18 stylish decking ideas for gardens, backyards and patios

Let these gorgeous garden decking ideas inspire you to upgrade your outdoor space no matter what size you are working with

Decking idea with wooden flooring and bio fold doors
(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

From hidden built-in hot tubs and flowing water features to small subtle designs and color inspiration, we've found plenty of stylish garden decking ideas for a chic, modern outdoor space.

Because decking can be so much more than a square of wooden planks that lead from indoors to out. It can the perfect spot for alfresco dinners, transformed into an outdoor living room, or the perfect place to add an outdoor kitchen. Decks can be stylish and exciting and the focal point of a garden, you can style them up to perfectly suit the rest of your space, opt for a rustic look with whitewashed wooden planks and potted olive trees, a modern vibe with grey-toned planks and sleek furniture or go traditional with an inviting outdoor sofa and a roaring firepit... 

And don't let the fact you have a small outdoor space put you off either, our decking designs and garden ideas have you covered too. 

1. Create a seamless flow with flooring

garden deck with small water feature and living wall

(Image credit: Design by Nulty Lighting garden lighting)

Both the wood flooring and the living wall continue from the inside out, providing a flow and a connection between the spaces. Inside, the living wall is illuminated with spotlights in the floor, while outside up-lighters bring out the plants as well as the smart pond feature that's built into the patio floor.

2. Build in hidden hot tubs

garden decking with built in hot tubs

(Image credit: Jo Smith)

Designed by LTD Architectural Design Studio, this decked patio of a home in New Zealand features built-in hot tubs, perfect for watching the sunset. Then when you're done, just put the wood 'lid' back over it and it transforms back into a smooth deck.

3. Create a zone with a glass border

garden decking idea with glass border

(Image credit: Design by Boundary, London)

A glass frame wraps around this decking idea, framing the views and providing a sleek contrast to the more relaxed, natural rooftop garden. Built-in lighting in the decked patio adds to the clean, modern look.

4. Complement wood decking with matching wood planters

garden decking with built in wooden planters

(Image credit: Future)

Decked steps double up as both built-in planter boxes and banquette seating. 

5. Extend decking to create a viewpoint or a walkway

large wooden deck with two adirondack chairs looking out over a lake

(Image credit: James Brittain)

We love the way this decking stretches out to become a pier at Mirror Point Cottage, designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects. This decking idea could even work in landscaped gardens, offering stretches of decked walkways through wild grasses or as a bridge over a pond.

6. Use decked areas to create different levels

Med style garden with raising decking with dining area and sunken outdoor sofa

(Image credit: thethinkingtraveller.com)

This decked patio is zoned by different levels/heights. There's an alfresco dining area at kitchen level, with a recessed area in the decking with lounge seating for chilling out afterward. Check out our guide to the best garden furniture to find pieces to recreate this look.

7. Incorporate sky lights for basement levels

small patio garden with bistro set and low slung chairs around a firepit

(Image credit: Frenchie Cristogatin)

Sleek light wells built into the wooden flooring channel extra daylight into the ground floor below. A fire pit acts as the focal point in this garden, with lounge seating facing towards it. This generously planted space provides a sense of nature and privacy in a busy district. 

8. Add a space for barbecuing on a deck

garden decking area with modern concrete furniture and built in BBQ

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

This concrete cottage's decking is wider than the property itself, creating an al fresco dining spot with a built-in BBQ and pizza oven.

9. Opt for a rustic look for boho, country or coastal properties

garden decking ideas in a rustic style, rattan planters and hammock

(Image credit: uniquehomestays.com)

Gorgeous wide reclaimed wood planks create a rustic look for this Cornwall cottage.

10. Create a raised deck

raised garden decking with grey outdoor sofa and rustic throw pillows

(Image credit: uniquehomestays.com)

A raised deck zones this al fresco lounge space, separating it from the rest of the garden.

11. Wraparound decking

wraparound garden decking idea

(Image credit: Mark Selen)

Wraparound garden decking creates a sleek, modern look at this Copenhagen-based beach house.

12. Consider plumbing for an outdoor shower or water feature

garden decking idea with outdoor shower area

(Image credit: Future)

A smart outdoor shower lets you cool off or fresh up after a swim at this lakeside holiday home.

13. Contrast wood decking with smooth poured concrete

garden decking with poured concrete flooring contrasting olive groves

(Image credit: thethinkingtraveller.com)

Poured concrete patios at different levels make the most of a sloped garden. The poured concrete also creates an interesting contrast to the wood decking areas.

14. Opt for grey-toned decking for a Mediterranean inspired look

decking area in a Mediterranean style garden over looking the sea

(Image credit: thethinkingtraveller.com)

Grey-toned wood decking helps to create a more sun-bleached Mediterranean look.

15. Take your decking up the walls

garden decking idea with vertical decking and large modern dining table

(Image credit: thethinkingtraveller.com)

The same Mediterranean decking  features a built-in fireplace and vertical walls clad in wood to create a more cocooned feel.

16. Decking for roof terraces and balcony spaces

garden decking on small rooftop garden with old bench and grasses

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Unfussy plants, grey wood tones and an inviting bench with a wide seat pad help to create a relaxed yet chic balcony garden

17. Break up decking with a built-in pool or pond 

garden decking idea with a built-in swimming pool

(Image credit: James Merrell)

A sleek infinity pool slots beautifully inside this decked patio. The effect is modern, clean and seamless. 

18. Go all-over with garden decking

small decked garden with banquette seating painted in green and white fence behind

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

A slatted wood fence and slatted wood built-in bench seating complement the wood decking. Painting, staining, or bleaching the decking would have created a more modern look and got rid of the yellow tones.

What is best to put under decking?

You can lay decking on grass, soil or patio slabs but whatever you build it on to you will have to create space that's stable enough and level enough to support your decking. You can either add concrete slabs to create extra stability or you can lay a deck straight onto the ground, you will just need to cover it in a layer of weed control fabric and a layer of gravel on top. 

Is decking cheaper than paving?

Decking can be cheaper than paving but it depends on the design and spec of your  decking. Softwood is the cheapest material you can use for decking a will usually be much more cost effective than patio slabs, PVC and composite decking are more expensive options and you may find work out more costly than paving. 

Do you need planning permission for decking?

To add decking you won't usually need to ask for planning permission, but there are exceptions, including if your decking takes up more than 50 percent of your property or is higher than 30cm. Just be safe and check with your local authority if you have any doubts. 

Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.