Stepped deck connects home and garden

Reinvent your space by connecting house and yard with a multilevel outdoor room
Jim McCausland

Before the deck this home and garden felt disconnected. (See thumbnail photo below left.) Now the family has a spacious new living space right outside their door. 

4 ideas from this project you can adapt to your own:

1. Durable material

Portland homeowners Grant and Suzanne Malin built their new deck with wood/plastic composite 1-by-6s from Timber-Tech (800/307-7780) that last 25 years. They come in several colors (the Malins chose Redwood) and need only periodic cleaning with power-washing and an eco-friendly product such as Corte-Clean (888/203-2202. Rails (except cedar caps) are copper pipes.

2. Gentle transition
Because the Malins' ground floor sits 3½ feet aboveground, the deck needed to provide a gradual descent into the garden. Seven steps connect the deck's three levels to a small ground-level patio with a portable fireplace. There's seating on the top and bottom levels, and storage beneath the deck for the couple's canoes. The homeowners did much of the work themselves but had a contractor build the deck. See how to build a simple transitional deck

3. Built-in planters
To create the look of a garden on the deck, the Malins installed three built-in planters that drain to the ground below. Framed with pressure-treated wood, the tall, narrow beds are finished with copper sheets cut to size at a plumbing-supply store.

4. Softening greenery
Each planter contains a tall focal-point plant, including a windmill palm by the house and a coralbark maple at right. Filling in around them are low-growers with lime green or reddish brown foliage to complement the deck's rose and copper tones ('Marguerite' sweet potato vine tumbles around orange calibrachoa and a bronze carex in the planter at right). 

INFO Deck and garden design: Darcy Daniels, Bloomtown Garden Design & Nursery; 503/331-1783, Portland.n