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Decking opinions

Hi, I am designing our blank canvas garden with little experience but lots of enthusiasm! I will be doing the work myself and saving budget for plants (including trees).

Please can what are peoples opinions on decking? We have some patio (enough for a seating area) but it loses the sun after 2/3pm. I would like another seating area but budget is limited. I assume that decking is cheaper but is the maintenance a pain and does it last long?

Any thoughts appreciated
Thank you



  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    Good quality thick decking from a local timber merchant will last for years. Just needs to be oiled every year and cleaned but to last it needs to be properly laid on timber suppirts so it's not cheap.
    If you are tight on cash the easiest is to clear the area put down some geo textile, not cheap landscape fabric, put a wood or brick border around the area and cover with decorative slate or gravel.
    Later on you can always install decking in its place.
  • I was depressed by buying a deck that was supposed to last 20 years but in fact lasted 7. Not sure what I will replace it with, but I have discovered composite decking boards which don't rot. So I might go for that instead. But if all you want is a small seating area then paving slabs might be best, as you presumably want it mostly to put chairs or benches on? On eBay you can often get recycled paviors which are not too high in price. I have a feeling slate and gravel might move around under your chair legs...
  • Decking can get very slippy if it doesn’t get enough sun and does need cleaning regularly to help prevent algae etc. Composite decking is made from plastic so not good for the environment and isn’t a cheap option.

    As @k67 says gravel/slate on membrane makes a very cost effective surface. We have done that for a small seating area in our garden. To make it comfortable for sitting with tables and chairs, use a smaller size gravel and don’t lay too deeply.

    I would suggest looking at sites like Freecycle and Nextdoor as you often see paving slabs going free. 
     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,932
    edited February 2021
    Decking creates a lovely warm dry space for rodents to live and for weeds to grow. It’s far more work to care for than a slabbed patio. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • delskidelski Posts: 274
    My opinion on decking is too expensive for your limited budget, so I'd agree with others who have suggested laying down a membrane and creating a gravel seating area. Personally I wouldn't like to be crunching around on gravel.
  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,367
    I am going to give decking at kicking as well its absolutely rubbish and a death wish if it doesn't get sun nearly all day.  I've just ripped my mum decking up ( got sun in morning only ) you need ice skates to get across it and then the rot set in which makes it even more dangerous you're going through it instead . I've been replacing her decking with stone flags this week. decking expensive as well for how long it lasts

    I've seen the plastic decking it looks alright to me and haven't noticed it being slippery , I think it maybe made with recycled plastic which is better than going landfill but I am not entirely sure it is recycled though and again its expensive nearly twice the price of wood decking.

    How big the area you want to cover ? If your budget can stretch and you can do it yourself I'd go with Indian stone or other naturel materials . its not going to rot away and you'll never need to replace it but for renewing pointing and cleaning it. 
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited February 2021
    My personal take is that decking can have a place when you are presented with an awkward spot where other solutions won't work very well, like on a slope. I have decking that works well for me because it covers, what would otherwise be a kind of damp, sunken patio space at the bottom of a north-facing slope. By raising the area up about 4 ft, it gives me a flat surace that gets more sun.

    A few years ago, when my inherited decking dissolved (pictured), I did think about the options of removing the decking, building a retaining wall at the bottom of the slope and creating a paved, sunken patio. But it would be darker down there and a huge amount of work to dig out the earth, build a retaining wall and carry the waste through the house.

    In the end, put in a good quality wooden deck. I remove the algae and preserve the wood each year. Foxes have a den under there and toads sometimes take up residence.  My garden is not perfect in many ways - we all have to work with what we've got. Paving can require maintenance too, to look good.

    Below is a really old picture, but below the decking at the front of the picture, is essentially a large hole.

  • Thank you everyone - your comments are much appreciated. My concerns about decking have been confirmed!
  • I've never considered decking  for all the reasons others have mentioned.
    But as I say "each to their own."

    I built a crazy York stone patio after first having a concrete raft laid by professionals.
    I bought the York stone by the pallet. The cost of this and other mediums depends where you live as the transport adds greatly to the cost. If your near enough to a quary, you can buy it piecemeal and bring it home in the boot of your car, a trip at a time.

    I'm not a builder, just an ordinary DIYer. I laid ours in 1985, making sure there was a fall towards the low curtilage walls I built on two sides with drain holes between the patio and the bricks.

    As you say "mine doesn't owe me any money."

    Ten years ago my golf club's "powers that be" at the time  had a very large decking "professionally" area laid at great expense. Several of we members said at the time that it was not laid well and wouldn't last.
    It didn't, after ten years it needed to be completely changed and this was done by members who were good at DIY.

  • We found gravel to be quick and easy, and has been functional and low maintenance - we just pull out the odd weed:

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