To deck or not to deck.....!

Hi to all on this grey November morning image

I need some help  planning the last 1/3rd of the back garden. It was lawn and it had a shed on it. But the shed went up in smoke one night, you can still see the scorch mark on one of the fence panels. The area is rubbish now for growing anything (soil contamination from the fire??). 

In all I want a really nice area for the family. Teenage son and not so well OH, visitors and friends. We love it out there in the summer, but being on clay, this time of year it all gets too muddy and sticky to enjoy it.

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You can see from the pictures we have some herb pots already, so a herb garden is a possibility. A good seating space easily accessible from the backdoor of the house is the main aim.

I've got the tired concrete at the back of the house to cover up too, so the plan was to deck the lot over. It has been mentioned that the decking will probably attract rats, where we live it almost definitely will. 

So do I go with the decking, or hard landscape? All ideas and advice welcome. image

I've never had decking, it can look nice, sometimes though it looks to me a bit out of place, so I'm totally open to suggestions, pictures of alternatives etc etc etc image

Another problem I heard of with decking was that it can rot under pot plants and I'm going to be wanting plenty of those!

The short list of my wants is:

Easy access to the existing shed (probably will have muddy wellies on most of the time and will be going to it for tools for the veg plot)

Family seating area

Cover up that concrete

Dry area from the backdoor all the way to the shed so in the winter months it isn't necessary to put wellies on all the time to feed the birds!

Plenty of space for pot grown plants

I'm totally open to any ideas and always up for a challenge, could have some low walls with alpines cascading down them, anything is possible, but I'll hand it over to you  image

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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,992

    Gemma - I've had decking in several gardens without any issues apart from the last house where I inherited some which had been put down in the wrong aspect and that's the key. It has to be in  a sunny site or it gets slippy. If you're just wanting to cover the concrete along the back of the house and it's southish facing then I'd say it would be fine. There wouldn't be much of a gap between the concrete and the deck so I doubt it would cause and issue. As to the rest of the area -if you want a lawn then the best solution is to improve the conditions for it by mixing grit, compost and some rotted manure to get the drainage right - if you make an edge round it to raise it, that will help. I'm doing that right now on my compacted clay soil here. For the right hand area, remove the existing path and make an area of gravel with planting directly into it. That way, it's not a static path but means you have a dry route back and forth to the shed, if that makes sense. Your herb pots can sit on that rather than the deck too image

    The seating can go on the gravel and you can move it around to suit as well

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 14,728

    I dont like decking, but thats for you to decide, but dont worry about pots rotting it, pots should be lifted slightly anyway to allow for drainage, just put pot feet under, you can get some very pretty ones.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,197

    Ta Fairygirl, the aspect is the back door faces east, the area covered with the black plastic  is often in shadow from the neighbour's panel fence, seems decking would be wet a slippy a lot of the time, so that alone probably rules it out.

    Not thinking of any lawn area, one side of the existing path is the veg plot, the other side (covered in black plastic and that tired concrete) I would be happy with it all either decked or hard landscape, so like a garden room from the back door right down to in front of the existing shed.

    I wondered about that Lyn, when I read about decking rotting because of pots, made me think they couldn't have been draining properly. image

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,992

    Ah - then perhaps the gravelled idea with planting on the right hand side (plastic covered area) would be a better solution. Have you considered removing the concrete along the back of the house and replacing it or is that a bridge too far?  You could lay a nicer form of paving on top - something which co -ordinates with your existing path perhaps. If not, some nice planting in large pots repeated at a few points will help break it up. A mix of evergreens and other annuals, bulbs or perennials will give you a nice tapestry of year round colour. 

    I've never had problems with pots on decks either - lifting them up is the solution image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,197

    I'm going to be removing a fair bit of concrete from the front of the house Fairygirl, trouble with the stuff at the back is it seems integral with the foundations of the utility room, it also has an inspection cover in it for the mains sewer, so I think working over the top of it rather than taking it out is going to be the best/easiest solution. I'm getting a picture in my head now of block paving over the existing concrete extending into a raised area with a lowish wall along the existing path. The raised area being of mixed block paving and gravel beds for the seating area and herb garden. image Trouble is my vision doesn't sit well in my mind with all that panel fencing, that is going to need some sort of disguise! 

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,992

    It all comes down to pocket and time Gemma. You could paint the fence a toning or contrasting colour depending on your likes and dislikes and put a few climbers in or quick growing shrubs against it which will solve most of the problem quite quickly. Some people use the willow/reed screening as an alternative if you like that. I built a new fence last summer here, painted it dark green, and planted some buddleias and other things along part of it. You can hardly see the fence in those areas now. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 18,184

    Unless there were some horrible chemicals in your shed one fire won't produce enough contaminants to spoil the soil and you could improve both the soil fertility and structure by forking in lots and lots of well rotted manure and garden compost.    However, if you don't want ornamenta beds or lanw there's no point.

    Decking can be expensive to install correctly and requires constant maintenance to keep the wood in good nick.  It gets slippery when wet and also is an open invitation to rodents who nest under it.   Pesonally, I think it's a bad idea in damp climates.

    Large expanses of hard landscaping are also expensive to get right and, unless you use a porous material, can lead to drainage problems for the rest of the garden.

    I think your best option would be gravel laid over a weed suppressant fabric.   This would give you a clean area with good drainage and you can vary the texture with some paving slabs to support a table and some stepping stones and/or shapely larger rocks and stones laid through it.  You can cut planting slits for specimen plants and use standing pots and troughs to vary seasonal interest and forms.

    Select the gravel colour to tone with your hosue walls or provide a good contrast.  Don't use too fine a gravel as this will just tread into the house.   Slate chippings can look good, especially when wet.   You'll need a border to hold the gravel in place at the edges and shoud aim for it to be an inch or two deep.    .

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,197

    Dark green fence and buddleias sounds lovely. I like rhododendrons so maybe building in some sort of planters along the bottom of the fence, painting it, and putting up some trellis for climbers is going to be the way image I definitely need lots more shrubbery going on in the garden, it looks so bleak when the veg patch is empty.

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 1,197

    Hi, obelixx, we did have a gravel area in front of the now gone shed. The main problem was clay on welly boots + gravel didn't work so good! So I'm a bit put off gravel. We certainly had plenty of obnoxious chemicals in that shed, you name it, it was probably in there including fuel and cellulose thinners. Even the weeds never grew back quite right. image

    If I went for hard landscape, could I incorporate a soak away? We already have a wetland area in the wildlife garden where a lot of water from the rest of the garden pools, I'm OK with this and could direct water from the hard landscape in the same direction perhaps?

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