Summers Coming! How I Got My Own Garden Ready By Sophie

Laying a timber decking

Before laying the timber decking you need to carefully choose the location, taking sun and shading into consideration. The floor area should allow enough space for garden furniture.

Measure the desired location and purchase the materials as listed to the required sizes. If you purchase untreated timber you will need to apply a preservative to protect the wood from rot prior to use. Purpose manufactured packs of timber decking contain pre-treated timber.

If you have purchased untreated timber, use the electric sander to smooth the edges, then apply the preservative with a thick brush, following the manufacturers instructions on application and drying time.

Mark out the position of the decking using marker pegs and string. If there is grass where the decking will be laid, dig it up and level the soil. Then lay a black plastic sheet over the entire area, and cover with a thin bed of sand to prevent weeds growing beneath the decking.

Cut the perimeter joists to length then position on the ground on their thinner edge forming a rectangle. Drill and screw the joists together. Cut the internal support joists to length and fix at 400mm (16in) centres. The final level of your decking should be 150mm (6in) below the damp proof course.

Position the planks in the opposite direction to the internal joists, measure and cut the decking planks to length allowing a 5mm (1/8th in) overhang at each end. The planks should have a 5mm (1/8th in) gap between. Leave a 10mm (1 in) gap between the planks and the house.

Pencil Mark the screw holes on the planks and joists before drilling the holes. Remember to fix the planks to the internal joists as well as at the perimeter. Use galvanised screws to fix the timber decking together.

How to seed a lawn

First decide which type of lawn is suitable for your garden, do you want a lawn with quality turf, hard wearing turf, or simply a lawn for general use? This decides the type of seed that you need and the amount of maintenance the lawn will require.

Check the ground condition, does it benefit from good drainage, is it too dry, is there enough sunlight or is the area shaded? Also check the subsoil content for sand or clay. Choose your seed accordingly. The grass will grow stronger if you sow the seed during the spring or autumn months.

Prepare the plot by clearing the ground of any debris, stones, leaves, twigs and branches. On existing lawns use a suitable weedkiller to kill off any weeds.

Use the fork to break up any large pieces of earth, then rake the ground until the soil is fine. Tread over the soil to compact the earth then lightly rake again.

Measure and peg out the lawn area in 1m x 1m bays (3ft x 3ft) using string and pegs. This will act as a guide to sowing the lawn fertiliser and grass seed in the right quantities.

Spread a suitable granular lawn fertiliser over the plot prior to seeding. Sprinkle the granules by hand into each bay, according to the manufacturers instructions on the packaging. Make sure that the fertiliser is suitable for the type of grass seed that you are sowing.

Spread the grass seed evenly to each bay, again following the directions on the packaging. Then lightly rake the seed into the earth. If there is no rainfall within 10 days then water the lawn sparingly. Be patient, you should start seeing growth after approx. 2 weeks.

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