18 Ways to Improve Your Deck Experience on a Budget

Shane Chapman / Backyard Building Expert

Shane Chapman

Backyard Building Expert
See Short Bio

Decks are a big investment, but oh...so...worth it.  Absolutely NOTHING beats hanging out in the backyard grilling, entertaining, and enjoying the sun in the summer on your deck.  But is your deck as good as it COULD be?  Here are 18 "low to no" cost tips for getting the most out of your outdoor space, ordered from largest investment, to smallest - FREE!   


1.  Electronic Entertainment ($500+)

There's nothing quite like watching the big game, or movie nights, or even jamming to your favourite 80's playlist under the sun and stars.  So explore the idea of adding outdoor speakers or a television/projector to really step the vibe on your deck.


2. Patio Furniture ($500+)

Great, you've built yourself a great space.  But to truly enjoy it, adding patio furniture makes all the difference.  You wouldn't leave your living room void of any furniture.  So do the same for your outdoor living room, kick back, and relax!


3. Deck Skirting ($500+)

Underneath your deck rarely gets the attention it deserves.  It's usually left as an unsightly reminder of what construction really looks like.  So close that area in with some skirting and improve the aesthetic of your back yard.  Bonus, you could also then use that space for storage!


4. Privacy Wall ($500+)

In today's city's, privacy is typically lacking.  Your deck might sit high enough that your neighbours or street traffic can peer right in!  Adding a custom privacy wall can help cozy up a space, give some much needed privacy, some wind break, and maybe even some artistic flair!


5. Pergola/Aerial Structure ($500+)

A pergola can go a long way in defining a space and really making it feel like it has a cozy purpose.  And they don't have to cost an arm and a leg.  A product like Toja Grid is incredibly DIY friendly and cost effective.  Or go full custom with Simpson Outdoor Accents hardware and let your creative spirit fly!


6. Lighting ($500+)

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING transforms an outdoor space like lighting.  Not only does it extend the day by making your deck usable at night, it increases safety and adds an incredible ambience.  This is why restaurant patios and resorts always have lots of lighting, it makes a space a place you want to be.  You can go very low cost with solar, or step it up to a more reliable low voltage solution that is always on when you need it.


7. Built in Features/Planters/Benches ($500+)

If you have some areas of your deck that aren't super functional, then build a permanent solution there to change that!  Built in box planters or benches can add function and beauty to your space.  And often, these can be built with the scraps that are left over from your deck build!


8. BBQ/Smoker ($300+)

Let's be honest.  The first thing that goes on the deck is the BBQ.  At least it should be!  Adding a BBQ or smoker to your deck brings that kitchen functionality to the outdoors.  Plus food ALWAYS tastes better off the smoker or grill than it does out of the oven.


9. Fire Table ($300+)

A natural gas or propane fire table on your deck creates the PERFECT centrepiece for casual conversation.  Whether a place for you to de-stress or a gathering of friends, a fire table adds a hypnotic feature for everyone to enjoy.


10. Patio Heater ($300+)

Whether electric, infra red or gas, a patio heater can not only extend your evenings, but also your seasons.  Enjoy your deck late in the night, late into fall, or earlier in the spring.  A small investment goes a long way to getting the most out of your deck.


11. Perform Deck Maintenance ($100+)

If you have a wood deck, the absolute BEST thing you can do is take care of it, and that means routine maintenance.  DO NOT PAINT or stain your deck with a product that will chip, flake, crack...that just creates a ton of work for you, and will actually make your deck rot away faster.  Use a high quality penetrating oil, and the #1 rated product on the market is Cutek Extreme.


12. Hammock ($100+)

Hammocks.  Nothing says "chillin' outdoors" like laying in a hammock.  Either put up a structure to hang it from, or buy one of the self-sustaining frame ones.  Hammock's are the ultimate relaxation tool.


13. Umbrella ($100+)

If natural shade is an issue in your backyard, don't underestimate how much an umbrella can provide happiness in your backyard.  Give yourself some respite from the suns rays and invest in a table umbrella, or even a fancy cantilever umbrella to give lots of shade without being in the way!


14. Greenery ($50+)

Adding plants adds life and vibrancy to any space.  Building materials colours generally tend to be muted and "earthy" like greys and browns.  Adding greeney and other vibrant colours from flowers really makes a space feel more exciting, calming, and zen...all at the same time!


15. Bug and Pest Control ($50+)

Bugs can really make the outdoors miserable.  But you don't have to avoid being outdoors.  There are many products out there that can help with insects.  One of the most effective, natural, and safe products we have found against mosquitos and flies is Mosquito Barrier.  It's a garlic oil that insects HATE.  Easy to apply and works wonders!


16. Clean ($0+)

Get your garden hose or pressure washer out and clean up your deck every spring and fall, or whenever it needs it if you're a realy party animal.  Cleaning it will keep it looking new and help it last longer.  If it's composite, just give it a rinse when it needs it.  If the dirt is a little stubborn, try TimberTech Deck Cleaner.


17. Plan Your Layout ($0)

This requires no money at all.  Spend some time looking at your space and think about what works where.  Don't just plop things down here and there.  How does the traffic flow work?  Where does it make sense to have a chair?  Should the BBQ be close to the door?  Will people trip if you put that planter there?  A few moments of intentional thought to make the space work for you is the best money you'll not spend!


18. Entertain and Party ($0)

We are social creatures.  Don't forget to share your space with friends and family.  Nothing beats grilling in the backyard with a group of friends, playing ladder ball, tunes playing, drinks flowing.  Who likes hanging out "around the sink in the kitchen island"?  Get outside and MAKE THE MOST of your beautiful summer and the investment you've made into outdoor living!


Whether you found a few or all of these tips handy, outdoor living is where we belong.  You invested a lot to create the canvas, spend a few more dollars or minutes to get the most out of it.  Happy summer!

1 thought on “18 Ways to Improve Your Deck Experience on a Budget

Adam Smith

Great!Thanks for explaining these beautiful ways

May 15, 2023 at 22:53pm

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About the Editor...

Shane Chapman // Backyard Building Expert

Shane Chapman, President and Co-Founder of The Ultimate Deck Shop, is a seasoned expert in the deck building industry. A former award winning deck builder (Fresh Decks), he now leads Canada’s top destination for backyard building materials.

Shane is committed to simplifying the shopping experience, providing exceptional customer service, and empowering both DIYers and professionals with his expert advice.

Get in touch with Shane to connect, collaborate or ask questions at LinkedIn.