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Anything you plan to keep on your deck—garbage cans, firewood, furniture covers, pet supplies, garden tools, or barbecue utensils—needs a spot to call home. Finding places to put such items— and keeping the living space from looking like a giant storage box—takes a little creative thinking.

”Eugene and his father were a pleasure to work with. They provided excellent advice on what they thought would look good for my needs and I’m glad I listened. The installers were detailed and precise and very easy to deal with. The end results are fantastic and me and my wife are glad to come home every day to our front porch with the new iron railing. Its very rare to find a company that has competitive prices, great product and great service but Art Metal is one of these companies and I’m glad I found them. I will definitely be recommending them to others and using them again in the future.“

Nifty Storage Places

  • When adding a privacy wall, build it with space for firewood.
  • Paint a child’s toy box with weatherproof exterior paint and use it as an outdoor coffee table with built-in storage.
  • Keep pet supplies and birdseed in water tight plastic bins, which protect them from weather and pesky critters looking for food.
  • Buy an extra mailbox or decorative bin to provide a dry place for storing small hand tools and garden gloves.
  • Place a baker’s rack against a blank wall to store empty flowerpots, harvest baskets, and watering cans.
  • Use everyday yard tools as outdoor art. Mount hooks or handle holders on walls for hanging shovels, rakes, and hoes. The back or side of a garage, where the roof overhangs, provides a protected place. If you have a wall but no eaves, mount a shallow awning overhead to shelter the tools from weather and help prevent rusting.
  • Buy freestanding benches with lids—or build them into the perimeter of your decks.
  • Prefabricated fence sections or lattice panels mounted on posts conceal garbage cans as well as heating and cooling units without obstructing airflow.
  • Mount a trellis to support vines on the side of your home to hide exterior conduit and wires. If a utility meter spoils the look of your outdoor room, build a box around it with a hinged door for the meter reader to open. (Contact your utility company first; some have rules against this.)

Look out at the vast wilderness of your yard. In that space lie both limitations and countless creative possibilities. Before you begin building your deck, you’ll want to know exactly what they are. The features of your landscape can affect both where you put your deck and how you design it. After you’ve made the basic decisions about style and location, it’s time to assess your site to determine what, if any, modifications its characteristics will require.

The terrain of your landscape is perhaps the most important feature. Although no site is perfectly level, a basically flat yard will help keep the job uncomplicated. A slope, especially one that falls off sharply, might call for grading the soil and building a retaining wall to hold back the remaining soil. Or it might mean you should consider moving your proposed deck to another location.

Then there’s drainage, existing vegetation, views, and climate. After a rain, for example, do the neighborhood kids come by to marvel at the eroded canyon or to play in the lake that covers your lawn? Are trees making shade or just blocking a view? Or is the view undesirable anyway? How about street noise and privacy?

Many of these features, of course, are beyond your control. Ignoring them can result in an unused and unattractive deck, but if you design your outdoor living space with them in mind, you can minimize their effects. The key is working with nature, not against it.

Take pictures of your yard when assessing your site. The camera is less forgiving than the eye. It’s easy to overlook things you see every day; you’ll be surprised how much the photos call attention to details you may have missed. For example, you may discover that the neighbors can see right into your living room window. Or you may not have noticed how unattractive your garbage cans or utility shed is.

Photos also allow you to bring landscaping problems indoors to your kitchen table, giving you an objective tool to help you plan.
Digital cameras and accompanying computer programs can make your picture planning even more fun. Take several shots end-to-end and let the computer make a panoramic view. With other programs, you can sketch in trees and architectural elements.

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