Design Ideas for Garden Decking
Design Ideas for Garden
- A deck for dining on should be close to the kitchen.
- A tall fence can provide a screen from sound and wind and offer privacy
- A deck with shade offers choice for sitting — hot sun or cool shade.
- When planning steps or raised sections in a system it is not ideal to step off or up a corner. Cutting the corner off makes for a better transition.
- Steps can be wider than they are indoors to make them more inviting.
- To highlight steps, change the direction of the boards to make them stand out. Grooved boards, running across the step, will make them safer when wet.
- Avoid curved edges and rounded decks as the supporting structure will have to be complex.
Choosing Board Widths
Whatever width you choose for your boards there are a few factors to consider. One is the span across your joists; narrow timber will only span short spans and this must be decided before you start to build the deck. If you plan to use a diagonal pattern, the spans will be wider and the joists need to be closer together. Avoid boards wider than 6in as they can be prone to warping and drain poorly.
Creating a Pattern
The number of patterns that can be created with timber is endless but only a few will look acceptable on any given deck. A few general rules will help you select the right pattern for your deck.
Decks with a plain border around them will have a more finished appearance, containing the pattern within.
The smaller the deck, the simpler the pattern should be as complex patterns tend to look untidy and fussy. Complex patterns will make defects in the timber show up much more than simple ones. It is better to spend more money on a superior grade of timber and less on the time and labour needed creating complex patterns.
Long rectangular decks with boards running away from you make the eye follow the boards to the far end, accentuating length. Boards running across the deck are more relaxing and make you want to stay on the deck.
Diagonal boards draw your attention to a view or direct you to steps or a doorway. They can also be used to follow lines from the house or garden.
Types of Joints
In most cases the deck boards will be long enough for your deck, but if the deck is longer than a single board it will be necessary to use additional lengths to complete the run. It may be necessary to install extra joists to accommodate the board lengths, which is something to remember in the building stage.
The three most common joints are:
- A continuous joint where all the joints run down or across the deck in one line, such as the centre line of a herringbone pattern.
- Random joints where the joints are at different positions across the deck.
- Pattern joints where the joints alternate positions but form a pattern across the deck. This is a similar pattern to overlaying bricks in a wall, where the joints are in a basic repeating pattern.
Small decks look best with an intentional pattern — a random joint will look odd and create an uneasy feel on the deck. Large decks can tolerate any of the joints, but a long continuous joint can look very obvious and may become the main feature of the deck — not what you would plan for.
Drawing up an initial plan will help you visualize the deck and make estimating the materials easier. With a graph pad, go into the garden and measure fixed points such as the house and fence. This will give you an idea of the shape and space available. Another method is to take a photograph of the area and, with tracing paper over the top, draw in the intended design; you can then go back to the measured plan and work out if it will fit in. Once this has been done lay a hose or rope out around the `deck’ and position tables and chairs to make sure everything has enough room to work. You can then finalize the plan and measure up for materials.
With your plan drawn to scale you can then work out the amount of timber required to make the deck. Start by working out the number of posts needed – it is better to have a few extra than a springy deck. Then work out the number of beams required, if any, and then the joists. Deck board is often sold by the square metre so your supplier will work this out for you. Any extras such as hand rails and spindles can be added to the order at this point. As with any building project allow for an extra 10% of materials to cover damaged timbers or mistakes. It is also important to check whetheris needed, particularly if the deck is likely to be especially large or high.
Try to buy timber that will cover your deck without joints as this will save time and timber. You can often order special sizes to fit your individual requirements. This may cost a little more but the convenience makes it worthwhile. Alternatively, you can design your deck to fit the sizes readily available.