its great porch or veranda. Reminiscent of that bygone era, decks and other types of garden platforms are a return to life outdoors - for enjoying the garden and its features and also for entertaining family and friends. Installing decking to a house or alongside a garden feature such as a pond is a wonderful way to create an outdoor room - the perfect accent to any landscape or garden.
While there are many decking styles to consider, it is useful to keep in mind that decks are either attached or act as extensions of the home or are free standing structures installed in some area away from the house. Some landscapes feature more than one platform or deck. Some homes contain simple structures while others might be extremely formal. The home itself and the garden style will usually dictate the specific deck or platform. Choosing the best materials to withstand weather conditions and then ensuring their proper upkeep should be a primary consideration for any type of deck you build.
Decks built near or as extensions of the home are often added near kitchens to make entertaining easier. Families who enjoy outdoor cooking can enhance their home with a basic deck that sits right off the kitchen either at ground level or as an upper story structure. Patio furniture, a grill and perhaps an umbrella to provide some shade is a typical and most delightful way to use attached decking. Ground level decks can be ornamented with built-ins like a mounted wooden swing or planters. Upper level decks might sport rails topped with flower boxes.
Decks or platforms that are situated away from the house can either be built for scenic enjoyment, or to mask a problem area of the landscape or garden. For example, for areas that are poorly drained or will not support attractive growth, a deck is a way to patch over the problem spot. On the other hand, a lovely garden pond flanked by Oriental platforms or zigzagging decks is an added enhancement that invites guests to view the feature more closely. Building a deck into a hill or around a tree can make for an interesting feature that blends into the landscape.
Boggy areas may be well served by simple rustic platforms for traversing the garden. Naturally, the wood must be treated or will soon fall prey to the wet conditions, but even simple planking can make for an attractive garden stroll. Hilly areas can benefit from platforms and decking not only for people to congregate, but for container plants as well. Because many plants have a tough time with slopes, decks can be used to house such plants in pots.
Large decks can even be sectioned for entertainment as well as plant life. One area might be screened, one section left open and one area glassed for a small greenhouse effect. Design your decking with your needs in mind. For elevated decks, be sure the structure remains sound and the stairs are wide and sturdy. Rails and other safety measures should be considered. If your deck is near the pool, be sure that proper precautions are taken so your guests do not inadvertently slip into the water. This is important for platforms that rest beside ponds as well. Ice forms easily on raised decks and platforms in cold climates. Always be on guard for rot in the case of wood decks, too, which can lead to wood breakage and decay.
Finally, add ornamentation to your deck to help it blend in with your garden or home. Mosaic designs, painted motifs or special features like sundials or even wind chimes can help to firmly ensconce the structure to the location. Choose furniture that is as functional as it is attractive. Add an arbor or trellis to help support vine growth for a bit of vertical interest. A pergola can easily be attached to your deck to truly make it feel like a room out doors. To this, hanging plants and trailing vines can add shade and make for a most appealing setting.
For enjoying your garden from the deck, consider lanterns, torches, mosquito repelling candles, night-blooming plants for planters, a tranquil table fountain, a hammock, or any other accent that will make your new structure more enjoyable.