Narrow bed between fence & pool decking

Lori BJuly 6, 2013

I'm looking for ideas on how to work with a narrow bed next to a fence.

We are building a pool, and pool builder just installed the concrete pool decking. (Grading and clean up has not happened yet) I wanted an 18" deep space between the fence and the pool decking so that I could plant small things -- liriope, lambs ear, cast iron plants, ferns, etc. The pool decking is 11" higher than ground (and bottom of cedar fence) at the maximum height. There is also a 3x3 deck cut out allowing me room for a bit larger plant.

The decking is tied into our underground drainage that goes to the street, through a 2" channel drain AND the part without a channel drain will drain into the 3x3 planter cut out.

I understand that raising the beds to the deck level will put dirt next to my fence and rot the wood. What other options do I have?

It seems like these may be my options:
1) Use some sort of metal edging or Trex on the fence
side. Raise beds to deck level or just below.

2) Plant at ground level and use taller plants that reach above the raised decking. This seems like it could be a potential hazard if anyone mis-steps off the deck and falls into the lower planter!

I hope this was not a bad idea. The pool company builds over 200 pools a year, and never said it would be a problem. I have had a bad initial experience with their sister company landscaper. So, we won't be using them for the landscaping part of the job.

3x3' bed cut out, going to 18" deep for approx 25'

Artist rendering of entire project.

Thank you for the feedback. I used Gardenweb extensively when building our home initially 3+ years ago.

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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I would fill it all with smooth, flat, fist-size river stones, and set a tall pot in the 3x3 cutout with a nice plant or three in it.

This post was edited by catkim on Sat, Jul 6, 13 at 17:53

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 5:52PM
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Door #2 ....

Plant vines there, with a short trellis at the edge of the drop-off as a safety barrier

Plant DENSE bushes that will overgrow the edge and keep feet away from the dropoff.

Line the edge of the dropoff with potted plants, or a bench, or something toi give a visual clue that something is there.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 7:42AM
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We seem to see a lot of examples on this forum where fences are used as retaining walls, in spite of the fact that the problems created in doing so--rotting of fence and pressure on the fence-- are evident from the onset. Filling the planting bed with plants or some material will make it seem as if the problem is solved, until the fence eventually succumbs. (In spite of that, I'm not suggesting against using that fix.) The real fix is a retaining wall whose elevation is equal to the pool deck, or a regrading, with a slope (on the other side of the fence) that is capable of supporting the pool deck ... and then the fence is placed on top of either of those. There is also going to be rot where the concrete deck abuts the fence and is caulked with some sort of sealant. This seems typical of the type of work one gets when the contractors (builders) are the designers.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 9:15AM
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Lori B

Thanks for the info and ideas! The stuff that looks like caulk at the fence line is really a 1/2" foam separator. They told me that they can remove it so there is a bit of a gap there. I hope that is enough room so the fence can breathe a bit.

As for plants -- would a bunch of cast iron plants be enough to fill the narrowest space? It is pretty shady there by the fence. I was trying to think of things that are narrow but taller!!

Fence guys are already coming out next week to build us another gate. Would there be any options on changing the fence at the bottom (i.e. cutting off the cedar part at bottom)? The fence posts are on our neighbor's side and installed just inside the property line, so not sure if we could have a small retaining wall built with bricks basically in line with fence posts??

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 10:10AM
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I was explaining--for the sake of posterity mostly--how the elements should be arranged. Maybe someone will see it before they create a similar circumstance. If the "foam" is removed, the 1/2" narrow gap is likely to be a place where crud collects and fills the gap again, but it would probably be better than having the gap sealed. You could physically have a retaining wall. It would need to be on your side of the property line and be approved by those-who-approve-such-things. But after you've gotten this far, it's not likely you want to tear things up or have the expense of doing so. It's more likely that you'll want to hide/solve the problem with plants. Cast iron would be a great form and size of plant to use. While it will brown in the winter, it will look good during the pool season. The plant does not like direct sun, so can be used only where you have sufficient shade.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:09AM
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Have someone build a planter box that is 11 inches deep and as long as you like. Put it in the canal. Grow as you wish. You need a separate box for the cut out.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 6:15PM
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Lori B

What does the group think about planting boxwoods tightly all in the 18" space, at ground level and letting them grow above the deck edge by 2 feet or so?

I have never owned cast iron plants, and I noticed yesterday the area does receive about an hour of afternoon sun, so those may be out of the question after further thought.

I also like the idea of planter boxes installed at ground level, or the area filled with fist sized river rocks and planters placed on top. I found some pots at Jackson Pottery that are about 15" w and 36" long. These could be perfect. Not sure how much they cost yet!!

A designer is going to help me this week think this through from a design standpoint. She usually does interiors, but she helped me with a front yard project that turned out beautifully with both of our ideas put together.

Thanks everyone!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 10:37AM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

A hybrid containing some of the answers above ;

install a beather board of trex adjacent to the fence.
dump in some smooth tumbled mexican pebbles or thai pebbles.
ontop of the pebbles place three stunning long rectangle pots - evenly staggered. plant with striking bold summer time foliage plants - canna pretoria would stand out against the dark color fence.

In the square opening plant directly in the ground with an architectural statured trunked small tree .

Check out the containers at Ore containers - they have a fun new LED lit rectangle planter.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 2:20PM
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