Decking ideas: 23 ways to give your outdoor space a stylish makeover

Whether your plot is big or small, these decking ideas will take your outdoor seating area to the next level

decking in a modern garden
(Image credit: Havwoods)

Our decking ideas are just what you need to elevate your plot. If you haven't considered adding decking before, now's the perfect time to do so. Decking is so versatile as a landscaping material for your garden and there are plenty of brilliant ideas to choose from. 

You could create a fabulous extra outdoor space complete with pergola to use all year round, design a decked pathway to the bottom of the garden, or even use decking to zone an outdoor kitchen area. 

If your garden is set out on different levels with sloping sections, decking can also be a great way to create more practical and useable areas for dining or outdoor living. And for small gardens, opting for a decked terrace can be a stylish and low-maintenance option. 

So, keep scrolling for some great ideas, then take a look at our other landscaping ideas for more inspiration for your plot. 

1. Blend your decking with the background

decking ideas: beachside garden seating area Amara

This decking and its surroundings follow a natural, pared-back theme

(Image credit: Amara)

For a laid-back look, choose the best decking that will blend into its surroundings. Light-coloured wood gives a fuss-free feel, and will help to widen even a narrow space.

It goes to show that sometimes, less is more. Have fun experimenting with lines, natural materials, and the subtle details. For example, add a pair of outdoor seats in a different shade of wood, or nearby wooden edging using a different direction of line to your decking. When brought together, it will result in a rustic yet considered aesthetic.

2. Use curves to surround a pond

decking ideas: lights4fun decking around pond

Introducing curved lines to the edge of this garden pond helps to soften the overall effect and create a calmer feel

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

Wooden decking looks stunning when paired alongside water, 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 helping to bounce the light around. 

Surround with lush greenery, a candle or two, a string of festoon lights and you have yourself the perfect haven for relaxing.

Want to learn how to build a garden pond so you can create a similar setup in your space? Head over to our guide for our practical advice. 

3. Use paint for a budget-friendly decking revamp

decked terrace with an outdoor dining area

(Image credit: Swift Direct Blinds)

If you're on a tight budget but want to give your existing decking a revamp, then consider giving it a lick of paint or treating it with a woodstain. 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 mould. 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 colour too. Grey is a versatile shade that will go with any colour scheme, but we think it works particularly well with modern garden furniture. 

4. Add some shelter for year-round entertaining

decked terrace area with sail shade overhead

Composite decking by Dura Composites

(Image credit: Dura Composites)

Rain or shine, you can still use your decking if you incorporate some sort of shelter or cover above it. This could be a fixed structure such as a pergola with a roof, or something as simple as patio shade sail or awning that attaches to the wall. 

In the summer months it 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 cosy and snug. 

Head over to our covered deck ideas for more ways to shelter your decked terrace in style. 

5. Incorporate a water feature (or two)

large decked area with integrated water features

(Image credit: Havwoods)

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. 

Decking can be good option to have near a water feature as it's durable and the best composite decking designs are non slip too. For a thoroughly modern scheme combine the decking with smart stone paving for added interest. 

6. Create a backdrop for an accent piece

decking ideas: bold colours nest

Create a minimal palette to let an accent piece stand out

(Image credit: Nest)

Use your decking as an integral part of your garden's backdrop, by working it into a bold colour scheme. Here, narrow, pale boards are juxtaposed with the dark-coloured 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 from Nest. A minimal seating set finishes this bold look perfectly.

7. Create a deck for small spaces

Garden decking ideas with built in bench seating

Here, the bench is painted in Seagrass to complement foliage, and the fence in Dusky Gem, both Cuprinol Garden Shades

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

A deck doesn’t have to be large to make an impact, and building one can be an easy-to-achieve method 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’ll 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? We've got all the answers to how much does decking cost in our guide. 

8. Improve a long narrow garden with decking

Decking ideas with a raised grey deck

This deck was created with Ecodek Signature AT in Pebble Grey

(Image credit: Ecodek)

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 dining or relaxing. Our tip? If the shed’s located there, too, give it a spruce so it doesn’t let the side down.

This deck is slightly raised, which helps to make it even more of a focal point.

9. Consider the outlook from the deck

Colourful bistro set on small decked balcony

This folding bistro set from Dobbies brings a ray of sunshine to the deck even when the weather’s grey, and is sized to perfection for any small outdoor space

(Image credit: Dobbies)

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.

There's plenty more inspiration for how to surround your deck in style in our decking railings ideas

10. Give your deck a border

grey decked area with contrasting border

This design is created with HD Deck Dual from Composite Prime

(Image credit: Composite Prime)

Creating a border in a contrasting colour can make your deck more of an eye-catching and individual feature. The reversible boards in toning colours 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.

11. Go vertical with a pergola

Decked area with matching wooden pergola

This deck and pergola combination is by Fleur Ward Interior Design and the composite decking is from eDecks

(Image credit: Fleur Ward Interior Design)

Teaming your pergola with a deck 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 space. 

You can add natural shade by growing climbing plants on the pergola, and they can even bring wonderful fragrance to the space. Match deck and pergola colours for a pulled-together look. You can find the right shade for your space in our guide to the best exterior wood paint

12. Build in planting

Sunken decked area with garden seating

The rich colour of this decking was created using Decking Stain & Protector in Golden Brown from Sadolin

(Image credit: Sadolin)

You can gently soften the lines of your deck by creating space for planting within the overall design. Here, spiky architectural foliage as well as blooms spill over on to the deck from the beds that are part of the split-level feature. 

Raised planters on the deck complete the look, and are slim versions that leave space for circulation on the upper level.

13. Use colour to make your deck feel bigger

pale grey decked area with matching painted fence

Here, the deck is painted with Decking Rescue Paint in White Wash from Ronseal available at B&Q

(Image credit: Ronseal)

If your garden’s small, you can finish your deck in a pale hue that can help make your outdoor space look bigger by reflecting the daylight to space-expanding effect. 

Wooden decking needs maintenance in any case, so all you need to do is use the brightening shade of your choice rather than re-treating it in a wood tone.

It’s a good idea to brighten surrounding walls and fences to unifiy the space. 

14. Match your decking to your home's architecture

decked dining terrace underneath a building canopy

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

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 colour 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 grey 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. 

15. Stay on the deck for longer

Sunken decked area with a fire pit

Trex Transcend in Island Mist decking from Arborforest Products

(Image credit: Trex)

Adding heating to your deck will extend the months of the year during which you can use your outdoor space. We love the fire pit on this deck, which creates a cosy nook surrounded by seating built into the decking.

Need something smaller? A patio heater could allow you to fit more furniture into your space. You can even get tabletop designs you can put on the dining table.

Head over to our fire pit ideas for more inspiration on how to add warmth to your deck. 

16. Keep your deck private with planting

Decked area with garden dining table and benches

The decking is painted in Anti-slip Decking Stain in Urban Slate from Cuprinol, available at Homebase

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

Feeling overlooked by the neighbours 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 deck 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 tropical foliage as seen here. Not only is it perfect for garden privacy ideas, but it can make you feel transported from an urban garden to more exotic locations.

The cool grey colour of the decking balances the hot shades of the planter, table runner and cushions.

17. Comfy up your deck

Decked area with outdoor rug and colourful outdoor furniture

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

Why not add the decorative touches you would inside your home so your decking is equally pleasing to the eye and your sense of touch? Start by layering an outdoor rug on top of the deck. This one complements the wood beautifully with its silver colourway. Plus, it’s easy to roll up and store away in winter, or use indoors for the duration.

Choose 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 the deck into a real outdoor living room.

18. Go dark to make a statement

decked area with garden table and chairs

(Image credit: Sadolin)

There’s no need to go for decking in natural wood tones – and choosing a deep hue can bring a dramatic touch to an outdoor space.

Grey 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. We love the way the colours and shapes of the chairs have been mixed and matched here, too, creating a casual eclectic look.

19. Draw attention to a dining area

Decked area with large pergola

This decking has been treated with Classic All Purpose Woodstain in Natural from Sadolin. The plant pots and furniture are painted in Microseal Ultra Smooth Masonry Paint in Hot Brick, Light Grey and Terracotta, and Rapid Dry Gloss Paint in Oxford Blue, all from Sandtex

(Image credit: Sandtex)

Use height and vertical elements and you can turn a deck designed for outdoor dining into a centrepiece. 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. 

A pergola-style structure can 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. 

20. Plan an outdoor kitchen

Decked area with outdoor kitchen and dining area

Hemi 36 Fire Bowl from Solus Deco

(Image credit: Merge Studio and Ramsay Photography)

Why not super-size your deck to make space for an outdoor kitchen so you can take cooking and dining outside for the summer? It’ll 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 a 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. 

Find more outdoor kitchen ideas in our guide. 

French doors leading out to a decked terrace and garden

Match your decking to your inside flooring

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

Choosing decking in a similar shade to the flooring immediately inside your home can create a continuous look that blurs the boundaries between inside and out and can make your home feel bigger. To get the look, you’ll need to lay the decking with the boards running in the same direction as the flooring.

This garden design by Garden House Design features a smooth narrow Verda radiate pine deck for a warm look that complements the wooden floors inside.

22. Deal with a sloping garden

Decked area with small dining furniture set from Nest

(Image credit: Nest)

If you're looking for sloping garden ideas, decking is a top solution, turning areas too steep to use into level spaces everyone in the family can enjoy, and on which outdoor furniture can be positioned – like this chic table. 

The different levels of the decking will also naturally create different zones for the garden, which can help with the overall design.

Remember that a deck above ground level will need a balustrade for safety. Make sure yours complies with building regulations in terms of both the balustrade and steps between the levels.

23. Use your decking as a design feature

decked area with water feature

Millboard composite decking by Garden House Design

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

We love how this decking is used to contrast beautifully with various grey shades in the rest of the scheme. Crafted from durable polyurethane it has a higher non-slip safety rating than conventional composite decking. If you want to create a cohesive look you can choose accessories that also feature similar tones, such as the light grey seat cushions used here. 

Want something bolder? Choosing contrasting colours for your accessories always makes for a more dramatic and eye-catching look and it’s a design trick that’s not simply reserved for interiors – use it to your advantage in your garden too!

What can I use in place of decking?

There are lots of options you can use in place of decking. If you've got the budget, try natural stone slabs or porcelain pavers – as long as the ground beneath is flat, they're a great alternative for a chic surface. Take a look at our paving ideas to get inspired.

You could also use gravel – a cheaper option but still effective. If you're looking for something more temporary, then take a look at Ikea's easy-to-lay outdoor flooring. It's a quick way to jazz up a space.

Can you lay decking on soil?

decking ideas: light up stools

Sleek decking lines look great alongside contemporary furniture

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

Avoid putting decking straight onto soil, as excess moisture can build up beneath and damage it. Instead, you can use weed suppressor fabric, covered with a layer of gravel. This will help with drainage. 

You can also use concrete pads, which are relatively inexpensive. Make sure they're positioned so that they square up with the joints of your decking.

Before you do so, though, be sure to dig out any turf or weeds from the space, and create a flat level.

How can I do decking cheaply?

decking ideas: garden house design steps up to decking

This natural wooden decking adds to an urban-jungle theme

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

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'll 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 neighbourhood or online and you might be able to grab a bargain.