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In this post: More than just a place to swim, a pool deck presents an opportunity for summer lounging and outdoor entertaining. Learn how to transform your pool deck into your new favorite space.

Our house is about 23 years old. This means the pool, pool deck, wood deck, and fence that were all built when the house was over 20 years ago, have gotten rather tired looking. Here are a few pool deck ideas you can use, plus how we decorated the backyard this summer for style and privacy. Hopefully, our small imperfect space and pool deck ideas can give you a little inspiration for your backyard – no matter its shape or size!

pool with privacy trellis behind on fence

How to decorate a small backyard with a pool?

I absolutely LOVE our swimming pool! I love sitting by it when the weather isn’t quite hot enough to swim. I love swimming in it when it’s sweltering outside. I love the reflections it makes on the fence when the sun is shining. 


The design of our backyard definitely is not something I would have chosen, had I been the one to design the space. 

From what we can gather from our neighbors who have lived here since the houses were built, the first owners of our house had the pool, concrete pool deck, and fence installed when the house was built. Based on the layout, my guess is that they asked for the largest pool that would fit in the yard!  Unfortunately, this meant they didn’t consider: 

  • The angle of the sun or any shade that may be needed in the heat of summer. 
  • The wind that tends to whip through the backyard between the houses like it’s in a wind tunnel. 
  • Any plants or greenery to pretty up the space. 
  • Space for dining, lounging, or even barbecuing out back. 

Because of this, as much as I adore this outdoor space, it has also confounded me each and every summer when it comes to actually spending time out there and making it pretty…while sticking to any sort of reasonable budget. 

But after 5 summers, I think I’ve finally got a good handle on most of it and I’m sharing my best budget-friendly pool deck ideas here. They will work for both an inground pool, an above ground pool, or even backyards with no pool! 

dean power washing the pool deck

Clean everything

If your backyard space has seen more than a couple of summers, you should get rid of all the stuff you don’t want to use anymore.

Much like when you’re decorating indoors, decluttering first is the best because it gives you a clean slate to work with.

Then give everything a good cleaning with a hose or power washer. 

This is the simplest and cheapest of the pool deck ideas! 

Make it an extension of the house

No matter where you live, your outdoor space should flow nicely from the indoors.

Got bright bold colors inside? Carry those outside. Prefer calming neutrals? Use those on your deck. There’s no reason you have to use colors you don’t love outdoors. Even the big box stores are doing much better providing much more stylish options than in years past. 

Create an outdoor room feel with soft furnishings like throw pillows, cushions, flowing outdoor curtains for shade and privacy, and even outdoor rugs. If you’re worried about rain or wind, keep an eye on the weather and use furniture covers when needed. 

Break up the space into multiple relaxation areas

Even small outdoor spaces can benefit from creating multiple seating and chilling areas. 

In our backyard, we have a concrete poolside deck and a small upper wood deck. We separate our seating areas by utilizing lounge chairs (without cushions) on the pool deck and more traditional outdoor seating with cushions on the upper deck. 

If you have the space you could use: 

  • hammocks
  • egg chairs
  • lounge chairs
  • sectionals
  • dining tables and chairs
  • zero gravity chairs
  • folding chairs
  • benches
  • or whatever your heart desires!

Small backyard? Add a small plunge pool

Unfortunately, this is one idea that our predecessors didn’t follow. So we have a huge pool in a wee backyard. 

But if you are thinking of installing a pool in your small yard, keep in mind the scale and leave plenty of room for hanging out and lounging when you’re not in the pool. 

Even a small plunge pool can add a lot of character to a small space – plus it’s just as great to cool off in a small pool as a large one. 

Choose smaller scale pieces

Got a narrow pool deck like ours? One of the best pool deck ideas is to choose smaller loungers, chairs, tables, and barbecues. And make use of all the new fire bowls instead of a fire pit if you’re short on space. 

For the last several summers, we’ve had the HUGE bbq that we got originally at our old house. It was an amazing barbecue, with a smoker and sear burner and plenty of storage space. But honestly, it never fit this backyard and the space it hogged drove me around the bend! 

huge bbq

We finally got a smaller barbecue (that still fits plenty of burgers) that actually folds down and can be stored easily in the garage in the off-season. Which will help it last much longer than it would if it were to sit out in our Canadian winters! 

The same is true of the patio furniture we brought with us from the other house. It was just not the right scale for this backyard space. So we slowly replaced it, bit-by-bit. 

If you’ve got a small yard, pool deck, or regular deck, make sure you measure well for furniture, BBQs, fire bowls, rugs, and gazebos/other roofed structures. 

wood upper deck before rug
(We plan to build a privacy wall behind the outdoor couch, so ignore the old wimpy trellis on that section of the fence!)

Plan for Shade and Sun

I cannot stress this enough, given our experience with our backyard. 

There are parts of the day when the deck is in full shade. But then later in the afternoon and early evening, it’s fully bathed in bright not sunlight. 

Because the deck is so narrow, we cannot use any of the storebought gazebos that everyone seems to have. Most umbrellas barely fit either. 

So make sure you plan for some shade from the heat of the summer sun, or you may find yourself spending more than you wish on custom solutions! 

Surround a decked space with greenery

Pools and other urban or suburban backyards often don’t have a lot of natural plant life. And even less so if there’s a pool and concrete pool deck taking up the whole yard. This is definitely the case in our backyard. 

So we needed to get creative. 

lounger corner of pool deck with privacy trellis

Add tropical plants for a natural effect

You can add both real and faux tropical plants to save on costs. 

The first few summers we were here, I bought a few new live tropical trees/plants to help green up the space. But then fall and winter would come and I had nowhere to put them to overwinter in the house. So they’d die and I’d have to start all over again the next summer. 

So a few years ago, I decided to buy a couple of live tropical plants and a couple of faux outdoor tropical plants. That way, I could mix them together and know there was some real green stuff out there, but also not waste all my money. Lol. 

This year we did the same. We have this artificial outdoor Agave Americana and this monstera artificial outdoor plant from Décors Véronneau as well as a couple of real tropical plants I picked up from our local garden center. 

Plant a tree for enhanced privacy

If you have space for it, plant a tree. One of our neighbors has a mulberry bush (that, quite honestly, has gotten a little out of hand and should be trimmed) that adds some privacy between our house and theirs. 

Note: If you decide to plant a tree, and you have a pool, do your research and make sure the tree roots won’t spread out and destroy any underground pool pipes or equipment. 

privacy trellis from Décors Véronneau

Add some privacy trellis

If you don’t have room for live plants or trees, a privacy trellis is an excellent option. 

In addition to adding some tropical plants, we also added this oh-so-perfect faux boxwood privacy trellis from Décors Véronneau to our fence.

installing faux privacy trellis on fence

Honestly, I was hopeful but a little apprehensive about adding faux trellises to so much of our fence. But I am truly amazed at how much life, color, and texture it adds to the space. And we LOVE it so much more than we could have imagined. (The photos just don’t do it justice.) 

Plus it provides much-needed privacy between our yard and our neighbor’s deck. 

privacy trellis at night

Make the area night-friendly with lighting

Bringing the indoors out also means layering your lighting for a cozy effect:

  • We started out with solar fence post lights.
  • This year we added some outdoor patio string lights to the entire fence perimeter too. (They are Feit LED String Lights from Costco, which don’t seem to be available anymore.) 
  • When we’re sitting outside, we light the fire bowls. 
  • We also added solar deck lights to the upper deck steps.

You could also add outdoor candles too.

By layering the lighting outside we can enjoy a cozy atmosphere. 

Add some color and texture

Of course, layering in colors you love and texture makes a space more welcoming as well. 

You can do this with outdoor throw pillows, area rugs, pots for your plants, and different outdoor art and decor.

Mix materials

Mixed metals, woods, fabrics, plants, and more help to create a collected and curated feel to an outdoor space. Rather than one that’s all matchy-matchy and forced. 

Our pool deck before.

What we still need to do in our backyard/pool deck area:

  • Repaint the deck. We painted the deck a couple of years ago. But with kids and furniture and shoving it around, the paint is peeling again. I’ve put a rug over it for now, but we’ll need to look after it sooner than later. 
  • Paint the deck box/planter and the posts. We built the deck box to replace the railings a couple of years ago as well. They don’t have to be painted, but I’d like them to blend in better with the deck and the house. 
  • Build a privacy wall. We’ve planned to add another post in the corner of the deck for ages and build a privacy wall between our deck and the neighbors. We just haven’t had the time to do it yet. I’m super hopeful we’ll get it done asap!

Eventually, we’ll also need a new pool liner, pump, filter, and heater. But that’s hopefully a ways off yet. 

lounger corner of pool deck with privacy trellis

How’s your backyard shaping up this year? Do you have any other pool deck ideas?

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