Living Landscapes

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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. 

 

 

Spring 2019 Vacation: Plan a Kid-Friendly Oasis While School’s Out

Spring Vacation

For Long Island and NY Metro area families, spring vacation is upon us. If you haven’t made plans to travel, or at least planned to be home some of the time, why not involve the kids in helping plan a backyard oasis?

Of course, a backyard oasis that includes, say, a pool or spa etc. will get most kids pretty excited. But should you want to go in a different direction — planning an oasis with their interests in mind — could offer a whole other experience.

Consider this backyard playground we built in Brooklyn awhile ago. The heart of the project is a natural swimming pond instead of a pool. This eco-friendly water feature was constructed initially as a very shallow pond (just 8 inches deep) because at the time the children were young.

This allowed the youngsters to swim and play in safety. However, the pond was also designed/built to grow with them. By installing boulders covered with fabric and gravel at its base, once  they got older, we could simply remove these materials, revealing a full-sized pond that could be stocked with koi.

 “As children mature,” says Dave Stockwell, “they want different experiences. This plan took that into consideration. Of course, it would still remain a natural swimming pond, but with more aquatic life to study, as well as being able to experience under-water swimming and snorkeling, etc.”

Beach-Style Entry

Beach-Style Entry

The overall appearance of the pond was that of a secret cove on a desert island.

“We gave it a beach-stye entry,” says Dave. “Plus there’s a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features. 

Plan It Eco-Friendly!

These Brooklyn parents wanted any project on their property to be earth-friendly. They asked us to capture rainwater for irrigation which we were able to do through our Rainwater Harvesting Division. 

Permeable Pavers

Permeable Pavers

“They chose to go two routes,” adds Dave.

“First, rainwater is captured via Techo-Bloc permeable pavers installed in their new patio area. Voids between the pavers were filled with crushed stone permitting rain to pass through the joint spaces. This permits the water to flow down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and crushed stone to be filtered.”

Deck and Patio also installed on their home four downspouts to collect nearly three-quarters of their roof runoff.

Downspouts

Downspouts

“This captured rainwater also gets filtered,” says Dave. “Filtered containers screen out twigs and small debris before it is captured in the same underground Aquascape reservoir that holds the rainwater collected by the pavers. Then it’s all recycled for use in irrigation and to top off the backyard pond and waterfalls after any evaporation.”

Notes on Rainwater Harvesting

Using Aquascape products, today’s rainwater harvesting systems capture sufficient rainwater to also wash your car and/or hose down the deck and patio. And when you consider that local Long Island and City water companies frequently charge an incremental rate, based on the amount of water used, capturing all the non-ingestive water you need from rainfall, the lower your rate will be.

Bubbling Rocks

Bubbling Rocks

Aquascape’s systems are, in fact, a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rocks 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. An automatic valve we installed kicks in when the water gets low in the pond, waterfalls or streams to replenish them.

This project also included a patio dining area and lounge area where the parents and friends can enjoy the backyard water features as well. But there’s no doubt, the heart of the project was fun for the kids.

So! Consider making this spring vacation an opportunity to plan the perfect oasis for your kids — and maybe even teach them the value of water conservation while you’re at it. Not that kids today need much teaching. They’re the ones often asking us to ‘go green!”

Earth Day 2019: Protecting Earth’s Species

“In nature, nothing exists alone.”
— Rachel Carson, 1962

 

Butterfly

Butterfly

From whales to elephants, coral reefs to pollinators, this year’s Earth Day (Monday, April 22) will be focused on protecting the earth’s species. And while not everyone is quite prepared to, say,  set up bee hives in their yards, there is a pollinator almost everyone does want to attract and protect — the butterfly.

“We’re frequently asked by our clients to create settings that will attract these beautiful insects,” says Dave Stockwell. And we’re not the only ones. Local nurseries have seen a large spike in purchases in recent years of pollinator-friendly plants. 

Whether or not you are a gardener yourself or prefer using a landscaper (we can recommend one, should you need it (smile), creating butterfly-friendly areas in your yard is a very easy way to do your part In the Earth Day celebrations. 

“Hummingbirds are another pollinator you will wish to attract,” adds Dave. “When attracting pollinators, you might also attract some bees, but if you plan your yard’s landscape design well, you can enjoy all these small visitors, but at a comfortable arm’s length. This is good for both you and the insects.”

Another consideration, of course, is avoiding toxic chemicals in your plant care.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” says Dave. “It not necessary to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. Besides, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Not to mention that toxic chemicals in large amounts are also dangerous to pets and children. A more organic approach is a much healthier way to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process while you’re at it.”

caterpillar

caterpillar

 

Let’s start with the basics.

It’s just as important that caterpillars have a safe habitat on your property as it does the full-grown insect.

Consider such herbs as Dutchman’s Pipe or Dill which not only give the larvae something to munch on but also provide protective cover.

 

Moving on to food.

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Umbrells (or tubular-shaped plants) are a great example of a protective sanctuary for butterflies. It’s a great landing plant and its nectar is just what these insects love.

Also consider a variety of plantings throughout the seasons to create friendly habitats:

— in spring, plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus;

— in summer: there’s a large number of choices including Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush and Black Eyed Susan;

— in fall, consider Asters (see feature photo at top of page), Golden Rod and Sedums.

 

Special Treats for Butterflies

Butterflies Love Oranges

Butterflies Love Oranges

 

“Humans and birds aren’t the only species who love orange juice,” says Dave. “In addition to the liquid butterflies get from from leftover sprinkler droplets and morning dew, they love a bit of orange.”

One of our contacts at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury suggests that, “if you want to keep ants away from the sliced fruit, put it on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day, he says.

 

 

“As we go about our daily work,” says Dave, “we’re happy to meet so many Long Islanders who are helping the environment, in their own quiet way. They, in fact, celebrate Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

By |2019-04-11T12:23:11-05:00April 11th, 2019|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plants, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Earth Day 2019: Protecting Earth’s Species

Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

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

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

Proper Water Circulation

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

Biological Filters and Skimmers

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

Pond Fish

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

Aquatic Plants

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

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

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

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

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

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

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

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

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

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

Low Maintenance Ponds with Koi:

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

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

 

Water Features for Public Spaces, Parks, and Town Centers

In ancient days, water fountains were a source of drinking and wash water for local citizens. Today, cities and towns across the globe add water features to parks and town centers mainly for the beauty and tranquility they bring.

However. Whether the water feature is a fountain, water wall, waterfall, stream, or pond, it is widely accepted today that any such feature be ‘green.’

Such was the case when Deck and Patio, in collaboration with the Town of Huntington, designed/built a self-sustaining or green waterfall/water garden at one of the busiest spots in the area: the Huntington Train Station.

As background: For some time Deck and Patio has operated a sustainable division, our Rainwater Harvesting Group. 

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Dave Stockwell. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater which can be used at private residences as well as in pubic spaces.”

At one’s home, adds Dave, captured rainwater is used for tasks that don’t require treated water such as washing a deck, lawn watering, washing vehicles, and refreshing one’s garden.”

In public spaces, it can be a source for sustaining not only the beautiful relaxing water feature itself, but there, too, the surrounding garden spots and plantings can be watered as well. 

How did the train station project come about?

Huntington Train Station Project

Huntington Train Station Project

The train station is just a few blocks from Deck and Patio’s design center at 189 Broadway.

One day a member of our team was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women planting flowers near the station.

As a local landscaper, we offered to help by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.

 

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

“A problem became immediately apparent,” says Dave. “There wasn’t any water source for maintaining the plants. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain them.

“In addition, there was no walkway in this space, beyond a small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was also not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, we approached the Town of Huntington. “They were completely on board,” says Dave. “Huntington Township takes great care to beautify our public spaces, including healthy and cheerful pole planters, etc.”

With the Town’s cooperation, Deck and Patio installed the self-sustaining water feature with an underground reservoir to store captured rainwater. To help accumulate the most rainfall, as well as add a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot, we constructed a walk area made of permeable paves.

“We used Techo-Bloc permeable pavers and installed them over gravel and a rubber liner.,” says Dave. “These pavers allow the rainwater to seep into the ground and into the reservoir where it can be recirculated.

“The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent, using gravity alone, to the reservoir,” adds Dave. The system we used was known then Aquascape RainXchange Harvesting System which is now called “Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System.”

“There is enough captured water to not only sustain the water feature, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Dave. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps falling non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”

 

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

The water feature is not just for aesthetics. It is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants we added absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.

 

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting System includes an auxiliary pump connected to the irrigation system. This ensures that the water used isn’t city water, but harvested entirely from rainwater. The below ground Aquascape Aqua Blox Reservoir holds 500 gallons of rainwater.

 

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The water feature at the train station (which is, alas, as of this writing buried under snow and ice!) is in total keeping with the Town’s program of beautification of public spaces.

 

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: ‘Phase’ Your Way to an Awesome Retreat

“When it comes to landscaping, sometimes ‘awesome’ isn’t accomplished in one season — let alone, overnight,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

Certainly, this was the case for these Shoreham, NY, homeowners. Their dream backyard includes:

— two-tiered Trex Transcend decking, 

— two ponds, stream, and waterfalls, 

— new Cambridge paver patios, 

— pavilion/outdoor great room with fireplace, 

— and a special hot tub installation with custom open-top pergola.

 To complete it, required a healthy budget and building time. So our design team came up with a thorough plan that could be built in phases.

 

Bullfrog Spa, Deck, and Pergola

Bullfrog Spa,Trex Deck, and Custom Pergola

Phase I. 

In the first phase we built them their new Trex deck (Gravel Path boards) as well as a custom pergola to surround their new Bullfrog Spa.

“I have orthopedic issues,” says the wife. “And my husband has multiple sclerosis, so a spa was very important to us. Deck and Patio’s designer helped us choose the right hot tub with interchangeable, individual massage jets. They’re a snap to change out whenever there’s a particular need.”

For easy daily access, Deck and Patio positioned the hot tub immediately outside their back door, tucked into the deck. Plus, we designed the deck with a raised tier which makes getting in the spa effortless. They just have to sit on its edge and swing their legs over. 

In addition, the deck layout allowed for two adjacent lounging areas for when our clients take breaks from the spa. Our team constructed a custom pergola. Through its elegant definition of space, it provides drama and architectural interest around the hot tub.

 

Shingle-Roof Pavilion with Fireplace

Shingle-Roof Pavilion with Fireplace

Phase II

The clients also wanted an outdoor great room that could be used most of the year. The answer was a handsome shingled roof pavilion with white columns, which also boasts a fireplace for warmth in autumn and winter months. The bases of the columns are faced with the same stone as the fireplace.

“It also offers additional ambience while they’e in their hot tub,” adds Dave.

 

 

 

Smaller of Two Ponds

Smaller of Two Ponds

Phase III

There is no question that backyard water features can add the ‘awesome’ to any retreat. And these homeowners wanted to enjoy waterfalls and ponds from their spa, as well as the deck, patios, and every area of their yard.

“We built two separate ponds with a meandering stream and waterfalls. The smaller pond [left] includes a substantial stone rock acting as a bridge; the larger natural ‘swimming’ pond [below] has a vanishing edge. Right in the very heart of this pond we added a ‘get-a-way’ stone island with stepping stones leading out to it.”

Larger Vanishing Edge Natural Swimming Pond

Larger Vanishing Edge Natural Swimming Pond

When Deck and patio built this complete water feature, there was room in the larger swimming pond (right) to add a sizable stone island.

With smooth natural stones leading to it, the homeowners enjoy a true Zen experience crossing the still pond to their own private island.

For extended moments of contemplation, two Adirondack chairs have been placed there. The wide arms of the chairs allow for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. With a dramatic waterfall focal point, surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape for relaxation.

And whenever they, or family/guests wish, they can enjoy the experience of swimming in the pond. A truly awesome experience, much like swimming in a lake, swimming hole, or even the ocean.

More photos of the completed project follow:

Shoreham/NY Smaller of Two Ponds:

Shoreham/NY Smaller of Two Ponds:

This photo of the smaller pond at sunset was a hit on our social media last week and inspired us to write about the whole Shoreham, NY project. 

 

Shoreham/NY Backyard Retreat:

Shoreham/NY Backyard Retreat:

The view from the homeowners Bullfrog Spa is awesome in all directions. Pictured here is the view looking right, at the larger vanishing edge swimming pond, with waterfalls and stone island.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls, inside the pavilion, with the fireplace blazing, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio with custom inlays/border is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. (Note: Each of the white pavilion columns have lighting.)

 

Water Feature with Waterfall (Shoreham/NY):

Water Feature with Waterfall (Shoreham/NY):

Here’s a close-up of the smaller pond’s waterfall (looking left from the hot tub). 

 

Water Feature with Stream and Landscaping:

Water Feature with Stream and Landscaping:

The two ponds and waterfalls are fed by this delightful stream, which Deck and Patio landscaped with beautiful plantings and river rock.

 

Two-tiered Deck with Hot Tub (Shoreham, NY):

Two-tiered Deck with Hot Tub (Shoreham, NY):

Day or night, this backyard retreat is where our clients want to be. 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Time to Spring Into Action

“If there’s one thing we dislike in our work,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “it’s disappointing a potential client’s request for a special backyard upgrade in time for the upcoming outdoor season.”

Mid February, he adds, may sound to some very early to plan. But once robins are singing and trees are budding, the phones at Deck and Patio have been ringing for many weeks with requests for projects. 

“So it’s best to begin the process in late winter,” Dave adds. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and to secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements; delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process include pulling the right people together for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

The "A" Team: Deck and Patio Works with HGTV's Pool Kings

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio Has worked with HGTV’s Pool Kings

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

 

 Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. In fact, we built these dual ponds (immediately above) for a client during winter. 

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

It is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

This serenely unique vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge.

Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge “pond” design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

 

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.

 

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.”

 

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!