Friday, April 26, 2013


Do you recall, not so long ago, all those property programmes on TV banging on about how great decking is?

No, neither do I really, but I assume they must have done, because one day in mid-2008 I realised that every garden I went in seemed to have planks of wood where grass had once been.

When we bought our house in 2010 the decking craze had faded a bit. But, because no-one had any money anymore *shakes fist at Lehman Brothers et al*, all the gardens which had been covered in nice wood were now covered in two year old, neglected wood. Our new home had been treated to a liberal smattering of decking, roughly 70% of the back garden was covered in it.

Aesthetically speaking, the decking was okay. It did have a thin film of incredibly slippery green stuff on it, as a result of the previous owners never cleaning it, but as long as all you wanted to do was look at the garden from inside, it was okay. Cutting the lawn took moments, as there was only roughly four square feet of it.

Structurally, the decking was not so good. It was flagged up by the surveyor, as it had been built too high, which meant a risk of damp creeping up past the damp proof course of the house itself. It also had a bit of a rickety "DIY" feel to it.

One day, soon after we moved in, water started coming through the kitchen floor, which put something of a dampener (sorry) on our moods. We didn't know where the water was coming from, and the decking didn't have an access panel to the drain we assumed would be underneath it. If that drain was blocked, causing our kitchen to do an impression of a paddling pool, it needed sorting. The decking had to go.

The occasions where I feel like a manly man are few and far between.  The day that I started taking up the decking was one of them. A hammer, a saw, not one but TWO crowbars were my weapons of choice.

The decking didn't go without a fight. Despite it's less than sturdy appearance, I soon discovered that whoever had built it was a firm believer in not using one nail if there was the option to use six. Reinforcements were drafted in: Mrs L, my younger brother, my mum and dad, all pitching in to purge the garden of the wooden blight.

Slowly but surely, we were winning. At the very end of the day, I let my guard down. I lost my respect for our adversary and trod on a six inch nail. I didn't have any body piercings before that day, and I had never suspected that my first one would be right through my foot.

One tetanus jab later and the last few pieces of wood were transported to the tip. Hooray.

Sadly, the state of our garden beneath the decking looked like an homage to London during the blitz. Which is pretty much how it remained until last Tuesday, when a nice man came and rotovated it, turfed it, and gave us a nice, Cam friendly garden.

The house I grew up in had a big garden at the front, a small garden at the rear, and a disused quarry which me and my siblings used as our personal adventure playground. I can't imagine I'll ever be able to offer Cam a similar facility, but we do now have some usable outside space for him to run around in and get muddy. This pleases me enormously. I love the outdoors, and the availability of green space for Cam to use is important to me.

We already have the obligatory Little Tikes Coupe, what other garden essentials do we need? Over to you for your suggestions…


  1. Outdoor space is so important for little ones, a bigger garden was a top priority when we were looking for our house.
    Definitely should get a slide, we have a little tikes one and Matilda absolutely loves it. Aside from that try and get some plants in that he can interact with. Ones that smell/touch nice.

  2. Our little hexagonal wooden sandpit (with all important cover) has seen us through 3 kids and they still ALL play in it.

    W are doing the opposite and putting a patio over all of our postage stamp garden...but we do live next to a forest and a reservoir, so plenty of run around space. Wishthe grass would grow but after 2 years we've given up.

    Nail in foot sounds SORE :(

  3. Leave some space for a trampoline, you'll be getting one in a couple of years - they are brilliant at wearing out children!

  4. Hurrah for freeing the grass! I'm looking at our garden (which we designed and constructed as a childless couple) and deciding that we need to ditch the bottom patio which has been used twice in eight years. I reckon get one of those Little Tykes cube climbing frames with the tiny slide off it, cheap as chips on ebay if you collect from locally.

    Not on your bike mind.

  5. yay a garden! i would highly recommend a little shed for cam, ronnie adores his and spends a lot of time coming in and out, in and out and yay a garden!