How to Plan Decking for the Garden - Armstrong Cheshire
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How to Plan Decking for the Garden

How to Plan Decking for the Garden

Aaron Stretton |

You’ve made the decision that you want to add decking to your garden. Great! But there are so many designs, materials and finishes to choose from. You’ve spent ages scanning the internet for inspiration and tips and you’ve left yourself more confused than when you started. 

We’ve written this post all about how to plan your new garden decking. We run through some of the general admin queries, like whether you need planning permission and how high your decking should be, before getting onto the fun stuff - the design. 

Do I need planning permission for raised decking?

You want to add a raised deck to your garden, but you’re wondering if you need planning permission. 

Luckily, you don’t need planning permission as long as your deck is under 30cm in height and, combined with outbuildings such as sheds, doesn’t cover over 50 per cent of your garden. If your decking is going to have a balustrade, this shouldn’t be higher than your fence. 

Your new decking shouldn’t negatively impact your neighbours, so you should speak to them before making any major changes to make them aware of the plans you have. 

Can I put decking above damp course?

If your decking is going to be an extension of your property, and will be attached to an outside wall, it should be designed so that the top of the deck is at least 15cm below the damp course. When the decking is put in, the installers shouldn’t attach the decking directly to your property. Instead, they should leave a 1cm gap between the house and the decking. 

If your current paving is too close to the damp proof, you may need to dig down a few inches so that the decking, when it’s laid, doesn’t go over the recommended level. This could mean you need to determine where your pipes and cables are buried so that they don’t get damaged in the process. Pipes are more likely to be found next to your house, but could also be located anywhere in your garden to supply your neighbours’ houses. You could use a cable avoidance tool to detect where the major cables are situated in your garden and plan your decking accordingly. 

How to design a decking area

So you’ve determined that you don’t require planning permission and that you need to build your decking below your damp proof. Now for choosing the design. 

First, you should think about the height. Do you want to create the decking so it’s just a small step off the ground, or do you want raised decking that has multiple steps leading up to it? Remember, if you choose raised decking with balustrades, you’ll need to make sure the height isn’t an issue in terms of planning permission. If you’re in doubt, contact your Local Planning Agency who will be able to advise you. 

Next, you need to choose how you want the decking to look. There are four ways you could arrange your deck boards: 

  • Horizontally
  • Diagonally
  • Chevron-style
  • Picture frame-style

Horizontal deck boards create a more traditional look, and diagonal deck boards offer a contemporary twist on the horizontal. 

For something completely different, you could opt for chevron deck boards. The boards are shorter and are laid in a similar way to parquet flooring. 

Of course you'll need to work out how many metres of decking boards you'll need. We have a composite decking calculator that'll easily work out whst you need, the calculations will be the same for timber decking as well.

Finally, picture frame deck boards are for those wanting to make a statement with their decking. A ‘border’ is created using two or three long deck boards, then the inside is filled with diagonal slats. 

When you add furniture and decorative items to your decking, you should try to create layers. Decking can look quite flat and usually needs some items of varying heights to make it look interesting. 


Dark brown decking with chair in the centre and rugs, plant pots and a lantern


Lots of layers have been added to this deck, including plants in pots, rugs, lanterns and a footrest in a geometric pattern. It creates interest and the overall effect is beautiful. Have a play around with some decor of your own until you’re happy with the way it looks.

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