Friday, 13 July 2012

Crafty DIY : Decked Garden Terrace

This little project was great fun but the last little bit was a mighty mission - mainly because we did it on our own. That's only two people. Lifting a wooden frame (weighing the same as our car) over two metres into the air. Shocking, I know. But despite the health and safety risks, we pulled it off a few back spasms later. If you fancy doing something similar, for goodness sake, call in a few mates to help you get it into position.

I will post a few DIYs soon to show you how to go about this properly, but the brief version will do for now. Before we started, this little space was half concrete and half grass, more a passageway than a usable area, so we decided to make it into something. This spot gets the most sun throughout the morning, so we decided to build a covered deck terrace. Top tip - if you're not in any hurry, wait for the decking to go on sale which in the UK is usually early spring and late autumn. Speaking of sales - that Christmas tree there... only £5 from our local nursery out of season. Guess we're having a real Christmas tree this year!

We built a frame out of 75mm wood, then put the decking boards down with deck screws. We secured the four posts into the ground at the front and to the wall at the back. These were secured further by cutting the deck boards around the posts for extra stability. Once the deck was down we could concentrate on making the canopy frame, which involved two planks (one across the back and one at the front) and then eight skinny planks reaching from back to front with a slight overhang. Screw these in tight. Next unroll your bamboo screening (very cheap on ebay - but you must compare prices as they range vastly). Secure with pins and screws, pulling it tight each step of the way.

Now comes the fun part. With as many helpers as possible, lift the canopy frame up bit by bit, so that you angle it in stages, placing it on different levels with each lift. We used tables and blocks of wood to build it up each time. Eventually it will only be one small lift to get it up on top of the posts. Secure with very long screws from the top and from underneath as well. You need the whole thing to withstand high winds, so making sure it's solid and stable should be your number one priority.

We than wrapped outdoor fairy lights around the front posts and made it cosy with an old Ikea table I've had since I was a kid and a wicker sofa we found on ebay for £30. I yacht varnished the wicker to weatherproof it, but with all the rain this summer, she's not holding out as well as she should, so we're thinking about covering the canopy with a thin layer of plastic in order to keep it dry underneath. That means we will have somewhere dry to sit whilst the cat and the rabbit insist on getting outside in all weathers. Someone's got to patrol the flower borders when the rabbit's on the loose.

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