Monthly Archives: August 2016

//August

Are Koi Carp Difficult to Keep in Backyard Ponds?

 

Koi are delightful ornamental versions of the more common fish known as “carp.” Koi were bred for color by the Japanese for their private ponds or water gardens. But, as some of you may already know, these lovely creatures aren’t just for show. Their presence can help balance the entire pond’s ecosystem and even help to reduce pond maintenance.

Why, then, are so many pond owners anxious about keeping them in their ponds?

“People fear they won’t survive. It is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, herons, etc., but there is much that can be done to reduce such threats,” says Bill Renter from Deck and Patio.

Renter suggests adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond to give fish a safe place to hide from many predators.

Rock overhangs look natural

Rock overhangs look natural

Additionally, including rock overhangs around the outside of the pond, which first and foremost will make any pond appear more natural, help discourage cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

“Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner,” says Renter. “Plus deeper water at the edges — more than 18” deep — discourages heron wading.”

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. Continuous flowing water into the pond isn’t just beautiful and pleasant sounding, but the ongoing movement from the falls will put off many avian predators and even stop mosquitos from breeding.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is adding scarecrows, such as owl statues. But with ongoing climate change and continued new construction, changes to their habitat are also causing changes in the behavior of local wildlife. “If all else fails, a netting can be installed over the pond,” says Renter.

Tips for Keeping Koi Safe:

— make your pond as large and deep as possible

— try to locate your pond in an area that you can see from inside your home so you can chase away any predator that isn’t deterred by other means

—  try to include a waterfall to aerate the pond and scare away some predators

— lighting with movement sensors near the pond can frighten away an animal at night

— scarecrows (like owls) discourage many predators — herons and kingfishers in particular; some scarecrows also have moving sprinklers which do double duty to dissuade prey

—  don’t put food for the birds you’re trying to attract near the pond — put it as  far away as possible

—  create hiding places for the koi inside the pond such as castles and tunnels

—  if you still have problems, a pond net will do the trick.

 

Here’s a small sampling of our favorite Deck and Patio pond features. And, yes, even if not picked up in the photos, there are koi in each and every one.

 

 

Pond Koi:

Pond Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, pond fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. (Note: Plants in this pond include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a “rose arey” hybrid water lily.)

 

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

It’s wise to have pond netting even if you don’t need it to keep away predators. In order not to let a collection of debris into your clean pond water, you’ll want to put a net in place before leaves begin falling in autumn. 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. (Photo/Pond Net: Aquascape Inc)

 

Ponds with Waterfalls:

Ponds with Waterfalls:

The continuous movement of the pond water because of  waterfalls not only oxygenate the water to keep it healthy and free of mosquitos, but the spilling water will put off many avian predators

 

 

Pond Ecosystems:

Pond Ecosystems:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; this pond also offers koi lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

Keeping Koi Safe:

Keeping Koi Safe:

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can help dissuade raccoons and cats, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner. Plus deeper water at the edges — more than 18” deep — discourages heron wading.

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Ending the Summer Entertaining Season with a Splash of Color

While Labor Day weekend (just two weeks away) is not the end of the outdoor season, it is the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends.

This means you’re probably either planning to host or attend one or more family barbecues, pool parties, summer movie parties, or just plain end-of-summer gatherings. There may be corporate shindigs happening as well. Not to mention kids will be begging for a last sprinkler cool-down with friends.

Those hosting such outdoor festivities have probably been looking over their property’s landscaping, with a view of how the yard will look when entertaining.

Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio

We are happy to report that it’s far from too late to add a splash of color and beauty right now that will last well into Fall. In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, she offered our readers some great landscaping ideas.

“Late in the season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.”

As for which ones to look out for, she agreed with the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) that we showcased on Facebook this week as a great choice to add mid-to-late August.  The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices, e.g., Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says. “And Asters, as well as Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy) are also great choices. These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

“I suggest getting them in the ground sooner than later,” she continues, “and because of the drought in the Long Island area, it’s important to soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

But what about droughts? Shouldn’t we be considerate and fair in how much water we use? As many of you know, Deck and Patio has a division completely devoted to rainwater harvesting  and we are available to give advice on how best to collect rainwater for use in maintaining water features as well as property landscaping.

“In the meantime, there are things we can do immediately to conserve water for our gardens,” says Vultaggio.

“Think about the water we throw away just when making a pot of pasta. Rather than let it go down the sink, simply let it cool and use it in your garden. The fact that pasta was cooked in the water will not harm your plants. I recommend keeping a bucket for water collection. Put your pasta water there and any leftover water in drinking glasses. Just be mindful of all the water we use that can be conserved. In a recent blog, Gardening in a Drought, I highlighted a variety of ways to ensure a healthy garden despite low precipitation.”

“So don’t feel guilty making a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Even if you don’t yet have a rainwater collection system, you can nourish your landscape by not wasting household water as outlined by Ms. Vultaggio.”

Below are photos of some ideal plants to add in time for Labor Day. These should add color and beauty well into Fall. And if you aren’t entertaining at home, these would make great hostess gifts. Happy Labor Day wherever you spend it!

 

Anemone Windflower -- or "Honorine Jobert

Anemone Windflower — or “Honorine Jobert

 

 

Chelone or Turtlehead

Chelone or Turtlehead

 

 

Asters

Asters

 

Sedum or Autumn Joy

Sedum or Autumn Joy

 

 

Solidago or Goldenrod

Solidago or Goldenrod

 

Landscaping Ideas: Inspiration Can Come from Unlikely Places

 

When looking for ideas to update their properties, it’s not unusual for homeowners to turn to such online social networks as Pinterest, Houzz, Google Plus, etc. Certainly, we post our own projects on these sites and find inspiration there, too.

That said, our design staff gets most of its best ideas outside, when taking in vistas that we can hear, smell, and touch. Indeed, when you’re passionate about the outdoors, you find you can’t turn off your inspiration-antenna, even when on vacation.

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida), Author: Lee Bailey from Beverley, UK

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida), Author: Lee Bailey from Beverley, UK

That was the case for Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter after he visited Disney World. And what awed him there became the inspiration behind one of our company’s most awarded projects.

“These clients wanted something very special,” says Renter. “When thinking about it, I realized I had been really impressed with how Disney World had been a feast for the senses — that there was always something around the corner, something to draw you to the next space. And that’s what my design was all about for these clients.”

Indeed, the homeowners admit to be in awe of what Deck and Patio Co. accomplished.

“You almost don’t want to stop anywhere,” says the husband. “You can’t wait to see what is coming up next. You climb on huge moss-covered rocks, or stroll around the spa waterfall to get to the water slide, then down a little bluestone walkway, even passing by a stream on the way. It’s spectacular.”

His wife loves how their new backyard “resort” offers the thoughtful comforts of many hotel/resort amenities. For example, four embedded umbrella stands are installed in the main tumbled stone patio.

Landscaping Ideas:

Landscaping Ideas:

“They are positioned perfectly,” she says. “I just open them for parties or when serving food and get 50 percent shading of the patio area. Or for sunbathing, I just close them and the sun will go all the way across.”

Landscaper Renter has also successfully mimicked the background music at hotel resorts – that is heard but is never intrusive.

The landscaper adds that in 2005, this project also won the “International Award of Excellence – Gold Medal” – from the APSP (The Association for Pool and Spa Professionals) in the category of a vinyl pool in excess of 601 square feet.

Yet, a beautiful as the completed project is, the awards were given for more than just what meets the eye. Design and execution challenges for this 46-by-32-foot free-form vinyl pool/spa began with a 13-foot elevation change that runs the length of the pool area.

In addition to a stunning pool, spill over spa, patio area, multiple waterfalls and a swim up bar in the backyard, Renter added a gorgeous pond with waterfalls on the side of the property, just below a rolling green lawn.

“Sometimes you want a break from all the fun and activity of the pool/patio area,” says Renter. “And we gave them that. It’s even beautiful in winter to stop and spend a few moments there.”

 

 

Pool Water Slides:

Pool Water Slides:

Renter adds that, of course, the clients love the built-in water slide, and there are five waterfalls (one reaching 7×10 feet), plus immense moss rocks — some weighing in excess of six thousand pounds.

 

Swim Up Bars:

Swim Up Bars:

Family and friends really enjoy being able to get a cool drink by swimming up to the 38-foot “swim-up bar” that has submerged barstools. He adds that this amenity is very popular with adults, as it is a great spot for swimmers and strollers to meet and talk, without the swimmers having to get out of the water.

 

Swimming Pools:

Swimming Pools:

And for nighttime entertaining, the automated color logic lights, the ten speakers that pick up commercial-free satellite radio, the glorious 7×11 foot vinyl-lined spa, and the romantic gas campfires, make this anyone’s definition of nighttime paradise.

 

Backyard Ponds and Waterfalls

Backyard Ponds and Waterfalls:

Away from all the activity the pool area generates, these clients now have a gorgeous spot for meditation that includes a fish pond. wooden bridge, multiple waterfalls, lush plantings and garden bench.

 

Ponds in Winter:

Ponds in Winter:

Even after the snow falls, these clients find they can’t resist stopping by their pond and enjoy quiet moments alone with nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Features for Pools

There are several enticing styles of water features you can add to your pool. However, in today’s blog, we are focusing on a particular water feature stand-out: stream-fed waterfalls.

While pools, themselves, are the most prevalent water features, the amenities you add to them, in particular water features, can take them from ordinary to sublime.

Reminiscent of Mother Nature’s own ponds and lakes — where water pools are the outcome of streams and rivers feeding oxygenated waterfalls cascading from above — adding water features provide a very special dimension to a backyard pool.

A key element in giving the feature a natural feel is the use of moss rock. Of course, the skill comes in positioning the rocks in such a way so the water spills over them just like you would see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

The first project we are highlighting today showcases a majestic high waterfall spilling over natural boulders into a freeform concrete pool and spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but like all the ones in today’s blog, it is fed by a meandering man-made stream.

 

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

The spa in this project is private — nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders fitted with a structural steel and concrete ceiling. The entire project included a freeform pool with grotto spa, Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and in-pool tanning shelf; it won for Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver medal for design from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

A rushing stream of hot water flows over a large moss rock into a new spa built by Deck and Patio. From there, a spillover waterfall flows out from the spa five feet above the main swimming pool.

 

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Imagine sitting at a granite-topped swim-up bar on comfortable in-pool stools while enjoying the sounds and beauty of several stream-fed waterfalls. For this project, Deck and Patio was able to turn the biggest challenge of the property — its rising elevation — into a benefit. Gravity alone moves the water down the slope into the waterfalls. This project won us several gold meals; one from NSPI and one from NESPA.

 

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Although we have successfully built natural swimming pools for clients with waterfalls fed by streams, this project is not one of our own.  We are using it today because it so beautifully showcases how much children love natural swimming pools. It was supplied to us by the company that manufacturers much of our water feature equipment — Aquascape, Inc. (St. Charles, IL). The pool waterfalls are stream-fed into a “natural” swimming pond. Swimming in such pools isn’t any different from taking a swim in an old fashioned swimming hole, or the ocean for that matter. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.

 

 Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The sound of waterfalls cascading over natural rock offers relaxing sounds as well as a beautiful vista when dining al fresco. Here, Deck and Patio also added a sound system in this backyard retreat that pumps music; together with the waterfalls the sounds are wonderful for entertaining or family fun.

 

Pool Water Features:

Pool Water Features:

Sunset is a glorious time to be by the pool, especially when the sounds of multiple waterfalls complete the scene. Here a stream feeds two separate waterfalls on either side of a water slide that makes its own waterfall. This is definitely where you want to be at the end of each workday.