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Best owner-built deck.

DECKS CAN transcend even the most lopsided homesites by creating level areas that extend living space, add room for outdoor entertaining, and bring the garden's beauty closer.

Softening the boundaries between constructed elements and natural surroundings can subtly settle a deck into its site, and that's why you often see decks formed around trees or boulders.

When owners Lorraine McKie and Peter Munnelly were planning a deck for their garden in Boulder Creek, California, they wanted it to embrace another aesthetic element--water.

Meandering through the center of their 18- by 25-foot deck is a 5-foot-wide pond that looks more like a narrow stream. Around the undulating pond, randomly scalloped redwood decking creates the illusion of having been gently eroded by water. The pond divides the deck into two sections, which are joined at one end by a low, arching bridge made of redwood 2-by-2s.

Two-part construction: pond and deck

The owner-built project replaced a cracked concrete patio. After the owners cleared and leveled the site, they excavated the pond about 2 feet deep and dug holes for deck footings. The plan called for the 18-foot-long pond to run through the deck area and end near a recirculating waterfall set into a hillside.

They formed the pond's shell with layers of chicken wire, steel reinforcing bar, and heavy wire mesh, then covered it with two layers of concrete. To add realism, they embedded a few stones in the pond's "shoreline." When dry, the concrete was colored with a black masonry stain and sealed.

Great care was taken in building the deck's underpinnings. Cylindrical concrete piers, which were set 2 to 3 feet into the ground, form a level foundation. Metal mudsill connectors rising from the piers were joined to pressure-treated 4-by-6 joists. To reduce the chance of moisture damage, the 4-by-6s were wrapped in heavy building felt (tar paper). The 2-by-6 redwood decking was secured with deck screws coated with a nonstick finish. The cantilevered ends of the 2-by-6s were cut freehand with an electric reciprocating saw, and rounded with a wood rasp. The decking was then sanded and sealed with a clear wood preservative.

The pond contains a mix of oxygenating plants, such as anacharis (a grass), and other water and bog plants like horsetail, pennywort, and water hyacinth. Goldfish swim in the pond, and mosquito fish help control insects. Edging the pond are impatiens (for summer color), ferns, fuchsias, spearmint, and sweet woodruff.
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Title Annotation:Best of the West; garden deck
Author:Whiteley, Peter O.
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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