So you have got your plans, your permit, and all the momentum needed to build a new deck addition to your house. However, now that you have finished the planning, there is some necessary preparation that you must do before you start putting together the structure. We are talking about preparing the ground that will be directly below your deck. While this step may seem tedious, taking the time here will ensure that the deck stays safe and beautiful for years to come.
First up, it’s time for everyone’s favorite childhood chore: pulling weeds! Outline the general area where you plan to build your deck, then remove all vegetation and anything else that is not part of your build plan. This includes weeds, grass, bushes, trees, rocks, and even other structures if they exist. A more complex deck build might build around existing trees or boulders, but if that is not in your plans, remove it from the area and start your project off with a clean slate.
Marking the Utilities
The next step in preparing the ground under your deck is to reach out to your utility companies and have them perform a check of the area below and around the planned structure. This is important to ensure that any foundation work will not damage said utilities, which can be dangerous and costly. Most of these companies will come to your house and mark their pipes, wires, or sewage lines for very cheap, if not for free.
Drawing the Outline
Now that the grounds are clean and you know exactly where your utilities are, you can mark off the deck’s exact dimensions. Start where the deck attaches to your house by marking the height and width. Then, using strings that are pulled tightly across batter boards, you can make the fine adjustments that will give you the exact layout of your deck.
Making the Slope
You will also want to provide a gentle and consistent slope to ensure that water and other runoff do not pool under your structure or at the base of the house. A pitch of about two inches for every foot should be all you need to secure proper drainage.
Start your deck off on the right foot! Before laying the proper bedding, you want to dig and place all of your footings. Waiting till after you lay down the different bedding materials will make digging the holes for your foundation much more difficult. You don’t want to have to go through the gravel and other materials you just finished laying down.
You are almost done! With your footings dry, you can finish the ground under your deck with the proper bedding. The first material is some coarse sand, which is optional but will assist in drainage under the deck. The next step is to lay down the landscaping fabric. Landscaping fabric is woven so that water can soak through and prevent pooling, but it still provides a solid defense against vegetation that will grow underneath your deck and be difficult to manage. Finally, cover the fabric with gravel, and you are all set.
With the bedding finished, you have now completed the ground preparation and are ready to build the deck. The most exciting part is still ahead, but you can rest easy knowing that this preparation has set the deck up for its best chance of success.