Monthly Archives: December 2015

//December

Rainwater Harvesting for Eco-Friendly Irrigation

 

 

Rainwater will not soak into asphalt or concrete.

Rainwater will not soak into asphalt or concrete.

Did you know that according to statistics the “average” homeowner uses approximately 3,000 gallons of water weekly with about 70% used outdoors?

And have you considered that freely available rainwater does not soak into asphalt and concrete for us to capture, but, instead, flows away, picking up contaminants as it goes, on into over-burdened sewer systems (and hence on into our area waterways)?

Well, this runoff is not just water over the dam, if it highlights how valuable rainwater is to us as an, albeit, neglected, but available precious resource. The trick is: how to keep the rain where it falls to be reused.

 

 

 

Rain Runoff: Instead of being just runoff like pictured here, the trick is to capture rain where it falls to be reused.

Rain Runoff: Instead of being just runoff as pictured here, the trick is to capture rain where it falls to be reused.

 

 

 

# 3 insertHarvesting rainwater is not a new idea. People have been collecting it for generations, frequently storing it in rain barrels.

And this is still a viable method. But there’s a lot more that can be done with falling rain than saving small amounts in unattractive above-ground  containers.

 

 

 

Healthy Ecosystems:

Healthy Ecosystems:

Through our Rainwater Harvesting Group, Deck and Patio specializes in installing rainwater harvesting systems that capture rainwater as part of a complete self-sustaining eco-system.

 

 

Beautiful Backyard Water Features:

Beautiful Backyard Water Features:

Captured, filtered and recirculated rainwater, in sufficient amounts to supply attractive water features, work together with carefully chosen plants, fish, rocks and gravel, to maintain a balanced system for long-term sustainability.

 

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting:

Rainwater Harvesting:

Using Aquascape’s RainXchange, and sometimes permeable pavers as pictured here, today’s rainwater harvesting systems capture sufficient rainwater to also wash your car and/or hose down the deck and patio. And when you consider that  local Long island water companies frequently charge an incremental rate, based on the amount of water used, capturing all the non-ingestive water you need from rainfall, the lower your rate will be.

 

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff:

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff:

For this project, four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff, which goes through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the reservoir for reuse in irrigation and to top off a backyard pond when needed.

 

Backyard Wildlife Refuge:

Backyard Wildlife Refuge:

This water feature by Deck and Patio includes a stream and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same RainXchange water collection system. City water is not used. Such a feature attracts desirable wildlife such as frogs, butterflies, birds etc. creating one’s own wildlife refuge.

 

 

Water Gardens and Fountainscapes: Beautiful All Year Through

In a previous blog, we showcased Aquascape Inc. Fountainscapes as a great way to experience a water feature in your yard without committing to a larger pond or waterfall system.

You might be wondering, why bring this up now, when winter is about to set in? Actually winter is the point. This blog focuses on just how beautiful water features — of any size — are during winter.

In fact, when the temperature drops, flowing water can turn into art as it crystalizes.

Take for example, the waterfalls we created a few years back on Long Island (NY) as part of a double-pond, stream and multiple-waterfall feature. When months later we stopped by during a strong cold snap, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sparkling water falls as they crystalized (first photo below).

In order to give you a fuller picture of the winter beauty that can be part of a water feature, we also posted below three glorious fountainscapes operating in winter.

 

Water Features in Winter:

Water Features in Winter:

(Long Island/NY) – During a prolonged cold snap, ice forms on the natural stone boulders of this water feature; the water falling over the stones crystalizes into glistening flowing threads — an exquisite sight!

 

Fountainscapes in Winter:

Fountainscapes in Winter:

This fountainscape is part of a fountain/miniature pond feature that is arguably even more delightful in winter months than in summer. Note how the small stream of water has become a jeweled thread of ice.

 

Office Complex Fountainscape

Office Complex Fountainscape

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fountains are not just for backyards. No sir, they are a wonderful indulgence at business offices as well — and as you can see from this winter scene,  clearly a year-round uplift for management and staff.

 

 

 

 

Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

If you do not want the water to freeze, you can choose to winterize your water gardens/waterscapes by running them with heat, which will melt the ice dams. But that is not necessary and might you miss some gorgeous winter scenes.

 

Fountainscapes:

Fountainscapes:

Of course, winter isn’t the only time of year you’ll appreciate a water feature; even a simple fountain will provide the delightful sound of moving water and a picturesque setting. Photo: Aquascape Inc. Garden Fountain

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting: Because Open Space Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system -- thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Our pond experts at Deck and Patio — and a growing number of new clients — want a pond and waterfall less as a lovely background filler and more for the opportunity it offers to invigorate the surrounding ecosystem.

Indeed, the sound and look of moving water brings any yard or business property a restful escape for rejuvenation, which in and of itself is a great idea. But ponds and pond-less water features also provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.

As certified installers of Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), our water systems and water garden products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Using high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, as well as gravel beds, and water plants, these contribute to creating a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

Such rainwater harvesting systems will support the beautiful water feature you install — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams — by ecologically collecting and reusing rainwater. This captured water can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

Rainwater Harvesting Reservoirs

“Totally below ground, a rainwater harvesting reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “City water is not used. The water is harvested totally from rainfall on the roof of the house or through permeable pavers. Gravity alone collects it into pipes and moves it along.”

 

Pondless Reservoir (Long Island/NY):

Pondless Reservoir (Long Island/NY):

(Above) The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system. Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected. We planted dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe.

 

Beautiful Pondscape (Long Island/NY):

Beautiful Pondscape (Long Island/NY):

Along with waterfalls, stream and pond, for a healthy ecosystem, it is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants). A beautiful Japanese maple shades this pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo).

 

Permeable Pavers for Water Purification and Collection

Permeable pavers over gravel and a rubber liner allow easy walking while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The gravel underneath the pavers filters the collected water runoff before it is sent to any reservoir installed at the end of a stream/water feature.

The system we use for this is a RainXchange Harvesting System, produced by Aquascapes Inc. In addition to using the water collected by the pavers, the system includes an auxiliary pump that can be connected to any irrigation system including a roof runoff system.

In collaboration with the Town of Huntington, we did such a project at our local Train Station:

 

Rainwater Harvesting Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY):

This water feature is not just for aesthetics, but it is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The station area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

100% of this client’s irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. In this first of 3 photos, you see how rainwater is collected from the roof. At any given time, there is now about 1,000 gallons of water in the reservoir and about an equal amount of water underneath their permeable pavers.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water. Under all that, a liner captures the rainwater, and it is pitched so it pushes water towards the underground reservoir.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

For this project, we also installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes it.

 

 

Enjoying Your Deck in Winter: Expert Tips from Fiberon Decking

“Enjoying my deck in winter?” you might be asking. Actually, yes!

To get the snowdown on how to enjoy our decks even when it’s snowy outside, we spoke to Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at a leading capped-composite decking manufacturer: Fiberon Decking.

# 1Removing Snow from Your Deck

Kello says the most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones. If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface.  Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”

Kello does not recommend using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel, Kello recommends sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“

 

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing snow is key to outdoor winter enjoyment. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Keeping Warm on Your Deck

Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer. Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.

“Fire pits and fireplaces are other popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.

It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”

 

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Trapping Your Heat

Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. “It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.

 

 Deck Covering:

Deck Covering:

A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Now, for the Enjoyment!

If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.

 

 

Photo # 5

 

Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.

 

 

 

 

 

# 6

 

 

 

She also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. “If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

 

 

Other suggestions:

 

# 7

add color and life on your deck by including flowers such as Pansies, Johnny Jump Ups, Cabbage and Kale, or perennials such ornamental grasses and lavender.

“The point is, even when it snows, you really can enjoy the crisp fresh air right outside your door if you make it comfortable enough,” says Kello.

More: Fiberon Decking