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How to Deckscape a Yard

Oct 15, 2007
It is important to design a deck that complements the yard rather than dominate it. The best approach for how to deckscape a yard is to allow elements from the yard to intrude on the deck.

A guaranteed way to achieve this is to use some of the same plants blooming in the yard on the deck. Clumps of impatiens or mums on and off the deck would perform the task micely. For a more permananet effect, create room for an island bed of perennials or shrubs that already exist in the yard.

Hosta, false spirea, day lilies, yarrow, sedum and peonies are suitable perennials. Dwarf spruce, spreading juniper, lilac, holly, ornamental grasses and ornamental quince are compact shrub specimens that offer slightly more mass and staying power. The best long term solutions are dwarf ornamental trees.

Nonplant materials such as large stones, a yard sculpture or a water feature can be used to naturalize a deck. Planters, trellises, arbors and pergolas are special deck features that can be used as opportunities to bring greenery and color to the deck area.

Ground level decks as well as multilevel decks that step down to near grade level are the easiest to link to gardens and the yard. This is especially true if allowances have been made in the planning and design stages. The work is made easier by not having to deal with deck railing systems and staircases.

If a deck is rectangular in shape a formal look can be achieved by choosing border plants that mirror it such as a hedge of boxwood, yews or holly. Hedges provide an easy transition to the yard and a contrast to other more colorful plantings.

If the deck is squarish and its edges need to be softened, train vines to grow along the skirting and railing system. Several wisteria vines can quickly enclose a large deck and convert it into a private refuge. However, pruning several times a year might need to be done.

An upper level deck could benefit from a few tall trees planted in close proximity. Fast growth pines, firs and arborvitae can be used to draw attention away from unsightly spport posts or provide a measure of privacy.

Avoid planting them where they will eventually block a scenic view. Do not plant them too close to the deck or bird and tree droppings will become maintenance issues down the road.

Deck planters are the simplest way to integrate the deck with the yard. They generally take the shape of boxes or large pots or containers.

Deck gardens are great choices for growing herbs. Plant containers can also be matched with trellises to create living privacy screens. They can also be hung or placed on railings to soften the look of this deck barrier. Choosing plant varieties that blossom at different times of the year will guarantee a steady array of color.

For a formal deck style, make use of several containers with the identical shape. Blend in a contrasting shape such as an urn with rectangular planters to create a focal point. Use planters and pots with a variety of shapes and colors to develop a look that is more informal.

Railing boxes or rail planters keep decking surfaces free from clutter and are easy to make. Create several but remember to bore drainage holes in the bottom along the outboard edges in order that the top of the railing does not stop the water. Placing a couple of spacers under the box will permit ventilation between planter box and railing.

The use of a liner for a rail planter is a good practical decision. Cut holes in the liner to align with the drainage holes in the bottom of the planter. This will reduce the chance of the soil becoming saturated following a heavy rain.

An ideal way in which to integrate the yard with the deck is to create a through-the-deck garden. It has several advantages over planters that are positioned on the deck. The soil in planters tends to dry out more quickly than ground level soil. An in-ground planting bed does not need to be emptied and stored away in a shed the way that containers do during cold weather months.

Through-the-deck gardens benefit from being well lit at night as well as benches or planters that border them for safety purposes.

Integrating one or more trees into the deck plan can create a very dramatic look. Extra framing is required for support such as doubling up adjacent joists and installing headers to carry the joists that must be cut. For a younger tree space must be allowed to accomodate future growth.

Plant choices are nearly limitless for ground level decks. Perennials perform the best job of filling in large areas. Annuals are best used in planters because they offer color all season long.

For raised decks consider the use of flowering vines, shrubs, and trees. Flowering vines soften edges of decks and give a deck a rich, secluded feeling while cutting down on glare and heat from the sun.

Avoid plants that create a mess such as berry bushes and sappy trees. If maintenance is an issue avoid fast growing vines. Perhaps the wise thing to do is choose well behaved, low maintenance plants such as ornamental grasses, lavender, ferns and coniferous or broadleaf evergreens.

The very best approach as to how to deckscape a yard is to do the research required to make informed and practical decisions that will integrate the yard and deck so that they complement each other.
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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