Choose the best Garden landscape for your outdoor space by answering the following simple questions.
Patios and paths add an extra design element to the garden, especially if you mix materials. Breaking up slabs with planting or gravel will give a softer effect.
Stone has a natural charm but lookalikes, such as reconstituted stone, concrete or porcelain, give a similar effect. Using the same flooring indoors and out creates a seamless flow, but check your paving is suitable. Materials sometimes come in two thicknesses – the thicker slabs are for outdoor use. For an up-to-the-minute look, opt for wood-effect porcelain planks.
If you want to include gravel, choose a colour to complement your garden or consider mixed ‘beach’ or ‘river’ pebbles. Sizes vary from 5mm to 30mm, while ‘pea’ gravel is well rounded. It’s best laid to a depth of 100mm on a base of hardcore, with an upstand all round. If you’re combining it with paving, bed stepping stones on blobs of mortar. If not, get the level right – too deep and you’ll sink into it, too shallow and you’ll expose the layer beneath. Go for 25mm depth for fine gravel and up to 40mm for larger pebbles.
For areas of mixed planting and gravel, skim off a thin layer of top soil, then lay permeable landscape fabric, cutting slits for the plants before finishing with gravel.
Mainly used for protection and privacy, the right style of fencing will enhance the look of your home, too. Lap panels with vertical battens and rows of horizontal boards are the type we’re all familiar with; they come in standard widths and various heights. Add trellis to the top and encourage climbing plants to clamber along. Their leaves will gently filter the light.
A picket fence of vertical pales with gaps between is less practical in terms of security or privacy but is a pretty addition.For a smart, contemporary look, horizontal boards can be made up into screens on a heavy-duty mortise and tenon jointed framework.
If you prefer natural screening, opt for attractive willow or hazel panels.Close boarding consists of vertical panels nailed to horizontal arris rails, creating a sturdy fence.
There is a huge choice of materials available now, but these are the most common options: Hardwood is long lasting and weather resistant; look out for oak, birch, elm or cherry, or choose water-resistant teak. Softwood decking, made from spruce, fir or cedar, is a more affordable choice. Composite decking is made from recycled wood fibres and plastics; it won’t splinter, rot or warp. Solid PVCu decking is also rot-proof and won’t warp or crack, and it comes in a choice of cedar, driftwood and sandalwood finishes so it can look like natural wood grain.
Anti-slip finishes include narrow strips of resin and aggregate inserted into the decking’s grooves, and wider strips that you can screw to existing boards to give good grip in wet weather.
It’s reasonably easy to build a deck yourself. When assembling the frame and attaching the boards, remember to coat the cut ends with end-grain preserver. Laying boards parallel to the back wall of the house will emphasise the width of the deck; run them at a right angle to make the deck look deeper, or try a diagonal pattern for interest. If the deck meets the house, its top must come below the damp-proof course, and be careful not to cover any air bricks when laying it. To preserve the colour of your new addition, treat it with a penetrating decking oil.
Before constructing the deck, don’t forget to lay weed-control fabric below to stop plants coming through.