15 small garden decking ideas – clever designs for tiny spaces

These decking ideas for small gardens will give your outdoor space the boost it deserves

Small garden decking ideas: Highgate rooftop terrace by My Landscapes
(Image credit: My Landscapes)

Small garden decking ideas come in handy when you're trying to make the most of a space that would normally be used as a patio or couryard. Decking can be used successfully in smaller gardens, but you need a bit of know-how and ingenuity to make the materials really work. 

Read on for decking ideas for small gardens and tricks and tips for choosing the best decking material, colour, finish and layout to make your small outdoor space feel bigger and better.  

And, once you've finished reading, our garden ideas feature is definitely worth taking a look at.  

  • For a complete guide to garden design be sure to read our feature.

1. Combine decking with a mini patio area

Mill Hill Terrace project by Anna Carin Design

(Image credit: Anna Carin Design)

To add design interest and visually enhance your small outdoor space, combining decking with a paved area. This will create an illusion of a larger, zoned space.

This decked area created by Anna-Carin McNamara benefits from a neutral patio area and a huge mirror, which makes the garden look twice the size. 

2. Try small garden decking ideas that use vertical space

Just because your deck is small, that doesn't mean you can't make the most of floral displays on it. The trick is to use the walls. This small decking idea by @j_habite, uses decking  up the wall to provide hanging space for containers. The wrap-around approach makes for visual continuity, which makes the area feel bigger and more cohesive too. Clever.

3. Work built-in seating to small garden decking

Norsu Home entertaining area

(Image credit: Norsu Home)

Small garden spaces call for clever seating and storage solutions, so take note of any space that could be used for a custom-built seating area. 

We like the way that the decking material is used to create a streamlined, wrap-around seating area in this decked garden by Norsu Home

4. Stain your small deck a light colour

Square Table And Chair Garden Set - Clay from Lime Lace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

We all know that light colours indoors make a room feel larger, and the same works outdoors with a deck, so choosing a light-coloured decking paint or decking stain makes good sense.

In this small decked area, the light wood of the deck stands out against the dark facade; the monochrome design scheme is completed with the Square Table And Chair Garden Set in Clay from Lime Lace.

5. Sociable small garden decking ideas? Incorporate an outdoor kitchen

Talking of space and garden dining... just because your deck is small, that doesn't mean you can't incorporate an outdoor kitchen in yours, just like you'd squeeze in a perfectly functional kitchen indoors. We love this neat idea by @seqdecks.

Find out everything you need to know in our guide to creating an outdoor kitchen.

6. Create wall to wall decking to exaggerate a small garden's width

Honor Holmes Garden Design Chelsea 3 project

(Image credit: Honor Holmes Garden Design)

In small gardens you have to use all the design tricks up your sleeve. One is to exaggerate the garden's width with decking. You can do this by laying the boards widthways – their lines will draw the eye across the deck's width, making it seem wider – and by laying them right up to the boundary on both sides. You can soften the finished look by creating a green vista in the near distance – this will prevent your small garden from looking boxed in. 

This enclosed garden in London has been designed by Honor Holmes Garden Design and benefits from a green space at the bottom of the garden that contrasts with the decking. 

7. Save space with compact, multi-tasking garden furniture

Garden Trading St Mawes Bar Set

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

If you do want some garden furniture out on your small garden deck, pick a set that has a small footprint. Dual-purpose pieces or built-in storage is a bonus, too.

The St Mawes Drinks/Planter Bar Table from Garden Trading has a steel trough in the middle - perfect for cooling drinks, or creating a green display. 

Get more advice on choosing garden furniture.

8. Combine small garden decking ideas with built-in planters

Small garden with container planting

(Image credit: Maayke de Ridder)

Small garden decking ideas and container gardens were made for each other, and you can fit in a plant or two in even the tiniest of decked gardens, balconies or terraces as this lovely decked area shows. Building a raised bed like this is a great idea for small decked areas – the streamlined nature of the container will make the area feel larger, and can be made to raise the height of the plants significantly, upping their impact.

Find out more about container gardening for small spaces.

9. Include a change in decking levels for small gardens

Decking with built in planting

(Image credit: Sadolin)

If your small garden is on a slope, you've actually been handed a golden opportunity. Rather than trying to level it or dividing it into lots of different zones, creating decking on different levels will make it more usable and enhance the feeling of space.

Browse more sloping garden ideas to get the best from your deck design.

10. Turn your small deck into an outdoor room

A small deck is usually the perfect size for creating an Insta-worthy outdoor room, just like this one from one of our fave influencers, @deecampling. It doesn't need a roof like Dee's but you'll get more use out of it with some element of shelter. (And, yeah, we know this isn't actually a deck, but you get the drift...)

Find more inspiration for designing your outdoor room in our guide.

11. Use contrasting colours to enhance a small deck

Cuprinol Garden Shades decking paint

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

Small garden decking ideas needn't just be about structure. You can make a big difference cheaply using paint. Deploying contrasting decking paint colours is a clever, distracting move in a small outdoor space; think contrasting the wall and deck colours, or even experiment by 'zoning' the deck itself, painting one half a lighter colour than the other. 

This small all-over decked area has been enhanced by colour contrasts created with Cuprinol Garden Shades decking paint. 

12. Use decking to zone different areas in a small space

Highgate rooftop terrace by My Landscapes

(Image credit: My Landscapes)

It may feel counterintuitive to use multiple materials in a small space, but using garden decking to delineate different zones in a small garden will actually make it look bigger. The trick is to use different materials in a similar shade. This decking idea for a small rooftop garden has had a makeover with a separate decking area for sun lounging that wraps around the patio, which is used for dining and outdoor cooking. The design is by My Landscapes

13. Transform a small deck into an outdoor spa

Luxurious Outdoor Lighting | Galliano Wall by DelightFULL

(Image credit: DelightFULL)

Decking is often used in areas that get wet a lot, especially around swimming pools and plunge pools, but if your garden is very small, you can still use it this way. Depending on what's most feasible for your specific outdoor area, it could be a small plunge pool, or an integrated hot tub. You'll need to speak to a garden designer and/or architect first. 

14. Small garden decking needs vertical planting

Wapping roof terrace by My Landscapes

Wapping roof terrace by My Landscapes

(Image credit: My Landscapes)

If you do opt for an all-decked garden in a small outdoor area, add interest with vertical planting and integrated lighting to create more contrast and texture. This small rooftop garden has a relaxed and glowing look thanks to the clever use of plants and lights.  

Find out how to create a living wall in our guide. 

15. Surround small garden decking with a painted fence

Best decking paints: Cuprinol UK

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

It makes sense to keep your decking natural – it's much easier to maintain if it's not painted, but oiled or stained instead. However, your garden still needs colour – and you can add that by painting your fence to create a garden colour scheme. Then just accessorise. 

Want a small garden decking idea that won't cost much, but will have plenty of instant impact? Colourful cushions can go a surprisingly long way to making your small deck more inviting. Mix and match bold colours with graphic patterns for maximum effect – small decks really can take a lot of colour. 

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