Deck, Patio or Outdoor Living Space: What’s the Difference?

Why build a deck? A deck or patio is often constructed on a whim without proper thought and consideration as to how it will fit into the backyard or your home as a whole. Whereas an outdoor living space factors all of the components of your backyard and your existing home together to transform your backyard area into a usable living space that you and your family can enjoy. A well thought out deck or patio area that is solidly built in your backyard can provide years of enjoyment and additional living space for your family to enjoy. A good design build company will meet with you and discuss both the long and short term ways to turn your backyard into an outdoor living space oasis. Working with you, bringing ideas to the table, and listening to your ideas, the design build company will create a landscape plan that includes all the best options that were brought to the table.


Timbertech Composite Deck by The Indoor Outdoor Guy Renovations Inc. Digital image.

Why not build a deck? Are you not sold on the idea of a deck? Are you and your spouse not fully on the same page with respect to building a deck? Some couples are split on how to best transform the space in their backyard into an enjoyable outdoor living space. Meeting with an experienced design build company will help you make these types of tough decisions. A design build company will discuss your outdoor living space options and help you determine what the most important components to include in the design of your backyard or side yard are. Another reason not to build a deck may be that is disconnects you from the plants, flowers and landscaping that would surround a paver stone or stamped concrete patio. One question to ask yourself is this: would you rather be relaxing on an outdoor sofa up against your house in view of your neighbours, or lounging around a fire pit surrounded by plants and landscaping with far more privacy? However, if a deck makes more sense than a ground level patio, we have worked with many clients and built many privacy screens that attach to the deck. These screens can be made of wood or plants, such as a privacy hedge. A strategically placed lattice wall covered in an evergreen climbing clematis vine can provide the needed privacy in your outdoor living space. In order to complete the atmosphere of the deck, adding several large planters that contain shrubs and perennial flowers will complete the natural atmosphere of the deck. The further addition of a small water feature can add some privacy and make it harder for conversations to be overheard by neighbours, while adding another sense of relaxation. Until you have a solid, long term vision of what you want your outdoor living space to look like, we recommend not building a deck. It would be expensive to have to tear it down later when you realize the deck is in the area you want to put a swimming pool in.


Outdoor Gas Fire Pit. Digital image.IndoorOutdoorGuy.ca

Why build a patio? If the main floor of your house is not elevated off the ground and you want to be surrounded by plants and landscaping, you may choose to build a patio. Or if the design of your yard is more suited to a patio than to a deck, you may choose to build a patio. Before you make such a long-term decision, it would be wise to meet with a design build company to go through your options. Planning for the long term use of your outdoor living space is very helpful when investing in any landscaping. Patios can be made of stone or concrete. The stone and concrete will outlive a wooden deck and require less maintenance that a wooden one. Many different patterns can be made with interlocking stone to achieve a specific backyard look and feel.


Indoor Outdoor Guy Backyard Landscaping. Digital image. IndoorOutdoorGuy.ca

Why not build a patio? Firstly, if the main floor of your home is elevated off the ground, you may prefer building a deck as opposed to a patio. An outdoor living space that is close to level with the floor of your home may get used more than one that you must walk down steps to get to. Patios can be beautiful focal points in backyards, but as they generally involve more landscaping, they also may require a little more maintenance. However, many people find tending to their plants and gardens a very therapeutic way to end to their day. The best thing to do if you are considering renovating your backyard is to discuss your options with a design build company. They will be able to advise you in your decision and make you aware of options that you may not have known about.


Indoor Outdoor Guy Custom Built Cabana. Digital image. Indooroutdoorguy.ca.

Flagstone vs. Interlocking Pavers. Interlocking pavers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. This makes them a top choice of many landscape designers and makes then suitable to be used for many different types of projects. If installed properly, there should be a very small amount of movement in the pavers over time. For there to be no movement or very little movement, the pavers must be installed on top of a compacted road base foundation that extends down to undisturbed ground. All organic topsoil that are compactable must be removed. The surface of the interlocking pavers will be even and quite smooth. Flagstone pavers are often referred to as natural stone pavers because they are made from natural stone. They can be made from limestone, granite, slate or other quarried stone. One benefit of flagstone is that it can be cut into different shapes to look however you want it to look. The natural colors compliment most outdoor living spaces. After all, rock comes from outside, so it should fit right into the backyard.


Indoor Outdoor Guy Custom Built Cabana. Digital image.Indooroutdoorguy.ca.

Water Feature: Pondless Waterfall vs. Pondless Basalt Pillar. A water feature is often the focal point of your backyard and adds the relaxing sense of sound to your visually beautiful gardens. Pondless waterfalls and pondless basalt pillar features are all the rage right now as they do not have the maintenance that ponds and fountains have. They also benefit the backyard by providing ambient sound that helps drown out neighbourhood noise. Another benefit is that the sounds from a good, pondless waterfall may interfere with the noisy neighbor who tries to overhear your private, backyard conversations. Without a pond, one does not have the high maintenance of bugs and algae that typically accompany a poorly designed water feature. To be fair to pond lovers, a pond and/or waterfall feature that has a well-designed filtration system can be very low-maintenance. Water features are high tech now and allow the home owner the ability to control the amount of water that is being pumped and to turn on special water feature lighting at night time. Sitting in your backyard and listening to a babbling brook is bound to relax you.


Pondless Cascading Waterfall by The Indoor Outdoor Guy Renovations Inc. Digital image.

Plants & Shrubs. The beautifully landscaped backyards you see in magazines did not happen by accident. The plants and shrubs were chosen with care and consideration for the climate, plant longevity, appearance and many other reasons. When planning your backyard layout, your design build company will help you decide which plants and shrubs are best suited for your outdoor living space. Perennial plants and shrubs, ones that grow back year after year, are the top choice of landscapers and home owners. Why pay for new plants every spring when you can pay for plants once and enjoy them for years to come? It’s important to take into consideration what a plant or shrub will grow into over a few years’ time rather than what they look like as a 2 or 3 year old plant. A new seedling may look dwarfed in a 4’ X 4’ area, but by the end of the summer that seedling’s foliage may cover that entire area. Plants and shrubs come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. It’s important to plan for the shapes, sizes and colors of the plants in advance. Advanced planning can provide you with a stunning yard when the greenery matures.


Willem Outdoor 24-Bulb Standard String Light. Digital image. Wayfair.ca


Raised Walls/Stacked Stone Walls. Also known as retaining walls, raised walls have many benefits, both structural and decorative. If you have a hilly yard, a raised wall is a common way to both correct the hill and create a lovely focal point. A retaining wall will reduce soil erosion and turn a difficult-to-mow section of yard into a stunning flower bed. A raised wall bed is often used along a fence to help break up the hardness of the wooden fence. As the soil in a retaining wall is looser than compacted soil, perennial flowers and vegetable plants may take root and produce more prolifically. Raised walls need to be planned and in some cases, if higher than 3 feet, may need a professional engineer’s stamp. A good design build company will use retaining walls as a feature in your outdoor living space to make it even more stunning.


Backyard Living Space by Indoor Outdoor Guy Renovations Inc. Digital image.

Pools, Swim Spas and Hot Tubs. Pools, hot tubs and swim spas are a commonly desired feature when renovating an outdoor living space. Backyard swimming pools are literally the stuff that children’s dreams are made of. The health benefits and amount of fun a swimming pool can provide is incredibly valuable. No room for a swimming pool? What about a swim spa? They have a much smaller footprint than a pool and are more affordable. Swim spas have an area for swimming that can be heated to your temperature of choice, as well as hot tub area that can be heated to 104 degrees for heat therapy purposes. They are also available as individual units, just like a hot tub, with only one area with an adjustable temperature for either swimming or soaking. They can be used year round and come with a hydraulically powered resistance current so you can swim laps in place as long as your heart desires. If swimming is not your thing but you absolutely love to soak in hot water, then a hot tub may be a great choice for your home. Hot tubs come in many sizes to accommodate even the smallest backyards, can be built into a deck or gazebo, and can be set to a temperature that is comfortable for the whole family.


Indoor Outdoor Guy Landscaping Blueprint. Digital image. IndoorOutdoorGuy.ca

Other Landscaping Elements. Other elements that clients often ask about are in-ground trampolines, shed-saunas, putting greens, and studio or office sheds. The physical and mental benefits of saunas have been known for decades. Adding a sauna shed to your backyard provides a relaxing place to sweat out all the stresses of your day after work. In-ground trampolines have become very popular in recent years, and for very good reason. An in-ground trampoline that is level with the ground and has no coil springs is easy to use and is safer than a traditional trampoline that is raised off of the ground with safety netting. Backyard office studio sheds are in demand now more than ever. A backyard office gives you a quiet space to work surrounded by nature once it’s been landscaped into the backyard. Heated, insulated sheds are also used for She-Sheds, Man Caves, Potting Sheds and Storage. Every golfer’s dream is to have their very own putting green in their backyard. An artificial grass putting green offers all the fun of being on the green without driving to the course or paying the course fees. Discuss these landscaping elements with your design build company and they will work with you to give you the outside living space you’ve always wanted.


Indoor Outdoor Guy Landscaping Blueprint. Digital image. IndoorOutdoorGuy.ca