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This spa-deck is leafy-private ... and 10 feet off the ground.

Stepping out on this deck, you'd never know you were 10 feet off the ground. You don't expect to find such a wall of greenery up in the air.

The secret to this upstairs garden in Manhattan Beach, California, grows out of the ground below as well as out of the large-scale planters that ring the deck.

As you look out from the bedroom, you see a layering of plants. Annuals spill out of casually placed pots and fill in along the edges of the planters. Behind that, small trees spaced for screening take advantage of the planters' generous scale. Finally, the key to the screening effect: eucalyptus planted in the ground along

the perimeter of the tight lot provide a leafy barricade in the background.

This garden-in-the-sky adjoins a master bedroom addition designed by Tod Vander-Pluym for Gail and Michael Kaplan. Architect William Burch recast the outside space with a large ring of planters, engineering the deck to accommodate the hefty weight of the planters and the 6-foot octagonal spa.

Starting even with the bedroom floor, the deck perches on a section of the house; where it clears the rooftop, the deck steps down to the spa level.

Bolted double 2-by-8 posts sandwich the 2-by-10 deck joists, oversized to support

the load of the 2-foot-tall, 2-foot-deep planters. Lattice covers the exterior plywood shear wall, which provides lateral stability.

Set flush to the surrounding decking, the spa sits atop a framework of 4-by-4 posts spanned by 4-by-8 beams; the framework rests on its own poured-concrete foundation. Planters around the perimeter of this deck section follow the spa's octagonal shape, with sufficient deck space for sitting or walking around the spa.

For visual interest, the 2-by-4 redwood decking runs in a herringbone pattern. A railing with tightly spaced 2-by-4 balusters rims the outer edges.

The ground-level space below the deck's lower level is put to use as a shade garden. Protected by the overhead structure and a lattice screen, azaleas and schefflera create a pocket of greenery next to a brick patio.

Provisions for decktop plants

Custom-fabricated copper linings fit inside the redwood planters for long-term

durability. Water from drain holes is led through gaps in the decking and channelled to the planting beds below. A lightweight potting mix fills the planters. Controlled-release fertilizer is mixed into the soil at each new planting.

Drip emitters and mini-sprayers keep the plants happy; lines run to larger pots as well as to the planters. A hose bibb was installed for hand-watering smaller pots, cleaning off the deck, and adding water to the spa.

Trees in the planters are topped and pruned fairly frequently, but will still need to be replaced every few years when they outgrow their containers.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1989
Words:455
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