Monthly Archives: October 2015

//October

Aquascape Water Gardens: The Appeal of Koi Ponds

Pond lovers are familiar with Aquascape as the leading water garden innovator in North America, so we were more than flattered when, in early May, our own Bill Renter was invited to do a guest blog on koi ponds for their web site. In case you missed it, we’re sharing it today.

Koi Ponds – For the Child in Us All  

By Bill Renter, Outdoor Living Expert

“Growing up, I was what they call today a ‘free-range’ kid. Like most children back then, I was free to explore the outdoors on my own and interact with nature.

Things are different today. Parents and child caretakers are far more cautious about letting children wander on their own. This is one reason, I believe, why koi ponds have skyrocketed in appeal. Through them, Mother Nature’s best experiences are brought right to our own backyards.

For sure, kids love watching and feeding colorful pond fish. Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand. And since it’s better to feed them in small amounts throughout the day, pretty much any time the kids are free, it’s a good time for the koi, too.

Backyard ponds attract other wildlife that children love: frogs, salamanders — basically any amphibian that lay their eggs in or near water. Plus birds will flock there, including song birds.

However, predatory birds like heron may be attracted to the koi. There are steps you can take to dissuade them, like netting, decoys, and electronic scarecrows with sensors that spray water when they catch movement. Also, thoughtful landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water. And from the outset, having the right depth of water in the pond (no less than 24″) is key to keeping heron at bay.

My favorite koi ponds are the larger ‘swimming ponds.’ Children can snorkel in these and get up face to face with the fish. For swimming, you want clean water, so I’d recommend not overstocking your pond. You don’t want more fish waste than can be reasonably absorbed by aquatic plants and the pond’s bog filtration system.

Now while there are a few things to consider, with a little care, koi ponds are ideal to bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, I can’t resist a swim.

So I say … go ahead … be a ‘helicopter’ parent or grandparent, and hover over the kids. With a backyard koi pond, kids aren’t missing out on much at all.”

 

Pond Fish:

Pond Fish:

Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand.

 

Good Pond Design:

Good Pond Design:

Well designed landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water.

 

Swimming Ponds:

Swimming Ponds:

Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Useful Pond Koi:

Useful Pond Koi:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; in this Deck and Patio-designed pond, the koi have lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

 

How To Determine The Best Hot Tub To Buy

Ever wonder how to determine the best hot tub to buy? Deck and Patio is pleased to share our blog page today with guest blogger Danielle Adams — a freelance writer with expertise in the hot tub experience. Enjoy!

 

By Danielle Adams

You’re ready to buy a hot tub, but do you know what kind of hot tub you want? Hot tubs are an investment and before taking the plunge, you want to choose one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Finding the perfect size, jetting configurations, and seating layout that fit within your budget can vary and provide different benefits.

As you do your due diligence to decide which hot tub is the best one for you, here are a few things to consider.

Bullfrog-1-525x356Hot Tub Vs. Spa

During your research, you’ve probably run into these two terms interchangeably: “hot tub” and “spa.” But is there a difference between the two? Not really, but this is a common question that gets brought up.

Although these two terms have indicated to different things in the past; today they are considered to be the same thing— a portable tub of water with integrated heating and jetting. The terms have emerged because hot tubs were typically built from wood, in the form of large whiskey barrels or wine casks. Whereas spas were more permanent pools of hot water where people would go for the healing properties of  hydrotherapy.

close-up-of-LIHT-spa-wjet-paks-525x348Use and Size

What is the purpose of your hot tub? If you know what you are planning on using your hot tub for—neighborhood parties or relaxation with your spouse—you can better decide which size is your best option. Hot tubs come in a wide range of styles and sizes, but some sizes are not always equal to capacity. As you look closer into hot tubs, make sure to look at both the dimensions and capacity.

To get a better idea of what size spa will best fit your lifestyle, consider the maximum number of people who will use the spa on a more regular basis.Then think about the maximum number of people who will ever use the spa, and aim for a nice balance between those two numbers.

While you determine the ideal size for you, take the actual spa size, external dimensions, internal space, water capacity and depth into consideration. Also, measure the spa location at your home to verify the spa will fit in the area you are planning on having it installed.

# 3Construction

Many high quality spas are created with a durable acrylic shell material. The acrylic material ensures you have a scratch resistant surface that is resistant to moisture, chemicals, and the elements, especially in the long run.

When deciding on the best hot tub, look at what is underneath. Some hot tubs are still constructed with the same mentality of the 1970s and 80s with wood framing. We’ve come a long way since then and, with the improvement in hot tub materials, there are more precise methods and other composite material to ensure you get the best, most efficient product with less chance of error. Check out Bullfrog Spas manufacturing process by KSL.

Energy Efficiency

Going green is a popular trend right now and with good reason. Who doesn’t want to help the environment and save money? As you consider the various hot tub options, it’s important to chose one that is well-insulated, well-designed, and is energy-efficient to help you save on monthly operating costs.

The first thing to look at is insulation. Hot tubs of higher quality have a full foam insulation feature to prevent heat from escaping. Check the California Energy Commission (CEC) to see if your hot tub meets or exceeds the energy guidelines. Also, look at the spa cover to verify it is well made, insulated, and fits over the spa for maximum energy conservation.

In addition to the installation, added energy savings can be found in the plumbing. The plumbing design can have huge impact on energy costs. How so? More plumbing equals more exposure to environmental elements which can lead to friction and more energy being used to pump water to the jets.

Investing in a hot tub takes time, but you want to make sure you choose the best one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Take the time to ask the right questions, do the research, sit in various models, and find the one that you can feel most comfortable in. A hot tub can provide lasting benefits and enjoyment for years to come—if you choose the best one today.

Bullfrog Spas has created an easy, step-by-step guide to help you select and design the best spa model for you.

 

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with http://www.bullfrogspas.com/. When she’s not writing, Danielle enjoys learning more about design, rearranging her house, and spending time with friends.

 

 

 

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:36+00:00 October 22nd, 2015|Bullfrog Spas, Outdoor Living, Portable Hot Tubs|0 Comments

Fall Pond Maintenance: ‘Netting’ the Leaves Fall Where They May

“Fall foliage will soon be at its peak here on Long Island and many backyard ponds are located near an abundance of these deciduous trees,” says Bill Renter, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert. “Even when not immediate to your pond, fallen leaves from nearby trees can make it into your pond. So you’ll want to use a pond net to keep them from accumulating in your stream or pond’s water.”

Indeed, undesirable debris can create a build up of muck on the bottom of your pond and change the water’s pH balance, turning the water murky. For one thing, during winter when the water is colder, the natural bacteria that usually maintains the pond’s balance isn’t active enough to handle it all.

“It’s best to put up the netting before the leaves drop; however, if some leaves have already fallen in, a long-handle pond net can be used to scoop out the debris before covering it with the net,” says Bill.

Dave Kelly at Aquascapes Inc. (St. Charles, IL) adds that you can tent the net, so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves.

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.

“When spring comes, you’ll be really happy you took the time to do these few steps,” says Bill. “You’ll have greatly diminished spring pond maintenance, which means you’ll be enjoying a pristine pond sooner — with so much less effort.”

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

 

Installing Pond Netting:

Installing Pond Netting:

Aquascape’s Dave Kelly suggests tenting the net so it won’t sag into the pond when its full of leaves.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Preparing Backyard for Fall:

Preparing Backyard for Fall:

Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful to put up pond netting to collect debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

 

Pond Maintenance:

Pond Maintenance:

If you take a few precautions in the fall, come spring you will be delighted at how much less maintenance will be required in order to have clear pristine water.

 

 

 

Backyard Water Features in Fall:

 

 

Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

 

 

2015 APSP Int’l Awards: Deck and Patio Sweeps Water Features Category

“When the voice of the pool and spa industry — The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) — awards your company all its top honors in a category, it is an amazing achievement,” says Bill Renter, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Indeed, winning Gold, Silver and Bronze for our water features  — and to be the only company to win in this category — not only makes us proud, but it is a testimony to the wonderful team we have at Deck and Patio.

Having done over 300 ponds/waterfalls on Long Island alone, Deck and Patio is known locally as experts in this field. “However, when you receive the only Gold medal awarded to a water feature in an international competition, you admit to yourself, ‘Yes, we are doing things right.”

Bill adds that APSP is a wonderful gathering place for industry professionals to learn from each other.

“I am continually amazed at what some of our fellow professionals come up with. This year, I noted sleek designs for pools, for example. On the surface they seemed clean and simple, but they required a high degree of engineering expertise.”

One such design was for a perimeter-overflow swimming pool where the water level was the same height as the patio.

“Usually, the water is six inches below its surroundings,” says Renter. “An overflow means there’s actually a little channel around the perimeter catching the water. These pools create lovely reflections of their surroundings, as well as providing a clean modern look. Again, they are extremely complicated, but they look very simple. This really impressed me.”

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

The waterfalls we created to flow over rocks in this water feature are not just for beauty; they aerate the 23  by 16,  2-foot-deep pond, keeping it from becoming stagnant. In addition to aquatic plants in and around the pond, the landscaping included bright plantings. We added colorful koi, plus the pond attracts other desirable wildlife for a blissful backyard escape that is a delight for all the senses.

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

We also added stepping stones across this same pond, which make it possible to go from their new deck out into the yard — in a way that contributes to the overall restful experience of the water feature. The stones’ irregularity and careful placement create an element of what the ancient Japanese called the ‘contemplative world.’

 

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Even though they live in a bustling, high-traffic part of New York City, this client wanted her children to experience the same interaction with nature that she had as a child. For them we designed/built a complete backyard playground oasis: a swimming pond with a beach-style entry and a water feature with three waterfalls.

 

 Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Instead of using any chemicals, to keep the pond healthy through a natural eco-system, we used all Aquascape Inc. equipment and components. We also constructed the shallow pond as a deeper koi pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel; when the children are older, this can be removed, leaving only the liner, to create a full-sized koi pond providing an entirely different experience for the children.

 

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

These clients wanted a spillover spa, but so they could enjoy it all year, they wanted it separate from the pool. To provide the look they wanted, along with year-round use, we built a Bullfrog Spas portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it.

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

We also added a moss rock waterfall just beneath the hot tub that spills into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, this waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground concrete spillover spa.

 

 

 

Fall Planting Tips: Color Interest for All Seasons

The color and the delicacy of flowers inspire us in every season. As winter fades, for example, even when leaves haven’t yet appeared on the trees, blasts of color from Crocuses, Daffodils, and Tulips lift our spirits.

The best time to plant the bulbs that will raise up such spring glory is just around the corner — late October to early November. However, you might want to first ensure there’s color and textural interest right now.

For tips on how to ensure color for all seasons, Deck and Patio’s own Marc Wiener, ASLA, Director of Sales and Construction, offers some key planting tips:

 

Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Plant:

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

Fall is the ideal time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials when floras slowly begin their dormancy process. “They require less watering because the temperatures are cooler during the day and overnight,” says Marc.

“In addition, watering is typically less because they are using less energy to push foliage and roots; although the first two weeks are critical to ensure they get proper watering to ‘heal’ themselves in for the winter.”

 

Adding Fall Annual Color Interest Right Now

Hardy Mums outside The Deck and Patio Design Center

Hardy Mums outside The Deck and Patio Design Center

 

Decorative Peppers (Photo Hicks Nursery)

Decorative Peppers (Photo Hicks Nursery)

“Many of us use annuals to provide color when certain plants are no longer in bloom,” says Marc.  “Kale, Cabbage, Decorative Peppers, Mums, Cyclamen, etc. are great color producers for fall and will last well into several frosts before dying back to the ground.”

Marc adds that it’s important to add compost to these plants so they get plenty of food while they are blooming. If you are planting cold hardy mums, they require water every other day as they have profuse flowers and use up a lot of energy and will require additional watering if there’s isn’t sufficient rainfall.

 

Housekeeping Your Plants

Photo: Berkshire Botanical Garden http://bit.ly/1KWYPW2

Photo: Berkshire Botanical Garden http://bit.ly/1KWYPW2

“Early fall is also a good time to prune your plants,” says Marc. “Be careful not to prune too late into the fall as frost can damage the stems that have been cut if they haven’t calloused over — inadvertently causing the tree and/or shrub to not bloom or have significant die back.”

 

Planting Bulbs in Fall for a Beautiful Spring

Parrot Tulips

Parrot Tulips

Bulbs are a inexpensive solution in providing very early color in your garden beginning in early March through late mid-June.

“The best time for planting bulbs is late October, early November,” says Marc. “Bulbs, such as Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Allium, Crocus, Lilies, etc. all add their own unique color, texture, height, sun and shade tolerance; and some have fragrance (i.e. – Hyacinths),”  says Marc.

He adds that how you install bulbs is probably the most important aspect of ensuring they flower in the following spring. “Each type of bulb has it’s own specified planting depth and spacing. It is extremely important that you follow this rule (see following depths) — if not, the bulbs will not flower or may not leaf out. In addition, the pointy tip of the bulb must be planted straight up; otherwise the bulb will definitely not perform as intended.

Planting Depths for Spring Bulbs

Alliums: 8 inches

Crocus: 3 inches

Daffodil: 6 inches

Hyacinth: 7 inches

Tulips: 6 inches

 

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

 

Tulips

Tulips

 

Thanks to Marc Wiener, Deck and Patio’s Director of Sales and Landscape Construction,  for his tips today!

 

Marc Wiener, ASLA

Marc Wiener, ASLA

 

(Note: All photos are by The Deck and Patio Company except where indicated.)