There is no denying that grass is a great choice for your garden since it acts as a cost-effective way to encourage better drainage, forms a soft base for children to play on and encourages wildlife to admire throughout the day. Nevertheless, the upkeep is time consuming, especially as the summer draws closer and the combination of long sunny days interspersed with wet, rainy ones causes the ultimate grass growth spurt. This is why you might have been considering decking to give your garden a contemporary look that requires little maintenance. Here are the decking options to consider before undertaking your landscaping project.
Choose Your Decking Format
Before you consider the material of your decking, decide on whether you would require decking boards or decking tiles. Decking boards might be more useful for larger projects that might take over most of your outdoor space and are the best choice for if you want to incorporate steps and decking at different levels. These also offer the most traditional decking look and create the feeling of having an extra room on your house. Decking tiles are great for a temporary fix in your garden since they do not require any joists or anchors and can simply be laid on top of an existing flat surface, such as concrete tiles or level grass. These can be moved about when you feel like you need a change so you can get quite creative with your outdoor space and mix it up to suit your changing style.
The first materials to analyse would be the traditional wood varieties. There are typically two choices when opting for wood; softwood, and hardwood. Softwood boards are the most popular choice since they require a smaller upfront cost than hardwood, but they do require the most maintenance. This isn’t great if you were hoping to escape outdoor maintenance activities by swapping from grass to decking, but it’s a great alternative if you want a more contemporary look without such a heavy investment. Softwood options will have been pressure-treated to make them more durable, but they can still fall victim to warping and splitting due to high sun-exposure and over-use.
These boards will have been sourced from rarer tree varieties, such as Redwood and Cedar that contain natural preservatives such as tannins and oil to prevent them from needing heat treatment for durability. These varieties won’t come cheap though, and they usually have a high up-front cost. However, they are longer lasting since they are virtually resistant to warping and splitting and require less maintenance than softwood. The cost might be high, but the result will always be highly aesthetically pleasing, thanks to the tropical wood species used.
Wooden decking might look beautiful and is the most traditional choice, but it is not environmentally friendly since using the material contributes to deforestation. If you were looking for a great eco-friendly alternative, then chose composite boards from Ecoscape that are made up from a combination of recycled high-density polythene plastics and hardwood fibres that have been ethically sourced from reclaimed materials. Furthermore, choosing composite decking is not only the greener choice, but it could also be the most cost-effective since it will usually out-live wooden alternatives. This is to the point where retailers will usually offer life-span guarantees, but do be aware that the upfront cost for a high-end composite decking can be in line with the price of a hardwood alternative. When you do opt for a higher end brand though, you will not need to sacrifice on visual appeal, since composite decking can look significantly natural and will come in a range of colours for you to choose from.
PVC Plastic Boards
These decking boards will be made solely out of plastic. It is made in a very similar way to composite decking, using a process known as co-extrusion where plastic is moulded into the shape of boards and coated with an outer shell. These boards offer the most low-maintenance option, since plastic should not warp or split. However, plastic decking can get extremely hot in summer and is therefore, not barefoot friendly. Furthermore, it is known to look the most artificial out of all the above decking options and can get very slippery when wet, nevertheless, you won’t be getting any splinters from this material and it will have a much lower up-front cost than composite alternatives. Look out for plastic decking boards that have been made from recycled plastics, such as carrier bags for the most environmentally friendly option.
After reading about the various options available on the market for your garden decking project, you can weigh up the pros and cons and find the product that most fits your requirements. When making this decision, consider that a higher upfront cost will result in less maintenance and a longer lifespan and vice versa if you want to get the most from your investment.