Monthly Archives: October 2018

//October

Gardening: There’s a Fall Chill in the Air. It’s Time to Think Spring

When you can no longer sit out in the evening without a fire pit to warm you, it’s time to plan for spring. Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall — late October and November. 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

To get some great planting ideas for a spring garden, we spoke with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornel Cooperative Extension, who has some great tips on planting bulbs.

“When to Plant Spring Bulbs

Gardeners wait until the fall to plant their spring bulbs. Waiting until the soil temperature has dipped to about 55°F is ideal. Usually this corresponds to overnight air temperatures cooling to around 40 – 50°F.

 

Which Bulbs to Plant

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

Considering the deer population on Long Island, I would recommend choosing bulbs that the deer tend to avoid.

I suggest planting daffodils, allium (ornamental onion), hyacinth, grape hyacinth and crocus.

Though not actually bulbs, you can venture into some of the other tuberous perennials like peony and tall bearded iris as well.

 

 

Grape Hyacinth: These beauties can make beautiful edging to other spring flowers.

Grape Hyacinth: These beauties can make beautiful edging to other spring flowers.

 

Crocus: These beauties are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

Crocus: These beauties are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

 

Best Soils for Bulbs

Bulbs grow well  in many different soil types but the one site they won’t enjoy is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plan to plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained sandy loams or loamy sands.

Spacing the Bulbs When Planting

As far as spacing, bulb depth and so forth, all of that information is provided as part of the growing instructions for each bulb. Planting depths even vary between varieties, depending on if you have a large “trumpet” variety, or the small ‘Tete A Tete’ varieties. Most bulbs will enjoy a sunny garden, but will usually perform well in a partially sunny garden as well.

Should You Compost

Compost is not necessary to layer on top. If you feel your soil is lacking organic matter, you will be better off incorporating compost into the top 6” of soil before planting. Mix bonemeal or superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole, or incorporate it into the soil around each bulb’s planting hole.

What Tools Will You Need

As far as tools go, to make the job easiest is to buy a bulb planter. This is a metal garden gadget that you stick in the ground, pull it up and out comes a cylinder of soil. Place the bulb, right-side up into the hole, and cover back up with soil. If you don’t have a bulb planter, and garden trowel will do just fine. Short on time? Dig larger holes and place a few bulbs in each hole so the flowers come up in clumps.”

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden: ‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden:
‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

 

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Note from Deck and Patio: Ms. Vultaggio’s comment on Audrey Hepburn reminds us that one of the episodes on the actress’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. 

These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode — and that they are one of the horticulturist’s suggested bulbs.

Our thanks to Sandra Vultaggio for her helpful spring gardening ideas. The weather, by the way, is perfect on Long Island right now  to start thinking of spring! Happy Planting!

 

 

Fall Is a Great Time to Build a Deck

The leaves are only just changing, but there’s been a real nip in the air in the Northeast lately — telling us fall has definitely arrived. And you know what? Autumn is one of the best seasons for deck building.

“There’s a misconception about adding new decks late October and into November,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “And while the weather does get chilly here, the cooler weather is great for such a project. For one thing, a deck built in fall will be ready and waiting for you come spring.”

Also, November frequently offers several good opportunities for enjoying the outdoors, adds Dave. With the addition of a fire pit, it’s possible to hold several backyard get-togethers before winter completely overtakes the outdoor season.

“Most importantly, with the availability of so many high-quality capped composite and PVC deck materials such as Trex Decking, TimberTech, Fiberon, etc., you don’t have to worry how winter will affect the deck. It’s only when using natural wood that you might feel it is best to wait until spring.”

Also, depending on the complexity of the design, its location, and especially how high off the ground it will be, a deck may not require a permit.

“So it’s possible that a deck, which easily expands a home’s entertaining area, can be built within one to three weeks,” says Dave. “Indeed, we build quite a few decks and patios this time of year. And because it’s not peak season, it’s easier for new clients to get us working for them quickly.”

Leaf Tannins Stain Decks

Leaf Tannins Stain Decks

Speaking of foliage. Natural wood is susceptible to stains from leaf tannin and pine needles etc. If you’re choosing a capped composite deck, such as Trex Decking, you don’t need to worry about staining as much as with natural wood. 

However, the experts at Trex, for example, encourage the removal of dirt and debris using a hose or broom to avoid stains. To remove any that have accumulated, once the deck is dry, apply a “brightener” as directed by the manufacturer. Brighteners contain “oxalic acid”, which will remove tannins.

 

Note: The feature photo today at the top of our blog is courtesy of Trex Company. 

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking (Long Island/NY):

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking (Long Island/NY):

Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck anytime of year, including wonderful colorful options even in November.

 

TimberTech Deck and Railing (Long Island/NY):

TimberTech Deck and Railing (Long Island/NY):

The black “Radiance Rail” used for this deck railing offered a variety of sophisticated posts and balusters and rail caps to choose from; for more nighttime safety, the rail caps were fitted with TimberTech’s recessed DeckLite deck lighting — which is especially appreciated in late fall when it gets dark so early.  

 

Trex Decking and Custom Bench (Long Island/NY):

Trex Decking and Custom Bench (Long Island/NY):

These clients wanted to keep a beloved tree and enjoy its natural shade in summer, so Deck and Patio designed/built a Trex seating bench around it in the middle of the new large Trex deck. The bench offers a great spot for enjoying the property’s waterside views anytime of year.

 

Trex Deck with Fire Table (Long Island/NY):

Trex Deck with Fire Table (Long Island/NY):

This lovely Deck and Patio composite Trex deck and railing with custom seating area can be enjoyed in the cooler months just by adding a fire table.

 

 

 

Net Your Pond in Fall, If You Can’t Leave It To Beavers

Autumn Ponds

Autumn Ponds

A few leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color. 

Too much debris collecting at the bottom of a water feature will leave sludge on its floor. Over time, the build up can become so thick it can affect the pond’s depth and alter the water quality.

What to do? 

If you’re a naturalist, you might hope Mother Nature and beavers could come to the rescue. Their flat tails, acting as shovels, could have that sludge dug up and turned into a beaver lodge before you can say TIMBER! 

Alas, the rodents disappeared from Long Island long ago. Anyway they would gnaw through those precious deciduous trees that dropped the leaves in the first place. 

Beavers

Beavers

But Deck and Patio suggests a simpler alternative — cute as beaver’s buck teeth may be. Simple pond netting, put up in advance of peak autumn foliage, will capture the leaves and other debris. 

“Of course it’s best to put up the netting before the leaves drop,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “However, if some leaves have already fallen in, a long-handle pond net can be used to scoop out the debris before covering it with the net.” 

Dave adds that if you’ve had some buildup, there are natural pond cleaners that will break down accumulation from previous years.

 

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful in due course to put up pond netting to collect foliage debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

 

Installing Pond Netting:

Installing Pond Netting:

Aquascape’s Dave Kelly suggests tenting the net so it won’t sag into the pond when its full of leaves.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

 

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Fall Outdoor Season: Color It Autumn

Many of us in the northeast retreat very reluctantly to a winter spent indoors. We make every effort to extend the outdoor season with the addition of fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, hot tubs, some even adding a four-season room.

4-Season Room

4-Season Room

Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So its natural that when we see the first leaf turn from green to crimson high in a backyard tree, we know we’re heading into the last outdoor living sprint. The subject today is: how can we make this precious outdoor living time richly colorful for the maximum enjoyment?

Outdoor Displays

One way to make the outdoors inviting is by displaying some of fall’s bounty: gorgeous plants, fruits, vegetables and even berries — all perfect for decorating yards and front door entries.

“Annuals provide color when certain plants are no longer in bloom,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.  “Great color producers for fall that last well into several frosts before dying back to the ground include kale, cabbage, decorative peppers, mums, cyclamen, etc.”

It’s also important to add compost to these plants so they get plenty of food while they are blooming, says Dave. 

“Cold hardy mums, for example, require water every other day as they have copious flowers and use up a lot of energy and will require additional watering if there’s isn’t sufficient rainfall. But what a cheerful display these fruits and plants offer.”

 

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Believe it or not, the pumpkin is not a vegetable — it’s a fruit, and a berry at that. Along with hardy mums in bright yellow, etc., at Deck and Patio’s design center in Huntington Station we love displaying lots of these fall ‘berries’ for pops of bright orange.

 

Grouping Fall Plants:

Grouping Fall Plants:

 

 

For different texture and color, it’s a good idea to create a grouping of fall plants. This nice grouping includes cabbage, deep red mums, and winter pansies for a bright, bold statement. (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental Peppers

Aren’t these ornamental peppers beauties! Grown for their decorative value (although edible, they are rather lacking in flavor) as are the leaves and flowers of the deep red Celosia Cristata (aka cockscomb) behind them.  (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

Planning Ahead for Fall Color

Fall can be a great time to plant color for future autumn glory. Here’s two great ideas:

 

Rosehips:

Rosehips:

Rosehips come from plants also known as Autumn Wild Rose. They can enhance any autumn landscape. Note: Since they can take three years to grow from seeds, you’ll probably want to transplant a grown bush. This is done during the dormant season — sometime between November through February.

This beautiful plant is a wildflower with bright red fruit hips that ripen in fall — and stay around through winter. The rose hips grow as the petals of the summer flowers drop off. These hips contain the seeds of the rose. Prune the bushes down to the ground in winter and then wait. When the temperature warms again in spring, they begin to regrow. By summer, you have wild roses, and in fall, you get the rose hips again.

 

Sumac:

Sumac:

When we recommend a great plant for fall color, we emphasize ones that are interesting throughout the year. With Sumac shrubs and trees, their displays begin with large flower clusters in spring, gorgeously colored fall foliage (as seen here) with berries that can last into winter. 

Any well-drained soil works for this adaptable plant. It can take full sun or partial shade. Note: for the most dramatic fall colors, the flame leaf or prairie sumac have the best flowers and color when planted in full sun.