June 18, 2024
Saralyn Wasserman

Cultivating Your Green Thumb: A Guide to Starting a Deck Garden

Saralyn Wasserman believes gardening is a multi-faceted activity that goes beyond being just a hobby. It’s an art that involves designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces, a science that requires knowledge of plant physiology, and a way to promote a healthier lifestyle by providing access to fresh air and exercise.

For those who do not have the luxury of a large backyard, Saralyn Wasserman suggests a deck garden as an excellent option for urban dwellers or anyone with limited outdoor space. With a bit of creativity, you can transform your deck into a thriving garden that suits your personality and lifestyle.

Creating a deck garden requires careful planning and execution. Saralyn Wasserman explains that you need to consider factors such as the size and layout of your deck, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the kind of plants you want to cultivate. With the proper selection of plants, you can create a garden that is aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.

Understanding Your Space

To get started with deck gardening, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right plants for your space. Depending on the size, position, and amount of sunlight exposure on your deck, certain types of plants will be better suited than others.

Before you start, it’s extremely important to understand the patterns of sunlight and shade on your deck throughout the day. If your deck has an awning or another deck above it, sunlight will be reduced as a result. Plants have differing light requirements, and it’s crucial to match them to the amount of sunlight exposure that you have.

Also, assessing the amount of available space on your deck will inform the number and size of plants you will be able to fit. If you have space limitations, you can try creative ways to maximize your space such as vertical gardening or hanging planters.

Just as importantly, knowing your deck’s weight capacity will help you choose the kinds of containers that your deck will support. Using plastic pots instead of concrete, wood, terracotta, or other heavy pots will offer a lighter load – especially once you add soil to the containers. Also, it’s a good idea to consider the drainage needs of your plants when choosing a container.

Additionally, you should consider how your deck garden might affect any neighbors who may live below you. If your deck has slats where water, soil and debris might easily fall through, you should think about laying down some kind of barrier such as astro turf, outdoor rugs, or plastic coverings.

Choosing Your Plants

Decide whether you want to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, or a mix, and select plants that will thrive in your local climate. Plants can be sensitive to temperatures, humidity levels, and of course sunlight. Consult local gardening centers, community groups, books, and the internet for advice on seasonal varieties and to learn when you should start planting or laying seeds.

Once you’ve chosen your plants, it’s time to start preparing your deck for gardening. This may involve cleaning, sanding, and staining your deck, or creating custom planters or raised beds to accommodate your plants.


Learn the proper way to plant each type of seed or seedling in your containers to ensure each plant has enough space to grow.

You’ll also need to choose the right potting soil and fertilizers to ensure your plants have the nutrients they need to thrive. Invest in high-quality potting soil, and understand the fertilization needs of each of your plants. Plants need plant food, vitamins and soil amendments in order to flourish. When choosing plant food, it’s always best to go organic to eliminate the possibility of burning your plants with too much synthetic plant food.

Watering, pruning, and pest control are vital for a healthy garden. Set a regular care schedule and stick to it. Remember that soil in containers dries out faster than ground soil.

Be prepared for challenges such as unexpected weather changes and have a plan for protecting your plants from heavy rain, harsh sunlight or excessive heat.

Pest, Fungus and Viruses Management

Managing pests, fungus and viruses can be very challenging, and it’s important to understand exactly what you’re up against before using treatments to plants or soil. When it comes to pesticides, it’s always best to use organic products so as not to harm the environment.


Lastly, know when and how to harvest your edible plants. Fresh herbs and vegetables from your own garden will give you a sense of achievement, and it can also transform your cooking.

If you’re looking for a fulfilling and rewarding way to bring some natural beauty to your home, then deck gardening could be the perfect choice. With a little effort and some careful planning, you can create a stunning, thriving garden right on your deck.

As you begin your deck gardening journey, Saralyn Wasserman notes to remember to be patient, and to take time to enjoy the process. Gardening can be an extremely rewarding journey that connects you with nature and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Every garden is unique, and yours will evolve and grow over time. With a little bit of care and attention, you’ll soon be enjoying the beauty and rewards of your very own deck garden. So go ahead and get your hands dirty — and happy gardening!