Monthly Archives: May 2018

How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

First, Pond Fish Are A Good Thing!

When a pond water feature is well-designed-and-built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem.

However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Keeping Koi Safe

Keeping Koi Safe

 

 

And while it is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions that will mitigate their attempts to reach your pond fish.

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Rock Overhangs

Adding Rock Overhangs

 

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

Include rock overhangs around the outside of the pond. This will, first and foremost, make any pond appear more natural while discouraging cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

 

 

 

 

Pond Water Depth is Key

Pond Water Depth is Key

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading.

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, will put off many avian predators.

 

 

Herons do not like deep water

Herons, for example, do not like deep water.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is installing scarecrows, such as owl statues. A net will also work, but most pond owners prefer to limit net use to fall foliage season.

However, one particularly effective deterrent Deck and Patio has found is installing a motion-activated sprinkler.

Indeed, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, agrees. After testing just about every animal repellent conceivable, he wrote in his blog last year:

“…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

—Larry Hodgson, the Laidback Gardener

 

 

Art Courtesy: the Laidback Gardener

Art is Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener

“At Deck and Patio, we believe that if you build your pond well, and install a motion-activated sprinkler, there really is no reason not to add koi to your pond,” says Dave Stockwell.

“And when using a motion-activated sprinkler, you might find it will drive unwanted animals away from your garden as well.”

 

 

 

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

 

The feature photo at the top of today’s blog is artwork courtesy of the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson.

 

 

 

 

 

By |2018-05-31T13:30:00+00:00May 31st, 2018|Gardening, Koi Ponds, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Waterfalls|Comments Off on How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

Memorial Weekend: Time to Take It Outside!

We Remember.

We Remember.

With a little help from the weather gods, outdoor living season kicks off over Memorial Weekend.

Of course, Memorial Day itself is first and foremost a time to honor our fallen soldiers. And we all want to do that.

But as a precious long weekend, it has also become a time of getting together with family and friends. And as the first weekend of the outdoor living season, it’s ideal for opening pools, heating up the barbecue, spending time gardening — or just reveling in being outdoors.

 

Locating Your Outdoor Kitchen

 

Locating Outdoor Kitchen

Locating Outdoor Kitchen

Fully equipped kitchens have become a key outdoor living amenity.

And there are reasons for locating your outdoor kitchen away from the house — if you have a ‘destination’ pool, or if other key outdoor living areas are set at a distance.

However, it’s generally a good idea to position your outdoor kitchen as close to the house as possible.

Proximity to your indoor kitchen is one obvious reason for this. But your home’s extended roof, not to mention house walls, can provide protection from the elements.

It’s also easier to hook up electricity by being so close to the home’s utility lines.

 

 

Combo Kitchen/Bar

Combo Kitchen/Bar

When you want your kitchen to be equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot, however, you may want to set your kitchen where the outdoor activities take place.

In this case, your outdoor kitchen needs to be fully equipped so there’s less back and forth to the house. This means having lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, and definitely it should have a sink.

Wherever you locate your kitchen, just remember you don’t want to get burned up from intense sun during cooking or dining. A pergola is one answer. But another is to have moveable — yet sturdy — outdoor umbrellas for flexible shade.

 

Stand Alone Outdoor Bars

 

Bar With Water Feature

Bar With Water Feature

 

Depending on what amenities you already have, or your particular landscape, it can be wise to have an outdoor bar/dining spot separate from where the cooking is being done.

And don’t limit yourself to what a bar can be. For example, you can even add waterfalls. The elegant sheet falling ones seen in the photo here gave our clients the sleek modern look they wanted. And, of course, they also provide a very pleasant relaxing sound. This helps friends and family de-stress and invites easy conversation.

We installed the waterfalls with an Aquascape Inc. pondless waterfall system so a pond was not required to capture the falling water.

 

Adding Pool Amenities

 

Pools with Waterfalls

Pools with Waterfalls

Speaking of de-stressing. You might think that being able to cool off, do laps, or play water polo is enough to demand of a swimming pool.

But adding waterfalls can provide a whole new delightful experience.

Not only are these beautiful to look at, but imagine treading water underneath one. Or swimming under it.

Adding such a feature to a pool opens up lots of possibilities like incorporating other fun amenities with it: diving rocks, slides, as well as bright plantings.

There’s lots more to enjoying the outdoor living season. And we will highlight some of these as the season goes on.

 

 

Pool Waterfall

Pool Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Landscaping Options to Wedding Registries

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

 

 

As we approach peak wedding season on our side of “the pond,” we can’t help but be inspired by the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday.

Now few local New York newlyweds will enjoy a cottage nestled on grounds as glorious as those at Kensington Palace (London, England).

But they still want their own bit of Eden.

 

 

 

 

Peony Blooms Full of Majesty

Peony Blooms Are Full of Majesty

To achieve that, some engaged couples — who may be purchasing their first home — add landscaping gifts to their bridal registries: e.g., favorite young trees, saplings, shrubs, and plants.

One floral option is Ms. Markle’s favorite flower — the peony. It’s also a favorite of another American celebrity, Martha Stewart, who has a whole peony garden at her Bedford, NY, farm.

Peonies are available in shades that range from pure white (see our feature photo above) to a rich deep red. If you start them from bulbs, in the Northeast they bloom at the perfect time for weddings: early June.

But brides and grooms don’t have to be limited to individual plants and shrub options. At honeyfund.com, where couples crowd-source funding for various wedding expenses, there is a section dedicated to “Home Builder’ that specifies landscaping.

You can also set up a house registry at featherthenest.com and include landscaping costs. According to the site: “The nest gets your home improvement dreams funded, no matter how big or small.”

Below we suggest some large and small dream landscaping projects for newlyweds.

 

 

It All Begins with Curb Appeal

St. George's Chapel, Windsor, England

Royal Wedding at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, England

 

The Town of Windsor in England has just finished resurfacing all the area roads, walkways and pathways around St. George’s Chapel where the royal wedding will take place.

Of course, the right curb appeal is just as important to local newlyweds. Certainly costs for an attractive home entranceway could be part of any crowd-funding plans.

With that in mind, we are including below some Deck and Patio projects that may inspire ideas.

 

 

 

A fountain can make be a beautiful addition to an entranceway garden. If possible, position the water feature where Deck and Patio did here — close to a window. That way the gentle sounds can be enjoyed indoors as well as out. Plus you get to watch birds and butterflies stop by to take a drink.

A fountain can make be a beautiful addition to an entranceway garden. If possible, position the water feature where Deck and Patio did here — close to a window. That way the gentle sounds can be enjoyed indoors as well as out. Plus you get to watch birds and butterflies stop by to take a drink.

 

As newlyweds get used to all the various responsibilities of owning a home, it helps if at least the initial front walkway plants are tough as well as beautiful. The black-eyed Susan (coneflower) is a very hardy favorite of Deck and Patio clients and was certainly used to great curb appeal here.

As newlyweds get used to all the various responsibilities of owning a home, it helps if at least the initial front walkway plants are tough as well as beautiful. The black-eyed Susan (coneflower) is a very hardy favorite of Deck and Patio clients and was certainly used to great curb appeal here.

 

Not all newlyweds purchase new homes. They may be attracted to stately older homes that already have full-grown plants and shrubs. Perhaps these couples might add the costs of landscaping services in order to care for their already existing flora.

Not all newlyweds purchase new homes. They may be attracted to stately older homes that already have full-grown plants and shrubs. Perhaps these couples might add the costs of landscaping services in order to care for their already existing flora.

 

In addition to plants and shrubs, handsome and decorative hardscape can be included in crowd-sourcing wedding registries.

In addition to plants and shrubs, handsome and decorative hardscape can be included in crowd-sourcing wedding registries.

 

Backyard Gardens of Eden

Woodland Themed Weddings

Woodland Themed Weddings

Some reporting has said that Harry and Megan’s wedding breakfast will be decorated with lots of greenery (silver birch, royal fern, and royal oak.)

Such passion for the outdoors has inspired full blown rustic-chic woodland wedding receptions in recent years. Costs of which can be included in crowd-funding registries.

This passion naturally carries through to a strong desire for lush landscaping around the homes of newlyweds.

Note: Those who have, or are expecting to have children soon, might want to consider plantings that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds, etc.

At the same time, it’s key to exclude any flora that could be poisonous to young children (or pets), and avoid ones with thorny stems or leaves.

That said, there are a myriad of landscaping ideas that will bring natural beauty to a home’s landscape that goes far beyond just the entranceway.

 

 

 

Here Deck and Patio created a double pond separated by large moss rock boulders with creeping ground cover and aquatic-friendly ornamental grasses. River rock, and a new patio walkway curve around the lower pond adorned with colorful plantings. Mature trees around the property’s periphery were kept, adding to the natural wonderland feel of this backyard.

Here Deck and Patio created a double pond separated by large moss rock boulders with creeping ground cover and aquatic-friendly ornamental grasses. River rock, and a new patio walkway curve around the lower pond adorned with colorful plantings. Mature trees around the property’s periphery were kept, adding to the natural wonderland feel of this backyard.

 

Not all waterfall projects need to be on a grand scale. Even modest projects such as this is an opportunity for natural color, textures, and pleasant sounds. Waterfalls splashing in a pond aerates it, keeping it healthy and mosquito-free. Add some boulders and bright lush plantings and you have a little bit of paradise.

Not all waterfall projects need to be on a grand scale. Even modest projects such as this is an opportunity for natural color, textures, and pleasant sounds. Waterfalls splashing in a pond aerates it, keeping it healthy and mosquito-free. Add some boulders and bright lush plantings and you have a little bit of paradise.

 

We spied this picture-perfect landscaped yard on Hometalk.com some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners. We thought it a perfect way to end our blog with:

We spied this picture-perfect landscaped yard on Hometalk.com some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners.

 

 

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias

Tip:

If your wedding isn’t as important to your town as Harry and Meghan’s is to Windsor, England, we suggest you don’t resort to Tom Skerritt’s method of scaring away birds in Steel Magnolias.

Rather crowd-fund for some landscaping help.

 

 

 

Landscape Upgrade: Before, After and In-Between ‘Spool’ Construction

When we previously highlighted this Deck and Patio backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago, our blog posts showcased only the finished project.

However, because this spool has remained a popular download across our social media platforms even today, we thought readers would like to see some of our file photos (below) for this project. They capture its various stages — from the first marking of the grass, to the finished landscaped custom spool with waterfall.

Short Summary of Project

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

 

'Before:' Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

 

“During Spring” As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug so we could do this.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

“During” Waterfall Addition: The boulders needed for a good-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

“During” Waterfall Addition:
The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

 

'Before' the Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see on the right the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small piece of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

‘During’ Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

 “After” Landscaping: First angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard patio.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting Systems Make for Eco-Friendly Waterscapes

Deck and Patio strives to not only make water features look natural, but also be natural. In particular, we design/build ponds and waterscapes that are maintained in a natural way — without chemicals.

To accomplish such beautiful and eco-friendly waterscapes, it is helpful to be thoroughly knowledgeable and well trained in this field.

We are, for example, a Certified Contractor of Aquascape, Inc. — a leader in the waterscape industry. Their certification process is rigorous and ensures high standards.

It has been worth the effort. For years, Deck and Patio has been able to bring healthy, low maintenance ponds, streams, waterfalls or pondless water features to over 300 Long Island properties.

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

One option for clients who prefer not to maintain a pond has been a pondless water feature. Instead of falling into a pond, the flow from waterfalls and streams are built to let the spillover seep through gravel and seemingly disappear into the ground.

The water is actually collected in an underground reservoir system where it is recirculated to replenish the water feature. Here, the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

We surrounded the “pondless” backyard stream with waterfalls (above) by moss rock boulders. The water flows past the client’s newly installed portable hot tub, which was set against a new two-level patio with fire pit and seating/dining areas.

However, there is an even more wonderful way to go “green.” And that is to harvest the rainwater that maintains the water feature.

 

All About Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting Systems

With a pondless waterfall like the project above, the constantly recirculating captured water is definitely eco-friendly. However, natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally.

To go totally “green” — and not use town water to replenish this evaporation — that’s when you’ll want a special reservoir system  — Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System..

In this way, 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.

“An added benefit,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, “is that with harvested rainwater which is filtered and then recirculated, your rainwater runoff isn’t spilling over and running into over-burdened sewer systems.

“As you may know, asphalt and concrete can’t absorb rainwater, which causes the spillover. But we use river rock underneath the waterfalls,” adds Dave. “This filtered the water before it seeps down to the reservoir.”

 

Deck and Patio Feature Using Rainwater Harvesting System

Deck and Patio Feature Using Rainwater Harvesting System

The Aquascape ‘green’ Rainwater Harvesting Systems 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.

“Like with all our Rainwater Harvesting Systems project, 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.”

 

 

Deck and Patio Eco-Friendly Water Features

Deck and Patio Eco-Friendly Water Features

This is another “pond-less” waterfall and stream designed/built by Deck and Patio. Like with all the projects we’re highlight today, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house.

“Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

 

So if you’re hankering for a water feature, and would feel a whole lot better if the water for it is collected rainwater, well, we know a thing or two about how to capture that runoff and use it to beautiful effect.