How to make a small garden deck

How to make a small garden deck

Use Cedar for a beautiful deck

Every spring gardeners either sit out on their backyard decks or sit outside on the lawn and dream of what type of deck they might have. Decks can come in all types and sizes but there is something about a cedar wood deck that reminds us of nature. Learn some simple techniques for building or adding a small wood deck to your garden or other backyard area. It’s not as difficult as you might think. The author has chosen diagonal decking for a more dramatic aesthetic visual effect.


Step 1

Sketch deck design

Review design sketches, home store deck building pamphlet guides or architect sketches. Review local ordinances and details for deck construction. Purchase materials for deck from home store. They will have everything you need. Use measuring tape, wood stakes and string to lay out shape of deck. If you have never built a deck before, you may want to keep it simple like the sketch for the one the author provides.. Try an 8 x 8 foot square deck to save on materials. Choose 2x4s, 2x6s and 2x8s pressure treated wood as framing materials with 2×6 cedar decking. Cedar is easy to cut, drill for bolt holes, and nail or screw.

Step 2

Frame base on concrete footings

Build a base frame to sit on top of concrete block footings or concrete column piers per the requirements of your local jurisdictional codes. The reference materials will show you how to construct footings Follow the sketch to anchor framing to the block or concrete footings. Approximate footing locations are shown, your final design based on local codes will determine exactly where footings should go. Do ask the home store for suggestions, they will know. They will also estimate all materials you will need and can even find a company to help you if needed. You can contract out a company to just install footings required for your design if you want and feel more comfortable with that part of the deck building to be left to professionals. Bolt your framing together with galvanized bolts or lag screws per codes.

Step 3

Buy quality deck materials

Choose good deck material free of knots and splinters. Pressure treated pine is one option and composite material deck boards are another. Again, cedar makes a great deck and is very easy to cut and fasten. It is a moisture and insect resistant wood and is available in «no knot cedar» form. Ask the home store.

Step 4

Use cedar for decking

If you want, you can also spend a little extra and choose cquality edar for all your wood materials. Use cedar framing in lieu of pressure treated lumber for framing. Determine the dimension of the diagonal pieces needed by checking the diagonal measurement at the center of the deck. This will be the longest diagonal piece you will need. You can use smaller 8 foot pieces if you provide intermittent block framing where the ends of boards meet for nailing purposes, staggering boards. Use deck nails or screws to fasten diagonal boards to code.

Step 5

Use long span deck boards

You also have an option to use long boards to completely span from one edge to the other. Lay deck boards down, cut them at edges and use the smaller remaining pieces to cover the part of the deck that has a need for smaller pieces. The diagonal decking illustrated in the sketches does not show any butt joints at ends, rather, long pieces have been used tor continuous boards with the only cutting occurring at the outside edges of the deck square shape. This makes for a very attractive deck but is more costly.

Step 6

Use chalk line to mark edge

Use string chalk line to mark edge cut line for diagonal deck boards. Make sure each deck board is nailed or screwed securely to perimeter ledger or framing and joist boards. To make chalk line, tap a nail at one end of deck and another at the other in line with the perimeter board below decking. Tie a string line tightly about a 1/4″ off of the deck boards. Chalk the line with blue chalk, then lift string straight up at center of line and pop string to leave a chalk line mark on deck boards. Then cut with power saw.

Option: Use laser line level device to provide cutting line from one end of deck to the other. You can purchase one from home store. Repeat for all four sides of deck. Your cut edges of decking should line up with the perimeter framing boards below the deck boards.

Things Needed
• pencil design sketch of deck on grid paper
• deck building pamphlets from home store like Lowe’s or Home Depot, or architect’s designs
• research on local codes and ordinances pertaining to wood decks in back yards
• measuring tape, box level, pencil
• hammer and nails, power screwdriver and screws
• string line, line level
• concrete block footings, concrete column forms, Sakrete, water
• wheel barrow and hoe, garden rake
• miscellaneous galvanized anchors for joists, framing, and anchor bolts,
• 2x4s, 2x6s, 2x8s- cedar, or pressure treated lumber

Tips & Warnings
• Follow local codes and ordinances for deck construction.
• Use Cedar, if possible, since that wood is easier to saw and screw.
• Measure wood needed to determine lengths to save waste.
• Start with 8 foot by 8 foot deck to save money on materials.
• Use galvanized or brass deck nails or screws.
• Use galvanized metal joist hangers.
• Measure and check twice, cut all wood for framing at one time.
• Lay out decking on diagonal to check materials and cut locations, cut only a few deck boards at a time.
• Be careful with power tools, use grounded electrical receptacles.


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