Five Tips For Designing A Deck In A Small Back Yard

A small exterior space doesn’t mean you have to limit your ambition. If you’d love to have a deck in that confined area, there’s nothing to stop you from building it. It might not be the biggest structure to ever grace the outside of a home, but with some smart thinking your deck can still give you all the space you need… in real or imagined terms!

Aim Low

The lower your deck, the less rails and posts you need, and if you are building a compact deck to suit a small back yard, this can only be a good thing. Rails and posts on a small deck can create a ‘caged-in’ effect, which only emphasises the lack of space. By taking rails and posts out of the equation, you open up the deck and give the appearance of room, glorious room.  Therefore, a floating or platform deck, which sits just above the ground, should be one of the first options you explore. This should include checking with local authorities that your proposed design is indeed low enough to be built without the need for safety rails.

A Smart Seating Plan

Seating takes up a lot of room in the centre of a small deck. To give yourself more room in this limited space, look to the edges of your deck. The outer limits of a deck are rarely used anyway, but if you are able to incorporate seating of the built-in variety, right at the edge of your deck, you’ll find yourself with so much more room in the middle.

The Illusion Of Space

The illusion of space can often overcome the reality of limited size! This can be achieved by keeping the deck open, as discussed above. Another way to create this illusion is to keep the deck flooring simple in design. Elaborate flooring designs, where short pieces of decking timber are laid down in head-spinning criss-cross patterns, might look wonderful on a large deck but they’re not ideal for smaller structures. Instead, a simple arrangement of long boards will give the impression of distance and flow, an illusion that will make your deck seem bigger than it really is.

Shape It Your Way

Think outside of the square to maximise space. If your small back yard is also irregularly shaped, forget those boring square and rectangle designs and shape the deck to best fit into the space you have. If, for example, the most spacious part of the lawn is a circular shape, then design a round deck to fill that space. A triangular patch in the garden? Match it with a triangular deck. It’s all about using the space you have, instead of building a deck that only uses part of it. As a deck with an unusual shape might be a little more complex to build, it might be best for safety and aesthetic reasons to consult a landscape designer or a builder rather than take the project on yourself.

Round Is Right

You will need a table on your deck for entertainment purposes, and when space is limited the shape of that table is all important. Choose a round table for your small deck, as it will take up less room than a regular-shaped table, yet will seat more people. The flow of a round table is also better, with people finding it easier to move around it; an important consideration when guests congregate on a deck of any size. As odd as this might sound, an interior designer might have some words of advice for you. They’re used to creating flow in any room, and as a deck is an entertainment room, albeit an exterior one, an interior designer should have firm ideas on best using the space…including a round table!

Author bio:  Chris Polvari has been a cabinetmaker for over 20 years and his company Urban Accent has been beautifying homes for more than eight years.  See some of his work at

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