When the weather heats up, it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors. For many, that doesn’t mean heading off in search of the nearest park or pool, it means spending time right at home. A backyard deck or patio offers tons of opportunities for outdoor socializing, eating and just hanging out enjoying a nice Iowa sunset. These Ankeny residents have done their decks up right, with fun features and great aesthetics. They say their decks are some of the best parts of their homes.
The big picture
The Caseys have been in their home for nearly 17 years, and their backyard has been a work in progress from the time they moved in. The couple has a seriously impressive backyard space, and they wanted to make the most of it. They hired a landscaper to help them design beautiful gardens among their structures — including a wooden deck, a brick patio, a bridge across the creek, a pool and a pool house.
“This used to be corn fields, so we hired Lee (Breitkreutz) to help us do all this, and all along the way he kept designing different gardents to go with every thing we built,” Maria Casey says. “It’s like a park. We got all the trees and brought those in because there wasn’t anything. We started from scratch, and it’s been fun all along and things are really blooming now.”
Maria says that though their kids are grown, they’re local, so they are always visiting. Everyone loves gathering outdoors enjoying the gardens, the deck and patio, and the pool.
“We do a lot of entertaining outdoors and love to have people over,” she says. “We have grandchildren, and everybody is always here. They’re nearby, and they bring the friends.”
Maria says that for someone thinking about taking on an outdoor project, it’s best to find a professional who can help if you’re unsure of the process yourself. Lee was great about taking care of permits and subcontractors and all the details for the projects.
“I guess we were very lucky to have found Lee because he is a design architect and basically what he did was create an environment that is beautiful to look at,” she says. “Because he was so knowledgable, every detail was taken care of and it was easy.”
A fresh start
Cory Vaudt and his wife decided it was time to replace their deck and upgrade their outdoor area, so they called Deck and Drive Solutions. The new project includes a new deck to go with the flagstone patio the couple had already completed themselves.
“We bought the house in 2006, and it was a wood deck, and I got so tired of staining it,” Vaudt says. “We went to the home show and there were a few decks with concrete, and we fell in love with it.”
The new deck features concrete 2×2 foot squares. They replaced the wood railing with an aluminum railing that is black, and there is a pergola above one part of it with a step-down area with seating. The couple can use that area to relax and still be able to see the kids playing in the backyard.
Vaudt says the finished results are great. The new deck complements the nice flagstone patio the couple put in themselves. They also put in some steps on the side of the house that look great and go through a big landscaped flowered area with copper landscape lights. Now the deck connects to all of that.
“On the other side of the house we did some more steps and some flowers, and now it looks like a finished project,” Vaudt says. “It’s really good, and we’re really happy with it.”
Vaudt says if someone is planning to take on a new deck project, be sure to spend the most time on the design and planning phase. Also be sure not to overlook things like lighting and other finishing touches, and be confident in who you hire to do the work. The Vaudts shopped around and talked to different contractors about their project, and they took the time to go out and pick out materials themselves. Aaron at Deck and Drive Solutions was able to provide them with a computerized rendering of what the project would look like when it was finished, which was very helpful.
“It takes a lot of time — don’t rush into it,” he says. “If you want to put in a stone deck and you have an existing wood deck, there’s a good chance you have to rip the whole thing out and start over. You want it done right, and you want to take your time. Don’t have something built and go through all that work and time and money and not be happy.”
When Amy Weiderin and her family purchased their home, her husband built them a 14×20 foot deck. As a realtor, Amy is constantly seeing new and exciting trends in outdoor spaces, and when covered decks started being the norm, she decided she had to have one.
“So it took me a little while to convince him to do it. And then when he did it, he went above and beyond what I wanted, which is great,” she says. “It’s awesome.”
The deck is cedar with a stamped concrete patio and bar area. The couple has added a fan, seating area, heater and bar. They also have a hot tub, which is a big draw for family and friends.
Weiderin says the biggest thing to consider when starting a project is making sure that you really think about what you want. Look at pictures and drive around to see examples.
Amy and her three girls are thrilled with the results. The whole family loves to be outside enjoying the space. She says now others have even been eyeing her husband’s handiwork.
“Our neighbors behind us did almost the same thing,” she says. “ When people drive by it, they stop all the time, and people take pictures of it. It’s just awesome.”