As rewarding and versatile as a deck can be, sometimes its expanse of wood needs a splash of color to liven things up. Planters, built-in or standing free, are among the easiest -- and least expensive -- ideas for dressing up a deck and tying it in visually to the house and the rest of the landscape. Planters may be incorporated into a railing design at the top of a post, a column connecting sections, or as part of the railing itself. On a deck that sits close to the ground, planters can be grouped to follow the edge and give the area definition. They can be positioned to mark a stairway, denote a change in levels, and divide the deck into zones. On-grade decks can use the planter theme in yet another way, with openings cut into the deck floor to accommodate plants and allow them to root directly in the ground.
Planters bring more than color to a deck. With proper drainage and a little attention, annual and perennial flowers can provide fragrance and blooms over a long period. Vegetables and fruits that grow well in contained spaces, such as cherry tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries, can supply a bit of fresh summer produce. Even in winter, small berry-producing shrubs in a planter can add seasonal color and cheer.