The days are getting longer, and winter’s quickly becoming a distant memory. Pretty soon, the weather’s going to be nice enough to spend your weekends basking in the sun. Seen as you’re going to be in the garden for a lot of this lovely time of the year, why not think about getting some decking? Although not exactly cheap or easy to install, decking at the back of the house makes a wonderful addition to anyone’s garden. If you’re going ahead with this, then believe me you won’t regret it! As always, certain things can go wrong with the process. Here’s a handy guide to setting up your decking...
To start with, you need to find a fixed design that will suit your home, and won’t fall in the first time it’s used! We come to a pretty important point here. Whatever you do, don’t simply wing your deck, or go off on your own design. I know with some interior design bloggers there’s an emphasis on “being yourself” and throwing away the rule book. With setting up a decking, this is something you simply can’t do! Luckily, there are countless decking designs which have been made in the past. There’s got to be at least one for every house type and size. There are also a lot of online resources where you can get decking plans for free. Click this link for an example. When you start with a solid plan in mind, you’ll be saving yourself a major pitfall straight away!
My next point is to plan your decking out for the way you live your life. I’m sure you don’t want to pay for all of that material and then start to regret the whole decision! You should be mapping out your decking as a way to enhance your day to day life. If you’re a total party animal, then you’ll probably want a lot of open space, with maybe some seating scattered around. If you’re a little more quiet, why not keep the seating and dining areas more intimate and enclosed? Do you love to bring everyone together with a barbeque in the summer? If so, go ahead and set up your dream outdoor kitchen. It’s your decking, so there’s no real limits to what you can do with it. Just bear in mind that your family are going to want to use it sometimes too!
Okay, I say no limits. Like with any big project, you have to consider your budget and the space available to you. You need to figure out a way of including everything you want out on your deck, and making sure there’s enough space for people to move freely around. To plan this out, I recommend going out to wherever you want the deck with a tape measure. Set out space for any of the features you’re going to want on your deck. Then, lay some markers down and see how much space you’d have to walk comfortably around. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of room. There’s no point buying a huge barbeque if it’s blocking your route into the garden! The best way to plan it out is by having distinct “rooms” or separated areas. Have a dining area, a cooking area, and just some general seating. Then, separate these different “rooms” with a “hallway” of empty space.
When you’re selecting materials, you’ll obviously want to choose ones which you think look great. The other important thing to consider is how willing you’ll be to maintain your deck. If you’re prepared to really splash out, you could use PVC and composites. These can be pretty convincing as wood, and while expensive they’re virtually maintenance-free. Cedar is the another popular choice for decking material, being much cheaper and looking gorgeous. Bear in mind though that wood surfaces will probably need to be pressure washed and resealed once every year. Most people prefer the natural look of treated wood for their decking. If you’re going to go with this, make sure you understand the maintenance you’ll need to keep it looking great. Railings are another important thing to think about. There are a lot of choices you have here. While there’ll be occasional maintenance involved, it’s mainly down to your personal preferences. Your basic option would be a similar material to the decking itself, but I personally adore glass and steel railings. Click here for a great selection of glass railings.
You should also make a point to consider the way the deck is going to affect your view of the lawn. I mean this both from the deck itself and from the home. If you choose a railing that’s too thick and bulky, then it’s obviously going to tarnish your view of your garden. Without a railing though, a deck simply doesn’t feel like a deck. The best solution to this problem is lowering the whole thing. Choose a design that has steps or descending sections, keeping the main bulk of it close to the ground. Alternatively, you could choose railings with particularly thin balusters, or glass panelling. If the view’s more pleasant one way than another, then position your areas so that you and your guests naturally face the more enjoyable vista. Garden decks should be a place for relaxing. This can be pretty hard if everyone feels closed in.
If you want a truly gorgeous deck, then I urge you to pay attention to the way it bridges your house and garden. Sometimes, if the deck is based too heavily around the house, it can look like an awkwardly-placed extension. You want to aim for something that looks like it’s always been there, and is just another natural part of the home. Make sure that your deck doesn’t cut off right at the lawn for the most natural look possible. There are a range of transitional materials you can use to create this. Bricks and stone paving usually looks pretty nice next to a deck. A patch of gravel with a few squat plants is another nice touch for bridging the decking and the yard.
Finally, make sure you consider where you’re going to be getting your shade. I love sunbathing as much as the next girl. However, after a while the heat will get to anyone. Seen as you’re going to be using the deck in the summer more than any other time, make sure you plan for some shade. A large umbrella is an affordable option. However, these really feel like an addition to the decking, rather than part of it. For a more attractive solution, you could use a pergola instead. A bare pergola will provide partial shade, depending on how closely the rafters are to each other. If you want more shade, you could plant a few climbing plants near the base of the pergola. American pillar roses and leather flowers look gorgeous hanging above your deck. Think carefully before using this for shade though. Climbers can be extremely hard to plant and care for if you’re an inexperienced gardener.
Take this advice, and you’ll be well on your way to a gorgeous and tranquil deck. I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice; don’t forget some finishing touches! If you have the space, a few interesting garden features can serve as the cherries on the cake. Look around for little statues, hanging planters and similar things. You may even want to get a small fountain if you really want to wow your guests!
I'd love to your know decking tips!
*This is a collaborative post.*