Dockside Decking, How to build


When looking to improve your garden it can be a good idea to take inspiration from your surroundings. Why confine your creative thoughts to standard garden themes. If you look around to draw inspiration you’ll be surprised at the amount of ideas you can get.

The Challenge

My client had a postage stamp sized plot in the heart of the city. I was keen to capitalise on their dockside location. They also wanted a garden that would be easy to maintain.

Designing the Garden

I decided to design a garden that evoked a seafaring
world, working with timber, water and rock.

My design features a boardwalk made from decking planks. This is supported by large wooden telegraph poles, cut right down in height. A pond forms the heart of the garden and it actually runs under the boardwalk. On a hot day you can sit on the edge and dangle your feet in the water, something I always loved to do as a child.

I chose reclaimed railway sleepers to contain raised beds around the garden. Raised beds are easy to maintain because you don’t have to bend down so far to reach the soil. Sleepers are great because you can sit on them whilst watering, weeding or pruning. Avoid that backache!


Always place a micro-porous membrane down before laying decking. This prevents the growth of weeds between planks – these are extremely difficult to remove. Put a layer of gravel over the membrane to keep it in position and hide its surface.

When selecting your decking planks, always check that the timbers are either hardwood or pressure treated softwood. I prefer to use planks that have a ribbed, non-slip profile. Smooth decking can be treacherous when the wet.

Although I used railway sleepers in the garden, I kept them away from the pond. On hot days tar deposits can seep out, and these are potentially harmful to fish and wildlife.

Taylor’s Tips

• Make sure that the decking planks are securely fastened, preferably with two screws side by side in each fastening position. This will ensure that the planks don’t warp and that the surface remains level.
• If the sleepers do exude tar this can be taken off with a rag and strong household detergent. Worth doing, especially if you have children who are likely to touch them.
• Ensure that the plants used in raised beds are fairly drought resistant. Soil dries out a lot quicker than it would in a normal bed. If the bed is in a sunny position why not try herbs.

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