Backyard decks are such an important part of American life, it’s hard to believe how recently they came on the scene
Since the days of the early American colonies, and over the next 200 years or so, porches were most prevalent, serving a variety of needs for outdoor living space. Backyards were strictly utilitarian spaces where homeowners were cultivating vegetable gardens and perhaps raising some livestock. Between that and the outhouse, backyards weren’t exactly the go-to spot for relaxation and leisure.
The vintage backyard deck as a concept didn’t truly take off until the 20th century, notably during the post-World War II housing boom.
The spread of indoor plumbing, suburbia and supermarkets allowed for more outdoor recreational space — and with that, backyard decks (and patios) emerged, symbolizing a comfortable and inviting way of life.
The 1960s marked significant advancements in decking, with pressure-treated wood helping to make decks both durable and affordable. The DIY movement of the 1970s further facilitated the growth of backyard decks, as homeowners began to construct and personalize their outdoor spaces.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a new player entered the scene: composite materials. These innovative mixtures of wood fibers, plastics, and synthetic elements provided an alternative to traditional wood. Composites resist warping and splintering, offering greater durability with less maintenance.
With a variety of colors and textures, they enable a higher level of personalization. Even though they might cost more upfront, their long-lasting nature and ease of care often make composites a sensible choice, adding an exciting dimension to modern backyard decking.
While the earliest decks were simply laid out, as the decades rolled on, decks continued to evolve — reflecting various architectural styles and incorporating luxurious amenities and more complexity to the structures, from multilevel decking to built-in seating.
In the 21st century, with an emphasis on sustainability, many homeowners opt for environmentally friendly materials and are integrating their decks with outdoor kitchens, fire pits, lighting and other conveniences.
Today, backyard decks are a natural extension of American homes, bridging indoor and outdoor living and offering a festive gathering place. The history of backyard decks in the US paints a picture of innovation, creativity, and the ever-evolving desire for comfortable outdoor spaces.
A peaceful low deck with bench railings, made for dining outdoors (1958)
Flat and low mid-century modern backyard deck from the 60s
Simple wide-plank backyard deck opens onto a grassy garden (1966)
Trendy midcentury modern architecture with a low house-wide deck (1959)
Midcentury modern style wooden deck (1952)
Simple vintage deck idea with a pergola over a dining area (1971)
Narrow vintage 70s pool deck idea (1971)
Piano-shaped deck off a 70s family room (1971)
Rectangular deck with covered area (1968)
Simple patio deck extends living space over a hillside (1964)
Wide low wooden deck expands backyard living space (1963)
Low wooden deck with built-in planting box (1963)
Wooden deck courtyard with redwood privacy fence (1950)
Small balcony-like 70s deck
Wrapround deck porch (1963)
House and decking merge to make illusion of larger home (1950)
Simple deck and stairs turn an uneven lot into a peaceful backyard (1960)
A simple low wooden patio deck set in a lush mid century modern style backyard
Angled midcentury modern backyard patio and deck (1962)
Vintage backyard with trees and decking paths (1960)
Pretty covered patio decking for a retro 60s backyard (1963)
Angled deck gives bonus living area in small space (1967)
Flat 1960s patio decking on desert home
Small backyard with a private deck built around a tree – Vintage landscaping from 1966
Combination wooden deck patio and dock (1963)
Low and open wooden vintage deck patio without a railing (1970)
Retro 60s desk sheltered with colored panels (1961)
Low deck in a backyard with a wooden hanging screen – Retro landscaping from 1960
Decks and walkways in a modernist style with no railings – Retro backyard from 1966
Retro early 70s backyard deck area with small reflecting pool
Vintage redwood deck with wide bench steps and planter boxes (1986)
Wooden deck with built-in seating area
Multi-level backyard wooden decking backyard vintage design from 1972
80s-style backyard deck with built-in gazebo