Deck Makeover

© 2024 CTC Productions Pty Limited. All rights reserved. The material presented on this website, may not be reproduced or distributed, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of CTC Productions.

Decks are a classic part of the Australian home whereby you can enjoy the outdoors but still have the convenience of being close to the house. Often, however their poor design does not encourage one to use them to their potential. The Burke’s Backyard team recently transformed a dull and unappealing deck into a vibrant and peaceful escape by making a few simple changes that any handyperson could undertake in a weekend.

The original balustrade was of painted lattice which was both outdated and high maintenance and created the feeling of being “fenced in”. By removing the lattice and replacing it with stainless steel balustrade wire the deck instantly looked bigger and provided a clear view from the house into the lush back garden.

The decking was in need of repainting and instead of the original terracotta colour we chose a grey which complemented both the colour of the balustrade and the grey floor coverings in the adjoining rooms. This new colour also made the deck feel a part of the house.

The old white powder-coated aluminium furniture was given a classy look with a high gloss black enamel paint.

Growing in pots on the deck were a few ratty-looking culinary herbs and camellias, none of which were thriving. The camellias were replaced with two advanced lilly pillies which would grow well in the semishaded parts of the deck and also be good long-term potted plants. This lilly pilly produces pink flushes of new growth and has decorative purple berries. On a sunny north-facing wall we installed a kitchen herb garden using the Smart-valve automatic watering technology.



Removing the lattice was easy by using a small hacksaw to cut through the nails which held the panels to the uprights.

Stainless steel balustrade wire (3mm) is available from nautical suppliers and costs around $2 per metre. The other fittings (turnbuckles, saddles and screws) should also be available and you can hire a special crimping tool.

Check with your local Council on the regulation spacing for balustrade wiring (generally 110-125mm apart for safety reasons). For decks more than four metres above the ground the balastrade wire must be run in a vertical postion (Building Code of Australia).

We ran seven strands of wire, 125mm apart through the centre of the timber uprights. Use a spirit level to ensure that holes are drilled parallel so that wire is horizontal. On completion the turnbuckles are used to tension the wire. Cost of wire and fittings was $180.

Decking paint

The old deck was sanded and given two coats of Cabot’s Timberguard decking paint. We created our own shade of grey using black and blue tint. Cost of 4 litres is $40.


The Smart-valve kitchen herb garden had three rows, each with 4x250mm (10″) smart-valve pots that were fixed to the wall using steel pot rings. A complete pump and fertiliser injector was set up nearby in the garden. This system will ensure that each pot is watered perfectly on demand with a small amount of nutrient solution. The herbs and chillies will thrive and grow much larger than any conventional pot system relying on manual watering. Such a system has a capacity to water up to 2000 similar pots so the owners can expand the system on a lower deck. We used the same system to water the lilly pillies on the deck and in our Indoor Makeover fact sheet.

Total cost of system:

12 x smart-valve hanging pots plus brackets @ $44.50ea  – $534

2 x 600mm twin-wall pots (Lilly pillies) @ $150ea  – $300

Pressure switch pump feeder system  – $475

2 part nutrient pack (2×5 litres)  – $35

TOTAL  – $1344

The smart-valve pots were planted with parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, basil, dill, coriander, mint and Burke’s Backyard Thai Chillies. Additional Osmocote (500g is $5.95) was incorporated into the potting mix and the Saturaid soil wetting agent (750g is $12.90) was applied to the surface of the soil to ensure even wetting of the potting mix. In two unused corners of the deck we planted Lilly pillies (Acmena smithii) in 600mm diameter smart valve pots.

Aluminium furniture

The old furniture was in sound condition and was prepared for painting by sanding and a wash down with sugar soap solution. Two coats of White Knight Rust Guard Expoxy Enamel Paint (350g aerosol $12) was applied allowing 48 hours between coats. The aerosol application resulted in a professional finish without brush marks and took 6 cans ie. $72 for a classy new look.


Smart Valve hydroponic pots and systems may be purchased by mail order or direct from: GardenSmart (Cap Plus) Shop 28, 810 Springvale Road, Keysborough, VIC, 3173 Phone: (03) 9701 8811. Fax: (03) 9701 8822. Email:[email protected].


Hydroshop Corporation Pty Ltd, displays at Unit 2/585 Maitland Road, Mayfield West, 2304. For more information contact Danny on (02) 4960 0707. Website: or email: [email protected]
Swane’s Nursery, 490 Galston Road, Dural, 2158. Phone: (02) 9651 1322, Fax: (02) 9651 2146.
Tim’s Nursery, Irrigation section, Mt. Annan Road, Mt. Annan, NSW, 2567. Phone: (02) 4647 1122.


Katherine Hydroponics, 17 Rundle Street, Katherine, 0850. Contact Ross Grigg on (08) 8972 2600.


East Coast Hydroponics, Shop 11, 105 Old Cleveland Road, Capalaba, 4157. Phone: (07) 3245 7777.
A Happy Medium Hydroponics, Unit 2/10 Central Court, Browns Plains, 4118. Phone: (07) 3809 3322 or fax: (07) 3809 3377.
Hydroponics Today, PO Box 785, Stanthorpe, 4380. Phone/fax: (07) 4683 3133.


GardenSmart (CapPlus) – see details above
Hygrow Distributors, Unit 16, 60-66 Richmond Road, Keswick, SA, 5036. Phone: (08) 8293 8433.


Garden World, 322 Bass Highway, Sulphur Creek, 7316. Phone: (03) 6435 4411 or fax: (03) 6435 4153.


GardenSmart (CapPlus) – see details above
Elmac Hydroponics, Princes Highway, Allansford, 3277. Phone: (03) 5565 1601 or fax: (03) 5565 1606.


Hydroponic World, Unit 3/459 Scarborough Road, Osborne Park, 6017. Phone: (08) 9443 7993 or fax: (08) 9443 7994.
Growth Technology, 1/5 Stockdale Road, O’Connor, 6163. Phone/fax: (08) 9331 3186.
Great Southern Hydroponics, Shop 1, Old Mill Centre, 21 Hennessey Road, Bunbury, 6230. Phone: (08) 9721 8322 or 1800 256 888.

The deck makeover was designed and built by Don Burke and Brad Baxter of Award Pools and Landscapes, phone: (02) 9629 3639.