I just replaced the wooden decking at the back of our house. I have been putting it off for a while, partly from a conviction that it would last a little longer and that a few dodgy patches were not grounds to replace the lot. I have also considered replacing it with a different type of surface and have spent some time looking online and at local builders merchants for alternative products.

Periodically I have cleared the decking and washed it with my power washer and each time we have resolved not to clutter it back up with plants in pots; only to do exactly that withing weeks if not days. It’s not good for a wooden surface to have plant pots stood directly onto it; causing it decay more quickly. It seemed to me that slabs, bricks or recycled plastic decking would all be more resilient.

I ruled out plastic decking, I just didn’t like the look of it, judging from the few samples I have seen. Paving is venturing into territory I don’t know well and bricks even more so. What sort of foundation would it need? What is available? How much will it cost? How do I deal with drains and manholes? How difficult would they be to lay?

I wasn’t even sure what was underneath the old decking, it had been down 15 years and while I remembered it was plain paving slabs I wasn’t sure what they were laid on.

The old decking had to go first, so that was last Monday and Tuesday. Underneath were plain 600 x 600 slabs, in a barely discernible checkerboard of pink and grey. I lifted one; just laid on soil. Anything other than decking would need foundations. I decided at that point to go with new wooden decking. I could do it myself, it should last as long as the previous lot, by which time I will be too old to care much. I don’t have to dispose of the old slabs or work out how to deal with manholes.

The timber was ordered Tuesday, delivered Thursday. Between Friday and Tuesday I installed it. It looks just fine, I should be very happy. Over the weekend I was looking at brick pavers. I’d have loved to do it with brick pavers but essentially didn’t have the confidence to take it on as a DIY project. I’d have had to have had someone in to do it and I’m short on confidence in that regard too. Who could I get, are they any good, how much would it cost and so on. All in the time of Covid19 too, which doesn’t help.

My first thought with projects like this is to do it myself. I’ve built three greenhouses, put up a polytunnel, felled medium sized trees, laid paving slabs, put up fences and garden structures, installed rainwater harvesting. Mostly I think I know what I’m doing, when I’m not sure there’s a wealth of instruction online.

There’s an uncomfortable zone between the things I know I can do and the things I know I can’t. What if I take it on and mess up? How will I feel if I have to get someone in to sort out a disaster? If I stay in my comfort zone am I going to regret having settled for something less than I’d have really liked?

And where am I going to put all the pots that were stood on the old decking when putting them on the new decking is out of the question?

21 thoughts on “DIY

  1. Nice job Jim. If you put feet under your pots, and air could circulate, wouldn’t that help preserve your planks for at least another 15 years?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, a real gardener would run out of space, wouldn’t he? He’s too good at growing things. People like me, who kill plants with the best intentions, don’t have a space problem.

        Can you hang any plants from trees? People do that here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think hanging things from trees is the answer though there may be one or two where it would work. Don’t think for a moment I don’t kill things, it’s just that I grow twice as many new things than I kill.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. LOL! Your stats are still much better than mine. That’s OK. We can’t all be expert gardeners. I’m lucky the wicked wisteria hasn’t grown over the whole house and locked us inside.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I think the replacement decking looks very nice. There is an area of decking next to our house, upon which the previous owners erected a ‘summer house’ type shed which is doing a really good job of limiting access to the outside tap and preventing emptying buckets of water etc down the only outside drain. I have to hope and presume that the condition of the decking under the shed is in better condition than the rest of it which is pretty rotten.
    I had thought to get rid of the decking which is in poor condition and extend the patio slabs but seeing how nice your decking looks I am not so sure. Although I do fear it is a perfect place to house slugs ‘n’ stuff, is that your experience?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, it was slug carnage when I took up the old decking. Most of the plants nearby are fairly slug proof, the others have been badly munched and I moved a couple of Hostas at the beginning of the year.


  3. What hard work and an excellent result. I know I do too much thinking and worrying rather than getting on with it. Sometimes my fears are confirmed but usually the job is not that bad although it takes twice as long as anticipated.

    Liked by 1 person

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