Velohobbit's Garden Project

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  • Right,

    I'm mainly going to be using this as a vessel to get information from you clever folks, and also document my progress. I love reading other peoples threads so hopefully this gives someone else some of that!

    We bought our first home in October and since then have known the garden would be something we wanted to work on. Our main reasons were nearly all with previous owners design choices but boiled down to the following work.

    1. Remove existing "patio" and concrete and rock beds & replace with decking
    2. Remove superfluous flower beds and replace with taller planters
    3. Turf reclaimed bits of garden (and probably replace the existing grass unless advised against)
    4. Re pave area with bins and old flower beds for space for BBQ and small shed to store garden stuff

    Having had a few solid days of lovely sunshine we took to the task on Thursday and so far have removed lots of patio, one of the concrete rock things, a large conifer (wanted to keep it but it had grown into our neighbours garden an they weren't keen on it either so down it came).

    We are now considering what we need to do to prepare the ground for the deck once we've cleared the rest of the space. There is currently probably 60% gravel now slabs and beds have been removed, most with liner underneath. I know the "right" answer is to dig it all up, lay new liner once deck supports are in the ground and relay new liner but if I can minimise that work then that suits me!

    The other question I have for you clever folks is this: Mrs Velohobbit and I had watched this handy guide

    for laying a deck ourselves. The issue I realised last night, is that we are looking to put this as close to the fence in the corner as possible. This leaves us with an issue getting at the sides to assemble the deck as per video.

    Has anyone else
    a) have any deck making pearls of wisdom for us
    b) have any ideas on how to build said deck into a corner

    Any thoughts/advice more than welcome. Pics for context and some progress.


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  • Following with interest, love a good decking project!

    How are you building your sub frame? posts in the ground or slabs on the ground and then risers to get to decking height?

  • I was thinking posts in the ground with postcrete the subframe to that, is there much difference between the two in terms of difficulty vs gain?

  • Love a good garden project..
    Anything you can do about those trampolines though...? ;)
    clumping bamboo is what we used in our old house due to the noisy kids bouncing up and down and looking over.
    I am Victor Meldrew

  • I have done posts into the ground with concrete around.

    Worth considering that the posts can be a weak point in terms of rotting out, particularly if your ground is damp.

    Can help against this by uprating your wood (we used oak sleepers ripped in half) or also using something like post savers.

  • Following. Currently doing similar - removed about 24 sleepers to the allotment at the start of last year now excavating back down as I originally planned a big deck which I wanted to sit at the original ground level. Now thinking a block patio in a kind of figure-8 shape and trim the existing one down a bit too make more room for plants, but the same applies. Got a new toy recently which is making the task of sorting out good soil from rubble easier. I only have access through the house so the less I have to move the better. Repurposing the graded soil at allotment and hoping to break the rubble down and use it as hardcore below the patio. Still work I'm not really cut out for physically - it's breaking me!


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  • Fully recommend that plastic sheet in the foreground. I think it's called a rubblemate. Makes the task of filling bags much easier. Props it open then slides out leaving you with a full bag of rubble (hot tip - don't fill them all the way up if you value your back)

    Re: facing boards; don't think you need them by the fence as they're purely superficial to cover up the frame. You might need to leave a gap of 50mm or so to get a socket it and bolt the joists to the posts.


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  • clumping bamboo

    Easy enough to manage? I'm thinking of doing the same with Unbrella Bamboo to block out the outside world.

    Sorry for derail, great little project.

  • Keen to see what you decide on this, as I'm planning a deck build soon.

    Is it worth using postsavers on the posts?

  • I used post savers, wrapped around oak posts, figured it’s hard to know if they would help but for the sake of £1 a post it seems a no brainer.

  • I built this decking against a fence last year. The shape wasn’t square though so I ended up filling in the gaps with slate chips. I made the frame as close as possible to the fence then used builders adhesive to attach the edge boards and trim pieces. This is composite decking on a wooden frame though.


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  • sorry to derail too - yes very effective , just water a lot in the summer.
    This stuff :
    https://www.bigplantnursery.co.uk/shop/p­lants/bamboo/fargesia-robusta-campbell/
    discussed in the gardening thread :)

  • how to build said deck into a corner

    I built a low deck like that up against a rock face. Joined the frame together with these where I couldn’t use screws from the outside in.

    The frame stood on short posts resting on these type of concrete slabs (about 40x40 cm) laid straight on to the ground. Worked fine for the five years we lived in the house.
    Edit: a small bit of tar paper (idk if that’s the right term) between concrete and posts.

  • Apologies for the pretentious pics, it’s from the sales ad when we moved. The point is the joists/frame don’t need to go all the way out against your fence/whatever’s in the way, the boards can overhang a bit without sagging. Makes framing easier.


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  • @Silly_Savage that giant colander looks amazing, thanks for the shout on the rubblemate!

    Thankfully the immediate trampolines have been unused but the sound does travel form one down doors down. Still it sure as shit beats the noise we backed on to in Woolwich.

    @russmeyer @Ducky🦆 thanks for the examples!

    We did more yesterday lunch and evening. More old bushes out, wife started on painting the fence and I filled a few builder bags for the tip. Oh, and removed the concrete and stone and plant pot mess they installed, took a lot of hammering a brick bolster to get that into bits.

    Had a research to try and get a more accurate idea on material costs and have ended up getting a quote from a local firm to do it. I'm always in favour of DIY but my wife is less keen and fair enough as I'm not always the easiest to work with when I get tired and stressed. And given we've not done a project like this before, learning as we go on £1k ish of timber is potentially an expensive learning curve.

    Love the idea of postsaver, just shame it needs a blowtorch to install!

    If I loose the battle on DIYing the deck, I might win the contract on building the planters.

    Today's probably the last day before the rain comes in so I'm getting the rest of the paving slabs out as far as the deck will go at lunch, then take down and strip the conifer hopefully before we lose the light.

    Varnish will arrive so we can finish the wall to wall bookcases in the library which have been a never ending project but is almost at an end. Carpet is in store waiting to be put in and we have probably 20-30 moving boxes containing books in the guest room, so it'll be nice to see that room again.

  • Postsavers need a blow torch, but only a £10 one from screwfix, if you are getting someone in to do it, I would certainly ask them to add it to the quote esp. if they are proposing on just using standard 4x4 treated timber rather than a hardwood.

  • It’s definitely a DIY job. We were quoted over £7000 for ours in timber by a specialist. It came to less than £1000 for all the material and took two weekends to do ourselves.

    I used the stone slab technique with rubber above and below the posts and painted the frame with a good few coats of fence paint.

    The frame was built in place and then levelled with lots of support to stop it sagging.

    Once the frame is complete it’s pretty quick to lay the boards on top.

    Tools wise you only really need a decent saw, drill and spirit level.

  • I built a deck overhanging a pond about ten years ago. I used recycled plastic fence posts set in concrete and one actually in the water to support the planks.
    They can be drilled and screwed into like timber and are maintenance free !
    Similar to this picture, if you Google recycled fence posts there's loads of options.


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  • spirit level

    But don't be too anal about it, or rather build it with a slight slope on purpose. I built ours completely level and the boards swelled up and water gathered in puddles on top of the deck.

  • Yes, you are correct. A slight run off in one direction is desirable.

  • Long time no update: current garden status:

    Fences: probably a third of the way through painting.

    Deck: being laid by a joiners I met at the rugby club. I had a freelance job come in that paid for the labour and meant I wouldn't be free to help.

    Patio: to the right of the conservatory more or less up to the green painted section. Will be a section of gravel between the patio and the deck as there is a sight elevation change so putting a step in there to take that into account.

    Advice needed in following post:


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  • Patio/paving questions:

    Planning on getting everything that is there up and paving the section at about 3.6m to 4.6m.

    Type 1 sub base compacted down (I was going to buy a manual tamper unless its much better to hire a plate compactor?)

    I was going to use premix slab base given the enclosed nature I'm not sure how I'd be able to lay it and then lay the slabs without walking all over it (see here

    ) so I'm leaning towards this

    method .

    Anyone have any pearls of wisdom on this or gotcahs to watch for?

    My current headache is working out how to implement the fall needed for drainage. I know the fall amount, do I make sure the sub-base of type 1 is level with the fall, or when the digging is done do I need to get the fall right there, and then ensure the sub base and slabs follow it? Any resources to help on that part would be massively appreciated!

  • Hand tamping is damn hard work so get a 'whacker' unless you really can't or fancy a killer tricep workout spread over several days. I did it on a 5m² path and the results were less than ideal, though that might have been down to me getting sloppy at the end of the job.

    Check out paving expert website if you haven't already, there's so much good info on there. I believe making the fall with the sub-base is ok.

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Velohobbit's Garden Project

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