Garden decking warning issued as weather heats up

A file picture of garden decking
Take care with the decking -Credit:Getty

With the second May bank holiday approaching and the warm weather finally here, it’s the perfect time to enjoy an alfresco meal. But what do homeowners need to know to keep their garden protected?

From the places to never set up a barbecue to essential safety tips to keep your decking and patio protected, outdoor flooring expert Steven Walley from London Stone has issued advice.

Make sure it’s placed on stable ground

Steven said: “If you’re thinking about having a barbecue, it’s important to make sure it’s set up on stable ground first, which is why your patio or paving is a preferred choice over a lawn or decking, as this can often be unlevelled. If you do set it up on your patio or paving, just make sure it’s placed at least 10 metres away from your home’s exterior, to prevent any damage and smoke entering through windows and doors.”

Remember to prep the space

While flat surfaces such as patio and paving might not need prepping as much, Steven advised: “Decking can be slightly more uneven than patio or paving slabs, so it’s important to make sure you prep the area a bit more than you would for a patio, if you’re considering setting up a barbecue here. To do this, lay down a mat first to create a smooth surface for it to stand on while you’re cooking. This will help to prevent it from knocking over but will also protect your decking from any flying sparks, which can leave a mark.”

Protect your decking

Steven warned that while decking is safe to barbecue on, there are some protective measures people should ensure they take. He said: “To prevent flying sparks from leaving burn marks on your decking, spray a light mist of water on the decking area before you start cooking as this will help to neutralise any damage. Another way to protect your outdoor flooring is to install a grill mat beneath the barbecue to help reduce the chance of ashes, debris or excess grease damaging your decking.”

Avoid flammable materials

Steven said: “Avoid placing your barbecue next to anything flammable such as outdoor rugs, garden furniture, awnings and other outdoor decorations to reduce the risk of damage. Never place it directly under a roof, including a garage, shed, pergola or any outdoor awning as sparks and flames could easily catch materials above where they could catch light. Similarly, never place it under an overhanging tree, as this could also catch light, causing serious damage to your garden.”

Consider positioning

Steven said: “It’s important to consider the positioning of your barbecue or outdoor kitchen space, especially if you’re hosting and there are a number of people in your garden. Never place it in the centre of your patio or decking, as it could easily get knocked. Instead, place it to the side of your outdoor space, ensuring it’s not next to any flammable items.”

Take note of the weather

Steven said: “The classic British weather means you might encounter some wind and rain during your al fresco dining. While you should never leave a barbecue unattended, make sure you monitor it extra carefully in windy weather to avoid damage to your outdoor space. If the wind is particularly strong, do not use the barbecue.”

Don’t forget to clean up

Once you’ve enjoyed your alfresco dining, Steven explains why it’s important to clean your decking straight away. He said: “It’s always worth giving your decking a clean after a barbecue to help cut down the chance of grease spills and other stains settling onto your decking boards.

“To do this, clear the area first by removing furniture, barbecues and potted plants. Remove all rubbish and debris, using a broom and brush to clean the gaps in between the boards. To get any final debris, use a hose or jet wash to finish off.”