When it comes to enjoying your back deck or patio space sometimes privacy is needed to complete your space. This is especially true when houses are close to each other and you want your guest to be able to visit without outside distractions.
Planters on a railing are a great way to add privacy to a railing since they are fairly cost effective and can be made to fit on your rails. They can add height to a low railing which not only creates a barrier but also adds curb appeal and helps accent the space.
There are a few companies out there that specialize in making deck rail planters for privacy Some of these planters are designed to sit atop the rail and be screwed into the railing for securing while others are designed to hook over the railing and add more curb appeal and less privacy. In some instances a ground planter can be used with a tall trellis panel to accomplish the same effect, especially if a railing to attach to is not present.
In my own personal experience in the industry I have found that planters that hang over the rail are best for the fronts of homes. They add curb appeal and minimal privacy while encouraging a more open and inviting front for the house. The opposite seems to hold water for the back of a home where a deck is a place for hanging out with friends and family and having conversation. Having a slightly more private atmosphere to talk openly and interact can sometimes be more favorable and this type of setup works better.
To figure out how many planters you need and where to put them to maximize your privacy I recommend trying to simulate the setup by placing a cardboard box on top of the railing. Make sure the feel of the box there is right and you can use boxes or paper towel rectangles to help you get a feel of location, length, and spacing of where you want to put boxes.
Next consider what you will plant. Taller plants are great for privacy and while some flowers grow quite high they may be more seasonal and need changing out. Plants, rather than flowers, especially evergreens like dwarf conifers are in season year round and can grow quite high giving a more permanent and predictable barrier of privacy. To get a mix of privacy and curb appeal you can do a mix of conifers with flowers like geraniums or petunias which fill up a box mixed in with some sweet potato vines which grow extremely full and fast and do well over multiple season. During the late fall and winter seasons while flowers are beginning to die out you can work in some holiday decorations which can compliment a set of dwarf conifers quite nicely.
About the Author
Matthew Buquoi is the owner of Flower Window Boxes, a PVC window box company that specializes in custom railing planters and hanging rail planters.