Here’s a good article by Andrea Beck on landscaping around a deck for Better Homes & Gardens.
Enhance your outdoor living space by adding some beautiful landscaping around your deck.
A little landscaping can go a long way toward making your yard an even more pleasant place to relax and entertain. One of our favorite spots to hang out with friends and family is on the backyard deck, so we like to surround it with as many of our favorite plants as we can. Landscaping around a deck can be a rewarding weekend DIY project, but like any planting project, it’s best to do in the spring or fall. We’ll show you how to break it into manageable steps and guide you through the basics. Our tips will help you tackle tasks like laying out a border, removing existing turf, installing edging, placing landscape fabric, and arranging your plants. Before long, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful haven you’ve created.
1. Choose Your Plants First
Once you have an idea of what 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 are hardy in the Zone you live in, and they all will grow in the amount of sunlight your yard gets.
2. Determine the Border
Once you’ve chosen the plants you want to include, begin arranging them into a rough layout around your deck. This will help give you an idea of how big of 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 create a layout you’re happy with. Then, use landscape paint to mark where the border will go.
3. Dig Up Existing Turf
Time for a workout! After you’ve marked out the border for your landscape and moved your plants out of the way, grab a shovel and dig up the existing turf grass within the border. There’s no need to dig deep—use the edge of the shovel to slice into the turf along the border line you marked. Then slice the turf within the border into smaller strips or chunks. Wedge your shovel under the edges you cut and slide the blade of the shovel about an inch under the turf to sever roots. This will help loosen the grass enough so you can peel the sod back to expose the soil underneath.
4. Install Border Edging
After all the turf-grass has been removed, install landscape edging to help define the border of your garden and to keep 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. Then, working in small sections, cut pieces of plastic or rubber edging to fit your bed, Place the edging along the border in the trench, connecting pieces with connector tube when needed. Secure the edging into place by filling the trench back in with soil. When you’re finished, the top of the edging should be about an inch above the top of the soil to prevent runoff when you water or when it rains.
5. Lay Out Landscape Fabric
Covering the soil with landscaping fabric can help minimize the amount of weeding you have to do once you’re finished landscaping around your deck, but you can skip this step and rely more on mulch to keep down weeds. Place the landscape fabric so the entire space is filled in, and cut it to fit within your borders. Insert landscape fabric pins along the outer borders of the fabric to help hold it in place.
6. Determine Final Layout for Plants
Now you can start seeing the finished project coming together! While they’re still in their nursery pots, set out the plants where you want them to be in your new landscape. It’ll look best if you keep larger plants close to your 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 so they have room to grow larger over time.
7. Cut Holes in Fabric and Plant
When you’re happy with the layout, cut a hole in the landscape fabric where you want each plant to go. Then dig a hole in the soil underneath and add each plant to its own hole. Fill in the gaps around the plants with the soil you dug from the hole. Once you’ve got the whole garden planted, water each plant thoroughly to help it settle in.
8. Add a Layer of Mulch
Tie the entire bed together and create a tidy appearance with a 2-inch layer of mulch of your choice. Make sure to spread the mulch so that no landscape fabric shows through once you’re finished.
Once the hard work is done, all that’s left is enjoying the new view from your deck! With a little regular maintenance to keep your plants happy and your yard work manageable, you’ll be able to enjoy the results of this landscaping project for years to come.