Buildbase landscaping partner and Bradstone Assured landscaper, John Boden of The Garden Barber, takes a closer look at what to buy and how to install paving and decking:
As the spring and summer months are approaching, builders should expect more enquiries for garden paving and decking.
So what are the product choices for each type of garden landscaping and what is important for installation?
Paving is obviously a more permanent, substantial feature in the garden with many variations in style and colour available, from porcelain to natural sandstone and other materials.
Porcelain paving is probably the most expensive option but for good reasons: it has a long lifespan – coming with a 10-year guarantee but, if cared for, will last much longer. It is easy to maintain and keep clean, so there’s no need for jet washing and you can mop it like you would a kitchen floor. The “inside-outside” effect of making the paving an extension of your kitchen or other garden-facing room is at its best with porcelain.
A more affordable paving option than porcelain is natural sandstone. This comes in various colours and really does last forever, though it needs slightly more work to clean and maintain. After that, there are a number of man-made paving materials made from concrete to resemble natural stone but with less life expectancy.
Because of the groundwork needed, installing paving is a slightly more expensive option than decking but it depends on the type of slab.
Whether you go for top of the range porcelain or another material, the preparation and laying process is the same: you must ensure that you dig out sufficiently to put in a strong base and lay it on a full bed of concrete. With porcelain, you need to use a slurry to make sure it’s fully bonded to the base.
A note on selecting a suitable installer: you really need someone who is assured by a reputable paving manufacture – for example Bradstone Assured. That means the installer is vetted on a regular basis and needs to meet strict professional criteria. Also, check references and recommendations as it can cost thousands of pounds to rectify if you choose to get the job done by unqualified people.
There’s no doubt decking looks great: a wooden feature lifts your garden and provides a more natural feel. However, decking is more prone to wear when exposed to bad weather and, therefore, needs ongoing treatment.
Today, you can use composite plastic decking which looks like wood but is made from plastic-moulded decking board to give it longer life expectancy. The cost of decking depends as the price of wood goes up and down based on its availability from timber manufacturers.
Compared to paving, decking is a lot quicker to install and you can cover a bigger area with a lot less labour time. You can landscape decking all year-round, unless there’s a particularly bad winter. That said, our motto is “landscape in the winter, enjoy in the summer”.
Unlike paving, there is a shorter guarantee on decking products – usually five years. However, using decking oil will help the wood to last a lot longer. After that, it’s really down to the maintenance the customer carries out.
And the latest innovation we see in decking is the use of LED lighting built into the product, which goes really well with wood.
When it comes to sourcing products and raw materials for either paving or decking, it’s worthwhile using a reputable supplier such as Buildbase to get guarantees, advice, competitive pricing and a wider choice of products.