plants to go under a very shady deck

newbieroseloverNovember 11, 2004

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this particular forum but I'm delighted to find you! I could use your help. We have a 12-foot-wide deck that wraps around 2 sides of our house, with north/northeast/northwest exposures. The soil underneath gets dim indirect light at best. I'm tired of looking at bare dirt and have starting planting ferns there, but wonder if you have suggestions of any other perennials I could add?


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    Bookmark   November 13, 2004 at 9:52PM
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Believe it or not, hornedone, I tried hostas but they started to die, so I moved them. They were showing classic signs of being too wet. So I need plant(s) that like wettish feet as well as very heavy shade.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2004 at 6:29AM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

If you are trying to plant under the deck, there will not be enough light to grow anything, You might be able to create planting beds adjacent to the deck and grow taller shade plants like hosta and fern to screen the view under.

Otherwise, cover the dirt with peagravel or mulch so you have something attractive to look at. Or hide the dirt view with vertical lattice between the ground and deck floor bottom.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2004 at 11:52AM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

I agree with Judy. Plants look odd under decks, IMO. I have so many gardening clients who want to have plantings in this inhospitable situation. I try to disuade them and encourge weedcloth and gravel mulch--clean, low-maintenance. The organic mulches sooner or later decompose into compost; weeds love it. When people insist, I have found that mints,lamiums, and nummularia will work to a degree.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 10:18AM
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Thank you, I think I'm going to try to plant things, because the decks are so large and I don't think I want to look at that much gravel when I'm outside. I'll try your plant suggestions, plus I've been transplanting wood ferns from the yard. Appreciate everyone's help!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 12:21PM
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grammahony(ECentral NEz5)

How about ferns?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2004 at 11:33PM
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I came to that same conclusion, Leslie :-) So I've started a few and am transplanting baby ferns when I find them on the property. Plus adding leaf mulch. Thanks! Janice

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 7:46AM
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grammahony(ECentral NEz5)

Also you might try lamium (dead nettle) I am not sure if it needs any sunlight, but I have some under my deck. Then I added lattic around the bottom to keep the rabbits out. But some is sneaking through the holes in the lattic, and is still green, even with snow around it. So it is hardy, but not invasive.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 10:34AM
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Dear Newbieroselover

How are the wood ferns doing? I just found this forum and read your posting..I too have a lot of wrap around high deck, I planted clematis in fron of one side with a wooden expandable fencing that spans the length and I hope to grow the 4 clematis to sort of make a living wall...the deer seem to eat everything else. I am curious as to what is working for you

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 2:55AM
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Hi Moose, I didn't get that many planted before winter set in. Since the area takes the brunt of north/northeast winds, I'll be able to see what ferns survived when spring comes, which isn't til late April at this elevation.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 11:34AM
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Lattice. If well framed, stained and installed it will not warp and works to enclose storage areas. I have built huge lattice "walls" that swing open to give access to a cavernous space used to store the winter fencing that I install (for protection from deer) around individual shrubs and shrub beds. (This use of lattice is a common practice on Sanibel Is. and exclusive flood-prone areas where houses must be built on piers.) Even if your deck is much closer to the ground, you can adapt this to suit minimal storage needs. If framed and installed on the backside of the deckÂs piering and kept off the ground, it can give a more substantial look to the deck without looking like a skirt.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2005 at 4:23PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

How high off the ground are these decks? I'm trying to picture it and assuming it's UNusable space underneath?


    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 8:38AM
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Hi Barb, sorry for delay in response, if you're still watching. The height varies because the deck wraps around the house, which is on a slope. Highest point, they're about 12 feet up, lowest point, about 5 feet. I've decided to plant 5 dwarf Alberta Spruce between the 'piers' of the highest end of the deck, and put lamium under the deck, plus more ferns.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 1:29PM
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