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Patio and Deck Combinations: Which to Do First, Ideas, and Pro Design & Construction Tips

Posted On: September 23,2019 By: Paul Squierdo - Landscape Designer

We’ve been fortunate to have been provided countless opportunities to work with clients on a wide variety of projects over the years. One of the most common areas of focus is backyard living spaces. 

A great way to get the most out of a backyard is often accomplished by adding (or renovating) both a patio and a deck. Patio and deck combinations are a great way to fully maximize the use of your living area, not only horizontally, but vertically, too. An upper-level deck that leads down to a lower level patio will absolutely give you lots of fantastic outdoor living space to use and enjoy to the fullest.

Oftentimes, homeowners tell us they use the two zones for different purposes, too. While the deck might become their more intimate gathering spot for outdoor family dinners, the patio may become more of the entertainment area while people also make use of the yard. Of course, how a deck and patio are best utilized will differ for everyone. Those who like to throw large outdoor gatherings quite often make full use of both spaces simultaneously! 

There’s no question that patio and deck combinations are a great way to get the most possible enjoyment out of your property. But you want to make sure that they’re designed and built right. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our best tips to keep in mind if you’re considering a patio and deck design.

Patio and Deck Combinations: Where to Start?

If you’re starting with a blank slate and don’t have any existing hardscaping or structures already on your property (and you want both a deck and a patio), we encourage you to explore your options through professional landscape design

Rather than exploring a patio first or deck second, look at design with careful consideration for both. It's important to see the big picture first and then understand the relationships of each area. This process will also help to make informed decisions when considering which element to star with.

pool-patio-fire-bowl-pavilion-lighting

Whenever possible, it’s ideal to begin with the patio. This is mostly because the project is easiest to coordinate from an excavation point by starting with the patio. The footers for the deck can be installed at the time of the patio excavation. 

Sometimes, homeowners don’t even tackle the deck until “phase two,” if they’re phasing the project over time. In terms of phasing, some cases may be ideal to start with a patio, and with an upfront value-added design, a phase one patio construction could include the installation of footers for the future deck ensuring that you don't have to re-excavate and tear up your patio later in order to add the deck in phase two. 

 

Examples like this truly demonstrate the upfront value and importance of a patio and deck design serving as a “master plan” for the project as a whole. Some homeowners may choose to hire one company to build their patio and another to build their deck. Unfortunately, such scenarios have a tendency to be completed and end up with zero coordination between the companies. 

Not only could that mean your finished project does not look as though it goes together aesthetically, but it could create functional problems, as well. For instance, there could be a stairway from the deck that goes right into the middle of your patio, making it not fully usable or even block a view of surrounding scenery. 

flagstone patio deck stairs

If the two spaces had been designed at the same time, that stairway could have been intentionally laid out to the side, where it’s not in the way. Everything from the traffic flow to the views should be taken into account in the patio and deck design in a simultaneous fashion, both spaces will be laid out in a cohesive way which will even give thoughtful consideration to maximize fluid pedestrian traffic flow and framing of key views.

Patio and Deck Ideas with an Existing Deck

Of course, a lot of these types of projects begin when a homeowner has an existing deck and wants to add a patio. Oftentimes, the project might also include a deck rebuild, particularly if it was originally built with pressure-treated lumber that is beginning to splinter, face, and generally show its age. 

For instance, in this landscape project, we rebuilt the homeowner’s two existing wood decks using WOLF Brand Decking, which is a low-maintenance wood-alternative that won’t succumb to rot (as wood will). 

deck built with low-maintenance wood alternative

With all of the great wood-alternative materials available these days, as well as beautiful aluminum railing options, many homeowners are interested in upgrading their deck as part of a total outdoor living project. 

Although it’s a case-by-case scenario, oftentimes, we are able to use the original deck frame and rebuild on top of it, basically providing a facelift with updated and more durable material for all surfaces, railings, and steps. However, many times homeowners simply desire a larger deck or a new layout, which of course is certainly a viable option to be explored with a landscape design expert. 

paver-patio-boulder-wall

If a patio is being built directly underneath of an overhead deck, another important consideration is the addition of roofing material (beneath the deck and atop of the patio) which collects and directs rainwater into a inconspicuous drainage system, keeping the patio area a dry space, rain or shine.

Choosing Patio and Deck Builders

When starting the process for exploring the options for your backyard living space, it’s important to recognize that not every patio builder is also going to have the team and expertise to be able to build your deck. Conversely, most deck builders are not going to be able to build your patio. But as we mentioned, it’s really important to find a company that can design and build both in order to give you the complete look and total functionality that you desire. 

flagstone patio and 2 decks

At Earth, Turf, & Wood, our experience in designing and building many patio and deck combinations over the years has given us the understanding and ability to ensure that these two areas work seamlessly together. Every detail of the project is taken into account from the very start so that you don’t find yourself later regretting that the project wasn’t built a certain way. We believe that every single detail matters when it comes to making the finished product the best it can be.

A complex space with more than one finished area certainly benefits from making an investment to having a professional eye involved for design as well as the proper execution of the construction—and not every contractor can offer that. However, if you want peace of mind that your project is going to come together exactly as you desire it, it’s important that you make a wise choice in who completes the work. 

There’s simply no room for error when it comes to investing your hard-earned money into something as important as your custom outdoor living area, which, when designed right, will serve as an oasis to create a lifetime of memories. 

If you’d like to start a conversation about how you can renovate an existing outdoor living space or create a brand-new one at your York, Reading, Lancaster, Lebanon, or Hershey, PA home, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at (717) 276-9447.

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Paul Squierdo - Landscape Designer

Written by Paul Squierdo - Landscape Designer

Paul brings nearly 20 years of landscape industry experience to the ETW team both from the landscape architecture and design/build arenas. Paul obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Pennsylvania State University which entailed studying for a semester abroad in Rome, Italy. Between his professional design background and hands on experience in landscape construction/management, Paul brings a balanced approach of maintaining function, while incorporating custom tailored aesthetics to each unique outdoor project and design.

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Serving Southeast Pennsylvania including: Lancaster, Reading, Lebanon, York, Hershey, Harrisburg and surrounding areas.