If you want some great looking and practical decking in your garden then you need to plan the work carefully. Proper preparation and not rushing into things is the key to getting quality results.
In this article I’m going to give you some advice on how to design and build decking that you can be proud of.
Rule 1: Know your garden
Some people start designing their deck by looking at decking designs from other people’s gardens, and then trying to shoe horn in a design that they liked the look of. However, this is a dangerous strategy since every garden is different. What works in one garden won’t work at all in another, both from an aesthetic and construction standpoint.
So, the first step is to walk around your garden and think about some of the key features and how they will affect the design and construction of the decking. These are the things you need to think about:
- Which area of the garden gets the most sun? And and what time of day?
- Is the ground completely level and solid? If it’s not level then multi level decking might be in order
- Is the area where you would like to put the decking already paved, or it grass?
- Are there trees in the way that will need to be incorporated into the design
- Will steps be needed?
- Are railings or bannisters required for safety reasons? Or could the be added for appearance
- Is the garden an uneven shape? Will a perfectly square deck fit in, or should it be curved or irregular?
- What is the style of the outer wall which may be attached to the decking?
Rule 2: Get some inspiration
Once you have looked at your garden and noted what kind of decking will work, then you can start to look to other designs for inspiration. Now that you have a set of criteria, you can critically appraise each design you see, and decide whether or not it will work in your garden.
My favourite source for inspiration on pretty much everything is now Pinterest. Here’s a link to garden decking inspiration on Pinterest
Be careful not to set your sights too high. If it’s your first attempt at decking then keep things simple. A well designed and constructed simple layout is better than a half finished overly ambitious design, or one which is unsafe to walk on!
There are some design features that can really lift the appearance of your decking and make it more interesting. For example:
- The type of decking boards – ridged, plain, hardwood, softwood? etc
- The direction of the boards – adding contrasting directions can create a more interesting visual layout.
- Railings a bannisters can be added to make a deck seem more private and enclosed
- Including a space for a hot-tub is a modern phenomenon and can add to the appeal for some
- Consider adding ‘stepping stones’ in the same wood as the decking which extend out into the garden. This is a good way to link the decking with the garden and reduce the stark contrast
Rule 3: Get your thoughts down on paper
Don’t start buying materials or building your deck until you have made some detailed sketches to decide on the layout and design. Go out into the garden with a tape measure and get accurate measurements for the side of the house and other important parts of the garden. For example, make a note of the distance from the house to the nearest trees.
The most important drawing to make is the plan view (the deck drawn from directly above). However, if you are going to experiment with decking at different levels, then addition drawings from the front and sides will be useful too.
There are a range of different computer applications which you can use to create the drawings. I use AutoCad, but SmartDraw is a free and more simple option.
Rule 4: Create a list of materials
Once you have planned your decking and made detailed drawings, you can create a list of the different materials that you will need. Make sure you list everything including small items like nails and screws. This will avoid multiple trips to the hardware or DIY store, and also might help you to get a discount since you will buy everything at once in one big order.
Watch out for Part 2 of this article, where I’ll provide some tips concerning the construction phase.
In the meantime, why not start planning?
Images courtesy of photostock and lobster20 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net