I live in Brooklyn, where one house is on top of the other. When I come out on the deck, I feel like the neighbor is sitting next to me. I’d love to add some privacy to my deck, without having to use huge pots along the side of my deck, which would take away a good chunk of the deck space. My deck is 8’x16′, and for the most part, I just want to cover one of the sides that is 8′ long. The deck has a standard plastic railing. Ideally, I’d love to use a long pot that is not very deep so that I can place it on one of the sides of the deck and use a runner plant to grow around the railing. I might use a trellis as well to add some height. Would you have any recommendations as to what would be the best plant for such a task?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Ed: Gardens and other outdoor spaces are additions to our homes; just like an indoor room, they have walls that create privacy. As my sister would attest to, living in Brooklyn you need to take advantage of any outdoor space you may be lucky enough to have. So, you have a few options depending on how low to the ground the deck is and if there is any planting space below it. Ideally it would be nice if you could plant below the deck so the containers would not take up valuable space. If this is possible and if there is existing soil then this would be the place to plant. If there is no soil you can use large containers that can stay outdoors year-round. If planting on the deck is your only option you will want to make sure the container(s) are deep enough for the roots to grow. This is especially true if you intend to keep this planting year-round. Using a rectangular planting box that you can attach to the railing would be an option as well. I think using a trellis for height is a good idea. The plant material you choose will depend on the available sunlight and whether or not you want an annual (just for the warmer months) or perennial vine and if you want it to be evergreen or deciduous. If privacy is really the goal here you can always create outdoor curtains as your walls. Three thick bamboo stakes made into a frame with twine and some outdoor fabric or inexpensive burlap and you have instant privacy. Of course a pergola would be nice as well. If you give me more details I would be happy to give you planting suggestions.