Vegetable Garden on a Deck – 11 Tips for Growing Vegetables on a Patio

Vegetable gardening is one of the great pleasures of the summer months for many gardeners. But for many of us, space does not allow a full outside garden.  In cases like this, try growing a vegetable garden on a deck.  So many vegetables can be grown in large planters and having the garden so nearby makes this much easier to manage.

Even in a small space, you can grow lots of different vegetables and get a great harvest for your efforts. There is nothing quite like making meals with vegetables that you have grown yourself.  Read on to see how I manage this task right outside my back door.Growing a vegetable garden on a deck is a great way to go if you don't have much garden space

This vegetable gardening post is brought to you by Gilmour. The content and opinions expressed below are my own.  The Gardening Cook is a participant in the Amazon Affiliate Program. This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.  

Vegetable garden problems can be hard to troubleshoot and getting a good harvest is sometimes difficult.  These tips for gardening in containers eliminates many of these problems that start in the soil.

Tips for Growing a Vegetable Garden on a Deck

I have gone back and forth in my mind about my vegetable garden. Two years ago, I had a 1000 square foot garden filled with vegetables. Alas, the squirrels made it their mission to eat the entire crop almost down to the last vegetable. (read about that disaster here.) Last year, I transformed that garden into a perennial vegetable garden. None of the vegetables produced much and the tomatoes were a disaster.

Not being a person to be defeated by critters or diseased plants, I persevered! This year I am growing an entire vegetable garden on a deck just steps from my family room.

I have teamed up with a new sponsor, Gilmour. They have a wide range of products for your gardening needs, including pruning tools, watering products and a great variety of garden hoses. They are a trusted and reliable brand with decades of American heritage. One of their products which is of special interest to me is their Flexogen hose.Flexogen hose

You simply cannot beat Flexogen hoses. They have so many wonderful features:

  • It has been proudly made in the USA for over 40 years and has a lifetime warranty.
  • It is perfect for any type of homemaker, especially those, like me, who put their tools to the ultimate test and expect them to really last.
  • The Flexogen hose is an unbeatable combination of quality, flexibility and durability.
  • And it is the only 8 layer hose on the market with a one-of-a-kind patented construction (many other hoses are made with only six layers.) With these features, it is easy to see why the Flexogen hose is the longest-lasting and most durable hose in its class.

Gilmour provided me with both their Flexogen hose and a great spray nozzle to test for them this summer. I am delighted to let my readers know about the quality of their tools and how well they work for me and to give you an opportunity to see the garden tools in action.Gilmour garden nozzle

I decided to put the hose and nozzle to a test in my deck garden. My whole deck will be home to both vegetables and flowers this summer. This summer the squirrels and rabbits will not defeat me!  (That is my new mantra – I repeat it daily!) I am bringing the garden up close and personal, as they say.

All of the vegetables are growing in very large pots and planters. I figure that I will be able to keep an eye on the critters and keep the plants in tip top condition. So far, it is working pretty well. 11 tips for growing a vegetable garden on a deck

Vegetable Deck Garden Tips

I have the a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers in pots growing on my deck. Flowers and herbs are easy, since they are small. Growing vegetables in containers instead of in the ground does mean that some adjustments must be made.  Here are a few things to consider.

Which Vegetables Should I Grow?

You may wonder what you can grow in your deck garden planters.  The answer is pretty much anything that you can grow in soil in the ground.  There may be a few exceptions. (watermelons and other types of melons would be a challenge as would corn, but most other vegetables will do just fine.)Small Deck garden

The real choice is your own. What do you like to eat?  Grow those! I am growing these vegetables:

  • Tomatoes (determinate, indeterminate and cherry tomatoes)
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Turnips
  • Swiss Chard
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Spring Onions
  • Bush Beans – two kinds of bush beans (both yellow and green) I have heirloom climber beans growing in an outside garden bed, but guess who chomped them all yesterday? Hint. He hops, has a long tail and loves carrots (and obviously, beans!)

Don’t forget the herbs!

Kitchen garden herbs add so much flavor to the recipes that you will be making with all those vegetables. Be sure to have some room for them, too!Herb Garden on a Deck

Herbs grow especially well in containers.  I have always grown them, and just LOVE having them right outside my back door. Every night when I cook, it’s just a matter of taking some kitchen shears and snipping off the ones I need to use for that night’s recipe. These are the herbs that I am growing now:

More Tips and Tricks for a Vegetable Garden on a Deck

Watering

Be sure your pots are within easy reach of your watering system. The beauty of a garden on a deck is that the water tap is generally quite near by.  You won’t have to worry about drip irrigation or soaker hoses.  With the pots in a confined area, you can just walk around with the hose and give them all a soak in just minutes a day.Watering the garden on a deck is easy

Growing the vegetables in pots also makes it easier for me to keep the water off the leaves. I can walk on the lawn around the edge of the deck, and the pots seem almost like raised garden beds. I can get the water right to the roots where it belongs.

I love my hose set up! It is within about 10 feet of my water source and this makes it super easy to get just the right amount of water to the veggies. I have a corner near the deck where I keep the hose, and it’s ready to go when I am ready to water. The whole watering procedure of the garden from start to finish takes about 10 minutes at the most!

Size of the pots

In the ground, vegetables have loads of room to spread out. Garden pots contain the roots but still need to give the vegetables plenty of room to grow.  Be sure to use pots that will accommodate the size of the plant you want to grow. There is no way a 5+ foot tomato plant will grow in a 5 gallon pot. It needs room for the roots! Think of the final size of the plant when you choose the pot.Use large pots for your deck garden design

Small plants like lettuce and radishes will do just fine in long and narrow planters.  For larger vegetables, err on the larger size for pots. You won’t go wrong, I promise. Bigger pots mean that the plants will need less water and will grow larger, as well. Consider using 12 inches at the smallest and up to 24 inches or larger for the biggest ones, such as tomato plants.

Work area

Have a small potting area nearby. I take cuttings of my tomato plants for new plants later in the year and start my seedlings right on my deck. I have a large tiered garden stand that sits against the wall of my patio and it doubles as a stand to hold both my plants and some supplies.

I love having seedlings and cuttings so close – It is a great way to increase my harvest and have plants ready for succession planting when the time is right. This stand is just a few steps from my table that doubles as a work station when I am potting.Garden deck work area

You won’t want to be trudging back and forth to the shed all the time for tools that you’ll use daily. You’ll be glad to have pots and tools nearby as the summer progresses

Some things to keep close:

  • Garden wand (especially if you grown any plants in hanging baskets (some tomato plants and strawberries do well in these.)
  • Garden trays for seeds
  • Small pots to transplant seedlings
  • All purpose vegetable fertilizer or a bucket of compost.
  • Set of garden tools for tending the plants and weeding

Room to Tend to the vegetables

Be sure you have room, either outside the deck or near the pots, for plant maintenance. You will want to inspect, water and tend to them easily without moving furniture. I find it very relaxing to just walk around the perimeter of my deck, watering, pulling out the odd weed and inspecting the vegetables for pests.

I have a very large deck which measure about 14 x 25 feet. It has ample room for seating, dining, a potting area and a BBQ area, PLUS the vegetable garden and several areas for flowers. It is amazing, what can be grown on a deck, isn’t it?Growing vegetables on a patio

One of the beauties of gardening in containers is that you will have far less in the way of pests than one normally does in a garden in the ground.  I can even sit in a comfy chair to do my tending. (So much better than leaning over and pulling weeds from the ground!)

Plant Supports

Even though your vegetables are going to be growing in containers, some will still need supports.  Use stakes and climbing supports for the plants to use as they grow.  I put my stakes in with the seedlings so as not to disturb the roots later.

Tomatoes, especially, need supports, or they will get too top heavy. I just use one long plant stake pushed all the way to the base of the pot at planting time. Pieces of nylon stockings keep the plant attached and can be added as it grows.Tomatoes need supports in a deck container garden too.

There are many things to use for support for cucumbers and beans. (I used pieces of old garden wire fencing. I just poked them into the earth and they allow beans to climb and supports for cucumbers, too!)

Should you use Plastic vs Terra cotta?

I have both, and they work just fine.  One thing to consider is that terra cotta pots will need more watering because of their porous nature. Also they are heavier than plastic so the choice is yours if water conservation and the weight of the pots are important factors to you.

Color of pots

Very dark or black pots will absorb the heat, so lighter colors work better and will need less watering and be gentler on the roots of the plants.  I like to have my pots coordinated in color. I chose both green and a terra cotta color.

Remember that the garden will be very visible when you are entertaining or eating on the deck during the summer, so an eye pleasing color choice is important.

Soil for the vegetables

The soil that you use needs to be well draining, and soil made especially for containers will give the best results. Don’t just go out in the garden and dig up plain garden soil.  Soil made for containers is enriched and will give you better results.

I have a compost pile in my garden and make it a habit to add a few scoops of compost to every pot so that I don’t have to worry too much about fertilizing the vegetables.

How to get started

You can plant your own seeds or start with store bought plants for deck gardens. Seeds are much cheaper but need to be started earlier, perhaps indoors, so that they will be ready when the warm weather hits.  Store bought plants are ready to put into the containers when you are ready to get going on your deck garden.Seeds or established plants both work for deck gardens

Water first before you plant. The seeds will get a better start and the seedlings won’t be stressed when they are transplanted.

Good tools make for a better garden

Hopefully, you will have winterized your tools last fall so that they are ready this spring. Think ahead to what you might wish to purchase this year if you don’t have many. You won’t need many tools.  A small garden rake and hoe in a basket nearby will work for both tending and harvesting the vegetables.Basket with garden tools

Having the right tools on hand can make all the difference. There is no substitute for good garden tools. They last so much longer than cheap imitations and save you money in the long run by providing excellent use for years to come!

Enjoying Deck Gardening

My deck has room for two seating areas – one is a cozy place for afternoon drinks. It overlooks my newest flower garden bed and also my test garden and we spend a lot of time sitting there.

Relaxing near the deck vegetable garden

The other area has a large table and umbrella set up for home barbecues and guests. Even with those two areas, there is still a load of space left for containers.

Don’t forget to add some flowers to your deck garden

Flowering plants soften up the look of the deck vegetable garden and also attract beneficial pollinators.  Even with all my vegetables, there is still plenty of room for flowers on my deck too. After all, what is a garden without flowers?Flowering plants on a step ladder plant stand

This vintage circular stair case plant stand winds around and holds 6 potted flower plants in one small footprint. Add in the bird cage planter and the plants at the foot and there are 10 flower pots in a 3 foot space. Gardening on a deck just means thinking outside the box!

Who says you need a large yard for a big flower and veggie garden? This vegetable garden on my deck shows that this is not the case. I harvested vegetables all summer long and they tasted just fabulous.

Thank you to Gilmour for my Flexogen hose and gentle power wand. These are available for sale at Amazon,  local home improvement store or many garden centers.

11 tips for deck vegetable garden planters

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to have a look at the transformation of what used to be my vegetable garden last year.  I have changed this area into a wonderful Southwest themed garden bed.

Have you ever tried to grow a vegetable garden on a deck in containers? What were your results? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Admin note: This post first appeared on my blog in April of 2015. I have updated the post to add new photos and additional tips and information for helping you with your DIY deck garden project.


  24 comments for “Vegetable Garden on a Deck – 11 Tips for Growing Vegetables on a Patio

  1. Carol
    05/29/2015 at 10:58 am

    Looking Good! I’ve grown both regular and cherry tomatoes in large pots with great results! I think the right planting medium and fertilizer will be the key.

    • admin
      05/29/2015 at 11:08 am

      Hi Carol. So far, so good. I didn’t have luck with tomatoes last year either in the garden or in pots, but they are all looking great this year. knock on wood! Carol

  2. 05/30/2015 at 10:12 am

    With all the critters around here too I think I’ll have to go this route if I want any veggies at all. Thanks for the tips!

    • admin
      05/30/2015 at 10:18 am

      Hi Lynne. I have had both rabbits and squirrels in the part of my garden that is in the beds and they have done damage, but the worst that I have seen on the deck is a caterpillar that went to town on my radishes. Carol

  3. 05/30/2015 at 1:27 pm

    I love these ideas! I can never seem to create a good work area, in the right place.

    • admin
      05/30/2015 at 9:23 pm

      Thanks Evelyne. It really is working out very well for me. The table has some great shade too, which makes it perfect for the hot days.
      Carol

  4. Clare
    06/20/2015 at 2:51 am

    I had a squirrel eat my geranium buds in a pot right next to the deck railing. Lesson learned, don’t provide an easy seat for critters to get to your deck plants. Pull the pots out of their reach! I can’t keep them off my deck, but this one never set foot on my deck.

    • admin
      06/20/2015 at 10:35 am

      Hi Clare. So far this year, both the squirrels and the rabbits are leaving my deck vegetables alone. I have one group of pole beans in the garden but they found those and chomped away on them. Knock on wood!
      Carol

  5. Nick
    08/04/2015 at 6:39 pm

    Hi this year i planted to late but i tried to grow cantaloupe in 5 gallon buckets they bloomed great at first but I live in Houston Texas and it gets hot here quick and they never fruited and died. Can you give me a time when i should start and is it possible to container grow them?

    • admin
      08/04/2015 at 7:33 pm

      Hi Nick. I have not had much luck with any melons, so I don’t bother with them, but I think from memory they need 120 days and don’t do too well in the hot hot weather. Growing them in a container would be a challenge. They need a lot of room to roam around. I do have some sort of melon plant that was a hitchhiker this year. It just started growing in my tomato container, but it now takes up four larger planters and is still growing. Carol

  6. Pingback: 7 Summer Gardening Tips for Beginners | InGardens
  7. Sondra
    02/14/2016 at 10:18 am

    I had a big problem with ratseating my green tomatoes. After I killed or trapped 11, I never saw them again. This year(feb.) I have already killed 1. I hope It won’t be as bad as last year. If anyone has a problem with rats, I tried everything!!-even human hair. Nothing works except rat traps. So save your time and just get the traps.

    • Carol
      02/14/2016 at 10:27 am

      My problem was squirrels. Critters love vegetables, so it is hard to keep them away!
      Carol

  8. Pam
    04/12/2016 at 1:39 pm

    Great post! Where did you buy the square pots?

    • Carol
      04/12/2016 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Pam. I bought mine at Home Depot. They changed the color the second year I needed some, but I think they still carry them. Carol

  9. 04/24/2017 at 7:18 am

    I really appreciate the insight here in this post and confident it’s going to be helpful to me and many others. Thanks for sharing all the information and useful tips.

  10. Nancy
    07/04/2017 at 2:14 pm

    What about your wood deck though? I don’t see any saucers under your pots. Won’t your deck start to rot?

    • Carol
      07/04/2017 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Nancy. I’ve had it set up this way for several years now and it shows no sign of rotting. Most of the pots are extra large size and even with heavy watering, they don’t drain out much. I can see where they have been sitting when I move the pots but there is no sign of them rotting. The rest of the deck gets rained on and the boards have been treated. Carol

  11. Pol Bishop
    09/25/2017 at 6:24 am

    Having pots of light and dark colours for the sake of quick or slow drying time, that’s genius. Naturally everybody wants water to evaporate more slowly from their plants, but I just never put into consideration the colour of the pots. In this case when you’re making a potted garden it matter a whole lot.

  12. Sherry
    03/03/2018 at 1:56 pm

    With this type of garden on the deck, do you drill holes in the bottom on those long rectangle plastic ones? How does it drain otherwise? Thanks

    • Carol
      03/03/2018 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Sherry. Yes, all of the pots have drainage holes in the bottom. If you are worried about the deck surface, one year, instead of placing the pots ON the deck, I surrounded the deck with the pots. This worked very well too. Carol

  13. sug
    04/24/2018 at 12:52 pm

    i have a fabric raised garden bed on the deck.Should i place anything underneath the fabric bed to protect the deck?

    • Carol
      04/24/2018 at 2:21 pm

      I did not worry about the deck underneath my pots. I figure that it rains on the deck anyway, so there would be not that much more water on it. A plastic liner under the raised bed would give an added layer of protection to the deck if you feel that you want this. Carol

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