A little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to creating a great looking deck. Putting your ideas down on paper will save you a lot of time and, potentially, money, and will ensure you get your dream deck.

Planning on paper first allows you to see if your ideas will work. It’s also much easier to change your mind and make adjustments on paper than it is during construction.

If the thought of plotting your deck onto paper seems like a daunting task, don’t worry; it’s actually much easier than you think.

It will give you the opportunity to make sure your deck works with the rest of your garden. You don’t want to build your masterpiece only to have it looking like it fell out of the sky and landed in your garden!

Deck Design Tips – Key Questions Before You Build!

  1. Will a deck suit your property style (if you’re locating it close by)?
  2. What size and shape does it need to be?
  3. What type of decking material is best for your situation?

Does it blend?

If you’re in the UK and living in a Victorian semi – decking probably isn’t going to be your best option. Period properties rarely look good with decking! If the deck is far enough away from the house, then yes, you’re more likely to get away with it.

Modern houses and those with rendered (Stucco) walls or cladding are much better suited for decking.

Critical Deck Design Details to Get Right

The deck needs to be in proportion not only to your house but the rest of the garden. Too big or too small will always look wrong, no matter how hard you try to disguise it after it’s built.

Getting the right shape for your deck is one of the most critical parts of successful garden design. Shapes can create interest. They can make an area look and feel larger or smaller. It’s vital you choose a shape that enhances your home and garden and helps you get the most from your outside space. But avoid shapes that are too complicated.

Deck Material Choices

My personal preference is sustainable hardwood. I love the richness in the colour and the longevity of it. It is, of course, the most expensive option but I feel if you’re going to go to all the effort of building a deck, one the lasts is paramount. Ipe tends to be much cheaper than Teak and is the one my landscape contractors use the most.

You can also get composite deck boards which are a mix of recycled plastic and wood particles. You need to bear in mind that they need special fixings and if they get damaged you can’t just run a sanding machine and some oil over them to repair.

*Composite, Hardwood & Softwood decking

Deck Design Software

To begin with, it’s better to grab a sheet of paper to try out your ideas. Resist the lure of complex online design software. Useful as these free tools can be for working out the quantity of materials you will need, their prime purpose is often to help sell more decking and ancillary products like railings. So keep that in mind, as the software’s suggestions may not be the best design for your property.

Deck design software can often come up with unnecessarily complicated schemes. Complex designs can look good on the computer screen but in reality, they don’t usually make the best use of the available space and will often make areas feel awkward. This is especially true if there are lots of unnecessary level changes and angles in the design. Good design is usually very simple in concept.

How to Incorporate Changes in Level in Your Deck

Changes of level need to be handled with particular care, as these will have an enormous impact on how you use your garden. A level change will create exciting opportunities to make stunning use of the space.

Done correctly, a change in height from one part of your deck to the surrounding areas of the garden will enable you to add interesting features like built-in seating, planting beds, lighting effects and water features.

The main thing to make sure you do with a level change is to incorporate it in a way that flows naturally so that it is instinctive and easy to get from one area to another. You don’t want your friends and family tripping up on an unexpected level change.

Photo credit: Jim Pennucci

Get the direction right!

Notice in the image above how long and narrow the deck area is – thankfully the designer of this NYC rooftop deck thought to run the deck boards from left to right and not down the length which would have made the deck look longer and the space much narrower. Unfortunately, the steps run lengthways but just imagine how narrow it would look if all the decking was laid in that direction!

Building on a Budget

It can cost virtually the same amount of money to build a well-designed deck that enhances your home, linking it beautifully with the rest of the garden to one that’s boring and badly designed. So plan carefully before you build.

Once you’ve planned the size and shape of the deck you want, you will need to consider the cost of the building materials. There are many options available to you, from sustainable hardwoods to treated softwoods, reclaimed timbers and composite recycled materials. Research what’s available in your local area that works with your tastes, budget and design.

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes for more designer tips…

Register on this page: https://www.successfulgardendesign.com/freeclasses/



*Composite deck photo credit: Elite Balustrade




Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

    3 replies to "How to Plan the Perfect Deck for Your Garden"

    • […] week we looked at how to plan the perfect deck. This week it’s the turn of planning the perfect patio. Just like with a designing a deck, a […]

    • Paul Gates

      Great Post Rachel. I have only just completed my deck project and I am seriously pleased with it. I got my ideas from many sources including https://joesdeckplans.com

    • Katy Patio

      Thorough planning and the professional insights of your trusted landscape contractor can definitely save you a lot time and money in creating your dream deck. Aside from the knowing the right size of patio deck that will complement your landscape, you need to know also the best materials to use for your deck.

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