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Stepping Stones Turn Footpaths into Contemplation Spaces

Stepping stones are most often used as a way of letting some “softscape” such as grass shine through while still providing some “hardscape” in heavily traffic areas.

But is that all that stepping stones do? “We think not,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “While they are very serviceable, they can also contribute to the serenity of a space. They can be a key element of creating ‘contemplation’ spaces.”

Today our blog is showcasing a sampling of stepping stone paths that we have created for clients — ranging from the very practical to the Zen-like in impact.

 

 

 

These clients, for example, wanted a footpath leading to their tool shed. But they had a small backyard. And we were already installing extensive multi-level paver patios. So it wasn’t surprising they didn’t want more solid brick hardscape on the opposite side of the pool.

Instead, the bluestone stepping stones they opted for allowed for greenery to show through. Along with attractive plantings on either side of the pathway, the journey to their shed offers an uplifting experience that’s not just about the tasks at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Not all stepping stones are flat bluestone slabs. The Japanese introduced Zen garden landscape techniques centuries ago, inspiring the world to place larger stones as stepping stones across ponds and water features.

“The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in this yard helped inspire us,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

First: We installed regular flat bluestone stepping stones leading up to a flowing stream water feature we were doing. Then: Larger natural stones were added to walk across it. More flat bluestone was positioned on the other side as a walkway up to the clients’ pool area. Finally, we also added moss rock in various places which adds color and texture.

“Our clients even enjoy it in winter when the moss rock boulders become sparkling ice sculptures,” adds Dave.

 

 

Speaking of larger natural stones, have you ever considered adding a stone “island” in a pond where you can picnic?

When Deck and patio built this lovely water feature, comprising of two separate ponds next to each other, there was room in the larger pond (shown here) to add a sizable stone island.

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

The clients placed two Adirondack chairs on the island giving them an escape for extended moments of contemplation. Plus, the wide arms of these chairs allow room for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. Surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape.

 

 

 

 

A deck can be part of the pond/stepping stone contemplation space, too. This Deck and Patio deck was designed with a viewing platform to enjoy the new pond with waterfalls and beautiful landscaping.

At the bottom of a set of stairs, we placed the first of several large  stepping stones leading out from the deck. The stones offer a Zen-like walk across the pond to other viewing areas of the multi-faceted water feature.

 

 

 

 

 

So far we’ve explored stepping stones across ponds, one path leading to a utility shed, and (below) you’ll see stepping stones to a swimming pool.

But here the bluestone stepping stones we added lead past cascading waterfalls, including a dramatic 7’-high waterfall.

“This is a very special experience for the clients,” says Dave Stockwell. “Usually waterfalls drop into a pond and you can’t walk close to them. But these do not fall into a pond, but pass through river tock int a ‘pondless’ reservoir instead.”

In the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir, the water is filtered and then recirculated so it operates as a self-sustaining system that remains clean and clear. The different rocks used here include river rock, moss rock, spill rocks and, of course, bluestone stepping stones. They all contribute to a footpath experience one might only hope to get on a mountain trek.

 

 

 

 

 

We placed these bluestone stepping stones so they almost skim across the backyard sod. The path connects the clients’ pool patio to a Trex deck and second Cambridge patio located near the house.

This area is also home to a new outdoor kitchen area, complete with barbecue and refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How’s this for one last example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones.

The stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.

“While this kind of space is ideal on its own,” says Dave Stockwell, “the idea came to us when we were looking for a creative way to hide their new swimming pool equipment.

“We decided to create this wilderness area with plantings etc. in a way that offered contemplation moments while at the same time finding a creative way to hide their pool equipment.”

 

 

 

 

Before the Leaves Fall: Some Backyard Maintenance Tips

 

 

 

It’s weeks away. But as sure as leaf tannin stains decks and driveways, fall foliage is coming.

So kick back and give a few thoughts to some backyard maintenance that can be done now — and might make falling leaves less of a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning

Right now — on the cusp of early fall — is the ideal time to prune. Cutting plants back now will give them enough time to callous over before the first frost.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.

 

 

 

Ponds

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

One area that needs a little care before leaves drop is the backyard pond.

In a previous post, our blog covered in detail the importance of protecting pond water from falling leaves.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

Pond experts at Aquascape Inc., a leading pond supply company, also suggest “tenting” the net so it doesn’t sag into the water when it becomes heavy with leaves and debris.

They also say to trim back aquatic plants to reduce the amount of organic material decomposing in the colder months. A previous blog offers more details on water plants and how to care for pond fish in fall.

 

 

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”

 

 

 

 

 

Plantings

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

In an earlier blog, we discussed — Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Pond Project

Deck and Patio Pond Project

A bit of effort in fall — before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.

 

 

Contemporary Landscape Design: Front, Back, and In-Between

In landscaping projects, a contemporary look is frequently achieved through an emphasis on wood and other amenities installed in sleek, non-rigid formations. Such designs are often most successful when they involve improving something already in place.

That was the case with this stylish Deck and Patio complete contemporary makeover. However, initially, when these Long Island homeowners first approached us, they were only looking for an innovative and modern outdoor look for their property’s existing deck.

 

Backyard: New Decking

Deck and Patio replaced the clients’ old pressure-treated deck, positioned close to their home’s geometric pool, with a sleekly-designed multi-level Trex Accents composite deck in “Saddle.”

Trex’s “Saddle” suggested the natural look and hue of wood that was needed to achieve a contemporary design — just without the constant maintenance.

As the new deck was being completed, the homeowners were so happy with the work they asked us to make a complete renovation of the remainder of their backyard as well as the front and side of the home.

 

 

Backyard/Side-Yard: New Retaining Wall

The property’s old-fashioned, straight-lined railroad tie retaining wall was removed.

We replaced it with a tan Allan Block wall, laid out in sweeping curves. The serpentine shape doesn’t only define the space, but also softens the lines of their new relaxation area.

Deck and Patio chose Allan blocks because they look like natural stone; also they combine a rustic and modern aesthetic that result in an attractive contemporary look. In addition, they are also “dry-stacked” so there was no need for footings, mortar or connectors in the building process because the blocks stay in place once they are stacked together — a real boon for cost-savings.

 

 

 

 

In-Between

In-between the deck and retaining wall, we created a lovely water feature area that appeals to the homeowner’s sense of sound as well as sight.

 

 

 

 

Front Driveway/Steps

With the backyard completely finished, the old, crumbling asphalt driveway needed serious attention. The Deck and Patio Company’s design required removing the old driveway and replacing it with durable tan Techo-Bloc pavers.

The asphalt walkway was also extracted and a series of graceful Techo-Bloc stairs and landings were installed.

 

 

 

The beauty of the newly installed front door step and landing were subtly accented by a decorative circle kit giving a charming and aesthetically pleasing finish.

Made of interlocking paving stones, the design offered warmth and charm in a design that perfectly suited the design of their home.

 

 

 

Pool Area

 

 

Where there once stood a moss rock waterfall, Deck and Patio designed and installed a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water.

 

 

 

 

Final Note

On completion of the project, when all the craftsmen packed up, the homeowners were pleased with how their dream and the Deck and Patio’s design vision came to be a reality.

They felt that the finished custom landscape brought their outdated eighties’ exterior landscaping — front, back, and in-between — into the new millennium.

 

 

Backyard Pond and Stream Turns ‘Day at the Pond’ Into ‘Every Day’

This Deck and Patio free-form pond and stream turned out to be a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family.

“Everyone loves feeding and watching the koi as they swim about. Because of good outdoor lighting, we even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the mother. “Plus, we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

The homeowners add they are particularly enchanted by the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity everyone feels watching the fish swim. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in the yard helped inspire us at Deck and Patio as well, says owner Dave Stockwell.

“Our design meandered the beautiful watery trail along their property’s formerly unused slope. Gravity is all that’s needed to move the water, so it’s also very energy-efficient.

The 35-foot-stream includes natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones positioned along its banks; the stream ends where it tumbles over moss rock waterfalls into a 10’-by-15’ fish pond.

“The adjacent landscape is dotted with tall grasses (e.g., Miscanthus) and evergreens such as Juniper Parsoni, giving a lush backdrop to it all,” adds Dave.

A natural setting such as this backyard project naturally attracts wildlife, which the homeowners particularly hoped would happen.

“The whole pond and stream areas attract so much delightful wildlife — like frogs and birds,” say the homeowners. “That really is one of our favorite things about having a pond.”

The Deck and Patio Company earned a Silver Award from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) for this project.

 

Free-form Pond and Stream:

Free-form Pond and Stream:

Deck and Patio used a flexible pond liner to create a free-form pond that would blend into the natural landscape. We planted Purple Cone flowers, Coreopsis and Spirea Anthony Waters, as well as tall grasses, and deep green ground cover. Together, the bursts of bright plant color and the sounds of moving water are soothing whether the clients are lounging by their pool, back patio or even in the house.

 

Creating Natural-looking Pondscapes:

Creating Natural-looking Pondscapes:

Having gone to “pond college” at Aquascape, Inc’s Pondemonium, Deck and Patio’s team has learned to look at a property from various viewing points — from wherever the clients will be looking at the water feature, including the house. Here we posited an 11x 16 pond adjacent to their patio.

 

Pondscapes are Beautiful All Year Long:

Pondscapes are Beautiful All Year Long:

“Our clients found that in winter the moss rock boulders become sparkling ice sculptures so they enjoy their water feature all year-long” says Dave Stockwell. “Their backyard hill area sloped toward the house and a pool at the top of the hill. Our design allowed for the stream to begin near the pool and run toward the pond, patio, and house.”

 

Backyard Pondscape and Stream:

Backyard Pondscape and Stream:

Deck and Patio’s design called for an extended patio with bluestone stepping stones leading to the stream, natural stones to walk across it, and more bluestone on the other side up to the pool area.

 

By | 2017-08-17T12:13:03+00:00 August 17th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Backyard Pond and Stream Turns ‘Day at the Pond’ Into ‘Every Day’

Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

 

Natural Landscaping Design: Why You Need Moss Rock

Ever notice in old classic movies how distracting fake scenery looks outside, say, a car that actors are supposedly traveling in?

Well, that’s true in landscaping as well. Creating a serene outdoor scene that looks natural — like Mother Nature sculpted it — requires knowing what elements will make it appear genuine.

For example, whenever we design and build a new water feature or landscape wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

“Deck and Patio finds that these 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 owner Dave Stockwell.

Moss grows well in shady areas, Dave adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting. “Of course, choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is also key to creating a natural-looking scene.

About Moss Rock

Moss rocks are harvested from quarries nationwide; later moss is added. While the moss on the rocks do not flower, the initial planting reproduces through its tiny spores, absorbing water and nutrients through their foliage. The only requirement for healthy growth is the moist conditions derived from water features or other sources.

For our first project showcased below, Deck and Patio added tall grasses and evergreens like Juniper Parsoni, to complete the rich, lush, green backdrop to see. Coneflowers and Spirea Anthony Waterers help bring in the bright bursts of color. During winter months, the moss rock boulders themselves form breathtaking ice sculptures that extend enjoyment of the water feature.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock:

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:

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

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.

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock: One of our outdoor living experts was called in by the pool company to design a pool surround positioned against a steep hill. Our design plan also included a large retaining wall made of natural elements like moss rock, a stream, a beautiful waterfall, and boulder pool coping — instead of constructing a less attractive wooden retaining wall. Overall, it looks like a natural stream created by Mother Nature meandering down a woodsy hill.(See also 2nd photo below)

 

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

In addition (see immediate photo above), moss rock steps leading to a small blue stone patio became part of Deck and Patio’s overall design. Plus, a portable hot tub was installed on a flattened area in front of the patio.

 

Creating a Backyard Retreat that Refreshes the Soul and Spirit

Several years ago, before the homeowners asked us to create this award-winning retreat, they ached for a backyard that would be lush with vegetation and a haven for wildlife, where every family member could escape to refresh themselves daily in soul and spirit.

“These clients had a deep love for the outdoors,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “The wife, for example, loved birds and wanted to not only attract them but also lots of butterflies. So a well-planned blooming landscape was an essential element.”

Deck and Patio’s final design plan called for a multi-faceted water feature of streams and waterfalls that flow around the property ending in a large pond where an expansive deck overhangs the pond.

“Watching butterflies as they flit around the property and listening to songbirds and splashing waterfalls is the perfect recipe to refresh the soul and spirit. It is just as peaceful to take a moment to feed the pond fish,” adds Dave. “The koi pond was designed to look like it is partially underneath the deck as it continues along the property but it actually stops at the deck.”

The homeowners remained very hands-on throughout the process, including approving every plant. “This took great attention to detail because in the end we planted close to 5,000 bulbs, 300-plus species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens and about 150 types of perennials.”

Deck and Patio’s team carefully chose each rock used in the natural stream/waterfall areas and to hold back the grades. “We got them from farmers’ fields in New Jersey and our designers carefully approved each rock for its particular use.”

The project won Deck and Patio two gold awards. One from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) is an international award, and the second Gold was from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association.

 

Backyard Refuge with Pond:

Backyard Refuge with Pond:

Not only were the plants and statuary shown here carefully chosen to support the pond and water feature but each of the rocks were selected for their weight, and sometimes for how it would affect the flow of water and even for their crevices as a place for planting perennials.

 

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining:

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining:

Imagine dining on your deck as the sun sets when you can not only hear birds singing goodnight, but being so near a pond, the gentle swish of koi swimming adds to the dining enjoyment. Frankly, it’s pretty much as good as it gets.

 

Aquatic Plants for Ponds:

Aquatic Plants for Ponds:

Creeping Jenny is one of the many aquatic plants Deck and Patio used here, first as a type of ground cover, but also for its cascading ability over rocks into the pond. It’s pale green (chartreuse) leaves are shiny and luxurious and in summer boasts tiny yellow flowers.

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth.  Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Gardening: Flowers That Thrive in Summer

If you waited too long, and didn’t get around to planting bulbs this spring, no worries! Even though long hot summer days will soon be upon us, there’s lots of beautiful summer-loving flowers you can add. And since weather in the northeast over the next week or so should remain fairly cool, this is ideal weather for time spent in your gardens.

With that in mind, we’re highlighting today a few of plants that will stand up well to heat and thrive.

 

Coneflowers

One of our favorites 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. But they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are 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 it 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

 

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

Talk about saving the best for the last. Verbena shows its stuff (beautiful blooms) during the hottest of summer heat. Available in annual and perennial varieties, they are long lasting spreaders. They come in 250 varieties so there’s lots of color to choose from, including white, pink, or purple.

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas…and as if all this wasn’t good enough, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

 

Verbena/Ideal summer plants

Verbena/Ideal summer plants

 

 

 

 

By | 2017-06-01T14:18:27+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Gardening, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening: Flowers That Thrive in Summer

Dining Al Fresco by a Pond

Memorial Day weekend (May 26-30) launches the year’s outdoor living season. And that includes lots of outdoor dining: family barbecues, picnics, dinner for the boss and his/her spouse, romantic dates, and  just enjoying the air as we eat our take-out.

“Many in our neck of the woods not only like to dine al fresco during the outdoor season, but they want to do that next to, or near, their own backyard pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

As Certified Contractors of Aquascape Inc. — one of the country’s leading manufacturers of pond and water feature products — Deck and Patio is able to stay informed and trained on all the latest techniques and technologies for ideal waterscapes.

Indeed, on any given day, our teams can be found, in addition to other landscaping services, installing ponds, water gardens and other water features across Long Island and her environs.

“The ponds we design/build can, for example, be completely eco-friendly and include rainwater harvesting; they can be landscaped with gorgeous water plants, stocked with pond fish, and aerated with waterfalls. Each project we do is as unique as the clients themselves,” says Dave.

The one thing our ponds all have in common, adds Dave, is how much a backyard pond adds to each family’s outdoor experience. Having a water feature like a pond with waterfalls — with the sounds of moving water and natural beauty this provides — makes outdoor living and dining an exceptional experience.

 

Photo # 1

Pond-side Living:

Pond-side Living:

This pond project by Deck and Patio included a new deck with a viewing platform where the family can dine and enjoy the pond and its robust landscaping. After dinner they can walk across a set of large stepping stones to view the pond from another vantage point.

 

Dining Al Fresco By a Pond:

Dining Al Fresco By a Pond:

This photo, which is featured at the top of this page, was supplied to us by Aquascape Inc. Here a group of family and friends — and even someone’s favorite pet —- enjoy a meal beside an exquisite pond stocked with koi. Soothing sounds from the waterfall help everyone relax and be at ease.

 

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

These homeowners asked Deck and Patio to create a natural backyard retreat complete with a large deck and pond that comes up to it. The layout detailed different settings and focal points; we planted over 4,000 bulbs, 300 species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens, and perennials, including 150 different varieties of these species. The family can dine on the deck or in their glass conservatory. (Note: Deck and Patio did not build the conservatory but worked with the contractors the family hired to bring this beautiful project together harmoniously.)

 

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Aquascape Inc. provided us with this photo of a charming dining area set on a deck with pond. Note how the wall mural picks up where the real plants leave off, giving a smallish water garden area the sense of natural expanse. The homeowner also chose blue cushions to go with the mural’s water scenes, which helps to tie it all together.

 

Picnicking "In" a Backyard Pond:

Picnicking “In” a Backyard Pond:

Yes, you can picnic “in” a pond. When Deck and Patio built this lovely pond water feature (which comprises two separate ponds next to each other), in the larger pond shown here there was space for a sizable stone island where the homeowners placed two Adirondack chairs. We installed stepping stones out to it adding to the overall Zen-like experience. They can go their island just for quiet contemplation; however, the chairs’ arms offer room for a small plate/box lunch and a cool drink.

 

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Thanks to Aquascape Inc. who supplied us with this photo as well. Imagine getting home from work, taking off your shoes and sipping some cool lemonade before dinner while the kids play by the pond? Yup, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

 

  A big thank you to Aquascape for sharing some of today’s photos with us.

 

Quality Backyard Makeover Pulls Out all the Stops

 

Pulling out all the stops of an organ increases the sound so an audience can hear everything — every grand sound, in all its lovely variations.

You might say that the two Long Island homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade also “pulled out all the stops” to orchestrate a wonderful experience in outdoor living. Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub (Bullfrog Spa) wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature (which they can enjoy on the upper patio, from the house and poolside) be extremely eco-friendly. For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.”

To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the lower-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Bullfrog Spas:

Bullfrog Spas:

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with Bullfrog’s enviable massage jets — their patented JetPaks.

 

One last thought. The Waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property.