by James Dewar
BUILDING A DECK:
If the conditions below describe your situation, a deck is likely your best choice.
View: Does your yard provide a superior view, or is the area enclosed with high fences or hedges? If there’s a good view, go with a deck.
Trees: Do large trees grow in, or over the space? Will they need to be removed or cut back? If you keep the trees, will they require ongoing pruning? In a heavily shaded yard, the soil tends to stay wet which encourages root growth that will heave up stone. Go with a deck.
Slope: Is your yard relatively level or is it sloped? The steeper the slope, the more costly it will be to have it professionally levelled in order to lay down a patio. Bad slope? Build a deck.
Greenish Thumb: Do you love planting annual flowers in the spring, but after that you’re only willing to water them, and maybe provide a little weeding once in a while? The odds are that you want the world in lovely rows of bright colours. The best view will be from a deck.
Children: Do you have children and need to have clear lines of sight in your yard? Do your kids love to play outside,
or do you wish there was a place you could send them for a timeout to at least get some fresh air? Go with the outdoor room-like feel and look of a deck. And the WiFi will be stronger on a deck than it will further out in the yard.
INSTALLING A PATIO:
Many backyards provide ideal conditions for installing a patio, rather than a deck. If the conditions below describe your situation, a patio may provide the perfect backyard ambience.
Sunlight: How much sunlight does the area receive? Does it dry out so badly in late summer that the grass dies? Will you be happy just to landscape the entire space with stones, paths and shrubs? Go with a patio.
Greenish Thumb: Do you love planting and caring for gardens? Do you prefer perennials over annuals? The odds are that you know the world rarely runs in a straight line, so think about the landscaping that will support your dream garden—go with a patio.
Budget: If your yard has a flat grade, installing a typical deck with the same square footage is about a third more expensive than laying a patio using mid-range priced stones or brick. If you’re on a tight budget, start with a patio.
Privacy: Do you prefer to stay out of sight from your neighbours? Unless you have very high hedges or outdoor structures to hide you, a deck will elevate you into the neighbourhood sight-lines. The best solution for sitting outside enjoying a morning coffee in your bathrobe will be on a ground-level patio protected by your fence or standard-height hedge.<