Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Help! What To Grow Under a Roofed Deck

I think the back deck is just over 800 square feet.  I'd have to go to Town Hall and see what they came up with, or find the tape measure and figure it out myself to be sure.  I'm not doing either today.

Suffice it to say, the backyard deck is huge, even though to me, it still looks small.

It's time we start thinking about living as civilized human beings:  trash the trash, furnish, decorate, stain and seal, and all the rest of those chores that make us feel as if we belong in our suburban surroundings.


I live on a super private lot so that I won't have to worry about neighbors or cops reporting me as the owner of an unfit front yard, back yard, side yard, any yard.

But the deck has become an absolute pain in the ass.


F-U-L-L   S-U-N   24/7.

No lie!  Norwegians are leaving our house looking like Dominicans.

And this brings me to the problem!  We need to roof a good portion of this deck.  This way we can step out onto the deck when it's pouring rain (my favorite time outdoors is during a rain shower) and our friends can join us for a barbecue without requiring triple doses of sunscreen and Coke-bottle sunglasses.

Sounds good, sounds reasonable.  EXCEPT.... what will grow under this sun-barring roof?  Container gardens will not thrive.  Hanging baskets will peter out.  Forget small trees in chic pots.  Galvanized steel window boxes will be barren.  Will coleus survive?  Doubtful!  Even run-of-the-mill houseplants can't withstand such shade.  So what am I to do?

A skylight!  A big, four-foot-square skylight in the middle of the roof with ceiling fans on either side and pendant lights on the other two sides.  That should do it... but it will be too bright, too hot, too sunny for our guests?

Our deck is a two-tiered deck.  The lower tier will not be roofed and all I want there are four bistro tables that will seat two each.  Our "kitchen" is on the lower tier.  The tier is long and wide and will hold plenty of container gardens between, amongst, around the bistro tables.  The lower tier is "walled" by the obelisks and the Rose Garden is just on the other side of the obelisks.  The lower tier is not the issue.

The issue today is plantings under a roofed deck.

If I can figure this out, the work will begin immediately!  In the meantime, forgive the clutter, the mess, the mismatched, homemade "furniture" and $5 chairs from Home Depot that fall apart after the seventh rainfall.

I'm doing the best I can.


  1. Hi Wendy,
    I have lily of the valley that grow in total shade, hosta and some other wild flowers. I googled shade plants and there were quite a few of course I dont remember the names. LOL Good luck!

  2. Hey Lisa, took me a while to figure out who you were. LOL I need to grow things in containers on this deck. I don't like putting most perennials in containers as it becomes a pain in the ass to overwinter them. If we can get the skylight in, I should be fine. :-)

  3. HI Wendy,
    I keep succulents on my covered porch and they do great. You think that they would need full sun, but they actually do great in the shade as long as there is bright light. Don't feel bad about the way your yard looks as you make improvements. I still have an unfinished pond and outdoor kitchen that have been sitting half way done for five years, yay! The story of my life.

  4. completely roofed doesn't necessarily mean dark. If the sides are still open and you decide on a skylight then it may well be bright shade (especially if it's south facing). Instead of a traditional type of roof covering there are others like acrylic panels that can be translucent, tinted or clear. Also stretched canvas (like shade structures in many parks) can be very pretty and water usually wicks away to the edge of the canvas and drips from there. That'd look nice over a trellis type structure.

    And you mentioned hanging baskets... I can't for the life of me remember where but I once saw a gorgeous photo of one made with branches pruned from coniferous plants. I think the caption said junipers... anyway, it was very pretty and they also said low maintenance. I think those kind of plants also usually have low water and light needs.

    Can't wait to see what you decide!

  5. Such space! Such a wonderful open deck structure to work with. You don't need plants sitting on the deck under the roof, just around it at the open outside edges.

    Essentially your roof over the larger deck will function as a porch, as an interior space blending into the open deck level below. I wouldn't worry about plants for the interior space, although skylights would be nice to brighten it up. Just plant around the deck in the open areas. Such design fun!



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