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Pool Deck Installations: Bring the Indoors, Outside, with Travertine

2019 has continued the recent design trend of bringing the indoors, outside, says a NAPL survey (National Association of Landscape Professionals). Old simple patios are regularly being replaced by elegant living spaces that turn backyards into functional extensions of home interiors.

One particular trend involves pool deck installations in handsome travertine — a soft natural stone that in the past usually graced only a home’s interior.

 

Two Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Decks

Travertine Pool Deck

Travertine Pool Deck

In this first Deck and Patio project (left), we surrounded a new 50-foot-long, 26-foot-wide pool (approximate) with an elegant pool deck made of Travertine.

The project also boasts a tanning shelf, spillover spa, moss rock waterfalls, volleyball court, and diving rock. The pool was constructed with a concrete wall and vinyl liner. 

“These homeowners also had us build a pool house and an outdoor kitchen (see below), so they really wanted to bring all the comforts and the elegance of their home’s interior pool-side,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

 

 

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio: For the pool house, Deck and Patio consulted with a good friend and architect, James DeLuca. Our collaborative effort inspired a building and extended pool deck that is in keeping with their home’s overall elegance.

 

 

About Travertine

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years. It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

Italian Travertine, revered for its hardness and porosity, is what the Coliseum in Rome was constructed of, so the durability of Italian Travertine is not in question, although it can be expensive.

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

Turkish Travertine, is very common and, in most instances, is less expensive than the Italian. It does hold up quite well in our Northeast’s freeze/thaw climate.

Be aware, however, that some companies offer very inexpensive Travertine for use outdoors and may seem to be a great deal. However, they may be using stone quarried in, say, China, where the qualities of such stone differ considerably and will not stand up to certain climates. Just because a stone is called “Travertine,” don’t assume it’s all the same. It’s not.

 

Both projects we’re showcasing today (above and below) were built from Turkish Travertine. The following pool deck used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine and over 180 linear feet of fullness coping for the pool.

 

Travertine’s Appeal:

Travertine’s Appeal: The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.”

In our area of the Northeast (Long Island, NY), the summer sun gets intense. However, Travertine does not absorb the heat like brick or bluestone, and is similar to light-colored concrete pavers where heat is not retained in the paver. This makes it ideal as a pool surround, where being barefoot is unavoidable.

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool and it was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offers a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

 

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Travertine doesn’t absorb heat like other materials and offers an elegant contrast to robust lawns and plantings.

 

Pool Design Trends: You Don’t Have to Go ‘Natural’ to Look ‘Natural’

One growing trend in pool design in North America, long popular across The Pond in Europe, is an all-natural swimming pool, cleaned organically with eco-friendly flora, instead of pool chemicals.

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond Deep Enough to Snorkel In

Deck and Patio Designed/Built This Natural Swimming Pond Deep Enough to Snorkel In

“Deck and Patio, too, has designed and built natural swimming ponds for clients like the one seen here (right), and we love them,” says owner Dave Stockwell. (Click here for more information.)

“But not everyone is comfortable with brushing up against seaweed or sharing their pool/pond with the odd dragonfly,” adds Dave. “The same holds true with swimming next to the odd salamander that might hang around a naturally-maintained pool’s edge. But that doesn’t mean those same homeowners don’t want the look of a more natural environment.”

The following Deck and Patio project is a great example, says Dave. When this couple purchased a home in Merrick, Long Island, they decided to renovate it to capture the spirit of their second home in upstate New York and asked us for “a swimming pool that looked like a pond — i.e., made entirely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel — but filtered and treated chemically like a normal pool.

In designing and building it, our engineers verified the technical aspects throughout the process. This was necessary because creating such an all-rock pool was like fitting puzzle pieces together — only, instead of using cardboard pre-made shapes, we were dealing with four-to-five truckloads of randomly-size Pennsylvania moss rock boulders.

The undertaking involved looking over and measuring each rock before it was fitted in place. Once positioned, in order to ensure the soil pressure wouldn’t push the stones over or knock them down, instead of straight up, we leaned each stone into the grade, tapered upward.

On the bottom of the pool, however, no boulders were used. Here we installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pool water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool.

To continue the natural look, we used boulders to create the four steps leading into the pool as well as into the spa.

 

 Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

The pool was also perfectly situated so as to reflect their newly renovated shingled-style home in its water. We added bright colorful plants in between the boulders, in such a way that they cascade into the pool, like they would in nature. This contributes to a beautiful all-rock pool, filtered and treated chemically, but which looks like a natural pond.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

We used a blend of pool and pond material for this unique pool and spa. The black liner, which reacts with the water to create a stunning pond-like appearance, is a 45-mil EPDM pond liner; we used Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

What you see is a beautiful pond-like pool; but there is a good deal of technology involved. For pool equipment, we used vinyl pool returns, main drains, SAVI color-changing LED lights, all Jandy equipment (energy efficient pump and gas heater), DE filter, salt chlorine generator and iAqualink automation.

 

 Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

The exposed stones around the pool  complement the stone base of the home’s columns and stone foundation, suggesting one harmonious whole.

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Deck and Patio’s design gives the vacation-style Adirondack feeling they wanted; they just step outside to a natural swimming pond where they can hang out with friends and use the hot tub when a chill comes on the evening. The interior of the spa is bluestone to match the surrounding patio.

 

By |2019-07-03T13:51:51-05:00July 3rd, 2019|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Moss Rock and Stones, Natural Swimming Ponds, Outdoor Living, Pools & Spas, Unique Ideas, Vinyl-lined Pools|Comments Off on Pool Design Trends: You Don’t Have to Go ‘Natural’ to Look ‘Natural’

Natural Settings Elevate Health and Happiness According to Studies

Millions of Americans love being outdoors, reveling in beautiful natural settings. But should you feel guilty about spending so much time outdoors? Shouldn’t you really be at the gym, doing errands or housework?

Well! You can stop that self-criticism right now. 

Being outdoors improves health

Being outdoors improves health

This week, the Washington Post reported  that studies prove: “spending time outdoors” is linked to a “serious boost in well-being, the kind that lasts a lifetime.”     

Not only that, adds the Post, those who weekly spent two to three hours in natural settings are not only more likely to be happy with their lives, but the benefits to physical health were even greater — with 60 percent of such outdoor enthusiasts more likely to be in good health than their “cooped in counterparts.”

 

Washington Post Excerpt:

“People who already spend a lot of time outdoors aren’t likely to find these results surprising: There’s already a substantial body of work linking green spaces to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, mental health problems and overall mortality; and to greater rates of health, happiness, and cognitive development in children.”

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create ideal environments for improving well-being,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings:

Lush Plantings:

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock:

Using Moss Rock:

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. 

 

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

Best Outdoor Living Spaces: Pool House, Pool, Patio, and a Raised Spa

When you’re looking for the best outdoor living space ideas, it never hurts to consider award-winners, like our project showcase today.

Forgive our shameless self-promotion, but this backyard upgrade earned Deck and Patio a “Gold” award for geometric pool/spa design from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

The main feature in this project’s design was a striking geometric pool, with a raised spa, surrounded by a multi-level patio and a custom pool house with dramatic pergola. Our own team pulled together additional pool design and build experts for the project.

“The use of technology from AutoCad to 3D animation helped our clients picture the project,” says Dave Stockwell. “Starting with this design idea, and working hand in hand with the clients and pool experts, we were able to produce an end result that is absolutely breathtaking.”

After these initial meetings and the opportunity to see what it would look like, the client was very enthusiastic, adds Dave. “The landscaping design offered easy to care for cutout areas around the pool and pool house that offers pops of color and green in a way that continued the overall geometric design.”

Pool With Raised Spa:

Pool With Raised Spa:

The overall plans had a large variety of details and was far from ordinary. The main feature, of course, was the pool and its raised spillover spa, all surrounded by a multi-level patio. The pavers we used were Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers — a product that evokes thoughts of old time European plazas.

 

Custom Pool House:

Custom Pool House:

A major part of the project was a custom designed pool house, complete with all the amenities of home. The pool house has a bathroom, changing room and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view over looking the pool area. It is the perfect spot to take breaks from the spa – an important element for spa enjoyment and safety.

 

Custom Pergolas:

Custom Pergolas:

Stepping out of the pool house, a 25-foot wide shade pergola was built to shade guests from the hot summer sun. Underneath, there is also a stunning bar area, complete with sink and all components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages. 

The bar and raised spa are faced with matching cultured stone, which ties the areas together from a design standpoint.

 

Design/Build 3D Automation:

Design/Build 3D Automation:

This 3D animation allowed the client to view every aspect of the project from any angle they wanted. The 3D technology also allowed us to make changes during the project. This gives clients confidence that last minute changes will fit the overall look we are trying to achieve.

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

“When it comes to backyard upgrades, most people want some sort of water feature,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In-ground pools can be expensive to both build and maintain.

“There’s more to outdoor living than a pool,” he adds. “We did a project in Massapequa, NY, without a pool that gave both the husband and wife all  they longed for — a true outdoor retreat for a reasonable cost.”

Portable Hot Tub Appears Custom-Built

Portable Hot Tub Appears Custom-Built

Backstory

The couple, says Dave, hankered to enjoy their own backyard — which was tidy but not enticing.

Space was also at a premium. And in lieu of a pool, the couple settled on installing a quality hot tub, in-ground.

An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa.  Plus it would be easy to get in and out of (see before/after photo above).

Creating Focal Point for Spa Enjoyment

Creating Focal Point for Spa Enjoyment

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. 

Upshot?

The pond with waterfalls, hot tub installation and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

“The husband had longed for a pond for some time. And by adding one as part of a single overall project, it saved time and money, and allowed the same designer to plan it all in a harmonious way.”

 

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable spas are self-contained units, with all they need to operate included within itself. “This is what helps make them so cost-friendly compared to other water features,” says Dave.

That said, when installing them in-ground it must be done in a way that allows water from rain to drain away from the spa. If not, the hot tub’s plumbing could get damaged. “In this case, in order to have it completely in-ground, we removed the spa’s plumbing equipment to a protected area above ground where it is accessible for any future repairs.”

 

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

When the clients sit outside now they  enjoy the sound of water as well as see a lovely pond with waterfalls and watch the pond fish swim about. Not only do they have this view from their patio, but even better, they can enjoy it all — and even feed the koi — from their in-ground spa. 

The project’s natural-looking waterfall feature with the pond included surrounding moss rock boulders and lush landscaping. We used Aquascape Inc.’s water systems — high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters etc. 

“The couple told us that their ‘in-tub views’ are spectacular,” says Dave. “Plus the in-ground installation makes it easy to get in and out of the spa. They also said they love the spa’s hydrotherapy for all kinds of relief as well as relaxation. “It was definitely the right choice for them.”

 

 

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.

_____________

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

Outdoor Kitchens: The Heart of Outdoor Living

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

It’s hard to imagine an outdoor party that doesn’t include yummy food cooked up on a barbecue. Outdoor get-togethers like Communions, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, and anniversaries, not to mention Memorial Day and July 4th, invariably include a food element.

Deck and Patio clients are no exception. We’re frequently asked for more than a barbecue. Outdoor living is so valued in our neck of the woods, clients frequently want a full-sized activity center, partly for flexibility in cooking, but also to allow the “cook” or “cooks” to be part of conversations and fun.

 

Backyard Upgrade with Bullfrog Spa

Backyard Upgrade with Bullfrog Spa

The outdoor kitchen we’re highlighting today was part of an overall backyard upgrade that boasts a two-level Techo-Bloc patio, custom fire pit, dining and seating areas, and a water feature with stream and waterfalls that flow alongside a new portable Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub (right). 

Space, however, was an issue when planning this upgrade. Rather than a fixed pergola, the clients chose moveable outdoor umbrellas — or, ‘flexible shade.’

 

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Both patio areas were built with Borealis’ modular slabs from Techo-Bloc. Note how the colorful umbrellas behind the outdoor kitchen can be moved as needed in their yard, and offer such nice pops of color wherever they are positioned.

Their new custom fire pit is overlaid in a facade of natural stone that mimics that of their outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen’s amenities include a built-in stainless steel grill, expansive work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with stools. 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

Project’s Feature Photo (Also Top of Page): The outdoor kitchen’s handsome and expansive granite countertop allows for an eating/drinking bar, while leaving plenty of “prep” space for cooking. Ice and cold drinks fit in the fridge immediately below the eating/drinkingbar area. Note also how the outdoor kitchen is only steps from their hot tub and relaxing water feature. 

A full-sized activity center is the perfect spot for a break anytime. Whether entertaining or not, it’s the heart of outdoor living.

Note: You can see more Deck and Patio outdoor kitchens/bars here.

 

Love Birds and Nature? How About Your Own Natural Retreat!

Ever notice how every few scrolls on Twitter, etc. will show a delightful bird, a funny squirrel, someone saving a desperate animal, a croaking frog, or lovely vistas — all squeezed in between posts of angst and politics?

Well. As helpful as these momentary breaks online are, the best break is enjoying nature close up, away from our phones. As Diane Sawyer’s Report: ‘ScreenTime’ showed a few nights ago, families are challenged today. They’re spending too much time with technology. And most, deep down, hunger for more family-time and time outdoors. 

Ms. Sawyer’s report reminded us of a very special Deck and Patio backyard natural retreat we did several years ago. The wife contacted us saying she always loved birds but hadn’t seen many in her yard in a long time. She was also hungering to see butterflies, etc. Could we come up with a plan to bring nature alive on their property?

It soon became clear they wanted something truly special. They had already contacted other companies to provide them with a backyard conservatory and charming wooden bridge. Our challenge was to ensure we incorporated these into our own landscaping design in a harmonious way.

“The multi-feature natural retreat we proposed and built included a deck to overhang a new backyard pond — in such a way so that it looks like the pond continued under the deck,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In addition to these, our plan called for two 35-foot long babbling brooks, multiple waterfalls and lush multi-seasonal landscaping.”

To make it look as if Mother Nature designed this entire retreat, adds Dave, our team chose, for example, each rock and boulder carefully to create the right “water spills.” Sometimes a rock was chosen because of its crevices allowing for planting perennials within. 

The homeowners were very involved in choosing the plants. In the end, we incorporated about 5,000 bulbs, almost 300 species of wooded plants, as well as evergreens, and about 150 varieties of perennials.

 

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

It was important to create a variety of different spaces and focal points, just like you experience in nature when you move about. In one place you sit next to the pond and observe the waterfall. Other times you’re walking through a wooded path. The lush landscape attracts a myriad of birds (and butterflies) so the sights and sounds of nature, along with the rushing water, are as relaxing an experience as is possible outdoors.

 

Waterfalls and Ponds:

Waterfalls and Ponds:

The rocks we used for the four-foot multi-tiered waterfall/pond came from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Some weighed over three tons. Carefully placed, the scenes suggest one is trekking a natural preserve or wilderness. 

 

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Whether on their new deck, or in their glass conservatory, the family enjoys dining together al fresco to the sounds of birds and croaking frogs. When lounging outside, they can take a quiet moment to feed their koi.