The deck zigs and zags along with the slope Essay

Gaining flat outdoor living space on a steep lot is a common Westernchallenge.

Before Carol and Frank Robl built their deck in Bellevue,Washington, they walked out their back door, down 5 feet of stairs, thenup 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, andthe newly replanted garden now meets the deck. The deck’s zigzag design provides a choice of exposures forvarious occasions. Near the steps, the open south end catches sunlight;the raised triangle is a good spot for showing off container plants orfor sunning. A generous roof overhang offers shade and can shelter thebarbecue from unexpected drizzle.

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The bridge off the deck’s northend leads to a developing rhododendron collection. Built of pressure-treated wood, the deck stands on 4-by-6 postsresting on concrete piers. Joists are 2-by-8s spaced 12 inches apartand topped with 1-by-4 decking.

Near the steps, siding to match thehouse masks the deck’s support structure. On the north end, thesiding was left off, giving the owners access to firewood storage below. Built-in flower boxes fit between decked areas and help connect thedifferent shapes. Since the wood is treated, the boxes don’trequire metal or plastic inserts.

The space between boards are narrowenough to permit drainage without losing soil. A clump of vine maples(Acer circinatum) casts light shade in summer; leaves drop to admitwinter sun. They’ll eventually stretch up 15 to 20 feet.

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