Incorporate Plants On Decking: How To Protect Your Deck From Planters

Adding planters and potted plants is a great way to liven up your outdoor deck space. The pops of color and texture from flowers and greenery can transform a plain deck into a beautiful garden oasis. However, certain precautions need to be taken when incorporating planters on decking to avoid damage. Proper placement and care of deck planters will allow you to enjoy their beauty while keeping your deck protected.



Choosing The Right Planters

The weight and composition of deck planters matter greatly when it comes to deck protection. Heavy, dense materials like terra cotta or concrete can potentially scratch, dent or even crack deck boards if dragged or bumped forcefully across the surface. For elevated or second story decks, overly heavy planters can also pose a safety risk if placed too close to the edge with all that concentrated weight. A too-heavy pot falling from an upper level could cause serious injuries.

Instead, opt for lightweight planter materials that won’t put undue strain on the structural integrity of the deck. Plastic, fiberglass, resin and wood planter boxes are much better choices compared to concrete or ceramic. Resin planters offer the look and feel of real clay but are lighter weight and less prone to cracking.

If using large wooden planters, attach soft cushioning on the bottom such as felt pads. These will prevent scraping the deck surface from even subtle movements or vibrations. Felt pads are inexpensive and easy DIY solutions to prevent abrasion damage.

Self-watering planters are also highly useful on decks since they limit the amount of excess water exposure compared to frequent top watering. The reservoirs capture drainage and allow controlled, gradual absorption by the plant roots. Less frequent need to top water cuts down on potential spills, drips and puddles that can stain and damage decks over time.

When assessing planter options, consider the composition, weight, stability and drainage factors. Selecting the right planter type for your deck can make maintenance much easier for both the plants and your deck surface.



Strategic Placement

Where you situate planters on the deck is a key consideration for deck protection. Avoid placing excessively heavy pots right next to the posts, supports, stairs or railings underneath. These areas have enormous structural stresses and weights placed on them already. Adding further heavy loads nearby can overtax these vital foundational reinforcement points.

The corners or far edges of decks tend to be the most robust and stable areas for structural weight capacity. Focus any heavier ceramic, concrete or dense wooden planters towards those reinforced outlying areas whenever possible. Keep smaller, lighter planters near stairs or other mid-deck placements.

For railings or banisters, look for deck railing planter hooks that securely attach containers along the top edges. These planter hooks often have protective coating or foam barriers to prevent abrasion damage to the deck railings from constant contact. The hooks allow flexibility for rearranging planters as desired each season.

Elevated planter stands are another excellent choice for getting containers off the deck floor itself. Stands take the full weight load off the deck surface and help protect that space. They also save your back from frequent bending to tend to lower pots!

Use protective mats or pads underneath any pots directly on the deck to prevent surface scratching from moving them. Mats help minimize marring or water stains on deck boards when shifting pots to water or tend to plants. Combine with drip trays to fully protect that area from errant spills and moisture drips.

Being strategic about placement based on planter design, deck layout and weight distribution principles will help safeguard deck integrity. Careful thought about location can make all the difference.



Caring For Plants Properly

Consistent care for deck planters will keep both the plants and deck surface looking their best. Check planters frequently and remove any drained water right away to prevent pooling. Letting water stagnate can lead to ugly stains, bothersome mold growth, wood warping and potential rotting over time which requires expensive repairs.

When watering plants, take the planters completely off the deck or use a watering can with a long narrow spout to minimize large splashes directly hitting the deck. For elevated planters like hanging baskets, slide a drip tray or plant saucer underneath to catch excess water when tending to them. Collect runoff immediately after.

Clean deck surfaces periodically with gentle, deck-safe cleaners to prevent gradual buildup of dirt around planters. Use a stiff broom or vacuum designed for decks to keep the area around pots free of leaves, spilled soil and debris that can abrade into the deck’s surface if left for extended periods.

Avoid overwatering, which is the cause of many common planter issues. Stick to the ideal watering amount and frequency for each plant variety. For temporary seasonal planters, put containers in storage over winter to prevent dangerous meltwater accumulations once plants go dormant. Proper routine care keeps decks looking pristine.

caring for plants


Choosing The Right Plants

Selecting plants well-suited for deck conditions is key. Succulents like hen and chicks, aloe vera, echeveria and agave thrive in the well-draining soils and drier conditions of deck planter boxes. Their shallow, compact root systems also grow well in confined containers.

Annual flowers like petunias, marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons and million bells add vibrant pops of color on decks throughout the season with adequate watering. Cool weather annuals like pansies and violas add early season color.

Ornamental grasses fit nicely in planters. Blue fescue, carex varieties and Mexican feather grass handle varying moisture levels once established. Grasses add visual appeal with their breezy movement and provide height contrasts to low-growing plants.

Herbs are also ideal for deck planters. Plant classics like mint, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary in containers for convenient snipping of fresh cooking ingredients. Make sure mint is isolated or it will take over all other planters!

For low maintenance and drought resistance in deck containers, look to perennials like lavender, sedum, coreopsis, gaillardia (blanket flower), verbena and heuchera. These adaptable plants come back each year.

Avoid plants with frequent thirsty watering requirements that can lead to deck staining or wood damage. Do not choose delicate tropical varieties that require consistent humidity. Stick to plants suited for deck conditions and occasional drying.

agave on decking


Protecting The Deck Surface

Sealing and staining are critical to shielding your deck from sun and moisture damage long-term. Penetrating stains protect against cracking, splintering, mold/mildew growth, and prevent gradual UV damage that breaks down exterior wood fibers. Water-repellent additives provide further protection.

Ideally, reapply staining every 1-2 years depending on traffic and sun exposure. Heavily used spaces may need yearly re-coating. Prepping surfaces thoroughly before staining is crucial – deep clean, lightly sand, repair any damaged spots. Always allow the recommended drying time before regular deck use.

Topcoat stains periodically with a clear waterproof exterior wood sealant for maximum protection. Sealants prevent spills and other liquids from being absorbed into the wood grains to cause staining or warping. Again, proper prep and dry time is key for best sealant adhesion and effectiveness.

Inspect boards often for any warped, cracked or splintered areas and address immediately to prevent worsening. This may involve sanding affected areas, replacing individual boards, using wood fillers for small holes, or tightening loose fasteners. Tending to such issues quickly reduces costly repairs down the road.

Keep all debris, leaves, dirt and other gunk off the deck surface regularly. Rinse off spills as soon as they occur to prevent absorption or staining. Use leaf blowers, hard-bristled brooms and specialty vacuums designed for decks to remove contaminants that can grind in and mar surfaces.

For items stored under the deck, avoid dragging heavy objects across the deck flooring above. Use portable mats, plywood or furniture pads when moving items to prevent scratching. Inspect annually for termites or carpenter ants around posts, steps and railings where they often attack first.

Check proper drainage and grading around the deck. Improve sloping or install French drains to keep water from pooling under decks. Standing water invites rot, fungal growth and eventual structural instability if left unchecked.

Refinishing the deck boards every 2-3 years provides the opportunity to fully inspect for any damaged spots in need of repair. Follow these tips to keep your deck looking like new for decades.

protecting the decking


Creative Planter Ideas For Decks

  • Vertical living walls with wall-mounted planters or freestanding column arrays. Choose a mix of heights, shapes and sizes for interest.
  • Tall rectangle fiberglass planters in complementary colors as space dividers or to define different functional zones in large spaces.
  • Hanging baskets along eaves or on custom installed hooks and hardware. Use colorful annuals and trailing vines. Install drip trays.
  • Railing planter boxes to complement post caps for a finished, custom look. Use deck railing hooks for removable planter flexibility too.
  • Mix of planter sizes like tall urns, midsize boxes and low bowls for layered visual appeal on stairs, entries or around seating areas.
  • Planter beds built from wooden pallets, or small raised cedar frames for vegetables and herb gardens. Add trellises for climbing vines.
  • Tiered planter crates on deck posts staggered at varying heights for a whimsical look. Try stacking combination planter/benches too.
  • Movable mid-sized pots on casters to shift easily around the deck space and vary locations as needed. Go for eye-catching glazed ceramic or hammered metal.

wall-mounted planters



Get creative with planters using these inspiring ideas! Blend different shapes, sizes, materials and plants to design a unique deckscape that fits your style and needs. The possibilities are endless.

With the right planter and plant choices paired with proper deck care, you can incorporate gorgeous greenery in your outdoor living space without worry. Strategic planter placement, controlled watering, routine cleaning and preventative maintenance will keep your deck protected and stunning for years of enjoyment.

Here at Olon, we have over a decade of experience manufacturing top quality decking and exterior construction materials designed to pass rigorous testing and last decades. Our composite decking offers natural wood beauty without all the ongoing upkeep requirements. Contact us today to learn more about how our products can upgrade and protect your outdoor living space!

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