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Sustainable Backyard Living: Building a Green Deck

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

A deck can enhance enjoyment of your backyard while providing additional living space. The demand for sustainable materials and popularity of outdoor living areas such as decks and spas has led home improvement suppliers to create green deck materials. This means that deck materials are made from recycled/replaceable resources and can be recycled.

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A Closer Look at Composite Green Deck Materials
The University of Minnesota Sustainable Urban Landscape Series Web site provides pros and cons of building a green deck with sustainable vinyl or composite materials:

Pros of Composite Green Deck Materials:

  • Composite deck materials are made with approximately 30 to 50 percent recycled plastic combined with wood fibers. These materials are relatively maintenance free and can be pressure washed without damaging color or texture. They don't require sealing, staining, or painting.
  • Unlike wood, vinyl and composite deck materials aren't vulnerable to rotting, insects, or water damage, and they're splinter-free.
  • Longer lasting sustainable decking doesn't require replacement as often, which removes pressure from limited natural resources. The components of green deck materials and sawdust produced during the installation process can often be recycled
  • Using green deck materials minimizes environmental impact. As demand for quality building materials grows while forests decrease, considering sustainable alternatives to wood products is important.
  • Green decking materials are fire retardant.

Cons of Composite Green Deck Materials:

  • Composite deck materials often cost more than wood.
  • Vinyl cannot be used for all parts of a deck. Composite materials are durable and attractive, but they do not provide the look or texture of wood.

Sustainable Wood Decking is Available
If you prefer to build a wooden deck, you can still go green. Wood decks offer traditional appeal and can blend well with existing home features. You can buy lumber sourced from sustainable forests. To ensure sustainable sourcing for your deck materials, look for lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Founded in 1993, the Council promotes and verifies sustainable forestry practices throughout the world. Before deciding on materials for your deck, it's a good idea to check out a variety of green materials. You'll find options that fit your backyard lifestyle while preserving the environment.


About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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