How to build the perfect decking for those sunny days
If you don't have a nice eating and entertaining area in your garden, now's the time to create one.
1. Where your garden gets the sun at different times of the day could make a big difference to how much you'll use your new deck or patio. The usual place to put it is near the house, so it's convenient for alfresco dining and entertaining, but there might be a better spot elsewhere. While most of us want a sunny deck or patio, some people prefer one with shade, which might mean putting it at the opposite end of the garden to the house.
2. When deciding on the location of your patio or deck, think about things like drainage (the manhole, or at least a rodding point, still needs to be accessible), where the doors to the garden are, and if the patio or deck will be overlooked. Also consider the prevailing winds, traffic noise, if any, and what you'll be looking out on when you sit and relax.
3. Decking is a good way to make sloping gardens usable, as an alternative to creating tiers. By extending the deck out from the house to cover the whole garden, you've solved the problem of an awkward, hard-to-use and even potentially dangerous (if you have small children) outside space. Decking can also be the best way to cover something that's already there, such as concrete or a dated patio, because you can go over the top of it. With small, courtyard gardens, decking or paving the whole space makes sense if they're too small for a lawn.
4. It's important to have a patio or deck that's in proportion to the size of the house, and to use colours and materials that work well with the building, unless you want a deliberate contrast. While it should be in keeping, your design can also be creative. Decking can be built on different levels, with things like built-in benches and planters that make it more practical and interesting. You can do a similar thing with paving - an easy way to add interest is to incorporate a circle or other design into your patio using a paving kit.
5. Before you start building your patio or deck, check if any permissions are required. If your home's leasehold, for example, you may need the freeholder's consent and also planning permission because flats and maisonettes don't have permitted development rights. For general advice about planning permission, click on the deck or patio on the Interactive House at www.planningportal.gov.uk, or ask your local council for specific advice about your home.
PRODUCTS OF THE WEEK
Father's Day is coming up on June 19, and if your dad enjoys decorating, Screwfix has some great gifts, including the T-Class Synthetic Bristle Paintbrushes (£9.99, Screwfix).
There are five excellent brushes in the set (from 12mm to 50mm), with lovely wooden handles and soft, fine bristles that make getting a good finish easy.
When there are lots of walls and ceilings to paint, dad will love the No Nonsense Scuttle Kit & 6 Sleeves (£14.99, Screwfix). This large, 14ltr paint scuttle has a lid to keep the paint fresh overnight and is ideal if dad likes mixing emulsions to create his own colours.
You get six big, quality roller heads with it and a double-arm aluminium frame to hold them - a compatible extension pole is also required, but isn't supplied.
For a scuttle with everything included, there's the great-value Harris Decorators Kit 14 Piece Set (£29.99, Screwfix). It comprises a 9in and a mini roller frame, plus roller sleeves to fit them and a 14ltr scuttle, also with a lid, so there's everything dad needs to get started - just add paint.