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Wooden garden furniture on decking with green tableware

Transform your patio or decking area

Whether it's a country garden, compact terrace or urban roof space, you'll want to get the most from your outdoor decking or patio area. These design ideas will provide ample inspiration to transform your outdoors into a practical and stylish spot for entertaining, dining, or simply relaxing. You needn't be restricted to the warmer months either, as the right choice of covering will ensure continued usage long after the summer months have passed.

If you're looking to carve out a zone for alfresco dining, a well-designed and covered decking space can offer an all-year-round option, while terracotta tiles can instantly lend a Mediterranean feel. Alternatively, statement outdoor furniture coupled with cushions and throws will make your outdoor area as comfortable - and personalised - as your living room.

Don't feel that you need to cleave to a formal style either, with casual garden furniture teamed with stylish sun loungers (and, with some luck, a decent sunny spot) will create a relaxed, pool-side environment. Likewise, you can soften hard edges with plants and flowers or accentuate the sculptural look with modern, minimalist furniture or a clever water feature. If you're working within a budget, a simple lick of paint will give a new leash of life to your metal garden furniture without breaking the bank.

When it comes to decking there's a wealth of options to suit your lifestyle, budget and taste. You could opt for attractive wood stains, create imaginative patterns or go eco-friendly with plastic and wood waste blends. Whatever you choose, don't forget to complete the effect with dramatic lighting touches.

Casual garden dining
Climbing plants grown all around a designated entertainment space create an outdoor eating area for all year round. Training the climbers to grow in an oval shape has created a window on to the rest of the garden.

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Photograph by Robert Sanderson