ISSUE 32  |  South of the Border

5 Favorites: Decks Built Around Trees

August 08, 2012 5:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

Share This:

You want to build a house. But you have a tree—perhaps a very big tree— growing in the middle of the proposed building site. Remember who got there first.

Often, the graceful solution will be to build a deck around the tree’s trunk. To avoid harming the tree’s root system, don’t sink footings too close to the trunk—consult an arborist to calculate a safe distance based on the type of tree and its size. When framing the deck, build a box around the trunk to protect it from the weight of the joists. And leave enough open space around the tree trunk to accommodate future growth. Here are five decks that work:


Above: A four-hours’ drive south of Buenos Aires is Mar Azul, a tiny ocean side enclave forested with pine, acacias, and black poplars; BAK Architects designed a house to accommodate the existing trees.


Above: Another property in Mar Azul, where a house designed by architects Martín Fernández de Lema and Nicolás F. Moreno Deutsch has a deck of treated pine boards. Photograph by Gustavo Sosa Pinilla via Archdaily.


Above: Two 150-year-old oak trees flank a house in Palo Alto, CA designed by architects Sagan/Piechota; a deck surrounds the trunk of one (R).


Above: An ipe deck in northern California with a perimeter of sandblasted glass has an irregular, trunk-shaped hole to accommodate an oak tree; image via Ohashi Design.


Above: A deck in East London with three generous holes to support the future growth of European olive trees. Photograph by Templeman Harrison, via Flickr.

(N.B.: For more inspiration, see 362 images of Decks in our Gallery of rooms and spaces.)