When it comes to backyards, the possibilities are endless. The popularity of simple, boxy deck and landscape designs is transitioning to a desire to create something unique and modern.

From multilevel decks to decks shaped like leaves, deck builders and homeowners are imagining amazing designs and figuring out how to make them come to life. The rise of deck accessories like specialty railing and lighting has opened the door even wider to creative outdoor spaces. These accessories, paired with inspired designs, are allowing decks to become an integral part of the landscape, not just an afterthought or free-standing platform.

A strong trend in deck design is the segmentation of separate smaller deck platforms. These "mini decks" can be built in places where a traditional deck might not fit, allowing for use of every part of a backyard, even those with a strange shape or intruding landscaping elements.

Because of materials like composite decking, it is also becoming easier to build around these existing elements. With better workability than wood, composite decking can be curved to seamlessly encircle a tree or frame a garden. Some brands can even be installed with ground and water contact, allowing you to put deck elements where you thought you couldn't, and opening up the design possibilities even more.

Deck elements of different shapes and sizes can also be incorporated into all areas of the yard by using decking materials and accessories that match your central element to create a boardwalk, small patio or even a pool surround. Adding lights and railing to these elements creates attractive lines for the eye to follow and further ties the entire backyard together.

For a deck that requires railing, you don't have to sacrifice the style of the rest of the outdoor living space. Options like aluminum railing with glass or cable infills provide safety with an understated design, emphasizing the views around a deck and bringing a raised deck and its surrounding yard together almost seamlessly.

Even a space that may not require railing, like many docks or marinas, can be customized with a nontraditional railing design. For example, using rope strung between posts can give the dock extra visual appeal.

While you are planning your next outdoor project, consider the possibilities you have to create a living space that is as beautiful as it is functional. With these designs that channel upscale parks and luxurious resorts, anything from barbecues, pool parties, or just enjoying nature can be done in the comfort of the backyard.