Garden decking: 7 amazing designs to inspire your outdoor makeover

Embrace alfresco living

Ideal for cosy courtyards and expansive country grounds alike, garden decking is the solution for outdoor spaces of any size crying out for a makeover, the perfect way to make an unloved section of your backyard a functional part of the house.  

But decking isn’t exactly, well, a cool topic, is it? 

Wrong. Who says a garden deck needs to be conventional? These design ideas will show you how decking can be an artistic installation in your back garden, and how to use decking to completely reimagine the way you use any lacklustre gardens. 

Garden decking with sofa with pillows, armchair, table with fresh fruits and candles on wicker footrestCredit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture
Decking can transform the way you use your garden

Thanks to its adaptable applications, decking can be used to carve pathways through wildflower meadows, separate your outdoor barbecue corner from a sleepy reading nook, improve your garden’s accessibility or even give a balcony that much-needed makeover. 

Because it’s available in easy-to-lay tiles as well as boards that will need joists and anchors (which create the framework for the decking to lay on and then secure it together), garden decking can transform pretty much any space in almost no time at all. 

It shows ways of creating platforms to dine, entertain and relax on – be it in a sunken bathtub under the stars or a welcoming seating area with its own weather-proof canopy. 

It doesn’t have to be expensive either – if you’re simply looking for some easy and cost-effective ways, then we’ve got examples of how to restyle existing decking with paint and plants. 

But how should you create your own backyard utopia? Well, sometimes there’s nothing better than having a nose around someone else’s garden, especially when our own piece of land needs a little TLC, so we’ve been busy eyeing up beautiful decking designs that will hopefully ignite the spark of inspiration your garden-rebooting plans need. 


1. Master multifunctionality

This hand-built creation by a Danish husband-and-wife duo wears many hats. As well as housing a dining area, the deep steps down to the lawn double up as benches. But the jewel in its crown is a concealed sunken bathtub – revealed by pulling back a section of the decking. That’s one less bathtub ending up in landfill.  

Sections of a project like this could be amended depending on your needs, swapping steps for more accessible ramps (for example) or opting for a waist-height planting bed instead of the bathtub.  

2. Reflect nature’s patterns

This classic, award-winning garden from the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show shows straight lines who’s boss and demonstrates why boards don’t have to be boring. With the right power tools and know-how, hardwood decking boards can be altered to create curves around ponds and flowerbeds at home to achieve a similar effect. 

“Using curves immediately gives a garden a more relaxed, organic feel,” the garden’s designer Matthew Wilson told us.  “A curving path rather than a straight one tends to feel more like a meander than a march and lends itself well to being accompanied by a naturalistic planting style.  

“And of course, curves are usually slightly lower maintenance than straight lines – no need to dig out a string line or timber board to edge a lawn, and people will rarely notice if a curve is a little wonky.” 

3. Embrace every surface

Don’t let your creative decking design be confined by convention – why not continue your decking beyond the floor? It could even creep up vertically – like a fence – first and then overhead to create a seamless canopied structure, making it ideal shelter in less than clement weather. This angled deck in California even hosts a space for a small green wall, home to a collection of succulents.  

This design would work well for gardeners keen to conceal ugly bordering walls and can give the feel of a cosy, cladded cabin to a smaller courtyard garden

4. Bring the inside out

Decking can provide a platform for the seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living. Keep the design language flowing between your home’s interiors and decking accessories with a complementary colour palette.  

The neutral tones spill out into the garden at this London home with ease thanks to the bi-folding doors. This smooth transition from inside to out is also useful for people who may not be able to tackle steps yet want to soak up the glory of alfresco dining. 


5. Paint with (re)purpose

Those of you with existing decking that’s looking rather tired can give it a new lease of life with a lick of paint. And no, this doesn’t just mean a ‘sand and stain’. Why not redesign your decking as you would a room indoors? Bold colours, patterns and stencils lend themselves well to the boards, which can then be adorned with matching furniture, just like this design from Brooke Christen. 

Bearing in mind decking takes a battering from the weather, furniture and feet, be sure to know which type of oils, stains and paints will work best 

6. Be a tree hugger

Trees are wonderful. They won’t stand in the way of your new decking, as long as you don’t mind keeping it clear of leaves and other debris throughout the year. In fact, any natural feature of a garden will usually influence decking design in a positive way, with the decking able to be cut snugly around a trunk if needed.  

This example became a majestic centrepiece within a tiered solution for a sloping garden – which is also helpful to create useable space for those with decreased mobility (notice the shallow steps too). 

7. One more for luck…

We couldn’t resist adding this to our list. Not everyone has the luxury of pool access in their back garden. But for those who do (or simply want to watch in awe), here are 15 minutes of jaw-dropping feats where swimming pools magically appear and then disappear beneath decking boards. This is world-class garden decking engineering at its finest.  

If your decking is framing a pool or pond, be careful on those slippery surfaces! Here are some solutions that can help to reduce the risk of a fall. 

Are you considering installing your first ever garden decking from the ground up? Then check out this simple step-by-step guide to make sure you don’t miss a trick. Or if you’re keen to grab your brushes and be bold with your paint choices, revive an existing deck in your garden with these best buys.  

Rosanna Spence

Written by Rosanna Spence she/her


Rosanna Spence has been a journalist for nearly 10 years, reporting on a huge array of topics – from microwaves to cocktails, sustainable buildings, the Caribbean islands and beyond. She’s interviewed chefs at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants and chatted to countless CEOs about their businesses, as well as created travel guides for experienced travellers seeking life-changing adventures. Throughout her career, she has created content for Business Traveller,, Pub & Bar, BRITA, Dine Out and many more leading titles and brands.

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