40 Fantastic Garden Exterior Design Ideas Using Grass That Looks Cool

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Cheap flooring ideas for your outdoor space, from garden decking to artificial lawns. Looking to update your garden surfaces? We got the lowdown on the best surfaces to lay underfoot, from traditional garden decking, to ‘I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-grass’ lawns.

Check out our buyer’s guide for everything you need to know about garden flooring.

Garden Decking
What is it?
Hardwood garden decking in ipe, iroko or balau has natural oils that make it suitable for exterior use. Softwood decking, cut from coniferous trees, is cheaper and comes treated for a long lifespan.
Pros
Quick and relatively cheap to install. The ground beneath doesn’t require levelling, so you can cover an uneven surface, or even an existing terrace. It’s warm underfoot and good for roof gardens.
Cons
Needs regular oiling to maintain its colour. Can be slippery. Hardwoods can be tricky to cut. Cheaper woods tend to warp and move over time.
What’s new?
Composite garden decking, made from resin and reclaimed wood fibres, doesn’t need to be stained or sealed.

Stone Garden Paving
What is it?
Sandstone comes in several colours. You can also try limestone, slate, basalt or travertine. Traditional British stone is more expensive than stone from India and the Far East, which isn’t the same quality.
Pros
Hard-wearing and gives a unique look that can be contemporary or more rustic, depending on the stone you choose. Lasts a lifetime, improves with age and covers a large garden area quickly.
Cons
Expensive. Must be installed by an expert onto a specific substrate. Can be slippery. Pale stones need regular scrubbing.
What’s new?
Companies can now supply stone in shapes other than traditional square or rectangular flags. Slate ‘decking’ (long, slim slabs), for example, is a more contemporary option

Artificial lawn
What is it?
Made from polyurethane, artificial grass comes in a range of different colours and textures to replicate or replace a natural lawn.
Pros
Low maintenance and doesn’t develop muddy, bald patches. It’s a soft, shock-absorbent surface that is great for kids and ideal under trampolines or paddling pools as it won’t go yellow.
Cons
Needs occasional brushing to maintain its appearance. Doesn’t feel or smell like real grass.
What’s new?
New shades, textures and grass types mean artificial lawn has moved on considerably in recent years – it’s now difficult to distinguish it from the real thing

Decorative Aggregates
What is it?
Can be made from crushed natural stones including basalt, flint and limestone, rounded pebbles, crushed sea shells or even recycled glass.
Pros
Good budget material that comes in different colours and is ideal for creating curves and shapes. Free-draining, takes no skill to install and only requires a woven membrane underneath.
Cons
Can spread and get kicked around. Shoes and wheels can sink into gravel. Cats and other animals may use pebbly areas as a toilet.
What’s new?
A new honeycomb system can be laid in order to prevent aggregates shifting and create a much firmer surface so you don’t sink in

Block Garden Paving
What is it?
Sometimes called setts, block paving and cobbles are available in all the same stones as slab paving, or as concrete blocks or bricks.
Pros
Can be laid around curves and used to create garden paths or edge details on areas of larger paving. Gives more scope for decorative designs and rustic charm in the garden. Lots of joins make the surface reasonably nonslip.
Cons
Laying is labour intensive and should be done by an expert. More joins mean there is more opportunity for edges to break.

 

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