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Creating a Lush Poolscape with Colorful Plantings

Sleek geometric pools can look just fine without a lot of softening. The addition of, perhaps, sheer descent waterfalls (aka sheet falling), a handsome patio, plus a green backdrop, and the picture is complete.

But pools designed in a more natural look, more free-form such as Mother Nature might create, cry out for a more lush poolscape. In addition, for practical reasons, pools naturally have a lot of surrounding patio hardscapes. So adding the right plants for color and texture, nestled in and around moss or other natural stone rocks and boulders, and some waterfalls, turn your poolscape into an oasis.  

Here’s a few Deck and Patio projects that will give you an idea of what we’re talking about.

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio’s design gave this vacation-style Adirondack pool the exact feeling our clients wanted; they just step outside to a natural swimming pond where they can hang out. 

We added bright colorful plants in between the boulders, in such a way that they cascade into the pool, like they would in nature. This contributes to a beautiful all-rock pool, filtered and treated chemically, but which looks like a natural pond.

 

 

Pool Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Pool Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Here, vibration flowers and fragrance — provided by many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — were planned for successional color throughout the pool season.

 

 

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa (Long Island/NY):

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa (Long Island/NY):

This concrete pool has a vinyl liner. We positioned it into the natural surrounding landscape considering carefully any existing trees and mature shrub root systems. With that lush backdrop, the addition of color plants and ground cover make for a glorious retreat.

 

 

New Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

New Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

Close Up of Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

Close Up of Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And old wooden retaining wall took away from the attractiveness of the pool area.

Our creative team introduced a unique concept to deal with this new poolscape: re-grade the slope, turning it into a “natural” retaining wall (left) including a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden in its place.

Once the stream and waterfall were complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping (see close up at right).

Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter — and along with bright colorful plants, we added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

 

Go Bold with Your Poolscape (Long Island/NY):

Go Bold with Your Poolscape (Long Island/NY):

 

Now, consider this stunning apricot-pink rose that one of our designers added to landscaping around this client’s pool.

Such a dramatic hued plant gets attention, and in smaller spaces like this, it helps the landscape to recede behind it — causing the overall area to seem larger.

 

As for this color: without a doubt “orange” roses have the most attitude in the rose family. These beauties are known for enthusiasm, not to mention passion.

The color also suggests a sense of significance and even urgency — perhaps just the right color to draw your loved ones outside on a warm summer day.

 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

Note: Today’s Feature Photo (top of page) is another example of Deck and Patio’s lush poolscapes. If you’d like to learn more about this project, click here. 

 

 

 

Landscaping Awards: Sweeping the Entire Water Features’ Category

Submitting your company’s project(s) for recognition by your peers requires a bit of work. For example, arranging for a photographer to visit the completed job sites — hopefully on sunny days — must also be coordinated with our Deck and Patio clients. 

Then choosing just the right photos and writing up details of the work to support these entries  requires precious time — usually during our busiest time of year. Only then, does “fingers crossed” waiting begin.

Winning Awards

When you consider the quality of Deck and Patio’s competitors, over the years we’ve always been humbled not to mention a little bit proud when winning our share of awards. 

And right now we are in the process of arranging photography for some of our most recent work. 

While this is being done, we couldn’t resist remembering that time, not too long ago, when Deck and Patio actually swept APSP’s entire water feature category.

“To receive an award from The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) — the voice of the pool and spa industry — is a great achievement,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “To have won Gold, Silver and Bronze for three of our water features, and to have been the only company to win in that category that year, says all the effort and love we put into our work was recognized.”

Here are those awards:

 

1.  Gold Award, Islip NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Residential Water Features 

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY)

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY)

The waterfalls we created to flow over rocks in this water feature are not just for beauty; they aerate the 23  by 16,  2-foot-deep pond, keeping it from becoming stagnant. In addition to aquatic plants in and around the pond, the landscaping included bright plantings. We added colorful koi, plus the pond attracts other desirable wildlife for a blissful backyard escape that is a delight for all the senses.

 Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

We also added stepping stones across this same pond, which make it possible to go from their new deck out into the yard — in a way that contributes to the overall restful experience of the water feature. The stones’ irregularity and careful placement create an element of what the ancient Japanese called the ‘contemplative world.’

 

2.  Silver Award, Brooklyn/NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Residential Water Features

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Even though they live in a bustling, high-traffic part of New York City, this client wanted her children to experience the same interaction with nature that she had as a child. For them we designed/built a complete backyard playground oasis: a swimming pond with a beach-style entry and a water feature with three waterfalls.

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Instead of using any chemicals, to keep the pond healthy through a natural eco-system, we used all Aquascape Inc. equipment and components. 

We also constructed the shallow pond as a deeper koi pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel; when the children are older, this can be removed, leaving only the liner, to create a full-sized koi pond providing an entirely different experience for the children.

 

3. Bronze Award, Fort Salonga/NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Exterior/Interior Portable Hot Tubs

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

These clients wanted a spillover spa, but so they could enjoy it all year, they wanted it separate from the pool. To provide the look they wanted, along with year-round use, we built a portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it.

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

We also added a moss rock waterfall just beneath the hot tub that spills into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, this waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground concrete spillover spa.

 

Those three jobs won the whole water features category! Gold, Silver, Bronze. Fingers crossed on our new round of submissions!

 

Backyard Upgrade in Huntington/NY: How to Cope with a Slope

You might not believe it from the finished results, but this backyard upgrade involved one of the most challenging sites Deck and Patio ever worked on.

“It literally had a seven-foot elevation from one end of their rather small yard to the other,” says Dave Stockwell. “And their hopes for a full outdoor retreat — pool, spa, patio, waterfall, custom fire pit — and on a tight budget — added to the challenges.

“Our biggest problem to solve was how to make everything look like it fit in naturally without it all looking like a giant hill.”

Dave says the way our design/build staff approached the project was to take on the grade in small bites — working out from an existing lower level patio to a new raised patio and then up to a pool. 

Initial Design Plan

Initial Design Plan

 

“We worked with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) to accomplish this. After the plans were initially made, the clients decided they also wanted a spa.

 

 

The best solution was adding a portable hot tub that we could nestle in between the two new patios.”

 

Bullfrog Spa With Custom Installation (Huntington/NY):

Bullfrog Spa With Custom Installation (Huntington/NY):

By surrounding the hot tub with natural stone boulders with colorful plantings, the hot tub has a custom set-in-garden appeal. It was also positioned close to their back door so they can enjoy easy access year-long.

Note: the hot tub is accessible from both the upper and lower patios. We also used rock boulders imported from Pennsylvania to create steps from the patio into the spa.

 

Partial in-Ground Pool (Huntington/NY):

Partial in-Ground Pool (Huntington/NY):

The pool is 16′ x 36’ — a wonderful full-size in such a small backyard. We pulled the pool out of the ground 16″ to create a seat wall, and used large boulders and plants to hold back the grade and soften the hard boulders. 

The job site was so small that we had to partially build the pool, install boulders. slide, and waterfall, and then complete the pool wall construction.

 

Small Yard Pool Construction (Huntington/NY):

Small Yard Pool Construction (Huntington/NY):

Here’s a photo of moss rock boulders being installed on the wall of the pool. Boulders like these were also needed to form the moss rock waterfall.

 

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Here you see the completed moss rock waterfall with the sweet potato vine we added. Landscaping helps bring a setting to life and softens the hardscape.

 

Natural Staircase (Huntington/NY):

Natural Staircase (Huntington/NY):

One way to make use of the slope on a property to to create a stepped pathway. Here we made a stone stairway with natural plantings on either side which coordinates with the hot tub setting and pool/patio design.

 

 

The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift: An Outdoor Kitchen Design Session

Giving the Gift of a Design Session

Give the Gift of a Design Session

Same Ol' Same Ol' Gifts

Same Ol’ Same Ol’ Gifts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, you’re pretty sure Dad doesn’t want another tie or package of tennis balls for Father’s Day. However, time is running out. What to do? 

Well, we can’t guarantee we can build him a new outdoor kitchen in time for Father’s Day. But we can set up an appointment for him to plan out his dream kitchen with us (via phone or Skype if he requires). 

So all you’ll need do is give him a card with the scheduled time and date.

If you’d like to wrap something beyond just a card, you can print out some examples of Deck and Patio’s outdoor kitchens. Below is a sampling of our custom projects:

 

 

Deck Outdoor Kitchen

Deck Outdoor Kitchen

# 1 

This outdoor kitchen is sitting on a Trex deck (Spiced Rum) where we also created a bench against the railing.

Note how we faced some of the outdoor kitchen with matching boards so it all fits nicely together.

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

# 2

Depending on the space available and how the yard is designed, Dad may want a bar/dining area as part of his outdoor kitchen.

We designed the bar and outdoor kitchen counter in a curved shape to mimic the patio design. It is granite topped and the base of the activity center is faced in natural stone. The lounging area’s outdoor umbrella is portable and can be used where needed, including at the bar/kitchen.

Adding a bar offers a great place for guests and family to gather. In this case, it’s a truly peaceful spot since it was installed near a water feature with waterfalls next to a portable hot tub.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

# 3

For some Dads, space will be at a premium. But he won’t have to sacrifice style.

As for the particular amenities shown here, one trend we’re seeing in outdoor kitchens is warming/cooling drawers made by companies like Ronda. These insulated drawers are sealed and work without electricity. Your drinks stay cool or your food stays warm depending on what you put in its lower drawer.

They have a magnetic seal, which along with being waterproof will also keep away bugs and dust. Indeed, you can choose a single drawer just for keeping dishes and cutlery completely clean.

(Note: Deck and Patio frequently locates outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless the property has a destination pool. In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning.)

 

 

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

# 4

For this project, Deck and Patio constructed a custom activity area on the mid-level of a 3-level deck.

Just steps from the top-level’s large seating area, the custom outdoor kitchen/dining area includes a new grill, refrigerator, a small bar to enjoy the water views, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

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.

 

 

Basic Outdoor Kitchen:

Basic Outdoor Kitchen:

# 5

Sometimes space is really tight and that’s no problem.

However. Providing an upgrade to Dad’s old grill may not require a whole lot — just some careful measuring and choosing the perfect amenities to fit the space.

 

 

 

#6

Small Deck With Outdoor Kitchen

Small Deck With Outdoor Kitchen

 

Another example of Where there’s a will, there’s a way! to fit a full outdoor kitchen. All you could hope for tucked in the corner of a small deck.

 

If you’d like a few more ideas to print out for Dad, click here:

 

 

 

 

Feature photo at top of page: If you happen to have a pool, Dad may want his outdoor kitchen to be pool-side — where all the fun is happening.

In the case of this project, the kitchen is part of a drink/dining bar for fun gatherings. This kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator along with the eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2020-06-11T14:42:40-05:00June 11th, 2020|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Outdoor Bars, Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Ponds & Water Features|Comments Off on The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift: An Outdoor Kitchen Design Session

Bring Your Backyard to Life with a New Deck and Pond

Most are aware that when you add a pond to your yard, the water feature naturally attracts desirable wildlife such as birds, butterflies, etc.

But a deck can add life, too.

A deck that abuts a pond, for example, creates an idyllic spot for a variety of fun pursuits: cocktails after work, dining al fresco, bird watching, koi study/feeding, watercolor painting, book reading, and even meditation.

Because of such enticements, laughter and human chatter frequently mingle with birdsongs and the croaking of frogs. And backing up this vibrant symphony are the tranquil sounds of waterfalls and babbling brooks. 

The following Deck and Patio project is one such life-bringing project. (And we are delighted to say that it won for us two prestigious Gold Medal awards (APSP Awards/NESPA Awards).

Backstory

The homeowners felt they had neglected their love of nature long enough. They wanted a new backyard that was a home for desirable wildlife and lush vegetation, a place to regularly refresh the soul and spirit as well as entertain. 

The wife says she always loved birds and nature but hadn’t seen birds in a long time. A fully-blooming landscape was important to them, not only to attract birds but lots of butterflies. We proposed a multi-feature natural retreat that included a deck and pond. 

 

The Pond

 

Brooks, Waterfalls, Pond

Brooks, Waterfalls, Pond

This retreat includes two 35-foot babbling brooks and a four-foot multi-tiered waterfall that feed into the pond. The rocks we installed – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, sometimes for their ideal crevices in which garden perennials could be planted.

 

The Deck

For their deck, the clients wanted natural wood. 

“We often recommend using the remarkably durable Brazilian Walnut hardwood (Ipe – pronounced “e-pay”) that we used for this project,” says Dave Stockwell.

“Ipe’s strength, hardness and durability also resists splintering, termites, wear, rot, fire, chemicals, marine borers and almost every other threat imaginable. And because it is 100 percent natural wood, it is recyclable at the end of its long service life.”

 

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Because we were installing the pond at the same time, we were able to design it all as a whole. Note how the pond seems to continue to flow under the deck, even though it doesn’t. The bridge, which was not done by Deck and Patio, was also constructed out of Ipe.

 

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining (Long Island/NY):

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining (Long Island/NY):

Imagine dining on your deck as the sun sets when you can not only hear birds singing goodnight, but being so near the pond, the gentle swish of koi swimming is part of the experience. That’s pretty much as good as as life gets. 

 

Aquatic Plants for Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants for Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Creeping Jenny is one of the many aquatic plants Deck and Patio used here, first as a type of ground cover, but also for its cascading ability over rocks into the pond. Its pale green (chartreuse) leaves are shiny and luxurious and in summer boasts tiny yellow flowers. 

 

Pond With Waterfalls:

Pond With Waterfalls:

The four-foot multi-tiered waterfall feeding into the pond appears just like you see it in nature. To accomplish this, it is important to understand the way water moves over rock. Natural looking movement is determined by the type of rocks used, forcing water to move multiple ways when it comes down over the waterfall.

 

We also considered every detail carefully to ensure that it would fit perfectly with the additional elements the homeowners had hired other companies to do, such as the conservatory and small bridge — always taking into account how everything would appear in nature. 

 

 

 

 

Get Ready for Summer with a Stone Bar and Trellis

These Long Island, NY, clients wanted to upgrade their backyard with lots of outdoor living amenities. But space was at a premium. There wasn’t room, for example, for a pond with waterfalls. Also, designing/adding a waterfall area to their new pool (something Deck and Patio is known for) would have reduced the desired patio space. 

Sheer Descent Waterfalls

Sheer Descent Waterfalls

“So our design team came up with the idea of having two sheer descent waterfalls  flowing out of the stone outdoor bar they wanted,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

“We designed the waterfalls be be ‘pondless’ — so the spill is captured below ground without the usual above-ground presence of a pond.”

(Sheer descents are also known as sheet falling or water curtain waterfalls.

 

 

 

'Pondless' Waterfalls

‘Pondless’ Waterfalls

The best part of these waterfalls is their ability to offer the audio and visual enjoyments of continuous flowing water while using only a minimum of water flow. The Aquascape underground “pondless waterfall” system stores and recirculates the captured water through an underneath pump that sends the water up through a filter.

Note: The charming block of plantings in front of the bar provides a natural softscape that breaks up the surrounding hardscapes with bursts of color and softness.

 

 

Custom Wood Trellis/Pergola

Custom Trellis

Custom Trellis

 

The addition of a custom wood trellis over the bar helped create an “outdoor great room” effect through the use of this attractive piece of architecture.

It also adds to the private escape feeling which is desirable anytime, but which is particularly valuable these days when travel is so unappealing to many. 

Homeowners can add climbing roses or other climbing plants to such a trellis for additional natural beauty. And the shade from the pergola will increase over the years as the vines continue to grow.

 

 

 

 

Custom Bar with Trellis

Custom Bar with Trellis

The custom bar with trellis was set across from a slightly raised patio lounge area furnished with circular wicker seating and a shade umbrella.

The bar’s stone mimics the lovely patio paving stones; it is topped by a counter made from composite decking material that gives the appearance of wood, but without the cracking, rotting, or splitting.  This countertop also requires no sealants because the composite materials are already protected from UV rays, and is very resistant to damage from insects, water or sun.

 

A note about the Cambridge Random Pavers used in this project. 

Cambridge Pavingstones

Cambridge Pavingstones

To create the patio pool surround and other patio areas, we compacted the soil back around the pool to allow for the immediate installation of the new pavers around the pool.

This compacting process is not done by many contractors. We, however, have been doing it successfully for over 15 years with little or no soil movement.

The idea is that, using compacted soil, the base will not settle so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle.

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.

 

 

Vinyl Pool

Vinyl Pool

 

 

This project also included a vinyl-pool with automated cover and additional patio lounging areas.

 

 

 

The Backyard Sanctuary You Always Wanted

 

 

Wish Lists Are Key

Wish Lists Are Key

 

Have you been wanting a backyard sanctuary but don’t know what to do first? Sometimes, the best way to begin is to create a wish list.

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This is what they wanted for their outdoor sanctuary:

 

 

 

Wish List Come to Life

Wish List Come to Life

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This was their list for an outdoor sanctuary:

— an in-ground vinyl-lined pool

— large patio area,

— outdoor kitchen,

— outdoor shower,

— fire pit,

— serene streams and waterfalls, and

— high-tech/energy-efficient pool components that are undetectable in the landscape.

 

“We were happy to assure them that we could bring together all the expertise necessary and design and organize it all,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In fact, incorporating outdoor technology with all the mechanics well hidden in beautiful settings fit right into our wheelhouse. It’s one of our trademarks.”

 

Energy-Efficient Pool

Insulation

Energy-Efficiency

Energy-Efficiency

 

The water in a pool is often around 85 or 90 degrees, while the surrounding soil is considerably cooler. Adding insulation around the outside of the pool wall, as we did for this project, creates a thermal break between the warm water and the soil that really saves energy by helping the pool water to retain its warmth.

 

 

Heaters/Pumps

We worked with the owners to find energy-efficient solutions for the whole project. There are many ways to increase efficiency:

To heat the pool, we added a hybrid system that uses both a gas heater and an electric heat pump. The heat pump acts like a reverse air conditioner, pulling in warmth from the air and transferring it into the pool. This design not only adds heat taken from the air — and not from electricity — but the gas heater can act as back up when the air temperature is very low or when creating heat more quickly is required.

The “variable speed pump” is an extremely efficient pump that allows low energy use by slowing down the motor dramatically. It decreases the amount of energy the pump uses. It can run twenty-four-seven much more efficiently than others pumps that are used only a few hours a day.

Automation

Raising and lowering the speed of the pump is programmed by computer and they can control when it turns on and off. The computer will also monitor the chemical levels in the pool and decrease or increase them as required.

 

 

Hiding the Automation Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Deck and Patio hid the pool equipment away, up a delightful pathway, behind the waterfalls.

We designed and built the streams and waterfalls to flow through berm with moss rock. The gentle sounds of two streams leading to two separate waterfalls, as well as the splash of jet sprays, screen out any sounds from high-tech pool equipment.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy efficient components supporting it all. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to backyard retreat. 

An outdoor shower stands at base of stepping stone pathway (right) that leads up to pool equipment.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls.

Note: Updating Your Pool

With vinyl pools you can also change a staircase, add a bench or swim-out, change the coping, and of course change your old liner.

Liner color choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool as seen in this photo. There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Their sanctuary’s outdoor kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pond-side Living: The Home-Refuge You Never Knew You Wanted

Just about every one on Long Island has a “can’t wait to do” list for when social distancing is over. Being locked down has been a struggle. Every inch of our properties, inside and out, have been under family microscopes — causing us to make still another list: “must-have improvements” as soon as possible!

This week, Deck and Patio is focusing on a landscape idea for that second list. A landscaping transformation that will be enjoyable for the whole family. 

Imagine for a moment an eco-friendly water garden, steps from your door. A water feature that provides endless hours of entertainment and draws family members outside, together or on their own. An outdoor spot alive with interest and stimulation that is a delight in all seasons.

This home-refuge idea is: Pond-side living.

 

Ponds in Spring

Deck and Patio Pond in Spring

Deck and Patio Pond in Spring

As the weather warms, pond fish come out of winter hibernation. As koi lethargy turns to activity, inactivity in the family is also overcome. Children want to run outside and feed them. Even Fido is thrilled.

With flowers blossoming, trees budding, pond-side in spring is a paradise for families. Not only are pond fish a delight to study but a healthy pond attracts more birds, a few frogs, etc. Backyard strolls are enjoyed with a symphony of birdsongs and croaks — melting any winter-built-up tensions away.

We should add, spring is also a time for pond cleaning and maintenance: the removal of debris, revving up of the filtration system, installing a pump or skimmer, and sometimes changing the water. 

“Having designed and built over 300 ponds on Long Island, Deck and Patio has our share of spring pond maintenance contracts,” says Dave Stockwell. “Spring pond maintenance isn’t all that hard really. Frankly, we specialize in creating low-maintenance ponds. Their ecosystems work naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. So very often the maintenance is minimal.”

 

Ponds in Summer

Natural Swimming Ponds

Natural Swimming Ponds

If your pond was designed to be a natural swimming pond, summer is a wonderful time for pond-side living. Regular swimming pools are terrific, too, but there’s not much to see when snorkeling in a concrete pool. 

Another pleasure of a natural swimming pond is the lack of chemicals. This means you’ll run across the odd dragonfly flitting across your pond’s surface. You may also spy a salamander at its edge. And frogs (who eat the more undesirable insects around your pond) may parent some tadpoles in any natural pond. That aside, swimming in a well-maintained pristine natural pond is not just possible, it is thrilling. Children and adults alike love it. 

Whether or not it’s a swimming pond, most ponds are designed with waterfalls which add to the peaceful enjoyment while they aerate the water. The sounds of moving water is as good for relaxing as a massage. 

Reading a book next to a water garden or dining al fresco with the family is a wonderful way to spend summer hours.

 

Pond-side Living:

Pond-side Living:

This pond project by Deck and Patio included a new deck with a viewing platform where the family can dine and enjoy the pond and its robust landscaping. After dinner they can walk across a set of large stepping stones to view the pond from another vantage point.

 

Ponds in Fall

Ponds/Water Features

Ponds/Water Features

As long as the weather permits, family pond enjoyment continues well into autumn. The fish continue swimming about and wanting to be fed as long as the water temperature is above 60 degrees. 

The addition of an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or fire table — perhaps at the edge of a patio or deck — makes the whole experience that more relaxing, extending the outdoor season.

And can you imagine a more peaceful spot to watch the trees turn from a bright green to yellow, crimson and orange? 

From spring through fall, your pond will be the hobby of the whole family. It’s perfect for relaxing or dining beside, koi keeping, nature study, and water gardening.

Note: As the weather cools and fall arrives, once again there’s some maintenance to get the pond ready for winter.

 

Ponds in Winter

Ponds in Winter

Ponds in Winter

Some pond lovers say the real magic begins in winter. True, you won’t be sitting or dining pond-side when it’s really cold or wintry. However, ponds can help create a winter wonderland that is delightful during crisp winter walks.

Indeed, many people love to be outdoors in winter. A popular trend these days is creating a winter walk “event” for strolling by lighted trees or bushes, a fully-operating water feature with waterfalls, and even skating on your pond-rink. While it may take some preparation and care to create a safe rink, it is very doable. 

As for your pond’s fish, Dave Stockwell says 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, I always caution pond owners to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.” To learn more about that, click here.

Pond-side living is a home-refuge gift for all seasons. A gift that, until the recent pandemic, you may never have known you wanted.

Blog photos: With the exception of our feature photo at the top of the page all photos are of Deck and Patio ponds. The feature photo is from a blog post on Aquascape Inc.’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond.” The writer included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Birdsongs Are Actually Good For You

 

 

Note: We highly recommend opening the above video before reading further. That way you can experience the transforming effects of bird songs — while reading about the transforming effects of birds songs and how to entice more birds to your yard!

 

Birdsongs’ Restorative Effects

Birdsongs

City Birdsongs

Because of extensive sheltering-in-place, even city dwellers are hearing natural sounds these days that usually are muted by the normal drone of human activity.

Rebecca Franks wrote on Facebook that she used to think there weren’t really any birds in the city where she was living. She rarely saw them and never heard them. “I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing.”

And what better time to learn that hearing birdsongs is actually good for you. A recent study says that, depending on the particular birdsong and its type and frequency, the sound of birds can actually help one feel better and react more positively to life — offering restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.

 

Attracting Birds to Your Yard

Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders

Before rushing out to put up more bird houses and feeders, remember attracting birds takes some planning.

Deck and Patio has been in the business of creating bird-friendly landscapes for over 25 years. And we’ve learned a thing or two.

For example. Birds aren’t as happy with your perfectly cut and edged expansive lawns as your neighbors might be. And while the odd bird house or feeder will help attract a few birds to a nicely manicured area, birds, prefer a bit of density.

“Songbirds love bushes and trees,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Birds of all sorts drop by for the food, comfort and privacy such lush vegetation gives them. And in turn for access to some clean water and natural munchies, like berries, they’ll give you an opera of stress-reducing songs. Berries, by the way, have been known to tempt even timid birds out of hiding, like woodpeckers.”

Here’s an example of a modest natural sanctuary we designed/built for one of our clients.

 

Attracting Birds:

Attracting Birds:

Although the neighbors of these clients have a natural wooded area, we added bushes, trees and plenty of plantings to their own yard. This means birds and their songs will be closer by and easier to hear. The crepe myrtles, for example, contribute to an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October, providing a haven for a variety of visiting birds.

 

Some April ‘To Do’s’

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

During March and April many birds migrate back up north. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are just one species that make their home in Mexico and Central America during winter, and are already back in our neck of the woods.

So if you want to invite them to your yard, it’s time to fill hummingbird feeders etc. As for blooms, horticulturist Sandra Vultaggio says that these hummingbirds particularly love rhododendrons and azaleas. “They also love Columbine, which they track as they move north.”

Other delightful birds — e.g., the Baltimore Oriole and certain Warblers — also arrive on Long Island and other areas of the Northeast in April.

Oriole migration coincides with that of hummingbirds, says Vultaggio — arriving usually a week ahead of their smaller rapid-flapping friends. For the Orioles, she puts out oranges, which they love.

Like hummingbirds, Orioles winter in Mexico and Central and South America. It’s worth planning for their arrival because they don’t stay around long. They begin migrating south again in August. So get your Oriole-feeders out early.

Some ‘Not To Do’s’

“April is a good time of year to postpone any severe pruning you might want to do,” says Vultaggio. “This time of year is usually mating season, and squirrels and birds are busy building their nests.”

“You don’t want to be cutting down trees while these creatures are nesting. Also, it’s helpful to the birds if you don’t make a thorough clean up of your yard during spring maintenance. Leave behind loose twigs and leaves for them to build their nests.”

During April, gardeners often find it necessary to go after insects and pests that might destroy their garden. This can mean applying fungicide or spraying insecticides.

“Be sure that when you do this, not to spray the blooming trees and shrubs. You don’t want to harm birds, bees and other pollinating insects,” says Dave.

Extra Tips

If you’re not an avian expert and are not sure which bird is which, you’ll appreciate the Audubon Soceity’s app. Not only will it help you identify the birds you see, but you can keep track of them, share photos, etc. There’s a good tutorial on their app’s information page, just click here. 

So make your home’s outdoors as much of bird sanctuary as possible. If you help the birds…they’ll help you right back! In the meantime, if you need a little restorative birdsong uplift, try out  Bird Song Opera. It’s great.  

 

Landscaping Ideas: Sheltering in Place Sparks Passion for Growing Vegetables

The New York Times had an interesting column this week, entitled “Panic Buying Goes for the Seeds.”  After discovering a renewed passion for gardening, the Times writer began searching for seeds to grow some of his favorite vegetables — only to find that seeds are becoming as scarce as toilet paper. One seed supplier had a notice advising that their “current shipping backlog was 18 to 24 days.” 

Home Grown Fruits & Vegetables

Home Grown Fruits & Vegetables

Shopping During COVID-19

Shopping During COVID-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exactly what is motivating this surge in gardening is debatable. It could be the peaceful distraction that working in a garden offers. It might also be that the occasionally misshapen home-grown fruits and vegetables seem preferable to interacting with mask-faced crowds in supermarkets. 

Whatever the reason, growing vegetables is a wonderful pastime. And Deck and Patio remains ever hopeful that all shortages will end soon. So with that in mind we’re sharing today a project we did for clients a while back — which included a unique vegetable garden fence.

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

The entire project included a new patio, shade pergola, wood-burning fireplace, fire pit, attractive landscaping — and, a small herb/vegetable garden. The only problem was the homeowners feared the larger of their two dogs would trample any garden created. Some sort of fencing would be required, but would that detract from the limited natural space they had?

While considering our clients’ concerns, we were cutting down a large overgrown bush in the yard when a unique idea occurred to our project manager. A fence made from the old bush would offer a whimsical piece of natural design to the yard.

The result is the bush clippings didn’t end up at the dump; instead, they were used to good effect. As for the other amenities: the custom pergola effectively provides shaded areas in their backyard, as well as privacy around the sitting areas. And because their home is in a beach community, cool evening ocean breezes are eased by the fireplace and fire pit.

We’re happy to add that the couple was very successful in growing fresh herbs and vegetables — unmolested. Their cherished larger dog (not shown in our photos) hasn’t gotten into any trouble — at least because of any harm he did to their garden.

 

New Patio and Pergola:

New Patio and Pergola:

The project’s new shade pergola and fireplace offer privacy in this compact beach community; the new patio is made from Cambridge Renaissance 6 x 9 Ruby Onyx pavers.

 

Vegetable Garden Fencing:

Vegetable Garden Fencing:

Deck and Patio used some unique materials to protect the newly created herb/vegetable garden. A 2.5-foot-high fence with gate was made from brush twigs; it not only protects the garden, but offers an interesting focal point to the yard.

 

Garden Fence Construction:

Garden Fence Construction:

The garden fence made from cut down brush is completely custom and is a unique part of the backyard upgrade design.

 

Outdoor Fireplace:

Outdoor Fireplace:

The new wood-burning fireplace in made in cultured stone: Country Ledgestone, in the color “Bucks County.” The fire pit table is “Snowbird” made with a stainless steel burner: its clear fire jewels appear to be bubbling when the flame is lit.

 

Shade Pergola:

Shade Pergola:

The custom shade pergola can be enjoyed for its beautiful architectural interest alone. However, it also offers privacy and shade during the intense heat and light of summer.

 

 

By |2020-04-02T11:01:11-05:00April 2nd, 2020|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Deck and Patios, Fences, Fire Pits, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Outdoor Fireplaces, outdoor maintenance, Patios & Decks, paving stones, Pergola|Comments Off on Landscaping Ideas: Sheltering in Place Sparks Passion for Growing Vegetables