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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. 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Avoid Cabin Fever and Spring Clean Your Pond

Avoiding Cabin Fever

Avoiding Cabin Fever

In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the first day of spring. Nothing could be more welcome. But with so many of us working from home, or even confined to home, just being able to go outdoors in our yards is essential to keeping ‘cabin fever’ at bay.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard pond, there’s some activities families in isolation might want to do together — or at least ensure someone (ahem) performs such outdoor refurbishments as spring pond maintenance.

It’s true, that as certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, many local pond owners prefer experts like Deck and Patio get their pond ready for the coming outdoor season. But, if you’re eager to get outside yourself and don’t mind putting on some boots and getting your hands dirty, we have some maintenance tips for you today.

 

 

What’s Involved in Spring 

Cleaning Your Pond? 

Debris in Water Features

Debris in Water Features

If your aquatic plants were not properly cut back in fall, they may very well have fallen back into the pond, decomposed, and dirtied the water.

However, even if you did cut them back, some cleaning will probably be required. How much cleaning may depend on your pond’s size. 

Smaller ponds tend to have more impurities than larger ones.

“It’s not unlike a fish bowl verses a fish tank,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “A fish tank is much easier to maintain than a fish bowl, isn’t it? There’s just more water to absorb impurities. However, even larger ponds require basic maintenance, such as cleaning out the filtration systems, fertilizing aquatic plants, adding new filter mats when required, etc.”

Dave adds that depending on the quality of the water, draining of the pond, rinsing it out, and refilling it using a de-chlorinator may be required as well.

Immediately below is a helpful video by Aquascape Inc. showing what’s needed in pond spring cleaning:

 

 

“If you’re draining the pond, it’s important to take great care of any pond fish during the process,” says Dave. “Keep them safe in a kiddie pool or the like, and put a net over them so they don’t jump out. Also, be sure to acclimate them during reentry.”

Here’s some additional tips. These are from Forrest Churchill for how best to integrate your pond fish back into the cleaned pond:

 

 

 

 

Pond-less Waterfalls:

Pond-less Waterfalls:

It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (pictured above) than a pond basin. Just dig out any debris in the Pond-less Waterfalls Snorkel Vault and, if it is required, drain the water using a clean-out pump placed into the vault — being careful not to flood any particular area.

 

Spring Pond Cleaning:

Spring Pond Cleaning:

The larger the pond, the better quality the water will be come spring. This beautiful pond project is really two ponds (one shown); in the larger pond pictured here there was even room for adding a large stone island with stepping stones out to it, where two Adirondack chairs were positioned for periods of contemplation and feeding the koi.

 

 Spring Cleaning Begins in Winter:

Spring Cleaning Begins in Winter:

Even if you cut back your aquatic plants and water grasses, some will decompose. When doing spring cleaning, be sure it’s before the pond water temperature gets above 55 degrees. Otherwise, bacteria from the warmer water will have formed — causing another undesirable green phase.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Spring pond cleaning is essential for a pond clear enough to swim in (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The right bog filtration and water plants, along with Biofalls (such as Aquascape Inc.’s) support your seasonal care for a healthy water feature.

The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to, and pond-er spring.

 

Spring Maintenance

Spring Maintenance

 

 

 

Stay well, everyone! Spring maintenance may be a welcome activity for the family. Of course, we’re happy to help as well. 631-549-8100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Waterfalls Make the Right Noises

There are some noises we want when enjoying our backyard escapes — the open-air symphony of birds, flapping butterflies and croaking frogs. And the laughter of children and friends.

Of course, there are noises we don’t want. Cars wizzing by on a high-trafficked street, beeping horns, etc.

But what’s a homeowner to do, if their cherished home is in a busy area?

“Many parts of Long Island is fairly built-up,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “In Nassau County, for example, the homes can be quite close together. But even in Suffolk, it’s hard to get completely away from traffic.”

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project, the homeowners had longed for a restful backyard, but their property was located close to a busy four-lane road. How could they enjoy a pool and spa amid disturbing noise?

“We were happy to reassure them that they could have an undisturbed backyard oasis,” says Dave. “The key was including in the landscaping design a substantial rushing waterfall near the pool. It would not only be beautiful to look at, but its relaxing sounds would mask   unpleasant street sounds.”  (A short video that captures the sounds of their waterfall can be found below after our first two photos.)

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Not far from the right edge of the pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“The waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

This is a close up of the Rosyln, NY main waterfall. Water flows down moss rocks in a natural-looking way, and seeps through river rock, where it is captured in an underground reservoir. The water is filtered and recirculated, making it very eco-friendly.

 

The following video lets you hear the delightful sounds of rushing water at this Rosyln, Long Island, NY, project.

 

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Pleasant sounds are the very opposite of unpleasant noise. And this backyard Roslyn, NY, paradise retreat is blessed with delightful sounds. These sounds can be enjoyed in the pool, while sunbathing on a wide patio, when relaxing in a quiet upper patio, when rocking back and forth in the outdoor swing — not to mention when relaxing in the spillover spa.

 

Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

Deck and Patio surrounded the backyard retreat’s new freeform vinyl pool and raised spillover spa with handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patios and bright plantings. The raised spa has its own separate overhead waterfall as well as a spillover into the pool. All this adds to an undisturbed backyard experience.

A diving rock and landscaping cutouts add to this pool area’s summer charms. In addition, the Cambridge paving stones are tough when it comes to winter’s cold weather. The pavers seem to withstand abuse better than any poured and stenciled concrete.

 

Poolside Landscaping:

Poolside Landscaping:

Bright plantings with green ground cover, along with river stone gravel and delightful stepping stone path, add to the natural look and serenity of the barrier/pool area.

 

 

 

 

Kids and Gardening: How About a Rainbow Garden?

Children Love a Rainbow Garden

Children Love Rainbow Gardens

Involving children in gardening offers a great many benefits, say experts, from family bonding, to encouraging healthy eating and teaching them responsibility.

One garden project you might consider is a ‘rainbow garden.’ Kids love the colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet! 

To help you kick off such a plan, if your kids don’t already have the book, you could share with them the following 2 minute video: Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

 

 

 

Once they are eager for the project, how about involving your children in the landscaping plan by having them draw flowers in each of the seven rainbow colors. We’re including an easy cheat sheet of plants by color below — which we are using with permission from The Homespun Hydrangea. 

Of course, part of any landscape plan requires knowing which flowers come from bulbs, or seeds, etc., as well as the best time of year to plant each. We’ve selected one plant for each color and offer some tips for that plant. But you and your children may enjoy doing some of your own research.

Since your children will no doubt be eager to see the flowers this spring/summer, you can always get ready-grown plants at a local nursery, and plant from seeds and bulbs next year. 

So let’s begin:

Red:
Tulips, Hummingbird Sage, Red Roses, Red Bee Balm, Mums, Geraniums, Primrose, Red Poppies, Red Monkey Flower, Coleus, Cosmos, Bird of Paradise, Red Lilies, Western Columbine, Zinnia, Begonia, Red Cactus Flower 

Red Roses

Red Roses

When you want to go red, you can’t go wrong with rose bushes. Potted roses can be added to the garden any time, but if the roots are bare, plant these when the daytime temperatures are between 40 and 60 degrees F — or their dormant season (autumn through late winter/early spring). Look for disease-resistant tough roses. 

 

Orange:
Orange Poppies, Tulips, Lantana, Blackberry Lily, Tiger Lily, Iceland Poppy, Helenium, Cosmos, Asiatic Lily, Marigold, Butterfly Weed, Red Hot Poker, Flowering Maple, Snapdragon, Hyssop, Minion Bells, Twinspur

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed

With Butterfly Weed, you not only get bright, gorgeous orange, but, like the name says, you also attract butterlfies. Your youngsters will love that. Its clusters of blossoms bloom from early summer to first frost. It thrives in clay, rocky or dry soil and while it prefers full sun, it can take partial shade. These grow well from seeds, but since they are usually planted in fall, if you want them in the garden this year, consider using mail order or your local nursery. 

 

Yellow:
Tulips, Snapdragons, Marigolds, Yellow Columbine, Yellow Butterfly Bush, Iceplant, Mums, Daisies, Gerber Daisy, Daylily, Sunflower, Daffodil, Primula, Yellow Rose, Gold Nugget, Indian Shot, Yellow Bee Balm

Columbine

Columbine

Another pollinator-friendly plant, Columbine will re-seed itself in your garden! Early spring or fall is the best time to plant either bare root or potted plants. They like well-drained moist soil. With very warm Long Island, NY, summers, it’s wise to give the plant some partial shade. If you plant from seed, it will take a full season before you get to enjoy them.

 

Green:
Green/Lime Rose, Mums, Hellebore, Daylily, Dianthus, Bells of Ireland, Hydrangeas, Mint, Catnip, Sage, Rosemary, Basil, assorted grasses, Coleus

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland are shell flowers that are loved as both ornamental and culinary plants. The outer bells are the goal, not the small and fragrant white flowers within. They don’t love hot and humid temperatures, so consider a shade cloth to maintain the hardiness of the plant. Check out the various nurseries available to you (or consider mail order) so you can enjoy Bells of Ireland this summer. Then, get the kids to help you harvest and save some of the seeds and plant them for a more extensive patch of bells next year.

 

Blue:

Brunerra, Delphinium, Hydrangea, Lead Plant, Hyacinth, Clematis, Blue Star, Aster, Bell Flower, Salvia, Balloon Flower, Asters, Morning Glories, Virginia Blue Bells, Forget Me Knots, Columbine

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

When it comes to morning glories, you’ll want full sun and fertile soil. Avoid too much nitrogen. If you soak the seeds,  you may be able to see them sprout up this year without having to purchase grown plants. For more, check here

 

Purple:
Salvia, Cat Mint, Tulips, Lilies, Balloon Flower, Iris, Clematis, Lavender, Bell Flower, Crocus, Snapdragon, Petunia, Verbena, Pansy, Fan Flower, Heliotrope, Purple Bee Balm, Thyme, Chives, Lilacs

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

At Deck and Patio, we’ve often included lovely purple allium in our landscaping plans. They are hardy and deer and rodent resistant. Their bulbs need to be planted in the fall, so to enjoy them this year you’ll need to pick up some plants from the nursery. Did you know that they are also members of the onion family? As you plan out your garden for next year, you can get some crocus bulbs for a double punch of purple next spring. 

 

Some final tips: 

Curve Appeal

Curve Appeal

Design the garden in a sweeping curve (left) — the eye can’t help but follow along such a layout. It’ll capture interest immediately. 

Keep any plants that grow over 30 inches at least two to three feet away from the walkway and patio edges.

Keep thorny plants away from walk areas and avoid them entirely if you have toddlers. 

 

 

By |2020-02-20T15:06:37-05:00February 20th, 2020|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Family Fun, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Kids and Gardening: How About a Rainbow Garden?