Decking ideas: 42 stylish outdoor living spaces to recreate in your backyard
Whether your plot is big or small, these decking ideas will take it to the next level
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Our decking ideas are just what you need to elevate your plot – quite literally speaking. And, if you haven't considered adding a deck before, now's the perfect time to do so. Decking is super versatile as a landscaping material for your garden and there are plenty of brilliant styles to choose from to fit your theme.
In fact, with decking, the options are almost endless. You could create a fabulous outdoor zone complete with a cover to use whatever the weather, design a decked pathway to the bottom of the garden, or even use it as a sturdy platform to host an alfresco kitchen area.
Decking can also be used around pools or hot tubs. And, if your garden is set out on different levels with sloping sections, it can be a great way to create more practical and useable areas for dining, entertaining, or lounging. And for small gardens, opting for a decked terrace can be a stylish and low-maintenance option for your landscaping ideas.
42 dazzling decking ideas to try
Whether your garden is big or small, these deck ideas are sure to provide plenty of inspiration to help transform your space.
1. Create a tucked-away seating area
This jungle-style garden instills a real sense of adventure with its decked paths and tucked-away seating space surrounded by lush foliage.
The structure above the wooden bench adds extra character and style (plus, could be used for training climbing plants for even more greenery). It's the perfect place for entertaining, or simply enjoying some solo time amongst nature.
What's more, mixing up the decking materials across the scheme adds an extra dose of visual interest and helps make the zones in the plot more defined.
2. Match your decking to your garden building
Garden buildings have had a surge in popularity over the last few years. We're not talking about sheds – although they are undeniably useful – but rather, outdoor offices, gyms, and summer houses.
This gorgeous design, spotted at Chelsea Flower Show 2022, features a show-stopping, charred-larch cabin complete with a wood burner – the perfect retreat whatever time of year. The small deck blends seamlessly into the structure with its matching hue, offering a contemporary space for taking in the fresh air and perhaps a spot of yoga.
Loose planting, including Scots pines and river birches, and a pond finish the tranquil setup beautifully and provide the perfect balance against the dark and moody tones.
3. Keep it simple and chic with light tones
If inky tones aren't your style, opting for a pale decking color can be just as chic. Keep all the shades in your setup neutral, from your furniture to your overhead shelter, for an easy yet sophisticated scheme that ties together well.
This large space is fit for family gatherings with its ample seating, and the shade sail above will protect everyone from the sun's midday glare. We love the addition of the pond, too, which only elevates the view.
4. Opt for modern comfort
A sleek deck is the perfect base for an array of the best garden furniture, and how's this for a sophisticated scheme?
A rattan outdoor sofa is on our list of must-haves this year as is timelessly chic, while a matching coffee table offers additional practicality and style. Then, pop an outdoor rug in a subtle pattern underfoot, for extra visual appeal and coziness.
If done with safety considerations in mind, a deck fire pit is a great addition too, allowing you to make the most of the space and transition from daytime to night with ease. A spark screen, as seen here, will keep flying embers contained.
5. Design a feature wall behind your deck
Bring a burst of vibrancy to your decking ideas by painting your nearby garden wall in an uplifting shade. This vivid blue is gorgeous and adds bags of personality to the zone, although a terracotta, ochre yellow, or perhaps even a shocking pink might be more your style.
Installing sturdy shelves will allow you to personalize the wall even further with jolly planters, garden decor, and perhaps a lantern or two. Pick plants that pop against the backdrop – like the yellow and orange flowers seen here.
6. Use decking to zone a low-maintenance plot
Looking for low-maintenance garden ideas? Decking is a great option – particularly if you go for composite styles.
Use it to break up pockets of easy-care planting. Drought-tolerant picks such as ornamental grasses look fabulous amongst gravel, as seen here, and need very little attention.
Add a comfy daybed for lounging, and update the boundaries with decorative screens and leafy greenery. You'll have a stylish and easy-care space in no time: perfect for busy urban dwellers or those who simply want to relax in their garden rather than sweat over outdoor chores.
7. Surround a decked courtyard with plants
Decking is much easier to maintain than grass and is ideal for small gardens or courtyards. But if you don't want to miss out on greenery, simply surround the space with as much planting as possible.
There are plenty of vertical gardening ideas to try, such as training plants up trellises. And, of course, container gardening offers lots of opportunities to get creative, whether you want to create a romantic, cottage garden scheme or fill them with sculptural plants for a modern vibe.
Add a dining set in the center and perhaps some twinkling lanterns to finish the stylish scene.
8. Cozy up a covered deck
With the addition of deck cover ideas, you can use your outdoor living space no matter the weather.
This rustic setup would certainly tempt us outdoors even in the depths of winter, what with its layers of soft textiles, wood-burning stove, and glowing lanterns. And the timber walls tie into the scheme beautifully, adding a cozy cabin-like vibe while keeping chilly winds at bay.
9. Mix up the textures with a stone wall beside your deck
Putting contrasting materials side by side can create a pleasing result that's full of personality. Take this setup, for example, where a sleek composite deck balances out the rustic look of a stone wall.
Opting for a simple yet modern bistro set and wall light keeps the look on-trend. We love the duo of planters with their trailing succulents, too, for a playful touch.
10. Go for non-slip decking around a pool
Both composite and timber decking can be a great choice for surrounding a pool, offering a laid-back yet still smart look.
However, when it comes to pool deck ideas, it's vital to ensure that the one you pick doesn't become too slippery when wet for safety reasons. This one shown above has integrated non-slip inserts around the pool's perimeter. Not only will they offer a sturdy grip underfoot, but they also add a decorative accent to the scheme.
11. Layer up the details
One way to instantly give your outdoor seating space added appeal is by introducing some deck lighting ideas. Whether you go for lanterns, strings of the best festoon lights, or even a freestanding lamp combined with a heater, they're a surefire way to boost the ambiance and keep conversation going well into the evening.
For the best effects, layer them up so you have low, twinkling light on different levels. Other accessories, such as soft outdoor cushions and potted plants, will add homely finishing touches.
12. Offset a muted deck with flower-filled planters
If you prefer a more pared-back look, then how's something like this? The muted scheme of soft creams, grays, and a touch of blush is wonderfully harmonious and soothing. The duo of planters, bursting with late-summer cosmos, frame the space beautifully.
Look closely at the decking itself and you'll spot the subtle strips of non-slip inserts too. It's a brilliant slippery deck solution without sacrificing on style.
13. Keep warm with a luxe heater
Nowadays, when it comes to the best patio heaters, there are so many designs available. So, you can really pick one that fits your space – whether that's a paved area or a decked one.
This pyramid design with a central flame tube is totally chic and a stylish feature in itself, besides keeping everyone warm. But if you don't fancy a gas-fuelled design, there are lots of plug-in, electric options on the market that are super convenient.
14. Build your own decking furniture from pallets
If you're looking for decking ideas on a budget, or simply fancy a project for the weekend, consider building some pallet furniture. Often you can get pallets for a very small cost (sometimes, they're even free), and they're a super versatile material for getting creative with.
From coffee tables to chairs and sofas, or even an outdoor bar, the possibilities are almost endless. And with a lick of exterior wood paint, you can really customize them to suit your space. Cushions and throws will add extra comfort, then consider a string of lights overhead and a cozy chiminea nearby to complete the welcoming scene.
15. Pep up a small deck with clever and colorful furniture
Don't let a less-than-large backyard hold you back – even petite decks can be practical and beautiful.
Take this table and chair set, for instance, which features a built-in planter that's perfect for herbs or flowers. The teal hue offers an instant summery feel that will lift even a shady space, and we like the addition of potted plants nearby too for extra greenery and texture.
It's the perfect spot for a morning coffee or an impromptu lunch served alfresco.
16. Dress up your deck on a budget
A few cheap decking ideas can be all it takes to create a chic scheme. Here, the use of a neutral palette feels calm and considered, and we particularly like the woven details on the rug and chairs. Small details, such as a potted cactus and elegant candlestick, add pretty personal touches.
Painting decking is also a good way to make it suit your scheme. Here, the pale tone helps to brighten the space and blends with the surrounding walls.
17. Opt for a wrap-around cover
For extra shelter from the sun or the rain, pergola ideas are a must-have. Sure, you could opt for a parasol for an easy and relatively cheap fix. But a more permanent solution like this can be more impressive, and defines a garden 'room' more clearly.
The wrap-around, slatted design of this cover works perfectly alongside a modern dining setup and pale gray decking. We love the use of climbing plants too, for a soothing shot of green.
18. Make a statement with a dark deck
There's no need to go for natural wood tones for your deck if you don't want to. Choosing a deep hue can bring a dramatic touch to an outdoor space.
Gray and black shades have contemporary credentials but they aren't just for modern garden ideas. Combine them with vintage-look furniture as seen here and they'll work in cottage-style gardens too. We also love the way the colors and shapes of the chairs have been mixed and matched here, creating a casual and eclectic look.
And, if your pick of the best decking doesn't come in a dark tone, you can always update it with a stain or lick of paint.
19. Get creative with curves
If you're looking to go all-out with your decking ideas, then a design like this might just be the way forward.
We love how the sweeping curves divide up different zones of the space – from the comfy sofa area up top to the sunken zone down below with its bordering bench. It's a great setup for relaxed garden parties or for large families, as will allow everyone to spread out comfortably. And, the central fire pit will keep things feeling cozy well into the evening.
If your garden is on a slope like this, then our gallery of tiered garden ideas will provide plenty more inspiration.
20. Create a cinema setup
Want to try something a little different for your backyard? Setting up an outdoor cinema is a surefire way to create special evenings with loved ones, and a sturdy deck will provide a good solid base.
All you need is the best outdoor projector and an old sheet hung from a fence or wall nearby. And, if you opt for a cover overhead, you can snuggle down and enjoy the movie uninterrupted even if it's pattering with rain.
We have lots of backyard movie night ideas to elevate the occasion, but comfy cushions, perhaps an outdoor rug, and low, glowy lights are a must for a welcoming vibe.
21. Go for a tiered approach
If you're leveling out a hilly garden then there's bound to be some steps involved. Well, why not use decking steps?
These smart stairs are complete with sleek recessed lighting – a crucial addition for illuminating the way when night falls.
We also love how the design extends across to define raised beds. Here, they're filled with rockery-inspired planting which is a great low-maintenance option. But for an alternative approach, you could fill them with billowing flowers, or even veggies and herbs.
22. Use decking for a stylish roof terrace
If you're an urban dweller, you might be lucky enough to have your own private roof terrace. As you can see in this gorgeous example, decking makes a fine choice for this sort of space. Go for a soft hue for a contemporary feel. Then, dress the space with neutral deck furniture accented with pops of colorful cushions for a sophisticated scene.
Large potted plants will also make a good addition. Just ensure that you opt for ones that can handle being so open to the elements. Drought-tolerant olive trees, lavender, and ornamental grasses are good choices, but avoid Japanese acers and ferns. Plant them up in wide planters which match the look of your decking for harmonious results – they'll offer an extra boost of privacy too.
23. Create a private hideaway
Speaking of garden privacy ideas, take a look at this tucked-away decked area. The sofas and streamlined bar provide all the comforts of a living room. However, plenty of fresh air, beams of sunlight, and a fragrant lilac offer that indoor-outdoor living experience we all dream of.
Modern decking in a warm tone is ideal for this type of low-maintenance space. Meanwhile, an open, wooden structure overhead will shield you from some of the sun's rays and will look extra lovely when adorned with pretty solar-powered pendants.
24. Provide plenty of seating
If you're looking for a clever alternative to deck railing ideas then a design like this could be just the ticket. Not only does it define the perimeter in style, but it also doubles up as a generous space for seating – ideal if you love to throw garden parties.
The curved line adds visually-pleasing interest, whilst opting for a slightly different color from the decking itself makes for an attractive contrast. And if the stylish parasol has caught your eye, don't forget to check out our best garden parasols buying guide – they're a great way to quickly update a space.
25. Enjoy the view of the pool
A decked area can make a lovely spot to relax and take in the view of your backyard pool, like in this stunning scene above. Due to its shape, two different zones are formed – one for lounging and one for cooking and dining.
Going for such an elevated height will allow you to enjoy the best views in the house (and means you can keep an eye on the kids whilst they splash about). Just make sure you go for a sturdy rail to surround it, to keep everyone safe from the edge.
26. Use a curved deck to surround a pond
A timber deck looks stunning alongside a garden pond and it also provides a spot to sit and admire any fish, pond life, or aquatic plants.
Use a softly curved edge around the water for a feeling of space. A pale hue will lift the area and add to the soothing vibe, as well as help to bounce the light around.
Surround with lush greenery, a candle or two, and a string of festoon lights and you'll have the perfect haven for relaxing.
27. Paint it gray for a budget-friendly revamp
If you're on a tight budget but want to give your existing decking ideas a revamp, then consider finding out how to paint decking and give it a lick of paint or treat it with a wood stain. Not only will it give your decking a refresh, but it will protect it over the winter months too.
After a few years decking can suffer from wear and tear and show signs of green algae and mold. So rather than investing in new decking, spend a few hours one weekend giving yours some TLC and following our top tips on how to clean decking.
Apply a couple of coats of anti-slip decking stain, and look for one that gives a touch of color too. Gray is a versatile shade that will go with any color scheme, but we think it works particularly well with modern garden furniture.
28. Add a shade sail for year-round entertaining
Rain or shine, you can still use your deck ideas if you incorporate some sort of shelter or cover above your space. This could be a fixed structure such as a pergola with a roof, or something as simple as a patio shade sail or awning that attaches to the wall.
In the summer months, covers like these will give you plenty of shade from the sun. Then, when the weather turns in autumn and winter, you can add a patio heater and still enjoy being outside on the decking as the awning will help to contain the heat and keep you cozy and snug.
29. Incorporate a water feature (or two)
For a super sleek garden makeover, take inspiration from our water feature ideas and incorporate one into your new decked terrace. We love how this contemporary take on a garden pond blends seamlessly with its surroundings, helping to break up the expanse of decking and prevent it from dominating the space.
Deck ideas can be a good option to have near water features as they're durable – and the best composite decking designs are non-slip too. For a thoroughly modern scheme, combine your decking ideas with smart stone paving for added interest.
30. Make a backdrop for an accent piece
Use your decking ideas as an integral part of your garden's backdrop by working them into a bold color scheme. Here, narrow, pale boards are juxtaposed with the dark-colored wall, yet cohesion is maintained by the lines following the same direction.
Together, they provide the perfect setting for the focal piece of this area – an oversized, bright red lamp. A minimal seating set finishes this striking look perfectly.
31. Create a deck for small spaces
Building a deck can be an easy-to-achieve way to create a level area in a small garden.
If your deck's small, take a lead from this design and build benches in. It will allow you to fit in more seating than you could with individual chairs and you can ensure it's comfortable by adding seat pads and cushions.
Team with a garden table and everyone can reach their drinks. Outdoor paint will complete the deck design.
Wondering how much to budget for your new decking ideas? We've got all the answers on how much decking costs in our guide.
32. Improve a long, narrow garden with decking
Typical town gardens often have wasted space at the far end that we don't bother to use. Add a deck to yours, though, and you can turn it into a destination for your outdoor dining ideas or simply a spot for relaxing. This deck is slightly raised, which helps to make it even more of a focal point.
If the shed's located there, too, give it a quick spruce so it doesn't let the side down.
33. Consider the outlook from the deck
You can take advantage of the view from a raised deck – even if the vista is not of your own garden – with a balustrade you can see through when you're seated. There are plenty of options to suit the style of your plot and your budget.
Metal railings like these have enduring style, or think about a glazed balustrade for a contemporary-style garden.
Our garden screening ideas have lots of alternative options for extra shelter.
34. Give your decking a border
Creating a border in a contrasting color can make your decking more of an eye-catching and individual feature. Here, the reversible boards in toning colors give it a decorative finish. At a higher level than the garden, it offers a relaxing space with a view, too.
This decking is composite, made using 100% FSC certified hardwood timber and recycled plastic, and is a low-maintenance option that doesn't require staining, oiling, or painting.
35. Go vertical with a pergola
Teaming a pergola with your deck ideas can add to the impression of the space as an outdoor room, whether you use it as a living area like this one, or as a dining zone.
You can add natural shade by growing climbers on the pergola, and they can even bring wonderful fragrance to the space. Match your deck and pergola colors for a pulled-together look.
36. Build in planting
You can gently soften the lines of your raised decking by creating space for planting within the overall design. Here, spiky architectural foliage and pretty blooms spill over onto the deck from the beds that are part of the split-level feature.
Planters on the deck complete the look, and as they're only slim, they leave space for circulation on the upper level.
37. Match your decking to your home's architecture
If you're planning a new extension, why not consider extending the roof structure to create a sheltered spot for your decking? Match the decking color to the timber used on the underside of the roof for a smart and cohesive look.
This fabulous patio area shows you how to make it work successfully – the timber-clad walls are painted a dark gray shade that ties in with the dining table and chairs, and creates a striking contrast to the warm wood tones of the decking and ceiling. Plus, the outdoor lighting ideas ensure this space can be used just as much after dark as during the day.
38. Stay on the deck for longer with a fire pit
Adding heating to your decking will extend the months of the year during which you can use your outdoor space. We love the fire pit on this deck, surrounded by seating.
Need something smaller? A patio heater could allow you to fit more furniture into your space. You can even get tabletop designs to put on the dining table.
Our fire pit ideas have plenty more inspiration on how to add warmth to your deck.
39. Keep your decking area private with planting
Feeling overlooked by the neighbors isn't going to result in relaxed outdoor living, so consider planting that can shield you from the gaze of onlookers. If there's room, you can design your decking ideas with a border beyond that will screen the space. Or, if space is tight, or you want to be able to take plants with you when you move home, use tall planters for your greenery.
We like the idea of choosing jungle-like foliage as seen here – perfect if you're looking for a touch of tropical garden ideas. Not only is it great for additional privacy, but it can make you feel transported from an urban garden to more exotic locations.
The cool gray color of the decking balances the hot shades of the planter, table runner, and cushions.
40. Comfy up your deck
With stylish decking decorating ideas, your outdoor space can be just as pleasing to the eye and sense of touch as your interior scheme.
Start by layering an outdoor rug on top of the deck. This one complements the wood beautifully with its silver colorway. Plus, it's easy to roll up and store away in winter, or use indoors for the duration.
Choose garden furniture that would look as good indoors as out, too, and add comfort with cushions. Simple touches like a vase of flowers can also help turn your deck into a real outdoor living room.
41. Draw attention to a dining area
Use height and vertical elements and you can turn a deck designed for outdoor dining into a centerpiece. Raising the deck just a little can help zone it as part of a larger decked area or assist in distinguishing it from other landscaping materials.
Incorporating a pergola can help to frame the space and allow you to add outdoor pendant lights or festoon lights to ensure the dining area is atmospheric at dusk and beyond.
Don't forget that in the UK, if you want to create your deck under the permitted development regime and thus avoid having to gain planning permission, it can't be more than 30cm above the ground.
42. Plan an outdoor kitchen
Why not super-size your decking to make space for some stylish outdoor kitchen ideas so you can take cooking and dining outside for the summer? It will keep you talking to your guests rather than tucked away in the house while they're enjoying the sunshine.
And, if you opt for a full outdoor kitchen as well as the best BBQ, you can incorporate a sink and fridge, plus storage and preparation space that'll avoid the need to go back and forth to the house.
There’s also a fire pit in this garden, to provide warmth and atmosphere. It has a custom hardwood tabletop, so it can double up as a table when the heat of the fire isn't needed.
Can you lay decking on soil?
'You shouldn't build a deck directly on the ground for a normal installation,' says Karl Harrison, Trex (opens in new tab) Pro decking installer and founder of Karl Harrison Designs. 'Even on level ground it will move when wet and your platform will become unstable. If the posts and beams that support the deck are made of wood, they are likely to deteriorate long before your deck does if in contact with the ground as water soaks into the wood and can’t dry out quickly.
'If you want a quick deck, you may lay a 2in [50mm] depth of gravel over a weed membrane and use plastic joists,' Karl continues. 'These are recycled and won't rot either – they are called HDPE which stands for High Density Polyethylene.
'Be sure to use stainless fixings when building your deck frame,' he adds. 'This type of construction would be suitable for a small decking with light loads and only occasional use.
'For a more sturdy decking project, if you can, support your decking posts over concrete pads and make sure the frame doesn't touch the ground. These posts fixed to your beams will help to stabilize your deck and can also mean your deck will last longer as the substructure is not exposed to the problems when touching the ground.'
It's handy if you already have a patio or a paved area under the decking, Karl adds. 'This means you can use plastic pedestals to raise the joists off the ground.' This would be a long-lasting decking structure, he says, and it's quite a bit quicker to install.
How can I add a deck on a budget?
If you're feeling handy with the toolkit and have some DIY skills up your sleeves, why not head over to our guide on how to build decking? It will save you some cash and is a great activity to do out in the fresh air. Plus, you'll have ultimate bragging rights every time you entertain alfresco.
You can use timber from a nearby DIY store, or, for an extra saving, check out your local wood reclamation yard. You can also create decking out of pallets – see if any are going spare in your neighborhood or online and you might be able to grab a bargain.
The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.
- Sarah WarwickFreelance writer
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