The best decking ideas will provide the perfect way to add interest and more functionality to a backyard. Whatever shape or size your outdoor space may be, decking will see that you spend more time in it, in all seasons.
There are different types of decking to consider: warm, natural woods, lookalike composite, more eco-friendly plastic and wood-waste blends, or even paving itself. Then it is all down to how you configure your deck, what you plant around it, how you furnish and dress it. Creating different looks with stain, oils and paints can all have a lovely effect and help turn it into a convivial spot for your entire household. It is after all, down to how you want to present yours in your outdoor garden space. Our brilliant decking design ideas will inspire you.
- Need more garden ideas? Check out our ultimate edit.
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.
This interiors blogger – Dear Designer – has created a stunning outdoor space using dark wood decking furniture and a hand-built pergola. Don't forget to accessorise with cushions – find lots of outdoor cushions at Wayfair.
- 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 colorful 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. Turn yours into the ultimate chill out spot
Cushioned seating, plants, lanterns and a pergola for just the right amount of dappled light and privacy, if you needed convincing, this is all the inspiration you need.
- Create your own chill out area with our guide to the best garden furniture.
4. Create zones around your decking area with screening
Decking will automatically add definition to an outdoor space, but to carve out individual areas and any outdoor living rooms you want to include, think about adding some garden screening ideas into the mix. Brilliant to polish off the look and to add the element of privacy from nosey neighbours too if you have a big garden space.
5. Line your decking with trees (and lights)
To create next level interest and a really elevated garden area, line your decking with trees – big or small. Choose species of the same height to add welly to this look and the uniformity will draw the eye up and down to further enhance the length of your garden.
- Loved those lanterns? We've more garden lighting ideas where they came from.
6. Frame your favorite shed
If you're in love with your shed (it happens) then let your decking reflect that. A fresh coat of white paint is an easy way to create a clean and contemporary finish.
- See our pick of the best garden sheds to update your space.
7. Use decking as a contrast to gravel
If you have a gravel in your garden, switch up your landscaping ideas and finishes with a decked area. It will add interest and a new level which is ideal especially in sloped gardens to add plants and garden furniture too for lounging, of course.
8. Co-ordinate with your garden furniture also
When you have a large garden (lucky) it's good to add cohesion to the entire space by co-ordinating materials, textures and finishes. Your decking area is a great starting point for this, so consider matching up your garden furniture to add that level of uniformity to your outdoor space.
9. Nod to natural vibes
Choosing a light and natural finish to your decking will better reflect the rest of your garden or backyard space, making your decking area the perfect viewing spot.
- Learn more about garden design in our guide.
10. Add levels of loveliness with lights
Add atmosphere to a decked spot in your backyard with next level lighting. Ideal in contemporary spaces especially, use a mix of heights for more interest and to show off any planting too.
11. 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 stains 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.
- This is a good way to frame an outdoor kitchen spot too.
12. Frame with color
Make your decking pop by framing your seating area with painted fencing. The blue is warming and brings all the med vibes to what is actually a really simple setup. One more secret... Those topiary balls ain't real... We fake our plants with blooming artificial if you're all about ease too.
- Find the best exterior wood paint to create the look yourself.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Or use a light colored paint for a modern finish
Choose a light paint to nod to any neutral florals and garden furniture too. This kind of color scheme is a great way to add a spacious feel that is still cozy to bigger backyards.
16. Match decking colors with the fence 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.
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.
The Argos Home 4 seater bamboo sofa set works well in a small decked spot outside the house.
17. 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.
- We have the best solar-powered lights for your garden.
18. 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 as for displaying your best plants and herbs. Add some lights, and you’ve got the perfect practical look.
19. Build a summer house – with a deck for a porch
Considering building a garden room? While you’d need to lay a gravel base, many summer houses 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 all our garden room ideas in one place.
20. 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 color and protection.
21. Boost greenery on a wall-to-wall deck with potted plants
Soften the look of your wooden deck with the addition of container garden 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.
You can always find a good selection of outdoor plants at Wyevale Garden Centres.
22 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.
23. Position your outdoor cooking station nearby
Having a decked area is perfect for dining al fresco, and what do you need for that to happen? A cooking station of course. Outdoor kitchens are all the rage and we are big fans of keeping them close-by to your hang out area too – nodding to the more convivial decking ideas around.
- Find more outdoor dining ideas in our edit for dreamy al fresco setups.
24. Small garden decking ideas are perfect for side returns
If space is limited but you’d still like small garden decking ideas, 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.
25. Use decking to neatly surround a water feature
We love this decking idea – the style of the pond water feature and the planting is good old country garden, but the neat decked edging gives the garden a distinctly contemporary appeal that's practical, too.
26. Decking ideas for private spaces? Surround them with vertical 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
- See our best inflatable hot tubs guide for our top recommendations
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. 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.
37. Make room for a home bar outdoors on the deck
The deck is the perfect spot to bring those outdoor bar ideas to life – 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.
38. Warm up the deck with lights and a fire pit
Making a deck suitable for all seasons is a must so that you can enjoy long evenings outdoors. 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.
- Find our favorite fire pit ideas in our roundup.
39. Keep it artistic
There's no better way to elevate a decking area into a cool outdoor living space than by adorning the surrounding walls with art work. Here, it's a lavish garden screen that's creating all the drama. See how the pattern complements the seating and even the natural lines in the surrounding foliage? Yep, that's art.
- Find more cool garden screening ideas if you want more privacy too.
40. Use spot deck lights for elegance and atmosphere
Does anything else say charming holiday beach retreat more than spot deck lights? Subtle (and very useful), plus they will add so much atmosphere to the dining area on the main deck itself. Sold.
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.
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.
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.
- Follow our guide to installing decking.
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.
Time to make yours a masterpiece.