Decking and patios provide great outdoor living
PUBLISHED: 18:43 12 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:21 20 February 2013
It's that time of year again - when we can hopefully put away the wellies and start to think about using our gardens and decks as an extra room to our homes Compiled by Sue Campbell
We dont get an awful long time to enjoy our decks and gardens - blink, and our summers seem to melt away. Weve had a pretty lousy winter, so its important to get the best of our outdoor spaces while we can.
Whether your garden is big or small and whether youre a fan of flower beds or expanses of low-maintenance lawn, make the most of them.
Decking is still very popular and provides a low-maintenance space to place the garden furniture without it wobbling over. There are quite a few dos and donts when it comes to either installing or maintaining decking.
The Timber Decking Association was set up to provide help and advice about decking and its website has a wealth of information and guidance.
Properly installed and looked after decks should last 15 to 25 years, but make sure they are treated with the right stuff to prevent flaking.
One question on the TDA website relates to slipperiness - something that people worry about, especially is you have children. TDA says the key factor in preventing slipperiness is to ensure that the deck surface is kept clean and surface deposits such as mildew, algae and fine mosses are kept at bay for it is these deposits that cause slipperiness on any surface, even stone flags, in wet weather or after watering.
The recommendation is to give decked surfaces a frequent brush with a stiff broom and to give them a thorough clean once a year in spring or autumn, using either a power spray washer or a proprietary deck cleaning product.
Timber decks can of course be customised to your own style and decorative taste. The choice of additional design features - balustrades, pergolas, trellises, steps, fencing, canopies and so on - is almost infinite.
Choosing the right outdoor furniture is also important.
Outdoor Furniture Site says the two main differences between outdoor and indoor furniture is in design and material.
The design of outdoor furniture is typically simple with particular attention to weather resistance. For example, many outdoor tables and chairs have holes or slits so that water will not build up and wind can blow through.
Another important difference says Outdoor Furniture is in the use of material. Outdoor furniture is usually made of material that will resist corrosion and decay from the weather. These materials can be rust resistant metal, plastic or some durable woods.
Of course no outdoor space would be complete without a barbecue. The charcoal versus gas argument has been raging for years and there will always be those who prefer one above another.
You can get some fantastic gas machines now, running into hundreds of pound, which at the touch of a button will provide you with clean even flames and precision cooking.
The charcoal lovers looked down their noses at this of course, preferring the care which has to go into started and tending a proper fire.
Thinking also about the other items you need to make your gardens and decks your personal space. Lighting is important, decorations and whatever takes your fancy.
Just make sure its weatherproof - hate to say it, but summer wont last for ever.
Advice on decking from www.TDA.org.uk
Advice on outdoor furniture from www.outdoorfurnituresite.com
Lamp from www.allupandon.co.uk
Furniture from www.sweetpeaandwillow.com
Bird feeder from www.cloudberryliving.co.uk
Dining furniture from www.loveyourhomeforless.com
Deck lights from www.dremel.com
Cast stone decorations from www.haddonstone.com
Barbecue from www.tesco.com