TK9NY
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Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:36 pm

Designing around a Deck

Image

Working on the area around the deck this summer and looking for advice on:

1) If you squint, you can see that the legs of the deck are on concrete blocks which stick up and out. Very noticeable. We considered bringing dirt in to cover them but where told there wouldn't be any guarantees it wouldn't wash away?!? And that we would need a lot of it - too expensive, according to my dad, for something not guaranteed to work. There is a slop to the yard, water does run away from the deck, so i guess it's possible.... Any suggestions on how to cover those blocks, and maybe the corner legs?

2) What are opinions on small ponds? I've always wanted one, and IMO a small one would look nice in front of the hose. I'm thinking something small, maybe one of the cheap/simple forms sold at Lowes? Would it be okay in that area? Any negatives to this?

3) Dog safe perennials and shrubs. I have two as you can see in the photo, and two more i need to plan on the other side by the deck stairs) assured that they where all pet safe, but need to fill in a bunch of space (as you can see). Want something that withstands winter (shrubs) or that i don't have to keep planting (perennials). I like oranges, reds, and yellows as far as color but am open to any suggestions.

4) We are considering stone to cover the ground where the grass is cut away. Any suggestions? Are there different kinds of stone? Any drawbacks to it? Versus mulch? Again - which would be better with DOGS? Would piling the stone around the legs be plausible (see question 1)?

5) Don't know if this is the right spot for it, but stain for the deck. We stained it last summer and whatever we used didn't hold. The top of the deck is faded and scuffed and looks like it's aged ten plus years. The railing isn't as bad. I need suggestions on what to use to make the deck look nice, will hold up, etc that i will also use on the lattice underneath it.

We get the fence fixed this summer too, would like to be able to stain/paint it the same color (or close to) as the deck. Which brings me to another question i have about the yard itself. Not something we're going to "worry" about this summer but I'm curious what people on here think.

Other than the weeds outnumbering actual grass, which we can take care of ourselves easily enough, there are dips and holes and divots and bare patches (where trees and a shed used to be) that make the entire backyard difficult to maintain. Mowing the grass is particularly difficult and can be dangerous, every other step you have to be careful not to twist an ankle. Any ideas on how to fix that? We think (I think) that the numerous divots and such where caused by the previous home owner allowing the apples from the apple tree (long since removed by us btw) to fall and rot.

We had a landscaper out but he was more focused on the front yard (curb appeal) than back, and he didn't have many suggestions when asked other than tearing the whole yard up and starting over. Is that about the gist of it? We don't know how else to get rid of the divots..... and i would like to be able to mow my lawn without having to worry I'm going to twist an ankle.

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Designing around a Deck

Use deck paint on decks. If you don't prep the wood properly you may not get good adhesion of paint. If you use cheap paint, it does not last. Alll paint fades in the sun, oils fade slower, but are messier to use and clean up after, but have better waterproofing and durability. Darker colors will fade more noticeably than light colors.

It is better not to pile anything against the foundation blocks, especially if you have termites. My termite guy said it is best not to plant anything within 18-24 inches of the foundation. It makes it easier to inspect the house for pests, you have some space to do maintenance like paint or wash windows, and you don't want roots or water near the foundation that might allow them to penetrate the foundation and let water and pests in. Rock or bark mulch will work in that space. When you use rocks or mulch, it still gets dirt on it and weeds will try to grow between them so it does not eliminate weeding. Use a good weed block and stir the mulch once in a while to keep weeds from establishing. Don't use a light colored stone like white coral, it does not stay white.


If you have dogs select your plants carefully, since you want to avoid anythig that may be toxic if they like to chew plants.

You can fill the low spots but, if the grass is more weeds than grass, eventually, it would be better to do it over. As long as it is not a priority, I would just fill the low spot to make it safe. But, you should do something to at least try to keep the weeds from spreading.

I think you can use stategic plantings to camouflage the deck foundation. the more stuff you pile around it, the more attention it draws. It actually does not look bad now. A planting of an ornamental grass or shrub or even a small planting bed will draw the eye away from the foundation. It is actually a problem with not having enough visual stimuli. Grass is boring to keep looking at so you end up looking at what is different. You have a light colored lattice under the deck and it calls attention to itself. Paint the lattice the same color as the deck rail and it will draw less attention. You can paint the foundation block too, cement does take on color for a while. If you had a yard that was more visually varied, you would not have time to notice the foundation. You can also draw the eye up and put something on the corner of the deck to make you look up instead of down. Like a nice planter or potted tree. The shrubs that are planted will eventually grow, but they look too close to the deck. Because they are so short right now they actually draw your eye to the foundation not the deck, but that will change as they grow. they should be planted further out so they have room to grow and you have room for maintenance. It would be better to curve the cut out out toward the lawn and not in toward the deck and make it curvy not angled in the front. It looks more natural with curves than with sharp angles and straight lines. You will have more room for a planting bed. And the curve toward the deck right now actually is also drawing attention to the deck. The planting bed will give the space more color and something nice to look at as a focal point. Select plants that are easier to maintain. Or you could amend and plant some foundation plants. I like to use foundation plants with interesting forms and textures. You could put in some shrubs and fill in with annuals for added color.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

catgrass
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Posts: 532
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:56 pm
Location: Southwest Louisiana

Re: Designing around a Deck

Important questions-where are you? What are your winter like?
zone 9 Southwest La.

TK9NY
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Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:36 pm

Re: Designing around a Deck

Ah - yes, i forgot to mention my location. Upstate NY!

I never thought about the shrubs being too close - my parents have similar shrubs around their deck, which are pressed right up tight to it, and have had no issues so i didn't even think about that. Mine are about a foot from the deck/foundation. I have similar ones in the front of the house and they've gone from about that size to MASSIVE in a couple years, so by next summer i bet they'll be quite a bit bigger.

The lattice will eventually be the same color as the deck. I never thought to color the foundation itself.... might try that and just leave it at that and focus on everything else. The deck itself isn't "faded" so much as it looks like it's been scratched off or rubbed off. Only in certain sections, though. And it looks like there is green mold (?) in spots? I don't know, maybe i'll take a photo of it tomorrow and post that to show. It's stain on it, not paint. My parents painted their deck and i didn't like how we had to re-do it almost every year because of the chipping.....

The bed is definitely change-able - since we haven't put any stone/mulch down i can still cut away and make curves. I originally wanted it to curve inward but somehow it turned out angled like that. I'm usually more creative/artistic than that, i must have gotten tired of the digging! I'm probably going to go ahead and curve it outward then....

More room for a small pond, perhaps! (Still on the fence about that one - would really like one but i dunno how much work they are to put in, how to maintain it, etc....)

We've had the house for 3 years, now, and we've done a lot to it. The backyard has been on stand-by (we had a bunch of other stuff to do first - new roof, new water heater, new furnace, etc) so I'm excited to finally get to work on it. I've always wanted a backyard that i could enjoy, and with dogs it's important for that backyard to be safe as well!

catgrass
Green Thumb
Posts: 532
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:56 pm
Location: Southwest Louisiana

Re: Designing around a Deck

I am in the deep south, so not familiar with what plants grow well up there-I'd take a drive around the neighborhood and see what others have planted. Also, contact your Ag center for your state, they should have good information for you and you can view it online.
zone 9 Southwest La.

Asica
Senior Member
Posts: 240
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:11 am
Location: California (Los Angeles)

Re: Designing around a Deck

How about some grapes. They may look not so nice in winter, but in Summer they are beautiful and you have healthy snack right on a deck. My parents have that and I love sitting on their deck for that reason.
I would stay away from wood chips because of termites as someone mention before. You cold put nice decomposed mulch instead that will hold the water and be good for the plants.
Lilac would be another shrub I would be planting, great colors and it will smell so nice in Spring.
And one more that I do not remember the name. It is all yellow flowers In spring, and then it gets leaves. You can all see them blooming around Easter time. I bet someone will know what I talking about.

imafan26
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Posts: 11360
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Designing around a Deck

if the paint looks scratched or chipped, it probably was not prepped well enough. I am not familiar with stains except on floors and they have to be sealed for longevity and to make it easier to clean.

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Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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