Under-deck Garden

Pat Perkins
by Pat Perkins
4 Materials
5 Hours
My townhouse basement has sliding glass doors that open under a deck. The exit area was unsightly. I needed a quick, inexpensive, do-it-yourself, and easy- to-maintain fix. Condo association rules dictated that I keep within the outline of the deck above to avoid impinging on the common elements.

The ground under the deck was mostly sand, not soil, and the area was shady for most of the day. There was also an erosion problem because the downspout was located under the deck. Here’s what I did to spruce up the area.
1. Outline the area of the garden with Belgium Block placed upright and side by side (helps control soil erosion).
2. Did a planting bed just outside Belgium Block for perennials that like some sun. This is where you can add color.
3. Remove rocks.
4. Add bags of topsoil to the existing soil as needed depending on the composition of the soil.
5. Place random-sized pieces of bluestone on top of the soil. Make a pathway from the door through the garden to the yard.
6. Purchase and plant perennial, groundcover, shade-loving, low-growing plants under the deck.
7. Purchase and plant perennials for the outside border. I used alternating astilbe and giant hosta and dwarf Alberta spruces for the corners. 
8. Apply mulch around plants to keep roots moist and cool and to prevent the growth of weeds.
Notice the Belgium Block that outlines the garden at the top of the picture.

Nestled between the randomly placed pieces of bluestone are perennial, shade-loving, groundcover plants such as ferns, lady’s mantel, lamium, ajuga, lysimachia (creeping Jenny), mint, woodruff, brunnera.  Use what is appropriate for your climate zone.
Place the bluestone to meet your needs. Make a walkway from door to yard or place several together to make a seating area.
The border plants receive several hours of afternoon sun. This is where you can add plants that will flower, although some groundcovers like ajuga and woodruff will flower even in shade.
Notice Alberta spruces anchoring the corners.
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Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • ANITA ANITA on Jun 27, 2018

    can you use perennial plants under the deck without letting any sun in?

  • Jo Jo on Jul 02, 2018

    What are the plants you put into the "most shaded areas" shown in your photos?

  • Colette A. R. LaDue Colette A. R. LaDue on Jul 08, 2018

    How do you keep it all watered? Do you have a sprinkler under there and is it an issue to water near your house foundation?

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2 of 31 comments
  • Pat Perkins Pat Perkins on Oct 05, 2019

    Gabrielle, what a nice compliment and thanks for the good suggestions!

  • Joanie Joanie on Feb 08, 2020

    I love all your beautiful plants. They look so healthy and alive and green. How do you keep the varmints away from chewing on them?