These decking ideas can be used in gardens of all shapes and sizes and will take you through the seasons, so that you can make the most of your deck all summer long and well into autumn. Warm, natural, and quick-drying – it's no wonder decking has stolen many a garden owner's heart.
But a great looking deck is about so much more than just the wood (or wood-lookalike composite or paving) itself – how you configure your deck, what you plant around it, how you furnish and dress it, and whether you choose to stain, oil or paint it will all have a dramatic effect on its final look.
Take inspiration from our brilliant decking design ideas for making your deck look just the business. For more garden ideas just check out our ultimate gallery of ideas.
- Learn more about garden design in our guide
1. Create a shaded deck with cheap landscaping materials
If the sun ever does shine you’ll want a little shade from it, so why not make a covered pergola your garden decking idea #1? You’ll also be able to flex your green fingers and grow a few climbers along the structure to break up the space and add some greenery. This homeowner has created a beautiful outdoor room area using an open weave seagrass along the pergola allowing just enough light to break through.
Feeling up for a DIY project? Find out how to build a pergola.
2. Frame a decked area with a pergola
A pergola doesn't have to create shade – it can just be present to create a frame in which to place (and draw attention to) garden furniture. And, the garden furniture on your deck doesn’t always have to be monochrome; by adding some colourful chairs you can really bring your deck area to life. Mix and match your colours – which is a big trend right now – and you’ll have the most fashionable outdoor dining space you could imagine. It’s fun, vibrant and maintenance-free, leaving you more time to sit, relax and enjoy.
Find out how to build a pergola in our feature.
3. Think: partitioned decking ideas for private dining
A covered deck needn't mean giving your deck a roof – it can just mean giving it shelter with screening. If you love the look and feel of natural wood, then you must remember to use decking stain or decking oil – and do it regularly. Most decks do require maintenance of some kind or another, but why not use your stain or oil to make a feature of the space? In this garden, different coloured stains have been used on the decorative wood to create a very effective look which is easy to follow through to the deck itself.
This raised decking idea features different ‘room’ areas within a Victorian garden and an interesting use of wood and staining to create a natural yet vibrant feel.
4. Choose decking tiles for easy installation
If you're trying to decide between a deck and patio, you can have it both ways – by opting for decking tiles. Easy to install (they simply click together), the Runnen deck tiles from Ikea can be arranged in an attractive pattern and come in a variety of colours.
5. Go for unpainted decking tiles for a more rustic look
For a more natural look, choose an unpainted decking tile. The Ikea tiles come in a brown stained finish that will suit most gardens and balconies. If you then decide to paint them yourself, have a browse through the best decking paints in our guide.
6. Match decking colours with the fence colour to stretch space visually
While we might not always have a Mediterranean climate here in the UK, we can connect to past holidays by creating a vacation-inspired decking idea. Matching the deck paint colour to that of the fencing or walls is a brilliant way to do that. Find the best decking paints in our buyer's guides.
And choosing natural materials such as bamboo for furniture and accessories is just one way to create a summery vibe, while keeping colours muted can create a more sophisticated overall design.
This bistro set from George at Asda works well in a small decked spot outside the house. Try Maisons du Monde for a similar chair.
7. Enclose your garden deck with planting
Using the simplest pergola construction, you can train climbing plants over a decked area to create a private space that's really well-shaded from the sun, too. If you do this, you'll need good garden lighting for the evenings – and we'd suggest solar lighting so that the garden lights up year round without expending energy.
There are many benefits to solar lighting, but the main one is the ease of installation. Adding some solar decking lights will make the decking area functional and will help shape the deck into a fun-filled, welcoming part of the garden. There's an abundance of styles and types available, so do your research. The more varied a selection you can install, the better the overall execution of your garden decking idea.
Just as you would use lighting indoors, consider how to layer solar lights on your deck. Add fairy lights, festoon lights and lanterns, as well as deck spots, all solar powered like this new collection from Lights4Fun to add layers of light.
8. Tidy the deck with good garden storage
Treat your outdoor deck area just as you would an indoor room. Clever garden storage is a must to keep everything tidy, as well for displaying your best plants and herbs. Add some lights, and you’ve got the perfect practical look.
This B&Q garden shelving unit is part of the Rural Collection which includes products of a rustic, handmade aesthetic, combining farmhouse styling with a polished contemporary feel.
9. Build a summerhouse – with a deck for a porch
Considering adding a garden room? While you’d need to lay a gravel base, many summerhouses are built with a deck platform, which can look sophisticated and blend well with the design of the structure. This homeowner has created a retro chic space at the bottom of her garden, making the most of the sun but providing shelter and shade from the elements when they get too much.
Find 15 gorgeous garden rooms here to inspire you further.
10. Soften the edge of the deck with overgrown planting
Blurring the edges of a deck with planting makes it look much more established within a garden – and much prettier. Let the deck's colour complement your planting scheme too: they don’t have to be bland and brown. There are myriad decking paints out there which allow you to jazz up your outdoors and splash a little personality onto your deck. If you want sleek and sophisticated go for greys; for bold and bright try an orange; or keep it more natural and choose a subtle green. The best news is that the paint seals and nurtures the wood too.
Ronseal decking rescue paint comes in 10 different colours, smooths the rough surfaces and fills cracks, leaving your wood with long-lasting colour and protection.
11. Boost greenery on a wall-to-wall deck with potted plants
Soften the look of your wooden deck with the addition of plants and foliage. Vary the height and style, and cluster your pots into groups for the best visual effect. Invest in good quality pots and don’t forget your watering can.
Find out more about container gardening for small spaces.
You can always find a good selection of outdoor plants at Wyevale Garden Centres.
12. Create a covered deck – and choose the best decking materials
Decking materials come in many forms, and it’s always worth researching what will work for your garden decking and for those who will be using the area. Consider how much time and effort you want to spend on maintenance too. This beautiful decked garden room was created for BBC’s Getting the Builders In and features a composite decking material, in anthracite.
Sian Astley, interior designer and builder at Moregeous Design created this raised decking idea using composite decking. Available from retailers such as Timbertech, composite deck boards don’t rot, warp or splinter, and require very little maintenance.
Find the best materials for your deck in our guide to laying a deck.
13. Small garden decking ideas are perfect for side returns
If space is limited but you’d still like to create a decked area, then let this stunning decked courtyard inspire you. Packed with all the essentials including a bistro table and chairs, bench seating area, colourful plant pots and lights, added flair comes in the shape of the canopy. It’s the perfect way to make use of an underused side return.
We have more clever decking ideas for small gardens.
Blogger and interior stylist Maxine Brady has created this beautiful yet incredibly practical area at her sunny seaside home. Colourful plant pots are available at Homebase, and get a similar Bistro set from Wayfair.
14. Use decking to neatly surround a water feature
We love this decking idea – the style of the pond and the planting is good old country garden, but the neat decked edging gives the garden a distinctly contemporary appeal that's practical, too. Find out more about planning a water feature into your garden design.
15. Decking ideas for private spaces? Surround them with tall planting
Creating a strong vertical garden around your deck will give you a private space that's still spacious. Choose perennials that won't drop their leaves so that your decking remains secluded all year round. Use our guide to creating a vertical garden to find out the practical implications; our feature on creating privacy in your garden will give you more ideas, too.
16. Cut out planted beds to create a deck with an irregular shape
Working decking around existing flowerbeds or creating new beds with your newly laid decking will help embed the deck itself within the garden (one decking design idea you really want to avoid is where your deck looks 'plonked in' with no connection to the rest of the garden. Here, the relationship between the decking and flowerbeds is created to perfection.
17. Create bespoke decking ideas with deck lights
Decking lighting is essential to a good-looking deck at night, and we have already covered fairy lights and solar lights for an instant effect. But there are lots of other lighting options, from traditional built-in spot lights to more unusual bespoke lighting options.
This rooftop multi-level deck has been enhanced with integrated panel lighting that accentuates the steps. Designed by dSpace Studio.
18. Decking ideas for party animals? Add a hot tub
Decking with a hot tub is a popular option, especially in climates where a swimming pool would not be practical for most of the year. There are several options for including a hot tub into a deck, but we think that a semi-covered hot tub is the best year-round option.
This decking idea with a hot tub is sheltered under a Renson Camargue Louvered Canopy by Garden House Design.
19. Choose stone lookalike decking for longevity
Like wood but want longevity? You can buy wood-effect decking with the durability of concrete, such as the Millboard Composite Decking Weathered Vintage from Garden House Design or Marshalls’ Woodstone sleepers.
20. Decking sun shades add contemporary style and bags of protection
Here's a garden decking idea that makes sense in a heatwave: put up a sun shade above your deck – it's both a practical addition to your outdoor space, protecting you (and the deck) from excess heat, and a stylish solution that will emphasise your dining area and create a chic boudoir look.
21. Find decking furniture that could live indoors
Looking to furnish your deck in an on trend way? Don't choose garden furniture that looks like garden furniture – choose buys that look like they could belong indoors. Better still, choose garden furniture that mimics the style and design of your furniture indoors for a really cohesive look.
Blonde decking wood is a popular choice for contemporary garden design, but a warm shade can look just as smart. If you are going for warm wood, however, opt for light, cool-toned garden furniture – it'll give the whole look more of a 'lift'.
This deck has been furnished with The Taavi Outdoor Sofa Set from Garden House Design.
22. Combine decking lighting with heating
As the weather gets cooler, you'll likely be thinking about ways to keep your deck warm, so that you can still use it throughout autumn. Patio heaters are not always the best looking things, but many newer electric models combine great style with great infrared heating properties.
23. Need space-saving decking ideas? Install built-in seating
New slatted fencing and seating to match will turn a deck into a welcoming spot to catch the sun’s rays. Include lift-up seat tops for practical storage and soft seat pads for comfort then pile with cushions to make it an enticing place to linger.
24. Design a water feature into contemporary decking
Some decking ideas are especially suitable for modern decking designs – a minimalist water feature is one of them. Think a calm pool in a geometric shape, or a intricate waterfall. You will also need to think about the type of decking treatment you'll be using to protect the planks from water damage – or use water-resistant composite decking, like the Havwoods composite decking used in this contemporary garden.
25. Use decking materials on walls to create a rustic feel
Love the textures that decking brings to your garden? You can face a wall with decking to continue the look – like in this garden.
If your deck faces south, it will get hot there during the summer, especially during lunchtime. Parasols will give only limited coverage, while awnings can look at odds with the character of your home, so consider building a pergola to add shade. Add climbing plants for all-natural, green coverage, and paint yours for a smart look.
26. Use decking to improve a sloping site
If your garden is sloping, a deck can really improve its layout and functionality, giving you different levels that can be devoted to different uses, from dining to sunbathing. Building a deck with different levels is much more complicated than creating a flat square of decking and we'd highly recommend you call in a professional.
Browse sloping garden ideas and advice in our guide.
27. Make room for a home bar outdoors on the deck
The deck is the perfect spot for a home bar – have one built in if you have the funds or need to save space; otherwise, buy freestanding furniture that you can move about to suit your mood.
28. Warm up the deck on chilly autumn nights
As the nights begin to draw in and the weather turns autumnal, it's all about making the decking area warmer and cosier. Add extra cushions to the garden furniture out on your deck and invest in a nice fire pit. There are countless designs out there, but we really fancy the 36" Elevate Halo Fire Pit by Solus Decor: it's substantial and contemporary and just look gorgeous as part of a decking area ensemble.
How to design a garden deck
Building a deck is a great way to create an outdoor dining or seating space, or to add the landscaping you need around another garden feature. As well as selecting an appropriate material for your deck, you’ll need to think about size, location and whether you'll be installing it yourself or hiring someone to do it. You'll also need to consider whether you want a simple ground-level feature or a more extravagant multi-level design.
What is your decking going to be used for?
It’s important to consider what the deck is for as it might influence the choice of decking boards, as well as its proportions. Does the deck need to fit plenty of outdoor seating, or just deckchairs for two? If it’s an outdoor dining area, what size is the table and how many will be seated at it? Or perhaps the deck will be relaxing and eating space for lots of people?
Consider whether the deck is going to get wet other than when it rains. It might be an area where children play and so it’s likely to get splashed. Perhaps it’s going to be laid near a swimming pool, or maybe a hot tub will be positioned on it.
Think about family and friends, too. Does anyone who will be using the deck require an extra slip-resistant surface, or one that will be more forgiving if they do fall?
What size of deck do you require?
If your deck is home to a dining or seating area, then putting your furniture in place can help you plan the size of the deck. Remember that, as well as space for the individual furniture pieces, individuals will need room to slide dining chairs away from a table, and to stand up and move away without either chairs or people tipping off the end of the deck. Likewise, allow room for circulation to and from the area without having to step off decking.
A hot tub will need space for the tub itself but also to climb in and out comfortably from the deck, so also needs a generous area around it.
Plan the location of the deck
Draw a scale plan of your garden, so you can consider the balance between the deck and other features, such as any lawn and borders or other planting.
Often a deck will create a patio area immediately outside the house, so location will be apparent, but you may additionally or alternatively want one in a particularly sunny or shaded spot, or in a place that enjoys the best views into or from the garden. Bear in mind that although you might like to be out of direct sunlight, very overshadowed positions will entail more deck maintenance. Think, too, about the direction of the prevailing wind to avoid building the deck in a breezy location.
Find out how to create the perfect patio.
Consider whether the deck is going to be overlooked by neighbours – you may want to adjust its position to create more privacy on your side of the fence and theirs.
Does your deck need to work with other garden features, such as trees or shrubs? If so, these will influence the location. Make sure these go on to your plan.
It’s also important to add to the plan doors from the house, and steps and paths, so you can design the deck to work with these. Manhole covers should also be marked on to the plan as the deck will need to include a panel that retains access.
Will you need planning permission for a deck?
If you live in a house, adding decking is permitted development, so you won’t need to apply for planning permission, as long as it’s not more than 30cm above the ground. You’ll also need to abide by the rule that together with other extensions and outbuildings, the decking doesn’t cover more than 50 per cent of the garden area.
This doesn’t apply to flats and maisonettes nor if there’s a planning condition or article 4 direction or other restriction limiting permitted development rights. Find out more on the government’s planning portal and check with your local authority if you’re not sure about your own home.
A deck that requires planning permission also needs to comply with the building regulations.
What deck type do you want?
A deck can be a natural-looking surface at ground level or a raised version. It could also feature different levels.
A deck at ground level is the simplest to construct. It could be located beside the house or elsewhere in the garden. A deck by the house needs to be 150mm below the damp-proof course and should not obstruct air bricks.
Follow our guide to installing decking.
A raised deck can create level areas within a sloping garden or simply be a more dominant feature within the garden. It’s a bigger undertaking, if you’re DIYing, or more costly, if you’re calling in someone else to do the work.
Railings or panels and a handrail (also known as a balustrade) can be a finishing touch for a ground-level deck and the vertical element will make it more of a feature. You might also want to use railings to create an enclosed area with a gate fitted for access. For a raised deck, a balustrade is essential for safety.
How can decking be laid?
The classic look for a deck is to have boards laid horizontally. This looks unfussy and, depending on the finish, can have a contemporary or more rustic effect.
As an alternative, think about laying the boards diagonally across the joists. Bear in mind that if you want this finish, the joists will need to be closer together to support the boards.
More complicated designs can also be created. Think parquet-style patterns like chevrons and herringbone, squares where boards are laid horizontally then vertically, or a central pattern framed by boards around the edges. As with interior flooring, a more intricate design can make the decking decorative as well as functional.
More decking ideas
- Considering railings? Bear in mind that they’ll block your view of the garden beyond. If they will obscure an idyllic scene, consider a glazed balustrade. Richard Burbidge sells a wide range, from timber to glass and aluminium.
- Split the levels to create visual interest and define different areas.
- Hardwood or softwood? This depends on your budget, but even cheap softwood can look expensive if regularly cleaned and oiled.
- Grooved boards are less slippery when wet, but dirt will sit in the grooves; smooth boards are easier to keep tidy, but slippery.