All Decked Out: An article by a Garden Designer on Decking

Published by David Keegan 6 years ago


It may only be early January but many will already be looking at their gardens and making plans. It may be the result of a long held desire, or resolution, to improve the quality and liveability of an outdoor space, or as the result of home renovations.Over the coming few months I will be writing a series of short blog posts on decking in all its forms, pros and cons. Whatever the primary motivation now is the perfect time to start looking at making plans for improving that garden space particularly if you intend on a redesign that will involve a garden designer and a landscaping team to achieve that change in time for this coming summer.

As a garden designer I am often asked about decking, many times in a rather negative way to begin with. Why you may ask, and the simple answer, the many misconceptions surrounding the use of decking that arise during my consultation and design processes with almost every client. The comments made by most is, that decking is difficult to maintain and look after and gets slippery, to which I answer, no its not slippy, or hard to look after if installed correctly and this is where bug bear number one arises. The myth that the grooved side of the deck board is laid facing upwards for ease of drainage. Now I cannot think of one piece of misinformation that has done more harm to the image of decking than this and it’s largely down to the bigger DIY chains, mentioning no names here, but the B in the name of one could be used to describe a different word in reaction.

So let’s clear up this simple, but misleading info, the groves on the deck board are not meant to be laid skyward, but face down, and are there to assist with expansion and contraction preventing the boards from warping and bending. This type of standard readily available decking is manufactured from fast grown, cheap, chemically treated softwood timbers which are more prone to excessive movement, hence the need for grooving to counteract this movement. By laying the board’s grove side up you are in fact creating the perfect environment for water pooling and algal growth, hence decking in general gets a bad name for being slippy and unstable. This slippy and unstable element is the human who displays the boards incorrectly and the human who purchases and install the boards incorrectly. 

Solution, if buying this type of decking boards laying them correctly to begin with will not only increase the stability of the product but also its longevity. Boards laid smooth side up are also easier to treat for algae and can be simply oiled with a couple coats of Danish oil twice a year.

Below is a sample of one my recent projects where decking is used to provide a convenient and trouble free outdoor dining and seating area.

A feature on decking in the UK by David Keegan Garden Design. 

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