Greenery can break up endless expanses of wood or other material on decks. Plants can also provide privacy, shade and color. Position plants to section off different areas within your deck. Light colored containers work better because they reflect the summer's heat.
No deck is too small for a water garden, if the garden is in a container. A galvanized tub makes a good starter water garden, but any water-tight container will do. Before carrying it to the deck, make sure there aren't any leaks. Place the container where it receives afternoon shade so the water doesn't get too warm. Add a floating plant like water lettuce or water hyacinth to shade the water further. Goldfish should stay happy in a container that's at least 18 inches deep and will keep mosquitoes from becoming a health hazard. If you don't want to keep fish, add a small fountain to the garden.
A hot deck with no relief from the baking sun won't get used during the prime summer months. Umbrellas and awnings are one alternative. Growing grapes over wires provides shade and fruit. During early spring and fall, when the weather is cooler and shade isn't needed, the grapevines are just getting started or have lost their leaves, letting the sun shine through. Grow the vines in four half barrels, one vine in each barrel. Insert a PVC pipe in a coffee can filled with wet cement. When the cement dries, bury the can in the half barrel. Attach wires to the tops of the pipes. The vines will grow over the wires and each other.
Railing as Plant Supports
Most decks over a certain height must have a railing. Use the railing as a support for climbing plants. Vines soften the edges of the deck. If privacy is an issue, use containers with trellises to block the unsightly view. Fasten the trellises to the railing for stability. Grow vines that twine in and around the trellis so the plants will be visible from both sides.
Many vegetables do well in containers on decks. Eggplants have pretty purple-green leaves. The vegetable itself comes in purple, but also pink, striped and white. Tomatoes are another favorites of gardeners. Choose a variety that stays bushy, or stake the tomatoes to keep them tidy. Colors include yellow, white, purple, pink and chocolate, as well as tomato red.