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Fall Foliage: Tips for Backyard Maintenance

 I Love NY’s Fall Foliage Chart

I Love NY’s Fall Foliage Chart

It hurts to let summer go. But Mother Nature offers us a big treat to ease the pain —

Fall foliage.

It’s so sublime — with its blaze of colors taking weeks to complete — that some of us are desperate to photograph it.

Others can’t wait to walk, bike, or drive Long Island’s trails and byways to watch the leaves change.

Without throwing too many wet blankets on Nature’s gift, just remember that these colorful leaves — glorious as they are —

will be falling to the ground before we know it.

 

 

And that means…

drum roll please…

Fall maintenance clean up!

 

“Taking care of fallen leaves is one of a variety of chores worth your time,” says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.

 

 

 Prevent Leaf Tannin Stains:

Prevent Leaf Tannin Stains:

Leaf tannin stains pavers, concrete, and decks. It is better — and easier — to remove the leaves than to seal your decks and patios. Sealers need to be constantly redone, which turns into a lot of maintenance.

 

 

Keeping Lawns Healthy in Fall:

Keeping Lawns Healthy in Fall:

“It’s also important to keep leaves off the grass,” says Dave. “Healthy grass can get matted down, and in winter, when it needs sunlight and oxygen, this could be a problem.”

 

 

Tree Maintenance in Fall: (Photo: Aquascape, inc.)

Tree Maintenance in Fall: (Photo: Aquascape, inc.)

This is a good time of year to cut any dead tree limbs away, so that coming snow or ice storms won’t cause them to crack and fall. Falling limbs can result in accidents to people, cars, and homes.

One way to predict future problems is to look up the tree carefully before the leaves have fallen. Any branches completely bare of leaves indicate they should be cut off. Also check to see if any low-hanging branches are near power lines; trim these so the weight of snow or ice won’t pull them dow into the wiring.

 

 

Fall Driveway Prep with Stakes:

Fall Driveway Prep with Stakes:

To prep your driveway and walkway for winter, it’s helpful to get supplied with fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”) for placing along your driveway in advance of the first snow storm.

You 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.

 

 

Now back to the good news.

As you can see from the above chart from NY State’s Division of Tourism, I Love NY foliage page, Long Islanders have a bit of time yet before peak foliage to schedule our outdoor maintenance  — and our fall foliage activities as well.

This also means, if you have a pond, there’s time left to get netting to protect it from fallen debris.

 

 

 

 

By | 2017-10-12T12:00:45+00:00 October 12th, 2017|Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Patios & Decks, paving stones|Comments Off on Fall Foliage: Tips for Backyard Maintenance

Project Showcase: Restoring Waterside Living After Disasters

As the United States and its territories begin their long resurrection from destruction to having basic needs met, it is important to remember that, with time, the full joys of waterside/coastal living can also come back strong.

Island and coastal people are tough. Here on Long Island we didn’t need Hurricane Sandy (2013) to show us how much of a challenge Mother Nature can be. Our barrier islands regularly take a pounding. Beach erosion is an ongoing problem for counties and municipalities, as is rising sea levels. But we keep bouncing back.

In addition to our prayers and donations, we wish all our citizens a full recovery — like ones we were able to be part of after Sandy. As an example, we’re sharing today a refurbishment by Deck and Patio that included a multi-level Trex deck and vinyl pool.

 

Project Showcase

The owners of a waterside property — situated on a bay off the Atlantic in Bellmore, Long Island — 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. 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.

 

Deck and Patio’s prayers and hopes go out to all our fellow citizens suffering from these recent hurricane disasters.

 

 

Before the Leaves Fall: Some Backyard Maintenance Tips

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning

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

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

 

 

 

Ponds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Plantings

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Pond Project

Deck and Patio Pond Project

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

 

 

Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

A beautifully manicured green lawn takes a lot of watering and fertilizing, not to mention mowing. It’s truly not easy being green.

In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, it turns out, this is something very much on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” says Vultaggio. “A lawn is a high-input plant that requires a good deal of water and fertilizer to stay green, so it’s a 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 (see fact sheet) 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 Spicata (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.

 

 

 

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

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  These two photos are of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

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.)

 

For those unsure on how Ito remove turfgrass, Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, offers the following tips:

 

 


Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

— 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

 

 

By | 2017-07-13T12:26:31+00:00 July 13th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

5 Must-Haves for Today’s Backyards

Already have a terrific backyard? Well, even the best yards can embrace a trendy must-have every now and then.

Let’s kick off our list of backyard must-haves with a focus on pets.

 

 

Photo: SYNLawn

Photo: SYNLawn

I.  ‘Synthetic Turf’ Dog Run

Imagine a backyard dog run where no fleas or ticks lurk in the grass. Well, a dog run made of synthetic turf will not only not house any irritating pests, but the family pooch will not be exposed to natural-grass pesticides and chemicals that might cause pet allergies.

If that’s not enough reason to go synthetic for Fido, imagine no brown spots or holes to fill because of the dog’s activities. Plus, after a rambunctious outing, he’ll be as clean as he was before he went out — no tracking mud and dirt back into the house, even when the weather is bad. We also understand cleaning synthetic turf is quite easy.

Thanks to SYNLawn for sharing this photo of  two best-pups relaxing on a dog run made from their synthetic turf.

 

 

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

 

 

2.  Upscale Pet Playhouse 

We’re highlighting this pet playhouse today because, although it was built to be a donation, it highlights a growing trend for residential backyards. It was showcased along with other upscale pet playhouses at Long Island Builders Institute’s (LIBI) Annual Home, Trade and Remodeling Expo this past March here on Long Island. The playhouses were built by various LIBI members and were later donated to local town animal shelters.

This handsome playhouse is shaped like a dinosaur, which the team at LIBI describes as welcoming “any little animal who wants to play and rest.” It was donated to the Hempstead animal shelter. Cool, yes?

Thanks to LIBI for sharing it with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Upscale Bird Houses

Granted, wild birds may not exactly be pets. But it’s trendy to treat them like they are. So it’s not surprising that fancy bird houses are growing in popularity. Indeed, there are even awards for the best design in bird houses.

The point is, a bird house can be a reflection of your own style and tastes and certainly can be upscale. And if our avian friends are going to sing for their supper, they might as well be housed as nicely as we are.

 

 

 

 

 

Completed Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Completed Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Deck and Patio/Living Wall

4.  Living Walls

Living Walls house nature’s own handiwork to create outdoor art. This particular model is made by ‘Plug n Play.’ Using their vertical garden system, Deck and Patio’s team designed and installed it as a gorgeous accent on a wall built to block street noise and activity. It really spruced the wall up, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Garden systems like these are versatile and can be constructed to hold different sized pots: in this case from 3” to 12”.

How it works: Drip irrigation fitted on alternating rows trickles down to the rows below and any excess water is captured or drained off. These walls are light in weight and do not need heavy anchor bolts. They can be attached to just about any type of wall – just use the appropriate fastener for the wall type.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Customized Fire Pits

Another on trend backyard amenity is a customized fire pit that coordinates with its surroundings.

The first fire pit shown (above left) was designed by Deck and Patio as part of a backyard makeover that included a meandering stream, bordered with natural stone boulders, and waterfalls that end close to a new Techo-Bloc patio. Note, how we faced the patio fire pit with stone to harmonize with the other design elements.

For the second project (right), we surrounded a propane stainless steel burner campfire with moss rock to give it a customized look that uses similar boulders to the stone steps/rock border just behind it, as well as complementing the veneer on the exposed portion of the pool. Note: The clients added the amusing s’mores sign behind their new campfire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2017-06-15T11:27:24+00:00 June 15th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on 5 Must-Haves for Today’s Backyards

Quality Backyard Makeover Pulls Out all the Stops

 

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

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

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

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

—  new koi pond, and

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

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

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

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

The Pool Area

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

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

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

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

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

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

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

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

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

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

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

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

 

Bullfrog Spas:

Bullfrog Spas:

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

 

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

 

How to Plan a Landscape Garden

 

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Audrey Hepburn once shared her love of beautiful gardens and landscapes in a television documentary series, “Gardens of The World with Audrey Hepburn.”

The episodes celebrated such delights as tulips and spring bulbs, perennials, flower borders, mixed planting styles, trees,  tropical plants, stroll gardens, etc., and nature in general.

“As landscapers, we draw on the same elements when planning each landscaping project,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “It’s just a matter of smaller scale.”

 

 

 

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Deck and Patio Landscape Rendering

The First Step in Designing a Landscape Garden

Whether Deck and Patio is planning the landscape for a water garden, stroll garden, or just landscape borders, we always begin with a detailed plan, says Dave.

“For the initial drawings, we frequently use a property survey and topographical map. From there, we create sketches which eventually turn into a final rendering.”

Dave adds that landscaping plans are often part of a wider project that can include a new patio, deck, swimming pool, pond, spa, or other outdoor living amenities.

 

 

Insert 3Once we get the fixed areas detailed and sketched (home, sheds, cabanas, etc.), including any new hardscapes like a patio or deck, the needs and preferences of our clients are weaved in.

“For example, will they need deer-resistant plants,” says Dave. “How much entertaining do they expect to do — will they require space for adding tables, etc.? How much will they use their property at night? Are they the type to garden on a regular basis themselves, or do they prefer plantings that are low-maintenance?

Sometimes there are young children to consider, so we might plan for a sand box or other play areas, along with sitting areas, contemplative quiet spaces, etc.”

Dave adds that once all this is known: the fun begins:

— Designing seasonal color, texture, fragrance, even fruits, etc. as part of their landscape gardens. Plants can also serve to delineate spaces  within the property as well as define where it ends.

— Sounds are also important, e.g., where should the sound of any fountain be, or a bird house to attract chirpers?

— Plantings, along with moss rock, etc. can add the strength to a natural and beautiful retaining wall.

— Plus groups of plantings to create focal points to sitting areas.

— What water source will be used to maintain the landscape gardens (town water or will they harvest rainwater)?

“Of course, planning for the passage of time is also key. Plants grow differently; some rapidly, some slowly. You need to know how it’s all going to look in six months and a few years down the line.”

 

 

 

Growing Hydrangeas on Long Island, NY: Hydrangeas can be a garden all on their own. Indeed, some clients want hydrangeas to grow to size without pruning in order to create a dramatic effect. For healthy robust growth, just remove dead-growth stems which should permit new growth without any problems. Winter frost and cold can affect these beauties so we recommend using some type of winter protection for them.

Growing Hydrangeas on Long Island, NY: Hydrangeas can be a garden all on their own. Indeed, some clients want hydrangeas to grow to size without pruning in order to create a dramatic effect. For healthy robust growth, just remove dead-growth stems which should permit new growth without any problems. Winter frost and cold can affect these beauties so we recommend using some type of winter protection for them.

 

 

Landscaping Backyard Ponds: Many of our Deck and Patio clients choose to add a backyard pond. Landscaping a pond requires an understanding of not just soil and sun but how water and moisture will affect your plantings. Here we chose Purple Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters, Coreopsis for bright bursts of color. You also see deep green ground color, tall grasses, along with the sounds of moving water. In developing the plan, we ensured that we located all this within view of the home’s back patio, pool area, in addition from their house.

Landscaping Backyard Ponds: Many of our Deck and Patio clients choose to add a backyard pond. Landscaping a pond requires an understanding of not just soil and sun but how water and moisture will affect your plantings. Here we chose Purple Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters, Coreopsis for bright bursts of color. You also see deep green ground color, tall grasses, along with the sounds of moving water. In developing the plan, we ensured that we located all this within view of the home’s back patio, pool area, in addition from their house.

 

 

Backyard Stroll Garden: If you have the space, a stroll garden, possibly including a refreshing stream with waterfalls, can inspire through all seasons. Ruby red impatiens in the foreground and yellow-orange cone flowers towards the back, shrubs and trees, ground cover like Procumbent Juniper, flowering grasses are all added after careful rock placement. Knowing where to place rocks to create the most natural looking effect is key.

Backyard Stroll Garden: If you have the space, a stroll garden, possibly including a refreshing stream with waterfalls, can inspire through all seasons. Ruby red impatiens in the foreground and yellow-orange cone flowers towards the back, shrubs and trees, ground cover like Procumbent Juniper, flowering grasses are all added after careful rock placement. Knowing where to place rocks to create the most natural looking effect is key.

 

 

Landscaping Infinity Pool Cove Neck, Long Island: When developing any landscaping plan, it is key to mark out carefully where all the hardscapes will be, as well as any water features. Then you can add in flowering grasses, ground cover, bright plantings in harmony with everything else.

Landscaping Infinity Pool Cove Neck, Long Island: When developing any landscaping plan, it is key to mark out carefully where all the hardscapes will be, as well as any water features. Then you can add in flowering grasses, ground cover, bright plantings in harmony with everything else.

 

 

Tulips and Spring Bulbs: One of the episodes on Audrey Hepburn’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. It showcased the wide variety of tulips available as well as the story of how, through the centuries, tulips influenced the history and art of Holland, as well as Turkey. These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode.

Tulips and Spring Bulbs: One of the episodes on Audrey Hepburn’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. It showcased the wide variety of tulips available and the story of how, through the centuries, tulips influenced the history and art of Holland, as well as Turkey. These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode.

 

 

From “Gardens of The World with Audrey Hepburn.”

From “Gardens of The World with Audrey Hepburn.”

 

 

 

 

Ms. Hepburn fell in love with beautiful gardens when living in the English countryside during World War II. She learned that no matter what happens in life, no matter how harsh the winter, spring always comes, and life blooms again.

“At Deck and Patio, we also believe that if you plan your landscape garden well, its ongoing renewal will inspire and uplift all of us, just as it did Ms. Hepburn,” says Dave Stockwell.

 

 

 

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Features Are Easy to Create and Maintain

In order to enjoy the beauty and serenity of a flowing stream or waterfall, some sort of basin is required to capture the water. Frequently, such a basin is a pond, possibly adorned with exotic water plants as well as being a home to pond fish. But there are many who want a water feature — just not with a pond.

 

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Those with very young children, for example, sometimes worry that a full, deep pond in their backyard might present safety concerns, and prefer a pondless waterfall (left) where river rock allows water to seep down into the ground. In addition, come spring and fall, ponds require maintenance to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Another reason for not wanting a pond came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals. With other clients, budget and property size are factors.

For all or any of these reasons, if you are considering a water feature, you may want to go “pondless.”

Certified Aquascape Contractor

Deck and Patio is a Certified Aquascape Contractor, which means we’ve been pre-qualified as experts in designing and building water features of all types, including “pondless” waterfalls. Aquascape offers years of experience in this field and their products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Their pondless systems allow water to drain through gravel into a reservoir, which stores the filtered water underground and recirculates it.

 

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

For the handsomely landscaped pondless waterfall pictured here (right), we planted durable thick and compact evergreens, including the low-maintenance Procumbent Juniper, which spreads well. For splashes of color we added Begonias, Coleus, plus Astilbe with its beautiful and showy flowers.

With a pondless waterfall, you are recirculating water, which is definitely eco-friendly. But natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. For those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use town water to replenish your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes a RainXchange reservoir system.

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.

 

insert-c

Water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete and picks up contaminants

“Whether you harvest rainwater or maintain your water feature with town water, an Aquascape Inc. pondless system will keep the spillover water from running into over-burdened sewer systems,” says Dave.

“That is because we use river rock underneath the waterfall. It not only allows water to seep through to the reservoir, but it helps filter it. This river rock process is essential, because water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete, but, instead, flows away to the local waterways, picking up contaminants as it goes.

“So if you’re not sure you want a pond, but definitely want the sounds and sights of running water, pondless just may be the way to go,” says Dave.

 

 

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

 

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola-adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

 

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of what was an existing patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of their patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

 

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

 

 

 

Proper Snow Removal: How to Keep from Being Snowed In

insert-snowflakeFor obvious reasons, during snow storms, it’s important to keep stairs and walks free of snow and ice. But it’s also critical to ensure water cut offs are 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. Alas, snow and ice storms are occasionally accompanied by a power failure. So do plan ahead, including putting fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide monitor. Also, have emergency telephone numbers near the phone.

 

innoplast-dmDriveway Prep

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”). 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.

 

 

insert-2Roof Prep

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.

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.

 

 

insert-3Snow Blowers, Shoveling

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.

 

 

 

insert-4Professional Snow Removal

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) 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.)

 

Holiday Gift to You from Our Blog

And as a little gift to all our BLOG readers, below are a two adult coloring pages for you to enjoy during our first big snowstorm:

 

 

Adult Coloring Art-Snowflake: Just click on this piece of artwork, print, then color… or use your smart pen (stylus) on your iPad etc.

 

Adult Coloring Art-Snowflake: Just click on this piece of artwork, print, then color… or use your smart pen (stylus) on your iPad etc. (When you click on the snowflake the black background will disappear.)

 

 

 

Adult Coloring Art: If you need to think of Spring at any time during a snow storm, just click on this artwork, print, then color…or use your smart pen (stylus) on your iPad etc.

 

Adult Coloring Art: If you need to think of Spring at any time during a snow storm, just click on this artwork, print, then color…or use your smart pen (stylus) on your iPad etc.

Happy holidays, everyone!!

 

 

Preparing Ponds for Winter

 

We are not alarmists at The Deck and Patio Company, but our job requires that we pay attention to credible weather forecasts. And according to Accuweather, the Northeast may be in for an extended snowy winter, stretching into spring of 2017. If you have a backyard pond, there are a few things you can do to get ready for this onslaught.

Pond Fish in Winter

First, let’s deal with the misconception that you can’t leave your fish in the pond during winter months. Actually fish do just fine in winter. They go dormant and hibernate. However, our pond expert, Bill Renter, does add that it’s well to be especially alert to their needs once water starts to freeze. Should ice, for example, completely cover your pond, the fish could become starved for oxygen.

“This can be remedied by ensuring the pond has at least two feet of water for them to swim in,” says Bill. “It’s also key for the water to remain oxygenated by keeping a little hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler, and an aerator. We use products from Aquascapes Inc. — pond experts from St. Charles, Illinois.”

Aquascapes’ designs manager, Gary Gronwick agrees it’s important to use 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.

These things 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.

We’ve included in our photo captions below more tips on preparing your pond and fish for winter and how to watch over it all. Happy ponding.

 

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Prepare Ponds in Fall for Winter:

Before winter sets in, carefully look over your plants and remove any dying material. These materials rot and build up poisonous gases that can’t escape through ice when it forms. Such conditions might mean the koi are no longer simply hibernating, but are in a dangerous state of torpor.

 

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.

 

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

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

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

 

Water Plants in Winter:

Water Plants in Winter:

Hardy water lilies (shown here) 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 winter months because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter. Note that frost kills water hyacinths; water lettuce, which fights algae, should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.

 

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

Prepare Pond Fish for Winter:

To be on the safe side, take water temperature regularly once it hits 55 or lower. If your pond jewels are hungry and moving about and you haven’t fed them, they will find something in the pond to eat and soon will be dormant anyway.

 

 Pond Caves for Fish:

Pond Caves for Fish:

Ask your pond designer/builder to create a small cave, or caves, where the fish can hide from predators in warm weather, and where they can also lie dormant during the winter months. Caves are easily made from the way rocks are positioned in and around the pond.