Summer is the time to be outdoors. Enjoy hours of family fun in your own backyard by building a fabulous deck. Here are a few things to consider as you dream and design.

Determine How You Will Use the Deck

Design decisions about your deck should start with some serious thought about how you will use the space. Do you plan to put a small hibachi and some lounge chairs on it, or will it house a full outdoor kitchen, dining table, hammock and hot tub? Are you extending your living space or adding function and beauty to a neglected corner of the yard? For inspiration, peruse websites, glance in neighbors’ yards or consult a professional design service in your area.

Maximize Your Available Space

Whether you have multiple acres or a small city lot, it is important to make the best use of your space. Using modular decking components will allow you to maximize each square foot, with minimum wasted space. Prebuilt components also save time during the build, as drainage sections, seating areas and planters are ready to put into place as appropriate. You and your family will likely use the deck more if seating areas are in the sunshine during winter months and can be shaded during the summer.

Add the Perfect Finishing Touches

Once the deck is built, the hard part is over. However, the job is not done. The difference between a good deck and a great deck lies in the details. Cushions made with stain- and fade-resistant fabric add color, comfort and personality. Install a ceiling fan or oscillating fan; air movement helps with cooling and can help repel mosquitoes.

If you installed planters as part of your deck design, now is the time to fill them. Choose plants carefully. Size matters; you do not want your plants to crowd seating areas or become tripping hazards. You may enjoy colorful blooms, but keep in mind that bees are attracted to certain flowers, and can drive people away. The right final elements can express your style and make the deck a backyard oasis.