Building a dock or already have one? Adding a few extras can really make it a place everyone will appreciate this summer.
Making your dock the over-the-water patio space you’ve dreamed of can be accomplished in a variety of ways.
In this post, I’ll break down 21 of the most fun additions you can make to your dock that can make it much more practical and entertaining for guests.
1. Kayak storage rack
For summer days on the lake, adding a basic kayak storage rack to your dock is a solid choice if you are looking for convenient storage and access to a kayak, stand up paddleboard, or even wakeboard.
Many of these racks stay out of the way and allow you to essentially store the kayaks on the side of the dock (over the water). If you prefer something easy to launch, they also make kayak lifts that you can purchase that make launching them super-easy.
This kayak dock storage rack on Amazon is an over-the-water type of rack; it can store several stand up paddleboards and stays out of the way.
If you are looking to store a single kayak and need something more low profile, check out my post on kayak racks and storage.
2. Fire pit
For cool fall nights on the lake, having a fire pit is a great choice for entertaining. You can go with a traditional fire pit that requires wood for fuel, or a more modern propane-powered fire pit which are quite popular.
Here are a few popular fire pit types as outlined in this Compact Appliance article:
Wood burning fire pits
If you’re looking for a more traditional fire pit for your dock, and don’t want to stock up on propane, a wood-burning fire pit is a great option.
These are typically made of steel, and some even have sides to prevent paper or coals from flying out. This is something to consider with a wooden dock.
Some of these are more elevated, while some sit pretty close to the surface. In the years that I’ve used one of these on my parent’s dock, it’s really not a problem when used properly.
Gel fuel burning fire pits
Some fire pits on the market utilize gel canisters and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from rectangular to circular.
Terraflame GelFuel is required for many of these (or some sort of fire gel), and can also be used with fire bowls if you prefer the look of these.
You can actually make these gel fire pits with a pot, fireproof pebbles or stones, and a gel-based fuel. Some of these also come with canisters, and in general gel fuel lasts for around 5 hours.
Propane fire pits
My personal favorite is a rectangular fire pit like this one. If you plan on roasting marshmallows over the lake, one like this that is a little elevated is a good choice.
These fall in the category of fire tables, and perfect for docks considering that they are a good distance away from the dock. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of clearance between your dock and fire pit, especially if you have a wood dock.
Since propane tanks are pretty portable these days, you don’t have to worry about gas lines like in some natural gas models (which really wouldn’t make sense for a dock anyway).
3. Patio Heater
In combination with a fire pit, a patio heater is another great addition to your dock, and great for cold winters.
You can purchase both gas and electric patio heaters, but for dock usage, I would recommend a gas-powered unit since you won’ have to depend on electricity being available.
These range in price from about $150 to $300 apiece, and perfect for large gatherings and parties on your dock.
I prefer the pyramid-style patio heaters personally, but not matter what style you choose, placing a couple of these on either side of your dock can really give it a modern look and feel.
Another great addition to any dock is a permanent patio gazebo that you can bolt to dock planks.
I have helped to install one of these, and they do require a few hands to set up, but really can help to provide shade on a hot summer day.
Some of these are more elaborate than others, and very well made as opposed to the out-of-the-box type of kits you typically find in hardware stores. You may also want to opt for a custom gazebo if you are looking for a more heavy-duty option.
Be sure to bolt these to the surface of your dock, since you obviously don’t want them to blow away.
5. Picnic table
In combination with a gazebo or canopy, a table can be a great option to place on a private pier or dock, assuming it is anchored properly.
While a picnic table is a great option generally, an outdoor table made of aluminum or another type of metal is a good choice.
With a picnic table, these are usually heavy enough not to have to bolt down, but it’s always an option depending on the type of conditions it will be exposed to.
6. Dock storage bin
Do you have a plan to store all those life jackets, spare dock dumpers, tackle boxes, and everything else you need for entertaining guests on your dock?
While you may be storing everything in a garage, shed, or in a boat (like my dad used to), purchasing an affordable outdoor storage device can definitely make it more efficient to grab life jackets and things you’d prefer to keep near the water.
Rubbermaid makes a few brown and woodlike options, but if you need something weatherproof, you may want to check out a weather-resistant storage box.
This one on Amazon I found for around $100, and is designed specifically for outdoor use on patios or decks.
7. Boat or jet ski ramp
If you own a wooden dock or pier, one of the neat additions to add if you have a jet ski is a basic lift to make launching watercraft a lot less of a hassle.
With a trailer wench (you can pick ua p at local hardware store) and a few boards, you can actually create one of these types of ramps pretty easily.
This video on YouTube is perfect if you have a small jetski and are looking for an easy solution, but a conventional boat lift is one of those dock essentials you will appreciate having.
If installing a boat lift is on your radar as a potential dock improvement project, check out my post on Boat Lifts 101 to decide what types you may want to consider.
8. Inflatable trampoline
Especially fun in the summer if you have kids, another one of the dock-adjacent accessories to consider is an inflatable trampoline.
Usually the bigger the better when it comes to water trampolines, like those made by Rave.
These are probably the most popular brand, and while they’re considered ‘bouncers’ as opposed to traditional trampolines with springs, they are quite fun as you can see in the video below.
I actually found one here on Amazon for under $1,000, and they have a few others to choose from as well.
Okay, so this is more of an addition rather than an accessory, but a boathouse is a great addition to add to your dock. While these are common on lakes ad smaller bodies of water and may require a permit, in my experience they are well worth it.
Having a permanent place to store fishing poles, life jackets, wakeboards, and everything definitely will come in handy. Also, for winter days where you want to spend some time outdoors on the lake, a small 10-foot x 10-foot boathouse is a great place to escape for an afternoon read.
To make it more comfortable, you may want to install a small window unit. As always, just be sure you get a permit first if needed, and can legally build one of these in your area.
10. Wooden furniture
Depending on the layout of your dock, having a small wooden bench or weighted patio furniture that can withstand the elements is a great choice.
If storms are pretty common in the area you live in, you want to make sure you select weighted furniture that will hold up.
Adirondack chairs are a class dock addition that you will be able to enjoy for years. In my experience, a couple of chairs like these are probably the most usable and practical accessories you can purchase for your dock.
Tip: Based on my experience and to avoid splintering, it’s a good idea to go with high-quality Adirondack chairs that cost a bit more made of Teak wood, and seal them properly.
To avoid the risk of cracking, consider an alternate material like Polywood or another composite.
If you don’t feel like storing furniture for the occasional summer storm, definitely make sure to weigh down or attach furniture like chairs or benches to the dock itself.
In my opinion, a good-quality wooden swingset is the best investment you can make if you plan on spending time gazing out over the water.
Since most are made of wood, they’ll likely match your dock quite well, and is something that everyone on the family will enjoy.
One of the dock-adjacent additions to add a touch of state pride or patriotism to your dock is an in-ground flagpole.
Make sure you select a good heavy-duty flag pole like this 25-foot American-made model I found here on Amazon.
While you can certainly mount a flag to a post on your dock, if you decide to with an in-ground model, be sure to use concrete when digging your hole, and install it per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
13. Solar dock lighting
When it comes to dock lighting, you can either hard wire lights or go the solar route. These solar dock lights on Amazon are perfect for docks, and come in a lot of different styles.
It’s best to have a few dock light replacements on hand, especially if you have a long dock.
Since you may not have a lamp post on your residential dock, these can be great for illuminating dock tines if docking a boat at night. These usually require spacing out 6 feet apart, and many meet IP68 waterproof rating standards.
If on a freshwater lake or other body of water, adding some nice planters to the end of your dock is a nice touch that everyone can enjoy.
Growing up, I was usually the one to have to water these, and actually filled up the watering can with lake water.
While mums are a good choice, planted fan palms are another good option that can give your dock a nice touch.
15. Dock ladder
One of the best additions to make to your dock if you have family that enjoys swimming is to install a dock ladder.
Some of these are telescoping and have the ability to be folded up, and most on the market you can find for this type of application are made of stainless steel. These usually only require a couple of bolts to install.
If you’re looking for something a little more low profile that blends into the dock, many people opt for wooden ladders or plastic ones that match the planks. Of course, you want to make sure whatever you install is safe to use.
16. Drive-on floating boat lift
In the summers, I used to help my dad tie up the boat to our dock, and one thing you may be able to relate to is how much of a hassle it can be.
If you use your boat regularly and don’t want to worry about always securing the boat to the dock with rope, an alternative to a boat lift is to install a drive-on floating boat dock.
This is essentially a platform to get your boat out of the water and will eliminate bumping into posts when docking or securing lines to a dock. Many of these can be installed on the side of your dock.
17. Dock-mounted table
If you don’t want to worry about a cheap table blowing off your dock in a thunderstorm, another cool accessory to consider is a mounted table.
Many of these are designed to be bolted to the edge of your pier much like a kayak rack but are perfect if you like your morning cup of coffee on the dock.
Plus, you’ll never have to worry about these blowing away!
18. Fish cleaning station
In combination with the previous recommendation, a fish cleaning station is also a great choice, especially for coastal dock owners.
Most of these contain a white cutting board surface and a place to store knives.
Some of these are considered fish cleaning tables, while others are considered fish cleaning stations. These are longer, have a canopy, and should be installed in combination with a water pump, water lines, and a sprayer needed to rinse the cutting boards.
19. Retractable umbrella
It’s hard to go wrong with an elegant-looking umbrella or canopy that you can set up when it gets hot. While you can use these with picnic tables, they also make cantilever shades like in the image above.
These can be mounted to your dock, and look a bit more modern than the traditional circular umbrellas.
Of course, you’ll want to purchase an umbrella base or make sure the model you choose can be mounted to a flat surface.
20. Built-in benches
One idea that is nice if you have the room is to install a couple of built-in benches. Many people will build these in the corners of a dock (sort of replicating the design of a sectional couch), and is perfect if you have large gatherings.
If you have a multi-level dock, building a small bench on the lower dock is a great idea for giving people something to sit on when putting on lifejackets or clothing prior to boarding a boat or jet ski.
21. Rugs or fake grass
If you’re really going for that tropical vibe, I have seen docks that have a large section of fake grass installed, with chairs and umbrellas over them.
Depending on the look you are going for, an outdoor rug is another great option to consider. Just be prepared to anchor these to the dock in some way.
My father actually used a staple gun to achieve this, but it’s up to you!
In conclusion, adding a few accessories can help you get the most out of any dock. Many basic choices, like plants or rugs, don’t have to cost a fortune.
In my opinion, a couple of quality Adirondack chairs and a fire pit is a great place to start, since you can use them really any time.
Show this list to family or friends to see which accessories would be most fun or usable, and check out my Docks and Watercraft section for more ideas on optimizing your spot for the summer.