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Closing Your Pool Is a Great Time to Plan Upgrades

As Labor Day approaches, families start thinking of closing down their pools for the year. This seasonal routine is also a great time to plan value-based ideas to upgrade your pool and pool area.

Whether or not you do any of the following improvements when closing down the pool, or whether you just discuss ideas for spring, after Labor Day Weekend is a great time to plan with a landscaper renovations that will heighten next year’s outdoor living experience.

 

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

 

In-ground Pools

Upgrading Pool Pump

Upgrading Pool Pump

Pumps

It really doesn’t matter if your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money say pool experts.

“Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to one sixth of what they currently are. There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. And the cost of the new pump is paid back quickly — often in three years or less.”

 

Coping 

 Pool Coping

Other upgrade ideas would be to simply change the coping, tile and color of your pool. In gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes and even all-tile pools.

“Here (above) we added dramatic coping to a pool in Oyster Bay, NY. Our design called for installing the coping on the far side of the pool — flush with the lawn.”

Changing Pool Liners

Changing Pool Liners

Liners

In vinyl pools you can also change a staircase, add a bench or swim-out, change the coping, and of course change your old liner.

Liner color choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool as seen in this photo. There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

Pool Patio Surrounds, Waterfalls

New Patio/Waterfall

New Patio/Waterfall

Renovating around a pool, whether it’s in-ground or not, is sometimes easier than renovating the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio.

Other ideas might be changing to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Tip: Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Another popular upgrade is adding a slide, waterfalls, and water sprays (feature photo at top of page shows both sprays and falls). Tip: Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

Have a relaxing Labor Day Weekend…and, then, let’s get planning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape Design Is Not Just Flowers and Shrubs

Movie: Greenfingers

Movie: Greenfingers

If anyone has seen the movie Greenfingers (the British way of saying Green Thumb), you may have wished that you had some of the same natural talent its star character, played by Clive Owen, discovered he had for making things bloom. 

And its okay to wish you had a green thumb. But beautiful landscaping can go far beyond flowers and shrubs. Water features, proper use of moss rock boulders, outdoor structures like pavilions or gazebos, can add a great deal to an outdoor oasis.

But, we agree that one of the key elements of any outdoor escape includes beautiful, lush, plantings.

 

Lets Consider The Plantings

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

There’s no doubt the right plants are key to a beautiful landscape. And the landscape design professionals at The Deck and Patio Company go beyond filling your yard with plant material. We use our extensive knowledge of flora to carefully select the right greenery that suits each client’s style and goals. 

For example, it’s key to place tall and smaller plants in an eye-catching display. Colorful flowering plants are incorporated into our designs in a way that accent and compliment your home’s exterior and the sites around it. 

The beauty of any planned landscape also depends on the survival of your plant material. Deck and Patio experts choose plantings using our extensive experience and knowledge of zones, sun exposure and soil conditions.

“Whether it is creating shade gardens for the shade loving plants, digging the perfect depth for the root balls, ensuring healthy, well-fed soil, our landscapes flourish long after we’ve finished our work,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

But Deck and Patio’s creativity really comes to the fore when plants are gorgeous accents to other landscaping elements: water features, including swimming pools, ponds, streams, etc. Also, plants brighten structures such as pavilions, gazebos, outdoor benches, patios and entranceways.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance were provided here through the use of many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — all planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris.

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Even strong architectural structures are enhanced by landscaping. With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls nearby, inside this Deck and Patio pavilion, with the fireplace blazing or not, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio we added, with custom inlays/border, is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. .

 

 

A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

“The key to an ideal water garden eco-system is maintaining clean, healthy water,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It is then that you attract and support delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, frogs, etc.”

Pond filtration systems and operating waterfalls are a big part of keeping water clean and oxygenated (aerated), adds Dave. “However, another major part of creating and maintaining a healthy water garden system is the aquatic and surrounding landscaping you do.”

Deck and Patio Pond

Deck and Patio Pond

Aquatic Plants

Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — the country’s leading experts on all things pond and water gardens — describes the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

Water Lilies Lotus

Marginal Plants Water Lily-like Plants

Floating Plants Submerged Plants

(Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is a Lotus.)

“The best designs for ponds and water gardens utilize a wide mixture of plants in different heights, textures and color from at least three of the above groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. When installing these, at Deck and Patio we don’t do it in a symmetrical way. We find that a more random placement provides the most natural look.”

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (canna lily) offers a nice tall statement. It thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

But there’s more to aquatic plants than aesthetics. Plants such as water lilies and irises feed on the nutrients (algae or small primitive unwanted plant life) in the pond water, and produce oxygen while they provide shade and food for small creatures attracted to the water garden. 

Aquatic floaters and marginals, adds Dave, are perfect for gobbling up the excess nutrients that are produced by any pond fish and excessive plant algae growth. They also help by reducing sunlight in the pond, which also controls the growth of algae. 

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

One submerged plant, arable hornwort, is a great example of plants that eat up algae and will also release oxygen. 

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave. “However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. For example, when plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

Dave says not to fret if your pond water has a slight tint to it. “Crystal clear water has no nutrients. You want some algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. because they offer a diverse food source for pond fish, frogs, and plants. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping them all in balance. 

To complete an enchanting water garden eco-system, the plants you put in around your water feature’s edge will aid in attracting birds, butterflies, pollinators, etc. No pond/water feature will be completely free of algae but it can be kept in check and in a natural way.

 

Aquatic Plants (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants (Deck and Patio Project /Long Island/NY):

In addition to the canna lily, this pond boasts water lilies — both tropical and hardy ones. The pinkish coneflowers on the right are not aquatic and are not in the water but are perfect edging plants as they attract desirable wildlife — one of the reasons we love our ponds.

_____________

Bonus: Keeping the garden’s water circulating using a pump, or adding waterfalls, will help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching. 

 

By |2019-05-22T14:14:02-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Aquascape Biofalls, Creative Design, Gardening, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

Water Features for Public Spaces, Parks, and Town Centers

In ancient days, water fountains were a source of drinking and wash water for local citizens. Today, cities and towns across the globe add water features to parks and town centers mainly for the beauty and tranquility they bring.

However. Whether the water feature is a fountain, water wall, waterfall, stream, or pond, it is widely accepted today that any such feature be ‘green.’

Such was the case when Deck and Patio, in collaboration with the Town of Huntington, designed/built a self-sustaining or green waterfall/water garden at one of the busiest spots in the area: the Huntington Train Station.

As background: For some time Deck and Patio has operated a sustainable division, our Rainwater Harvesting Group. 

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Dave Stockwell. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater which can be used at private residences as well as in pubic spaces.”

At one’s home, adds Dave, captured rainwater is used for tasks that don’t require treated water such as washing a deck, lawn watering, washing vehicles, and refreshing one’s garden.”

In public spaces, it can be a source for sustaining not only the beautiful relaxing water feature itself, but there, too, the surrounding garden spots and plantings can be watered as well. 

How did the train station project come about?

Huntington Train Station Project

Huntington Train Station Project

The train station is just a few blocks from Deck and Patio’s design center at 189 Broadway.

One day a member of our team was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women planting flowers near the station.

As a local landscaper, we offered to help by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.

 

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

“A problem became immediately apparent,” says Dave. “There wasn’t any water source for maintaining the plants. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain them.

“In addition, there was no walkway in this space, beyond a small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was also not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, we approached the Town of Huntington. “They were completely on board,” says Dave. “Huntington Township takes great care to beautify our public spaces, including healthy and cheerful pole planters, etc.”

With the Town’s cooperation, Deck and Patio installed the self-sustaining water feature with an underground reservoir to store captured rainwater. To help accumulate the most rainfall, as well as add a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot, we constructed a walk area made of permeable paves.

“We used Techo-Bloc permeable pavers and installed them over gravel and a rubber liner.,” says Dave. “These pavers allow the rainwater to seep into the ground and into the reservoir where it can be recirculated.

“The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent, using gravity alone, to the reservoir,” adds Dave. The system we used was known then Aquascape RainXchange Harvesting System which is now called “Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System.”

“There is enough captured water to not only sustain the water feature, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Dave. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps falling non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”

 

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

The water feature is not just for aesthetics. It is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants we added absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.

 

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting System includes an auxiliary pump connected to the irrigation system. This ensures that the water used isn’t city water, but harvested entirely from rainwater. The below ground Aquascape Aqua Blox Reservoir holds 500 gallons of rainwater.

 

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The water feature at the train station (which is, alas, as of this writing buried under snow and ice!) is in total keeping with the Town’s program of beautification of public spaces.

 

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

 

 

Landscaping with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: “Living Coral”

In Pennsylvania recently, the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring. And we thought fellow gardeners and outdoor living aficionados would find this to be a great time to plan summer gardens and landscapes.

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s Color of the year, which for 2019 is “Living Coral.” (Our feature photo above, is from Pantone’s announcement of this year’s color.)

Pantone sees this hue as “animating and life-affirming” and we agree that Living Coral will inspire in any garden. 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

 

To bring you some expert advice on plants that will offer that uplifting color, we spoke with our good friend, Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Diagnostic Lab, and she has some great ideas for our part of the Northeast. Her comments on plant ideas follow.

 

 

 

 

So! Let’s get planning:

Coral Drift Rose

Coral Drift Rose

 

 

Coral Drift® Rose: Bright coral-orange flowers bloom bountifully throughout the growing season. They make great container plants or planted in mass in a sunny border: see https://www.driftroses.com/collection1

 

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’: Beautiful coral-orange-pink Coral Bells will pop in a partially shaded garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Charm Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

‘Coral Charm’ Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

 

 

 

‘Coral Charm’ Peony: Add some variety to the pink and white fluffy peonies of spring with this peachy-coral peony with a bright golden center. Peonies grow well in full sun and are deer resistant.

 

 

 

 

 

Dianthus 'Coral Reef' from ILoveHostas.net

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’ from ILoveHostas.net

 

 

 

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’: Grassy, grey-green, evergreen mounds of foliage are topped with bright, cheery and fragrant coral-pink flowers with white edges. Begins blooming in spring and will repeat throughout the growing season. This perennial is deer resistant too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’: Attract hummingbirds to your garden with this beautiful coral salvia. These plants are not winter hardy on Long island, but will provide summer-long blooms in full sun gardens. (Photo from: Buyrareseeds.com)

 

 

 

 

We’d like to Sandra V. For her ideas today. In addition, Deck and Patio has a few other delightful plants to suggest: the Kniphofia Red-hot Popsicle, the gorgeous Dahlia, and the Coral Rose (shown below) which also fare very well in the Northeast.

 

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

 

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

 

Coral Rose

The pièce de résistance: a delicate Coral Rose.

 

 

 

 

By |2019-02-07T14:01:23-05:00February 7th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Landscaping with Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year: “Living Coral”

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images, or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video:

 

 

 

Can Pond Fish Survive in a Frozen Pond?

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

 

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

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

The big question is:

Can Koi Survive in Frozen Ponds?

Pond Gases Must Escape

Pond Gases Must Escape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

 

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

Merry Christmas, everyone!

In Winter, Flowing Water Becomes Crystalized Art

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

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

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

Pond Fish

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

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

 

Pond in Summer

Pond in Summer

Pond in Winter

Pond in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Winter Fountainscapes:

Winter Fountainscapes:

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

 

Business Complex Water Feature:

Business Complex Water Feature:

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

 

Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

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

 

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond Summer

Backyard Pond Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Being Prepared for Winter Snowstorms

Snowflake

Snowflake

Expressions or idioms develop in a language for good reason. Take “being snowed,” i.e., to be deceived. 

Don’t laugh. There’s nothing trickier than snow. It captivates, delights, is romantic even, as it first covers the ground. But if there’s enough of it, when unprepared, we can find ourselves snowed in, snowed under, or snowed out. 

 

 

Acrobatics Required

Acrobatics Required

 

Even when the snow is light, if followed by sleet, and/or warming then freezing (common in our area), a driveway or walkway can become so slick, moving your family from the front door to the car can require the skills of a Cirque de Soleil acrobat. 

So here’s some winter snow tips — whether or not you are handling your own snow removal:

 

 

 

— Ensure your snow blower, roof rake, deicers etc. are readily at hand;

— If you have a generator, have it checked out to be sure it’s operating properly;

— Put some fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide monitor.

 

 

Snow Removal:

Snow Removal:

Speaking of snow blowers. Even an inexpensive one is better than using a shovel. 

If you’re going to shovel, coat the scoop part with non-stick cooking spray. 

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

Now. The real fun begins. 

 

Pre-Storm Driveway Preparation

Plow Stakes

Plow Stakes

No matter who will be doing the plowing of your property — a firm like our own Dix Hills Snowplowing, or on your own — even before word that a storm is approaching, “prep” your property (or have it prepped) 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.

The idea is to highlight where any costly Belgium Block or other edging is located, keeping it from being damaged by snow plows. For more on this, click here.

 

 

Roof Prep

Gutters in Winter

Gutters in Winter

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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) 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.)

 

 

Now that you’re all prepared, you can sing the happy “snow” song — along with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen:

 

 

Caring for Ponds/Pond Fish in Fall

 

Peak fall foliage is upon us here on Long Island. And while it’s a glorious sight, for those with ponds, it’s also a reminder to do a little maintenance.

Netting Ponds in Fall.

Netting Ponds in Fall.

Our blog a few weeks ago suggested netting your pond before the leaves fall. It’s worth doing in the next few days if you haven’t done it yet.

Once all the leaves have fallen 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 requiring 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 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:

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.

 

Healthy Ponds:

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.