Trees have a special place in the home landscape, supplying privacy, shade, and wind protection while adding color, texture, and natural beauty. Displacing mature trees to make room for an outdoor living area may solve one problem but create another. Fortunately, the flexibility of wood decks to adapt to a variety of sites provides the option of including trees in their design. Unlike many patios, decks can closely surround a tree without interfering with the root system or cutting off its supply of air and water. The opening around the trunk, however, should be large enough to allow for continued growth, especially if the tree is young or a rapid grower.
Benches and tree surrounds seem meant for each other, whether separate benches sit close to the base or a single seat wraps itself all the way around. The surround can also take the form of a low wall elevated above the deck floor, wide enough for comfortable sitting and often tall enough to double as a railing filled with shade-loving flowers and small-scale shrubs -- as long as they and the tree require the same soil and water conditions.