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How to Design with Deck Garden Containers

Oct 15, 2007
A deck filled to overflowing with plant packed containers has a special feeling of abundance and a warm and welcong allure that will draw family and guests outdoors. Container gardens strengthen the link between the house and the garden helping to transform a deck into a gardenlike outdoor living space.

In deciding how many deck garden containers to have on a deck and where to place them, think about some purely practical considerations such as the amount of available space, traffic flow and sun exposure. When containers are placed around the deck at random it creates a hodgepodge effect. Instead group them or use pairs of pots planted with similar combinations to mark the location of stairways and doors and the transitions between different areas on the deck. This more formal approach is an effective method to call attention to the deck entrance, the doorway between deck and house or the top of the stairway to the garden. It can also be done to define areas within the deck and create a very definite sense of order.

Positioning containers too close to a hinged door is a recipe for aggravation. The plants in them will in all eventuality become damaged. In terms of sliding doors, position containers far enough away on both sides so as not to interfere with people coming and going and of course so that the plants won't be affected by traffic or get caught in the doors.

The deck should not be so crowded with plants that guests are afraid to move for fear of knocking over something or damaging plants hanging above walkways. These pathways should be at least 4 to 5 feet wide and should be able to accomodate 2 people walking comfortably side by side.

Always take into account the mature spread of plants. Container plantings generally spread a bit farther than the height of the pots. Plants in a 2 foot tall pot will spread to about 3 feet.

Prior to filling containers with soil take the time to think about where open space will be needed in the summer such as around a grill, an electrical outlet, a water tap or a deck trapdoor storage area. Ensure that the plants selected do not crowd these areas otherwise using them will certainly become an unpleasant chore.

The sites chosen for deck garden containers affect the cultural needs of the plants. Pots placed along a railing on a deck facing south will need to be routinely turned so that the flowers and foliage do not all face away from the deck. Plants would be better placed against the south wall so that turning them becomes unnecessary and the flowers and foliage will be completely visible at all times from the main area of the deck.

In placing deck garden containers look for afternoon shade. Deck areas that receive morning sun and afternoon shade are cooler than those areas that receive sun all day or morning shade and afternoon sun. Plants in afternnoon shade will not suffer from the heat as much and will not require watering in midafternoon.

By late spring locations with afternoon shade are usually better selections for cool weather annuals like pansies since they are protected from the heat which in turn lengthens their floral display. In areas where summers are cool and rainy choose sites with afternoon sun to provide summer annuals with the heat that they desire.

When plants grow in windy locations they tend to dry out more quickly since they transpire more thus losing more water through their leaves. Tattered leaves and brown, dried out margins are definite signs of wind damage. Since wind disperses fragrances, use sheltered pockets or upright trellises to help block the wind and keep the floral scents lingering around the deck area.

It is a definite fact that microclimates exist on a deck. Two different deck areas may receive the same sun exposure but the area protected from the prevailing breezes will always be hotter. Reflected heat from a sidewalk or wall can raise the temperature of an area. It pays to discover where the hot spots are on a deck. The trick is to avoid them altogether or decorate them with heat tolerant plants and also water them regualrly.

Set containers near walkways and sitting areas. Fill them with fragrant and aromatic plants. Select plants with fragrant flowers or ones that have foliage that releases a scent when brushed against. Flowers that have subtle fragrances are best placed next to benches or low seats so that they are close to nose level and will not be missed.

The proper placement of deck garden containers offers an especially great opportunity to inject color, texture and fragrance onto this outdoor living surface and enhance the overall aesthetical appeal of the entire landscape design.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Design and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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