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Backyard Ponds in Winter: When the Magic Happens

Before we get into the beauty of water features in winter, and they are beautiful, we thought we’d start with one water feature that, alas, we don’t have a winter shot of. But the interesting thing about this award-winning project is we built it for clients in the dead of winter.

 

Pond Project Built DuringWinter

Deck and Patio pond project built during winter

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

The clients were thrilled we built it — even though it was winter. As you will see from some of the stunning winter photos below, ponds and water features can be as stunning when the weather is icy cold as when returning songbirds are chirping and the lawn lovely green.

 

Winter photo of Deck and Patio Long Island/NY project

Winter photo of Deck and Patio Long Island/NY project

 

When the temperature drops

Take for example, the waterfalls we created a few years back as part of a double-pond, stream and multiple-waterfall feature.

Months later, when we stopped by during a strong cold snap, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sparkling waterfalls as they crystalized.

 

 

 

Fountainscape at Office Building

Fountainscape at Office Building

 

 

Commercial Fountainscapes

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 Water Gardens

Winterizing Water Gardens

 

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 as you see here.

But that is not necessary and you might miss some gorgeous winter scenes.

 

 

 

Sudden Storm Covers Newly Built Deck and Patio Pond Project

Sudden Storm Covers Newly Built Deck and Patio Pond Project

Winter Backyard Pond (Long Island/NY)

This was actually a pond we had just built but had not started up. It was crushed with a sudden snow (the Northeast Blizzard of 2013). You can see the boulder stepping stones and Moss Rock Island with Adirondack chairs in the middle of the pond.

The deck and Bullfrog Spa were completely covered by snow in the shot under the pergola. Despite the storm completely covering the water feature, we think the pond was as beautiful a picture as it was when spring came.

 

 

By |2017-12-19T13:51:50-05:00December 19th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Moss Rock and Stones, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Backyard Ponds in Winter: When the Magic Happens

Deck and Patio Stars with ‘Pool Kings’ in ‘Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss’

A Nashville, TN, family gets a new pool/spa with dramatic water feature — and the construction is all filmed by the DIY Network!

 

This past summer, Deck and Patio’s water feature team (Dave, Hector, José , Big John, Gerson), along with our friend at Best Hot Tubs, Bill Renter, appeared with Peek Pools and Spas on an episode of their popular series, Pool Kings (DIY Network).

The title of the episode, A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss was inspired by the challenges Deck and Patio faced when lifting and positioning an enormous piece of rock.

“We had been subcontracted by the stars of this DIY Network series, Peek Pools and Spas, to join them in Nashville, Tennessee,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Our part was to build the swimming pool’s water feature. This included a grotto, meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls, and an exciting fire feature for inside the pool.”

 

Discovering a Gem

When Peek Pools and Spas was excavating the pool area, they hit a hard massive stone,” says Dave. “They had to keep digging and digging to dislodge it. To them, the massive rock was big a problem to be overcome. But when we spied it, we immediately said, ‘That’s our grotto rock!’

Grotto Top Stone

Grotto Top Stone

“Our friends at Pool Kings thought we were crazy, because it was so large. It wasn’t easy, but our team was persistent, even when the excavating machine’s chain snapped because the rock was so heavy.”

The ongoing challenge of getting that stone out of the ground and in place at the top of the grotto became a key element of the program. In fact, the DIY Network’s advertising for the episode referred to a “4,000 pound rocky start to the job.”

But as Dave and his team are quick to say, “not all gems are small.” Recognizing the value of a particular stone — even when it’s a massive two-ton rock — comes with experience.

 

Water Features Experts

Deck and Patio Award-Winning Project

Deck and Patio Award-Winning Project

Deck and Patio certainly has water feature experience and has received many local, national and international awards for our Long Island water features.

In fact, it was one of our dramatic pool water features that drew the attention of Peek Pools several years ago. They were developing a special project for the DIY Network and, after seeing it, got in touch. They invited us down to Tennessee.

Since then, we have made additional trips there to assist them on other projects, with more opportunities planned for the future.

 

Inside the Grotto

Treasure Found for Grotto Seat

Treasure Found for Grotto Seat

“Not all our rock choices for this project were large and problematic. We also found a very special piece for inside the grotto,” says Dave.

“It was a section of concrete from the homeowners’ remodeled patio that had handprints of their children. We recognized it to be a precious piece and fitted it as part of the grotto seat behind the pool’s waterfalls. That way, they’ll have it forever,” says Dave.

Fire Features

In addition to two fire bowls on either side of the stream and three waterfalls, Deck and Patio added a very special feature:

A natural gas flame, installed under the pool water, so it looks like water is on fire.

 

Positioning Swimming Pool Grotto Rock: This is a photo of our team after we finally got the two-ton top grotto rock in place.

Positioning Swimming Pool Grotto Rock: This is a photo of our team after we finally got the two-ton grotto rock in place.

 

Completed Pool, Spa, and Water Feature for Pool Kings on DIY Network: For those not familiar with construction, it can be hard to imagine during the process what it will look like finished. But that’s what Deck and Patio and companies like Peek Pools and Spas are here for. It’s pretty spectacular finished, isn’t it?

Completed Pool, Spa, and Water Feature for Pool Kings on DIY Network: For those not familiar with construction, it can be hard to imagine during the process what it will look like finished. But that’s what Deck and Patio and companies like Peek Pools and Spas are here for. It’s pretty spectacular finished, isn’t it?

 

Close Up of Pool Waterfalls: This is a close up of a part of the water feature we built for Pool Kings. At center, you see the main waterfall that runs over the front of the grotto.

Close Up of Pool Waterfalls: This is a close up of a part of the water feature we built for Pool Kings. At center, you see the main waterfall that runs over the front of the grotto.

 

Filming Pool Kings for DIY Network: “One thing that’s amazing when doing one of these projects is how all the teams are working at once, plus you are being filmed every time you take a step,” adds Dave Stockwell. "It can be chaotic, but it's thrilling."

Filming Pool Kings for DIY Network: “One thing that’s amazing when doing one of these projects is how all the teams are working at once, plus you are being filmed every time you take a step,” adds Dave Stockwell. “It can be chaotic, but it’s thrilling.”

 

 

By |2017-12-14T20:28:08-05:00December 14th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Resorts, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Grottos, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Amenities, Pool Waterfalls|Comments Off on Deck and Patio Stars with ‘Pool Kings’ in ‘Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss’

The Beauty of an Infinity Pool Is Never Ending

If you are so fortunate as to boast a beautiful property view, it’s not surprising you want to emphasize it. And one very popular way to do that is with an infinity pool — also called a vanishing edge, infinite edge, or negative edge pool.

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound

For the uninitiated, an infinity pool is an optical illusion that suggests pool water is vanishing out of the back edge of the pool, and the beautiful property view appears connected with it.

In the two award-winning projects we’re highlighting today, it is views of Long Island Sound and its bays that are “connected” to the pools. However, it’s important to note that any lovely spot on a property can be the focal point of a vanishing edge.

Zoning laws may present roadblocks to infinity pools. In tother cases, the property itself may present a few challenges. That was the case in this first project where its steep — and dangerous — slope or bluff at its edge was challenging.

 

 

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound:

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound:

Property Challenges

 

The homeowner for our first project (shown here and above), however, was savvy.

She knew that a vanishing edge pool would actually make the deep slope of her property an advantage and would become the centerpiece of a beautiful resort-style outdoor living area.

So, in addition to the infinity pool, we included a spectacular custom spa.

And we perfectly positioned the spa for the homeowner so she could enjoy the “vanishing edge” view out to Long Island sound from the spa as well as the pool and patio.

 

 

 

How Infinity Pools Operate

Catch Basin of Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, NY:

Catch Basin of Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, NY:

As you see from this second project in Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, NY, the water doesn’t actually disappear off the edge of the pool, it is captured and recycled.

The water is actually clinging to a recess in the pool wall which then drops into a catching pool below. And while this sounds simple enough, it requires a good deal of mastery to design it correctly. An undersized catch pool can almost never be corrected.

If the catch pool or basin isn’t large enough there won’t be enough water returning to the main pool and the catch pool will run dry. That can trigger huge water bills because it would have to be constantly refilled to compensate for not having enough room to store water. In addition,  during rain falls, the basin could be overwhelmed, leading to it overflowing, or eroding or liquefying the soil behind it.

At the very least, it might cause the pool to shift, rotate or settle and then it’s no longer a vanishing edge, which is why Deck and Patio takes such great care to ensure it is done correctly.

 

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, NY:

 

Swimming at the Edge of Your World

Again, for this second project, it was the property’s spectacular views of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore that drew these Deck and Patio clients to such a pool.

Depending on where you are in this vanishing edge pool determines which extraordinary vista your eyes are drawn to.

 

 

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool and provide other charming “views” while swimming.

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool and provide other charming “views” while swimming.

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In both projects highlighted today, in addition to recycled pool water, a custom “spillover” spa was added for additional healthy aeration of the pool water.

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In both projects highlighted today, in addition to recycled pool water, a custom “spillover” spa was added for additional healthy aeration of the pool water.

 

 

By |2017-12-07T15:03:48-05:00December 7th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Resorts, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Infinity Pools, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Pools & Spas, Spillover/Custom Spas|Comments Off on The Beauty of an Infinity Pool Is Never Ending

Winter-Friendly Construction Products: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

 

The Northeast faces weather changes from season to season, and year to year.

And this year, on Long Island at least, with but one brief encounter of snow under our belts, winter may seem still far away.

Yet, winter snow will eventually break through all the sunshine — if not this year, certainly in the years to come.

That causes us at Deck and Patio to continue to value construction products for their durability as well as their aesthetics.

 

 

 

Let’s look at two great examples of such products.

 

Techo-Bloc Construction Materials

Engineered in Canada where they require extra strength due to the country’s extreme weather changes, Techo-Bloc pavers handle well the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, the stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, Techo-Bloc pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

 

Deck and Patio Project Using Techo-Bloc

Deck and Patio Project Using Techo-Bloc

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural.

Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials.”

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking

 Photo Courtesy of Fiberon

Photo Courtesy of Fiberon

When it comes to snow and heavy rains, most wood decking materials face challenges holding up to such weather. Even moisture-resistant woods require regular sealing and parts of the underside can’t help but trap moisture.

On the other hand, capped composite decking boards, like those shown here, are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, in particular, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“While most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant,” says Dave Stockwell, “Fiberon’s special warranty can also be a factor. Not only do clients get the usual 25-year warranty on materials, with Fiberon they also get a five-year warranty on labor.”

That said, the Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon, Edie Kelly, says that since many want to use their decks, even in winter, 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.”

 

Award-winning Deck and Patio Fiberon Project

Award-winning Deck and Patio Fiberon Project

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.“

Fiberon also says it is important to shovel parallel to the boards and not horizontally.

 

Backyard Upgrades: As you learn the best ways to enjoy your deck and patio during winter, it’s a great time to ponder what changes you’d like to make for spring.

Backyard Upgrades: As you learn the best ways to enjoy your deck and patio during winter, it’s a great time to ponder what changes you’d like to make for spring.

 

And it’s okay if you have no idea how to look through snow and plan for spring. The key is: design/build experts do know and they can help you see through winter to spring.

 

By |2017-11-30T13:22:06-05:00November 30th, 2017|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Driveways, Landscaping, Patios & Decks, paving stones, Snow Removal|Comments Off on Winter-Friendly Construction Products: Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Winter Garden Hues: Birds of a ‘Colorful’ Feather

In the Northeast, we love our change in seasons. And around this time each year, as winter is on the horizon, Deck and Patio’s blog has offered ideas on trees and bushes whose bark or berries bring color to winter gardens.

Today, however, we’re focusing on a very special and even more lively source of winter garden beauty: colorful avian visitors that can be enticed with just a little effort on our part.

 

Cardinals

Take the bright red plumage of the Cardinal. The male’s full-bodied red actually gets more striking during winter.

This is when some of their remaining gray-tipped feathers fall off, showing even more vibrant red.

What a picture they make resting on icy branches and snow.

“If you want to attract them, Cardinals love black oil sunflower and safflower seeds,” says Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, NY.

It’s helpful to note that Cardinals usually eat early in the morning or late in the evening so make sure feeders are well stocked at these times. Also, being a larger bird, they prefer a larger feeder that won’t sway too much as they eat.

 

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are another colorful bird that stays around in winter.

These gorgeous birds love to congregate in groups come winter. They also will squirrel food away. Some have witnessed Blue Jays hiding nuts in trees.

And as for sound, they have been known to scare off other birds by imitating the call of hawks.

 

 

“They also like nuts and peanuts,” says Vultaggio.

“I use a peanut wreath and fill it with shelled peanuts. This type of feeder attracts a lot of Blue Jays.

They are such fun to watch — not to mention they add a lot of color against the white landscape.”

 

 

 

Chickadees

Chickadees prefer the same type of seeds as the Cardinal: black oil sunflower and safflower. Vultaggio is also delighted by their sounds — ‘they actually say chickadee when they sing.”

Chickadees are vibrant even though, as part of the Titmouse family, they are known for their gray color and lighter bellies.

“They dine primarily on insects, seeds and berries,” adds Vultaggio. “They are active and agile little birds. These little acrobats are a delight to watch when they hang upside down from twigs or at your feeder.

 

 

 

Additional Birds

Vulraggio also puts out suet in winter, which she says attracts other birds including woodpeckers.

“A bird bath is also important. Water is often scarce in the dead of winter.

Of course, you don’t want the water to ice up and there are lots of bird bath heaters, including solar heated bird baths.

Pictured here is a Heated Deck-Mounted Birdbath by Allied Precision.

“You’ll also find that in winter these birds tend to appear in groups since many eyes make it safer to watch out for predators. Birds are such a wonderful way to add color to your winter garden.”

 

 

 

Flora

To achieve color through flora, a previous Deck and Patio blog includes a fairly comprehensive list of flora that will help “lift winter doldrums with outdoor color and texture” — information that we put together also with the help of Sandra Vultaggio.

Winterberry (shown here) is a great example of the color and texture available in winter. This dramatic and colorful bush is from a species of the deciduous holly family and is native to the Northeast.

A slow grower, it loses its leaves each autumn. And, birds love the berries…what more needs to be said.

 

By |2017-11-16T13:35:00-05:00November 16th, 2017|Gardening, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Winter Garden Hues: Birds of a ‘Colorful’ Feather

Backyard Upgrades: 3 ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects

When homeowners want to upgrade their properties, sometimes it can be a challenge to imagine all the changes that will be required.

So today we’re showcasing three sets of before and after photos that showcase how a collaboration with a reputable design/build firm like Deck and Patio can end  up in an award-winning landscaping project.

 

 

  1. Centerport, Long Island, NY

These homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

"Before" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“Before” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“After” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub.

 

    2. Dix Hills, Long Island, NY

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area they called on  Deck and Patio. They knew their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

"Before" Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

“Before” Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

“We introduced a unique concept to deal with the large wall behind the pool, and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “The idea was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”

 

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, the next step was pressing the boulders into the surrounding slope to continue the natural presence of large boulders. Then the landscape crew installed natural woodland planting to tie in with the tall oaks adding color and evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

Once the slope was stabilized, it was time for the pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered where we straighten the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were added, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

Cambridge Sahara Chestnut pavers were used to create a dramatic pool/patio area.

 

    3. Brookville, Long Island, NY

When Deck and Patio first met with these clients to discuss a pool and patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

 

"Before" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“Before” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

The project included a complete revamping of the pool’s pipes, interior, finish and the incorporation of new swim outs at the deep, as well as a new Tech-Bloc patio pool surround.

They also initially wanted wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their existing gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion of a custom installation of a portable hot tub.

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it could be used when the pool was closed down.

“We installed it in a way that allowed them to get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool when using the hot tub,” says Dave.

And the clients didn’t have to sacrifice any drama. “The complete upgrade included an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.”

The above projects won Deck and Patio awards both domestically and internationally.

 

Fall Maintenance: Preparing Koi Ponds for Winter

With each seasonal change there are things you can do to keep your koi pond heathy and thriving. And fall maintenance is particularly important.

 

Plants and Fallen Leaves

 

Now is the time — before winter sets in — to look over your pond’s plantings and remove any dying plant material.

It’s important to do this before the pond water temperature drops below 50 degrees (F). Above 50 degrees, the fish are still active and are not at risk of being hurt while this is being done.

“Plants can rot out of season and build up poisonous gases that will not be able to escape when ice forms,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “This could cause any koi in the pond to go, from simply hibernating, into a dangerous state of torpor. So prune any dead stems and leaves.”

Dave adds that if you use pond netting before the autumn leaves fall, all you need do after fall foliage season is pull it up and get rid of the collected leaves.

If you didn’t put up netting to collect the leaves, use a fine netting to scoop up the debris.

Also, if you suspect that fallen leaves may have gotten lodged in the pond shelves and edges, you can either drain the pond a little yourself to get at them, or contact a pond designer like Deck and Patio for help completing this task.

 

(Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio)

(Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio)

 

 

If calling a pond expert in to help, this is a good time to ask them to create safety pond cave(s) if you haven’t done that already.

Pond caves provide a safe place where the fish can hide and lie dormant during the winter months.

 

 

 

 

 

Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio

Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio

Hardy water lilies that float on the water’s surface, and have a short blooming period, can withstand the cold winter months nicely.

Lotuses also can withstand the cold because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter.

Note: Frost kills non-hardy water hyacinths and along with water lettuce, which fights algae, these should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.

 

 

 

Pond Fish

 

Happy Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc)

Happy Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc)

 

It is a common myth that you can’t leave your pond fish outside once the cold sets in.

Actually, fish do just fine during winter. That said, Dave does caution to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.

This can be remedied as long as you give them:

 

 

 

•two feet of water to swim in,

•oxygenate the water,

•and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator.

 

The hole allows the naturally-produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascape Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick, suggests using a pond de-icer.

“This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.

The fish do not need to eat during this time. In fact, they shouldn’t be fed at all. 

 

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

 

Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form.

But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

 

 

 

Fall Gardening Tips from Hicks Nurseries, Westbury, Long Island

Like our friends at Hicks Nurseries, Deck and Patio and our blog followers love each new season for the gifts it brings.

Autumn is no exception. So in case you missed it at their own website, Hicks Nurseries’ gave us permission to share below their October 23rd blog on: FALL GARDENING – YES, YOU CAN!.  Enjoy!

 

By Karen Musgrave, Hicks Nurseries

Fall can be a confusing time for the novice gardener. Their gardens are producing less, if any fruit and flowers are starting to look tired and leggy. The weather is cooler and it seems like the time to garden has ended . . . or has it?

Fall is a great time to plant!

Fall gardening? Yes, you can! Although the air temperatures are cooler the ground temperature is still plenty warm for root growth. Here on Long Island you can plant trees, shrubs and perennials well into late fall. Learn how to plant here.

 

Lawn Renovation

Now is the time to re-seed your lawn or fill in bare spots that may have formed over the summer months. Plentiful rainfall, cooler temperatures and the lack of competition from weeds combine to make this the best time to accomplish lawn seeding or sodding. Learn more here.

 

 

Move Houseplants & Tropicals Indoors for Winter

If you moved your houseplants and tropical plants such as hibiscus outdoors for the summer, now is the time to transition them indoors for the winter. Learn how here.

 

Dig Up Summer Blooming Bulbs & Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs

 

Summer Blooming Bulbs

Not all bulbs can survive the winter outdoors. Dahlias, elephant ears, cannas and caladium are of few of the bulbs you will need to dig up before winter. Learn more here.

 

Spring Blooming Bulbs

Now is also the time to plant tulips, daffodils and other spring blooming bulbs. These bulbs require a period of cold (winter). Plant them now and they will bloom next spring. Learn more here.

Mulch

Nothing makes the flower beds in front of your home look nicer – especially in the winter – than a layer of beautiful mulch. Mulch gives beds a finished look, helps the soil to retain water for your trees and shrubs and suppresses weed growth.

 

What About Pruning? 

Heavy pruning at this time could result in the stimulation of new growth that may not have enough time to mature before winter; making it prone to frost damage. Limit pruning to the removal of dead or damaged branches during this time. Learn more about pruning here.

 

For information about how and when to prune hydrangeas , read our Hydrangea pamphlet.

 

Fall is a great time to garden. The weather is cooler and the sun is shining, get out there and enjoy it! A little work now will save you time this spring.”

A big thanks to Hicks Nurseries. Note: Today’s feature photo at the top of this blog is from Hicks’ Facebook page.

***

For tips on how falling leaves can affect your driveways, decks, lawns, and patios, etc., Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio reminds everyone that the tannin in leaves can stain pavers, concrete etc.

“It is better — and easier to remove the leaves than to seal your decks and patios,” says Dave. For more on this, see our blog.

 

 

 

By |2017-10-26T13:29:35-05:00October 26th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Creative Design, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Fall Gardening Tips from Hicks Nurseries, Westbury, Long Island

Stepping Stones Turn Footpaths into Contemplation Spaces

Stepping stones are most often used as a way of letting some “softscape” such as grass shine through while still providing some “hardscape” in heavily traffic areas.

But is that all that stepping stones do? “We think not,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “While they are very serviceable, they can also contribute to the serenity of a space. They can be a key element of creating ‘contemplation’ spaces.”

Today our blog is showcasing a sampling of stepping stone paths that we have created for clients — ranging from the very practical to the Zen-like in impact.

 

 

 

These clients, for example, wanted a footpath leading to their tool shed. But they had a small backyard. And we were already installing extensive multi-level paver patios. So it wasn’t surprising they didn’t want more solid brick hardscape on the opposite side of the pool.

Instead, the bluestone stepping stones they opted for allowed for greenery to show through. Along with attractive plantings on either side of the pathway, the journey to their shed offers an uplifting experience that’s not just about the tasks at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Not all stepping stones are flat bluestone slabs. The Japanese introduced Zen garden landscape techniques centuries ago, inspiring the world to place larger stones as stepping stones across ponds and water features.

“The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in this yard helped inspire us,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

First: We installed regular flat bluestone stepping stones leading up to a flowing stream water feature we were doing. Then: Larger natural stones were added to walk across it. More flat bluestone was positioned on the other side as a walkway up to the clients’ pool area. Finally, we also added moss rock in various places which adds color and texture.

“Our clients even enjoy it in winter when the moss rock boulders become sparkling ice sculptures,” adds Dave.

 

 

Speaking of larger natural stones, have you ever considered adding a stone “island” in a pond where you can picnic?

When Deck and patio built this lovely water feature, comprising of two separate ponds next to each other, there was room in the larger pond (shown here) to add a sizable stone island.

With smooth natural stones leading to it, the homeowners have a true Zen experience walking across the still pond to their own private island.

The clients placed two Adirondack chairs on the island giving them an escape for extended moments of contemplation. Plus, the wide arms of these chairs allow room for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. Surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape.

 

 

 

 

A deck can be part of the pond/stepping stone contemplation space, too. This Deck and Patio deck was designed with a viewing platform to enjoy the new pond with waterfalls and beautiful landscaping.

At the bottom of a set of stairs, we placed the first of several large  stepping stones leading out from the deck. The stones offer a Zen-like walk across the pond to other viewing areas of the multi-faceted water feature.

 

 

 

 

 

So far we’ve explored stepping stones across ponds, one path leading to a utility shed, and (below) you’ll see stepping stones to a swimming pool.

But here the bluestone stepping stones we added lead past cascading waterfalls, including a dramatic 7’-high waterfall.

“This is a very special experience for the clients,” says Dave Stockwell. “Usually waterfalls drop into a pond and you can’t walk close to them. But these do not fall into a pond, but pass through river tock int a ‘pondless’ reservoir instead.”

In the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir, the water is filtered and then recirculated so it operates as a self-sustaining system that remains clean and clear. The different rocks used here include river rock, moss rock, spill rocks and, of course, bluestone stepping stones. They all contribute to a footpath experience one might only hope to get on a mountain trek.

 

 

 

 

 

We placed these bluestone stepping stones so they almost skim across the backyard sod. The path connects the clients’ pool patio to a Trex deck and second Cambridge patio located near the house.

This area is also home to a new outdoor kitchen area, complete with barbecue and refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How’s this for one last example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones.

The stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.

“While this kind of space is ideal on its own,” says Dave Stockwell, “the idea came to us when we were looking for a creative way to hide their new swimming pool equipment.

“We decided to create this wilderness area with plantings etc. in a way that offered contemplation moments while at the same time finding a creative way to hide their pool equipment.”

 

 

 

 

Fall Foliage: Tips for Backyard Maintenance

 I Love NY’s Fall Foliage Chart

I Love NY’s Fall Foliage Chart

It hurts to let summer go. But Mother Nature offers us a big treat to ease the pain —

Fall foliage.

It’s so sublime — with its blaze of colors taking weeks to complete — that some of us are desperate to photograph it.

Others can’t wait to walk, bike, or drive Long Island’s trails and byways to watch the leaves change.

Without throwing too many wet blankets on Nature’s gift, just remember that these colorful leaves — glorious as they are —

will be falling to the ground before we know it.

 

 

And that means…

drum roll please…

Fall maintenance clean up!

 

“Taking care of fallen leaves is one of a variety of chores worth your time,” says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.

 

 

 Prevent Leaf Tannin Stains:

Prevent Leaf Tannin Stains:

Leaf tannin stains pavers, concrete, and decks. It is better — and easier — to remove the leaves than to seal your decks and patios. Sealers need to be constantly redone, which turns into a lot of maintenance.

 

 

Keeping Lawns Healthy in Fall:

Keeping Lawns Healthy in Fall:

“It’s also important to keep leaves off the grass,” says Dave. “Healthy grass can get matted down, and in winter, when it needs sunlight and oxygen, this could be a problem.”

 

 

Tree Maintenance in Fall: (Photo: Aquascape, inc.)

Tree Maintenance in Fall: (Photo: Aquascape, inc.)

This is a good time of year to cut any dead tree limbs away, so that coming snow or ice storms won’t cause them to crack and fall. Falling limbs can result in accidents to people, cars, and homes.

One way to predict future problems is to look up the tree carefully before the leaves have fallen. Any branches completely bare of leaves indicate they should be cut off. Also check to see if any low-hanging branches are near power lines; trim these so the weight of snow or ice won’t pull them dow into the wiring.

 

 

Fall Driveway Prep with Stakes:

Fall Driveway Prep with Stakes:

To prep your driveway and walkway for winter, it’s helpful to get supplied with fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”) for placing along your driveway in advance of the first snow storm.

You position the stakes to indicate where any costly Belgium Block or other edging could be damaged from snow plows. One end of the stake is pointed for easy insertion in the ground. Also, they come in different colors and you can let a particular color indicate, for example, where a fire hydrant is, the regular curb, your driveway entrance, etc.

 

 

Now back to the good news.

As you can see from the above chart from NY State’s Division of Tourism, I Love NY foliage page, Long Islanders have a bit of time yet before peak foliage to schedule our outdoor maintenance  — and our fall foliage activities as well.

This also means, if you have a pond, there’s time left to get netting to protect it from fallen debris.

 

 

 

 

By |2017-10-12T12:00:45-05:00October 12th, 2017|Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Patios & Decks, paving stones|Comments Off on Fall Foliage: Tips for Backyard Maintenance