Living Landscapes

/Living Landscapes

Building/Designing Natural Looking Waterscapes

To design a natural looking waterscape system, several elements are key: well chosen natural stones, quality biological filtration systems, and a wide range of ground and aquatic plants.

“To say we’ve learned a good deal over the years as to how to do this kind of work is an understatement,” says owner Dave Stockwell. “At Deck and Patio, we’ve created over 300 water features across Long Island, New York City as well as out-of-state.”

Any special tricks Deck and Patio has developed over time are of little value, he adds, if we don’t get the basics right. And those basics begin with the right rocks.”

Rocks and Boulders

When chosen well, and positioned perfectly, rocks can make a man-made waterfall and stream appear as if they’re flowing from a natural mountain bed.

Members of our team have made a study of how rocks precisely affect the flow of water. Our efforts have been rewarded; Deck and Patio has received a multitude of awards for our waterscapes.

Below are some examples of how we pull everything together.


Positioning Rocks and Boulders in the Landscape

Positioning Rocks and Boulders in the Landscape


The rocks used in this Deck and Patio pond installation – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey, says Dave.

Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, and sometimes for its ideal crevices in which perennials could be planted.






Moss Rock

Moss Rock

Whenever Deck and Patio designs and builds a new waterscape or natural landscape retaining wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

Moss grows well in shady areas, he adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting.

“Of course, also choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is essential for a natural-looking scene.






Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams

When gravity urges water onward, it spills over rocks naturally, so it takes a trained eye to ensure any man-made waterscape add rocks as if nature had created the movement and water trail.

For example, each “spill rock” along this Deck and Patio  backyard stream was carefully chosen and 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.




Surrounding Plants’ Size, Color, and Texture

Surrounding Plants’ Size, Color, and Texture

When adding a water feature to existing landscape, we consider the color and texture of surrounding plant material, as well as how the plants will eventually grow.

Here Deck and Patio planted low-lying evergreens and ground cover perennials in and around the stream and rock outcroppings. These soften the large boulders, which would otherwise stand out and spoil the natural look.

Larger flowering plantings were installed behind the water feature to provide accenting and screening. On lower portions of the slope, the water feature was planted with flowers for cutting and small beds for annuals so the client could interact with the stream garden throughout the season.




The gurus of all things pond/water gardens — Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — list the basic groups of aquatic plants as:


Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

• Water Lilies

• Lotus

• Marginal Plants

• Water Lily-like Plants

• Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these aquatic groups,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement appears the most natural.”



Landscaping Long Bloom Periods:

Landscaping Long Bloom Periods:

For this project, Deck and Patio also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers that cascade and wind over and between the rocks we used.

An expert selection of plants can provide color from April through October; note also that here, the whole design flows beautifully into the back property.




Steep Property Grades Can Be Useful


Steep Property Grades

Steep Property Grades

“It would be wonderful if we were brought in for a job where we get to sculpt the entire property’s terrain, but, alas, that’s almost never the case,” says Dave Stockwell. “Our job is to integrate water features and the landscaping with what’s already there.”

Surprisingly, a steep property grade can be a good thing when it comes to waterscapes. Such terrain not only offers an opportunity for drama but designing a water feature along such a slope will permit Mother Nature to do all the heavy lifting — or pushing the water along.

In this case we added a stream and plantings along such a property with five cascading waterfalls — using moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals. We also put in a series of stairs and landings to bring them down to the homeowners new pool area.



More Than Beautiful: Self-Sustaining Water Features

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

It’s true: the sounds and sights of moving water turn any property into a restful escape.

But ponds and pond-less water features can also include rainwater harvesting components — offering a great way to save water and aid the local ecology.

Such rainwater harvesting systems support all types and combinations of water features  — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams.

The captured rainwater can also replenish a water feature’s surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and it is especially helpful during droughts.

As certified installers of renowned Aquascape Inc. products, the water conservation systems and other water garden products Deck and Patio uses are both technologically and biologically efficient.


Project # 1

Koi is a healthy part of this pond's natural ecosystem

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem



The Aquascape products Deck and Patio used for this project include high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, and gravel beds.

Note: Koi can also be a truly beneficial part of a pond’s eco-system, including this self-sustaining one.



Project # 2


Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):


The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“The collection system is located completely below ground,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “The reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for City water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”




Project # 3


Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a beautiful pond, waterfalls and stream with a bridge across it.  Along with the right water plants, everything works together to create a very healthy eco-system — underpinning the peaceful vistas that restore the soul.

Why is this important? Well, such products create a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.


Project # 4


Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

With a “pondless” waterfall, the waterfalls and stream do not drop into a pond, but seep through gravel where it is first filtered and then collected in an underground reservoir and continually recirculated. Because you are continually filtering and recirculating water, such a project is definitely eco-friendly.

However, natural evaporation of the water feature will require, like this Deck and patio one, that the recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. So for those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use any town water by even occasionally replenishing your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes the RainXchange reservoir system we used here.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.


There are many routes to sustainability. And the beautiful water feature you choose for a restful respite will be truly that…having no tinge of guilt about its impact on the environment.






2018 Landscaping Trends: ‘Forest Bathing’ on Long Island, NY

Those in the know, like HGTV, have spotted a Japanese-inspired landscaping trend that’s expected to remain hot in the U.S. throughout 2018 and beyond.

It’s called: forest bathing.

No, it doesn’t require a bathing suit. Or wild evening romps in the moonlight.


Forest bathing

Forest bathing

Forest bathing simply means bathing yourself in the beauty of a wooded area via a nature walk. The idea is to allow your inner spirit time to breathe — and any inner tensions to find release.

This uplifting experience might also include spiritual moments of divine worship. But the essential key is to just give one’s technology-driven life a break. And no place offers a better space for that than a quiet woodland area.

Forest bathing, by the way, is a translation of the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku” — a new philosophy that began in Japan in the 1980s and has been growing as fast as, well, a bamboo forest.

At Deck and Patio we were delighted to learn of this “trend.” But our Huntington Station, NY-based firm — in collaboration with many of our nature-loving clients — has been designing such restful woodland backyard escapes all across Long Island for many years.

There are two ways we accomplish this.


  1. If a property already has beautiful woodlands, our goal is, first, to safeguard as much of this precious space as possible when creating nature walks and any other outdoor living areas.

    Plus, we often add man-made environmentally-friendly water features and plantings to make the wooded areas feel complete. The goal is always to enhance the experience of the parklands without doing harm to the surroundings.

  1. A second option — which can be more expensive — is to import new trees, shrubs and flowers to create an entirely new wilderness area where one does not exist.


Here’s a few examples of Deck and Patio-landscaped ‘forest bathing’ areas we created for a few of our Long Island, NY clients.


Forest Bathing on Long Island, NY:

Forest Bathing on Long Island, NY:

Here’s a great example of a pre-existing wooded area on a local property. Within this already beautiful setting, we added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around it.

We also added additional plantings and lots of green ground cover. It’s the perfect space for them to bathe in natural beauty before they start their day and when they return home.


Forest Bathing Offers Great Escape (Long Island/NY):

Forest Bathing Offers Great Escape (Long Island/NY):

The key to forest bathing is to create or update spaces as they appear in nature — and add only amenities that fit naturally in that environment.

In this case, Deck and Patio added a bridge, water feature, imported boulders and rocks and landscaped it with robust plantings. It feels like you are in upstate New York, in the mountains. Yet, it’s right in our clients’ backyard.


Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

As you can see from this Deck and Patio-designed backyard refuge, we were careful to safeguard the existing woodland areas on the property.

Extending out from the parkland areas, the new water feature was brought forward to the entertaining areas through the addition of a pondless waterfall.

The new multi-level patios were carefully designed so that each patio space had a specific use. The complete project was a perfect blend of softscapes with hardscapes.


Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Many believe that walking in natural surroundings is not only peaceful but by providing moments of peaceful contemplation, such walks can have a healing effect.

For this space, we took advantage of the family’s desire to hide their pool equipment by creating a private woodland path. We brought in bushes and plantings and fit them among existing old-growth trees. Adding bluestone stepping stones that lead to a larger woodland area contributes to an extended nature walk that is perfect for forest bathing.

Here’s two quotes to leave you with today:


“Wilderness is a necessity”     — John Muir, environmental philosopher

“Look deep into nature, and then you will

understand everything better.”     — Albert Einstein


Happy forest bathing!


Backyard Wildlife Havens Stem from Chemical-free Eco-Systems


Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Once you have your pond installed in an eco-friendly way, it’s a wonderful feeling to kick back and let the aquatic plants, pond fish, rocks, gravel, filtration and circulation systems — and, yes, beneficial algae— do the daily work of keeping it clean and healthy.

True. Ponds and other water features require some spring and fall maintenance.

But on a daily basis, left to their own devices, they’re self-sustaining. And such a water wonderland soon becomes a haven for beneficial wildlife — wildlife that also contributes to the overall health of your eco-system.

Frogs are beneficial for a chemical-free environment

Frogs contribute to a chemical-free environment

And it’s not just song birds that a backyard refuge will attract. Take the humble frog or toad. Enticed by a nice supply of seasonal food found in a pond’s flowering aquatic or nearby plants, along with plenty of water to drink, they will happily make a home there.

In turn for your gifts to them, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides. They love munching on grubs, beetles, slugs, not to mention mosquito larvae. Indeed, according to online reports, one frog or toad can eat up to 10,000 pests during one season.

So you can understand why Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), who manufacture much of our water feature equipment, couldn’t resist posting a video of the delightful tree froggy found at an water feature installation.

The water feature was created by one of Aquascapes Certified Contractors, Jeff of Pinellas Ponds & Waterfalls  As a fellow Aquascape Certified Contractor, we’re happy to share it below:


Pinellas Ponds and Waterfalls

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!Water features attract welcome critters of all sorts – like a cute little tree frog! This week we visit Jeff of Pinellas Ponds & Waterfalls in Florida to view some of the stunning water features he's installed. We'd love to have you come along for the tour!See Full Video Here >>

Posted by Aquascape Inc. on Tuesday, January 16, 2018



How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

Did you know you don’t have to have a pond to attract such beneficial wildlife. For this Deck and Patio-built stream and waterfall project, the clients opted for a “pond-less” waterfall system. The water needed to keep the feature topped off and refreshed is harvested from the home’s roof rainwater. Plus, any excess harvested rainwater is used to irrigate their property.


Kids and Backyard Ponds:

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.


Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

The tall aquatic plant on the left of this Deck and Patio built pond (a canna lily) 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.


“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

For this Deck and Patio project, pink petunias add a bright statement away from where the waterfalls spill and seep into the ground. Close to the waterfall area we added grassy plants like Liriope that thrive in moist soil.


Testing the Waters: Will Our Family Enjoy a Natural Swim Pond?

Most people are pretty certain their family will enjoy using a regular swimming pool. But a swimming pond? Not everyone is so sure.

One way to test the waters so to speak is ask yourself this question: Do we like swimming in lakes, the ocean, and swimming holes? If the answer is yes to any of these, then, you’ll probably love a natural swimming pond.

After all, families swimming in the ocean have probably brushed up against the occasional bit of seaweed and snorkeled to get close up to colorful fish.

So would it surprise you that in recent years, Deck and Patio (already known as pond experts on Long Island) has been asked to create several man-made ponds — designed especially for the clients’ swimming enjoyment?

In fact, here’s a video of people doing just that in a Long Island natural swimming pond created by Deck and Patio:



But what about bacteria?

In an earlier post on Aquascape Inc.’s website entitled Growing Up Around a Pond, the writer focuses on the ’10 most interesting things’ she has learned from having just such a pond:

all bacteria is not bad;

swimming in a pond is more fun than in a pool;

ponds are wondrous at night;

ponds are better than TV or video games.

We would have to agree with her. Snorkeling in a regular swimming pool isn’t all that exciting.

That aside, swimming in a pristine natural pond is very possible and thrilling. Using the right underlayment, liner, Biofalls and skimmers, bog filtration and water plants are all part of creating the perfect experience.


Pond/Playground Oasis in Brooklyn, NY

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

One great example of a swimming pond was this Deck and Patio project in Brooklyn. The heart of the project is, of course, its eco-friendly pond, which we built initially as a very shallow pond — only 8” deep.

That was deep enough so their young children could swim and play in it. However, we also constructed the pond to “grow” with them. We used boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they got older, could be removed — exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

The finished natural playscape is reminiscent of a secret cove on a desert island. It boasts a swimming pond with a beach-style entry, three waterfalls, a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features.


Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond is one of two ponds the clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. Now you may think that our beautiful model is avoiding the ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.


Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim.


Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

The child in all of us loves natural swim ponds. This photo was published originally by a homeowner who wrote an Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond.” She captured  her son in the photo encouraging a friend to join him in the pond.


Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One ways you ensure a pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. This allows the aquatic plants and natural filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.



Idyllic Backyard Upgrades Embrace All 4 Seasons

As you know, Mother Nature does not provide flora in our neck of the woods with 4-season blooms and buds — yet there are ways to ensure outdoor living areas always include some color, and definitely, beauty.

So, today, we are highlighting 4 previous Deck and Patio blogs on the subject of seasonal landscapes.

Take for example water features. They are stunning any time of year. The waterfall and pond photo featured above, for example, captures Deck and Patio’s own design center in the heart of winter. We keep our water feature running in all seasons — even when it’s bitterly cold and snowy — and it’s always lovely to look at.


1. Garden Color for Fall and Winter — a Berry Good Thing.

Whether it’s the Red Twig Dogwood, Chokeberry and Winterberry Holly, this blog gives great ideas for backyard flora.

These not only provide food for birds, they offer color through various seasons.

Consider “Callicarpa.” It boasts bright purple berries that begin in fall and last through the winter; Skimmia evergreen shrubs always offer bright green leaves. In spring, they burst open with vibrant white flowers, and in fall, provide crimson red fruits that last through winter.



Deck and Patio Landscaping:Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

Deck and Patio Landscaping:Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

2.  What is Involved in Creating a Backyard Oasis Landscape?

A good deal goes into creating a backyard retreat that can be enjoyed in many seasons.

Such a plan would also take into consideration the home’s architecture as well as personal style preferences.

“It’s also key to pay close attention to your property grades,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We plan so that the landscape will flourish and last for years. Our designs include a layering technique that offers privacy on the periphery and vibrancy where it will be best enjoyed.”




Red Maple in Fall: (Photo With Permission © by Jeff Dean)

Red Maple in Fall: (Photo With Permission © by Jeff Dean)

3.  For Fiery Fall Foliage: Are You Barking Up the Right Tree?

When we did this blog on the best trees to plant for fiery Fall color, Deck and Patio spoke with Angelo Puleo, Nursery Division, Bissett Nursery (Holtsville, NY).

“One of the most popular and widespread deciduous trees that produces bright reds in autumn is the beautiful Maple tree,” says Puleo. “In particular, we recommend Sugar Maples, and, of course, Oaks for great Fall red color.”

Puleo also recommends the Cleveland Select Pear for robust color, which bursts awake in beautiful white flowers in Spring, and in the Fall, its leaves offer up a deep orange-y-red blaze of color,” he says. For more fiery ideas do check out this blog and Pin away!

And let’s not forget winter!



Deck and Patio's Design Center

Deck and Patio’s Design Center

Close Up of Water Feature in winter

Close Up of Water Feature in winter







4.  Winterizing Waterscapes

With evergreens offering punches of color against a blanket of white, and grades in the property adding interest, a front yard looks like a fairytale in winter.

If you do not want the water in your water feature to freeze, you can choose to winterize your water gardens/waterscapes by running them with heat, which will melt the ice dams as you see here.

But that is not necessary and you might miss some gorgeous crystalized winter scenes.


Backyard Upgrades: 3 ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects

When homeowners want to upgrade their properties, sometimes it can be a challenge to imagine all the changes that will be required.

So today we’re showcasing three sets of before and after photos that showcase how a collaboration with a reputable design/build firm like Deck and Patio can end  up in an award-winning landscaping project.



  1. Centerport, Long Island, NY

These homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

"Before" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“Before” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.


"After" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“After” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub.


    2. Dix Hills, Long Island, NY

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area they called on  Deck and Patio. They knew their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

"Before" Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

“Before” Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

“We introduced a unique concept to deal with the large wall behind the pool, and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “The idea was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”



"After" of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, the next step was pressing the boulders into the surrounding slope to continue the natural presence of large boulders. Then the landscape crew installed natural woodland planting to tie in with the tall oaks adding color and evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

Once the slope was stabilized, it was time for the pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered where we straighten the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were added, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

Cambridge Sahara Chestnut pavers were used to create a dramatic pool/patio area.


    3. Brookville, Long Island, NY

When Deck and Patio first met with these clients to discuss a pool and patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.


"Before" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“Before” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

The project included a complete revamping of the pool’s pipes, interior, finish and the incorporation of new swim outs at the deep, as well as a new Tech-Bloc patio pool surround.

They also initially wanted wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their existing gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion of a custom installation of a portable hot tub.


"After" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it could be used when the pool was closed down.

“We installed it in a way that allowed them to get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool when using the hot tub,” says Dave.

And the clients didn’t have to sacrifice any drama. “The complete upgrade included an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.”

The above projects won Deck and Patio awards both domestically and internationally.


Fall Maintenance: Preparing Koi Ponds for Winter

With each seasonal change there are things you can do to keep your koi pond heathy and thriving. And fall maintenance is particularly important.


Plants and Fallen Leaves


Now is the time — before winter sets in — to look over your pond’s plantings and remove any dying plant material.

It’s important to do this before the pond water temperature drops below 50 degrees (F). Above 50 degrees, the fish are still active and are not at risk of being hurt while this is being done.

“Plants can rot out of season and build up poisonous gases that will not be able to escape when ice forms,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “This could cause any koi in the pond to go, from simply hibernating, into a dangerous state of torpor. So prune any dead stems and leaves.”

Dave adds that if you use pond netting before the autumn leaves fall, all you need do after fall foliage season is pull it up and get rid of the collected leaves.

If you didn’t put up netting to collect the leaves, use a fine netting to scoop up the debris.

Also, if you suspect that fallen leaves may have gotten lodged in the pond shelves and edges, you can either drain the pond a little yourself to get at them, or contact a pond designer like Deck and Patio for help completing this task.


(Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio)

(Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio)



If calling a pond expert in to help, this is a good time to ask them to create safety pond cave(s) if you haven’t done that already.

Pond caves provide a safe place where the fish can hide and lie dormant during the winter months.






Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio

Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio

Hardy water lilies that float on the water’s surface, and have a short blooming period, can withstand the cold winter months nicely.

Lotuses also can withstand the cold because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter.

Note: Frost kills non-hardy water hyacinths and along with water lettuce, which fights algae, these should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.




Pond Fish


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

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


It is a common myth that you can’t leave your pond fish outside once the cold sets in.

Actually, fish do just fine during winter. That said, Dave does caution to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.

This can be remedied as long as you give them:




•two feet of water to swim in,

•oxygenate the water,

•and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator.


The hole allows 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. In fact, they shouldn’t be fed at all. 


Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)

Pond Waterfalls in Winter: (Photo/Aquascapes Inc.)


Keeping any waterfalls running 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.





Fall Gardening Tips from Hicks Nurseries, Westbury, Long Island

Like our friends at Hicks Nurseries, Deck and Patio and our blog followers love each new season for the gifts it brings.

Autumn is no exception. So in case you missed it at their own website, Hicks Nurseries’ gave us permission to share below their October 23rd blog on: FALL GARDENING – YES, YOU CAN!.  Enjoy!


By Karen Musgrave, Hicks Nurseries

Fall can be a confusing time for the novice gardener. Their gardens are producing less, if any fruit and flowers are starting to look tired and leggy. The weather is cooler and it seems like the time to garden has ended . . . or has it?

Fall is a great time to plant!

Fall gardening? Yes, you can! Although the air temperatures are cooler the ground temperature is still plenty warm for root growth. Here on Long Island you can plant trees, shrubs and perennials well into late fall. Learn how to plant here.


Lawn Renovation

Now is the time to re-seed your lawn or fill in bare spots that may have formed over the summer months. Plentiful rainfall, cooler temperatures and the lack of competition from weeds combine to make this the best time to accomplish lawn seeding or sodding. Learn more here.



Move Houseplants & Tropicals Indoors for Winter

If you moved your houseplants and tropical plants such as hibiscus outdoors for the summer, now is the time to transition them indoors for the winter. Learn how here.


Dig Up Summer Blooming Bulbs & Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs


Summer Blooming Bulbs

Not all bulbs can survive the winter outdoors. Dahlias, elephant ears, cannas and caladium are of few of the bulbs you will need to dig up before winter. Learn more here.


Spring Blooming Bulbs

Now is also the time to plant tulips, daffodils and other spring blooming bulbs. These bulbs require a period of cold (winter). Plant them now and they will bloom next spring. Learn more here.


Nothing makes the flower beds in front of your home look nicer – especially in the winter – than a layer of beautiful mulch. Mulch gives beds a finished look, helps the soil to retain water for your trees and shrubs and suppresses weed growth.


What About Pruning? 

Heavy pruning at this time could result in the stimulation of new growth that may not have enough time to mature before winter; making it prone to frost damage. Limit pruning to the removal of dead or damaged branches during this time. Learn more about pruning here.


For information about how and when to prune hydrangeas , read our Hydrangea pamphlet.


Fall is a great time to garden. The weather is cooler and the sun is shining, get out there and enjoy it! A little work now will save you time this spring.”

A big thanks to Hicks Nurseries. Note: Today’s feature photo at the top of this blog is from Hicks’ Facebook page.


For tips on how falling leaves can affect your driveways, decks, lawns, and patios, etc., Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio reminds everyone that the tannin in leaves can stain pavers, concrete etc.

“It is better — and easier to remove the leaves than to seal your decks and patios,” says Dave. For more on this, see our blog.




By | 2017-10-26T13:29:35+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Creative Design, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Fall Gardening Tips from Hicks Nurseries, Westbury, Long Island

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.”