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Decking - Introduction

Timber decking in the garden can increase the enjoyment you obtain from your property. Providing that you approach the project in an organised manner, you should end up with decking you can be proud of and enjoy for years to come. The suggested approach is to:

Deciding where to have the decking

When you come to think about the site for your decking, you need to consider various aspects, the main ones are:

  • Do you want to access the decking from the house? Possibly from existing patio doors, or you may be planning to add patio doors later. If you do want access from the house, the position for the decking will determined by the position of the patio doors.
  • How big do you want the decking? This will be influenced by both the amount of room you have available and the intended use of the decking. Do you want it for entertaining friends and family, or just to sit on with a drink on summer evenings?
  • Do you want the decking in full sunlight? At the height of summer you may wish to have some shade, possibly from existing trees/structures or you may need to think about building an arbour or something similar over the decking or part of it.
  • How much privacy do you want? You already have enough privacy, otherwise you may need to build a screen.
  • Is the garden flat enough or do you need to do some landscaping? On a sloping site, you can have decking with different levels.
  • Are there any services in the ground where you plan to have your decking? Manhole covers will require access built into the decking if you want to put decking over them.

When you have answers to all these points and decided on the preferred position for the decking, it may help if you are able to mark out the area on the ground and imagine being on the decking - this will give you a 'feel' for using the decking.

Once you have decided on the size, position and any other related work needed (i.e. cut down a tree, or build a screen wall etc), draw a plan showing the decking in relation to the boundary, house and garden features.

Will you need Planning Permission ?

{Note: this Planning Permission guidance ONLY applies to England - in other areas, please check your local regulations}

Once you have the basic position, size, height etc of the decking, you should have enough information to determine if you will need planning permission approval. In most cases, small (comparative to the size of garden), low level decking will not require planning permission. However, it may be required in England if any of the following apply to the decking:

  • The structure extends across existing building lines.
    Or
  • Has any part above 3 metres from ground level.
    Or
  • Could be considered to affect the privacy or 'enjoyment' of a neighbouring property.
    Or
  • Is within a conservation area, National Park or the property is listed.

Even if none of these apply, it is always better to show your plans (it need be no more than a rough sketch) to the local Planning Authority for their guidance before you proceed. If Planning Approval is required, the Planning Authority will be able to guide you on the level of details required for an application - approval could take a couple of months.

A bit of detailed design

Once you've decided on the location and know where you stand regarding Planning Permission, you can address some of the more detailed issues:

  • What do you want to have on the decking? For example, garden furniture or tubs of flowers - tubs full of soil will be heavy and require a more substantial decking than if you just intend to sit out there.
  • Access to the decking - having access from existing patio doors may have already determined the position, but do you also need/want steps from the lawn/patio?
  • Do you want or need balustrades around your decking? Decking without a balustrade can be dangerous; if a guest steps backwards and falls a foot or two you could be liable for any injury.