top of page

How to Avoid Problems When Gardening on your Deck

Gardening on your deck or patio provides a number of benefits. It enables those in a multi-unit building an opportunity to grow plants outdoors. It provides an opportunity for those with physical limitations to garden. Growing plants on your deck or patio is a strategy for adding beauty and it might provide an opportunity to grow edibles near your kitchen. But gardening on a deck or patio does present its own potential problems. Read this article to learn how to avoid problems and how to deal with them if they occur.

By Linda Stein, Dakota County Master Gardener

How to Avoid Problems When Gardening on your Deck

Just as there are potential issues to consider when planting in the ground, there are ones that might reduce your potential to have a successful container garden outdoors.


Limited Space


Not all plants are appropriate for growing in a container.  Since most decks or patios have limited space, you want to avoid plants that require a lot of ground space.  Consider plants that can grow along trellises or can hang over the edges of your container.  Select plants that are recommended for pots and therefore will fit better into small spaces. When buying plants, think about the size when they have been with you for a period of time . . . not the size at the time of purchase.


Getting Adequate Sun


The direction your deck faces is only one factor to consider when determining how much sun light the plants will receive.  In addition, watch for trees or other structures that might obstruct the sun.  Remember that the sun’s path changes as we move from spring to summer to autumn. So, trees and overhangs will have a different impact at different times in the growing season.


Prevent Other Environmental Factors from Negatively Impacting Plants


Heat might be a bigger factor when growing in pots.  Darker pots absorb the sun’s rays causing the soil to heat up and dry out more quickly.  Consider using lighter colored pots if you are noting that your plants are requiring frequent watering.  Also watering your plants mid-day can cool your plants. 


Consider the impact of wind on your plants and on the pots in which you are growing.  If your deck is higher in your building or in a location that is exposed to significant wind there are several things you might consider.


·       Use clay pots instead of plastic pots since they are heavier.


·       Select plants that are less susceptible to the wind.  The following are characteristics of plants that will more readily survive in windy conditions:


o   Shorter plants;

o   Plants with smaller and narrower leaves that would be less likely to be damaged by wind;

o   Plants with larger root systems that more effectively anchor the plant; and

o   Plants that like drier conditions since the wind will dry out the soil more quickly.



Beware of Pests


Pests can find plants even if they are not in the ground.  Different pests can be found in the soil of your container, on the exterior of the container or on the plants themselves.  Many of these pests may be a nuisance but will not cause permanent damage to your plant.  The University of Minnesota Extension’s Yard and Garden website is an excellent source to help identify the specific pests that are impacting your plant and to determine how to address them.

Photo credits: (all creative commons) (1), (all creative commons) (2)


bottom of page