Garden decking ideas to add interest to your outdoor space

Beautiful wooden and composite designs to inspire your garden project

When it comes to your outdoor space, one of the first aspects to consider is your patio or terrace area. Garden decking ideas are a wonderful place to start - they help provide zones and boundaries and help set the scene for how and where you want your planting to look.

Whichever style of garden landscaping ideas you opt for, there's certain to be a type of decking to suit.

Decking for gardens is decking is quick and relatively cheap to install. The ground beneath doesn’t require levelling, so you can cover an uneven surface, or even an existing terrace. It’s warm underfoot and also good for roof gardens.

Wooden decking needs regular oiling to maintain its colour and be aware that cheaper woods tend to warp and move over time. Consider spending a bit more of your budget, to prevent having to spend more further down the line. The other popular option is composite, which is made from resin and reclaimed wood fibres. 'Composite decking only needs an occasional gentle brush and wash,' says Ash Read, home and property expert and founder of Living Cozy (opens in new tab). Another plus is that it's UV stable, meaning it won't fade like natural woods can do.

Garden decking ideas

There's a wealth of garden decking ideas to suit all lifestyles, budgets and tastes. You could opt for attractive wood, create imaginative patterns or go environmentally friendly with plastic- and wood-waste blends.

1. Continue the decking onto steps

house exterior with wooden flooring and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Not every home is built level with the outdoor space, so consider integrating the steps with your scheme. Simply build you outdoor steps in the same timber or composite as the decking you're using on the terrace area.

Steps are notoriously slippy in inclement weather, so make sure to choose an anti-slip material and clean the area regularly to keep natural woods free from algae or moss.

2. Colour match to your house exterior

house exterior space with potted plants and dark flooring

(Image credit: Valspar)

Make a statement by painting your decking to match the colour of your home.

'When repainting a decking area, preparing your surface is really important to enable you to get the best finish,' advises Will Thompson, Head of Product Marketing at Valspar Paint (opens in new tab). 'First, clear away all items such as plant pots. Then remove any loose or flaking with paint stripper or by sanding. Then clean your decking with a stiff bristled brush or broom.'

'Holes or cracks in the wood can be easily repaired with a wood filler. Once the filler is dry, use sandpaper to sand down the whole surface. To remove the leftover dust and give the whole deck a final clean, wipe it with a Decking Cleaner and let it dry. If you notice spots of bare wood after removing flaking paint, or if you’re drastically changing the colour (for example, going from a dark shade to a lighter one), you will need to apply a primer and undercoat first.'

'Once this is dry, it’s time to give your decking a new colourful life. For painting choose the application method that better suits your need among a paint roller or a decking pad. They will both deliver a uniform yet vivid coat of paint. On the other hand, keep brushes for painting in restricted spots.'

3. Add a brick border

outdoor space with chairs and table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Nigel Rigden)

Make your decking area into even more of a visibly zoned space by adding a border. Think practically and use paving or bricks, as they can typically be cleaned using similar substances to the decking.

Flowerbeds make pretty borders, too, but make sure you leave enough gaps for people to move easily between zones without trampling any of your blooms.

4. Integrate space for a firepit

garden area with sofa and firepit

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

What even is an outdoor space without a firepit these days? Take this into consideration right from the off by building in space for your evenings around the fire. Not only does this set a lovely focal point to your terrace, but having the firepit on stones you won't be have to be worried about having to sweep up ash remnants, or be concerned about lively sparks.

5. Contrast with your fencing style

outdoor space with fencing and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Havwoods)

Cool, composite woods make a perfect contrast with weathered wood boards. Choose one to make up your outdoor decking, and the other for your fencing. This way, you get a stylish look and get the best of both materials. Our natural inclination would be composite on the decking and real woods for the fence area.

6. Choose bleached woods for a lighter feel

outdoor sitting area with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Keep a smaller space light and bright by using bleached woods. Eyes won't be overly drawn to your decking, which would highlight the petite dimensions of your patio. Maximise the effect by painting external walls or fences white.

7. Zone dedicated garden areas

garden area with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Alisdair Mcintosh)

Zoning our outdoor spaces is a popular way to make a garden reflect how we live indoors, an outdoor living room idea of sorts. Using two different flooring choices helps the give the garden a sense of purpose, a clear indication of a different zones.

A dedicated dining area benefits from an easy clean decking, a play area lends itself to be on a lawn to cushion play and a relaxation zone complete with fire pit is most suitably finished with paving slabs.

8. Add a decking area to a garden room

outdoor area with lavender flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Lloyd Davies)

Create a dedicated outdoor area for a garden room by laying a decking area beyond the retracting doors. The frontage provides a space to sit outside, making it an extensive of the extra living space. Frame the compact decking area with simple yet thoughtful planted borders, that separate the decking and the structure from the remaining garden.

Don't forget to complete the effect with dramatic garden lighting ideas for the perfect decked garden that will work well into the evening.

9. Carve out a cooking area with raised decking

cooking area with raised decking

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Give an outdoor cooking area it's own raised decking, to add a signify a dedicated outdoor kitchen zone. The use of wooden flooring helps add an indoor style element to an outdoor kitchen idea. Also from a practical point of view a wooden decking can be easily washed down and is less likely to be damaged as a result of kitchen accidents with dropped plates and more.

10. Echo the aesthetics of a modern extension

outdoor area with grassland and sitting bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Nick Huggins)

More than purely practical, decking can decoratively echo designs that feature throughout the decor. If your home features large glazed panels or windows at the back, link the decking with interior choices. Think matching wood colour or style to kitchen cabinetry, your flooring or even your furniture.

11. Raise the levels to meet the floor plan

outdoor area with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Raise a decking area immediately off the indoor living space creates an easy flow from indoors to outside. A great idea for a decking area being used for entertainment, making it a safer journey from one zone to another. The perimeter is the better place to stagger steps down onto a lawn area.

12. Co-ordinate in a small space

outdoor sitting area

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When planning grassless garden ideas, like a small courtyard or balcony garden idea, it's best to keep the look uniform to avoid overwhelming the space with different colours and textures.

Choose a matching decking stain and fencing. While the planks don't have to be the same in terms of finish, the uniformed colour alone will be enough to create a seamless flow in the design.

13. Stage an area dedicated to entertaining

outside area with chairs and table

(Image credit: Forest Garden)

Chose a hearty composite decking to provide a protective area on top of a patio, perfect for entertaining and garden party ideas. The Ecodek Heritage composite deck kit provides an instant, stylish area that is quick and easy to build. 'Made of a wood & plastic composite,' say the experts at Forest Garden (opens in new tab). 'It's designed to have the look and feel of natural timber with the additional benefits of a material that will not stain, warp, split or flake, has minimal fade and is easy to maintain.'

Practical and pretty, the grey finish is idea for styling your outdoor area to perfection – matching the colour with bistro dining tables, soft furnishings and accessories.

14. Build-in an easy care succulent garden

garden area with succulent plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason)

Keep your decking looking fresh and modern by swapping a cluster of plant pots on the decking for a built-in succulent patch. Not only will it make a striking centre-piece to your garden, but they are also incredibly easy to look after. As long as they are planted into a light weight succulent soil mix, all they will need is a little watering during the hotter months.

15. Cover your decking with a glazed pergola

lawn area with sofa and chairs and round table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

A glazed pergola on the deck provides an alfresco entertaining area that can be used whatever the weather – we find spaces like this especially inviting in the rain, when you can hear the soothing sound of rain drops hitting the glass. Train pot-friendly easy climbing plant ideas like honeysuckle and magnolia to cover the uprights for heady fragrance.

A well-designed decking space or roof terrace can offer an all-year-round option. Taking your living space into the outdoors is a hot trend right now, so statement garden furniture coupled with cushions and throws will make the outside as comfortable and personalised as indoors.

16. Make your decking weatherproof with an anti-slip treatment

outside area table chairs and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

Decking plus rain can equal danger, so it's wise to treat your decking with an anti-slip stain. A sail canopy will also keep the rain off, to further limit the slippy potential of the surface.

17. Lay a boardwalk

garden area with potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Use decking to create a pathway through your garden – perhaps to a more solid decked area. This boardwalk-style garden path idea is given even more of a seaside feel with white pebbles, which help to keep weeds at bay.

18. Build a decked bar area

garden area with decked bar counter

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Enhance your garden bar idea with a stylish decking solution. Make your bar take pride of place by situating on a raised decked platform. Adding lighting as part of the decking set up feels to add ambience to an outdoor bar area. It's also a good idea to lay a rug under bar stools so there's a grippy surface to step onto after a couple of cocktails!

19. Try a darker woodstain on your decking boards

outside sitting area with wooden bench and table

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

Decking is often quite pale or in warm natural woody shades, so this will lend a more unusual, contemporary look to your terrace. Dark, muted decking also allows the vibrant surroundings to steal the show – so if you want people to focus on the lushness of your garden, it's the way to go.

20. Level uneven ground

sitting area with wooden flooring and plants

(Image credit: Futre PLC/Darren Chung)

Garden decking ideas are absolutely ideal if your garden is uneven or on a slope. It's great for levelling out awkward spaces or sloping gardens, as it's built on a structure. It can also have split levels and include steps.

21. Be bold with colour

outside sitting area with blue chair and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Give a small decking area some special treatment. Block-coloured brights in various complementary hues are sure to make an impact. If you have wooden furniture you're thinking of getting rid of, a coat of paint will give it a new look and repurpose it for the garden. Do make sure to choose a weather-resistant finish, though.

A hit of bold colour is great way to enhance small garden ideas, to make more of a statement with a tiny space.

22. Mix decking among flagstones

outside sitting area with wooden flooring and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Annaick Guitteny)

Get an ultra-modern look for your garden by mixing wooden decking with stone paving. The combination of materials provides interest and a contrast between the light and dark colours. Without the lightening effect of the stone, the wood decking would look quite heavy in such a large garden. Architectural beds in the middle inject some greenery.

23. Section off your decking with railings

sitting area with L shaped sofa and colourful cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson)

If you're using decking to section off a corner of the garden, adding railings will help. For a truly indoor-meets-outdoor approach, include a water-resistant rattan sofa and plenty of comfy cushions in a patchwork of bright patterns. There is a lot of vivid colour to be found in nature, so they won't look out of place against the vibrant greens of surrounding trees.

24. Make flooring flow from indoor to out

sitting area with wooden table and bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Hiscock)

Make your garden decking an extension of your home. Decking can be easily levelled with your internal floor so that the boundaries between inside and outside are almost blurred.

A trellis idea overhead adds some cover and shade, and plants can be trained up and over it to add interest. Outdoor kitchen cupboards make preparing outdoor meals a cinch.

25. Paint raised beds white in contrast

outdoor with wooden flooring and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jake Curtis)

Plant raised flower beds to add interest to the centre of your decking. It avoids having a large area of open decking and also elevates the plants so that everything isn't at ground level. Create a striking look by choosing contrasting, monochromatic colours for the beds and the decking.

26. Build matching floating stairs

wooden floating stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jody Stewart)

Soften the hard edges of your decking with an abundance of pretty flowers and herbs that creep right up to the door. Floating steps made out of the same material as the decking create continuity between the two levels and add a note of fun by bridging the water feature below.

27. Using decking to reinforce an incline

garden area with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Decking provides a sturdy flooring solution for a sloping garden idea. Level off the different areas and use a supportive floor option to give the space structure. Enclose the slope safely by framing the garden decking ideas with wooden balustrades.

28. Create a rustic look with weathered decking

open deck area with plants and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Dark weathered decking can to the rustic appeal of a garden. Choose a material that will weather well and surrounding the raised decking with perennials. If you have the space, consider building in a shallow pond below the decking for a truly striking garden.

How do I keep my decking clean?

Remove all furniture and start by brushing all dirt and debris from the decking before washing it with decking cleaner and hosing down with water. It's also worth investing in a pressure washer to ensure your decking stays looking new, year after year.

'Tackle your patio or decking by using a pressure washer to spray away any moss and grime that might have built up over the winter months,' advises Sophie Herrmann, Brand Manager at Jeyes (opens in new tab). 'Ensure that the settings on the pressure washer are suitable for your deck. Otherwise, it could potentially damage the surface of your deck. Consider using a specialist outdoor cleaning product to remove algae, mould, mildew and dirt from patios, driveways and tarmac.'

Where's the easiest place to lay decking?

You need a flat, level surface, so laying it onto an existing patio or concrete base is the most straightforward way. to build a deck into earth or grass, dig out to a depth of 5cm and cover with weed-suppressing fabric and gravel. Paving slabs are then laid on top to support the deck's framework and prevent rot.

How do I lay decking is my garden isn't level?

You'll need to elevate the deck. This is a more complex job involving squaring off the site and concreting joist support posts into the ground before building the frame. a raised deck should have safety balustrades and, if it's adjoining a structure or building, will need to be attached securely.

How do you lay deck boards?

Once the sub-frame is in place, boards are laid on top, horizontally at right angles to the joists, and fixed with screw. A gap between each board means they can expand and contract, and allows rainwater to drain. Leave a new deck to weather for about six months before staining or oiling.

How do I stop my decking from becoming slippery?

Use non-slip boards such as Gripsure (at Homebase), or fit non-slip inserts (these can be retro-fitted) - see gripdeck.co.uk. Make sure that water can drain (flat, rather than grooved boards are better in this respect) and treat with a topcoat to prevent mould and algae.

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.