Decks are perfect for casual outdoor living. Like patios, decks connect the house to the garden. But because they are usually attached to the house and are built above the ground, they feel more like part of the house than the garden. A deck can really expand your living space in nice weather, and it provides a comfortable transition between indoors and out. Since we are all spending a lot of time at home this season, our decks and patios are more important than ever. Make your deck a comfortable place to be, with outdoor furniture and lots of color and greenery from plants. Plantings not only add color, they also help tie the deck into the landscape. For continuity, use the same colors you use in your other beds and borders.
Outfit your deck for summer living. Furnishing the deck (or patio) can be as simple as setting up a barbecue grill and a picnic table, or as involved as installing a complete outdoor kitchen and bar with running water, burners, a rotisserie, a wood-fired pizza oven and tables and seating for 10 or more. Lounge chairs with small side tables are ideal for even a small deck. If you like to barbecue or entertain outdoors, include a dining table and chairs with weather-resistant upholstery. Along with outdoor chairs and benches come pillows, and if you cover them with all-weather fabrics you won’t have to rush around and gather them up to carry indoors every time it rains. In fact, the right fabrics can be great problem solvers outdoors. Besides upholstering furniture, they cover umbrellas, create tents and sunshades, clothe dining tables, and serve as decorative drapes and hangings. A retractable awning is another good addition to the deck. A small recirculating fountain can bring the soothing sounds of trickling water. To extend the season into fall, add a patio heater or fire pit. Look for a fire pit that won’t damage the deck; some models burn wood, others use propane or natural gas.
A deck isn’t complete without potted plants. Deck containers can hold lots more than a few geraniums or petunias, and they can create or at least contribute to the deck ambience. You can combine lots of plants in large tubs, bowls, and planter boxes, or group smaller pots together for visual impact. For a lush look, combine tall centerpiece plants such as hibiscus with bushy plants for volume, then add smaller filler and accent flowers, and include cascading and trailing plants to spill over the edges of the planters.
Key the pots and plants to your garden’s color scheme, picking up colors from the house trim and beds and borders. Container plants can produce all sorts of looks. Create a tropical paradise with colorful hibiscus, palm or ficus trees, tall canna lilies, exotic elephant ears or colocasia. Or maybe cottage garden charm is more your style, with daisies, yarrow, larkspur, coreopsis, morning glories, black-eyed Susan, cosmos, and daylilies plus ornamental grasses for height and vinca spilling over the edges of the pots.