Stymied, Looking for ideas

splatsDecember 13, 2013

So, I'm looking for some ideas. Bought this house in central Mississippi that has a really weird backyard as you can see from the pictures. It has a 16x16 concrete patio with awning. The outer edge of the concrete has a slightly raised 16x16 deck that had a hot tub on it at one time. The deck needs refurbishing, but I do not want to remove it, because the minute I do I know I will think of a good use for it. A new hot tub is not a financial option right now. the picture is a long view of the yard showing deck and patio.

My basic idea is to put down pavers on the patio and a seating wall on each side. We have a bunch of patio furniture to make a nice patio area. But what to do with that deck? That is the question.

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This is a picture of the deck.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:18PM
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And this is the patio between deck and house.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:20PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Which direction does the back of the house face?

The patio has an awning, but the deck doesn't. Have you found that one location is comfortably shaded -- or uncomfortably sunny -- at different times? Might you prefer to use each of them at particular times of day, or at particular times of the year?

For instance, maybe you'll use the shady location during the summer, and the sunny location in colder weather.

If the above doesn't apply, then perhaps you could devote each one to a different purpose: have a table and chairs in one location for meals, and informal seating in the other location.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 1:59AM
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Unfortunitely the back of the house faces Southwest. The patio shade really serves no purpose in the afternoon, only really shading about 3 or 4 feet up against the house in the afternoons. I have thought about building a pergola over the deck section that would also shade the patio somewhat.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 8:46AM
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The patio seems strange because it cuts off or interrupts the view and access to the yard beyond ... but without apparent purpose behind it. There aren't pictures to explain the overall back of the house or the overall back of the yard. One would need to see everything in order to know if the deck could be useful elsewhere. In its present location, it's not an attribute to the overall yard and would be better gone.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 9:04AM
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Thats my problem and why just taking it out may be best. Right now the yard is a blank sheet. Several very large pines and oaks (50 ft or so) on left side and rear of yard and farely open on whole right side of yard. Even if I wanted a hot tub I would not have plopped it down smack in middle of yard with no particular plan. The other downside is the house has a single back door onto patio. You can see back of house in this picture.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 1:58PM
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this is the right side of the yard. the falling apart rotted jungle gym is going away.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 2:01PM
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This is the left side of yard.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 2:05PM
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Whether reusing the deck in a better position is going to be an advantage, or not, depends partly on your lifestyle. Is there a need for additional outdoor entertaining space? If so, the deck could be incorporated as an alternative lounge area for when there are larger groups, or the desire to "get away." It's existence could be obvious or secretive and somewhat hidden. As I mentioned, it now cuts off the yard beyond, so would be better if it was placed at some distance away -- near the perimeter of the back yard -- and became a destination in its own right ... like how people use gazebos, tiki bars & luau huts. I could see it being more useful if it had a roof, or at least a shade covering ... even if it was just vines growing over a support structure. (But being rainproof could be nice.) The railing might be OK to leave on the far sides, or it might not be needed at all, depending on the height above ground and the planting arrangement. Remodeling & adding steps on the near sides could be an improvement.

I'm not suggesting a specific location in the picture ... just a possible scheme. It might even work alongside the part of the house we can't see.

The deck would definitely look better if it was painted. There are scads more color options for porch and floor paint than there were a few years ago.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 10:30AM
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My first thought was that if it is moveable, to move it (or part of it) to a spot in the yard with afternoon shade where it will provide an alternative seating area.

My second thought was to step back, and that before doing anything with the deck, make a list of what you want in your yard and how you want to use it, ignoring what is currently there and not there. Are you a gardener and want to grow ornamentals or vegetables? Do you have kids or pets, and if so what are their needs? What is the traffic flow in your yard? Do you like to entertain, and for what size groups? Do you like sitting out in your yard? Do you need to have any storage (trash cans, compost, lawn mower, etc.)? What issues and problems (besides lack of an afternoon shaded seating area and the deck) are there, such as views you want to hide, privacy needs, etc.?

A good book on home landscaping will probably have more of these questions to answer. Once you have thought through and answered some of these questions, you will then know if there is any point in keeping the deck. (You can also price out materials and evaluate its condition to see if it would be cheaper/easier/more in keeping with your taste to just replace it.)

Sketch out ideas, look at other folks' yards, look at other yards and gardens on the web or in books from the library. This is now your yard, and just because the previous owner had this deck doesn't mean that you will want to keep it.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 9:40AM
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I'm not sure if the back of the deck is higher than the front (near patio) of the deck. Possibly there is a grade issue or flooding of the ground below or the patio? I like the deck and it looks to be in good condition, and if it is, I would be inclined to keep it. I would probably remove the railings, put nice steps on each of 4 sides like the one I see in the 2nd pic. Then you still have the view of the yard, unobstructed.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 10:43PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

That's where I would have the band set up for the party. Or maybe that's where I would have a dance floor. Or a yoga class. It's where the bride and groom say "I do". I can think of lots of uses... Seriously, if you have recently acquired the house, let its presence ferment in your mind for awhile. Think of the cost to build it and evaluate the benefits before sending it to the landfill. And maybe it does eventually disappear, but no need to rush.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 12:52AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

This may sound really odd, but if you don't want to get rid of the deck, how about extending it back to the house. It would probably have to be a two level deck since the deck looks to be higher than the bottom of your door, but it would make the space look more cohesive. Could you just build over the concrete with the main supports into the ground right next to the edge of the patio? Then you could have seating on both levels and a table with umbrella and chairs on the upper level. Just a thought.

I would also get rid of the awning since it serves no purpose and add a shade tree or several toward the back that would eventually offer you respite from the afternoon sun in the warm months.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 3:38PM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

No ofense but I think the awning is ugly. I'd get rid of it and add a real roof where it is now. Maybe do a partial enclosure with screens, windows, and doors to make it all weather functional. If the lumber in the deck is good you could use it here and thereby get rid of the deck but make use of it also.

Then plant a nice shade tree like a red maple, black gum or sweet bay magnolia on that end to throw some shade and look nice.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 3:57AM
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Maybe my patio can give you some ideas.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 1:20PM
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an idea

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 4:37AM
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an idea

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 5:06AM
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one idea

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 7:38AM
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