Gaining flat outdoor living space on a steep lot is a common Western
challenge. Before Carol and Frank Robl built their deck in Bellevue,
Washington, they walked out their back door, down 5 feet of stairs, then
up a slope to the garden.
The deck they designed and built conquers the uneven topography.
Its angular design echoes the angles and roof lines of the house, and
the newly replanted garden now meets the deck.
The deck’s zigzag design provides a choice of exposures for
various occasions. Near the steps, the open south end catches sunlight;
the raised triangle is a good spot for showing off container plants or
for sunning. A generous roof overhang offers shade and can shelter the
barbecue from unexpected drizzle. The bridge off the deck’s north
end leads to a developing rhododendron collection.
Built of pressure-treated wood, the deck stands on 4-by-6 posts
resting on concrete piers. Joists are 2-by-8s spaced 12 inches apart
and topped with 1-by-4 decking. Near the steps, siding to match the
house masks the deck’s support structure. On the north end, the
siding was left off, giving the owners access to firewood storage below.
Built-in flower boxes fit between decked areas and help connect the
different shapes. Since the wood is treated, the boxes don’t
require metal or plastic inserts. The space between boards are narrow
enough to permit drainage without losing soil. A clump of vine maples
(Acer circinatum) casts light shade in summer; leaves drop to admit
winter sun. They’ll eventually stretch up 15 to 20 feet.