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Timber in Gardens

Timber in Gardens

Timber is used mostly in gardens for two things; furniture and construction. As a natural product, wood is sympathetic in a garden, compared to never-ending, red brick newbuilds which so often look glaring and unnatural. Hedges and planting can hide cheap walls but can be an expensive screen. A good quality timber alternative is a saving grace. Sleeper walls and steps give a balance to the hard and soft fixtures in gardens. Timber is subtle, calming and malleable. There is a subconscious beauty in the use of timber. If sustainably sourced, it is much less impactful on the environment. Timber cannot compete with the look of a well-built drystone wall, or its durability, but when timber is good quality and used with care and skill, it can give it a damn good run for its money.

One problem with the use of timber in gardens is that many people are unimaginative with it. They may have inherited a cheap, old, rotten deck which they can’t look past to see potential. There are many ways, design-wise, to be clever with it. Instead of plain sleeper walls aligned one on another, try laying them on-end, butted up to one another. In a skilful build, curved walls can be created by cutting a mitre into all the joints to give a seamless wall, with no jagged edges, which looks natural whilst being crisp and contemporary.

For an ever more inventive look, mix up the colours and grades of timber. This will give a very fresh and chic look which will weather at different rates, therefore continuing to evolve the design of your timber work. This

Timber in Gardens

looks even stronger if you marginally offset each piece of timber from the next to give a slightly shabby rustic feel. It will add another dimension to the surface by creating depth between each plank.

Timber in Gardens

Weathered Timber Decking (image courtesy of

Picture 1

Timber Sleeper Wall

When sourcing timber there are a few key things to look out for. The most important is, is it sustainable? This is usually simple, as there are a few accreditations for timber which are trustworthy. The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) is one of the most rigorous as it guarantees that the timber is from responsibly managed woodland via a chain of custody. It tracks every log from planting to final sale to the customer. It’s also often expensive to get the accreditation, so you can rest assured that if a company has paid for the accreditation then they’ve done so because they care about the woodland. There are other global organisations, such as PEFC or the American ATFS, which operate to the same high standard and level of responsibility.

There are also other ways to be proactive about being responsible which may, in many cases, be better and cheaper. The best thing to do is to use recycled, reclaimed or preloved timber from previous construction, salvage or dead trees. These can be cheaper if they are picked up from salvage yards, or if you happen to know someone who is knocking down a building you can agree a good price. The aged and distressed look of previously used wood can often add an aesthetic appeal to its new application. This is very much a design trend now and I feel it’s here to last. This barely crests the surface of other alternatives such as recycled composites, or designing to minimise their need.

Garden design is all about preference, and well-used timber is a strong and exciting way to make your garden original.

If you would like to redesign your garden, get in touch with our design team by emailing

Timber in Gardens

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