All properly built patios and
decks require is an occasional
sweeping to remove twigs and
Spring is the ideal time to take
a hike around the home grounds
to see where one or several hard
surfaces might be utilized. Just
outside the kitchen door or family
room has become a popular spot
because it's easy when company
arrives to simply move everything,
including the guests and the food,
through the sliding glass doors.
Decks and patios can also be
utilized in other spots around the
yard where people tend to gather.
Decks can serve as look-out points
when built on sloping terrain over-
looking rivers, lakes, etc.
The smart do-it-yourselfer could
probably install his own patio or
deck at a greatly reduced cost.
Patio surfacing choices include
poured concrete, reinforced con-
crete slabs, brick (the type
specifically made for the hard
wear of patios), and flagstones.
Although the latter two produce
the most attractive surface, they're
more expensive and harder to put
together. A four-inch minimum of
compacted sand must be used
beneath the hard surface to keep
winter freezes and thaws from
heaving everything up.
Local lumberyards and some
garden centers carry plans and
materials for the homeowner who
might like to build his own deck.
Concrete footings will be required.
If not using redwood, be sure
the wood is wolmanized (chem-
ically treated) so it will last a long
time. A final low maintenance tip
for decks: don't put on a finish.
Leave them natural and they'll
gradually turn a silvery grey. This
saves the labor of having to
refinish every few years.
Consider the size carefully
before building either patio or
deck. A common mistake is to
make them too small and wish
later they were much larger. Big is
better than little and will cut down
on mowing, weeding, etc.
Work can start on either patio or
deck as soon as the ground has
come out of the deep freeze and
dried enough so that it's no longer
On the subject of low-mainten-
ance plant materials, avoid using
exotic trees and shrubs that re-
quire a lot of upkeep. Stick mainly
with plants native to the area in
which you live (those that grow
naturally in the wild surroundings);
consult your favorite nursery or
garden center as to just what
these might be.
A much-loved plant that re-
quires plenty of work is the rose.
Most of these beauties need to be
pruned regularly and sprayed of-
ten (like once a week to every 10
days) against insects and dis-
eases. The serious rose lover is
willing to do all these things and
doesn't consider them work. But
if you do, avoid roses, as glorious
as they are.
When purchasing plants, find
out everything you can about care
from your local nurseryman,
especially the location and soil in
which these shrubs, trees and
PATIOS DON'T always have to be
plunked outside the family room
or kitchen. This round patio
was constructed far out in the
yard, to take full advantage of
the lovely view overlooking the