Following the Site, Up or Down
When your deck ideas include steep up and down slopes, know that they are a little more difficult to tame than gentler ones, and multiple levels are one of the best solutions. Design- and construction-wise, gradually stepping levels up or down an incline is practical, visually exciting, and more in keeping with the natural setting. Since most houses are built at the top of a slope rather than at its base, most decks tend to start on high and proceed downward, sometimes as a straightforward split-level, often as a cascade of several platforms. Of course, many homes lend themselves to a single high-level deck, perhaps cantilevered over a hillside. High decks can present problems, though, especially if they're large. They can overshadow rooms below, and when seen from the bottom of the slope, they may dominate the house itself.
Steep terrain usually dictates a hefty understructure designed to withstand a variety of soil conditions as well as to support the deck. Hiding those underpinnings from view with latticework, siding, or even shrubs can give the deck and your home a more finished appearance.