Small deck ideas – 21 clever designs for tiny gardens with grass or not

These small deck ideas will give your outdoor space the boost it deserves to look good in all seasons.

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

Small deck ideas come in handy when you're trying to make the most of a tiny or  unused outdoor space. The usual options would be to transform this awkward little area into a patio or a courtyard, but deck ideas can be used successfully to enhance teeny yards too. You just need a bit of know-how and ingenuity to make the materials work and the space sing. 

Discover the tricks and tips for choosing the best decking material, color, furniture and layout to make your space feel bigger, better and brighter.

Small deck ideas for snug spaces 

1. Create a cozy corner made for movie night

A small decking idea with vintage egg chair, L-shaped sofa design with colorful cushions

(Image credit: @maxmademedoit)

If you want to create an outdoor drive-in cinema space without the car, this small deck idea is perfect for movie buffs and cinephiles.

'I thought we could have a little date night/movie night in the garden, so went to town and brought out extra lighting, blankets and cushions. We don't have any fancy outdoor screens or the likes, so we just take the laptop out,' explains Carol Maxwell, (aka @maxmademedoit).

'The corner dining set is from I genuinely don't know what we would have done without this during the lockdown as it made our  outdoor haven so comfy. The standard light next to the vintage egg chair is by West Elm.'

2. 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 garden design ideas, combining decking with a paved area. This will create an illusion of a larger, zoned space. This decked area created by Anna-Carin McNamara (opens in new tab) benefits from a neutral patio area and a huge mirror, which makes the garden look twice the size. 

3. Try small deck ideas that use vertical space

terracotta pots with plants on a ladder in a garden

(Image credit: Future/Leigh Clapp)

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 as vertical garden storage ideas. This small decking idea by @j_habite (opens in new tab), 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 – and a great option if you're wondering how to make a small garden look bigger.

4. Work built-in seating into small garden decking

Norsu Home entertaining area

(Image credit: Norsu Home)

Small outdoor spaces call for clever garden seating ideas, so take note of any area that could be used for custom-built spots to park yourself. 

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 (opens in new tab) as it helps draw the eye around, enhancing the space.

5. Stain a small deck in a light color for simplicity

Square Table And Chair Garden Set - Clay from Lime Lace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

We all know that light colors indoors make a room feel larger, and the same works outdoors with a deck, so choosing a light-colored 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 (opens in new tab) from Lime Lace.

6. Make it a sociable small garden decking setup with a cooking station

Small decking ideas including an outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

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 a DIY look which is ideal to customize to whatever size your area allows for, plus, it's one of the most budget-friendly small decking ideas going.

7. 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)

When considering small garden ideas, 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 width-ways – 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 (opens in new tab) and benefits from a green space at the bottom of the garden that contrasts with the decking. 

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

Garden Trading St Mawes Bar Set

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

If you do want some of the best 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 (opens in new tab) from Garden Trading has a steel trough in the middle - perfect for cooling drinks, or creating a green display. 

9. 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 gardening 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.

10. Include a change in decking levels for compact gardens

Decking with built in planting

(Image credit: Sadolin)

If you are looking small sloping garden ideas, 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.

11. Turn your small deck into an outdoor room

Alana Rocking Chair

(Image credit: Graham & Greene)

A tiny deck is usually the perfect size for creating an Insta-worthy indoor outdoor living space, with all the frills. It can be covered, or not - with rocking chairs - or not! As mentioned, we like all the frills so we wholeheartedly recommend going to town with seating, soft furnishings and outdoor decor to help enhance your small deck further.

12. Use contrasting colors to enhance a small deck

Cuprinol Garden Shades decking paint

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

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

This small all-over decked area has been enhanced by color contrasts created with Cuprinol Garden Shades (opens in new tab) decking paint. 

13. 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 small deck idea for a 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 (opens in new tab)

14. 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. 

Once all the formalities are out of the way, dive into the best hot tub deals for your hard earned dollars.

15. Small garden decking needs vertical planting

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. Why not find out how to create a living wall with our green-fingered guide?

16. 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 color – and you can add that by painting your fence to create a garden color scheme. Then just accessorize. 

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

17. Layer the greenery

patio ideas

(Image credit: Next)

Decorating an elevated small deck idea with greenery all around makes for a truly inviting set up. Complement any surrounding grass or trees with more plants on a table and keep cool containers close by for a loosely crowded plant party.

18. And, work in a totally tropical corner

Pascal sun lounger from Argos

(Image credit: Argos )
(opens in new tab)

If you've only got room for one sun lounger, you may as well make it feel like you're actually sat in the jungle. How? Plant all the greenery around this mini decked area and keep your sun lounger loaded with plush extras too. Lush? Check. Dappled sun? Check. Piña Colada? Coming!

But, you don't want to be batting leaves out of your mouth while sipping on your cocktails, so take a look at the best small garden trees that aren't too intrusive.

19. Make lighting the biggest feature

Light filled patio ideas with SKARPÖ chair

(Image credit: Ikea)

Garden lighting ideas are so important in your outdoor space, especially when it's a small one, and it's amazing what you can do by layering different forms and having them displayed in a variety of ways.

Try lanterns teamed with candles for heaps of ambiance by day, and by night, to make your small deck ideas shine in all seasons.

20. Add a dramatic living wall

Container gardening ideas

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Small decking ideas needn't lack drama - unless of course, you're going for that vibe. DIY your own living wall ideas and make it a big one even for your small space.

21. Make it convivial with an outdoor fireplace

Gas outdoor fireplace: Kateri Aluminium Propane Gas Outdoor Fireplace

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Logs burning on a cool night will make even the smallest of small deck ideas super cozy. Warm it up with one of the more classic outdoor fireplace ideas for big appeal.

What safety considerations do I need to factor in for composite decking?

Whether you're working with a big or small decking idea, there are some safety and practical considerations you need to make. Here Chris Moorhouse, category director - timber, building, decor, garden, at Wickes (opens in new tab) shares his top tips:

  • If you are building a timber base frame, make sure that your timber is structurally treated.
  • Ensure you leave a 40mm gap beneath fascia boards to allow for proper ventilation.
  • Treat all cut ends of timber and drill holes with two coats of preservative.
  • When drilling, it’s best to mark out pilot holes as this will help to make your fixings as accurate as possible. Ensure that you use screws specifically designed for the job and that all screws are secure but not over tightened.
  • Whilst it is possible to build a composite deck on your own, it’s much easier with a spare pair of hands, so ask a friend if they can help out.
  • If you need to cut a deck board to accommodate an obstacle, or you need to trim any overhanging deck boards in order to make a straight edge, mark a chalk guideline and then carefully cut along the line with a jigsaw.

How can I decorate a small porch?

'We love things that are pretty within their design, yet super practical too!' says Lucy Kirk, creative and photography manager, Lights4Fun (opens in new tab).

'Solar lights are a great example of design meets function, with the added benefit of being energy efficient and green to run. Powered entirely by the sun, they involve absolutely no running costs and minimal upkeep to ensure they glow come dusk.'

'When it comes to dressing your deck, illuminate from the bottom up by displaying solar pebble lights around the edge of your deck. Creating not only an illumination to the edge, but a colorful walkway with settings to suit all times of the year.'

'Their super handy solar powered functionality allows them to become portable, giving you the option to move around where you see fit. Complete the look by opting for solar powered festoon lights draped from tree to tree to create a ceiling high glow to your space.'

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

With contributions from