If you’re hoping to put your Home Renovation Tax Credit money to work in your backyard, your deck and fence are a perfect place to start.

A well-built deck instantly spruces up the looks of your backyard, increases your home’s value and offers plenty of practical enjoyment for daytime barbecues or evening entertaining.

The Canadian Revenue Agency’s website states the tax credit of up to $1,350 applies to alterations “of an enduring nature and integral to the dwelling” meaning anything that is nailed down (like a deck) or wouldn’t get transported away (like a fence) generally should qualify.

Frank Turco, trend and design manager with Home Depot Canada, says for ease of maintenance, composite decking — made of high-tech materials instead of regular pressure-treated lumber — offers great looks and little required upkeep compared to wood, but it does cost a lot more.

Bruce Hutchinson, a sales consultant at Rona Home & Garden in Ottawa, suggests if you want the best of both worlds, use regular, cheaper wood for the base of the deck and use composite decking for the more visible parts.

For regular wood decks, consider using stone or mixed materials for specific parts of the deck — like the barbecue area — to create a distinctive look.

Hutchinson says decorative railings can also be a striking way to punch up the look of your deck. Consider a sleek black tube railing, metal or even opulent-looking glass railings.

As for the fence, you don’t want to skimp on it because it will be a major part of your backyard visuals, Turco says.

“Try to make it as decorative as possible — it’s something you’re going to have to look at for a very long time,” Turco said.

Go with solar-powered lighting (a four-pack of lights usually runs about $40) and plant a garden at the fence’s base to instantly up the attractiveness factor, and check in with the neighbours before you do any major fence renovations.

“Nobody wants a neighbour as an enemy so consult with your neighbour. There may even be an opportunity to share the expense,” Turco said.