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Home Design Considerations
Design Considerations For Your Patio Deck Design PDF Print E-mail

When working with our clients, we use the following criteria for determining the best patio deck design for them:



Decks are usually higher than ground level. If you want your deck and patio idea to be on the ground, it is usually best to build a patio of stone or cement. Decks can be made on the ground, but they are more complicated to build and are more expensive than other patio materials.

Most often decks are located near:

  • living rooms
  • family rooms
  • bedrooms
  • kitchens
  • dining areas

But a deck and patio idea can and should be located …

...wherever you will get the most pleasure from it.

Let your imagination run free.

With more people working out of their homes, we’re seeing more decks included off home offices. Just imagine starting your day sitting on your deck with your laptop and cell phone, while you …

… watch your tomatoes grow!

A bathroom might also be a good place for your patio deck design. With an outdoor shower, fluffy towels, a lounge chair, a massage table and a bottle of champagne, you’ll have a spa just like the resort on your last vacation …

… right in your own back yard.

Home Garden Tip: The general rule of thumb when developing your deck and patio idea is that you consider the indoor activity that will be associated with most of the outdoor activities your deck and patio idea will serve. Your patio deck design should be located so that traffic will naturally flow from inside to outside; items you’ll need for your deck activities should not be kept indoors far away from the deck.

Without too much effort or expense, an existing window can easily be turned into a sliding door or French door to allow new access to your deck.

Decks can also be located away from the house – perhaps around a pool, pond or spa. If you’re lucky enough to have a beautiful view from anywhere on your property, you can place a deck platform so you can enjoy the scene. Just install a pathway from your home to your viewing area and you’ve created an exciting patio deck design that seems like a destination spot.

Also, when planning the location of your deck and patio idea, make sure you check the whereabouts of underground utilities. Breaking a water, sewer or electrical line when digging post holes can …

… take the fun out of your project.

Most states will have a one-call center that you can call to arrange to have your utilities marked at no charge. And don’t forget to make note of any irrigation lines you may have.

It’s a well known fact in landscape construction that if there’s a pipe in the ground …

… you’ll hit it.

Mark the location of these lines on the ground with a spray gun and make sure the posts are located away from these features.

Next you’ll want to consider …


How big should your patio deck design be?

The size of your patio deck design most often is determined by the space you’ll need for the activities you plan.

Many people want to have a patio table and chairs for outdoor dining on their deck:

  • 4-6 people at a table requires a space of approx. 12 ft. x 12 ft., or 144 sq. ft. of area
  • 10-12 people at a dinner party require a minimum space of 12 ft. x 24 ft.


Home Garden Tip: However, we’ve experienced that it’s best to add a few feet to each dimension to give a little extra room, so if possible go with a deck size of 14 ft. x 28 ft for entertaining 10-12 people.

To make sure you and your guests are comfortable, you’ll want to pay attention to...


You’ll want to consider the exposure your patio deck design will have to:

  • Sun
  • Wind
  • Public View
  • Insects

Exposure to the elements can make or break the enjoyment of your deck, so be sure to note where sun and shade will fall:

  • A deck on the north side will have more shade in the summer, but might be colder in the spring and fall.
  • Decks on the south and east sides are warmer in the spring and fall but hotter in the summer.

Too much sun exposure can be solved immediately by adding an arbor on to your deck and patio idea. You can plant trees to provide shade, but it may take a while for them to mature enough to the point where they help – unless you don’t mind paying more for fully grown trees.

If the wind comes from a side of the deck where the view is not particularly important, you can plant trees or shrubs to break the wind. You could also achieve the same effect by building a wall or trellis with tightly spaced rungs and a vine that grows thick.

You can use any of the above solutions to shield yourself from the view of neighbors or passers-by.

The best way to defend yourself and your family from insects on your deck is to build a screened shelter. You might want to put screening underneath the floor boards to keep invaders from sneaking in between the cracks. Screened gazebos extending off one end of the deck can be an attractive alternative.

Of course you’re going to want to make your new deck easy to use, so be sure to consider...


You’ll want the transition from your house and garden to your deck to be seamless.

Sliding or French doors from rooms facing the deck help bring the outdoors inside.

Wide steps down to the garden level make it easy to get to the yard and have an inviting grace about them. Another advantage of wide steps is they make great extra seating when you have a party or for you to sit down and have a chat with your child about the latest caterpillar he or she has found. Often in our projects, we recommend steps that are 14 feet wide to make a smooth transition from the deck to the garden while providing seating.


There are three ways to think of what shape you’d like your deck to be:

  • Follow the lines of your home
  • Contrast the lines of your home with a curve
  • Combine straight lines and curves

Any of the above is correct. The choice should be determined by which shape would accommodate the functional aspects of your deck as well as following your personal aesthetic.

Straight lines will give your deck a crisp feel, while adding a curve or two will add softness and warmth.

Some people prefer to keep the lines the same as their homes because they like the cohesive feeling that results. Others prefer the excitement of the contrasting curved line.

Think about decks or outdoor spaces you’ve enjoyed in the past – perhaps as a child on your parents’ deck, or maybe on a deck watching the sunset while on a favorite vacation.

We had a client who needed a railing on a deck. Their garden motif was Asian, and we made several designs before we came up with the one the client felt comfortable with. It turned out that our design was similar to a railing that was in a drawing of an Asian garden scene that had been in our client’s family for years.
The roots of your personal aesthetic run deep and are the key to the lasting enjoyment of your garden and its design elements. To learn more about determining your garden aesthetic, go to our section on finding your unique garden style.