Fences and Decks
Wood fencing is a popular and cheaper alternative to hard walls. They may not last so long but can be built in a range of attractive styles. They will not be an effective noise barrier though and, if the wood is a cheap variety, it may need a lot of maintenance. Different timber is available in different areas although all timber will need to be treated with a wood preservative to prevent the wood rotting. Remember though that plants do not like fresh timber preservative and will die through contact with it. It sometimes takes up to a year before climbers can grow on treated wood. Do not use timber with bark on it, for as it decays it provides a trap for moisture and insects.
Close Board Fencing
This style is the nearest one can get to a wall, it is solid face of timber usually used on boundaries. The solid face is on the outside, so it is not climbable, with the posts and the rails on the inside. An easily replaceable gravel board is handy for running across the base as it blocks holes in the bottom, should rotting occur, and prevents animals getting through. A capping board along the top protects the boards from exposure to rain.
Fence posts depend on the height of the fence ‑ a 6 ft post is often used and should be set into the ground by about 550 mm. The post can be firmed by setting it in concrete.
A wooden deck is a raised area, generally used for outdoor living. Its purpose is essentially the same as a patio (which is not raised). The deck has the advantage that water can drain through the surface of a deck (with timber slats ‑ and gaps between). As such, drainage must be considered more carefully when constructing a patio.
Considerations when building a deck:
- Being a higher level than the surrounds, it is very much a "separate" area (ie. A lawn and patio can merge or join together so that people can spill onto the lawn when you are entertaining on a patio. This is not as straightforward with a deck, because the deck is a "step up" from anything around it). The deck needs to be big enough for the maximum number of people who will use it.
- A rail or bench is necessary for safety (particularly if the deck is high).
- The deck is only as good as its supports. A deck might be built on beams extending from the floor joists of a house. If this is the case, the provision for support has almost certainly been calculated properly by the house builder (tis should be double checked though). Alternatively, you will need to support the deck on stumps (ie. posts). Concrete stumps (as are used in house construction) are generally best, though durable timber posts (which will resist decay) can also be used.
- Being exposed to the weather, any timber used must be durable and resistant to shrinkage or buckling.
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