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Help planning decking - edited so photos show!

Photos and a rough sketch (not to scale!) attached so hopefully you can get a feel for the whole area I've got to work on this autumn. We have a new summerhouse, facing the pond, and a wooden above-ground pool being built behind it (where the big concrete slab is). I know it seems odd not to have the summerhouse overlooking the swimming pool, but I'm more interested in being able to see my wildlife pond if I'm sitting in the summerhouse!  

The original idea was to have decking right around the whole area but now I'm not sure how that will look. I definitely want a decking 'boardwalk' from the doors of the summerhouse to the pool, and decking around the pool, but I'm not sure how you finish that off when it runs right up to a fence, or how you stop grass growing up from around the edges? Do I have to remove all the turf from underneath it?

I would like to be able to cover up that ugly fence somehow, so I guess I do need to leave a bed at the back of the decking, at least wide enough to plant some evergreen clematis and ivy. Has anyone got any photos of something similar so I can see how that would look? Or could they just go through planting holes?  

Also, the square area to the left of the summerhouse, where the little table and chair are in the photos, was going to be decking for sunbathing but I'm rubbish at visualising this and worried how it will look having a relatively formal area running right up to a very informal native hedge? I planned for the decking to extend over the pond a little, where there are two paving slabs now, to butt up against the bridge my husband made years ago.

To give you some sense of scale, the summerhouse is about 10ft square, obviously with a corner cut off, the swimming pool is about 13ft across and the area to the right of the summerhouse is about 8ft square. 

Oh, and I would like this whole corner of the garden to have a kind of Mediterranean feel to it, so I'm going to plant one or two pencil cypress by the summerhouse and pool (the circles with T in) and there will be a rosemary hedge running between it and the rest of the garden. If I do end up with decking running right round the whole summerhouse and pool, can I cut a circle in it to plant the cypress through? 

Any advice would be gratefully received - I don't trust my own judgement on this! 


  • @Fairygirl can you see the photos on this post? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,982
    Hmmm. A bit too much to take in to be honest.  :)
    The overriding factor is sun. Decking becomes virtually unusable in shade, so you need to look at how much sun each area gets, and what it's use is going to be. Anywhere that you need to cross regularly - all year round - needs to have a light open aspect. If it doesn't, decking is pretty lethal without the chicken wire, as I said previously. 
    If you want it round the pool, you'll have to accept that the fence would be bare, because there's no room to have deck and planting that I can see. The only possible space is the wee corner between the s'house and the pool, where you could probably get a climber in, but you'd need to spend the time training it along the fence. My advice would be a clematis - a Group 2 probably, as once trained in and mature, they need little attention apart from feeding/watering etc. Plenty of choice for aspect too, and you could probably get a spring bulbs and a couple of perennials in too if you  wanted. You could always have a big pot with summer planting in other positions if there's room. 

    Personally, I'd link the areas with gravel paths, rather than decking, if you want Mediterranean planting. Again- they'll need sunny sites. Where one area meets another, planting is the easiest method to make the 'change'. A specimen plant of some kind.
    If the area where your table is, has a good aspect, there's no reason not to have your deck there, but airy planting forming a light barrier with the rest of the area, might be a good option, and works with the Med theme.  The usual suspects like V. bonariensis and Salvias etc. You can always underplant with  bulbs for spring, and have annuals for summer in pots. That adds to the theme. 
     I'd forget putting two cypresses in those positions. I think they'll just look odd positioned like that. If you want two, it would be better to use them to frame a view, so in that section you have as a rosemary hedge. Better still would be three. One each end and one in the middle. It would help hide the pool, when viewed from the other side, but would be nice viewed from the s. house. You could interplant with the Med. themed planting. 
    What is to the other side of that rosemary hedge in the drawing? I can't see that that area is. Is the house to that side? Or a seating area etc? 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Oh @Fairygirl thank you so much for taking the time to think about this. You're an absolute superstar :smile: I'm going to have a chat with the hubster about having gravel around the pool and between pool and summerhouse instead of decking. You're quite right about the slippery aspect and also gravel would look much nicer with the Mediterranean theme. The main reason I went for decking is that we were let down by a landscaper who we paid to level this whole area before we started doing anything on it, and he just didn't do it. I thought we could have decking with steps in as necessary to change the levels. I guess it's not impossible to achieve the same thing with gravel paths, if you make a kind of base for the gravel to go in.

    Also I've totally taken on board your comments about the placing of the cypresses. The other side of the rosemary hedge is just lawn with an apple tree in the middle, but beyond that you can see into our veg patch and rather ugly aluminium greenhouse. Further still and you can see my husband's workshop and our neighbour's house. It's not a particularly attractive view, I'm afraid. But your comment about framing a view has given me another idea about placing them where they will do just that, so thank you! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,982
    Just my thoughts @Thankthecat. :)
    I have a fair bit of experience with decking in different gardens I've had, so I understand the nature of it. I also really like it, unlike many people on the forum. It's very useful for awkward, sloping sites. We had a raised deck in a previous garden, as we built an extension, and the garden sloped in both directions. It was largely south facing, so I could use it for a fair old part of the year - despite our wet climate here. I'd say the most important thing is to get good quality stuff. My then husband was a surveyor, so he had plenty of contacts, and we then built it almost entirely ourselves. Our joiner neighbour helped by cutting out the posts for the balustrading, but that was all. 
    If you need to have some steps for height changes, you can do that quite simply using sleepers, or stone to make the risers, or even timber joists which can then be finished with the decking to tie it in. That isn't difficult to do either. It depends how big a change in height you have. Budget is also a factor. You could have some posh cobbles or some worn brick for the paths instead of gravel as those will fit your Med theme, but whatever you choose, make sure it will work with how you use the spaces. Trip hazards are the last thing you want if you have a pool  ;)
    Keep the hard landscaping material to no more than three different types too. That avoids a load of materials fighting with each other, and helps unify the space, in the same way as planting will. 
    If you can place some things in the different spots too, that helps get an idea of eventual heights and views. Anything will do - canes, bins etc. Position them, and then take a look from the various locations you would sit in etc, and take a few photos. It's worth taking time.  :)
    I'll see if I can find a couple of pix of our old deck, but it was mostly pre digital camera, so I don't have many.  
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • No time for an adequate response as I'm battling a work deadline. Just to say a huge thank you once again and everything you've said has been noted. I do love the idea of using sleepers for the steps! 

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,982
    No worries. Take your time.
    Your work deadline is more important, even if less enjoyable  ;)

    Have a look through books/magazines/internet etc to get a few ideas of styles/looks that you like, as well as looking at the Garden Gallery on the forum where you can see pix of other people's gardens.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,613
    Be careful about choosing gravel if you're going to be walking around  and to/from the pool with bare feet.  You could maybe set some slabs into it, like stepping stones.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Good point @JennyJ - we are thinking we will probably keep the 'boardwalk' up from the summerhouse to the pool, as that will be in sun all day long, and then gravel around the other sides of the pool. It's an above ground pool so you can only get in via the main steps, unless you're extremely athletic, lol, which I most certainly am NOT!! 
  • Fairygirl said: well as looking at the Garden Gallery on the forum where you can see pix of other people's gardens.  :)
    Well I didn't even know there was one, that's fab, thank you! That's what I'll be doing this evening then! 
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