Herb/Vegetable Gardens

/Herb/Vegetable Gardens

Patios That Are Small Wonders

 

When outdoor space is at a premium, small-scale patios may be a necessity. And in a recent post “Living Large on Small Patios,” HGTV online showed how top designers can make  compact patios enticing.

 

Their interesting post inspired us to review some of Deck and Patio’s projects to see how we designed/built such patios to also be small wonders. Here’s a sampling:

 

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

In addition to the two-level patio, for this project our clients opted for a water feature that could be enjoyed from wherever they were in their yard. The stream with waterfalls, running alongside a new hot tub, became an attractive and soothing focal point when sitting on the small upper-patio.

It is easy to see how the Techo-Bloc Borealis’ pavers (modular 5” and 10” wide slabs) were used to great effect in creating such an inviting space. Often called tromp l’oeil by industry professionals, the slabs allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring.

With the addition of some attractive outdoor furniture and fire pit, the clients have a relaxing and beautiful small-scale outdoor room.

 

 Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

The lower level of this patio was made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being also at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

These colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Pergolas and Patios

Pergolas and Patios

Despite having a small area for their new one-level patio, and in addition to a large outdoor umbrella for shade, these clients did opt for a pergola, which can be enjoyed for its architectural interest alone. Of course, the pergola also offers shade during the hot sunshine of summer, as well as privacy. It also harmonizes well with the Cambridge “Renaissance” 6 x 9 Ruby Onyx pavers they chose for the patio.

In addition to a fireplace and fire pit, the clients wanted a fence that would keep their dog out of their garden. After cutting down a large bush in their yard, we used the leftover twigs to create a 2.5-foot fence with a gate. This fence not only protects the garden but provides an interesting focal point in the yard.

Indeed, with a garden adjacent to their dining area, if they want some fresh herbs to dress their salads or spice up their barbecue, they can simply open the gate and snip! Note how we included handsome bluestone stepping stones inside the gate for doing just that.

 

Multi-level Patios

Multi-level Patios

Sometimes limited space isn’t the impetus for creating small wonder patios. The inspiration can stem from the desire for intimacy, quiet, or privacy that only a small-scale design can offer.

Such is the case with this charming space, which is one of 5 levels of a much larger patio. Pictured are moss rock stairs leading to it from one of the lower levels. Beautiful landscaping and a waterfall add to the tranquility of this secluded corner of their backyard, but it is its small size that truly makes it feel like an exquisite private escape.

 

Private Patios

Private Patios

Had you ever thought of building a small patio just for writing or reading? If you had, perhaps it would look something like this delightful space designed and built by Deck and Patio.

It was constructed with Techo-Bloc pavers next to a new water feature we added. Sitting beside the trickling stream, hearing the sounds of gentle waterfalls — far away from any other outdoor activities — provides an idyllic spot to read or just meditate.

 

Changeable Patios

Changeable Patios

We’d like to think that HGTV would have included in their post this small Deck and Patio patio had they known about it. Its landscaping décor would make any decorator’s heart sing. With large trees on the distant periphery, simple container gardening allows the homeowners to move lush colorful plants wherever the activities are taking place. By not making the containers too heavy, this is an easy thing to do.

Note, it also has an easy to move simple barbecue, as well as elegant, but easy-to-lift, outdoor furniture.

 

 

Breathing Room: Outdoor Rooms Come In all Shapes

Outdoor rooms can be elaborate affairs. Indeed, one project we are showcasing today is an enclosed pool house that boasts two separate outdoor rooms. Still another is a completely enclosed four seasons room.

But as This Old House Magazine recently showed in 39 DIY Budget-wise Ways to Create Outdoor Rooms, just about any outdoor space can be turned into an open-air living room offering room to breathe.

The key is comfort. Just as indoors, outdoor rooms are for spending time relaxing with friends and family or just taking time to refresh your own spirit. And as long as you’ve created a cozy atmosphere, you not only don’t need walls around the space — you don’t even need a roof.

Breathing Room

In the end, the only rules for an outdoor room is to breathe fresh air. Once you consider your budget, ask yourself: How do I want to use the space? Am I looking for lots of nighttime enjoyment, including protection from mosquitos? How many seasons is it for? Who will use it the most in the family? Is it intended to be a swimming pool or other water feature amenity?

Here’s how some of our clients answered those questions, and how Deck and Patio helped them fulfill their plans.

Outdoor Rooms with Walls and Roofs

Insert # 1The Ultimate: Pool House with Outdoor Rooms.

This completed project won Deck and Patio a prestigious international APSP award. Along with a pool with waterfalls and spillover spa, elegant Travertine patio/pool surround, outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade (unseen), and outdoor shower, we built them a stunning pool house with “two” separate outdoor rooms. The pool is located far from the house and they wanted the ability to cook by the pool, as well as have a place to relax — bug free. The 800-square-foot pool house includes a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom, as well as separate great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet.

 

Destination Pool with Pool House:

Destination Pool with Pool House:

At night, this destination pool area (see also photo above) is as romantic as it is serene. It is an idyllic spot for parties that begin in the day and continue long into the night.

 

 

Insert # 2A Fully-enclosed Four Seasons Room:

After an evening of being pestered by insects, these clients decided they wanted their outdoor room “screened.” Later, when they decided to use it when it was windy as well as in the cold months, the screens became windows. And once it was to be fully closed in, opportunities for more special amenities opened up.

The completed four seasons room not only harmonizes with their home, as well as having screens, it boasts fully operating windows, automated Mitsubishi ductless heating and air conditioning, a flat screen television, and enough room for their young child to use his ride-on toys. No matter the season, this outdoor room’s large Anderson windows offer a 360-degree view of their lovely property.

 

Outdoor Rooms Without Walls

Insert # 3Travertine Patio With Pergola:

Not all outdoor rooms require walls. Using only a handsome pergola and comfortable furniture, this backyard space has plenty of breathing room.

Note how the pergola’s overhead slats create a shadow-carpet that helps define an elegant outdoor living room. The adjacent dining area is only steps from an outdoor kitchen/bar/barbecue veneered in natural stone (see immediately below). The property’s glorious expansive Travertine patio serves as the floor for these happy spaces.

 

 

Travertine Patio/Outdoor Kitchen:

Travertine Patio/Outdoor Kitchen:

Deck and Patio used a natural stone for the veneer of the bar/barbecue and constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall. This created a unique contrast between the patio, bar area and the extensive back veneer used for the house.

 

Insert # 4

 

Lighting! Lighting! Lighting!:

During the day, you have earth’s sun to provide all the light you need.

But, when it comes to an inviting outdoor room at night, lighting can greatly add to the experience. This shingle-roof pergola/pavilion/fireplace project was installed at the edge of a patio. With lighted handsome columns on stone pillars that match the fireplace, lighting creates the perfect evening ambience through several seasons.

 

Outdoor Rooms without Walls or Roofs

Outdoor Room on Deck:

Outdoor Room on Deck:

Along with a hot tub set into their multi-level deck, thee homeowners created room to breathe by adding comfortable furniture, a fire pit and a television. Note: Today’s LED televisions can be properly encased to be theft-free. In fact, Best Hot Tubs’ outdoor living expert has helped clients do just that. Encasing the television carefully will also ensure the proper internal temperature control/circulation to protect it. There are also televisions designed for outside use which resist rain, dust and other elements.

 

No Fixed Structure At All

 

Photo # 5If you agree with This Old House Magazine’s feature mentioned above (and we do), maybe you don’t need anything fixed to create an idyllic outdoor living space. Here, to shade a self-supporting hammock, the clients positioned a tilt umbrella next to their pool’s delightful waterfall. It’s the perfect spot when the Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon are in bloom (forefront).

Yet this outdoor room can be moved to another spot when other plantings are relaxing focal points. And you don’t need a pool or waterfalls for a tranquil place to refresh the spirit. Create a container garden by grouping some seasonal flowers together and set up a place to rest — you’ll all the outdoor breathing room you need.

 

 

Earth Day 2016: Attracting Butterflies to Home Gardens

 

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

As landscapers, Deck and Patio’s team is frequently asked by homeowners to plant flowers that will attack butterflies. Yet even we were surprised at how widespread the desire for butterfly gardens has become.

In speaking recently with our friends at Hicks Nurseries, in Westbury, we learned that they have seen a huge spike in the purchase of pollinator-friendly plants, as well as a large uptick in the size of audiences attending seminars on the subject.

“Those interested are outdoor people, who traditionally enjoyed creating gardens that brought in birds to feeders and provided opportunities to watch butterflies,” says Caldwell. “More and more, however, we’re seeing a desire to create safe havens for butterflies, as well as other pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds.”

Caldwell says the growing awareness in how pesticides has affected the pollinator populations has helped stir this awakening. “Butterflies and other animal groups are having trouble with repopulation because it is so hard for them to find pure food sources. Butterflies, for example, often use too much energy hunting for food.

“It’s also key to create a safe habitat for their caterpillars. Some herbs are ideal for that; Dill and Dutchman’s Pipe, for example, not only provide caterpillars food, but also protective cover before they turn into butterflies.”

Organic gardening and environmentally-friendly lawn care products go hand-in-hand with protecting and attracting the pollinators, Caldwell adds. Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, agrees.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” he says. “It isn’t essential to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. In doing that, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Heavy use of toxic chemicals are also dangerous to pets and children. It is much healthier to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process — through a more organic approach.”

As for ideal food, tubular-shaped plants or “Umbrels” provide a wonderful sanctuary for butterflies. “These give them a landing plant filled with nectar just waiting for them,” says Caldwell. She also suggests a seasonal approach that not only provides multi-seasonal color in gardens, but extra months of safe, bountiful habitats.

“In spring, you can plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus, for example. In summer, there’s 30-40 plants to choose from, including Black Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush to name just a few. In fall, there’s Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Asters, and Golden Rod.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies will get plenty of moisture from droplets left from sprinklers, morning dew, etc. “However, they do seem to love oranges, not only for food, but to quench their thirst,” says Caldwell. Note: To keep ants away from the fruit, put the slice on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day.

“We were delighted to learn that so many Long Islanders are helping, in their own quiet way, to help the environment” says Dave Stockwell. “They’re celebrating Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

 

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

As the name implies, Butterfly Bush is a great choice for attracting butterflies in the summer. “They can reach up to 6-8 feet in height,” says Caldwell. “They’re fast growing and don’t need a lot of care.”

 

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

Dave Stockwell (Deck and Patio) says that Lavender (shown here) is another plant butterflies love. “It also gives off a calming peaceful scent. There are several types of lavender that bloom at different times — so you can have its perfume from spring nearly through fall.”

 

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Great for attracting butterflies, these biennials are also a haven for other pollinators like bees. Their bright yellow petals and dark centers can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

Earth Day 2016 Earth Day coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO

Earth Day 2016 Earth Day coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO

This is the first of a two-part series in honor of Earth Day 2016 (April 22nd). Next week, our blog will cover sustainable water features and rainwater harvesting. 

 

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting: Savings from a Rainy Day

Have you ever considered that one way you can save for a rainy day is by saving water from a rainy day? Depending on the municipality that supplies your water and how much water you need for irrigation, etc., capturing rainwater can significantly reduce water bills.

With over 1/2-acre of wooded gardens, these homeowners had a well that operated a sprinkler system. It maintained their vegetable garden along with their entire property’s landscape. After the well stopped working, they asked us to provide another way to irrigate it all without using city water. In addition, they wanted a playground beside a pond, with waterfalls and stream. They hoped captured rainwater would help maintain these as well.

The Rainwater Harvesting System

The system we installed provides two ways to capture all the necessary rainwater. First, water from the roof is collected and sent to an underground 1,000-gallon reservoir. Because the clients also needed a new patio, this presented the ideal opportunity to use “permeable” pavers that collect water underneath what is now a new 1,000-square-foot patio.

Challenges

The home is located in an historic area in central Brooklyn, so all changes to the property and home had to be approved by the local historical society. Also, the property sloped and we needed a series of perforated pipe and bulkhead fittings to get all of the water to flow the correct way. Lastly, the New York City location made for difficult logistics. Excavated materials going out and truck loads of new material coming in was complicated, and we heard many beeping horns.

Results

With the Aquascape RainXchange rainwater harvesting system, 100% of their irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. At any given time, there is now about 1,000 gallons of water in the reservoir and about an equal amount of water underneath their permeable pavers. In addition, we installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes them.

 

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Systems:

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Systems:

The site was pitched the wrong way which made it difficult to get roof water, and water from the permeable pavement, to the 1,000 gallon reservoir. There was also a large pergola with a 30-year-old-grape vine right next to the reservoir that could not be damaged. The peaceful scene of the patio and its surroundings gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

 

Capturing Roof Rainwater:

Capturing Roof Rainwater:

Four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff, which goes through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the reservoir.

 

Permeable Pavers:

Permeable Pavers:

Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water. Under all that, a liner captures the rainwater, and it is pitched so it pushes water towards the underground reservoir.

 

Rainwater Harvesting Process:

Rainwater Harvesting Process:

Just off the patio, a bubbling rock, which aerates and cleans the water, is connected to the reservoir system and pumps the water through the gravel to clear out impurities. That pump is hooked up to a high-pressure booster pump which operates the irrigation system for the yard.

 

Backyard Waterfalls and Stream:

Backyard Waterfalls and Stream:

When water gets low in the clients’ water feature, harvested rainwater in the irrigation system replenishes them.

 

Aquascape RainXchange™ Harvesting Systems:

Aquascape RainXchange™ Harvesting Systems:

Aquascape’s systems are a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rock we installed here — with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system. The clients just enjoy it as a water feature, while the system filters and aerates the stored water to prevent stagnation.

 

 

 

A Backyard Upgrade With A Unique Garden Fence

This project was an interesting one for us. Our clients’ Long Island, NY, home is part of a beach community where properties are close together, and where shade and privacy is at a premium.

Our planned backyard upgrade included new amenities such as: 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?

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, considered their concerns as work began. And when they were cutting down a large overgrown bush in the yard, a unique idea occurred to him.

“I remembered they also have a ski lodge in the Catskills and it occurred to me that a fence made from the old bush would offer a whimsical piece of Catskill design to the yard.”

The result is the bush clippings didn’t end up at the dump, and, instead, were used to good effect. The custom pergola beautifully provides shaded areas in their backyard, as well as privacy around the sitting areas. Cool evening ocean breezes are eased by the fireplace and fire pit, and the couple has fresh herbs and vegetables already budding — unmolested.

Note: Many will also wish to know that their cherished larger dog hasn’t gotten into any trouble — at least because of any harm 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.

 

 

 

 

Budget Backyards: Are You Assessing Your Small Backyard Fairly?

Deck and Patio designed and built modestly-sized quality deck with room for the whole family and even guests

 

Many people with small backyards don’t use them. Even in hot weather, they live indoors. Others want to be outside, but fear the costs of adding or upgrading to anything of quality.

Not all decks need be elaborate and expensive. This budget-friendly deck, for example, is modestly sized, yet large enough for a barbecue, dining table and loungers. Just two steps above grade, a railing was not required either — another cost-saver.

Quality: The material we used for this handsome deck is from Fiberon. We liked this composite decking for its beautiful wood-like multi-chromatic grain pattern which belies how highly functional it is. As a composite cellular material of durable polymer, it is moisture resistant. Plus, no organic material is involved, so no mold will grow on it. Low maintenance, lovely to look at, sufficiently ample in size, yet it was very budget-friendly.

Additional tips from Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert: When working with tighter places, allow enough room for a chaise lounge, dining, barbecue, and sufficient space to walk around. At the same time, do not overbuild the whole available space.

 

Fiberon Protect Advantage Composite Decking:Cost-friendly, modestly-sized, deck can be beautiful and functional. There is room enough to barbecue, dine, and sun bathe and is conveniently located to kitchen and back door.

Fiberon Protect Advantage Composite Decking:Cost-friendly, modestly-sized, deck can be beautiful and functional. There is room enough to barbecue, dine, and sun bathe and is conveniently located to kitchen and back door.

 

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking: Lattice not only makes an attractive base, its gaps provide ventilation, thereby inhibiting mold growth underneath the deck.

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking: Lattice not only makes an attractive base, its gaps provide ventilation, thereby inhibiting mold growth underneath the deck.

 

 

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking: Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck. You can even grow vegetables in planters such as a “summer salad” container for tomatoes and cucumbers.

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking: Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck. You can even grow vegetables in planters such as a “summer salad” container for tomatoes and cucumbers.