The Proverbial Deck

As much as I try to have great enthusiasm for everything in a garden, decks leave me cold.  It isn’t the wood; I like wood outdoors.  Its wood in the air, and those heavy wood railings that seem so standoffish and separate from the landscape.  This deck was barely above ground, yet it had heavy looking wood railings that intruded on every view.   Its construction was more about not wanting to level the ground, than creating a garden surface to live on. 

My biggest design concern for a terrace surface is what you see, when you are seated.  In this case, what you see are bars.  This makes the terrace a jail, not an integral part the landscape.  Though I realize that some terraces are so high up that it would be against code and just plain dangerous not to have railings, there are other ways of handling those rails. In this case, no rails were really needed.

There is a beautiful view here that is blocked.   I was able to persuade this client to ditch the deck, as a side note to designing and installing a swimming pool.  One thing leads to another; I count on that sometimes.


The property had considerable elevation and pitch, but the house was sited on the end of the property with the smallest space.  I designed an L-shaped infinity edge pool, for which we still needed a variance to obtain a permit.  We were too close to the lot line in one area; we would eventually install a hedge of arborvitae to completely screen the pool from the neighbors.

Pool construction is a dirty and lengthy business.  The corner of the dreaded deck seen at the lower left edge of this photo explains the extent of the grading work necessary.
Pools usually have tile set in the space between the grade of the water, and the grade of the top of the pool. Just like a bathtub, pools get rings that need to be readily cleanable.  The pool wall below water gets cleaned mechanically by whatever filtration system a client chooses.  We chose small pale blue glass tile, as my client wanted a light colored pool interior, that would look blue.
 102 I like dark surfaced pools that reflect whatever is in the sky.  However, some people do not like jumping into water where the bottom is not visible.  Its a matter of personal preference.  This pool thus has a white pebbletec surface.
Full of water, this pool is azure blue; it was just what she wanted. Once the pool was finished, we built the stairs, and poured 3′ by 3′ concrete tiles with a terrazzo like surface for the pool deck.  Then it was time to deal with that original deck.�
Happily she agreed to tear it out, and start over.  We built a deck from cypress, with mini-decks that cascade to the pool deck surface. A pool cabana with a mini kitchen and bathroom keeps all the pool activity outdoors.  It is a clean simple look.

The pool area has plenty of pots that she takes care of herself. The deck is competely integrated into the pool garden.   Its a lively space perfect for entertaining.  The  simple landscape is is part of the space.  There is a beautiful view to the pond now.  She says she feels like she is on vacation every day-which is exactly what she told me she wanted. 



  1. Picture one…looked familiar, but the deck could have been one of any number of decks I have seen over the years…by picture five I knew I had been there… the last photo I knew when and were.
    I love before and after and especially the inbetween!
    That back yard is such a reflection of the owner. A wonderful test would be a list of the gardens and a seperate list of the gardeners…bet I could match them all up.
    I love your designs…they are always an extension of the owners….when is the 2010 tour??? I must mark my calendar.

  2. Mickey Moffat says

    wow! This is what you can do for us when we strike the gas in our yard. We know that gas is there but the
    well has not been completed. When all the money starts
    rolling in, we will contact you to start drawing plans.
    No kidding, I know the owners are estactic over the results that you created for them.You are just too smart. It is so nice to see a project from start to
    finish. Even I can comprehend how proud you must be of
    your finished project. Love, Mickey

  3. Beautiful. Period.

  4. John Kapp says

    Wow. Amazing. I love how you “called” the pool deck into existence. Say, what effect did you use for your concrete? Any overlays used? Resurfacing?

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