A very popular garden improvement in recent times is garden decking, which was brought about and promoted mainly through garden improvement programs (such as the BBC’s Ground force which was popular in the 1990′s).
Garden decking originates from the drier States of the USA, where wet-rot is not so much of an issue. Trends have brought this garden feature to our temperate climate where treated softwood and even hardwood products do not last long.
Where the ground slopes sharply away the garden decking comes into its own, a previously useless and potentially hazardous area of garden can be transformed into a uniquely charming and useful area. More often though, garden decking is chosen for a relatively flat and level area of the garden where traditional stone paths/patios would give more value for money – not to mention longevity!
Garden Decking Construction
Select the area to be decked, excavate away the grass/shrubbery, calculate where the finished deck height will be, work back with board thickness plus joist depth plus 50 to 100 mm clearance to ground level, dig ground away as necessary, place landscape fabric over the area and peg it down!
The idea is to frame your deck area first with 100 mm by 50 mm treated joists. At the corners there will be 100 mm 2 treated posts concreted in and fixed through the joists. These will anchor the frame to the ground/jack it up to the correct height.
Decide which way the garden decking boards will run, this is because the joists will have to be fitted at 90 degrees to this. Fix the 100 mm by 50 mm treated joists at 300 mm centers. Galvanized brackets can be used and/or large galvanized nails. Some cross pieces (noggins can be added to stiffen the structure), also, intermediate posts should now be secured to the structure and concreted in. Often by simply walking across the carcass it is obvious where more support is needed from the deflection under-foot.
When all built, 2 coats of a good wood preserver will not go amiss.
It is worthwhile remembering our winters (UK) can be very wet and even treated softwood can deteriorate quickly!
Ideally a hardwood deck board would be chosen but this is expensive. Whatever the choice of decking, fix them to the joists at 90 degrees and screw them down with deck screws and a cordless screwdriver making sure to leave a 5 mm gap in between.
Cut the boards to length, stagger the joints, and always cut the lengths to the center of a joist (a chop saw is useful for this and will give good results).
Check boards for splits, warping and defects before fixing down, work methodically and check generally for mistakes as the work progresses.
(c) Copyright 2013, Mark Cook, All Rights Reserved. Written For: gardenconstruction.net