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I'm thinking of moving house, but so many houses have decking and paved areas where the gardens should be.  How viable is it to restore such a garden?  Is the earth under decking/paving/thick plastic sheets okay once you remove the covering?

I'd have thought so Pat though you may need to dig it / rotavate it to get some air in to the soil as its probably very compressed.  We've got a huge area of block paved patio which is going to be reduced in size as its a nightmare for weeds and upkeep.


Pat unfortunately you won't really know till you lift it. Depends what's been there beforehand. If it's a new build the soil probably won't be great anyway. Decks are sometimes built over existing patios too so it's a bit of a lottery. I think you have to accept that you'll probably need to put a bit of soil/compost/nourishment and tlc in no matter what.

Pat, whatever is there get rid of all that decking, etc. and get to your soil.  Decking, paving, etc. is all "dead".  Get some plants in there instead and bring life into your garden

Adding compost, manure, etc., is important when digging over your plot.  Get as much  in there as you can.

flowering rose

glad your turn it back to a garden,so many gardens are paved over even ones with large gardens.


Your more likely to have success removing decking than slabs.  Decking tends to be raised above the ground so there are probably going to be a number of concrete pads to remove which support the bearers.  A properly laid paved area will have had up to 6" of soil removed and replaced by hardcore and cement beneath the slabs themselves.

Not impossible to rectify but a lot of hard work and expense.

The potty gardener

When I moved in my small garden was paved. Although it does restrict me a bit I grow my garden in pots.( Hence the name) In fact it is more it's size that restricts me. I did post some views around my garden on Garden gallery post pg 66.


I have a load of slabs here which will be getting removed- or most of them will. They're very well laid but on coarse sand and because the ground is very solid they don't move, so it can depend on what the underlying ground is like too.

Use the wand fairy......use the wand


The sate of the ground will also vary depending on how long the decking/ paved area has been down.Some will have been laid on hardcore and general rubbish,so as others have said until its lifted you won,t know,but after all the hard work you will have a living garden,and not as Verdun says a "dead area".



I removed two sheds last year, which were stood on slabs. The "soil" underneath one was clay, and the other shale, clay and sand in stripes.  I added as much compost and FYM as I could lay my hands on.  Its OK this year, but will be an ongoing improvement project.

Gilly, you misconstrue!    I have said just as you have ...viz., with added compost etc pat,will have a living garden.  The "dead" garden is the decking, etc.

I too have rejuvenated areas once covered with sheds, etc.and with great success and satisfaction.  Go for it Pat

Thanks everyone for your comments.  No final decision made yet as regards choice of house but I know what questions to ask now.  And I will definitely have a proper garden not a barren space.

I have a large area with decking and 2 small patio flagged areas, the top flagged area now has a greenhouse on and the decking has lots of pots and planters on it.

I wouldnt call it dead though as Verdun suggests, horses for courses and having decking can be both practical in all weathers along with nature/wildlife friendly.

Just like plants in as many places as possible Singy. I guess you are right though, horses for courses.  



The problem with decking is when it's put in the wrong place. Needs to be sunny as they get very slippy in even light shade if they get wet, and they need a lot of scrubbing to get the mossand algae off! Shady areas are better with gravel if you need a spot for a seat or table. We have a lot of rain up here so a hard landscaped area of some sort is vital unless you want to get a raft to sit on! 

Funny, on Love your garden last week Alan Titchmarsh complained about the use of decking in gardens.  He started the craze for decking when he did the Groundforce gardens........guess, we all learn. 

So many people turned to decking and in my local area postmen, trades people and the owners were slipping and sliding off.  And they looked awful generally


Has to be done properly Verd. In a previous house we had French doors leading out onto it from the dining room (south facing). I left a  bit to plant into at one end and had a retaining timber wall  at right angles to it to match the deck, creating a planted terrace, and I had  planting along the rest of the side where the handrail was as well.  At my last house however, the previous owners put  deck right round the new extension which came to the back door. That was our main entry and it was in shade all day apart from a few hours late in the day in summer. Like an ice rink. It had been badly done too and the rain just gathered on it. The bit at the other side was lovely as we had French doors in straight out onto it from our bedroom.The rest should never have been put in. Classic case of lack of knowledge. They can look awful if they're just stuck in the garden and they don't connect with anything too.

I have decking that is rotting and I would like to lay paving slabs.  Is this an expensive or hard job please?