You have big plans for your backyard, including a stunning new Virginia deck and beautiful landscaping to accent the natural features. But you also may be wondering what to do with that space underneath your deck. Several options are available, depending on the deck design and what you hope to do with that space.
Option # 1 – Close It Off Completely
Decks built close to the ground (less than 18-inches off of the ground) can be closed off with deck skirting. This barrier is designed to keep larger critters out and block the deck framing from view. You can add a gate to the skirting, in case you need to retrieve anything valuable that dropped through the gap in your deck board.
Skirting adds to the overall cost of your deck, but does create a more streamlined look and can be used as a retainer for garden soil if you plan to put in a flower bed around the perimeter of your deck.
Option # 2 – Spread Gravel and Landscape Cloth
Since grass will not grow well under your deck due to a lack of sunlight, it makes sense to landscape the area without turf. A popular and cost efficient option includes landscape fabric to block the growth of weeds and grass, covered in gravel for a clean, finished look. The type and size of gravel depends on your preference, but most homeowners go with something a little larger.
Your deck builder may choose to excavate the deck area before installing the fabric and gravel, just to reduce the chance of grass growth. Powerful and invasive, most turf grasses will grow wherever soil, water and some sunlight combine and a patchy gravel/grass area will not look attractive under your Virginia deck.
Be sure the gravel is thick enough and plan to have it refreshed every few years, especially if your yard is on a grade or you have pets. Consider using an edger around the perimeter of the gravel to keep stones in and grass out.
Option # 3 – Create a Living Space
Perfect for walkout decks (more than 5 feet above the ground), this type of deck design adds the greatest value to your backyard. For an inexpensive option, lay down patio slabs under the deck and use the deck framing to hang drapes for privacy or outdoor art for a more attractive space. Concrete pads and flagstone also work well.
Some homeowners invest in a waterproofing product to transform this area into a covered porch. Installed beneath the deck board and undetectable from the upper deck surface, this vinyl sheet is attached to the framing and directs water to an eaves system along the outer rim of your upper deck.
Option # 3 – Leave It Natural
This works for both ground level and walkout decks, and keeps your costs low. Consider whether or not you can live with grass and weeds growing in this space and take into account the balance of your landscape. The condition of your deck surface, stairs and railing will not be affected by anything under the deck. Letting nature have its way in this area is perfectly fine, as long as you’re happy with the outcome.
Talk to your deck builder about the various options available for the space under your Virginia deck. Although this decision may change the price and look of your yard, it’s an important element in the overall design and worth your consideration.