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I am new to this forum and I am looking to sort out my garden ready for the summer. The garden is heavy clay soil so it dries up a lot during summer and rain holds for awhile.

We have a section of decking at the back of the garden however it doesn't have any border on it therefore i am looking to place some plants, grasses or something which would make it look attractive to go around the back and down one side and looking for suggestions?

I know everything i need to do in terms of improving the clay soil and digging it all out, mixing in soil etc

Any suggestions for appropriate plants would be great. Preferably ones which are easy to maintain, last all year round. I am happy with any general weeding, trimming etc.

Many thanks,


Jess is in the Garden

Hello and welcome, Simon 

A bit of info about what exposure your garden has, would be very useful. 

Grasses generally like it dry, free-draining and sunny, above all.

A photo would also help to give us an idea of how large a site it is etc., if you have time to take one, so we know how large the plants can be that would go there.

There is such a vast array, that narrowing it down a bit helps.





I think Phormium look great next to decking. Available in greens, reds, yellows, pinks, blacks and everything in between. I have a dozen around my garden.

If your deck isn't in full sun try Hostas in pots, I stand mine on big plant pot saucers and that way they are easy to keep moist and avoid staining the deck. I find if I keep a small amount of water in the saucer I'm slug free. There are experts on Hostas in this forum who would advise on varieties for your conditions.

Jess is in the Garden

Blairs I love Phormium - your garden must be pretty big to have several - I have none, no space! I particularly love Chocomint, which I've never actually found though to buy.




Would there be any possibility of making a raised bed around your decking? You could use some solid wood and fill it with John Innes 3 or topsoil mixed with compost. Or it that too complicated and expensive? Then you could grow what you like.


Is the deck on the same level as the surrounding garden Simon? If you can give us an idea of aspect and size for the borders you want to create it will help with suggestions. Also, what type of planting you prefer - I'm guessing more structural than flowery - and any colours you like. 

If you have a bit of shade Fatsia japonica is a great structural plant and is evergreen. I had one at the end of a deck in a previous garden.

Jess is in the Garden

Thanks keyser - will keep that one on file for when I eventually own a garden large enough!

Keyser Soze

No worries Jess. I know they can get to outgrow themselves after a couple of years!

I just got a Phormium "Yellow wave" to replace a frost killed one and I am in two minds whether to use it for my decking project this year.

I quite fancy a Stipa but the small one seems too small and the big one too big! I I'm only planning to plant in the corners as the deck will be straight onto the lawn with just a small pebble cutting edge. If I had the room I would go for the likes of Rogersia or ligularia "The Rocket" against decking as I've seen it in this situ before and it looks great!


Thanks for all the suggestions they have been great!

Below is a picture of the decking area - The decking is raised and I am looking to put the plants on the left hand side and the back.

The left hand side probably has a clearing of around 40cm and the back the clearing is larger, maybe up to around 75cm.

Hope this helps with the suggestions and Busy-Lizzie I may look to do a raised planter on the left hand side given the small clearing.




Some structural planting to soften that fence would be good Simon. It would be worth getting some trellis on it and putting a few climbers there.  I'd be inclined to create a border along the front edge and  have some planting along there as well to give a little screening and make the deck seem more secluded. Grasses would be good  as there are loads of different heights and shapes to choose from, and the flowers spikes give a bit of movement. You could mix airier types like Miscanthus and Stipa with the aforementioned Phormiums.  They won't like sitting in heavy  soil so you'll need to spend a bit of time creating a good environment for all your plants first,  as you said. 

If you have other planted areas round the garden you could use some of the same plants to give a bit of unity. Repeat planting is very effective to link areas of the garden together. 

If the area on the left hand side is only 40cm then this will prohibited what size plant can go it to that space. If you did put a raised bed then you could have as assortment of plants that will give all round colour? I have a patio garden that has mondo black grass and euonymus harlequin. Both are evergreen and give out a striking colour match of lime green from the harlequin and obviously black from the mondo grass. Add a stone /pebble layer of white or slate to add another contrast.At the rear of the decking possibly a black bamboo, but plant it in its pot to restrict its growth. It will also screen off the fence  Nd will give you another sound in your garden when the wind runs through them

With regards  the heavy clay , add well rotted manure and loads of it . Break up the clods before adding the manure , then let  the worms do the rest 





Brilliant thanks. Definitely lots to think about. I like the idea of plants in front of the decking. Unfortunately the decking was there before we moved in so anything to improve it is great.

In terms of the climbers any particular ones? How long do they generally take to grow to get good coverage?


Regards your question about  climbing plants. It all depends on what you choose.Clematis could take a year or two to give you a good spread.Honeysuckle again possibly a year. Ivy can take some time to grow but is a evergreen and will completely cover a fence without trellis being required. The first 2 climbers will requires a sunny to part shade  position while the ivy will grow in dappled or deep shade and comes in various sizes of leaf

I would recommend a visit to your local garden centre and ask for them to give you some advice on climbers based on your garden requirements





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