Is decking a good idea? What other options are there?

It’s coming round to the time of the year when you may be thinking about getting your garden ready for the summer. Maybe you have moved house recently and you are looking for ideas on what to do in the garden.

We thought we would start our series of blogs with the first thing you need to think about which is, what are your options for your garden and what are the pros and cons for these options?

Natural garden

So your first option is to focus on just using plants for your garden and grass to cover the main area. This can be ideal at the height of summer when the ground is dry, and you can sit out on the grass. Also large area’s of grass if seeded can be a cheap way to make the garden accessible. If you want a relatively quick job, you can even turf the lawn. Other advantages are that grass is ideal for children to play on in the summer months though you may need to reseed areas that wear.

So, what are the disadvantages of gras? Well, firstly grass is higher maintenance. Most likely you will be cutting the grass every week in summer not to mention removing weeds, trimming borders and watering the grass during dry spells.

Also as soon as we get rain this will make the grass muddy and potentially unusable until it dries out.

Artificial Grass

A less labour intensive option is to lay artificial grass in your garden. This has several advantages the main being less maintenance. The grass will not need cutting or watering however you may have to brush leaves from it during the winter to prevent the grass being marked or discoloured. It will also look perfect the whole year round assuming it is kept clear.

The main disadvantages of good quality artificial grass is that it can be quite expensive and it is generally not very environmentally friendly with the animal in the earth not being able to reach the surface.

Gravel/Stones

Another relatively low-cost ground covering is gravel or stones. This does require some initial effort to lay though. You should prepare the area by removing all weeds and debris before putting down some webbing to reduce weeds reappearing in your covering. That said there will need to be ongoing maintenance to remove those that do appear.

The main disadvantage of this kind of covering is that it tends not to be comfortable to walk on in the summer where you may want to walk around bare foot. Also gravel and stones have a tendency to not remain in one place and often end up in other areas of the garden of in the house.

Flagstones/Paving/Block Paving

This option will most likely be the most labour intensive. Initially the base will need to be levelled, all debris and weeds removed and a compacted layer of sharp sand laid. Once this has been done there is a need to mix up cement to put under the corners of the flagstones or paving (this step isn’t required for block paving). Finally there is a need to point the stones or brush in sand in the case of block paving. This last step will be something that you will need to repeat most years. Generally paving is not considered good for the environment unless you go for new options that allow rainwater to permeate through as most prevent this.

The advantage of this option is that this can be used the whole year around and can become an extension of the floor of the house by the use of bifold doors or similar.

Decking

Here at The Decking Tool we love decking. You can get a variety of board sizes and types depending on your requirements. You can buy composite decking which requires less maintenance than wood however this is generally not as environmentally friendly.

Focusing on wood decking there are both pros and cons to this. Before laying decking there is a  fair amount of preparation (though not as much as laying paving). There is also a need for this decking to be revarnished most years. Both of these subjects will be covered more in future blogs. Generally wood decking is cheaper than artificial grass or paving. There may not be such a difference in price when using composite decking.

Again with decking you can make this an extension of house and this can be used the whole year around. The benefit of decking over paving is that (assuming you have used wood) this is better for the environment. It allows wildlife to reach the surface of the garden and also allow rain to soak into the earth.

In up coming blogs we will show you how to build the perfect deck every time.