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Backyard Hot Tub Ideas

See how to use concrete seat walls and a wood deck to augment a backyard hot tub.

A video transcript featuring Joseph Huettl, Huettl Landscape Architecture

One of the unique features of this property was to have this elliptical spa deck, and the placement overlooks the lawn, overlooks the hills. We designed it in the appropriate size that would really work for just sitting around the spa. What we used was a true ellipse, and the concrete structures provide the retaining, which was necessary for the hillside as well as the seat wall for the deck. And then the elliptical ring we cast onsite, and then once that was done and the spa was placed, we came in and did the substructure and the ipe hardwood deck.

Forming the ellipse
To construct an ellipse in the field, we used the technique that sometimes you see in old math books, where you have two points with a string. We had two stakes driven in the ground, and then created a string with a marking paint and created one ellipse, and then we offset that and made it slightly smaller and did another ellipse inside. If you notice on the concrete perimeter walls, they vary in width so you get the more dynamic feature rather than just parallel walls, which would be more static, and then it creates difficulty with the ipe wood because you infill this concrete perimeter with wood and the wood has to be cut to fit each piece.

Ipe vs. redwood
For the decking we use ipe wood, a hardwood, or we also use a hard redwood. Both are resistant to rot and stains. The ipe is much harder, and the benefit is that if you have dogs or high heels or something, it really can't be scratched much. It's a very durable wood. The downside of ipe is that it's very hard to get a stain to soak in. A lot of the stain products out there, the sealers, they're only good for about a year before they start wearing off. With redwood, you get better penetration. The stains can last longer, but the wood is softer. It will tend to show more wear. So they have their advantages and disadvantages.

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