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Adding Landscaping Options to Wedding Registries

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

 

 

As we approach peak wedding season on our side of “the pond,” we can’t help but be inspired by the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday.

Now few local New York newlyweds will enjoy a cottage nestled on grounds as glorious as those at Kensington Palace (London, England).

But they still want their own bit of Eden.

 

 

 

 

Peony Blooms Full of Majesty

Peony Blooms Are Full of Majesty

To achieve that, some engaged couples — who may be purchasing their first home — add landscaping gifts to their bridal registries: e.g., favorite young trees, saplings, shrubs, and plants.

One floral option is Ms. Markle’s favorite flower — the peony. It’s also a favorite of another American celebrity, Martha Stewart, who has a whole peony garden at her Bedford, NY, farm.

Peonies are available in shades that range from pure white (see our feature photo above) to a rich deep red. If you start them from bulbs, in the Northeast they bloom at the perfect time for weddings: early June.

But brides and grooms don’t have to be limited to individual plants and shrub options. At honeyfund.com, where couples crowd-source funding for various wedding expenses, there is a section dedicated to “Home Builder’ that specifies landscaping.

You can also set up a house registry at featherthenest.com and include landscaping costs. According to the site: “The nest gets your home improvement dreams funded, no matter how big or small.”

Below we suggest some large and small dream landscaping projects for newlyweds.

 

 

It All Begins with Curb Appeal

St. George's Chapel, Windsor, England

Royal Wedding at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, England

 

The Town of Windsor in England has just finished resurfacing all the area roads, walkways and pathways around St. George’s Chapel where the royal wedding will take place.

Of course, the right curb appeal is just as important to local newlyweds. Certainly costs for an attractive home entranceway could be part of any crowd-funding plans.

With that in mind, we are including below some Deck and Patio projects that may inspire ideas.

 

 

 

A fountain can make be a beautiful addition to an entranceway garden. If possible, position the water feature where Deck and Patio did here — close to a window. That way the gentle sounds can be enjoyed indoors as well as out. Plus you get to watch birds and butterflies stop by to take a drink.

A fountain can make be a beautiful addition to an entranceway garden. If possible, position the water feature where Deck and Patio did here — close to a window. That way the gentle sounds can be enjoyed indoors as well as out. Plus you get to watch birds and butterflies stop by to take a drink.

 

As newlyweds get used to all the various responsibilities of owning a home, it helps if at least the initial front walkway plants are tough as well as beautiful. The black-eyed Susan (coneflower) is a very hardy favorite of Deck and Patio clients and was certainly used to great curb appeal here.

As newlyweds get used to all the various responsibilities of owning a home, it helps if at least the initial front walkway plants are tough as well as beautiful. The black-eyed Susan (coneflower) is a very hardy favorite of Deck and Patio clients and was certainly used to great curb appeal here.

 

Not all newlyweds purchase new homes. They may be attracted to stately older homes that already have full-grown plants and shrubs. Perhaps these couples might add the costs of landscaping services in order to care for their already existing flora.

Not all newlyweds purchase new homes. They may be attracted to stately older homes that already have full-grown plants and shrubs. Perhaps these couples might add the costs of landscaping services in order to care for their already existing flora.

 

In addition to plants and shrubs, handsome and decorative hardscape can be included in crowd-sourcing wedding registries.

In addition to plants and shrubs, handsome and decorative hardscape can be included in crowd-sourcing wedding registries.

 

Backyard Gardens of Eden

Woodland Themed Weddings

Woodland Themed Weddings

Some reporting has said that Harry and Megan’s wedding breakfast will be decorated with lots of greenery (silver birch, royal fern, and royal oak.)

Such passion for the outdoors has inspired full blown rustic-chic woodland wedding receptions in recent years. Costs of which can be included in crowd-funding registries.

This passion naturally carries through to a strong desire for lush landscaping around the homes of newlyweds.

Note: Those who have, or are expecting to have children soon, might want to consider plantings that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds, etc.

At the same time, it’s key to exclude any flora that could be poisonous to young children (or pets), and avoid ones with thorny stems or leaves.

That said, there are a myriad of landscaping ideas that will bring natural beauty to a home’s landscape that goes far beyond just the entranceway.

 

 

 

Here Deck and Patio created a double pond separated by large moss rock boulders with creeping ground cover and aquatic-friendly ornamental grasses. River rock, and a new patio walkway curve around the lower pond adorned with colorful plantings. Mature trees around the property’s periphery were kept, adding to the natural wonderland feel of this backyard.

Here Deck and Patio created a double pond separated by large moss rock boulders with creeping ground cover and aquatic-friendly ornamental grasses. River rock, and a new patio walkway curve around the lower pond adorned with colorful plantings. Mature trees around the property’s periphery were kept, adding to the natural wonderland feel of this backyard.

 

Not all waterfall projects need to be on a grand scale. Even modest projects such as this is an opportunity for natural color, textures, and pleasant sounds. Waterfalls splashing in a pond aerates it, keeping it healthy and mosquito-free. Add some boulders and bright lush plantings and you have a little bit of paradise.

Not all waterfall projects need to be on a grand scale. Even modest projects such as this is an opportunity for natural color, textures, and pleasant sounds. Waterfalls splashing in a pond aerates it, keeping it healthy and mosquito-free. Add some boulders and bright lush plantings and you have a little bit of paradise.

 

We spied this picture-perfect landscaped yard on Hometalk.com some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners. We thought it a perfect way to end our blog with:

We spied this picture-perfect landscaped yard on Hometalk.com some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners.

 

 

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias

Tip:

If your wedding isn’t as important to your town as Harry and Meghan’s is to Windsor, England, we suggest you don’t resort to Tom Skerritt’s method of scaring away birds in Steel Magnolias.

Rather crowd-fund for some landscaping help.

 

 

 

Landscaping Trends: Purple Is ‘the’ Color for 2018

Rihanna Wearing Lavender Eye Shadow

Rihanna Wearing Lavender Eye Shadow

Purple is seen everywhere these days.

Ultra Violet is Pantone’s 2018 color of the year.

And from hair color, eye shadow and  clothing, purple is taking center page in style magazines: People, InStyle and Essence to name but a few.

Not to mention, Rihanna, a true style icon, has been seen wearing lovely lavender shadow to accent her eyes.

 

 

 

Top Gardening Trends

Top Gardening Trends

 

So. It’s not surprising that one of HGTV’s top garden trends for 2018 is purple plants.

And we’ve got a few ideas today to help you choose bright pops of purple that can be planted throughout the 2018 season — beginning this spring.

 

 

 

 

Spring Purple.

 

1. Salvia Sylvestris May Night

 

Deck and Patio Pondscape

Deck and Patio Pondscape

Blooming in late spring, perennial Salvia Sylvestris May Night (May Night Meadow Sage), seen here in the right foreground, boasts deep purple-blue blooms.

The good news for gardeners in our Long Island, NY, area is how hardy this beauty is for our area of the Northeast because it claims superb cold hardiness, is a vigorous plant, and is tolerant of heavy clay soils.

If the robust color isn’t enough to make you rush to pick up some of these Salvias, consider: these plants attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and are deer and rabbit resistant. They make glorious cut flowers for inside and they bloom more than 4 weeks.

 

 

 

2. Soapwort

Soapwort

Soapwort

 

Another easy to grow stunner for spring is Soapwort. It’s also called Bouncing Bet which is a clue on how prolific it is.

It prefers full drainage and full sun and if you have a wall or trellis, it’ll make a home there.

It’s also available in low ground cover form that spreads nicely and is ideal around a water feature: stream, pond or waterfalls.

Its family name is Saponaria officinalis and offers good cut flowers.

 

 

 

 

Summer Purple.

1. Verbana

Verbana

Verbana

Available in annual and perennial varieties (a total of 250 varieties in fact), this stunning flora is at its best during the hottest of summer heat.

With so many varieties, it’s a cinch to find a glorious purple specimen for your garden.

Often used in herbal teas, it’s beloved by more than humans. Yup. Butterflies and hummingbirds adore its blooms as well.

 

 

2. Purple Allium

Deck and Patio Landscaping Project

Deck and Patio Landscaping Project

Although planted in fall, the Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon seen in the foreground of this Deck and Patio project is a summer blooming delight.

Its robust color thrives beautifully on Long Island and in the Northeast in general.

Deck and Patio landscape designers chose the Purple Allium for its height, as well as the lovely color contrast it made against the green and yellows around it.

The plants first open green, and then mature to a bright crimson-purple. More good news. It’s rabbit, deer and rodent resistant and is loved by pollinators.

 

 

Autumn Purple.

1. Aster

Purple Dome Aster

Purple Dome Aster

The Purple Dome Aster (novae-angliae) is a beautiful autumn plant that blooms from late summer in to autumn.

It is a dwarf variety of the more common New England Aster. And as you can see from the photo, it makes a wonderful impact as an accent among fall grasses.

Needless to say it can be cut for beautiful indoor bouquets. Indeed, there’s lots to cut as these plants boast masses of daisy-like deep purple flowers. They also have a sunny yellow center.

These beauties will bloom for over 4 weeks in fall; in spring and early summer they show off gray-green leaves. These disappear under the royal purple daisies in fall.

 

 

 

Autumn/Winter Purple.

 

1. Callicarpa dicotomía (Purple Beautyberry)

Callicarpa. Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden

Callicarpa. Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden

The Callicarpa dichotoma or purple beautyberry shrub’s colorful purple berries are a treasure in winter. They begin to bud in fall and last throughout winter.

The shrubs grow up to 4 feet tall. The branches boast pinkish to light purple flowers in summer which mature to these delightful berries in autumn.

These plants accept full sun and partial shade, which is good news. It gives you more options for planting and are not very demanding when it comes to growing conditions.

So as your starved eyes search for color in winter, your beautyberries, in bright purple, will satisfy that need. Do any pruning in late winter, just before spring. And as for your winter birdies — they’ll eat some of the purple berries.

 

And as a last little gift to our readers:

We all know what makes a purple garden grow: a little Purple Rain.

Now it’s Prince, after all, so you’ll have to be a little patient for the video to begin (at about 1.08 mins). But oh, his Purple Rain. Enjoy!

 

 

(Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is the annual Globe Amaranth. Its bright pom-poms last well into the fall.)

 

 

By | 2018-04-26T14:44:59+00:00 April 26th, 2018|Backyard Refurbishments, Gardening, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on Landscaping Trends: Purple Is ‘the’ Color for 2018

Earth Day 2018: Eco-Friendly Backyard Ponds

Backyard ponds with waterfalls and streams can be created in eco-friendly ways so they not only do no harm, but also help improve the environment.

Isn’t that a comforting idea as Earth Day (April 22nd) approaches?

Fish ponds, for example, naturally attract — and provide a haven for — other wildlife that children (as well as adults) love: frogs, salamanders, song birds, etc.

 

Birds are beneficial

Birds are beneficial

Of course, all these creatures are delightful to watch and listen to. More than that, their presence offer natural ways to a healthier environment.

Frogs eat algae in the water which contributes to keeping the water clean; adult toads aid in controlling insects, as do the birds the water attracts.

Plus, the koi, which are so much fun to feed, eat any mosquito larva that might develop.

 

 

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems

 

 

 

It is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for fish and plants), in order to keep a pond healthy in a natural way.

For this Deck and Patio project (right), we also planted a beautiful Japanese maple that shades the pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo.)

 

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature

Public Sustainable Water Feature

Not all sustainable water feature projects are for private use. Deck and Patio created this stream and waterfall spot (above) in cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island) where we installed the water feature beside a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot.

The pathway is made of permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc, which were put over gravel and a rubber liner, which capture and filter the path’s rainwater runoff before it reaches the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir installed at the end of the stream.

There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings around the water feature. Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into beautiful Huntington Bay.

 

 

Eco-Friendly Water Features

Eco-Friendly Water Features

For this Deck and Patio “pond-less” waterfall and stream, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house.

“Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. “And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

 

 

 

Wildlife Aid Ecosystems

Wildlife Aid Ecosystems

 

“When you attract wildlife such as this North American Bullfrog into your yard and other amphibians who like to hatch eggs in or near water, you contribute to a healthy eco-system,” Dave.

“Frogs, for example, eat algae in the water, thereby helping to keep it clean. Adult toads also aid your garden because they help control insects — as do the birds that the water feature will naturally attract.” (Photo: Wikipedia/Tigershrike)

 

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

 

 

What Type of Pond Will Be Best in My Yard?

“We feel just about any yard can accommodate some sort of pond,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“Whether your yard is expansive or is no bigger than a proverbial postage stamp, ponds range in size from small — to double-ponds and even those with vanishing edges.”

Dave adds that no matter the size, the sounds and beauty of a pond waterscape will offer a welcome place of serenity while attracting delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and croaking frogs.

 

Small Ponds

 

Small Pond with Waterfall

Small Pond with Waterfall

 

For these clients, we tucked a small pond and waterfall into the corner of their driveway.

By adding beautiful creeping ground cover and boulders, even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits.

Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, we used Mother Nature’s own gravity to pump water naturally in the pond.

 

 

 

 

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Sometimes, when very young children are involved, clients worry that a full, deep pond might present safety concerns. In these cases, many of our clients choose a pondless waterfall.

In a pondless waterfall, river rock allows water to seep down into the ground where it is captured in a below-ground reservoir and recirculated.

And, since regular ponds require seasonal maintenance to keep them healthy and beautiful, a pondless waterfall is easier to care for.

Another reason for choosing a pondless waterfall came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals.

Lastly, budget and property size can be factors. A large space is not needed when you go pondless.

 

 

Medium-Sized Ponds

 

Fun for All

Fun for All

As design and build experts, Deck and Patio always advises installing your pond where you can enjoy it from a deck, patio, bedroom, or kitchen.

It’s important to note that not just humans appreciate a pond water feature.

In addition to the family pooch being endlessly fascinated, birds and butterflies will be attracted. Birds, in particular, love gently moving water.

Just provide a place for them to land, such as rock platforms, or design a shallow end as part of the feature. And by keeping the water circulating, this will also help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

 

 

Larger Ponds

 

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

When there is room and a budget for a large pond, like this koi pond with several waterfalls and a stream, a backyard can become a private sanctuary.

Note: because ponds do not have too much water action, water lilies are ideal plants, which is especially helpful in larger ponds.

Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer.

The lower temperature reduces undesirable algae growth; and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for the fish while keeping the water clear and clean-looking.

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pond

Vanishing Edge Pond

A pond can reach its zenith if it’s possible to give it a vanishing edge. Although these are more commonly done for pools, if local regulations limit the addition of a pool, a pond might be the answer.

That was the case for this multi-part Deck and Patio water feature. It captures the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the water’s edge. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, and second lower pond.

Under the feature’s beauty, an extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system using Aquascape Inc. products is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Landscaping: A Rose By Any Other Color

Pretty much everyone loves roses. We love their smell. Their vivid colors. Also their ruffled petals and high-rise cups. It’s also a flower that’s just as beautiful as a bud as when it’s in full bloom.

Valentine's Day Dinner/Red Rose

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

With Valentine’s Day approaching, most of the focus on roses will be on the “red” rose. Known for symbolizing love and passion, it’s a perfect fit for a day devoted to romantic love.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned at Deck and Patio in our landscaping work — red isn’t the only rose color that people love.

Apparently we’re not alone in noticing it. Bruce Wright, editor of the Los Angles-based floral trade publication, has been quoted as saying, “Studies show that women don’t necessarily prefer red roses. “Indeed, most women prefer another color.”

 

Orange (apricot-pink) roses

Orange (apricot-pink) roses

Take for example this stunning apricot-pink rose that one of our designers added to landscaping around a client’s pool.

Such a dramatic hued plant gets attention, and in smaller spaces like this, it helps the landscape to recede behind it — causing the overall area to seem larger.

As for this color: without a doubt “orange” roses have the most attitude in the rose family. These beauties are known for enthusiasm, not to mention passion.

The color also suggests a sense of significance and even urgency — perhaps just the right color to draw your loved ones outside on a warm summer day.

 

Pink Roses

Pink Roses

 

When it comes to pink roses — like these beautiful ones planted and cared for by Deck and Patio — their color symbolizes gentleness and poetic romance, making them another great choice for Valentine’s Day.

They are extremely delicate and graceful and make an exquisite statement in any garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

 

Traditionally, yellow roses symbolize friendship but they are so sunny that they spread joy to anyone who stops to smell them.

The very earliest yellow roses discovered by Europeans was in the Middle East. But when they brought them home, they noticed they lacked the red rose’s enticing scent.

Through caring and cultivation the yellow rose soon claimed the same aromatic fragrance as their sister flora. You simply can’t go wrong with a garden blooming with sunny yellow roses.

 

Red Roses

Red Roses

And last, but by no means least, red roses! We planted red roses (foreground) when landscaping around a pond we installed for two of our clients. They blend beautifully with the variegated hydrangea to the right of them and the variegated hosta to the left.

All the plants pictured will attract birds and butterflies. But the dramatic red rose is the eye-catcher.

Needless to say: red roses symbolize love and romance like no other flower and also suggest perfection and beauty. As a Valentine’s Day gift or as a dramatic element in your garden, it’s a perfect choice.

 

 

 

Mystic Rose - Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

Caring for Roses

Whatever their color, roses need a bit of care in your garden.

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, says roses should be planted in the sun.

“Also, they need a good amount of air circulation around them,” she says. “Strictly avoid overhead irrigation or sprinkler heads. They will get more disease that way because viruses prefer wet environments. Keep them watered at the roots through a drip system or soaker hose.”

 

Sandra adds that the best time to plant is really any time throughout the growing season. “An ideal time would be early in the season — April or May.”

Knockout Rose

Knockout Rose

Deck and Patio gets a lot of requests for knockout roses, partly because they bloom for a long time throughout growing season and are much easier to care for.

They are known to be disease and insect resistant which has made them quite popular.

“Contrary to popular belief,” adds Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell, “while knock out roses are extremely hardy and withstand blights, that doesn’t mean they don’t need some care like fertilizer, pruning and water. Also, some knockouts have succumbed to rosette disease. But if you do the basics, and keep an eye out for any strange looking bright red shoots, these are a great choice.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2018-02-08T13:25:45+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Gardening, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Deck and Patio Landscaping: A Rose By Any Other Color

Backyard Wildlife Havens Stem from Chemical-free Eco-Systems

 

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

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

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

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

Frogs are beneficial for a chemical-free environment

Frogs contribute to a chemical-free environment

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

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

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

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

 

Pinellas Ponds and Waterfalls

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

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

 

 

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

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

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds: Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

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

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

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

 

Winter Garden Hues: Birds of a ‘Colorful’ Feather

In the Northeast, we love our change in seasons. And around this time each year, as winter is on the horizon, Deck and Patio’s blog has offered ideas on trees and bushes whose bark or berries bring color to winter gardens.

Today, however, we’re focusing on a very special and even more lively source of winter garden beauty: colorful avian visitors that can be enticed with just a little effort on our part.

 

Cardinals

Take the bright red plumage of the Cardinal. The male’s full-bodied red actually gets more striking during winter.

This is when some of their remaining gray-tipped feathers fall off, showing even more vibrant red.

What a picture they make resting on icy branches and snow.

“If you want to attract them, Cardinals love black oil sunflower and safflower seeds,” says Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, NY.

It’s helpful to note that Cardinals usually eat early in the morning or late in the evening so make sure feeders are well stocked at these times. Also, being a larger bird, they prefer a larger feeder that won’t sway too much as they eat.

 

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are another colorful bird that stays around in winter.

These gorgeous birds love to congregate in groups come winter. They also will squirrel food away. Some have witnessed Blue Jays hiding nuts in trees.

And as for sound, they have been known to scare off other birds by imitating the call of hawks.

 

 

“They also like nuts and peanuts,” says Vultaggio.

“I use a peanut wreath and fill it with shelled peanuts. This type of feeder attracts a lot of Blue Jays.

They are such fun to watch — not to mention they add a lot of color against the white landscape.”

 

 

 

Chickadees

Chickadees prefer the same type of seeds as the Cardinal: black oil sunflower and safflower. Vultaggio is also delighted by their sounds — ‘they actually say chickadee when they sing.”

Chickadees are vibrant even though, as part of the Titmouse family, they are known for their gray color and lighter bellies.

“They dine primarily on insects, seeds and berries,” adds Vultaggio. “They are active and agile little birds. These little acrobats are a delight to watch when they hang upside down from twigs or at your feeder.

 

 

 

Additional Birds

Vulraggio also puts out suet in winter, which she says attracts other birds including woodpeckers.

“A bird bath is also important. Water is often scarce in the dead of winter.

Of course, you don’t want the water to ice up and there are lots of bird bath heaters, including solar heated bird baths.

Pictured here is a Heated Deck-Mounted Birdbath by Allied Precision.

“You’ll also find that in winter these birds tend to appear in groups since many eyes make it safer to watch out for predators. Birds are such a wonderful way to add color to your winter garden.”

 

 

 

Flora

To achieve color through flora, a previous Deck and Patio blog includes a fairly comprehensive list of flora that will help “lift winter doldrums with outdoor color and texture” — information that we put together also with the help of Sandra Vultaggio.

Winterberry (shown here) is a great example of the color and texture available in winter. This dramatic and colorful bush is from a species of the deciduous holly family and is native to the Northeast.

A slow grower, it loses its leaves each autumn. And, birds love the berries…what more needs to be said.

 

By | 2017-11-16T13:35:00+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Gardening, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Winter Garden Hues: Birds of a ‘Colorful’ Feather

Fall Maintenance: Preparing Koi Ponds for Winter

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

 

Plants and Fallen Leaves

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

(Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio)

(Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio)

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio

Pond designed/built by Deck and Patio

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

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

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

 

 

 

Pond Fish

 

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

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

 

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

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

This can be remedied as long as you give them:

 

 

 

•two feet of water to swim in,

•oxygenate the water,

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

 

The hole allows the naturally-produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

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

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

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

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.

The fish do not need to eat during this time. In fact, they shouldn’t be fed at all. 

 

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

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

 

Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form.

But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

 

 

 

Fall 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.