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Building your own decking
The design stage

A patch of decking in your garden can not only add to the overall visual effect by providing an outdoor room area but it also offers usefulness and practicality. In summer your decking offers you somewhere to sit and enjoy the clement weather while in winter a covered decking area gives you protections from the elements while still letting you enjoy the fresh air when you want to. Well constructed and well maintained decking can last a number of years without any real problem so it is important that you get it right from the start to ensure a stress free experience.

The Placement.

The first stage of creating decking in your garden should be the creating of a carefully formed design. Choosing the right location is of paramount importance although it is likely you will already have a good idea of where exactly you want it to go. The most common place is immediately out of the back or kitchen door but you can choose anywhere that suits your needs and what you want. The end of the garden is a popular choice because it affords more sunshine with no shadows from your home. If you intend to include a hot tub then you will need running water and a mains power supply.

Placement Tip: You may require a permit before work can start on your decking.

The Size.

The size of decking you create will be dependent on its primary use. If you intend for your decking to be used as a solitary retreat for you and your partner to get away from the children then the decking doesn’t necessarily need to be as big as it would for people who regularly entertain. The decking is a popular place to eat and if you are going to include a range or a barbecue as well as a table and chairs then you should make sure you keep room for these items.

Size Tip: Decking lumber comes in lengths of 8, 10, 12 and 16 feet. Making your decking this length will save on wastage.

The Layout.

One you know the approximate size of your deck as well as where you will be placing it, you should work out the layout you intend to use. Decking can be made to accommodate any shape although straight edges are easier to assemble and will result in less wastage with regards to the lumber. That said, a circular patch of decking does look very effective. Consider the amount of people you expect to be on the decking at any given time and the furniture and items you will house on there. This can include the grill, the dining table, dining chairs, decking chairs, plants, a small water feature and heaters or it could simply be one or two chairs and a pot of plants.

Layout Tip: Adding an extra section on the edge of the decking gives a dedicated dining area and allows more room on the main decking.

The Entrance And Exit.

If you are including a banister or barrier around the decking you will obviously need to leave an area that allows you access to and from the decking. This should be in a convenient place. Don’t place the entrance round the back of your decking in a flowerbed. In some cases you may require more than one entry and exit point. For example if you place the decking in the center of the garden then you will need one gap at the house end of the decking and on at the other end. With larger decking you may want to include more entrances.

Entrance And Exit Tip: Check your building regulations regarding step size and whether a rail is required on your steps.

Outdoor Cooking.

The grill is the integral part of many people’s decks and outdoor lives. There’s nothing better in the fine weather than enjoying the company of friends and the taste of home cooked food prepared and enjoyed outdoors. Your grill will be important when it comes to the design of your deck. Ensure the grill is relatively close to the house but leave a few feet from the actual building. The same is true of a preparation area, which many more decks now include.

Outdoor Cooking Tip: A gas line to your grill will prevent the arduous journeys to have your propane tank filled and refilled.


The sun doesn’t always shine on the brave. It might be the middle of the summer when you first have your deck built but if you intend to use the deck either when the wind or the rain picks up you will need to include some sort of protection against the elements on part of your deck. These can range from the simple but effective arbor to the expensive but luxurious and functional electric canopy. By only putting a roof over some of the decking you will still be able to enjoy the sun but shelter when necessary.

Protection Tip: ‘Walls’ that offer protection from mild weather and neighbors, can be made using trellis and climbing plants.


The decking boundary is an area that many people overlook until the decking is actually finished. However, the way the deck blends into the garden will determine exactly how effective the overall look and feel of the deck will be. You may want to use a good-looking railing, allowing you to grow climbers or draping plants. However you choose to construct and erect the boundary to your decking it is important that you remember safety is paramount. In most areas it is law that you must have a railing up if your deck reaches a certain height but simply putting a railing up may not be enough. Ensure it is securely fastened at intervals around the decking to make sure it won’t simply fall over if any pressure is placed on it.

Boundary Tip: Decks over 18” from the ground require a railing. You should ensure that this railing is at least 3 feet high.

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