Decking Ideas – Furniture and Plants
Decking Ideas – Furniture and Plants
Before you settle on a final layout for your deck, it pays to spend some time thinking about the finishing touches. These might be practical or decorative. Ask yourself who will be using the deck — children and older people need careful consideration. Also ask how it will be used — for dining al fresco, sitting out in the evenings, or as a children’s? Decks are often built on the side of a house or round a garden building, creating an extension of the living space. The impression of an outdoor room can be strengthened by linking the deck and building via some kind of overhead structure to form a ‘ceiling’. Simple wooden pergolas fulfil this function admirably. If the deck is in a hot, sunny spot, the pergolas can be adapted to provide a little shade or offer a certain degree of seclusion.
Wooden pergolas can be bought off the peg from DIY stores and builder’s merchants but you can also get your local timber yard to cut the necessary pieces to your own specifications. Getting the proportions right is the key to success. The uprights need to have substance and the height of the structure and spacing of the components should create a feeling of spaciousness not claustrophobia!
Plan it on paper and then stick to your guns. It may well look too big at first, but when covered with climbers it will blend in nicely. Don’t forget to make provision for the plants, preparing the ground and planting holes before the deck is laid.
Once the basic framework is up, you can add decorative features such as specially shaped trellis elements. Interesting effects of light and shade can be achieved by laying patterned trellis panels over the crossbeams. For an oriental look or for maximum privacy or shelter from wind, consider fitting bamboo, heather or wicker panels between the uprights. Square-pattern trellis fencing panels create a feeling of enclosure and security but the deck still feels light and airy.
Built-in planters and furniture such as bench seating can really make a feature on the deck, especially when picked out in a contrasting or complementary shade. Waterproof wooden lockers can also be incorporated, perhaps within a seating unit, to store cushions and toys for easy access. Small children will love to play out on the deck and a sand pit could become a focus for their games. Match the timber and construction style and build a waterproof cover to keep the sand clean and dry when not in use.
FURNITURE FOR YOUR DECK
Garden furniture can be purely functional like a wooden picnic table. But there are some beautiful designs around today that add greatly toscene because they have such a pleasing form. Shop around to find chairs and tables that are both practical and capable of enhancing the view from the house, selecting furniture that fits into your overall scheme.
Chairs and tables can be expensive but there are designs to suit any budget and taste and you can always substitute cheaper furniture elements while you save up for what you really want. Consider practicality, comfort, style, longevity, maintenance and price. Also think about whether or not you intend to leave chairs and tables out through the winter. If not, how you will store them? Waterproof covers are available for protecting furniture sets out of season but these are unsightly and could spoil the view from the house. Always check that wooden furniture comes from a sustainable source, especially when dealing with tropical hardwoods. It is especially important to avoid mahogany, as this is an endangered species.
Having permanent seating on the deck is an enticement to sit out when the weather is fine. Wood is ideal for this because it dries off quite quickly after a shower and is warm and comfortable to sit on without the need for cushions. Wooden furniture is an obvious partner, for decking. If your deck has been coloured, you can paint it to match or to contrast and if natural, most wood types will blend together with ease.
Treat softwood furniture with preservative to prolong its life — some treatments combine colour with water-repellent agents and chemicals to deter rot. The more expensive hardwoods, including tropical types like iroko, have a much denser grain and are naturally more resistant to fungal attack. Use the recommended furniture oil to soak in, nourish and waterproof the wood. You can also use clear yacht varnish but this needs frequent application.
Some furniture designs combine wooden slats with a metal framework — you can often buy quite reasonably priced fold-away bistro style sets that are easy to store when not in use. Be aware, however, that unless the metal is galvanized or the framework is made from aluminium, stainless steel or chrome, it will rust. Victorian cast iron bench seat ends or their reproductions are usually painted and some metal furniture is lacquered or coated with plastic to help prevent rust. But as soon as the paint or protective surface is damaged, rusting occurs, leaving unsightly stains on the deck. All-metal furniture sets can be very stylish but cushions are essential for comfort — metal is very cold on bare legs! Wood and canvas furniture such as director’s chairs are often quite stylish. They have the advantage of being light and easy to move around but must be kept out of the rain. A waterproof locker built into the deck will make for quick access and is also perfect for storing floor cushions. Striped canvas deckchairs are fun and are usually very cheap to buy but can be tricky to erect.
Finally, if you don’t have a leafy pergola to shelter under during the heat of the day, you’ll need some kind of canvas umbrella or awning. Sun parasols come in all sizes, colours and designs to suit any budget and either fit through a hole in the centre of the table or are self-supporting. Awnings can be traditional rectangles of canvas or, more imaginatively, cut like sails that are winched out to cover varying amounts of the deck as required.