This article explores suggestions for designing eco-friendly outdoor spaces, with the goal of making your green living areas environmentally friendly.
Words and photography by the team at Trex
The warmer months have arrived and the sunlight is getting stronger, so let’s think about what we can do to make our decks even more fun, usable, and eco-friendly.
No matter if you have a traditional wood deck or composite decking, you need to protect your deck from things like the sun’s UV rays, freezing temperatures, and moisture. Protecting it will help maintain it’s strength and durability. Ensuring your deck’s substructure is preserved, as well as the surface, is necessary to assure its long life.
Some materials are more sustainable than others, but Trex is a fantastic green choice! It is from 95% recycled products, including plastic and reclaimed timber with wood fiber. It will last and look beautiful yearly with proper care and some annual maintenance.
Protecting your deck is essential. Each year you should clean your deck and seal it, if it’s wood. Washing with soap and water or a commercial deck cleaning solution is best. Let your deck thoroughly dry, then apply a quality sealant, if the wooden decking needs it. This will help preserve the life of your deck and the substructure. It will keep it looking better for longer.
Sealants can help your wooden deck appear younger and brighter. This will aid it in withstanding cold temperatures and humidity. A damp climate will take a toll on the substructure, causing rot and eventually weakening it. Applying a sealant will help it counter the problems resulting from moisture. Composite decks should also be cleaned yearly but do not require sealant as they stand up to harsher climate conditions.
Joist protection is paramount to ensure your deck lasts an extended period of time. An above joist flashing tape, like butyl tape, will work wonders in keeping up your deck’s appearance and health.
10 Suggestions for Designing Eco-friendly Outdoor Spaces
So now your deck is cleaned, protected, and sealed – let’s see what you can do to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your maintenance. Check out our suggestions for designing eco-friendly outdoor spaces and keeping your green living spaces green!
Consider installing an awning, umbrella, or shade sail to keep you cool. A pergola is another type of assembly providing respite from the sun. Something that shades you will also shelter your deck’s surface and will extend the life of your deck.
Pick Your Plants
Landscape your deck or patio with plants and vines. Setting out some well-placed planters and trellised plants, such as ivy, will help shield you from solar rays. This means you can stay outside a little longer while worrying less about getting sunburnt. Still, don’t forget to use sunblock – and reapply often.
You might consider screening in your porch, patio, or deck. This option will protect you from the more extreme weather, both hot and cold. It gives you a barrier against insects, too. You could even make that area a three-seasons room using a durable type of clear vinyl or plexiglass to insulate it during cold weather. This makes it usable space for an extended period of time.
Use eco-friendly and sustainable furnishings. Many companies have produced quality, eco-friendly products. Decide what patio furniture fits your style and budget. Some of the best products are those which have been recycled and refurbished. Repurposed lumber or recycled plastic looks excellent, giving the medium another life. The same thing for fabrics – cotton, hemp, and rope are all sustainable choices.
Shine Some Light
When considering outdoor lighting, use LED lights or lanterns. This will give your dream deck the illumination you need. Additionally, candles created from eco-friendly wax will lend themselves to an enchanting mood.
Fire Pit or Chiminea
A chiminea is a small stand-alone chimney. It provides warmth on those chilly nights. It’s usually smaller than a fire pit. Fire pits are an easy DIY project, or you could buy one. You can help keep yard trimmings out of the trash pile by burning fallen branches, dried leaves, cardboard, and old newspaper.
A jacuzzi or hot tub (also known as a spa) is a fabulous addition to your deck. They’re perfect for underneath it – a two-story deck will provide both privacy and UV protection from the sun. Pick a reputable company to do the installation, as there are sustainable spas on the market.
A Case of Space
Speaking of two-story decks, make use of the space underneath. This is ideal for storage, as you can add shelving and hooks and/or park your lawnmower or a tractor beneath. If you choose to make a small living room, set up some patio furniture and a throw rug or two.
One trend in decking and backyard spaces is sectioning off the deck (or patio). For example, a designated part might be for relaxing and reading, while another is for dining. The third part might be for games or exercise. Whatever you decide to do with your deck space is up to you, but partitioning off an area for meditation, relaxation, or libation is a grand idea.
Mix It Up
Another recent trend is using different mediums for constructing your deck or outside oasis. Using stone, brick, granite, and concrete are natural alternatives to your standard decking implements. In addition, metal or powder-coated wire railings give your deck a modern and sharp look.
Final Thoughts on Designing Eco-friendly Outdoor Spaces
No matter how you design or use your deck, there are many ways to lighten the environmental impact. First, continue to recycle while preserving the earth. Guarding against overuse and misuse of resources can be one of the ways we do this.
Watching out for the environment while enjoying it is something we all should do. We need to minimize our carbon footprint by using eco-friendly materials, employing sustainable practices, and creating environmentally conscious habits. Let’s guarantee that future generations can celebrate and appreciate nature for many years.