A lovely couple that recently moved here from Australia wanted to update the garden of their recently purchased home and make it their own. This corner of the garden is nice but they wanted a more tropical feel and were thinking of a hut that you would lounge in like they had done on numerous holidays (vacations) in Bali. The original design was for a platform bed with a roof. As time went on and we worked on revisions I offered the idea of a floating deck. This was perfect as they had gone off the idea of a bed and had found a hammock that they wanted in this corner.

Before Shot

Before Shot; nothing bad, just nothing personal for the client (except the kangaroo)

We removed the grey gravel and used it in low-spots for their driveway and stacked the bricks for future use in the front yard. Because we used pre-formed piers we had to make sure they were level and evenly spaced as the entirety of the project laid upon this foundation. Treated 2×6’s were used for the sub-structure.

Under Construction

Under Construction: piers in place and joists being aligned.

The exposed portions of the deck are all cedar; 2×4’s for the decking and 1×4’s for the surrounding trim. Routered edges of the decking gives a smooth look. We also counter-sunk the screws to ensure that they would not catch on bare feet.


Fastened our boards with counter-sunk screws and sanded our “rough cedar” boards smooth.

Once the deck was constructed we filled our screw-holes with wood putty. We then sanded the boards again. The boards became smoother and the wood filler stayed in our screw-holes. If you sand the putty before it hardens you can end up smearing it (and really gumming up your sandpaper).Sanding

Sanding, yet again. The wood filler took some time to dry on our cooler mornings in the shade.

In keeping the straight lines of the garden we decided to use 30″ square pavers (in-filled with beach pebbles). The pavers are functional and sturdy while allowing water to flow/absorb between them.Pavers

Cement pavers and beach pebbles

Once installed we looked forward to seeing the wood stained. Cedar, if left untreated, will grey. It can be an attractive look but the clients wanted to keep it more red.Cedar

Plantings are in.

Even though Houston has a hot humid tropical climate much of the year we do have hard freezes a couple times in the winter. I chose plants with a tropical feel that can handle a few cold spells. This corner is sheltered and the beds will be kept well mulched. In the far southwest corner we planted several one gallon Variegated ginger, Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’, sometimes called Shell ginger. To its left before the gate is an Esperanza Yellow Bell. On the other side of the ginger are two Banana Shrubs, Michelia figo, a under used plant in my mind. The flowers are lovely and have a sweet delicious aroma of bananas as the name suggests. Continuing on towards the Oak tree we have a grouping of Split Leaf Philodendrons, these may die back in the winter which is not a bad thing as it can help keep them under control. Near the forward edge of the deck are 2 Queen Emma crinum lilies, we like them for their long leaves that are tinged in burgudy. In front of the oak is a lovely silver green Pindo Palm, Butia capitata. It is a smaller slow growing palm with helps create a bit of privacy and feeling of a nook. Around the base of the tree we kept the agapanthus that were already there. Flanking the walk we added Bar Harbor junipers a low creeping juniper. Tree

Deck done and pavers getting a wash. Several sets of feet, sawdust, and mulch can create quite the muck.

The deck ‘floats’ a few inches off the ground; being low enough not to need a step. Even as the oak tree matures there are many years before this deck would need to be modified. The plantings along the fence will soon mask the enclosure and give the clients a welcomed niche.Complete

After almost…

On the house side of the gate are a cluster of dwarf canna lilies in red, white and yellow. This garden is meant fill in a spill over. In front of the chimney we added Fig ivy. On the other side we added some giant ligularia behind the existing Japanese maple and in the northwest corner we transplanted another Japanese maple from another place in the yard and added some Cardamon ginger. Between the deck and the walk way is a row of Mondo (monkey) grass. The owner liked it so much she had us line the bed at the end of the pool also.Stain

Here the deck has been stained. The addition of the mondo grass softens the transition between the hardscapes.

Now, feeling more like a resort than backyard, the clients can enjoy their personalized garden.Hammock


Overlooking the rest of the backyard, pool, and a fun art piece we were asked to frame this small section of the garden will provide years of enjoyment.The View

The View from the deck!

In collaboration with Shawn Michael.

Happy Gardening!