How to Landscape Around a Deck to Enhance Your Backyard

Enhance your outdoor living space by adding some beautiful landscaping.

A little landscaping can go a long way toward making your yard an even more pleasant place to relax and entertain. A favorite spot to hang out with friends and family is on the deck, so why not surround it with as many beautiful plants as you can? The landscaping can be a rewarding weekend DIY project, but, like any planting project, it's better done in the spring or fall. Here's how to break the project into manageable steps, so you can more easily tackle tasks like laying out a border, removing existing turf, installing edging, and arranging your plants. Before long, you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful haven you've created.

landscaping around deck
Laurie Black

1. Choose Your Plants

Once you have an idea of what you want to plant around your deck, the other aspects of the project will fall into place. Start by picking out a few larger shrubs or even small trees you'd like to include. Then choose smaller perennials and ornamental grasses to fill in around them. Make sure that the plants you choose will grow in your Hardiness Zone and in the amount of sunlight your yard receives.

2. Determine the Border

Now that you've chosen the plants, begin arranging them into a rough layout around your deck. This will give you an idea of how large a space you'll need to create for them and where the landscape border needs to go. Use a garden hose as a temporary marker to define the border, and shift it around as needed until you're happy with the layout. Use landscape paint to mark where the border will go.

3. Dig Up Existing Turf

It's time for a workout. After you've marked out the border and moved your plants out of the way, grab a shovel and dig up the existing turfgrass within the border. There's no need to dig deeply. Just use the edge of the shovel to slice into the turf along the line you've marked, then slice the turf into smaller strips or chunks. Wedge your shovel under the edges you've cut and slide the blade about an inch under the turf to sever the roots. This will help loosen the grass enough to allow you to peel the sod back and expose the soil underneath.

shovel soil around high-quality edging

4. Install Border Edging

After all the turfgrass has been removed, install landscape edging to help define the border of your garden and to keep the grass from creeping back in. To make the installation process easier, dig a shallow trench (it only needs to be a few inches deep) along the border. Next, working in small sections, cut pieces of plastic or metal edging to fit your bed. Place the edging in the trench, and when needed, join the pieces with connector tube. Secure the edging in place by refilling the trench with soil. When you're finished, the top of the edging should be about an inch above the soil, which will prevent runoff when you water, or when it rains.

5. Lay Out Landscape Fabric

Covering the soil with landscaping fabric can minimize the amount of weeding you'll have to do once you're finished with the project, but you can skip this step and rely more on mulch to keep the weeds down. Place the landscaping fabric so the entire space is filled, then cut it to fit within your borders. Insert pins along the outer edges of the fabric to hold it in place.

6. Determine Final Layout for Plants

Now you can see the finished project coming together. While they're still in their nursery pots, set the plants out where you'll want them to be. It'll look best if you keep the larger plants close to the deck, and smaller plants closer to the outer border. Use a variety of textures to add interest, and remember to leave enough space between your plants to give them room to grow larger over time.

7. Cut Holes in Fabric and Plant

When you're completely happy with the layout, cut a hole in the landscape fabric for each plant. Then dig holes in the soil and add each plant. Fill in the gaps around the plants with the soil you dug out making the hole. Once you've got the whole garden planted, water each plant thoroughly to settle it in.

8. Add a Layer of Mulch

Tie the entire bed together and create a tidy appearance with a two-inch layer of the mulch of your choice. Make sure to spread the mulch so that once you're finished, no landscape fabric shows through. Smooth the layer to be as even as possible and keep it away from plant stems.

Once the hard work is done, all that's left to do is to sit down and enjoy the new view from your deck. With a little regular maintenance to keep your plants healthy and your yardwork manageable, you'll be able to enjoy the results of this project for years to come.

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