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Backyard renovation with decks and boardwalk

Making a Splash
Making a Splash

An extended alfresco with two adjoining decks and a boardwalk with lush greenery planted on either side creates an inviting outdoor space in this impressive backyard renovation.





The project


Like a lot of people, we had a bland backyard. After some tinkering – painting the inside of the treated Pine fence, and building a small deck and garden beds – my wife pushed me to jump into this renovation.


We started with the earthworks to get the levels for the boardwalk and decks – approximately $800 for one day of a tradesperson with a mini-excavator and bobcat. And, yes, that's red clay you can see. It was dry most of the time we were working (April-Aug in Brisbane), but added 2cm to the boots when wet.


Side of houseSide of house


Along back of house between back fenceAlong back of house between back fence

The concrete slab for the garden shed was outsourced – approximately $1,100. Recruited my (adult) children to spread mulch, erect the garden shed, and help build the boardwalk. I don't have exact figures but $350 for 5m3 Cypress mulch, $700 for the boardwalk timber (150 x 800mm x 25mm plank tops) and $1,100 for semi-advanced plants.


Garden in corner between 2 decks: palms, waterhouseas, red cordylines, elephant ears, giant bird of paradise, frangapaniGarden in corner between 2 decks: palms, waterhouseas, red cordylines, elephant ears, giant bird of paradise, frangapani


Palms, agave, variegated cordylinesPalms, agave, variegated cordylines


We built a 4.5m x 2.1m back deck for around $700. 


I used 100 x 75 H4 Pine fence posts on their sides for bearers then innovated by using 100 x 50 fence rails for the joists to keep the cost down. I ended up using three lengths for each section to reduce bounce, rather than the two that I had planned on. I also needed to keep the overall height in mind. I lay the bearers onto the ground, made each section no more than 1800mm, and overlapped the joists on a common bearer so they were all interconnected and there would be less chance of movement.


I fixed the joists to the bearers with angle brackets. Again, I could have gone for something stronger but I figured it would only have one or two people at a time on each section so it didn't need to be built like a dance floor. The planking on top was 200 x 25mm Pine cut to 800mm to get an integral number of them from a 4.8m length. The planking was fixed with 3 x 3 rows of decking screws to reduce cupping.






About a month later, we started on the side deck. I was finding the construction techniques a bit overwhelming as there's a 400mm fall between the house and the fence, so there was a bit of procrastination but we got there. It was around $1,500 for the timber, hardware, and nail gun hire.


Starting out on the side deckStarting out on the side deck


We've more than doubled the alfresco area, so it's gone from being a holding space for the barbecue and table to a relaxing space.






Before and after






More inspiration for outdoor areas


A garden can be a relaxing oasis and a wonderful place to enjoy time with friends and family. Create a more inviting outdoor area with ideas from our Top 10 most popular garden makeovers and Top 10 most popular deck projects.


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