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Contemporary decking
Rest and relaxation zone

Selecting the right materials to choose for your seating and relaxation area can be pretty tricky, especially given the vast array of different styles and colours. Making a good choice is really important because this is usually the area that you will spend most of your time in, and will give you the opportunity to look out over your new garden.

Decking's back!

Decking got a bit of a bad rap in the nineties, largely in part due to the fact that is was used on pretty much every garden makeover show, usually accompanied by some twee ballustrades and steps. Britain's love affair with decking was over by the end of the decade as people drifted away from the boxy, plain deck that added little value to the garden.

Times have changed, and decking is making a comeback - this time, out are the old pine grooved decks of the past and in are contemporary decks in hard woods, which cleverly complement the design and aren't just plonked outside the French windows.

Decking woods come in a large variety of species, particualr favourites being Western red cedar, IPE, red and yellow balau and for a real touch of luxury, a gorgeous chocolate coloured Brazilian Teak deck. You could also go for a composite deck, made from wood polymer which is truly environmentally friendly and won't split, warp or splinter. For more on which which deck might suit your requirements, take a look at our guide in the next section.

Real stone patios for beauty and durability

Cast your mind back to the seventies and eighties, and you'll remember that patios were purely functional and often made out of pre-cast concrete slabs laid out in a rectangle that divided the lawn from the house. Yes, they were very convenient for a row of fold up deck chairs but they didn't really look great. These days we are lucky enough to have a great varierty of natural stones to choose from when designing seating areas and our designers can come up with some really interesting way to use them to make sure that your patio or paved area brings functionality and aesthetics together.

One of our favourites is Indian sandstone because it is relatively affordable when used over large spaces, very durable and comes in a variety shades which really bring out the surrounding planting. A fantastic way to use this particular stone is build a seamless run from the interior of your property to outdoors, with folding doors that can be opened in summer to create a magnificent extension of your home.

For a really lovely feature for a more formal garden, why not consider a circular patio - done with the right care and materials, these can make a great seating area, especially when softened with herbacious planting, such as lush hostas and delicate ferns.

Choosing your materials

We've already told you about how decking can transform your garden, so take a look at our quick guide to four popular types of decking. Remember, this is just a small sample of the huge array that's out there - if you'd like more information and suggestions we recommend a visit to the Timber Decking Association's website at

Western red cedar

Western Red Cedar is a unique softwood species native to the west coast of America and is the favoured choice for many designers due to its beautiful appearance and durability.

Price level: £ £ £ £

Yellow Balau

Yellow Balau is one of the most popular species for hardwood decking because it combines value for money with warm tones from golden brown to pale reddish-browns

Price level: £ £ £

Brazilian teak (Cumaru)

One of the finest quality hardwoods available, Brazilian Teak's golden to reddish brown colors are accentuated by dark grain accents through out the wood. This really is the king of decking!

Price level: £ £ £ £ £

Wood Composite

Composite decking is an environmentally friendly alternative to wood decking that doesn't rot, warp or splinter — and never needs staining or sealing. It's also very easy to maintain.

Price level: £ £

Outdoor heating
Electric heater

Electric patio heaters are now so advanced they have become an economically and environmentally sound way to keep an outdoor environment warm and comfortable. They produce no direct CO2 emissions and use 85% less energy than gas patio heaters.

Being odour free, silent, and effective even in windy conditions an electric patio heater can provide cost effective instant heat at the flick of a switch. Check out Heat Outdoors for a great range of heaters.

Design focus
Outdoor wallpaper

We absolutely love this fantastic design idea from Susan Bradley Design. Outdoor Wallpaper™ is a unique award-winning product for outside spaces, bringing the indoors outdoors via cutting edge technology.

Outdoor Wallpaper™ reinterprets a familiar domestic item for outdoor spaces - use as a unique trellis, screening or simply a beautiful decorative feature, to create an immediate impact in any space. Get yours here.

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