We have a backyard that collects water from surrounding yards and slopes very gently down toward our slab foundation. The grass is constantly wet and we realize the need for French drains to help alleviate this issue. There is also a step down from our house into the backyard - something that always annoys me. My husband and I can not decide whether to install a patio of concrete pavers or a composite wood deck directly off the sliding door to the yard. Any ideas?
Dena, before you make any decisions about what type of patio or deck to install, it is imperative that you first solve the drainage issue in your back yard. If rain water is directed towards your home's foundation, eventually you will have more serious problems than just wet grass. Although a French drain system can be a sure-fire way to move water away from your home's foundation, you might be able to achieve the same results by properly sloping the finished grade away from the house. In a perfect world, the soil around your home's foundation should slope away from the structure, dropping a few inches within the first 6-10 feet. If this type of grading is not possible on your property, then install the French drain system.
Once your drainage issues have been solved, then you can decide whether to install a concrete patio or a composite wood deck. Of course a deck might be the better choice if you want to avoid stepping down from your home into the backyard. The finished height of a deck can easily be established to meet the threshold of an existing door, while a concrete patio may have to be installed closer to the existing grade of the ground. Both a composite wood deck and a concrete patio require minimal maintenance, and both options could give you the outside space you are looking for. Keep in mind that some concrete patios can be unbearably hot during the summer months, which might be another reason to explore your composite decking options.
If you want to compare the cost of each option, then you will need to make some specific choices about the size and design of your deck/patio. Perhaps you should meet with a local contractor who can inspect your backyard, solve the drainage issue, and then offer suggestions on which type of deck/patio works best with the existing conditions.