Monthly Archives: October 2014

//October

Falling Leaves, Feeding Koi, and Other Pond Tips

Plants and Falling Leaves

“If you want to greatly diminish spring pond maintenance,” says Bill Renter, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, “now is the time to take a few steps to prevent too much debris from accumulating before winter sets in.”

 

Falling Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems:

Falling Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems:

To get some tips on how to protect our ponds, pond expert Dave Kelly at Aquascapes Inc. (St. Charles, IL) offers this advice:

“The best idea is to put up pond netting before the leaves fall,” he says. “But if you didn’t do that in time, you can use a long-handle pond net to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris.”

Ideally, put your net in place before leaves begin falling. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Value of Pond Netting: Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Pond netting is only needed for a short time and will save you countless hours come spring. Ideally, put your net in place before leaves begin falling. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc.

Kelly also suggests trimming back and removing dead foliage from aquatic plants to help remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature.

 

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Pond lilies are idyllic water plants. However, during early Fall, it’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.

 

 

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Since some debris will make it into your pond no matter how hard you work, Aquascape recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).  Dave Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

Caring for Pond Fish in Fall

You can — and should — plump up your darlings to survive winter hibernation, by gradually increasing how much you feed the as temperatures start to drop. When pond water gets below 59 degrees, use fish food made for cold water. As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.

Once temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Dave Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

 

 

Pond Fish in Fall

Pond Fish in Fall:

There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

 

Healthy Ponds Come Spring:

Healthy Ponds Come Spring:

Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall.

How Are You Using Fall’s Harvest For Outdoor Displays?

When it comes to Fall’s bounty, Mother Nature’s harvest — rich with gorgeous plants, fruits, vegetables and even berries — is perfect for decorating yards and front door entries.

For ideas in what makes the best outdoor displays, we spoke with horticulture buyer Alison Caldwell at Hicks Nurseries (Westbury, Long Island).

“Come Fall, it’s all about hardy mums, winter pansies, and ornamental grasses such as Maiden Grass or Fountain Grass,” she says. “Also, switch grasses start to set their seed heads about now and get a great Fall color.”

Caldwell adds that grouping interesting plants together in combo planters present a bigger punch of color and interest: beauties like Montauk daisies, with their white petals and yellow centers, hardy mums (also ideal for mass plantings on their own), and ornamental peppers. Of course, cabbages and kale are great options, which she says can last all through winter, if the weather isn’t too bad.

“Changing out your petunias or other summer annuals with Fall colors offers a great welcome at your front door,” says Caldwell. “Mums are ideal for this. It’s also common for people to decorate their mail posts with corn stalks or add hay bales around.”

Other tips: wheat sheaves can look great on an entry door, pumpkins in different colors can be mounded together in a planter on the veranda, or, if you’re crafty, you can make a wreath of small gourds and autumn berries for your door.

Post (here or on Facebook) your own ideas for using Fall’s harvest to decorate outdoors.

 

 

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Believe it or not, the pumpkin is not a vegetable — it’s a fruit, and a berry at that! Along with hardy mums in bright yellow, at Deck and Patio’s design center in Huntington Station, we’ve added lots of these Fall “berries” for pops of bright orange.

 

 

 

Fall Decorating-Mums the Word: (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Fall Decorating-Mums the Word: (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

At Hicks Nurseries, mums are on great display. Because of their hearty color, they catch the eye at a distance as well as close up. Consider grouping them in only one or two colors for the most impact.

 

 

Grouping Fall Plants: For this nice grouping, cabbage, deep red mums, and winter pansies make a bright, bold statement. (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Grouping Fall Plants: For this nice grouping, cabbage, deep red mums, and winter pansies make a bright, bold statement. (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

 

Decorating for Fall:

Decorating for Fall:

Outside our design center, we have waterfalls flowing from a stream. Deck and Patio added white, yellow and orange mums along its banks. The full bush of green leaves shown at the top of the yellow mums is a marginal aquatic plant — the clump-forming Iris Versicolor.

 

 

Ornamental Peppers (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Ornamental Peppers (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Aren’t these ornamental peppers beauties! Grown for their decorative value, although edible, they are rather lacking in flavor, as are the leaves and flowers of the deep red Celosia Cristata (aka cockscomb) behind them.

 

 

 

Cabbage and Kale (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Cabbage and Kale (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Believed to be one of the world’s healthiest foods, kale and its looser central leaves is really cabbage that doesn’t form a head. Ornamental kale is ideal for your Fall garden; with its sister cabbage, they reach their best color when it gets cold. Note: ornamental kale isn’t quite as tasty as the supermarket kind, so best leave it in the garden.

 

Have a great day!

Have a great day!

Wishing everyone happy gardening from The Deck and Patio Company, Huntington Station, NY!

 

 

 

For Fiery Fall Foliage: Are You Barking Up the Right Trees?

To get the lowdown on the best trees to plant for fiery Fall color, Deck and Patio spoke with Angelo Puleo, Nursery Division, Bissett Nursery (Holtsville, NY).

“One of the most popular and widespread deciduous trees that produces bright reds in autumn is the beautiful Maple tree,” says Puleo. “In particular, we recommend Sugar Maples, and, of course, Oaks for great Fall red color.”

Puleo also recommends the Cleveland Select Pear for robust color. Like the Oak and Maple, it is also hardy and can withstand most winds and storms, including ice storms —a real plus in our neck of the woods.

“In Spring, the Cleveland Select bursts awake in beautiful white flowers, and in the Fall, its leaves offer up a deep orange-y-red blaze of color,” he says. Another option is the Crape Myrtle tree, which, as Puleo admits, is not quite as brilliant as the other trees, but it does offer an attractive reddish-orange color. When the Crape Myrtle finishes flowering in the Fall, it also pods-up with berries, and attracts such delightful visitors as the Yellow-rumped Warbler, a sweet little visitor who feeds on these berries after insects are gone.

In addition, when it comes to smaller trees, Deck and Patio designers often consider Japanese Maples in landscaping plans; red-leafed versions of this beautiful tree offer degrees of red from Spring through Fall. Planting them in early Fall allows for new root growth in time for Spring.

Note: Be sure to ask experts at an established nursery or landscaping firm which variety of maple, etc. will produce red leaves in the Fall, as some varieties offer up a blazing yellow instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… that’s just for another blog post.

 

Red Maple in Fall: (Photo With Permission © by Jeff Dean)

Red Maple in Fall: (Photo With Permission © by Jeff Dean)

A beautiful shade tree in summer with brilliant color in autumn, the Red Maple can be planted any time of year, including Fall. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball, place it in the ground, and fertilize and water well, says Angelo Puleo of Bisset Nurseries.

 

 

Mighty Oak: (Photo With Permission: SimMaster)

Mighty Oak: (Photo With Permission: SimMaster)

The oak grows rapidly, making it an ideal choice. Like all the trees mentioned in this blog post, leave about 10 feet between each one when planting. Note: For those who keep horses, the oak’s acorn and leaves can be toxic to animals such as as horses.

 

 

Cleveland Select Pear Tree: (Photo With Permission: Ltshears/Photos of Flowers)

Cleveland Select Pear Tree: (Photo With Permission: Ltshears/Photos of Flowers)

This tree offers up three great seasons of leaves, white blossoms in Spring (shown here), lively green leaves in Summer, and bright reds in Fall.

 

 

Bradford Pear Tree: (Photo With Permission: Abrahami)

Bradford Pear Tree: (Photo With Permission: Abrahami)

A close cousin of the Cleveland Select Pear, the Bradford is pictured here as its leaves begin to turn from green to Fall-red.

 

Crape Myrtle Tree: Photo With Permission: Southern Lagniappe)

Crape Myrtle Tree: Photo With Permission: Southern Lagniappe)

The Crape Myrtle tree that thrives on Long Island is a hybrid of other Crape Myrtles that flourish in warmer climates such as the Southern United States. Clusters of pink blossoms appear in late spring (shown here) which are so delicate and crinkly they look like they are made of crape paper. In Fall, it showcases bright red-orange-y leaves.

 

 

Crape Myrtle Berries: (Photo With Permission: Forest & Kim)

Crape Myrtle Berries: (Photo With Permission: Forest & Kim)

In Fall, as they finish flowering, the leaves of the Crape Myrtle pod up into pretty berries.

 

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler: (Photo With Permission: Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Yellow-rumped Warbler: (Photo With Permission: Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Escaping the harsher winters up north, the Yellow-rumped Warbler makes a home in our area as Fall sets in. With insects less available, it loves to feast on Crape Myrtle berries. If you plant this tree, this little fellow — and some of his friends — will no doubt visit and stay awhile.

 

 

Japanese Maple:  (Photo With Permission: Wikipedia 松岡明芳)

Japanese Maple:  (Photo With Permission: Wikipedia 松岡明芳)

This beautiful Japanese Maple is native to Japan and other nearby Asian countries such as South Korea. It’s prized for the shape of its leaves and rich red color.

Backyard Slope Problem Solved By 3-Level Decking Design

Beautifully situated on a bay off the Atlantic, the backdoor of this home is set high above ground. In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, and his team divided the deck into three levels leading from the door, down to a new freeform vinyl pool and beautiful deck surround. Considering the vistas open to this home, maximizing them was an important factor in every part of our design.

Stepping out onto its first tier, a deep seating/lounge area offers panoramic views of the bay’s inlet. Sophisticated drama was added by framing the deck with attractive vinyl railing that doesn’t obstruct the view. Like the deck’s composite decking, the railing can last for years with little or no repair.

When we build a deck, we emphasize proper space planning in order to allow room for tables, chairs, barbecues, food pep areas and other features that make outdoor living enjoyable.

Bill thought that the particular decking we chose was also a good option to use around their pool because this manufacturer’s product provides a stable, firm, slip-resistant surface.

 

 

Multi-Level Deck:

Multi-Level Deck:

In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, our design called for three deck levels leading from the door down to a new freeform vinyl pool. From top tier, family can enjoy views of both the bay and pool.

 

 

Trex Composite Decking:

Trex Composite Decking:

The Trex composite decking we used is a composite fabrication that eliminates cracking, rotting or splitting. Trex requires no sealants because the composite materials are protected from UV rays; it also allows no damage from insects, water, or sun.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen:

Outdoor Kitchen:

Steps from the seating area, level two of this new deck offers a custom outdoor kitchen/eating area with a new grill, refrigerator, and smoker/cooker all set within curved custom cabinetry with raised bar that mimics the decking.

 

 

Vinyl Pool and Surround

Vinyl Pool and Surround:

The “tier three” pool and decking level was also designed to capture beautiful views of the inlet. The pool is vinyl-lined; our design/build team added a Long Island boulder wall in front of some plantings to increase the natural look of the pool area; we also added a large custom diving rock.

 

 

Closing Down Pools: What It Means to Have You Covered

With temperatures hovering close to 80 during September, summer has lingered here on Long Island. And while most have already closed their pools, a few diehards are squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of them. Most agree, however, that the time has come to close the pool down.

To the uninitiated, closing a pool takes a few steps, says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. To get a full picture of what’s involved, our team spoke with a pool contractor who works with Bill on a regular basis — Michael Truehart, CSB, owner of True Blue Swimming Pools in Deer Park.

“In climates like the Northeast,” says Michael, “the most important reason for closing a pool is pipes and other pool equipment can freeze in cold months. Part of what we do is administer a chlorine shock, or algaecides, or phosphate remover to the pool water. Then the pool/spa equipment is taken apart and cleaned, drained of water, and underground pipes are blown out so no water can freeze in them.”

Because our changing seasons cause a lot of falling twigs and leaves especially in the Fall, a pool cover is imperative, says Michael. “We don’t recommend a plain tarp cover that sags under the weight of rain collected on it. We suggest a mesh-type cover that allows rain to seep through it. This does require another step: lowering the pool water level to about 12-18 inches below the coping. Then, as rain water seeps through the mesh cover, the pool can accommodate it.”

Our own Bill Renter adds that he finds these mesh covers, such as the Loop Loc brand, are also important to help ensure that no one gains access to the pool when it’s unsupervised. The mesh covers are very taught he explains. “A plain tarp type cover that holds water on it will collapse if a pet or child walks on it. But mesh covers, with strong straps to hold them in place, allow for water to drain through into the pool.”

“These covers are so taught, they act almost like a trampoline,” confirms Michael.

 

Measuring for Pool Covers

Measuring for Pool Covers:

Installing and measuring a mesh pool cover that involves freeform shapes, waterfalls, etc., must be exact. A mesh cover is strong because its straps with tension springs are connected to anchors set in the patio. For this pool’s water feature area, stainless steel eyelets were drilled into rocks where a cable secures it.

 

 

 Pool/Spa Covers:


Pool/Spa Covers:

For this job, because of the number of rocks involved, a separate Loop Loc cover for the spillover spa was required. Also: installing a hose and cord under the cover permits pumping water out later should too much rain fill up the partially drained pool.

 

 

Pool Surrounds:

Pool Surrounds:

A bluestone area (with grass pepping through) forms part of this pool’s surround. In such areas where there is no hardscape to secure the necessary tension, little anchors are set into a pipe which, in turn, is set deep into the ground. To secure the pool around the grotto on the left — where the cover wraps inside it — the only way to install that was from in the pool on an inflatable raft.

 

 

Gravel Pool Surrounds

Gravel Pool Surrounds

Without strong patio masonry to grip, the pool cover straps and anchors for this pool are set in a pipe anchored into the gravel. For all these jobs, the pool contractor used “Image Loc,” a special measuring process where taking photos from several views are input into a computer which does the measuring. This system works much like forensic technology.