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10 Landscaping Ideas for Your Deck or Outdoor Living Space in Michigan

March 1st, 2023 | 4 min read

By Brian Taylor

Outdoor living area with stone mulch landscaping and stone steps

Building your new deck or outdoor living space is a significant undertaking that you’ll want to enjoy for years to come. However, once it's finished, you may feel like something is missing  - something that gives you that personal touch.

Good news! Adding even the smallest of landscaping features can significantly enhance the personalization of your outdoor area.

Whether you desire a personal oasis or something more subtle, you can elevate your space with limitless landscaping options.

Drawing on our 15+ years of experience designing beautiful outdoor living spaces, we’re here to inspire and help you refine the look of your outdoor space, adding an impression you can feel.

In this article, you’ll learn about ten landscaping ideas you can add to a new or existing deck or outdoor living space to beautify it and make it your own:

1. Liven up your space with flowers

Surrounding a deck or outdoor living space with flowers is a beautiful way to bring life and color to your home.

Flowers can help create a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere Designing with flowers can also emphasize the color palette you want for your space.

If you don’t want to replant every year, consider landscaping with perennials. They will regrow every spring and offer a habitat for wildlife such as bees, moths, and hummingbirds. After planting, perennials can be maintained with a small amount of care. 

If you want brightly colored or showy flowers and don’t mind getting your hands dirty planting every year, annuals are the better choice for you. These types of flowers need to be replanted each spring, but have unmatched hues and varieties.

Outdoor deck surrounded by beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees

2. Plant functional herbs & spices

A terrific idea many people don’t consider is landscaping with herbs and spices. Not only do these create a fragrant aroma, but they also provide a unique conversation piece that is sure to elicit the attention of your guests.

What better way to create a functional and beautiful space than by growing your own freshly picked ingredients to flavor your favorite dishes? 

Herbs and spices that grow well under normal Michigan conditions include:

  • Dill 
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Garlic
  • Thyme 
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano 
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary

Remember: If you're ever unsure of what to plant in your garden, consult a landscaper or other outdoor living professionals.

3. Spruce up your outdoor area with bushes or shrubs

Surrounding a deck or outdoor living space with bushes or shrubs is a great way to add texture, height, and privacy to your outdoor area.

Bushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from low and spreading to tall and upright, making it easy to find the perfect ones for your space.

bushes planted in an outdoor living area

Species that are particularly well-adapted to the variable conditions in Michigan are juniper and boxwood.

4. Create a beautiful water feature

Whether you want to add a small pond or a peaceful waterfall to your backyard, a water feature is a calming and relaxing landscape option you may want to consider.

Some water features will require a permit to add to your outdoor space. Consult the services of a landscape architect to understand the local regulations that pertain to your property.

small waterfall in a backyard area

5. Lay down functional designs with brick pavers

Brick pavers are a great way to enhance the design and function of your outdoor living space. Available in various shapes, sizes, and colors, the only limit to what you can create in your backyard with brick pavers is your imagination.

Brick pavers can be used to create spaces like this beautiful fire pit or walkway:

firepit surrounded by brick paver design

Typically, a brick paver design like the one in the image does not require a building permit. However, each municipality’s rules are different. Contact your local building department to see what is required for your desired design.

6. Highlight your trees or plants with planter boxes

Constructing planter boxes around your trees and plants is a terrific way to create an aesthetic appearance in your outdoor space.

Usable for trees, flowers, plants, and bushes, planter boxes are a versatile landscaping element that works well with most outdoor living and deck spaces.

Tree inside planter box

7. Feel secure with privacy hedges

Whether your goal is privacy from neighbors or peace of mind while relaxing, adding some privacy hedges around your deck or outdoor living space will accomplish this goal.

In Michigan, with warm summers and cold winters, selecting the right species of hedge is important. 

The green giant arborvitae is an excellent hedge that is well-suited for Michigan’s variable climate.

privacy hedges surrounding a patio

As a quick-growing hedge, the green giant arborvitae reaches maturity fast. With proper trimming, this hedge will quickly achieve the desirable "walled off" appearance. 

Trimming a privacy hedge

8. Brighten your outdoor space with lights

When it comes to adding lights to your outdoor space, you have many options. 

Whether you are looking to emphasize specific elements in your backyard, or simply make it easier to use your patio at night, there are a variety of outdoor lighting options available to fit your needs.

This is the perfect way to illuminate your outdoor kitchen with functional lighting to help you see what you're preparing or cooking.

outdoor lights installed around decks and outdoor living spaces

9. Use stones as a walkway or stone mulch

Stones are an incredibly versatile landscaping material for your outdoor living space.

Some design ideas include using flagstones to create a walkway around your deck or replacing wood mulch around your plants with a granite, lava rock, quartz, or pea gravel.

stone mulch

10. Transplant trees to bring shade to your outdoor space

If your deck or outdoor space doesn’t have ample shade during the hot summer months, adding trees is a great long-term solution.

Planting a small tree is a relatively easy process that in a few years will surround your deck with expanding shade and make your space feel cooler.

There are many species of trees that can be transplanted. Your local garden store or nursery can provide you with guidance on which trees will be most suitable and beautiful for your space.

Trees surrounding an outdoor deck

Next steps for adding landscaping around your deck or outdoor living space

Using these inspiring ideas will turn your dull outdoor space into one with a personalized look, and feel.

Whether you simply plant flowers to add some color or install a complex water feature to your outdoor space, the only limit to what you can create with landscaping elements is your imagination.

As a Mid-Michigan outdoor living space and deck builder, we have over 15 years of experience designing beautiful spaces. We are confident you will find inspiration among these ideas to create an outdoor space you will enjoy for years with your loved ones. 

outdoor living space remodeling services contractors custom built lansing michigan

Now that you know how to transform your outdoor space, learn more about popular deck design features, eye-catching structures, and whether Trex Composite Decking is the right material for your project:

Brian Taylor

Brian brings 20+ years of experience in the home remodeling industry to the table. He’s worked with families in all areas of whole home performance (science-backed solutions for home health, safety, comfort, and efficiency), residential renewable energy, conservation, foundation, and hydrostatic issues and solutions.