The Art of Design for Deck or Patio Gardens

Deck or patio garden design by a Southern California plant nursery.

Written by David S.

We sometimes think of gardens as a basic rectangle, and many are, but on a deck or patio, the fundamental shape is not flat, but a cube. These are usually smaller, growing spaces that benefit from growing up rather than outwards. To that end, certain garden structures play an essential role in designing a beautiful deck or patio garden. Those structures include:

  • Trellis
  • Pergola
  • Arches

All three of these structures help plants trail up rather than across the deck or patio. They also make it possible to use flowering plants, shrubs, and small trees to block out eyesores while providing a benefit to using the outdoor space. All of these are easy to install, and many are available in a kit form such as the pergola and arch structures.

Solving Deck Problems with Plants

Decks and patios are lovely places to enjoy the outdoor living capabilities of your yard, but sometimes there are issues. You might have a million-dollar view except for the fact that your neighbors look right into your yard or there is an eyesore square in the middle of your view. Climbing plants on a trellis or pergola can block intrusive neighbors and green-out eyesores. It is after all more pleasant to look at a climbing rose than an eyesore.

The First Consideration

The first consideration is really about what you want to remove from your field of vision. From there, you can decide how tall a plant should be, and whether or not it should be evergreen or deciduous. This is also a pivotal time to narrow down options for deck structures.

Trellis – Available in many sizes and heights but they are limited in how tall they can safely be raised. A trellis with a busy plant on it must be able to sustain high winds without falling down or causing damage. These are best used for plants under 10-feet in height unless they are attached to a building where wind speed is not an issue.

Arches – made from many materials, an arch is a good substitute for a trellis when you want to create negative space, such as over a gate or window or when you want to create a window through the vining plant. The ladder is a key difference in how you would use an arch rather than a trellis.

Pergola – You often find pergola over a patio or on a deck where you want to create shade. Pergolas come in many shapes from round to square to rectangular. They make an easy way to add a geometric element to a deck or patio design. Because these have a slatted roof. They are lovely for blocking intrusions from above. So, in the example of your neighbor being able to look down and see the activities on your deck, a pergola would be a great way to solve that problem. With a vigorous climber such as a grape plant or two, the top would fill in with leaves and create privacy. A problem with grapes is that they lose their leaves in autumn. So, the shady retreat would only be available from spring through Summer. Many other plants climb well and offer year-round privacy and shade. The best option is to ask one of our experts for a list of plants that fit your microclimate. You can call in and ask or stop by any of our locations. An in-person visit will allow you to physically check out each type of plant and make an informed decision.

The Second Consideration
The first consideration helps you get rid of nuisance factors such as noise and eyesores. The second consideration helps to improve the quality of outdoor living. Maybe your goal is to develop a quiet spot with morning sun and afternoon shade. This might be a place where you enjoy breakfast in the softer morning sunlight, read the paper, or just relax with friends in the afternoon. Plants help us in many ways, and providing shade is only one of those ways. Aromatics, such as star jasmine or honeysuckle, are another way that plants help. A jasmine plant outside of a bedroom window helps us relax and sleep. The same is true with a container of lavender.

Before you get started, sit down and make a list of things that you’d like to improve. These can be as simple as creating shade or as complex as creating a spot to entertain guests. Both decks and patios have a wide array of usage, and your landscaping for your deck or patio should match the usage.

Problem Solving Options
For larger eyesores, a wide shrub usually works well. Hydrangea is an excellent example of a shrub that grows relatively wide. These are great for blocking intruding views either onto the deck or patio or into a window of your home.

Quiets Noise Pollution – Thick hedges soften intrusive noise such as traffic noise and loud neighbors. Jasmine, boxwood, and shrubs usually do an excellent job of blocking sound. The plant selection needs to be thick so that noise is absorbed. A hard surface, like a wall, will cause the noise to reverberate back and that can sometimes cause additional issues. Soft materials, such as living plants, absorb incoming sound and reduce its impact on our space.

Creates a Beautiful Oasis – Containers with shrubs, small trees, and flowers will help you to create a beautiful space. Remember that decks and patios benefit from vertical growth and climbing plants/ Think about the texture of leaves, the color of blooms, and the time of year that plants on your list bloom. It is very possible to have blooming plants nearly all year long. An excellent resource for plant selection is our staff. We offer free, expert advice for all of our customers.

Deck and patio projects are prominent during the summer. As such, our inventory changes daily at all five locations. If you are looking for something specific, give us a call and let us check our stock. You can also visit us online to find out more about each location or just stop in and say hello. We are happy to help you by answering questions or showing you The plants that fit your project.

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