outdoor maintenance

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Dix Hills Snowplowing: ‘Be Prepared’ Is a Wise Motto

Prepping for Snow

Be Prepared for Snow

The weather may be fine these days. But Mother Nature can be full of surprises. So Dix Hills Snowplowing — which provides residential/commercial shoveling, sanding, salting, and deicing for a large portion of central Long Island — is ready.

Our vehicles are serviced, shovels and deicing materials are stacked and accessible, and client lists are lining up.  And we recommend homeowners and business owners be prepared, too.

“When you have a home, for example, snow can present problems beyond keeping stairs and walks free of snow and ice,” says owner Dave Stockwell. 

“It’s critical that water cut offs are also accessible, and that your driveway is ice and snow free. If you plan to take care of all this yourself, make sure that your snow blower, generator, roof rake, deicers, etc. are all placed where they can be easily retrieved.” 

Snow and ice storms are occasionally accompanied by a power failure, adds Dave. So do plan ahead, including putting fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide monitor. Also, have emergency telephone numbers near the phone.

 

Additional DIY Tips

1. Driveway Prep

Plow Stakes

Plow Stakes

Even before you hear of any storm approaching, it’s important to “prep” your driveway and walkway by installing fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”). And the longer you put it off, the harder the ground will get from the cold. 

(Note: wood plow/snow stakes aren’t as strong as fiberglass and can be easily damaged.)

Position the stakes to indicate where any costly Belgium Block or other edging could be damaged from snow plows. One end of the stake is pointed for easy insertion in the ground. Also, they come in different colors and you can let a particular color indicate, for example, where a fire hydrant is, the regular curb, your driveway entrance, etc.

If your driveway is straight, you won’t need as many markers. But if it’s curved, it’s important to mark key points at every turn. In addition, if you will be doing the snow removal yourself, chances are you’ll be doing it before or after work, when it’s dark. In this case, consider reflective snow stakes, which, while more costly, can be alternated with less-expensive non-reflective ones. This way, you’ll be sure to see all the important areas.

When placing the stakes, consider placing them further back from the driveway than the 2 inches often recommended. This allows for the opening of car doors, piling of shoveled snow, etc. without dislodging or covering a key stake.

 

2. Roof Prep

Roof Snow Removal

Roof Snow Removal

Snow can cause a lot of pressure on your roof. One of the best ways to remove it is with a roof rake, so it’s good to have it readily on hand. Also take a look at your gutters to make sure ice doesn’t dam them up and cause leaking into your home or attic.3.

Some experts recommend stringing heat cables through them, or on the roof just above the gutters. This should be done, of course, before major snowstorms to avoid any Clark Griswald-like ice rockets from a frozen gutter fail.

 

3. Snow Blowers, Shoveling

Snow Removal

Snow Removal

Even an inexpensive snow blower is preferable to shoveling by hand.

But if you are going to shovel, here’s a tip: coat the scoop of the shovel with non-stick cooking spray.

Be sure, whether you are using a snow blower or shoveling, to remove the snow in small increments at a time — don’t try to do it all at once.

 

 

Professional Snow Removal

 

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Of course, the easiest way to handle some of this is to contact professionals like Deck and Patio’s Dix Hills Snowplowing.

In speaking with our own Office Manager, Linda LaRose, if you live in our corner of Suffolk County (Huntington/Dix Hills etc.) and wish to have us take care of your snow removal, you can contact us with no obligation (631-549-8100).

Once we hear from you, Linda will email a contract to review and you can always call her with questions before signing on, or incurring any expense. When you make this initial contact, this would be the right time to let us know if you have any special requirements: e.g., early service, service at 1-inch (ours usually begins at 2”), sand service, if garage doors need to shoveled, mail box cleared, etc.

 

We can also stake the driveway for you, if you ask for it. (Note: For snow removal from roofs, you should contact a roof contractor for their specialized service.)

Dix Hills Snowplowing 631-549-8100

Dix Hills Snowplowing 631-549-8100

 

By |2020-11-19T13:55:49-05:00November 19th, 2020|Deck and Patios, Driveways, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Patios & Decks, paving stones, Seasonal Landscapes, Snow Removal|Comments Off on Dix Hills Snowplowing: ‘Be Prepared’ Is a Wise Motto

It’s Pond Maintenance Time in Long Island, NY

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

We’re nearing peak foliage in most parts of Long Island. And that lovely sight reminds us it’s time to do some pond maintenance.

In a previous blog, we reminded water feature lovers to put a net over them before the leaves begin to fall. 

Once all the leaves have dropped and been captured by the net, you can simply pull it out and once again enjoy your pond unobstructed.

Note: If netting isn’t your thing, a long-handle pond net allows you to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris. It’s a bit more work, but effective. 

Also, since ponds tend to lose significant water by evaporation during the summer, clearing out debris keeps the pond from getting too shallow and needing extra water to keep it topped off and healthy. 

 

Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

“It’s a good idea to trim back and remove any dead foliage from aquatic plants this time of year,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “This helps remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature. Such decaying material can cause excess gasses and undesirable algae.”

Pond lilies, for example, which are idyllic water plants, tend to need a little maintenance in fall. It’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.

 

 

Chemical Pond Treatments

 Leaves In Backyard Stream

Leaves In Backyard Stream

 

Some debris will make it into your pond no matter how careful you are.

Dave Kelly of renounced pond experts Aquasacpe Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).

Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

 

 

 

Caring for Pond Fish

You can — and should — plump up your koi darlings to survive winter hibernation. As temperatures start to drop, gradually increase how much you feed them. When your pond’s water gets below 59 degrees, we recommend using fish food made for cold water. 

Note: As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.   Once water temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

Pond Fish in Fall: There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

Pond Fish in Fall:
There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.

 

Healthy Ponds: Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall. There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.

Healthy Ponds:
Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall.

 

If you have questions, or need assistance, give our office a call at 631-549-8100.

 

When It’s Time to Cover Pools in Fall, It’s Time to Cover Ponds, Too

Mesh Pool Cover by Loop Loc

Mesh Pool Cover by Loop Loc

Although pool covers will be on for the duration (fall through early summer), the good news is your pond ‘netting’ cover will only be there until autumn’s leaves have fallen. 

This is because your pool needs to protect pipes and other pool equipment. But your pond can be enjoyed even during frigid snows. (More on that in upcoming blogs.)

One thing does apply to both these water features, however. Falling leaves and twigs etc. can do harm.

 

 

Healthy Pond Water

Healthy Pond Water

 

In the case of the pond, too much debris collecting at the bottom 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.

 

 

 

The antidote?

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: 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.

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

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 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 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): 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.

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.

 

By |2020-10-22T14:24:03-05:00October 22nd, 2020|Aquascape Biofalls, Concrete (Gunite) Pools, Koi Ponds, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features|Comments Off on When It’s Time to Cover Pools in Fall, It’s Time to Cover Ponds, Too

Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Plant Your Spring Garden

In autumn, floras slowly begin their dormancy process making fall the ideal time to plant your trees, shrubs, and perennials for a beautiful spring garden.

Right now is a great time to plan what bulbs etc. are going where and what you’ll need to install them. But the best time for the actual planting is late October, early November.

“The temperatures around late October are cooler during the day and overnight,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “So plants require less watering. In addition, they are using less energy to push out foliage and roots. 

“That said, proper watering will be necessary for the first two weeks after planting to ensure they ‘heal’ themselves in for the winter.”

 

Installing the Bulbs

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Tulips

Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulbs, such as Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Allium, Crocus, Lilies, etc. all add their own unique color, texture, height, sun and shade tolerance; and some, like Hyacinths, have delightful fragrance.

How you install bulbs is probably the most important aspect of ensuring they flower the following spring.

Each type of bulb has its own specified planting depth and spacing. It is extremely important that you follow this rule (see following depths). If not, the bulbs will not flower or may not leaf out. 

(Take care that the pointy tip of the bulb must be planted straight up; otherwise the bulb will definitely not perform as intended.)

 

 

Gardening

Planting Depths for Spring Bulbs

Alliums: 8 inches

Crocus: 3 inches

Daffodil: 6 inches

Hyacinth: 7 inches

Tulips: 6 inches

 

 

More Tips

— Best Soils for Bulbs: Bulbs grow well in many different soil types. But the one site they won’t enjoy is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plan to plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained sandy loams or loamy sands.

— Should You Compost: Compost is not necessary to layer on top. If you feel your soil is lacking organic matter, you will be better off incorporating compost into the top 6” of soil before planting. Mix bonemeal or superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole, or incorporate it into the soil around each bulb’s planting hole.

 

 

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall. For the Purple Allium seen in the foreground here of a Deck and Patio client’s yard, the best time to plant these bulbs is in September or October here in the northeast. Plant the allium about 4-8 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. And as we said above, ensure their pointy ends are up. Water well once.

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon
Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall. For the Purple Allium seen in the foreground here of a Deck and Patio client’s yard, the best time to plant these bulbs is in September or October here in the northeast. Plant the allium about 4-8 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. And as we said above, ensure their pointy ends are up. Water well once.

 

Crocuses: Colorful crocuses are often the first flower you see in spring. More good news: they return year after year.

Crocuses: Colorful crocuses are often the first flower you see in spring. More good news: they return year after year.

 

Berkshire Botanical Garden “Early fall is also a good time to prune your plants,” says Dave. “Don’t wait too late into fall to prune as frost can damage the stems that have been cut. They need time to callous over. Otherwise, this might inadvertently cause the tree and/or shrub to not bloom or have significant die back.”

Berkshire Botanical Garden
“Early fall is also a good time to prune your plants,” says Dave. “Don’t wait too late into fall to prune as frost can damage the stems that have been cut. They need time to callous over. Otherwise, this might inadvertently cause the tree and/or shrub to not bloom or have significant die back.”

 

 

 

By |2020-10-01T13:47:27-05:00October 1st, 2020|Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Plant Your Spring Garden

Fall Is a Great Time to Install a Patio or Driveway

It’s not just deck building that’s great come autumn. Fall is also the perfect time to add, repair, or expand your patio, driveway or pool surround. 

 

Fall Weather

Fall Weather

 

When it comes to patios, driveways and pool surrounds, digging up your property in fall is less of a hassle after the outdoor season is mostly over and you’re not outside as much.

Also, just like with building a deck, there’s less damage to the landscape when plants are dormant. 

Not to mention you’ll find that design/build firms like Deck and Patio have more time open on their schedules in autumn so they can provide quicker service as opposed to our busiest months.

 

Types of Materials

Choosing the right hardscape materials is important in the northeast’s freeze/thaw climate. The wrong products trap heat in the summer which can be tough on bare feet. And who wants to wear shoes or sandals around a pool or hot tub? 

That said, it’s equally important that the paving material you choose can stand up to the freezing weather that occurs in our cold seasons. 

“Helping our clients choose the right product is part of our service,” says Dave. “And whether the choice ends up being brick, natural stone, pavers or other landscaping materials, at Deck and Patio we know how to install them correctly. We have earned many HNA awards from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute which signify the superior design ability and competence of installation by our construction experts.”

 

Examples of Deck and Patio Hardscape Projects

 

Patio: Permeable Pavers

Deck and Patio Project/Brooklyn, NY

Deck and Patio Project/Brooklyn, NY

Because these Brooklyn clients wanted to collect rainwater for irrigation of their garden and backyard landscapes, they opted for permeable pavers. Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water as it’s being collected for recirculation.

 

Patio Techo-Bloc Pavers

Outdoor Kitchen on Lower Patio:

Outdoor Kitchen on Lower Patio:

Techo-Bloc pavers, which are engineered in Canada, are a good example of a product that can stand up extremely well to the freeze/thaw that occurs in our area.

Here, we built for our clients a two-level patio in Tech-Bloc’s Borealis’ modular slabs. On the lower of two new Deck and Patio patios, we added an outdoor kitchen with built-in stainless steel grill, expansive work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with stools. 

The upper level is a lovely dining area with custom fire pit and nearby is a hot tub with stream and waterfalls.

 

Driveway Tumbled Pavers

Paving Stone Driveway:

Paving Stone Driveway:

Deck and Patio’s design team was brought in during the early stages of planning and construction of this home and its many hardscapes. 

Working with the architect and homeowners, in front, our design team created a driveway in earth-tone concrete tumbled pavers that appear as an extension of the geometric patters and hues of the home’s Glen Gary brick.

 

Pool Surrounds

Cambridge Pool Surround:

Cambridge Pool Surround:

Handsome Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection) were chosen as a patio/pool surround for this yard. The pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design. 

The color of the pavers nicely pick up both the pool water while simultaneously suggesting beach sand for a beautiful natural appearance.

 

Deck and Patio Travertine Patio/Pool Surround:

Deck and Patio Travertine Patio/Pool Surround:

Here is a lovely example of natural stone. Travertine is a gorgeous natural stone that can make a beautiful patio. Here the Travertine surrounds a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, an outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade, and an outdoor shower. 

Note: Although Travertine has traditionally been used indoors in colder climates, more and more it is being used outdoors. Be careful, however, from where the stone is quarried. You want Travertine from Italy, Mexico or Turkey, not China, which doesn’t hold up in the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast.

 

To learn more about different materials and design/build opportunities, contact Deck and Patio during regular business hours at 613-549-8100.

 

By |2020-09-17T12:39:52-05:00September 17th, 2020|Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Driveways, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Patios & Decks, paving stones, Pool Surrounds, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Fall Is a Great Time to Install a Patio or Driveway

Waterside Living: Landscaping After a Storm

As of this writing, there are still a few homes in Long Island that have yet to regain power after Tropical Storm Isaias two weeks ago. And as with all major storms, those who live close to the water deal with additional challenges and problems.

Isaias Winds Brought Salt Water

Isaias Winds Brought Salt Water

For example, not only did Isaias knock down trees all over the Island, but as News 12 reported, the wind, as it picked up salt water, caused a strange phenomenon.

Many bushes and trees — that weren’t uprooted or outwardly damaged — were “burned” by the salt and have since turned brown — as if autumn had already arrived.   

It seems Mother Nature has many ways of destroying the landscape. And because our homes are our havens, resurrecting damaged properties always begins in heartache.

 

 

Landscaping After a Storm

When such a new beginning is needed, our job at Deck and Patio is to restore a home’s landscaping — with sensitivity as well as with creative ideas. 

For example, after a hurricane ravaged Long Island a few years back, we were called in to help do just that.

The owners of a waterside property — whose home was situated on a bay off the Atlantic in Bellmore — were initially shaken by the loss of their outdoor living backyard amenities.

After visiting the site, Deck and Patio was inspired to design/build a new 3-tier Trex deck and free-form vinyl pool to replace what was lost. 

“One reason we chose a composite decking material like Trex Transcend is, not only does it hold up to intense sun, it won’t absorb water like natural wood will,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Plus, Trex’s steel elevation framing provides an additional measure of security when strong winds hit.”

 

Deck Level One

 

Custom Multi-Level Deck:

Custom Multi-Level Deck:

The backdoor of this home is set high above ground. In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, Deck and Patio’s team divided the deck into three levels leading from the door, down to a new freeform vinyl pool and beautiful deck surround.

 

Deck Level Two

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen:

Considering the vistas open to this home, maximizing them was an important factor in every part of our design. Facing in a different direction just steps from the seating area, level two of the new deck offered a custom outdoor kitchen/eating area.

A new grill, refrigerator, and smoker/cooker were set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the Trex decking. The white vinyl railing offers dramatic framing around the warm wood tone of the outdoor kitchen and deck.

 

Deck Level Three

 

Elegant Multi-Level Trex Deck with Pool Surround:

Elegant Multi-Level Trex Deck with Pool Surround:

In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, our design called for three deck levels leading from the door down to a new freeform vinyl pool.

The Trex composite decking we used is a composite fabrication that eliminates cracking, rotting or splitting — perfect for waterside living. Trex requires no sealants because the composite materials are protected from UV rays; it also allows no damage from insects, water, or sun.

 

Trex Vinyl Pool Surround:

Trex Vinyl Pool Surround:

Again, considering the beautiful vistas open to this home, maximizing views was an important factor in every part of our design.

The pool is vinyl-lined; our design/build team added a Long Island boulder wall in front of some plantings to increase the natural look of the pool area; we also added a large custom diving rock.

 

 

When It Comes to Lawns, Consider What Millennials Would Do

Did you know ‘sustainability” is very important to 87 percent of millennials? When you consider millennials are 30 percent of the population, their preferences for environmentally-friendly lifestyles should make everyone sit up and take notice. 

Millennial Lifestyle

Millennial Lifestyle

Millennial Lifestyle

From all we’re learning about this age group (22-38 years) they are serious about sustainability and put their money where their beliefs are.

They prefer to learn online rather than in-person,  marry later, love tiny homes (at least postpone larger ones), prefer take-out to home-meal preparation — finding other ways to spend time with their children rather than at meal time.

Some are also joining ‘agrihoods’ or “agricultural neighborhoods” which are smaller communities designed to be good to the environment.

 

Landscaping the Millennial Way

 

Such passion has inspired Deck and Patio today to consider what millennials would do and highlight how homeowners can reduce the size of their expansive lawns, should they desire.

Note: Reducing lawn size does not mean giving the land over to seed. In true millennial fashion, reducing the size of one’s lawn should be part of a well-planned landscape — one that is vibrant and beautiful, as well as eco-friendly. 

 

Lawns Require Care

Lawns Require Care

“We love caring for expansive lawns,” says Dave Stockwell.

“But a beautifully manicured green lawn does take a lot of watering and fertilizing. Not to mention mowing. As they say, it’s not easy being green.”

For those wishing to reduce their lawn size, Dave has some helpful tips in removing turf grass.

 

 

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

Removing Turfgrass

Removing Turfgrass

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

— Use powdered lime, flour, or spray paint to mark the exact section you wish to cut back;

— Water the area ahead of time and then ‘scalp’ the grass (cut it to expose the stems)

— Now you have two options: (1) The physically harder, but quicker, one is: Using a turf cutter or spade, dig out the turf. Add soil and plant right away.  (Note: keep the removed turfgrass. After the sod breaks down, the turf can help make nitrogen-rich soil around the roots of plants).

Or…(2) try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil. Of course, if starting this process now, by the time the area is ready, it would be time to put in fall plants. For some ideas on ideal fall plants, visit this earlier blog.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

What To Plant In Place of Turfgrass

In speaking with a Long Island horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio, we discovered that this same subject has been on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” she adds. “A lawn is a high-input plant like Dave Stockwell says. So it’s a particularly good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggests, instead, planting more native perennials and shrubs. “Over time, after the planting stage, these will require much less irrigation. Perennials are pretty self-sufficient in searching for water on their own. Plus, their fertilizer requirements are at a minimum.”

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. “In fact, The National Wildlife Federation has a program devoted to reducing lawns and introducing pollinators to the garden through native plants,” says Vultaggio.

 

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

For those who are eager to save some money, time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggests the following native plants:

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1.  Monarda (Bee Balm)

Native to North America, this beautiful flowering plant is from the mint family. It’s easy to grow, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

It’s tubular flowers come in a variety of colors (pink, white, violet, red) and bloom in high summer through early fall. Bee Balm takes to full sun or light shade, and prefers a well-drained fertile soil. It needs some protection from excess moisture in winter.

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2.  Violet-colored Liatris Sicata (Gayfeather)

Gayfeather (tall purple plant on the left) is an extremely easy plant to grow.

It blooms in late summer and grows from corms that sprout in spring.

Part of the sunflower family, it, too, is native to North America. It likes full sun, well-drained soils; it attract birds and butterflies, and is an ideal perennial.

Because the Gayfeather often grows to a robust 2-4’ feet tall, it may require staking or some other support.

 

 

Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed)Milkweed)

3.  Nectar and pollen-rich Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed):

Milkweed is native to eastern North America and blooms in clusters of orange flowers from mid-late summer.

It is drought-tolerant and attracts birds and pollinators. It is a particularly good source of nectar for Monarchs; plus Monarch caterpillars feed off its leaves.

This plant thrives in poor dry soils, likes full sun; it is deer resistant, and is nicely fragrant.  (This photo (right) is of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.)

 

 

 

 

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

4. Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

This frequently bi-colored flower makes a dramatic statement in the garden and is an ideal plant for those who are new to gardening.

In fact, this plant is so easy to grow it has been described as “tough to kill.” It is fairly drought-resistant, plus hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is best planted in early spring or late fall.

When in bloom, the blossoms appear a bit like a hot poker or torch and for those feeling a bit of sadness saying good-bye to some of their lawn, note that these plants boast very “grass-like” leaves. (This photo is of Vultaggio’s own garden and is courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.)

(Note: the dramatic dark blue/black flowers in the foreground are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ which bloom from late spring to early autumn.)

 

So here’s to millennials and their commitment to sustainability. If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to contact our office for more ideas.

 

By |2020-07-23T12:16:28-05:00July 23rd, 2020|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Environment Issues, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Lawns, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on When It Comes to Lawns, Consider What Millennials Would Do

Finding Peace In Your Summer Garden

When the cares of the world are all around us, what is it that draws us to our gardens? 

Flowers Are for Everyone 

Flowers Are for Everyone

Perhaps, as someone suggested, gardens teach us grand lessons. Flowers, for example, do not judge — they respond to everybody the same way. Plant them at the right time, in the right soil, with the right amount of water, etc., and they grow and blossom for you.

Even better. A plant doesn’t care what neighborhood it’s in — whether its home is a lush landscape or a tiny window box. 

And a flower or plant doesn’t even care if it’s alone. Nurtured right, it will smile its bright colors, wave gently in the breeze, and feed visiting pollinators — all on its lonesome. 

As for this summer’s garden, 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 reasonably temperate, there’ll be plenty of time to spend in your gardens.

 

 

Contact your local nursery

Contact your local nursery

Nurseries and COVID-19

If you are concerned about purchasing flowers during COVID-19, and you are not using a landscaper such as Deck and Patio which supplies the plantings, you can phone your local nursery and see how they are handling sales. 

Hicks Nurseries, a well-known Long Island nursery, says it is practicing safe distancing and all their staff wear masks. They also tell us that those who do not wish to go inside their greenhouse can shop outside where they have also set up a check out.

 

 

 

Now for some beautiful summer plant ideas:

Lilies

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies are perfect summer plants. They come in lots of colors and have a lovely symbolism. 

To enjoy them all summer long, you can plant a variety of the bulbs. Here’s the bloom times for some varieties:

Madonna Lilly blooms in early June.

Asian Lilies: Mid-June

Trumpet Lilies: Late-June

Oriental Lilies: Early August

Nepalese Lilies: Mid-August

Speciosum Hybrids: September

 

 

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

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.

 

 

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.

Red Coleus for drama.

 

 

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 |2020-06-04T13:51:31-05:00June 4th, 2020|Backyard Escapes, Gardening, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Finding Peace In Your Summer Garden

Pond-side Living: The Home-Refuge You Never Knew You Wanted

Just about every one on Long Island has a “can’t wait to do” list for when social distancing is over. Being locked down has been a struggle. Every inch of our properties, inside and out, have been under family microscopes — causing us to make still another list: “must-have improvements” as soon as possible!

This week, Deck and Patio is focusing on a landscape idea for that second list. A landscaping transformation that will be enjoyable for the whole family. 

Imagine for a moment an eco-friendly water garden, steps from your door. A water feature that provides endless hours of entertainment and draws family members outside, together or on their own. An outdoor spot alive with interest and stimulation that is a delight in all seasons.

This home-refuge idea is: Pond-side living.

 

Ponds in Spring

Deck and Patio Pond in Spring

Deck and Patio Pond in Spring

As the weather warms, pond fish come out of winter hibernation. As koi lethargy turns to activity, inactivity in the family is also overcome. Children want to run outside and feed them. Even Fido is thrilled.

With flowers blossoming, trees budding, pond-side in spring is a paradise for families. Not only are pond fish a delight to study but a healthy pond attracts more birds, a few frogs, etc. Backyard strolls are enjoyed with a symphony of birdsongs and croaks — melting any winter-built-up tensions away.

We should add, spring is also a time for pond cleaning and maintenance: the removal of debris, revving up of the filtration system, installing a pump or skimmer, and sometimes changing the water. 

“Having designed and built over 300 ponds on Long Island, Deck and Patio has our share of spring pond maintenance contracts,” says Dave Stockwell. “Spring pond maintenance isn’t all that hard really. Frankly, we specialize in creating low-maintenance ponds. Their ecosystems work naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. So very often the maintenance is minimal.”

 

Ponds in Summer

Natural Swimming Ponds

Natural Swimming Ponds

If your pond was designed to be a natural swimming pond, summer is a wonderful time for pond-side living. Regular swimming pools are terrific, too, but there’s not much to see when snorkeling in a concrete pool. 

Another pleasure of a natural swimming pond is the lack of chemicals. This means you’ll run across the odd dragonfly flitting across your pond’s surface. You may also spy a salamander at its edge. And frogs (who eat the more undesirable insects around your pond) may parent some tadpoles in any natural pond. That aside, swimming in a well-maintained pristine natural pond is not just possible, it is thrilling. Children and adults alike love it. 

Whether or not it’s a swimming pond, most ponds are designed with waterfalls which add to the peaceful enjoyment while they aerate the water. The sounds of moving water is as good for relaxing as a massage. 

Reading a book next to a water garden or dining al fresco with the family is a wonderful way to spend summer hours.

 

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.

 

Ponds in Fall

Ponds/Water Features

Ponds/Water Features

As long as the weather permits, family pond enjoyment continues well into autumn. The fish continue swimming about and wanting to be fed as long as the water temperature is above 60 degrees. 

The addition of an outdoor fireplace, fire pit or fire table — perhaps at the edge of a patio or deck — makes the whole experience that more relaxing, extending the outdoor season.

And can you imagine a more peaceful spot to watch the trees turn from a bright green to yellow, crimson and orange? 

From spring through fall, your pond will be the hobby of the whole family. It’s perfect for relaxing or dining beside, koi keeping, nature study, and water gardening.

Note: As the weather cools and fall arrives, once again there’s some maintenance to get the pond ready for winter.

 

Ponds in Winter

Ponds in Winter

Ponds in Winter

Some pond lovers say the real magic begins in winter. True, you won’t be sitting or dining pond-side when it’s really cold or wintry. However, ponds can help create a winter wonderland that is delightful during crisp winter walks.

Indeed, many people love to be outdoors in winter. A popular trend these days is creating a winter walk “event” for strolling by lighted trees or bushes, a fully-operating water feature with waterfalls, and even skating on your pond-rink. While it may take some preparation and care to create a safe rink, it is very doable. 

As for your pond’s fish, Dave Stockwell says 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, I always caution pond owners to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.” To learn more about that, click here.

Pond-side living is a home-refuge gift for all seasons. A gift that, until the recent pandemic, you may never have known you wanted.

Blog photos: With the exception of our feature photo at the top of the page all photos are of Deck and Patio ponds. The feature photo is from a blog post on Aquascape Inc.’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond.” The writer included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Making the World a Better Place through Rainwater Harvesting

Next Wednesday (April 22nd) is not only Earth Day, but it’s the Day’s 50th anniversary. To mark this year’s event, NASA says it’s taking the adage “Make the World a Better Place” seriously by using technology over in-person activities. Their website will host at-home science activities, videos from earth and space, social media engagement etc.

If you’re asking what can we do locally in each community to contribute, we have a thought. Here at Deck and Patio we have a division called Rainwater Harvesting. If using less local water is something you find you’d like to do, you’ll be happy to learn that harvested rainwater can be used for washing your car, watering your garden and lawn, etc. You can get in touch with us to begin planning such a change.

Do You Need a Large Property to Harvest Rainwater?

A few years ago, long before COVID-19, The Deck and Patio Company — through our Rainwater Harvesting Group — did just such a project in Brooklyn, New York. Certainly these clients had a very tight city backyard. It was barely 25’x 12’.

“The clients had a four-story walk-up,” adds Dave Stockwell. “They wanted us to help them   collect all the water that came off their roof.”

In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, the clients were keen to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. 

According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to “qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.”

In addition, says Dave, rainwater harvesting reduces energy and water bills, sometimes by as much as 40%.

The following photos and video show The Deck and Patio Company hard at work  awhile back (in the good old days) at this Brooklyn project. As you’ll see, we are happy to go the extra mile no matter how tight or challenging a property site turns out to be.

 

Updating Small Backyards:

Updating Small Backyards:

In addition to the the Rainwater Harvesting System by Aquascape Inc, these clients wanted a small built-in barbecue; they also had a vegetable garden and we planted drought-tolerant xeriscape plants across from it.

 

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Reservoir:

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Reservoir:

Our team was hard at work here prepping a large enough hole to install an adequate tank. Water comes off their Brooklyn 4-story roof and is collected in a 500-gallon underground rainwater harvesting reservoir. When it’s full, water flows into an overflow regeneration zone where it can perk slowly back into the ground.

 

Private Water Systems:

Private Water Systems:

Previously, any excess water from rainfalls etc. ran off into the New York City sewer system; now, because rainwater and any overflow will be collected, stored, and controlled, the water for plants and vegetables is completely disconnected from the city sewer system.

 

Small Yard Renovations:

Small Yard Renovations:

We had to dig a hole 4’ x 6’ and 3’ deep to install the underground 500-gallon reservoir. This required digging out soil and filling 5-gallon buckets that our team carried one at a time down to the basement, up stairs, and out to a dump truck in front of the house.

 

Aerating Water Feature:

Aerating Water Feature:

We drilled a hole through a rock to create a bubbling rock feature; water bubbles up and then goes back down; having a connecting water feature allows the water to be continually aerated, thereby helping to purify the water.

 

 

By |2020-04-16T14:10:00-05:00April 16th, 2020|Aquascape Biofalls, Backyard Escapes, Design and Build Experts, Environment Issues, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Rainwater Harvesting|Comments Off on Making the World a Better Place through Rainwater Harvesting