The outdoors are called great for a reason. Green grass, shady trees, the aroma from the flowers and herbs growing wild around you. But what if you can’t get outside all the time? Or if the front door just leads to a sidewalk and maybe a patch of grass? Bring the outdoors inside (or in my case, onto the apartment patio) with a small raised deck. The structure can define the space for potted plants for not only aesthetic pleasure, but also a sense of nature close at hand.
Step 1 - Set Your Boundaries
The size of your deck is determined by how much space you have, so measure accordingly. Be sure to account for any paths you need to keep open so you’re not overbuilding for the area. In my case, I had about 12 square feet to fill so I made the rectangle 27x46 inches. One reason for this width was that I knew I’d be using 2x6s and a 2x4 for the top, so I made sure there would be no need to rip any boards.
With those measurements written down, I headed to the lumber yard and picked up 2x4s for the frame, joist and top; 2x6s for the top of the deck; and 4x4s for the legs posts in the corners. Because this wood will get weathered, make sure you select wood without major splits our gouges, and that the knots are mostly intact.
Step 2 - Measure and Cut
The measuring and cutting of the deck is a simple process. Everything is 90 degree cuts. I knew my basic rectangle had to be 27x46 inches, so I cut two 2x4s at 46 inches and three at 24 inches (accommodating for the three inches the overlapped sides would add). Two of these 24-inch lengths were for the sides and one was the central joist.
The top of the deck was four 2x6s and one 2x4 cut down to 46 inches. Determining how high I wanted the deck, I cut the 4x4 posts to this height minus 1 ½ inches – which would be made up by the top of the deck. The total height was 6 inches.
Step 3 - Join It
Once all the wood is cut, it's time to assemble. Join everything together with 3-inch decking screws and a drill/driver. I started with the basic 2x4 frame and one joist down the center for extra rigidity.
After that was complete, I drilled down the top boards of the deck. In order to keep a small gap between the boards (to allow for water drainage) place screws width-wise between the boards as temp spacers.
With the top in place, I flipped the whole thing over and attached the 4x4 posts at the corners for the legs.
Step 4 - Protect It
Even though this deck was going to be in a pretty protected space, I still knew I’d be putting potted plants on it, so a deck sealer would be necessary to preserve the wood as I watered the greenery.
Following the instructions for the deck sealer, I applied it to all the wood with a pressure sprayer, paying special attention to the end grain and between the boards on the top. Once it was dry, it was ready to use. If your deck gets a lot of weather, you’ll have to re-seal it every couple of years, so just keep an eye on how the liquid’s beading every time you water the plants.
Step 5 - Get Green
With the deck on my patio, I took a picture of the entire space to fill and purchased plants and pots accordingly. Because we don’t get a lot of direct light, I went with mostly snake plants, but your greenery will be determined by your environment. You can get a little fancy here, using structural elements to display the fauna at different levels.
Now kick back and enjoy the scenery, even if it’s just a miniature forest on the other side of your living room.