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Landscape Planning Can Make a Great Gift

Whether it’s for the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah, New Year’s, or an upcoming anniversary, birthday, or even Valentine’s Day, landscape planning can make a great gift. 

Through the software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process for landscaping is surprisingly quick — providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the spring,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But that’s really not necessary at all. It can be done during any season.”

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

Even if the ground is covered in snow, experts like those at Deck and Patio don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project.

“Granted, it is helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced,” adds Dave. “But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.”

Letting the Design Be the Gift

Since most property upgrades begin with a landscape design, the plan itself can be a gift. And you could go all out in this stage of the process — planning, a beautiful pond, or other water feature, for example, or a pool with swim-up bar and wild ride slide, a custom spa, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years.

The whole project can also be planned out financially, so the different phases can be worked into your yearly budgets. In addition, since landscape plans are computerized, it is no problem if the gift receiver has ideas of their own to add later or changes they want made.

Landscape Planning as a Gift

Landscape Planning as a Gift

The gift of a landscaping plan is definitely something memorable. And what a joy it will be seeing the plans come to life. 

Indeed, just this week we posted on Facebook a video of a Deck and Patio vanishing edge pond project we built in Eatons Neck, NY.

The video begins with one of Deck and Patio’s computerized plans and ends with the finished project showing the wonderful experience of having such a pond. Here it is again, immediately below. 

 

 

Another Example

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan.

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan.

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left above) not only helps show what the yard will look like in advance — including from different perspectives. Such a gift also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along, as well as changes from the gift receiver.

In the case of the immediately above Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. 

One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas. 

 

Great Gift Ideas

Great Gift Ideas

 

And you’ve got to admit that a computer plan downloaded on a small drive (or even printed out) is easy to wrap!

In every way, a landscaping plan makes a great gift! 

 

 

Give Yourself the Gift of a Backyard Pond

'Tis The Season

‘Tis The Season

You might be wondering if this is the best time of year to give yourself and family the gift of a backyard water feature. After all, aren’t ponds, streams, waterfalls, for the outdoor living season?

While most water features, particularly ponds, are, indeed, enjoyed extensively in warm weather, a water feature is actually appreciated during all seasons, including winter. And sometimes they are even built during winter’s blasts.

“Not to mention that during the gift-giving season we’re often encouraged to think deeply about what we’d love to receive ourselves as well as what to give to others,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

But why now precisely? Shouldn’t we wait for spring? 

“You’d be surprised what can be built outdoors during these colder months,” adds Dave. “Even if it’s not fully built until spring, it’s great to get a good start.”  Click here for a Deck and Patio water feature built primarily during winter.

 

Holiday Gift Wish List

 

Natural Swimming Pond

Also called “recreational ponds,” these water features offer the opportunity to swim and snorkel without having to deal with chlorinated water. 

 

The Gift of Snorkeling:

The Gift of Snorkeling:

You’ll definitely get on Santa’s “nice” list when opting for swimming/snorkeling in your own natural or recreational pond over a regular pool. Natural ponds are good for the environment.

“In order to snorkel in your own home pond, it’s important to build a pond big and deep enough,” says Dave. “It’s also key to not overload your pond with fish so the pond remains pristine for swimming. “This way, the aquatic plants and natural filtration systems are able to absorb and ‘clean’ the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.”

To learn more about Deck and Patio natural swimming ponds, click here.  Then next year, Santa won’t have to snorkel his way to your home via the local aquarium.

 

Koi Pond

Ponds in Spring/Summer:

Outdoor Living Season

Outdoor Living Season

Even if they’re not built for swimming, once the weather warms, ponds are a natural wonderland for children to explore. Plus, they provide a lovely spot for dining al fresco, or just sitting beside while reading a book. Feeding your koi is also a delightful way to relax and let stress just fall away. 

 

Ponds in Autumn

Ponds in Autumn

Ponds in Winter

Ponds in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few autumn leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color.  Learn more here.

Many people love to be outdoors in winter and a pond helps create the perfect winter wonderland. A popular trend these days is creating a winter walk “event” for strolling by lighted trees or bushes, also a fully-operating water feature with waterfalls, and even enjoying an ice rink for skating. 

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

It takes some prep work and lots of caution and care to make a rink, but according to naturally-recognized “The Pond Guy” you can, indeed, turn your pond into a rink for skating.

The Pond Guy has several blogs on this topic covering how to create good ice, what red flags to look for, how to check the ice, and how to create a glassy smooth surface. For two of his blogs, click here and here. 

 

 

Choosing a Recreational Pond Over a Swimming Pool

Most people are pretty certain their family will enjoy using a regular pool. But not everyone is so sure about a recreational pond.

Even after learning that these ponds are a growing international trend and are so much better for the environment, they think, why rock the inflatable pool boat so to speak.

However, if like some of Deck and Patio’s Long Island client families, your passion for eco-friendly spaces makes you want to at least ponder (ahem) a recreational pond, one way to test the waters is ask: Do we like swimming in lakes, the ocean, and/or swimming holes? 

If the answer is yes to any of these, then you’ll probably love a natural swimming pond. Why? Because if you’ve swum in the ocean, for example, you’ve probably brushed up against the occasional bit of seaweed and snorkeled to get up close to colorful fish. 

In addition, because swimming in a natural pond means you won’t be swimming in chlorinated water, there’ll be no red eyes or irritated skin.

Because of the benefits to the environment a natural swimming pond offers, and the sheer pleasure families get from them, we’ve been staying on top of the different ponds being constructed across the country. In particular, we keep close watch on the work of the company that crafts the products we use for most of our water features — Aquascape Inc., St. Charles, IL.

And no more so than recently. For in the past year, Aquascape’s main focus, through their Aquascape Construction arm, has been on the design and construction of recreational ponds. And if Aquascape is all in, we’re confident this trend will be growing even wider.

The feature photo at the top of our blog page today is of an Aquascape Construction’s recreational pond that they built last fall in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and which they recently shared on Facebook. Here’s the video of their amazing pond:

 

 

Their pond sure is a beauty, isn’t it? And as much as we love gushing about our mentor, Aquascape, we’re proud to say Deck and Patio has done some nice recreational ponds at home on Long Island.

Here’s one very special award-winner!

Recreational Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

Recreational Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond (above) is one of two ponds the clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. We can assure you our beautiful model is not avoiding any of the natural pond experience by using a floating device. 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,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

 

Pond Water Feature Includes Stream and Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Pond Water Feature Includes Stream and Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The water feature being enjoyed by our lovely model in the two previous photos includes not only two ponds but also this beautiful stream that feeds them — which Deck and Patio  landscaped with lush plantings and river rock.

 

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.

A Note on Recreational Pond Maintenance

Eco-friendly recreational ponds require expertise to create a natural swimming  environment to be enjoyed much like swimming holes were in years past. It takes, for example, the correct underlayment, liner, Biofalls (from Aquascape Inc.), bog filtration, as well as the ideal water plants. 

As Aquascape said on Facebook, “The proper amount of filtration and aeration is included in the installation so that maintenance is kept to a minimum.”

 

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

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

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond Deep Enough to Snorkel In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

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

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

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

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

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

 

 Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

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

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

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

 

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

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!”

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. 

 

 

 

 

Can Pond Fish Survive in a Frozen Pond?

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

 

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

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

The big question is:

Can Koi Survive in Frozen Ponds?

Pond Gases Must Escape

Pond Gases Must Escape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

 

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

Merry Christmas, everyone!

In Winter, Flowing Water Becomes Crystalized Art

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

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

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

Pond Fish

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

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

 

Pond in Summer

Pond in Summer

Pond in Winter

Pond in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Winter Fountainscapes:

Winter Fountainscapes:

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

 

Business Complex Water Feature:

Business Complex Water Feature:

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

 

Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

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

 

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond Summer

Backyard Pond Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Net Your Pond in Fall, If You Can’t Leave It To Beavers

Autumn Ponds

Autumn Ponds

A few leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color. 

Too much debris collecting at the bottom of a water feature will leave sludge on its floor. Over time, the build up can become so thick it can affect the pond’s depth and alter the water quality.

What to do? 

If you’re a naturalist, you might hope Mother Nature and beavers could come to the rescue. Their flat tails, acting as shovels, could have that sludge dug up and turned into a beaver lodge before you can say TIMBER! 

Alas, the rodents disappeared from Long Island long ago. Anyway they would gnaw through those precious deciduous trees that dropped the leaves in the first place. 

Beavers

Beavers

But Deck and Patio suggests a simpler alternative — cute as beaver’s buck teeth may be. Simple pond netting, put up in advance of peak autumn foliage, will capture the leaves and other debris. 

“Of course it’s best to put up the netting before the leaves drop,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “However, if some leaves have already fallen in, a long-handle pond net can be used to scoop out the debris before covering it with the net.” 

Dave adds that if you’ve had some buildup, there are natural pond cleaners that will break down accumulation from previous years.

 

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful in due course to put up pond netting to collect foliage debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

 

Installing Pond Netting:

Installing Pond Netting:

Aquascape’s Dave Kelly suggests tenting the net so it won’t sag into the pond when its full of leaves.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

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.

 

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Benefits of Water Gardens: Raising Independent, Confident Kids

There is much debate today whether ‘helicopter’ parenting, i.e., hovering closely around children as they grow up, is better than the more old-fashioned ‘free range’ way,  or more limited parental supervision.

The goal of both sides, of course, is raising confident, independent and safe kids. 

But it was the free-range side of this discussion that caught our eye this week. A recent NPR article focused on how some parents believe that to raise confident and independent children, they need to “let grow.”

The ‘let grow’ is a terrific play on words — especially since what’s behind it emphases the advantages children experience by exploring, on their own, a beautiful outdoor natural environment. 

This does not surprise us at Deck and Patio. We’ve been hearing for many years how much the children of our clients gain by being able to explore Nature close up in a backyard water feature like a pond.

“Not everyone lives near a large park with streams, or a pond, abundant with flora and fauna,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And not every parent is comfortable with letting children stray too far away from home in order to experience this.”

But on answer is certainly adding a wildlife refuge (small wildlife that is) in one’s own property.

As this wonderful video (below) from Aquascape Inc.’s Facebook page shows, when done well, these features can attract lots of interesting and friendly creatures that children love:  birds, frogs, salamanders, butterflies.

Not to mention by adding koi and lovely aquatic plants, depending on their age, children can be entertained as well as educated — on their own — for hours at a time.

 

 

Now while there are a few things to consider, like an ideal pond depth for the age of the children, with a little care, koi ponds bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, many adults can’t resist a swim.

So whether you believe in being a ‘helicopter’ parent, or come down on the side of ‘free range,’ with a backyard koi pond, kids can explore without being far from a watchful eye. They’ll learn independence choosing what to study on any given day: a croaking frog, a bird bathing in the cool water, or jeweled koi eager to be fed.

 

Pond Lessons for Kids

Pond Lessons for Kids

In return for your providing the clean pond water, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides.

 

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.

 

Natural Playscape with Pond:

Natural Playscape with Pond (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio designed/built this city oasis with a temporary 8” shallow pond for younger children, which can be easily turned into a full-size koi pond when the children get older.

Stepping stones lead from the playhouse across the pond to a patio at the back of the house — where parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends can sit and watch the children play and explore (ahem). 

 

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY): Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in their pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Even when the weather is chilly, kids enjoy studying what’s happening in a pond. And when winter comes, and the koi hibernate, they might be able to skate on it. This is one time, no one argues that helicopter parenting isn’t a good thing. Parents will definitely be the ones checking to know if the pond is truly frozen.