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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

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?

Landscaping with Pantone’s Color for 2020: ‘Classic Blue’ Is Elegant and Reassuring

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s color of the year. This year Pantone has chosen ‘Classic Blue.’ According to their announcement, in making this decision, they considered the following: 

 

Pantone's Statement

 

“Classic Blue’ certainly is a reassuring color,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “We have available lovely blue plants that can bring that sense of reassurance, that anchoring, to any landscape or garden.”

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

One spring bloomer that Dave recommends in the ‘Balkan Anemone’ (left) which is hardy and blooms again and again each year.

Its star-like petals are also stunning in the evening and at night as they sparkle amid landscape lighting and moonlight. 

Tall and lace-y, this flower is also known as ‘Grecian Windflower.’ If you are planting them yourself, it’s best to do it in autumn, in moist soil with partial shade. For an Anemone planting guide, click here.

 

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Then, of course, there is a Long Island, NY, favorite — the stunning hydrangea. One lovely example is the Nikko Blue. 

However, achieving a true blue hue to this plant requires a certain type of soil, or you won’t get the blue color.  For more on growing blue hydrangeas, click here.

Note: Blue hydrangeas make such gorgeous bouquets, which means the interior of your home can be as filled with Pantone’s color for 2020 as your garden.

Cornflower

Cornflower

Cornflower

Of course, don’t forget the traditional blue ‘cornflower.’ This plant is hardy and can withstand draught and are delightful interspersed around a garden. They can be grown as a perennial or annual. 

By the way, cornflowers fit particularly well with Pantone’s intention in bringing classic blue to the forefront for 2020 because they are symbols of very old traditions. One website described them as reminding us of “the cultural ebb and flow of mankind throughout the centuries.” Now that’s an anchor.

Another note on cornflowers, they grow easily from seed — which makes them effortless to disperse in the garden — and they last quite a while as a cut flower and keep their color when dried. 

Availability

“As most gardeners know, blue isn’t the most prevalent color in plants. That said, our buyers do have a range of blue plants available,” adds Dave, “And of course, we have many sources.”

One mid-western U.S. florist company, Dreisbach Wholesale Florists, got the jump on Pantone back in June when this blue color was their choice for a Floral Friday focus. Although they admitted on their website, that: “…blue can be a challenge for [floral arrangements] since there are a limited number of naturally occurring blue blooms. Don’t let that stop you!”  

And Deck and Patio adds, when it comes to gardens, don’t let that stop you! As you’ll see from the flowers we listed above — as well as in the feature shot at the top of this page, there are enough blue flowers to incorporate Pantone’s reassuring color throughout your landscape. (Note: *Feature art at the top of our page today is courtesy of Dreisbach Wholesale Florists.)

 

Outdoor Color Is More Than Flowers

In choosing Classic Blue, Pantone said they also wanted to evoke “the vast and infinite evening sky,” which, Deck and Patio believes, can be achieved in many ways in the landscape. “You can change your pool and spa’s vinyl liner or Gunite finish to bring about this soaring feeling, for example,” says Dave. “Like this dramatic custom pool and spa project we did a while ago.”

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

To enhance an already beautiful view of Long Island Sound, the owners of the waterside home wanted an infinity pool; a spectacular “infinity” spa also became part of the project. A swim-up U-shaped bar serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

The ultimate in resort-style living includes a tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning.

You might say this project is awash in glorious Classic Blue. 

So readers. How will you bring Pantone’s elegant and reassuring Classic Blue into your yard this year? 

 

The Healing Benefits of a Garden

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.” said Edward Flaherty, author of landscape stories. Certainly studies confirm what this author believes. One study, for example, proved how “natural environments refocus our attention, lessening stress and hastening healing.” 

There’s another study by Paoli Memorial Hospital where they began noticing how patients in certain rooms with attractive outdoor views were recovering more quickly than those without.  

As they looked in to it, they discovered that patients’ charts showed how much more work was required by the nursing staff for those facing, say, a brick wall. Their chart comments included: “needs much encouragement” and “upset and crying.” However, those looking out onto to a natural view had higher spirits and needed fewer pain killers as they progressed than the others. 

“Since I was a young man, I’ve always had a sense that beautiful landscapes healed the spirit,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s one of the reasons I do this work. But I was surprised myself by these studies that proved natural beauty can also speed up recovery of the sick.”

Dave continues, “Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting. We are overwhelmed with stimuli. A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you take in the serenity and quiet.”

Deck and Patio has a history of creating beautiful landscaping projects projects where families can revive themselves. 

 

Deck and Patio Beginning a new landscaping project

Deck and Patio Beginning a new landscaping project

 

In this photo (left), you see members of Deck and Patio’s landscaping team beginning the work to create a serene space by bringing in plants with variations in color and texture, as well as creating slope gradations for visual impact.

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio completed project

Deck and Patio completed project

This completed walking area (right) was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it was designed by Mother Nature herself.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” Such a spot offers wonderful scents as well being a delight for the eyes. 

 

 

 

Landscaping Around a Pond:

Landscaping Around a Pond:

These clients wanted a water feature as part of their landscaping plan. Along with robust green ground cover that Deck and Patio added in and around the waterfall’s natural rocks, the pond also bursts alive with color. Bright orange blossoms of “Canna Lilies” (left), which take full sun but can thrive in partial shade, offer up tropical-like blossoms. The green-leafed plant to the right is “Hosta” which boasts delightful waxy leaves and produces white flowers in late summer.

 

 

Landscaped Pathways:

Landscaped Pathways:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool or even just beside your house. Then by adding colorful and lush plantings you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Backyard Garden with Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden with Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners. It’s a beautiful spot to refresh the spirits. 

 

 

Beautiful Garden Rooms

Beautiful Garden Rooms:

For these clients, the “garden” serves several purposes. Planted directly into the slope, supported by massive rock steps, it becomes part of a lovely “natural” retaining wall.

The upper patio area is surrounded by lush greenery, bright plantings and a tranquil waterfall. Whether one escapes here to read a book, meditate, or just relax and listen to the sounds of flowing water and chirping birds, there’s a reason garden rooms are a popular landscaping trend.

 

“Whether or not our landscaping designs will heal everything that ails you,” adds Dave, “we know for sure they will heal the spirit. And maybe that is quite enough.”

 

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

Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just a week away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season (see last week’s blog for ideas on how to extend it), it is one of the last big outdoor weekends for entertaining.

So if you are hosting an event, you might want to make it extra special by adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting yourself, you might be in need of a hostess gift — like a bouquet from your very own garden.

 

 Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultan

Now, if you’re wondering if it’s too late to be adding flowers that will not only make Labor Day colorful, but will also last well into the fall, not to worry. We have below some great ideas from Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, who has just the right plants in mind.

“Late in the summer season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.” 

 

 

As for which ones to look out for, she agrees with Deck and Patio that the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) is a great choice to add mid-to-late August. The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

 

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices. For example, Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says.

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

 

Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy), as well as Asters, are also great choices,” she continues. “These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” 

Sedum — Autumn Joy

Sedum — Autumn Joy

 

For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

 

“I suggest getting these perennials in the ground sooner rather than later,” she continues. If it hasn’t rained before planting, soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

“It’s easy to make a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” adds Dave Stockwell. “Sandra’s ideas for adding color and beauty will not only make Labor Day Weekend entertaining colorful, but the impact will last well into the fall.”

Note: Our feature photo at the top of our blog page today shows a lovely colorful flower from the Aster family. 

 

 

By |2019-08-22T13:33:45-05:00August 22nd, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately above this photo, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorfull plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile. 

 

Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

When it comes to summer loves (no, not the kind in Justin Timberlake’s song, or Olivia Newton John’s and John Travolta’s Summer Nights), we’re talking about those you meet when you go outdoors: flowers — beautiful, colorful and fragrant flowers.

But for all their hardiness in some ways, in other ways flowers can be delicate. Not all of them can stand up to intense heat. And since most outdoor living happens in the high temperatures of summer, you need to plan for that.

If, however, when the month of June arrived, you realized you never planted spring bulbs, no worries. A beautiful landscape, spruced up with heat-tolerant flora, is still possible.

Tell me more, tell me more

The weather in the northeast over the next week or so includes great planting weather, if intermittently. So we’re highlighting today a few plants that will stand up well to even long summer heatwaves and still thrive.

Hibiscus

People often think of hibiscus as a tropical flower — which it is. But it will thrive surprisingly well elsewhere, including the northeast. They do need lots of space, rich well-drained soil, and plenty of water but are worth the coddling.

Some varieties of hibiscus can grow into trees. How about that.

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

Verbena

Available in annual and perennial varieties (a total of 250 varieties in fact), this stunning flora is at its best during the hottest of summer heat.

With so many varieties, it’s a cinch to find a glorious purple specimen for your garden.

Often used in herbal teas, it’s beloved by more than humans. Yup. Butterflies and hummingbirds adore its blooms as well.

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas. In addition, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

Butterflies love Verbena

Butterflies love Verbena

 

Coneflowers 

One of our favorites for summer endurance is a wildflower — the Black-eyed Susan, a.k.a., coneflower. These plants are tough and take heat and bright sunshine well. They add gorgeous bursts of color to any garden, including around water gardens. And they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are from Deck and Patio projects.

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Red Coleus

Again, we have a plant here that thrives in the sun. These beautifully leafed flora are great as container or bedding plants. It’s certainly a good time to add them to your gardens — or anywhere you’d like a spot of color — as they don’t survive during frost and cold climes unless you take them inside. If you plant them now they’ll thrive through the warm months…just pinch the tips from the stems regularly to help growth.

The following Deck and Patio project shows coleus we planted near a water feature.

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Globe Amaranth

This lovely annual looks like pom-poms; their flowers come in purple, red, and white and last into fall. Hardy as this plant is, do water it from the soil, not overhead, which can cause a powderly mildew to grow.

These plants will die back when frost appears, but their seeds will germinate after winter.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

 

Purple Allium 

Although planted in fall, the Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon, seen in the foreground of this Deck and Patio project, is a summer blooming delight.

Its robust color thrives beautifully on Long Island and in the Northeast in general.

Deck and Patio landscape designers chose the Purple Allium here for its height, as well as the lovely color contrast it made against the green and yellows around it.

The plants first open green, and then mature to a bright crimson-purple. More good news. It’s rabbit, deer and rodent resistant and is loved by pollinators.

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

 

Outdoor Lighting

Speaking of Summer Nights, you can enjoy your backyard garden in the evening and at night (including late summer by adding the right flowers like asters)  —  if you’ve installed some landscape lighting. A beautifully lighted garden makes a perfect romantic setting that stimulates the sense of smell as well as sight.

Ahh. Summer days drifting away to oh oh the summer nights

Landscape Lighting

Landscape Lighting Makes Night Beautiful

 

By |2019-06-14T12:57:17-05:00June 14th, 2019|Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

“The key to an ideal water garden eco-system is maintaining clean, healthy water,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It is then that you attract and support delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, frogs, etc.”

Pond filtration systems and operating waterfalls are a big part of keeping water clean and oxygenated (aerated), adds Dave. “However, another major part of creating and maintaining a healthy water garden system is the aquatic and surrounding landscaping you do.”

Deck and Patio Pond

Deck and Patio Pond

Aquatic Plants

Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — the country’s leading experts on all things pond and water gardens — describes the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

Water Lilies Lotus

Marginal Plants Water Lily-like Plants

Floating Plants Submerged Plants

(Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is a Lotus.)

“The best designs for ponds and water gardens utilize a wide mixture of plants in different heights, textures and color from at least three of the above groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. When installing these, at Deck and Patio we don’t do it in a symmetrical way. We find that a more random placement provides the most natural look.”

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (canna lily) offers a nice tall statement. It thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

But there’s more to aquatic plants than aesthetics. Plants such as water lilies and irises feed on the nutrients (algae or small primitive unwanted plant life) in the pond water, and produce oxygen while they provide shade and food for small creatures attracted to the water garden. 

Aquatic floaters and marginals, adds Dave, are perfect for gobbling up the excess nutrients that are produced by any pond fish and excessive plant algae growth. They also help by reducing sunlight in the pond, which also controls the growth of algae. 

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

One submerged plant, arable hornwort, is a great example of plants that eat up algae and will also release oxygen. 

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave. “However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. For example, when plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

Dave says not to fret if your pond water has a slight tint to it. “Crystal clear water has no nutrients. You want some algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. because they offer a diverse food source for pond fish, frogs, and plants. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping them all in balance. 

To complete an enchanting water garden eco-system, the plants you put in around your water feature’s edge will aid in attracting birds, butterflies, pollinators, etc. No pond/water feature will be completely free of algae but it can be kept in check and in a natural way.

 

Aquatic Plants (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants (Deck and Patio Project /Long Island/NY):

In addition to the canna lily, this pond boasts water lilies — both tropical and hardy ones. The pinkish coneflowers on the right are not aquatic and are not in the water but are perfect edging plants as they attract desirable wildlife — one of the reasons we love our ponds.

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Bonus: Keeping the garden’s water circulating using a pump, or adding waterfalls, will help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching. 

 

By |2019-05-22T14:14:02-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Aquascape Biofalls, Creative Design, Gardening, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

A low-maintenance pond is one with an ecosystem that works naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. It is a paradise for families to relax by and study throughout all seasons. It also offers a healthy place for desirable wildlife, such as pond fish, birds, etc. 

Such a delightful backyard feature has several elements that contribute to its overall harmony. As certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, Deck and Patio keeps regularly up-to-date with the latest in pond design, construction and maintenance.

Proper Water Circulation

It is essential that any water pump be adequate to the size of your pond and waterfalls. This ensures the amount of water will be aerated sufficiently and will not stagnate or develop excessive bacteria. Instead, the pond receives adequate oxygenation to remain healthy. 

Biological Filters and Skimmers

Ponds should also include a natural filtration system using the right biological filter and mechanical skimmer. Adding rocks and gravel over pond liners will also allow beneficial bacteria to grow for fish to graze on. 

Pond Fish

Koi, in all their jeweled colors, are not just beautiful to look at. They eat algae, and their own waste turns into fertilizer for pond plants. It’s key, though, not to overstock your pond so the balance of fish waste, verses what is being used up, remains in proper balance.

Aquatic Plants

And you thought plants, too, were just pretty faces. No, they also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “In the heat of summer, for example, it’s ideal that approximately 40% of your pond’s surface be covered with plants. Not only do they take care of the algae they also provide shade for the fish when it’s hot,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

“A backyard pond should be a paradise for relaxation as well as a home for desirable wildlife,” adds Dave Stockwell. “I’m referring to wildlife such as birds, frogs, etc. who eat insects as they enjoy the shelter you’ve created for them. In addition, aquatic plants and pond fish are essential elements in the overall ecosystem.” 

Sometimes, Deck and Patio clients want to go even further when creating a natural healthy pond ecosystem. “That’s the rainwater harvesting comes into play,” says Dave. “This involves capturing rainwater, filtering it, and trapping it below ground to be recirculated to maintain the pond’s water level because of evaporation. Aquascape Inc. of St. Charles, IL, has superb systems that capture and circulate rainwater.” 

This captured water never stagnates, says Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascape, because the water is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“Rainfall shortages will never be a problem,” says Helfrich. “Plus, with such a system, town or city water is never being used. Those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago, even during a drought, will not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but excess water reserves can maintain a lawn, and/or a vegetable garden.” 

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature (silver medal from LIPSA) consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond; it’s the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are some of the plants brightening this pondscape.

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful ecosystems. The second you put in a water feature you attract all kinds of wildlife — birds who want to bathe, frogs, salamanders, and insects that the birds feed on.

Low Maintenance Ponds with Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. Plants shown here include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily. 

“A healthy pond does require some spring and fall maintenance,” says Dave Stockwell. “However, if you build your pond correctly, Mother Nature will do the rest. Not only will you love it in every season, but frogs, birds and butterflies will thank you for it.”