The use of planters instead of fences can sometimes be a cost effective and easy solution to completing a deck. In many instances I have worked with clients that needed to put something on their front porches to create a barrier but didn't want a full fence or railing. Usually these are front porches where the client plans to spend some time sitting and want to keep the front open to view and interact with neighbors or strangers walking by.
I find this setup with long rectangular planters to be very useful between columns especially. One of my clients had a back low deck facing the ocean and it was very important for them to be able to sit on the back deck and see the ocean and sunsets so we were able to use long, low 12" tall planters that spanned the deck to accomplish this.
In addition to working with home patios, this ideas extends as well to businesses. A planter is a low height solution to filling a deck area where visibility is still wanted, but a boarder is needed to block the space off from either tripping or falling. As a rule of thumb I recommend a planter that is 18" or taller in a commercial location for tripping reasons. Some codes in different states will let you use planters as a barrier near a fall zone but may require planters to be at least 24" in height for safety reasons.
About the Author
Matthew Buquoi is the owner of Flower Window Boxes, Inc. a custom PVC planter company specializing in building planters for any outdoor living space.