Small Deck Ideas on a BudgetBy Dave Kile
11 Small Deck Ideas on a Budget for Your Backyard
It’s a question I often hear: “How can we elevate our small deck without breaking the bank?” Luckily, a major investment isn’t needed to achieve a major upgrade to your outdoor retreat. Here, we’ll take a look at my favorite budget-friendly suggestions that are guaranteed to breathe new life into your compact space. From creative pallet seating and enchanting lighting to lush vertical gardens and smart sun solutions, these suggestions will help you discover simple and affordable upgrades to redefine the charm and functionality of your small deck.
Cozy Ideas for a Small Deck on a Budget
1. Fire Pit
Turn your small deck into a warm and inviting retreat with a budget-friendly fire pit, perfect for relaxed evenings spent fireside. The homeowners I work with appreciate portable pits for flexibility and easy storage. Choose from traditional wood-burning models or the convenience of gas in compact designs. For a rewarding project, consider a DIY fire pit using bricks or concrete blocks that are cost-effective and customizable. Complete the cozy atmosphere with comfortable seating and blankets to encourage guests to linger long after sunset.
2. Pallet Seating
Get creative with DIY pallet furniture for your small deck. Repurpose pallets into sofas and chairs to add seating with flair while keeping your budget intact. For design inspiration, I suggest exploring the wide variety of pallet ideas online for design inspiration. You’ll discover lots of creative configurations and may even add a pallet coffee table or plant stand to your plans, too. You can source free or low-cost pallets from local businesses or warehouses. Personalize your pallet furniture with outdoor-friendly finishes and get comfortable with weather-resistant cushions to create an ideal lounging atmosphere.
Deck Lighting for Small Decks on a Budget
3. String Lights
Enhance your small deck with the enchanting glow of string lights. These lights, whether hung overhead or along the railing, create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Explore options like globe lights for a timeless and classic look, Edison bulbs for a vintage aesthetic, whimsically shaped lights for some fun, or fairy lights for a bit of magic. If you opt for energy-efficient LEDs, I recommend the programmable style that allows you to change the display color for maximum versatility. With so many options, you’re sure to find string lights that set the perfect mood.
Introduce the enchanting glow of lanterns to your small deck. Whether hung or placed on surfaces, lanterns—from traditional to modern—add interest and ambient lighting. Select from a range of materials, such as metal, glass, fabric, natural woven fibers, and even paper. Choose solar-powered lanterns for an eco-friendly option, capturing energy during the day for a warm glow at night. Electric and battery-powered styles designed for outdoor use let you place your lanterns anywhere, while candle-lit lanterns, safely housed, introduce the appeal of a flickering flame. Transform your small deck affordably with the lanterns, and inject some character while brightening your deck.
Garden Ideas for Small Decks on a Budget
5. Vertical Garden
Introduce greenery to your deck without sacrificing valuable floor space. Mount hooks on posts or adjacent exteriors to suspend various plants, allowing vines to create a cascading tapestry of colors and textures. Or, add a shallow trough planter below a mounted lattice for climbing plants that will weave up and through. Another option: a living succulent wall. Install chicken wire on a sturdy frame, fill it with a mix of soil, moss, and perlite, and insert your succulents.
Consider plants like trailing ivy, petunias, and ferns for your hanging garden or climbers like clematis, honeysuckle, and jasmine. For the living wall, I like hardy, colorful succulents like echeverias and sedums. With a thriving vertical garden, you can take your small deck to new heights—without taking up your precious surface area—and transform it into a serene, green sanctuary.
6. Ladder Shelf
Optimize space on a budget with a ladder shelf for your small deck. This functional piece serves as a display for potted plants and shelves for decorative items and gardening essentials. Importantly, it maximizes vertical space, leaving your decking surface open for seating and other necessities.
Use repurposed materials to create a DIY ladder shelf, or find budget-friendly options at your local home improvement store. Place the ladder shelf against a wall or railing and secure it for stability. Fill the steps with your favorite plants and flowers. Whether you’re growing aromatic herbs for culinary use or vibrant blooms for bursts of color, a ladder shelf showcases your container garden in an affordable and space-saving way.
Sun Smart Ideas for Small Decks on a Budget
7. Shade Sails
Beat the heat on a budget with shade sails for your small deck. These nautical-inspired sun blockers made of durable, UV-resistant fabric create a cool and comfortable outdoor escape. You can purchase ready-made shade sails or make your own custom DIY sunshades. Your fabric choice will determine the overall effect, from casual to elegant, infusing style into your deck. Install sails above or beside your seating and enjoy the shade, even on the brightest days.
Maximize your small deck’s comfort and style with an umbrella. Available in various sizes, designs, and colors, an umbrella provides on-demand shade while offering the opportunity to introduce color and pattern. With a tilting feature, it can also be easily adjusted to the sun’s position throughout the day.
If you’re purchasing a table umbrella, my best tip is to purchase an extra base so you can use it for dining, then easily pop it out and move it elsewhere on the deck as needed. Choose an umbrella that defines or enhances your deck’s aesthetic, and look for UV-resistant fabric to ensure prolonged sun protection and durability.
9. Rustic Pergola
Enhance your small deck with a rustic pergola for a shaded retreat that provides respite from the sun while adding prominence and purpose. Whether free-standing or attached, a pergola provides an enticing sense of privacy and an inviting destination.
Choose a DIY pergola kit, craft your own, or explore pre-built designs to match your style and budget. Save by opting for affordable pressure-treated pine, cedar, or redwood, and turn up the charm with a natural wood finish or a rich stain. Whether you’re sipping a beverage or catching up on your favorite home improvement podcast, your rustic pergola offers a cozy, sheltered outdoor escape.
Upgrade Ideas for Small Decks on a Budget
10. Floating Deck
Extend your small deck space—without the complexity of a rebuild or add-on. Instead, increase your deck footprint with a budget-friendly floating deck. This standalone platform creates another living area without major construction.
A floating companion deck, built slightly above ground and without home attachment, can be placed on instant deck blocks to provide stable and secure footings. For the longevity and durability of your new deck, I always recommend Trex Protect butyl-based tape to protect the top of your joists and beams from water penetration that can lead to rot and wood decay. With minimal effort and deck cost , you can add to your deck area with a versatile companion deck, expanding your backyard haven.
11. Deck Railings
Transform the character of your small deck with stylish and functional deck railings. In my experience, new railings stand out as one of the most impactful upgrades homeowners can make to instantly refresh their deck—and with a smaller deck, it doesn’t take a lot of railing to revitalize your retreat.
From classic to contemporary, deck railings can elevate the overall look of your deck, and with easy-to-install options, adding or upgrading railings can be very DIY-friendly. This makes a railing project a cost-effective way to redefine the appeal of your small deck and make it feel brand new.
Transform Your Small Deck into a Budget-Friendly Oasis
Embrace the potential of your small deck and let these budget-conscious ideas inspire you to make your space an inviting reflection of your personality and style. With minimal cost and effort, you can reinvent your modest deck into a haven that welcomes relaxation, gatherings, and the joy of enjoying the outdoors. Here’s to making the most of your small deck in a big way!