The best decking ideas are a great way to create a level area for any type of garden furniture. What's more, they're also a stylish solution for a sloping garden, transforming it into a much more useable space.
Of course, decking looks smart, too, and it’s versatile: you can choose timber or timber-lookalike composite decking for a natural look that will blend it into the setting, or go for a colour that creates a different effect.
Scroll down for some great ideas, then take a look at our pick of the best decking for your garden.
1. Create a deck for small spaces
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. Here, the bench is painted in Seagrass to complement foliage, and the fence in Dusky Gem, both Cuprinol Garden Shades.
2. Improve a long narrow garden with decking
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 up so it doesn’t let the side down.
This deck is slightly raised, which helps to make it even more of a focal point. It was created with Ecodek Signature AT in Pebble Grey.
3. Consider the outlook from the deck
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.
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.
4. Give your deck a border
Creating a border in a contrasting colour can make your deck more of an eye-catching and individual feature. This design is created with HD Deck Dual from Composite Prime and 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.
5. Go vertical with a pergola
Teaming a 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.
6. Build in planting
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.
The rich colour of this decking was created using Decking Stain & Protector in Golden Brown from Sadolin.
7. Use colour to make your deck feel bigger
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.
8. Stay on the deck for longer
Adding heating to your deck will extend the months of the year during which you can use your outdoor space. We love the firepit on this deck, which creates a cosy nook surrounded by seating built into the decking, which is Trex Transcend in Island Mist available from Arborforest Products.
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.
9. Keep your deck private with planting
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 will it create the privacy you’re after, but it can make you feel transported from an urban garden to distant locations.
The decking is painted in Anti-slip Decking Stain in Urban Slate from Cuprinol, available at Homebase, that balances the hot shades of the planter, table runner and cushions.
10. Comfy up your deck
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 Reversible Plush Outdoor Rug from Lime Lace complements the wood with its silver colourway and 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.
11. Go dark to make a statement
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. This deck’s colour was created with Decking Stain & Protector in Ebony from Sadolin.
Grey and black shades have contemporary credentials but they aren’t just for modern gardens. 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.
12. Draw attention to a dining area
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, while 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 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. There are other rules, too, and you can get in the know on the Government’s planning portal.
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.
13. Plan an outdoor kitchen
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 a Hemi 36 Fire Bowl from Solus Decor in this garden, too, to provide warmth and atmosphere. It has a custom hardwood tabletop, so it can do double duty as a table when the heat of the fire isn’t needed.
14. Link to the interior
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.
15. Deal with a sloping garden
Decking is a top solution for a garden with an awkward slope, 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 Hay Palissade Cone Table from Nest. 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. In any case, the building regulations apply to a deck that requires planning permission – which is the case if it’s more than 30cm above the ground. Make sure yours complies in terms of both the balustrade and steps between the levels.