Monthly Archives: October 2019

Home/2019/October

Stepping Stone Walkway Ideas

Stepping stones in areas that get heavy foot traffic are an attractive way to protect the lawn. The stones allow grass, or “softscape,” to shine through while still providing the “hardscape” needed.

However. Is this all that stepping stones can do? “By no means,” 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, for example.”

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.

Practical Pathway

Practical Pathway

 

These clients wanted a footpath leading to their tool shed — a very practical need. But they had a small backyard. 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 we installed 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

Stepping Stones and Ponds

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

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

First: Deck and Patio 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 the stream. 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 around the stream become sparkling ice sculptures,” adds Dave.

 

Stone Island

Stone Island

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 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.

 

Decks and Ponds

Decks and Ponds

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 from the deck, providing a delightful walk across the pond to other viewing areas of the multi-faceted water feature.

 

 

Waterfall Walk

Waterfall Walk

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. “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 rock into 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.

 

Stepping Stone Path

Stepping Stone Path

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.

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk

Backyard Nature Walk

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, “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.”

 

 

 

 

Some Like It Hot: Enjoying Red Fall Foliage at Home

Fiery Red Foliage

Fiery Red Foliage

When the weather gets cool, some really like it hot…fiery red hot, that is. The heat we’re talking about is blazing red foliage — bursts of color that some find ease the pain of the outdoor season coming to an end.

More than that, say experts, the color red goes beyond sensual pleasure. It stimulates the human system — even increasing pulse and heart rates. It’s well worth it then to be able to enjoy autumn’s bursts of fiery red daily, by having the right trees in your yard.

That said, brilliant red foliage outside our very own windows requires planning. To get all the dirt on what trees to plant, we spoke with Angelo Puleo, Nursery Division at Bissett Nursery (Holtsville, NY).

 

Maple Trees

“One of the most popular and widespread deciduous trees that produces bright reds in autumn is the beautiful Maple tree,” says Pueleo. “In particular, along with oaks, we recommend Sugar Maples for great fall red color.”

 

Choosing the right Maple

Choosing the right Maple

 

Note: Be sure to ask experts at an established nursery or landscaping firm which variety of maple, etc. will produce red leaves in fall, as some varieties offer up a blazing yellow instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it’s just for another blog post.

 

 

Red Maple in Fall:

Red Maple in Fall:

A beautiful shade tree in summer with brilliant color in autumn, the Red Maple can be planted any time of year, including fall.

 

Cleveland Select Pear 

Puleo also recommends the Cleveland Select Pear for robust color. Like the Oak and Maple, it is also hardy and can withstand most winds and storms, including ice storms — a real plus in our neck of the woods (the Northeast).

Cleveland Select Pear:

Cleveland Select Pear:

“In spring, the Cleveland Select Pear bursts awake in beautiful white flowers, and in the fall, its leaves offer up a deep orangey-red blaze of color,” adds Pueleo.

Bradford Pear Tree:

Bradford Pear Tree: (Photo With Permission: Abrahami):

A close cousin of the Cleveland Select Pear, the Bradford is pictured here as its leaves begin to turn from green to fall-red.

 

Japanese Maple 

When it comes to smaller trees, Deck and Patio designers often consider Japanese Maples in landscaping plans; red-leafed versions of this beautiful tree offer degrees of red from spring through fall (see last photo). Planting them in early fall allows for new root growth in time for spring.

Japanese Maple (Photo With Permission: Wikipedia 松岡明芳):

Japanese Maple (Photo With Permission: Wikipedia 松岡明芳):

This beautiful Japanese Maple is native to Japan and other nearby Asian countries such as South Korea. It’s prized for the shape of its leaves and rich red color. It’s useful to note that there are different types of Japanese maples. Some stay red ’til their leaves drop in autumn but others leaf out in brilliant reds in spring and turn to yellows and orange in fall. These, of course, can be dazzling, too, but be sure you get what you want.

 

Mighty Oaks

In 2004, the gorgeous and majestic oak tree was designated the USA’s official national tree. Known for its wonderful shade and lumber it grows to great heights from just an acorn. You can begin from a seed, but you might also want to transplant one that is partially grown. While you can transplant up to between 5 and 8 feet in growth, it’s best to go with a smaller tree to allow its roots to cope in the process.  

Mighty Oak:

Mighty Oak:

A few varieties of oak grow rapidly (e.g., Heritage Oak, Swamp White Oak and Northern Red Oak), making them an ideal choice. Like all the trees mentioned in this blog post, leave about 10 feet between each one when planting. The oaks are sun lovers so choose a sunny spot. Note: For those who keep horses, the oak’s acorn and leaves can be toxic to animals such as horses. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list for fiery red foliage. But we hope it’ll be enough to get your heart pumping every time you walk outdoors next fall. The fiery red scene will so take you away that you’ll forget you’re wearing a jacket.

 

 

By |2019-10-24T12:42:51-05:00October 24th, 2019|Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Gardening, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes, trees, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Some Like It Hot: Enjoying Red Fall Foliage at Home

Backyard Pond: A Place of Reflection

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

The famed impressionist, Claude Monet, loved painting the water gardens in his home in Giverny, France. His paintings capture the trees, clouds, and sky reflected in the lily ponds at various times of day, in very different light — in the pre-dawn, the brightness of noonday, at sunset.

Each example allows the viewer to reflect on the differing views of beauty created by the pond’s stillness. 

We may not all be painters. But we all love to stop and reflect when we see the sky and other objects captured in still waters. 

Consider the happy owners of the following Deck and Patio vanishing edge (infinity) swimming pond. Our own Dave Stockwell explains that water features such as this project’s two man-made ponds, when correctly designed, positioned, and constructed, can provide a transforming experience in one’s life. 

 

 

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

 

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

 

The vanishing edge pond in fall

The vanishing edge pond in fall

 

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

 

“As you can see from the next photo of this pond, sunset is a magnificent time to mediate on the illusions created by the reflecting pond’s placid water,” says Dave. “The water mirrors its surroundings so perfectly, it can be a challenge to tell the real sky, ocean, and landscape from their images on the water.”

 

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset:

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset

 

The entire project was actually two ponds. The first larger pond shown in the above photos is the vanishing edge swimming pond. The smaller of the two ponds, below, is just steps outside the homeowners’ back door. Note how beautiful the back of the house is captured in the pond and reflected back. 

 

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

 

Landscape design is an essential element in bringing about beautiful reflections and peaceful scenes. “Our designers used Mother Nature’s own creations — plants, moss rocks, and the water itself, to design a true mystical experience,” adds Dave. 

To learn more about these two ponds and their natural biological filtration systems, read here. 

 

 

It’s Time to Fatten Up Your Pond Fish

Our blog last week suggested netting your pond before the leaves fall. It’s worth doing in the next few days if you haven’t done it yet. This is also the time for pond owners to be fattening up their pond’s fish.  

Feeding Pond Fish in Fall

Feeding Pond Fish in Fall

When pond water gets below 59 degrees, you can — and should — plump up your darlings to survive winter hibernation. Using fish food made for cold water, gradually increase how much you feed these lovely fish as temperatures start to drop.

 

As the water temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them. Once temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Dave Kelly, from Aquascape inc., the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

So even though there is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

 

The Koi Will Be Fine As Temperatures Drop

Koi Will Do Fine Outdoors in Winter

Koi Will Do Fine Outdoors in Winter

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

Actually, fish do just fine even during winter. That said, Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio 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.

 

 

Note: In a few weeks, we’ll write more on caring for pond fish in winter.

Chemical Pond Treatments

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

 

This is also the perfect time to treat your pond ahead of the cold weather. Realize, that even if you netted your pond, some debris will make it into the water no matter how careful you are.

Dave Kelly recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).

Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

 

Healthy Pond Come Spring

Healthy Pond Come Spring

Do a little pond maintenance (see last week’s blog) and care for your pond fish, and when spring arrives, you’ll be glad you did. Your pond will require much less work to begin your new season of pond-side outdoor living .

If you have any questions or would like assistance with preparing your pond or caring for your fish, contact our office at 631-549-8100.

By |2019-10-10T12:08:51-05:00October 10th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Koi Ponds, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on It’s Time to Fatten Up Your Pond Fish

Use Pond Netting: Like Apples, Leaves Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

Apple Picking Season

Apple Picking Season

 

 

One way you know it’s fall on Long Island is apple-picking kicks into gear just as leaves start changing color. Perhaps the smell of warm cider against the backdrop of bright colored leaves is Mother Nature’s consolation for taking away summer.

Of course, like all good things, this consolation comes with a few chores. Because what follows peak color (expected to arrive here around October 19th) is the inevitable clean up.

 

 

 

Fallen Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems

Fallen Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems

 

If these leaves fall on the lawn, they can easily be raked and collected. However, if you have a pond or other water feature, those fallen leaves can cause a bit of a mess and a lot more work come spring.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution. “It’s a good idea to get pond netting up before the leaves begin to fall,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

 

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.)

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.)

Ideally you’ll have your netting up before any leaves fall. And then simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. “And you can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves,” adds Dave.

The netting will save countless hours come spring says Dave. “Of course, if you’re a bit late doing that, you can always use a long-handle pond net to clear out the debris, but it’s much easier if you use a net.”

Another good idea, says Dave, is to trim back and remove and dead foliage from the aquatic plants before or after you put up the net. This cuts down excessive organic material that might otherwise decompose in the water feature.”

 

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Pond lilies are idyllic water plants. However, during early fall, they are one of the plants that it’s a good idea to cut back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water. 

 

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

 

Since some debris will make it into your pond no matter how hard you work, Aquascape Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).  Their expert, Dave Kelly, recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

 

Okay, so there’s a few chores to do. But Mother Nature is putting on a show over the next few weeks. And if you’re planning to travel to view the colors change and learn when we’ll be at peak here on Long Island or elsewhere, a good foliage map is produced by the Smoky Mountain National Park (link).

Below is a screen shot of their map showing Long Island should be at near peak color around October 12th. But it’s always a good idea to get updates because rain, wind and rapid temperature changes can affect the timing.

 

Smoky Mountain National Park map

Smoky Mountain National Park map

 

Also! A great link for the best places for apple picking on Long Island can be found at mommypoppins.com.  We also have a screen shot of their feature article on this (below).

 

From Mommypoppins.com

From Mommypoppins.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2019-10-03T13:28:19-05:00October 3rd, 2019|Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Use Pond Netting: Like Apples, Leaves Don’t Fall Far From the Tree