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The Sweet Promise of a Backyard Oasis: Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is a popular location for celebrating Valentine’s Day. It truly is where the heart is…the center of our strongest affections. And while February 14th is usually not a great day for outdoor celebrations, it’s a great time to consider how we’ll spend the outdoor living season with our loved ones.

Making plans to upgrade one’s property, perhaps including an outdoor oasis, isn’t limited to those who have an ideal backyard terrain. Consider what was accomplished for these Dix Hills’ homeowners. Instead of giving up on their dreams, Deck and Patio showed them how we could take advantage of their property’s steep slope.

Backstory

The homeowners wanted a pool, but with the sloping topography they knew any pool would have to be located a distance from the house.

Stream/Waterfalls Enhance Walkway

Stream/Waterfalls Enhance Walkway

In looking over the property, our team realized that the way to deal with this was to make the to-and-fro — going from the upper patio down to the pool — part of the overall ‘oasis’ experience.

So, in  addition to the pool and pool upper patio areas, we added a beautiful stream with multiple waterfalls, lush plantings, plus a series of stairs and landing areas, to make the waling an experience in itself.

Of course, once the idea of water features was decided on, the homeowners felt it would be a real loss if such a delightful feature couldn’t also be enjoyed up the hill, from the patio near the house. Would they have to be down at the pool to enjoy it all?

Deck and Patio’s solution was to add an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, they could see a waterfall, as well as the beginning of the stream from there. And just beyond that vantage point, the stream would take an abrupt U-turn, and flow down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond. 

The Destination Pool 

In order to make such a destination pool practical, the overall design plans included an outdoor kitchen, bathroom, living room area, and changing rooms etc.  

We added beautiful creeping ground cover and natural boulders. By installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, Mother Nature’s own gravity coaxes water naturally over rock etc. into a pond near the shallow end of the pool.

At the deep end, a raised patio area holds a natural stone diving rock. Near it, another tiered part of the patio gives way to a pool-waterfall that flows over natural stone boulders and green ground cover. 

The result is a Valentine to whole the family. Home truly is where the heart is.

 

Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

The walk from the house down to the pool is as much a part of the overall backyard oasis as the pool. Beautiful plantings flank on either side of the walk. An additional natural looking waterfall, falling over the edge of the swimming pool, draws the eye forward as you stroll. Also note how comfortably large the pool surround is for family time spent by the pool, as well as for entertaining.

 

Backyard Water Features:

Backyard Water Features:

Our vision was to take advantage of the steep property grade to create a beautiful slope with five cascading waterfalls, moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals.

 

Paver Steps Make Perfect Pathway

Paver Steps Make Perfect Pathway

Deck and Patio created a series of stairs and landings to captivate family and friends on their journey down to the new lower pool area. Rich plantings and river rock plus moss boulders line the path.

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

We ended up creating an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, the family could see a waterfall and the beginning of the stream; slightly beyond that vantage point, the stream takes an abrupt U-turn, and flows down through five separate cascades before ending in the lower area pond.

 

Landscaping with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: “Living Coral”

In Pennsylvania recently, the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring. And we thought fellow gardeners and outdoor living aficionados would find this to be a great time to plan summer gardens and landscapes.

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s Color of the year, which for 2019 is “Living Coral.” (Our feature photo above, is from Pantone’s announcement of this year’s color.)

Pantone sees this hue as “animating and life-affirming” and we agree that Living Coral will inspire in any garden. 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

 

To bring you some expert advice on plants that will offer that uplifting color, we spoke with our good friend, Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Diagnostic Lab, and she has some great ideas for our part of the Northeast. Her comments on plant ideas follow.

 

 

 

 

So! Let’s get planning:

Coral Drift Rose

Coral Drift Rose

 

 

Coral Drift® Rose: Bright coral-orange flowers bloom bountifully throughout the growing season. They make great container plants or planted in mass in a sunny border: see https://www.driftroses.com/collection1

 

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’: Beautiful coral-orange-pink Coral Bells will pop in a partially shaded garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Charm Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

‘Coral Charm’ Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

 

 

 

‘Coral Charm’ Peony: Add some variety to the pink and white fluffy peonies of spring with this peachy-coral peony with a bright golden center. Peonies grow well in full sun and are deer resistant.

 

 

 

 

 

Dianthus 'Coral Reef' from ILoveHostas.net

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’ from ILoveHostas.net

 

 

 

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’: Grassy, grey-green, evergreen mounds of foliage are topped with bright, cheery and fragrant coral-pink flowers with white edges. Begins blooming in spring and will repeat throughout the growing season. This perennial is deer resistant too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’: Attract hummingbirds to your garden with this beautiful coral salvia. These plants are not winter hardy on Long island, but will provide summer-long blooms in full sun gardens. (Photo from: Buyrareseeds.com)

 

 

 

 

We’d like to Sandra V. For her ideas today. In addition, Deck and Patio has a few other delightful plants to suggest: the Kniphofia Red-hot Popsicle, the gorgeous Dahlia, and the Coral Rose (shown below) which also fare very well in the Northeast.

 

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

 

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

 

Coral Rose

The pièce de résistance: a delicate Coral Rose.

 

 

 

 

By |2019-02-07T14:01:23+00:00February 7th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Landscaping with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: “Living Coral”

Outdoor Living Design: Let’s Rock This Place!

Rocks are a natural part of nature. And in landscaping, when boulders and stones are chosen well and positioned perfectly around your home’s landscape, a man-made waterfall or stream can appear as if it’s flowing from a natural stream carved out by Mother Nature herself.

Elsewhere on your property, a single, perfectly-sized, durable rock can become a pool’s diving board that feels like you’re jumping off a small cliff into a Caribbean lagoon. The right choice in patio pavers also add to an outdoor living elegant design.

 

 

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Set against lush plantings and a beautiful man-made waterfall, this diving rock and the sandy-hued paving stone patio feel like they’ve come about organically.

On a smaller scale, a group of flat, well-placed stepping stones (e.g. bluestone) can turn a functional lawn-protecting pathway into a peaceful stroll well worth the taking.

 

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

How’s this for a example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones in a landscaped area. For this project, the stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.

 

Moss Rocks

To create truly natural-looking water features, it is key to know how rocks affect water flow as it occurs in nature. We are happy to say that over the years, Deck and Patio has received a multitude of awards for doing just that — choosing the perfect rocks for water features, and then artfully installing them to great effect.

“Deck and Patio finds that moss rocks, or sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams (Long Island/NY):

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams (Long Island/NY):

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Upgrading Your Existing Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Upgrading Your Existing Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Where once stood an outdated waterfall, now stands a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water, and of course the perfect stones and boulders, including smaller and beautiful river rocks. 

 

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

“Just about any backyard space has room to ‘rock’ the space. Here is another nice example of where we designed and built a dramatic man-made waterfall that appears as if it had been created by Mother Nature herself.

 

Using Rocks for Outdoor Living Design (Long Island/NY):

Using Rocks for Outdoor Living Design (Long Island/NY):

Just look at how many ways rocks were used in this Deck and Patio project to create a beautiful backyard landscape…a natural looking retaining wall, attractive pool paver surround, natural looking waterfalls, campfires, stone steps up the grade. We are proud to say that it’s a Deck and Patio award-winning design that truly rocks!

 

Backyard Retreat: Start Planning for a Summer Spent Outdoors

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Upgrade

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Retreat

The owner of this rather stunning (if we do say so ourselves) Massapequa, NY, backyard retreat says he and his wife smile every time they hear someone say how “large” their yard is.

“Before Deck and Patio did this for us, our backyard looked so cramped, we never used it. In hot weather we just lived indoors.”

The design for this pool-spa combo, and for which Deck and Patio won an award,  includes a deck, vinyl-lined pool, which we  wrapped closely around the corner of the house and deck, an expansive two-level patio, custom spillover spa, two waterfalls, two stepping stone paths and lush plantings.

“When we work with tight yard spaces,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “we take care that areas for the chaise lounge, as well as dining and outdoor entertaining locations are large enough for furniture and the ability to walk around. It’s also key to not over-build or paver the whole space.”

Dave adds that manipulating area grades into multi-level patios are not only attractive and spatially functional, they can make smaller yards appear considerably larger.

The clients’ children love the spa and the homeowners appreciate how it extends the outdoor season. The spa’s water temperature is easily regulated. “It is always clean because water is continually filtered throughout the whole system,” adds Dave.

When work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked the clients, especially within such a cramped space. “I soon learned everything they did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. 

Because the property was flat, Deck and Patio’s 3-D renditions showed the clients how we would make the yard appear bigger — even indicating what the views would look like from various areas inside the house.

Note: True Blue Swimming Pools of Dix Hills, NY, worked with Deck and Patio to build the vinyl pool and spa for our clients. 

 

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Manipulating the grades by adding different levels (upper and lower patios, raised spa. etc.) is one of the things we do to create a larger sense of space. Such gradations are not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive.

 

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Designing a pool to wrap closely around the corner of the house allowed for a full-size pool as well as spa and waterfalls. Vinyl-lined pools make it easier to implement such a tight design.

 

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

A second stepping stone path leads away from the back step to the diving rock and the deep end of the pool. Stepping stones allow you to leave some softspace (green grass, plantings etc.) so there’s not too much  hardscapes (concrete, pavers, etc.).

 

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

A spillover custom spa and additional pool waterfalls look natural falling over moss rocks chosen to fit the spaces perfectly. Lush colorful plantings add to the beauty of the scene. 

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

This close up shot of one of this pool’s waterfalls shows the details of creating a natural-looking scene: carefully chosen moss rocks for the right “spills,” ground cover, shrubs, river rock, etc.

 

 

Beautiful Solutions for 3 Landscape Problem Areas

For many of us, when we look over our home’s property, it’s much like looking in a mirror — all we see are the flaws. That said, sometimes our yards really do have issues that keep us from enjoying the outdoors.

3 Problem Landscaping Issues

1— Noise from nearby traffic can be very annoying when trying to enjoy time outside.

2 —Privacy can be an issue when neighborhood properties flow together with no separation.

3 —Soil erosion along steep grades — often the most challenging —  can severely limit what we think can be done in our yard.

We thought we tackle some of the most difficult first.

Soil Erosion/Sloping Grades

Even when there is a steep grade, the addition (or rearrangement of) boulders, rocks and plantings can transform a problem area into a real advantage. 

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural stone path to water slide

Natural stone path to water slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the first photo (above left), in order to add a pool, a retaining wall of support was needed to hold back the grade. Instead of an unattractive wooden one, Deck and Patio suggested the addition of boulders etc. as the ideal spot for several waterfalls and a water slide nestled into the slope . This turned the area into a natural vista that enhances, instead of takes away, from the family’s enjoyment of their yard.

The photo (above right) shows how, in addition to adding water features, a natural stone path up to the top of the slide can also be as beautiful as helpful. Not only are the steps attractive and in keeping with the rest of the design, but they serve as additional support in retaining the grade.

In both projects, we also added different shaped stones as diving rocks and the overall landscaping plan utilized colorful plantings to aid in soil retention.

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell. “Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow underground and recirculates it.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

 

Blocking Out Traffic Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Deck and Patio loves constructing water features for their beauty and peaceful ambience but did you know they are also a way to eliminate traffic and other outdoor noises? 

This closeup of a backyard stream with waterfalls was added to the yard of Roslyn, NY, Deck and Patio clients. It is the main waterfall in a series of several that flow down moss rocks in a very natural-looking way.

These clients also did not want a pond, so we used the same Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the water underground in an reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

You might be thinking, will a waterfall really drown out traffic noise? The following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa that gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.

 

 

Backyard Privacy

Privacy for Backyard 'Spool'

Privacy for Backyard ‘Spool’

We all want to enjoy the outdoors with some feeling of privacy. That can be especially true when we have a pool or a spa. 

For these clients, where space was at a premium, the clients wanted a ‘spool’ (combined pool/spa), but the property had no natural barriers for privacy. 

“When making the landscaping design we planned for color from April through late-October,” says Dave. “And in order to ensure they’d have an attractive privacy screen, we added Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars along the periphery. For more texture and color and additional buffering dividers, the plan called for flowering deciduous shrubs.”

The clients not only got privacy but an extended outdoor season, adds Dave. “The waterfall runs warm water in the cooler months and along with a natural gas campfire, they can stay sitting outside whether in or out of their spool.”

 

Backyard Pavilions: Outdoor Living Par Excellence

Here, in Long Island, NY, we are passionate about outdoor living. And for many, there’s no better way to enjoy al fresco living than under the shade of a handsome pavilion or gazebo. 

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, these structures offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal. A large variety of designs permit individual architectural statements in any yard. 

Deck and Patio at work in Manhasset

Deck and Patio at work in Manhasset, NY

“The winter has been moderate so far this year,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “So Deck and Patio has been able to continue our outdoor living projects without stopping.

“One project we’re working on right now in a section of Manhasset — Flower Hill — is a dramatic 16’ x 28’ pavilion. When finished, it will boast roofing shingles to match those of their new custom home, interior AZEK finishes, stone bases for the pavilion’s columns, and a fireplace to name just some of its amenities.”

In addition, the clients won’t have to rely only on the fireplace for warmth. Because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.

The overall backyard project will also include a new gunite pool and sumptuous landscaping. 

Backstory

“At their former home, we had built a smaller pavilion as well as other outdoor amenities for these same clients,” Dave continues. “And when they decided to sell that home, the very first day it was on the market, potential buyers saw their yard and made an offer immediately, saying, “This is our home! Where we want to be forever.” 

Now our clients, having purchased a new home in Manhasset, are again upgrading their yard, this time on an even grander scale. As a plan for their new spectacular backyard resort emerged, our clients told Dave, “For sure, this will be the home we want to stay in forever.”

When this Manhasset outdoor living project including pavilion is complete, we’ll showcase it here in our blog. In the meantime, below is a small sampling of Deck and Patio pavilions/gazebos that we’ve built on Long Island — finished projects — that highlight the grandeur pavilions/gazebos offer any yard — par excellence.

 

Shingle-roof Pergola/Pavilion/Long Island, NY:

Shingle-roof Pergola/Pavilion/Long Island, NY:

This pergola/pavilion with fireplace project was installed at the edge of a patio that also boasts a hot tub. Note how the handsome lighted columns on stone pillars of the pavilion match those of the fireplace. The lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

 

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY:

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY:

Some clients’ taste for outdoor space includes a romantic statement such as this lovely gazebo and harmonizing deck. Bright plantings surround the area and a charming stepping stone path adds additional appeal. 

Notice how there’s little doubt that these inhabitants like to entertain. One can easily imagine this as the perfect spot at any time — but it’s especially well designed for inviting over friends and family.

 

Backyard Pavilion with Ceiling Fans (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Pavilion with Ceiling Fans (Long Island/NY):

This dramatic shingle-roof pavilion with interior lighting has two ceiling fans. The columns rest on stone pillars that match the stone on the yard’s new steps. (Note how the roof shingles match those of the clients’ home.)

 

 

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images, or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video:

 

 

 

Can Pond Fish Survive in a Frozen Pond?

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

 

December 2018 weather in Long Island, NY, has hovered around 50 degrees.

However, recent news that the Polar Vortex may very soon cause the northeast some winter trauma suggests we should all give a thought to our backyard ponds and especially our pond fish. 

The big question is:

Can Koi Survive in Frozen Ponds?

Pond Gases Must Escape

Pond Gases Must Escape

Some pond owners remove their koi for safe keeping in a warmer place. That is not necessary, say experts. However, it’s important to remain alert, especially if the weather gets particularly bad.

Your koi will happily lie dormant during winter months and can survive in a frozen pond as long as they can get enough oxygen. This requires;

  •  two feet of water to swim in,
  •  oxygenating the water by running waterfalls into the pond etc.,
  •  and keeping a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator, thereby allowing the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascape Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick, suggests using a pond de-icer. 

“This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.  The fish do not need to eat during this time and, in fact, shouldn’t be fed at all.  

 

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

If you haven’t done this already, before any brutal weather sets in, carefully look over your plant material and remove dying plant material. Otherwise, these will rot and build up poisonous gases that can’t escape through ice when it forms. Such conditions might mean that the koi are no longer simply hibernating, but are in a dangerous state of torpor.

 

Keep Pond Waterfalls Running in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc.)

Keep Pond Waterfalls Running in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc.)

Running waterfalls during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form. But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc)

Contented Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc)

This pond has been cleared of excessive plant material and ice does not cover over the pond so that the fish are happily hibernating.

 

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

 

So! If the Polar Vortex throws us all it’s got, you don’t need to worry too much about your fish. Ensure they have enough oxygen, etc., and they should be just fine. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

In Winter, Flowing Water Becomes Crystalized Art

If you installed a water feature (stream with waterfalls, pond, fountain) in recent months, you are in for a surprise winter gift. As temperatures stay cold, this outdoor flowing water will crystalize, transforming drops and streams into delightful pieces of art.

Winter in some parts of the country can be long and harsh. And there are those who choose to close down a pond or waterfall/stream in winter. There are easy steps to do that, including shutting down and removing the feature’s pump. Tip: Aquasacpe Inc. (International pond/water feature experts ) suggest storing the pump in a frost-free location, submerged in water to keep the seals from drying out.

However, here on Long Island, winter is more sporadic in its assaults. Keeping a feature’s water flowing in winter allows homeowners to enjoy ice sculptures whenever the cold stays around for awhile. Deck and Patio, for example, certainly keeps our own water feature operating at our design studio all winter through. 

Pond Fish

Running your water feature in winter can be especially helpful if you have pond fish. The continual movement of water discourages freezing where the water falls into the pond. Along with an aerator, the flowing water should maintain a hole in any ice that forms. A hole lets any harmful gasses escape and not build up under the ice and harm the fish. Read more on how to care for pond fish here.

Below are some examples of the beauty winter can sculpt in your yard with the help of a little flowing water. 

 

Pond in Summer

Pond in Summer

Pond in Winter

Pond in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above pond belongs to one of Deck and Patio’s clients. When we stopped by to do some maintenance during a prolonged cold snap (right), we couldn’t resist photographing it. Note how the ice forms on the natural stone boulders; the water falling over the stones crystalizes into glistening flowing threads. We thought it an exquisite site. The photo (left) is the same pond in summer and winter.

 

Winter Fountainscapes:

Winter Fountainscapes:

Small decorative waterscapes like this fountain/miniature pond feature are delightful in winter months as well as summer. Note how the small trickle of water has become a jeweled thread of ice. 

 

Business Complex Water Feature:

Business Complex Water Feature:

Fountains are not just for backyards. They are a wonderful indulgence at commercial offices as well — and as you can see from this winter scene, clearly a year-round uplift for management and staff. 

 

Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

If you do not want the water to freeze, you can choose to winterize your water gardens/waterscapes by running them with heat, which will melt the ice dams. But that is not necessary. Note how the falling water aerates the pond water just underneath. Photo: Courtesy of Aquasacpe Inc.

 

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond Summer

Backyard Pond Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of this pond (above) were shot at different angles, in different seasons. The first photo (Left)  shows the pond after we had just built it, but had not yet started it up. It was quickly crushed with snow during the Northeast Blizzard of 2013. 

Note the boulder stepping stones and moss rock island covered in snow in the middle of the pond. Despite the storm completely covering the water feature, we think the pond was as beautiful a sight as it was later that summer (Right) where you can see the pond’s stone island and stepping stones photographed the next summer free of snow. 

 

 

Being Prepared for Winter Snowstorms

Snowflake

Snowflake

Expressions or idioms develop in a language for good reason. Take “being snowed,” i.e., to be deceived. 

Don’t laugh. There’s nothing trickier than snow. It captivates, delights, is romantic even, as it first covers the ground. But if there’s enough of it, when unprepared, we can find ourselves snowed in, snowed under, or snowed out. 

 

 

Acrobatics Required

Acrobatics Required

 

Even when the snow is light, if followed by sleet, and/or warming then freezing (common in our area), a driveway or walkway can become so slick, moving your family from the front door to the car can require the skills of a Cirque de Soleil acrobat. 

So here’s some winter snow tips — whether or not you are handling your own snow removal:

 

 

 

— Ensure your snow blower, roof rake, deicers etc. are readily at hand;

— If you have a generator, have it checked out to be sure it’s operating properly;

— Put some fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide monitor.

 

 

Snow Removal:

Snow Removal:

Speaking of snow blowers. Even an inexpensive one is better than using a shovel. 

If you’re going to shovel, coat the scoop part with non-stick cooking spray. 

And lastly, whether you are using a snow blower or shoveling, remove the snow in small increments — don’t try to do it all at once.

Now. The real fun begins. 

 

Pre-Storm Driveway Preparation

Plow Stakes

Plow Stakes

No matter who will be doing the plowing of your property — a firm like our own Dix Hills Snowplowing, or on your own — even before word that a storm is approaching, “prep” your property (or have it prepped) by installing fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”).

 

Note: wood plow/snow stakes aren’t as strong as fiberglass and can be easily damaged.

The idea is to highlight where any costly Belgium Block or other edging is located, keeping it from being damaged by snow plows. For more on this, click here.

 

 

Roof Prep

Gutters in Winter

Gutters in Winter

Snow can cause a lot of pressure on your roof. 

One of the best ways to remove it is with a roof rake, so it’s good to have it readily on hand.

Also take a look at your gutters to make sure ice doesn’t dam them up and cause leaking into your home or attic.

Some experts recommend stringing heat cables through them, or on the roof just above the gutters.

This should be done, of course, before major snowstorms to avoid any Clark Griswald-like ice rockets from a frozen gutter fail.

 

 

 

 

 

Professional Snow Removal

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Of course, the easiest way to handle some of this is to contact professionals like Deck and Patio’s Dix Hills Snowplowing.

In speaking with our own Office Manager, Linda LaRose, if you live in our corner of Suffolk County (Huntington/Dix Hills) and wish to have us take care of your snow removal, you can contact us with no obligation (631-549-8100).

Once we hear from you, Linda will email a contract to review and you can always call her with questions before signing on, or incurring any expense. When you make this initial contact, this would be the right time to let us know if you have any special requirements: e.g., early service, service at 1-inch (ours usually begins at 2”), sand service, if garage doors need to shoveled, mail box cleared, etc.

We can also stake the driveway for you, if you ask for it. (Note: For snow removal from roofs, you should contact a roof contractor for their specialized service.)

 

 

Now that you’re all prepared, you can sing the happy “snow” song — along with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen: