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These Small Decking Ideas Will Make the Most of Any Garden

small decking ideas
(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

More and more people these days are on the hunt for small decking ideas, keen to ensure they are making the most of every last inch of their gardens for maximum year-round enjoyment. 

However, when it comes to slotting decking ideas into smaller spaces, a more creative, considered approach is often required to ensure your landscaping scheme works as a whole. 

Our round-up of brilliant small decking ideas should get your new garden project off to the very best start, providing you with a wealth of inspiration, whether you are working with an awkward space, a sloping plot or the tiniest courtyard garden.

Finding Small Decking Ideas to Suit Your Needs 

"Any space regardless of how big or small it is, still calls for the same practical elements to reach its full potential," says Michelle Hendricks, Category Marketing Manager at Deckorators, a leading brand of composite decking. "Start from the foundations and ask yourself how the space should function to meet your expectations."

Before you can begin to design your small deck, there are a few key questions you should be asking yourself to ensure your new outdoor feature meets all your requirements. These include:

  • What will the deck primarily be used for? Relaxing on, for dining, as a barbecue space, and so on.
  • Is there a particular view of the garden or beyond that you want to enjoy from the deck?
  • Will the deck need to take into account changes in level?
  • Are you happy to put in some maintenance when it comes to your deck? Timber, for example, often requires a little more looking after than composite decking.
  • What overall look are you aiming for in the garden? Would a modern style of decking be more suitable than a more rustic design, or vice versa?
  • Is privacy an issue? You don't want your deck to feel overlooked so don't forget to explore ways to increase its privacy levels.

When it comes to the design of your new deck, you might like to speak to a landscape designer for ideas that will make the most of your garden space. 

Alternatively, you could try out one of the online decking design tools now available. "Many companies offer digital tools to help in the planning process. We saw this need and created our new Deck Designer" says Michelle Hendricks of Deckorators.   

If you want to take the DIY approach, you could also consider saving some pennies and find out how to lay decking yourself. 

1. Create an Intimate Dining Deck

small decking with seating and outdoor lighting

(Image credit: Ultra Decking)

Decking is a fantastic way to create an alfresco dining area in gardens of any size, but even small decked spaces can provide cosy spots to sit outside to enjoy a meal. 

Locating your deck in one corner of your garden – as has been done here using decking from Ultra Decking (opens in new tab) – rather than centrally, creates a nice sense of intimacy, while surrounding it with fencing covered with greenery adds to a sense of privacy.

Make sure your garden lighting ideas extend to your deck too — fairy lights add a magical feel, while the decking lights here really define the space as separate from the rest of the garden at the same time as adding a warm glow.  

2. Opt For Built-in Seating to Save Space

deck at night with illuminated seats and built in bench

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

Built-in seating makes so much sense when it comes to small garden design ideas in general — but for compact decks it really is one feature to aim for.

"Deliberately placing seating along the perimeter of your outdoor space will allow for more foot traffic throughout the area," says Michelle Hendricks. "We advise to consider creating custom, built-in outdoor furniture, such as a bench made from composite decking, for a stylish and seamless look."

Not only does it save space, but built-in seating also looks really smart, particularly when constructed from the same material that the decking is made from. 

3. Locate it in a Corner For an Outdoor Room Feel

timber deck with wicker chair

(Image credit: The Rug Retailer)

Positioning your deck in one corner of the garden has many advantages. Firstly, it creates a nice private space, thanks to the two ready-made boundaries that will wrap around it, whether those are made up of garden fence ideas, hedges or walls.

Then there is the fact that you have these boundaries on which to grow plants up for a lush feel, not to mention the opportunities created for hanging features such as water fountains, garden art or hanging planters. 

Finally, corner decks are ideal if you want to build benches into your deck design.

4. Create a Cosy Hideaway With Trellis

small decking surrounded by terrace

(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

Surrounding a small deck with trellis or fencing will make it feel like a little room in your garden — the perfect spot to retreat to.

"Depending on the design, a privacy wall can act as a great way to add character and functionality to your deck, while also acting as a vertical surface for hanging planters and other décor," says Michelle Hendricks. 

Lattice is a brilliant garden screening idea and alternative to solid fencing or hedges as it allows an enticing glimpse of the space within, won't block light and is affordable too. 

5. Use Curved Decking to Make a Space Feel Bigger

curved decking

(Image credit: Getty)

Curved decking, pathways, patios and lawns are all fantastic ideas in small gardens as they distract the eye from the proportions of a space at the same time as navigating any tricky or awkward areas.

Curved decking is actually hugely popular in terms of garden trends and patio ideas right now, adding a nice organic, natural feel that it can be hard to achieve with straight lines — plus it also works well around water features and ponds. 

6. Prioritise Seating and Heating

deck at night with firepit and seating

(Image credit: Solus Decor)

If you only have space for one or two pieces of furniture or features on your small deck, then make sure they work hard and look great.

Ideally, you want to enough garden seating for your needs, along with space for a firepit or similar to allow you to stay out in the evenings for as long as you can without feeling the chill. 

Positioning your seating around the perimeter of your deck, with a firepit located centrally works well — the perfect spot to gather friends together. 

7. Consider Decking Tiles in Small Areas

decking tiles

(Image credit: B&Q)

Decking tiles are perfect for small areas as they won't usually require cutting down to size. They are also really simple to fit on a DIY basis and are relatively cost-effective too.

The GoodHome Lempa Brown Acacia Clippable deck tiles (opens in new tab) shown here, from B&Q are grooved on both sides and clippable, so are super easy and quick to install without using tools. They cost £33.33/m2.

8. Make Your Small Deck a Hidden Oasis

small decking area with greenery and trellis

(Image credit: Ultra Decking)

Small decks are arguably easier to turn into lush little garden retreats than their large counterparts as they naturally feel more welcoming and intimate. 

Surround your deck with a range of tall plants and incorporate privacy fence ideas, trellis and natural screening to ensure the space feels tucked away and cosseted from the rest of your garden and from the view of any neighbouring properties. 

You could opt to design your deck around flowerbeds or use raised planters — or do both, as has been done here with this deck from Ultra Decking (opens in new tab)

9. Mix and Match Landscaping Materials

small garden with lawn and decking

(Image credit: Getty)

Small gardens really benefit from a mix and match approach when it comes to the materials you use to create decks, patios and pathways. 

This garden is by no means huge, yet by combining a small timber deck with areas of paving and lawn, the space feels as though it contains separate zones and appears larger than it really is. As most decks are raised above the rest of the garden, they add height too which can really break a small space up.

10. Design a Decking Pathway 

decking pathway around house

(Image credit: Getty)

Decking is a great way to create pathways in the garden — quick and easy to lay and available in designs that blend in well with most landscaping schemes. 

Be sure to choose a decking material that is non-slip to ensure the path doesn't become a slipping hazard in wet or icy conditions. Many composite decking ideas and products are non-slip, while opting for a timber with grooves will help too. 

11. Use Your Decking For Garden Storage

raised deck with storage beneath

(Image credit: Deckorators)

Depending on the height of your deck, it could present you with the perfect opportunity to create extra garden storage space — something often lacking in small gardens. 

"Consider utilising every square inch of the space you have. Hidden storage compartments around your deck or patio are a great way to preserve space and store your belongings," says Michelle Hendricks of Deckorators, whose products have been used here. 

"Make use of the space underneath your deck and conceal unappealing items such as utility boxes, AC units or lawn equipment using facia to conceal your decking understructure."

12. Use Awning to Shade Your Small Deck

small covered decking area

(Image credit: Deckorators/Pete's Construction)

For your deck to be a pleasant place to sit out no matter what the weather, it is important to ensure you have some great patio cover ideas up your sleeve.

One of our favourites ways to create flexible shade over a small deck is by using retractable awning. It can be folded neatly away when not in use, yet is sturdy enough to be used to keep off the rain as well as the sun, allowing to to get maximum enjoyment from your deck. It is particularly useful over small decks as you don't need to splash out on a huge awning system in order to cover the space. 

13. Extend Your Interiors With a Small Deck

small deck leading from patio doors

(Image credit: Garden House Design)

Placing a small deck directly in front of your patio doors is a quick and cost-effective way to create an indoor outdoor area — simply fling open your doors and watch your interiors grow.

While expanses of paving that flow seamlessly from inside to out, featuring level thresholds and swathes of sliding glass, are undoubtedly striking, they can be costly and time-consuming to create.

A simple small deck, on the other hand, can be constructed in a day or two on a DIY basis.

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. She has renovated a terrace and is at the end of the DIY renovation and extension of her Edwardian cottage. She is now looking for her next project.