Although some form of paving or hard standing has long-been the traditional way to edge a pond, the use of decking has been steadily gaining in popularity – and with good reason. The void space underneath can provide the perfect place to hide away pumps and clarifiers and disguise pipe runs and the routes of electrical cables, making the whole equipment installation tidier and at the same time, easier to access. Another key benefit is the ability of decking to be suspended slightly over the surface of the water, which can be used very effectively to give the area the feel of a small jetty.
The trick to using decking successfully around ponds and water features largely lies in combining sound construction with good planning to avoid any pitfalls – and this begins with the foundations.
Laying the Foundations
For small areas of decking, it may be possible to use the simplest form of foundations, which calls for supportive bearers to be laid on a hardcore and sand bed. The joists to which the decking itself is attached are then fixed at right angles across them. If the ground is soft, however, it may be advisable to use pre-formed concrete pads, which will need to be laid level on a layer of compacted hardcore.
Larger expanses of decking need more substantial foundations, involving excavating trenches and filling them with a good deep layer of well compacted hardcore to ensure that the finished structure will remain safely anchored and not move in use. If the ground is particularly wet – or if the decking extends a significant distance over the water itself – there are specialist metal shoe-brackets s available from the usual DIY and garden retailers, which need to be bolted into concrete or brick supporting piers .
Adding the Decking
There is a wide range of types and qualities of decking available, either as individual parquet decking squares, or slatted decking made from long, parallel planks and which you choose really depends on your personal taste and the rest of the garden design. The parquet squares come in a variety of patterns, including parallel, checker-board, herringbone and diagonally angled designs, allowing you to create some interesting effects. Some of these lend themselves to being laid in alternating patterns, which can help reduce the risk of slipping – an ever present safety concern around water.
Whether you opt for planks or parquet, pond-side decking needs to be fairly robust if it is going to look its best for as long as possible. To avoid the risk of warping, choose timber that is at least an inch (2.5cm) thick – preferably a hardwood such as cedar, though pressure treated softwoods can make a good alternative. It is also important to lay the wood with a gap of around a quarter of an inch (0.5cm) between the pieces to allow for drainage and expansion, on good, strong joist – at least 3 x 2 inches (8cm x 5cm) – spaced around 28 or 30 inches (70 – 75cm) apart.
Decking can offer creative possibilities that would be difficult – if not down-right impossible – for the average DIYer to achieve with concrete or paving slabs, so it is worth taking the time at the planning stage to consider how you can make the most of its flexibility. Whether it’s a false-jetty or a set of decking stepping stones running from shore to shore, with a little thought and ingenuity, you should be able to get the effect you’re after. Even if you don’t feel quite that ambitious, no two decking areas are ever quite the same, so there is always the opportunity to create something which is uniquely yours – along with the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself.
Timber decking sits very comfortably alongside water and sets off any pond – large or small. If you’re after a good-looking area to sit out on beside yours, then it is definitely worth considering the contribution that decking can make.