Monthly Archives: March 2018

//March

What Type of Pond Will Be Best in My Yard?

“We feel just about any yard can accommodate some sort of pond,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“Whether your yard is expansive or is no bigger than a proverbial postage stamp, ponds range in size from small — to double-ponds and even those with vanishing edges.”

Dave adds that no matter the size, the sounds and beauty of a pond waterscape will offer a welcome place of serenity while attracting delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and croaking frogs.

 

Small Ponds

 

Small Pond with Waterfall

Small Pond with Waterfall

 

For these clients, we tucked a small pond and waterfall into the corner of their driveway.

By adding beautiful creeping ground cover and boulders, even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits.

Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, we used Mother Nature’s own gravity to pump water naturally in the pond.

 

 

 

 

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Sometimes, when very young children are involved, clients worry that a full, deep pond might present safety concerns. In these cases, many of our clients choose a pondless waterfall.

In a pondless waterfall, river rock allows water to seep down into the ground where it is captured in a below-ground reservoir and recirculated.

And, since regular ponds require seasonal maintenance to keep them healthy and beautiful, a pondless waterfall is easier to care for.

Another reason for choosing a pondless waterfall came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals.

Lastly, budget and property size can be factors. A large space is not needed when you go pondless.

 

 

Medium-Sized Ponds

 

Fun for All

Fun for All

As design and build experts, Deck and Patio always advises installing your pond where you can enjoy it from a deck, patio, bedroom, or kitchen.

It’s important to note that not just humans appreciate a pond water feature.

In addition to the family pooch being endlessly fascinated, birds and butterflies will be attracted. Birds, in particular, love gently moving water.

Just provide a place for them to land, such as rock platforms, or design a shallow end as part of the feature. And by keeping the water circulating, this will also help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

 

 

Larger Ponds

 

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

When there is room and a budget for a large pond, like this koi pond with several waterfalls and a stream, a backyard can become a private sanctuary.

Note: because ponds do not have too much water action, water lilies are ideal plants, which is especially helpful in larger ponds.

Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer.

The lower temperature reduces undesirable algae growth; and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for the fish while keeping the water clear and clean-looking.

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pond

Vanishing Edge Pond

A pond can reach its zenith if it’s possible to give it a vanishing edge. Although these are more commonly done for pools, if local regulations limit the addition of a pool, a pond might be the answer.

That was the case for this multi-part Deck and Patio water feature. It captures the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the water’s edge. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, and second lower pond.

Under the feature’s beauty, an extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system using Aquascape Inc. products is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.

 

 

 

 

Creative Landscape Planning Even When It Snows

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Good grief. Just as you begin planning a garden or backyard upgrade, another snow storm pounds Long Island. What’s an outdoor, deck, patio, waterscape, or barbecue-loving enthusiast to do?

If you promised yourself that this spring you’d create the outdoor environment you want, no need to be put off by the snow.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the ground is perfect,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But if you wait until the snow melts and the weather is finally warm, you could find yourself behind a big queue for a landscaper’s attention.”

 

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

Believe it or not, experts like those at Deck and Patio, don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project. Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced. But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.

Sure, you may be thinking. Deck and Patio can see under the snow to the possibilities of a backyard refurbishment, but how does a non-expert grasp what it all will look like?

“It’s understandable that a homeowner would not want to proceed blind,” adds Dave. “And they don’t need to. Through computer animation, we’re able to work up a plan in 3-D that gives a good approximation of what the finished job will look like. There’s no need to rely on one’s imagination.”

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Every aspect of this backyard paradise — infinity (vanishing edge) pool, custom in-ground spa, swim up-walk up bar, pond/waterfalls upgrade, extensive patio, and outdoor kitchen was first done on a 3-D animation program that allowed our clients to literally fly over and walk around this project —even their gas campfires. This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

For these homeowners, the 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house.

 

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left) not only helps show what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

In the case of this Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

 

Baseball Season

Baseball Season

So, no worries about snow when it comes to landscape planning — even if you can’t see the ground.

You don’t want to risk getting in too long a line of those wanting landscaping work.

Of course, if towards the end of the month, the weather messes with the Yankees’ and Mets’ openers — that’s another story! If that happens, we’ll be shaking our fists at the weather right along with you.

 

Thanks to Fiberon Decking and Railing for use of the feature photo at the top of the page.

Building/Designing Natural Looking Waterscapes

To design a natural looking waterscape system, several elements are key: well chosen natural stones, quality biological filtration systems, and a wide range of ground and aquatic plants.

“To say we’ve learned a good deal over the years as to how to do this kind of work is an understatement,” says owner Dave Stockwell. “At Deck and Patio, we’ve created over 300 water features across Long Island, New York City as well as out-of-state.”

Any special tricks Deck and Patio has developed over time are of little value, he adds, if we don’t get the basics right. And those basics begin with the right rocks.”

Rocks and Boulders

When chosen well, and positioned perfectly, rocks can make a man-made waterfall and stream appear as if they’re flowing from a natural mountain bed.

Members of our team have made a study of how rocks precisely affect the flow of water. Our efforts have been rewarded; Deck and Patio has received a multitude of awards for our waterscapes.

Below are some examples of how we pull everything together.

 

Positioning Rocks and Boulders in the Landscape

Positioning Rocks and Boulders in the Landscape

 

The rocks used in this Deck and Patio pond installation – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey, says Dave.

Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, and sometimes for its ideal crevices in which perennials could be planted.

 

 

 

 

 

Moss Rock

Moss Rock

Whenever Deck and Patio designs and builds a new waterscape or natural landscape retaining wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

Moss grows well in shady areas, he adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting.

“Of course, also choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is essential for a natural-looking scene.

 

 

 

 

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams

When gravity urges water onward, it spills over rocks naturally, so it takes a trained eye to ensure any man-made waterscape add rocks as if nature had created the movement and water trail.

For example, each “spill rock” along this Deck and Patio  backyard stream was carefully chosen and positioned to depict the most natural water movement.

The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Plantings

 

Surrounding Plants’ Size, Color, and Texture

Surrounding Plants’ Size, Color, and Texture

When adding a water feature to existing landscape, we consider the color and texture of surrounding plant material, as well as how the plants will eventually grow.

Here Deck and Patio planted low-lying evergreens and ground cover perennials in and around the stream and rock outcroppings. These soften the large boulders, which would otherwise stand out and spoil the natural look.

Larger flowering plantings were installed behind the water feature to provide accenting and screening. On lower portions of the slope, the water feature was planted with flowers for cutting and small beds for annuals so the client could interact with the stream garden throughout the season.

 

 

 

The gurus of all things pond/water gardens — Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — list the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

 

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

• Water Lilies

• Lotus

• Marginal Plants

• Water Lily-like Plants

• Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these aquatic groups,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement appears the most natural.”

 

 

Landscaping Long Bloom Periods:

Landscaping Long Bloom Periods:

For this project, Deck and Patio also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers that cascade and wind over and between the rocks we used.

An expert selection of plants can provide color from April through October; note also that here, the whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

 

 

 

Steep Property Grades Can Be Useful

 

Steep Property Grades

Steep Property Grades

“It would be wonderful if we were brought in for a job where we get to sculpt the entire property’s terrain, but, alas, that’s almost never the case,” says Dave Stockwell. “Our job is to integrate water features and the landscaping with what’s already there.”

Surprisingly, a steep property grade can be a good thing when it comes to waterscapes. Such terrain not only offers an opportunity for drama but designing a water feature along such a slope will permit Mother Nature to do all the heavy lifting — or pushing the water along.

In this case we added a stream and plantings along such a property with five cascading waterfalls — using moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals. We also put in a series of stairs and landings to bring them down to the homeowners new pool area.

 

 

More Than Beautiful: Self-Sustaining Water Features

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

It’s true: the sounds and sights of moving water turn any property into a restful escape.

But ponds and pond-less water features can also include rainwater harvesting components — offering a great way to save water and aid the local ecology.

Such rainwater harvesting systems support all types and combinations of water features  — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams.

The captured rainwater can also replenish a water feature’s surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and it is especially helpful during droughts.

As certified installers of renowned Aquascape Inc. products, the water conservation systems and other water garden products Deck and Patio uses are both technologically and biologically efficient.

 

Project # 1

Koi is a healthy part of this pond's natural ecosystem

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem

 

 

The Aquascape products Deck and Patio used for this project include high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, and gravel beds.

Note: Koi can also be a truly beneficial part of a pond’s eco-system, including this self-sustaining one.

 

 

Project # 2

 

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

 

The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“The collection system is located completely below ground,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “The reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for City water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

 

Project # 3

 

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a beautiful pond, waterfalls and stream with a bridge across it.  Along with the right water plants, everything works together to create a very healthy eco-system — underpinning the peaceful vistas that restore the soul.

Why is this important? Well, such products create a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

 

Project # 4

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

With a “pondless” waterfall, the waterfalls and stream do not drop into a pond, but seep through gravel where it is first filtered and then collected in an underground reservoir and continually recirculated. Because you are continually filtering and recirculating water, such a project is definitely eco-friendly.

However, natural evaporation of the water feature will require, like this Deck and patio one, that the recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. So for those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use any town water by even occasionally replenishing your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes the RainXchange reservoir system we used here.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

There are many routes to sustainability. And the beautiful water feature you choose for a restful respite will be truly that…having no tinge of guilt about its impact on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Your Vacation Experience Back Home

This year's cold snap

This year’s cold snap

If during this winter’s record-breaking cold snap you sought haven in some warmer climate, no doubt you came back with more than memories of indoor resort comforts.

For example, when clients of ours a few years ago returned from Costa Rica they didn’t want to loose the happy family times they had experienced. A small country, bordered by two big bodies of water (the Caribbean and the Pacific,) they relished all that the sunny and water-surrounded country offered.

It’s not surprising, then, that our clients wanted to continue some of the happy family outdoor activities back home.

But they feared that creating their very own backyard resort — that would offer similar outdoor amenities they enjoyed on holiday — would be hard to achieve.

First, there were conflicting priorities between the husband and wife. She wanted cool places to relax with friends and he wanted to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.

Then, of course, there was the challenges presented by their property’s 12-ft elevation change in the property.

 

Pergola and multi-level patio

Pergola and multi-level patio

The solutions Deck and Patio recommended were to place their new vinyl-lined pool directly in the sun while at the same time creating an shaded area for congregating in comfort via a swim up/walk up bar with an overhead pergola.

To address the elevation, Deck and Patio’s design called for using the elevation for building a raised patio, with a wrap-around stair leading to the patio/pool and sunken swim up bar patio, plus creating a large pool natural stone waterfall area with plantings to hold back the grade.

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

“We were able to design the retaining area without having to add rails or fences that might have blocked views of their resort-style free-form pool,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Plus the addition of the natural stone waterfall with water slide didn’t just help act as a retaining wall, it also contributed to re-creating memories of their happy Costa Rican vacation.”

 

 

Custom In-ground Spa

Custom In-ground Spa

 

To complete their backyard resort, on the upper patio, nearer the house, we built a custom in-ground vinyl-lined spa.

Operating separately from the pool and being just steps from their door, they can use this resort amenity all year long.

 

 

The clients were delighted with their new retreat. And for an added bonus, the project won Deck and Patio several gold medal design awards from NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) and NESPA (Northeast Spa & Pool Association).

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

A Techo-Bloc multi-tiered patio, natural stone steps, lush landscaping almost completely surround a handsome free-form vinyl-lined pool with swim up bar with pergola, in-pool bar stools; a natural retaining wall with waterfalls and slide adds to the resort feeling.

 

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Considered the ultimate in outdoor living, this vinyl-lined pool includes a U-shaped granite-topped swim up bar with submerged bar stools.

 

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

The 32-foot swim-up bar is faced in cultured stone and rock and curves around to be enjoyed from the patio and well as from in the pool. It is a way of bringing everyone together — those who want to be in the pool and those relaxing on the patio.

 

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Even though it’s not near the pool, the custom spa was designed as a “spill-over” in order to provide the delights of a waterfall when sitting on the patio. The sounds are peaceful — truly reminiscent of their Costa Rican vacation.