How to Use a Laser Level and Spirit Level
No longer reserved solely for construction engineers, laser levels
Decking is booming. Beautiful timber decks are the star attraction in plenty of gardens throughout the UK, and no wonder. When fitted with care, the result is stylish yet practical, durable, easy to maintain and packed with exciting possibilities.
It’s a sound investment, too. A recent UK survey found that house values rise by at least 2% where owners have installed high-quality decking. It seems, then, stone slabs and crazy paving have had our backyards to themselves for far too long!
In this article, we’ll explore several decking area ideas; different approaches to complementing your outdoor space with the natural beauty of wood. But first, let’s get some frequently asked practical questions out of the way.
A decking platform requires planning permission if:
That means any raised or multi-level decking is likely to need planning permission. If you’re in any doubt, don’t hesitate to check. In England, visit www.planningportal.co.uk. In Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, contact your local authority.
Need planning permission? You’re also probably obligated to attain Building Regulations approval from your local authority. This document should include an architect’s drawing, proving that your project is safe and fit for purpose. Remember, above all, that a deck is a load-bearing structure. Cutting corners on materials, design, or construction is putting your family and friends at risk.
If you’re laying new decking over part of your garden, it’s likely to be there for years to come. That’s why you need to think about what’s happening under your feet when you’re enjoying the outdoors.
It’s vital to clear all plant life from under a low deck and stand the deck securely on a stable, level surface. That means removing all grass or other vegetation from the area, then laying down gravel or weed-suppressing sheeting, so it doesn’t grow back.
You also need to think about an unpleasant subject for a moment: vermin. If your decking allows scraps of dropped food to fall through the cracks, or if the ground is full of nasty weeds, space underneath could become a magnet for unwanted rodents you’d prefer not to have at your home.
Do you need equipment to help with preparing the area? Then, you’re in precisely the right place. HSS Hires out a superb range of the latest gardening, landscaping and site clearing equipment, from mini diggers to skips, shredders and chippers.
OK, that’s the practical stuff out of the way. Now it’s time to explore those dazzling decking and paving ideas we promised.
Decking already creates a defined outdoor space. But what if you want to enhance that sense of separation or just protect your privacy from neighbours? You can do that relatively inexpensively with stylish partitions, balustrades or even just beaded curtains. Climbing plants or strategically positioned shrubs in containers are a lovely, natural way to complete the job.
A pergola provides shade from the elements (let’s face it, we’re in the UK) and, when left uncovered, frames the decking area. So, how about draping semi-translucent woven bamboo over the roof to create a beautifully textured partial shade? Arches and awnings are alternative ways to create that welcoming “it’s a room, but outdoors” feel.
If your garden has an awkward slope, or if you just wish to add an interesting design feature, you can create a deck on two or more levels. A raised al fresco dining or BBQ area is a delicious addition to any garden, creating an authentic Mediterranean aesthetic.
However, if you are creating a flight of steps up to your raised area, remember that it involves safety issues. Think about including non-slip steps and secure handrails, particularly if older or less nimble people may be using the space.
You can lay a deck with simple rows of parallel planks, but it’s not essential. Diagonals or zigzags can add interest and intrigue to the floor of your outdoor relaxing and entertaining area. You can also lay decking tiles rather than full panels, creating a sophisticated parquet effect with a chevron pattern.
Warm natural wood colours and stains are lovely, but there’s also plenty of room for bursts of bright hues on your decking area. You can achieve this by using vibrant shades on the timber itself or furnishing the deck with hand-painted tables, chairs, and textiles. Stick on a Hawaiian shirt when you’re out there to complete the effect!
The trick with a small decking space is to make it feel bigger. One cunning way to do that is to trick the eye, using decking panels up the wall alongside your deck. You can achieve a similar effect by using the same wood stain or paint colour on a nearby fence.
Other ways to maximise the space by drawing the eye upwards include positioning an old step ladder or a shelving unit on the decking and filling it with potted plants. Add hanging baskets with trailing plants for more vertical variety.
You’ll want to use your decking long into those warm summer evenings, so include plenty of gentle illumination. Position multi-coloured fairy lights or festoon lighting around your decking, or suspend lanterns from your potted trees and shrubs.
Alternatively, hide lights in your adjacent raised flower beds or under the garden furniture to create a sense of warmth and a mysterious background glow. Solar-powered garden lights offer an eco-friendly option, too.
Hard edges are sometimes a bit severe for a garden setting, so why not give your decking a softer feel with built-in curves? A circular or semi-circular area of raised decking will stand out beautifully and bring a touch of extra distinction to your garden.
Alternatively, you can soften the feel of your decking by letting some garden plants go slightly wild and grow over the perimeter, creating a lovely natural vibe.
Decking is a satisfying DIY project if you’re reasonably handy, although it involves some big, heavy tools. Therefore, it’s wise to have at least one extra pair of hands around when you’re ready to start work. Need some state-of-the-art power tools for when you’re piecing decking together? You’ll find a great selection at your local HSS branch.
Chances are you’ll make other improvements to your garden at the same time, so why not start the planning process by browsing through the wealth of tips and tricks in the HSS blog?
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