Skip to content

Maximizing Small Deck Spaces: Creative Design Ideas for Compact Outdoor Areas

By Trex February 26, 2024

backyard deck ideas from Trex

So, you have a small deck? No worries - it’s not a problem at all! If you think this will inhibit your outside activities or curb your enjoyment of nature, think again. There are many ways to maximize your outdoor area. We checked in with our friends at Trex and asked them to share a few simple ways to make your deck appear larger. Read on and see what they have to say!

Join our Newsletter

Sign up for our email list to receive exclusive promotions and landscape design inspiration.

Planning for Privacy

A great way to keep your deck (or patio) private and create a little barrier is to divide it. It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy. You could get a wooden partition to section off an area or utilize outside drapery. A few following suggestions would also be relatively easy to implement so you can enhance your deck and make a secluded space.

backyard deck ideas next to a plunge pool with a balcony above
Photo Credit: TrexRain Escapes

#1 // Living Wall

What’s this? It’s one of the most creative and beautiful ideas – perfect for nature lovers, and it cuts down on decibels. The wall, made of plants (hence, a living wall), will add privacy and be a sustainable barrier to your patio or deck. Pretty flowers and lush greens will complement your landscape, too.

#2 // A Pretty Pergola

A pergola is a structure, usually made of wood. It can act as a shelter from the sun, although you’d need an awning to be fully covered. With a pergola, you can integrate a retractable awning. This structure is also ideal for climbing plants. It could be a trellis for vines and other blooming plants, like wisteria.

backyard deck ideas with a pergola over it and an outdoor dining table below
Photo Credit: TrexRain Escapes

#3 // Cool Shade

A shade sail is a way to enjoy shade (and an excellent portable option). It will add a splash of color to your deck. A shade sail can be hung horizontally, like a canopy, or vertically, blocking the wind and even the neighbor’s curious gaze!

#4 // Umbrella of Patio Proportions

Lastly, a patio umbrella is something to consider. A picnic table is the perfect base for this. Get an umbrella that will fit your outdoor area, protect you from UV rays, and give you some privacy. Add some string lights under the umbrella’s frame to the ambiance.

backyard deck ideas with a portable umbrella over an outdoor dining table
Photo Credit: TrexRain Escapes

A Few Attractive Additions

If you feel like you need to incorporate something that will help make your deck space more appealing (and, yes, larger), we have a few thoughts on this. Adding an element of nature or using a shelter can augment your outdoor area.

#5 // Water Feature

A fountain, which doesn’t have to be big, might bring another dimension to your backyard. There are many from which to choose, all different sizes and styles. Another option would be a small pond next to your deck or patio. Koi fish do well in a range of temperatures, and they are fun to watch.

backyard deck ideas a water feature in a small backyard area
Photo Credit: TrexRain Escapes

#6 // Fire Pit or Chiminea

Building a fire pit with rocks or bricks is a rewarding weekend project. With just a few materials, you can construct a fire pit in almost no time! Likewise, a chiminea is a straightforward add-on that will bring warmth and light to your outdoor environment. Read a book or cook s’mores by the fire.

backyard deck ideas - a fire pit on a stern deck in a large backyard
Photo Credit: TrexRain Escapes

#7 // The Great Gazebo

Gazebos come in all forms – wooden, PVC, or HDPE plastic. They can be made to match the size of your deck, so it covers almost all of it. The gazebo may also have a soft side panel, similar to a tent, to keep out bugs. This could be a worthwhile investment if you like spending time outside and want a sturdy shelter while breathing the fresh air.

#8 // Let’s Think About Latticework

A DIY possibility is the addition of latticework. You can use it to either divide your deck, give you more privacy, or seal off the base of your deck. It’s something to think about, especially if you get some inquisitive wildlife, like furry friends who explore under your deck.

backyard deck ideas a lattice border around the back of a home with an outdoor table and chairs under an umbrella
Photo Credit: Trex

A Path to Perfection

Integrating a pathway or walkway in your backyard space can create the feel of it being larger. This also can blend different areas so relaxation and entertainment balance each other. Here are some ways to constructively make your outdoor oasis more cohesive.

#9 // Install a Footpath

Stepping stones are for more than just people to use as a walkway. They can also be ornamental and section off some parts of your backyard. Place them around your deck with large planters to add a new outlook to your landscaping. Create your own lush garden!

#10 // Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are meant to keep soil and plants in their place. They can also help with drainage, but a retaining wall can add depth and breadth to your patio or deck. Depending on the size and location where you would like your retaining wall, check your local building codes before doing any planning and construction.

Join our Newsletter

Sign up for our email list to receive exclusive promotions and landscape design inspiration.

#11 // Raised Garden Beds and Built-Ins

A raised garden bed or built-in is something to consider, especially if you like gardening. Plant your veggies or flowers in raised planter boxes. You could also put some built-in seating around the plant beds. There is nothing like going out in your fruit, vegetable, or flower garden and relaxing in the sun with a good book or great music.

backyard deck ideas for an raised deck of the back of a home
Photo Credit: Trex

#12 // Various Mixed Materials

Who says your patio has to be only brick and stone? Whether wood or composite, your deck can have some other materials, such as wire or glass, for its railings. Mix it up a bit; use gravel, river pebbles, brick, fieldstone, and the like to add rich texture and elegant design.

backyard deck ideas an outdoor living room area with a fireplace and TV
Photo Credit: Trex

The Illusion of Space

Although you may consider your deck area small, there are things you can do to give it the illusion of being more spacious. Your outdoor furniture choices, arrangement and plan of your outside space, and even your lighting will maximize your look.

#13 // Furniture and Functionality

Your furniture layout influences how your deck and/or patio will flow. Many small backyard spaces look more spacious or “roomy” because of the furniture arrangement. The outdoor feng shui will create unique proportions and will aid in giving your family and guests a place to congregate.

#14 // Layers of Lighting

Lighting your deck, patio, or backyard will help emphasize parts of your yard or deck. Pathway lights, string lights, ornamental lights, and recessed lighting will not only serve to illuminate but also give an illusion of having a larger deck or outdoor space.

backyard deck ideas on a budget with string lights hanging overhead
Photo Credit: Trex

#15 // Designating a Design

We have seen lots of backyard projects which incorporate an area for play, relaxation, and dining without a whole lot of fuss. A bistro table set, a couple of chairs or a tête-à-tête style set up, and a lounge chair will designate eating and/or reading areas. The area adjacent to your deck can be great for playing ball or gardening.

#16 // Grow Your Garden

Speaking of gardening, intelligently placed plants and bushes can make for a great privacy barrier. Hedges, smaller-sized trees, and plants can both accentuate and aid in bringing in oxygen and fresh air. Also, some plants can attract butterflies – especially butterfly bushes.

backyard deck ideas to add containers with colorful flowers
Photo Credit: Trex

A Few Final Thoughts

Having a small space isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be simpler to maintain and quite cozy. Combine any of these suggestions to customize and make your personalized patio or deck space all your own – and landscape to complement it!

Read more about: Landscape Design Tips