This new deck offers both comfort and convenience. It faces east, so the homeowners can enjoy it in the evening. And it’s right off the kitchen, making outdoor dining a breeze.
What it lacked, though, was ambience and a sense of destination. Without landscaping to soften its lines, the deck looked like an odd appendage to the house. Here’s how we fixed that.
Rather than planting large shade trees that might overtake the deck, we concentrated on small- to medium-size plants that will grow large enough to mask portions of the deck and rails without totally obscuring them.
Tall grasses and shrubs anchor the deck and help it meld into the surrounding landscape. Perennials, annuals, and groundcovers add bursts of color below, while deck-rail planters showcase plants that can be enjoyed close up by anyone relaxing on the deck. Putting plants at various heights mimics nature, resulting in a more natural, less static landscape.
While varying plant heights can result in a more interesting design, there should be some connection between plants. Otherwise, the bed looks too busy. In this case, we created a cohesive effect by repeating colors.
Green and white are prominent in the foliage of variegated Cabaret grass, dogwood, wintercreeper, and vinca vine. The color scheme is amplified by the handsome flowers of Limelight hydrangea, which open greenish white before maturing to white and eventually fading to pink and buff.
Daisies bring a fresh white hue to the scheme. Dependable perennials that need little care, they’ll bloom for an extended period if deadheaded.
A plant-and-forget groundcover, this variegated wintercreeper adds another dash of color. We augmented it with a mulch of dark-brown shredded bark, which will protect bare soil until the wintercreeper spreads.
Dark-foliage plants such as purple ninebark and purple fountain grass bring valuable contrast to the bed. This mix of light and dark ensures there is visual interest throughout the growing season -- with or without flowers.
But really, who wants a garden without flowers? Not us. That’s why we introduced splashes of intense color from black-eyed Susans as well as annuals such as marigolds, euphorbia, and zinnias. In future years, fewer annuals will be needed as other plants mature.
Good to Know: These zinnias were raised from seed. You can either start them in peat pots and transplant them into the garden six weeks later or sow seed directly in loosened soil. Either way you get plenty of color (and butterfly and hummingbird food) for the cost of a packet of seeds.
Cedar edging (#99281) provides a nice finishing touch. It separates the garden bed from the lawn and provides scampering room for the white euphorbia and vinca vine seen here. The two-foot-long sections are easily installed by sinking attached metal rods into the ground.
- French marigold (Tagetes patula), annual
- Barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’), Zones 5–8
- Euphorbia (Euphorbia Silver Fog), annual
- Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’), Zones 4–8
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Zones 4–9
- Cabaret grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Cabaret’), Zones 5–9
- Zinnia (Zinnia elegans), annual
- Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Zones 3–7
- Million Bells (Calibrachoa), annual
- Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas Illusion Emerald Lace), annual
- Variegated dogwood (Cornus alba), Zones 2–8
- Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Daisy May’), Zones 5–8
- Chartreuse sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), annual
- ‘Red Sensation’ cordyline, annual
- Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’), Zones 8–11 or annual
- Dallas Blues grass (Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’), Zones 5–9
- Meyer’s yew (Taxus x ‘Meyeri’), Zones 5–7
- Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), Zones 5–9