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Avoid Cabin Fever and Spring Clean Your Pond

Avoiding Cabin Fever

Avoiding Cabin Fever

In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the first day of spring. Nothing could be more welcome. But with so many of us working from home, or even confined to home, just being able to go outdoors in our yards is essential to keeping ‘cabin fever’ at bay.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard pond, there’s some activities families in isolation might want to do together — or at least ensure someone (ahem) performs such outdoor refurbishments as spring pond maintenance.

It’s true, that as certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, many local pond owners prefer experts like Deck and Patio get their pond ready for the coming outdoor season. But, if you’re eager to get outside yourself and don’t mind putting on some boots and getting your hands dirty, we have some maintenance tips for you today.

 

 

What’s Involved in Spring 

Cleaning Your Pond? 

Debris in Water Features

Debris in Water Features

If your aquatic plants were not properly cut back in fall, they may very well have fallen back into the pond, decomposed, and dirtied the water.

However, even if you did cut them back, some cleaning will probably be required. How much cleaning may depend on your pond’s size. 

Smaller ponds tend to have more impurities than larger ones.

“It’s not unlike a fish bowl verses a fish tank,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “A fish tank is much easier to maintain than a fish bowl, isn’t it? There’s just more water to absorb impurities. However, even larger ponds require basic maintenance, such as cleaning out the filtration systems, fertilizing aquatic plants, adding new filter mats when required, etc.”

Dave adds that depending on the quality of the water, draining of the pond, rinsing it out, and refilling it using a de-chlorinator may be required as well.

Immediately below is a helpful video by Aquascape Inc. showing what’s needed in pond spring cleaning:

 

 

“If you’re draining the pond, it’s important to take great care of any pond fish during the process,” says Dave. “Keep them safe in a kiddie pool or the like, and put a net over them so they don’t jump out. Also, be sure to acclimate them during reentry.”

Here’s some additional tips. These are from Forrest Churchill for how best to integrate your pond fish back into the cleaned pond:

 

 

 

 

Pond-less Waterfalls:

Pond-less Waterfalls:

It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (pictured above) than a pond basin. Just dig out any debris in the Pond-less Waterfalls Snorkel Vault and, if it is required, drain the water using a clean-out pump placed into the vault — being careful not to flood any particular area.

 

Spring Pond Cleaning:

Spring Pond Cleaning:

The larger the pond, the better quality the water will be come spring. This beautiful pond project is really two ponds (one shown); in the larger pond pictured here there was even room for adding a large stone island with stepping stones out to it, where two Adirondack chairs were positioned for periods of contemplation and feeding the koi.

 

 Spring Cleaning Begins in Winter:

Spring Cleaning Begins in Winter:

Even if you cut back your aquatic plants and water grasses, some will decompose. When doing spring cleaning, be sure it’s before the pond water temperature gets above 55 degrees. Otherwise, bacteria from the warmer water will have formed — causing another undesirable green phase.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Spring pond cleaning is essential for a pond clear enough to swim in (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The right bog filtration and water plants, along with Biofalls (such as Aquascape Inc.’s) support your seasonal care for a healthy water feature.

The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to, and pond-er spring.

 

Spring Maintenance

Spring Maintenance

 

 

 

Stay well, everyone! Spring maintenance may be a welcome activity for the family. Of course, we’re happy to help as well. 631-549-8100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Waterfalls Make the Right Noises

There are some noises we want when enjoying our backyard escapes — the open-air symphony of birds, flapping butterflies and croaking frogs. And the laughter of children and friends.

Of course, there are noises we don’t want. Cars wizzing by on a high-trafficked street, beeping horns, etc.

But what’s a homeowner to do, if their cherished home is in a busy area?

“Many parts of Long Island is fairly built-up,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “In Nassau County, for example, the homes can be quite close together. But even in Suffolk, it’s hard to get completely away from traffic.”

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project, the homeowners had longed for a restful backyard, but their property was located close to a busy four-lane road. How could they enjoy a pool and spa amid disturbing noise?

“We were happy to reassure them that they could have an undisturbed backyard oasis,” says Dave. “The key was including in the landscaping design a substantial rushing waterfall near the pool. It would not only be beautiful to look at, but its relaxing sounds would mask   unpleasant street sounds.”  (A short video that captures the sounds of their waterfall can be found below after our first two photos.)

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Not far from the right edge of the pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“The waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

This is a close up of the Rosyln, NY main waterfall. Water flows down moss rocks in a natural-looking way, and seeps through river rock, where it is captured in an underground reservoir. The water is filtered and recirculated, making it very eco-friendly.

 

The following video lets you hear the delightful sounds of rushing water at this Rosyln, Long Island, NY, project.

 

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Pleasant sounds are the very opposite of unpleasant noise. And this backyard Roslyn, NY, paradise retreat is blessed with delightful sounds. These sounds can be enjoyed in the pool, while sunbathing on a wide patio, when relaxing in a quiet upper patio, when rocking back and forth in the outdoor swing — not to mention when relaxing in the spillover spa.

 

Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

Deck and Patio surrounded the backyard retreat’s new freeform vinyl pool and raised spillover spa with handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patios and bright plantings. The raised spa has its own separate overhead waterfall as well as a spillover into the pool. All this adds to an undisturbed backyard experience.

A diving rock and landscaping cutouts add to this pool area’s summer charms. In addition, the Cambridge paving stones are tough when it comes to winter’s cold weather. The pavers seem to withstand abuse better than any poured and stenciled concrete.

 

Poolside Landscaping:

Poolside Landscaping:

Bright plantings with green ground cover, along with river stone gravel and delightful stepping stone path, add to the natural look and serenity of the barrier/pool area.

 

 

 

 

Kids and Gardening: How About a Rainbow Garden?

Children Love a Rainbow Garden

Children Love Rainbow Gardens

Involving children in gardening offers a great many benefits, say experts, from family bonding, to encouraging healthy eating and teaching them responsibility.

One garden project you might consider is a ‘rainbow garden.’ Kids love the colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet! 

To help you kick off such a plan, if your kids don’t already have the book, you could share with them the following 2 minute video: Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

 

 

 

Once they are eager for the project, how about involving your children in the landscaping plan by having them draw flowers in each of the seven rainbow colors. We’re including an easy cheat sheet of plants by color below — which we are using with permission from The Homespun Hydrangea. 

Of course, part of any landscape plan requires knowing which flowers come from bulbs, or seeds, etc., as well as the best time of year to plant each. We’ve selected one plant for each color and offer some tips for that plant. But you and your children may enjoy doing some of your own research.

Since your children will no doubt be eager to see the flowers this spring/summer, you can always get ready-grown plants at a local nursery, and plant from seeds and bulbs next year. 

So let’s begin:

Red:
Tulips, Hummingbird Sage, Red Roses, Red Bee Balm, Mums, Geraniums, Primrose, Red Poppies, Red Monkey Flower, Coleus, Cosmos, Bird of Paradise, Red Lilies, Western Columbine, Zinnia, Begonia, Red Cactus Flower 

Red Roses

Red Roses

When you want to go red, you can’t go wrong with rose bushes. Potted roses can be added to the garden any time, but if the roots are bare, plant these when the daytime temperatures are between 40 and 60 degrees F — or their dormant season (autumn through late winter/early spring). Look for disease-resistant tough roses. 

 

Orange:
Orange Poppies, Tulips, Lantana, Blackberry Lily, Tiger Lily, Iceland Poppy, Helenium, Cosmos, Asiatic Lily, Marigold, Butterfly Weed, Red Hot Poker, Flowering Maple, Snapdragon, Hyssop, Minion Bells, Twinspur

Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed

With Butterfly Weed, you not only get bright, gorgeous orange, but, like the name says, you also attract butterlfies. Your youngsters will love that. Its clusters of blossoms bloom from early summer to first frost. It thrives in clay, rocky or dry soil and while it prefers full sun, it can take partial shade. These grow well from seeds, but since they are usually planted in fall, if you want them in the garden this year, consider using mail order or your local nursery. 

 

Yellow:
Tulips, Snapdragons, Marigolds, Yellow Columbine, Yellow Butterfly Bush, Iceplant, Mums, Daisies, Gerber Daisy, Daylily, Sunflower, Daffodil, Primula, Yellow Rose, Gold Nugget, Indian Shot, Yellow Bee Balm

Columbine

Columbine

Another pollinator-friendly plant, Columbine will re-seed itself in your garden! Early spring or fall is the best time to plant either bare root or potted plants. They like well-drained moist soil. With very warm Long Island, NY, summers, it’s wise to give the plant some partial shade. If you plant from seed, it will take a full season before you get to enjoy them.

 

Green:
Green/Lime Rose, Mums, Hellebore, Daylily, Dianthus, Bells of Ireland, Hydrangeas, Mint, Catnip, Sage, Rosemary, Basil, assorted grasses, Coleus

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland are shell flowers that are loved as both ornamental and culinary plants. The outer bells are the goal, not the small and fragrant white flowers within. They don’t love hot and humid temperatures, so consider a shade cloth to maintain the hardiness of the plant. Check out the various nurseries available to you (or consider mail order) so you can enjoy Bells of Ireland this summer. Then, get the kids to help you harvest and save some of the seeds and plant them for a more extensive patch of bells next year.

 

Blue:

Brunerra, Delphinium, Hydrangea, Lead Plant, Hyacinth, Clematis, Blue Star, Aster, Bell Flower, Salvia, Balloon Flower, Asters, Morning Glories, Virginia Blue Bells, Forget Me Knots, Columbine

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

When it comes to morning glories, you’ll want full sun and fertile soil. Avoid too much nitrogen. If you soak the seeds,  you may be able to see them sprout up this year without having to purchase grown plants. For more, check here

 

Purple:
Salvia, Cat Mint, Tulips, Lilies, Balloon Flower, Iris, Clematis, Lavender, Bell Flower, Crocus, Snapdragon, Petunia, Verbena, Pansy, Fan Flower, Heliotrope, Purple Bee Balm, Thyme, Chives, Lilacs

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

At Deck and Patio, we’ve often included lovely purple allium in our landscaping plans. They are hardy and deer and rodent resistant. Their bulbs need to be planted in the fall, so to enjoy them this year you’ll need to pick up some plants from the nursery. Did you know that they are also members of the onion family? As you plan out your garden for next year, you can get some crocus bulbs for a double punch of purple next spring. 

 

Some final tips: 

Curve Appeal

Curve Appeal

Design the garden in a sweeping curve (left) — the eye can’t help but follow along such a layout. It’ll capture interest immediately. 

Keep any plants that grow over 30 inches at least two to three feet away from the walkway and patio edges.

Keep thorny plants away from walk areas and avoid them entirely if you have toddlers. 

 

 

By |2020-02-20T15:06:37-05:00February 20th, 2020|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Family Fun, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Kids and Gardening: How About a Rainbow Garden?

Landscaping with Pantone’s Color for 2020: ‘Classic Blue’ Is Elegant and Reassuring

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s color of the year. This year Pantone has chosen ‘Classic Blue.’ According to their announcement, in making this decision, they considered the following: 

 

Pantone's Statement

 

“Classic Blue’ certainly is a reassuring color,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “We have available lovely blue plants that can bring that sense of reassurance, that anchoring, to any landscape or garden.”

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

One spring bloomer that Dave recommends in the ‘Balkan Anemone’ (left) which is hardy and blooms again and again each year.

Its star-like petals are also stunning in the evening and at night as they sparkle amid landscape lighting and moonlight. 

Tall and lace-y, this flower is also known as ‘Grecian Windflower.’ If you are planting them yourself, it’s best to do it in autumn, in moist soil with partial shade. For an Anemone planting guide, click here.

 

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Then, of course, there is a Long Island, NY, favorite — the stunning hydrangea. One lovely example is the Nikko Blue. 

However, achieving a true blue hue to this plant requires a certain type of soil, or you won’t get the blue color.  For more on growing blue hydrangeas, click here.

Note: Blue hydrangeas make such gorgeous bouquets, which means the interior of your home can be as filled with Pantone’s color for 2020 as your garden.

Cornflower

Cornflower

Cornflower

Of course, don’t forget the traditional blue ‘cornflower.’ This plant is hardy and can withstand draught and are delightful interspersed around a garden. They can be grown as a perennial or annual. 

By the way, cornflowers fit particularly well with Pantone’s intention in bringing classic blue to the forefront for 2020 because they are symbols of very old traditions. One website described them as reminding us of “the cultural ebb and flow of mankind throughout the centuries.” Now that’s an anchor.

Another note on cornflowers, they grow easily from seed — which makes them effortless to disperse in the garden — and they last quite a while as a cut flower and keep their color when dried. 

Availability

“As most gardeners know, blue isn’t the most prevalent color in plants. That said, our buyers do have a range of blue plants available,” adds Dave, “And of course, we have many sources.”

One mid-western U.S. florist company, Dreisbach Wholesale Florists, got the jump on Pantone back in June when this blue color was their choice for a Floral Friday focus. Although they admitted on their website, that: “…blue can be a challenge for [floral arrangements] since there are a limited number of naturally occurring blue blooms. Don’t let that stop you!”  

And Deck and Patio adds, when it comes to gardens, don’t let that stop you! As you’ll see from the flowers we listed above — as well as in the feature shot at the top of this page, there are enough blue flowers to incorporate Pantone’s reassuring color throughout your landscape. (Note: *Feature art at the top of our page today is courtesy of Dreisbach Wholesale Florists.)

 

Outdoor Color Is More Than Flowers

In choosing Classic Blue, Pantone said they also wanted to evoke “the vast and infinite evening sky,” which, Deck and Patio believes, can be achieved in many ways in the landscape. “You can change your pool and spa’s vinyl liner or Gunite finish to bring about this soaring feeling, for example,” says Dave. “Like this dramatic custom pool and spa project we did a while ago.”

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

To enhance an already beautiful view of Long Island Sound, the owners of the waterside home wanted an infinity pool; a spectacular “infinity” spa also became part of the project. A swim-up U-shaped bar serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

The ultimate in resort-style living includes a tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning.

You might say this project is awash in glorious Classic Blue. 

So readers. How will you bring Pantone’s elegant and reassuring Classic Blue into your yard this year? 

 

The Healing Benefits of a Garden

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.” said Edward Flaherty, author of landscape stories. Certainly studies confirm what this author believes. One study, for example, proved how “natural environments refocus our attention, lessening stress and hastening healing.” 

There’s another study by Paoli Memorial Hospital where they began noticing how patients in certain rooms with attractive outdoor views were recovering more quickly than those without.  

As they looked in to it, they discovered that patients’ charts showed how much more work was required by the nursing staff for those facing, say, a brick wall. Their chart comments included: “needs much encouragement” and “upset and crying.” However, those looking out onto to a natural view had higher spirits and needed fewer pain killers as they progressed than the others. 

“Since I was a young man, I’ve always had a sense that beautiful landscapes healed the spirit,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s one of the reasons I do this work. But I was surprised myself by these studies that proved natural beauty can also speed up recovery of the sick.”

Dave continues, “Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting. We are overwhelmed with stimuli. A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you take in the serenity and quiet.”

Deck and Patio has a history of creating beautiful landscaping projects projects where families can revive themselves. 

 

Deck and Patio Beginning a new landscaping project

Deck and Patio Beginning a new landscaping project

 

In this photo (left), you see members of Deck and Patio’s landscaping team beginning the work to create a serene space by bringing in plants with variations in color and texture, as well as creating slope gradations for visual impact.

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio completed project

Deck and Patio completed project

This completed walking area (right) was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it was designed by Mother Nature herself.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” Such a spot offers wonderful scents as well being a delight for the eyes. 

 

 

 

Landscaping Around a Pond:

Landscaping Around a Pond:

These clients wanted a water feature as part of their landscaping plan. Along with robust green ground cover that Deck and Patio added in and around the waterfall’s natural rocks, the pond also bursts alive with color. Bright orange blossoms of “Canna Lilies” (left), which take full sun but can thrive in partial shade, offer up tropical-like blossoms. The green-leafed plant to the right is “Hosta” which boasts delightful waxy leaves and produces white flowers in late summer.

 

 

Landscaped Pathways:

Landscaped Pathways:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool or even just beside your house. Then by adding colorful and lush plantings you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Backyard Garden with Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden with Bridge (Long Island/NY):

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

 

 

Beautiful Garden Rooms

Beautiful Garden Rooms:

For these clients, the “garden” serves several purposes. Planted directly into the slope, supported by massive rock steps, it becomes part of a lovely “natural” retaining wall.

The upper patio area is surrounded by lush greenery, bright plantings and a tranquil waterfall. Whether one escapes here to read a book, meditate, or just relax and listen to the sounds of flowing water and chirping birds, there’s a reason garden rooms are a popular landscaping trend.

 

“Whether or not our landscaping designs will heal everything that ails you,” adds Dave, “we know for sure they will heal the spirit. And maybe that is quite enough.”

 

A Repeat Customer Is the Best Testimonial

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Oasis

Deck and Patio Backyard Oasis

Last fall we completed this backyard upgrade for a client’s newly-built home in Manhasset, NY.

The project boasts: a free-form heated Gunite pool with spillover spa and Jandy equipment, stream-fed waterfalls, pavilion, sunken fire pit with circular seating, outdoor kitchen, Cambridge Pavingstone patios/pool surround, and lush landscaping. 

“The couple wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. You see, they came to us as repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them, which to us is the very best testimonial.”

Backstory

In 2011, Deck and Patio upgraded this family’s deck area when they lived in Roslyn, NY, (click here to view that complete project).  At the time, the couple really wanted a pool, but the Town had denied the request.

“The husband told us after we completed the deck, pavilion etc. that ‘one day, when we get our next house, and I can build a pool, you’ll be the first person I call.’”

And, indeed, in 2018, after their new home in Manhasset was built, they had lots of room for a pool (immediately below).

Manhasset ‘Before’ Photo

Manhasset Property before Deck and Patio began upgrade.

 

Custom Pool and Spa:

Deck and Patio designed a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool (above) with a  flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall; also a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone. We also allowed for a Dolphin waterslide, and partial boulder coping. 

Manhasset Project's Pool and Spa Area:

Manhasset Project’s Pool and Spa Area:

“After the backyard upgrade designs were approved by our clients and the Town, we immediately brought in True Blue Swimming Pools to construct the pool,” says Dave.

“The magnificent color of the water you see in the photos, for example, is due to True Blue’s choice of a custom Pebble Tec finish for both the pool and spa. Pebble Tec’s finish is also durable, textured and non-slip, as well as stain-resistant.

The pool/spa, of course, is a completely new design, but hints of the old Roslyn project are reflected in some other new backyard oasis’s amenities. 

 

Pavilion with Fireplace

Their previous smaller Roslyn pavilion was fine when they had only one child who was very young — he could scoot around inside it on his tricycle — but now they had two children who would require more space and more activity.” 

And although the previous project did boast a fully enclosed climate-controlled four-seasons room, this time, they were happy to sacrifice the ability to control the enclosure’s temperature for a much larger entertaining space. 

Custom Pavilion Fireplace

Custom Pavilion Fireplace

“For the new large 16’ x 32’ pavilion, we dealt with the fact that they wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these do deter irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather.

For colder weather, a large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside it, but flush to it, to allow for the maximum of space.”

 

 

Old Roslyn Project

Old Roslyn Project

New Manhaset Project

New Manhaset Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

One bit of drama we designed for them back at their old roslyn home was a stone veneer wall behind their deck’s new outdoor kitchen (left above). Note how, in Manhasset (above right), we capture that same drama — and some — with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

Deck and Patio Designed/Built Sunken Fire Pit:

Deck and Patio Designed/Built Sunken Fire Pit:

Speaking of the sunken fire pit, Deck and Patio designed it as a true gathering place, says Dave. “The homeowners wanted a wood-burning fireplace for the pavilion, but the fire pit he intended to be used a lot by his children and, therefore, wanted it natural gas with an electronic ignition that he can control from the house.”

Indeed, adds Dave, everything is on a smart Jandy system — from music, lights, the fire pit, swimming pool and spa.

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

The outdoor kitchen is constructed with a concrete block base and veneered to match other amenities. It has a grill, fridge, ice maker, etc.  The husband is a wine connoisseur so it also has a wine fridge.

“We love this project for another reason,” says Dave. “It is a truly fun unique area that highlights everything Deck and Patio is known for — lush plantings, lawns, waterfalls, fire pits, patios, and custom spas.

“We finished the job about end-June into early July this year, which made a short outdoor living season for them. But because of the heated pool, the family told us they used it all the way into fall. They didn’t close the pool until end-October.”

 

Landscape Focal Points: Leading Your Eye to a Peaceful 2020

The winter holidays are over. Even if you still have to drag a Christmas tree to the curb, at least the pressure is off. It’s time to appreciate the joys of relaxation. And, even better, to look forward to relaxing outdoors come spring. 

Enjoying Your Landscape's Design

Enjoying Your Landscape’s Design

But even outdoors, there are tricks to making truly restive spaces. The key is to have serene focal points that draw the eye where you sunbathe, enjoy a hot tub, read a book, dine al fresco, or just relax. 

Focal points keep the eye from being confused with too much to take in. They allow your eyes to fix on one spot or item rather than jump from object to object. Resting the eye on an attractive spot encourages muscles to loosen, allows levels of harmful hormones to decline, and, without effort, you breathe out a peaceful “ahhhh.”

“We plan focal points in all our designs,” says Dave Stockwell. “For more substantial projects, like grand swimming pools, the property’s own views can become a natural focal point by adding a vanishing edge to the pool. But sometimes it can be as simple as one beautiful tree, or a garden statue set amid lush plantings. Of course, adding the sights and sound of moving water adds to the restful experience.” 

 

Below we have some Deck and Patio projects that highlight focal points:

Using a Natural View as a Focal Point: One of the many vanishing edge pools we’ve been involved with includes one this one in Cove Neck, NY, where the homeowners had a spectacular water view.

Using a Natural View as a Focal Point: One of the many vanishing edge pools we’ve been involved with includes this one in Cove Neck, NY, where the homeowners had a spectacular water view.

 

Water Features as Focal Point: This captures the view from the homeowners new patio where colorful plantings help create a beautiful setting. But notice how the eye naturally is drawn to the waterfall. In addition, the sounds of moving water adds to an experience of relaxation.

Water Features as Focal Point: This photo captures the view from the homeowners new patio; see how colorful plantings help create a beautiful setting. And notice how the eye naturally is drawn to the waterfall. In addition, the sounds of moving water adds to an experience of relaxation.

 

Deck’s Outdoor Seating Area

Deck’s Outdoor Seating Area

Dining Area of Deck

Dining Area of Deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multiple Focal Points in One Deck Design: We designed the above Timbertech deck in 45-degree angles to orient the different spaces, including positioning the outdoor furniture toward the stunning views. 

 

Stand-Alone Fireplace at Patio’s Edge: Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic focal point. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of a new patio which makes the whole experience that more relaxing — and warm, when the weather requires it.

Stand-Alone Fireplace at Patio’s Edge: Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic focal point. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of the new patio which makes the whole experience that more relaxing — and warm, when the weather requires it.

 

Dramatic Plants as Focal Points: Here we planted bullrush, horsetail, a rose hybrid water lily — and tall dramatic pink canna lilies that draw the eye naturally.

Dramatic Plants as Focal Points: Here we planted bullrush, horsetail, rose hybrid water lilies — and tall, dramatic pink, canna lilies that draw the eye naturally.

 

Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon Draw the Eye: These beautiful purple flowers (seen in the foreground) are planted in the fall and are one of the many plantings that offer robust color in the summer outdoor season and thrive nicely. We chose them for this design plan for their height as well as their lovely color contrast. They make a great focal point when in the hammock. Whether it’s a tree, plant, waterfall, outdoor fireplace or the property’s own lovely views, focal points in the design aid outdoor relaxation.

Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon Draw the Eye: These beautiful purple flowers (seen in the foreground) are planted in the fall and are one of the many plantings that offer robust color in the summer outdoor season and thrive nicely. We chose them for this design plan for their height as well as their lovely color contrast. They make a great focal point from the hammock.

Whether it’s a tree, plant, waterfall, outdoor fireplace or the property’s own lovely views, focal points in the design aid outdoor relaxation. They are sure to lead your eye to a peaceful 2020!

 

 

Stepping Stone Walkway Ideas

Stepping stones in areas that get heavy foot traffic are an attractive way to protect the lawn. The stones allow grass, or “softscape,” to shine through while still providing the “hardscape” needed.

However. Is this all that stepping stones can do? “By no means,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “While they are very serviceable, they can also contribute to the serenity of a space. They can be a key element of creating ‘contemplation’ spaces, for example.”

Today our blog is showcasing a sampling of stepping stone paths that we have created for clients — ranging from the very practical to the Zen-like in impact.

Practical Pathway

Practical Pathway

 

These clients wanted a footpath leading to their tool shed — a very practical need. But they had a small backyard. We were already installing extensive multi-level paver patios. So it wasn’t surprising they didn’t want more solid brick hardscape on the opposite side of the pool.

Instead, the bluestone stepping stones we installed allowed for greenery to show through. Along with attractive plantings on either side of the pathway, the journey to their shed offers an uplifting experience that’s not just about the tasks at hand.

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Not all stepping stones are flat bluestone slabs. The Japanese introduced Zen-garden landscape design centuries ago, inspiring the world to place larger stones as stepping stones across ponds and water feature

“The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in this yard helped inspire us,” says Dave.

First: Deck and Patio installed regular flat bluestone stepping stones leading up to a flowing stream water feature we were doing. Then: Larger natural stones were added to walk across the stream. More flat bluestone was positioned on the other side as a walkway up to the clients’ pool area. Finally, we also added moss rock in various places which adds color and texture.

“Our clients even enjoy it in winter when the moss rock boulders around the stream become sparkling ice sculptures,” adds Dave.

 

Stone Island

Stone Island

Speaking of larger natural stones, have you ever considered adding a stone “island” in a pond where you can picnic?

When Deck and patio built this lovely water feature, comprising two separate ponds next to each other, there was room in the larger pond (shown here) to add a sizable stone island.

With smooth natural stones leading to it, the homeowners have a true Zen experience walking across the still pond to their own private island.

The clients placed two Adirondack chairs on the island giving them an escape for extended moments of contemplation. Plus, the wide arms of these chairs allow room for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. Surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape.

 

Decks and Ponds

Decks and Ponds

A deck can be part of the pond/stepping stone contemplation space, too. This Deck and Patio deck was designed with a viewing platform to enjoy the new pond with waterfalls and beautiful landscaping.

At the bottom of a set of stairs, we placed the first of several large stepping stones leading from the deck, providing a delightful walk across the pond to other viewing areas of the multi-faceted water feature.

 

 

Waterfall Walk

Waterfall Walk

So far we’ve explored stepping stones across ponds, one path leading to a utility shed, and below you’ll see stepping stones to a swimming pool.

But here the bluestone stepping stones we added lead past cascading waterfalls, including a dramatic 7’-high waterfall.

“This is a very special experience for the clients,” says Dave. “Usually waterfalls drop into a pond and you can’t walk close to them. But these do not fall into a pond, but pass through river rock into a ‘pondless’ reservoir instead.”

In the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir, the water is filtered and then recirculated so it operates as a self-sustaining system that remains clean and clear. The different rocks used here include river rock, moss rock, spill rocks and, of course, bluestone stepping stones. They all contribute to a footpath experience one might only hope to get on a mountain trek.

 

Stepping Stone Path

Stepping Stone Path

We placed these bluestone stepping stones so they almost skim across the backyard sod. The path connects the clients’ pool patio to a Trex deck and second Cambridge patio located near the house.

This area is also home to a new outdoor kitchen area, complete with barbecue and refrigerator.

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk

Backyard Nature Walk

How’s this for one last example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones.

The stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.

“While this kind of space is ideal on its own,” says Dave, “the idea came to us when we were looking for a creative way to hide their new swimming pool equipment.

“We decided to create this wilderness area with plantings etc. in a way that offered contemplation moments while at the same time finding a creative way to hide their pool equipment.”

 

 

 

 

Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just a week away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season (see last week’s blog for ideas on how to extend it), it is one of the last big outdoor weekends for entertaining.

So if you are hosting an event, you might want to make it extra special by adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting yourself, you might be in need of a hostess gift — like a bouquet from your very own garden.

 

 Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultan

Now, if you’re wondering if it’s too late to be adding flowers that will not only make Labor Day colorful, but will also last well into the fall, not to worry. We have below some great ideas from Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, who has just the right plants in mind.

“Late in the summer season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.” 

 

 

As for which ones to look out for, she agrees with Deck and Patio that the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) is a great choice to add mid-to-late August. The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

 

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices. For example, Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says.

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

 

Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy), as well as Asters, are also great choices,” she continues. “These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” 

Sedum — Autumn Joy

Sedum — Autumn Joy

 

For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

 

“I suggest getting these perennials in the ground sooner rather than later,” she continues. If it hasn’t rained before planting, soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

“It’s easy to make a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” adds Dave Stockwell. “Sandra’s ideas for adding color and beauty will not only make Labor Day Weekend entertaining colorful, but the impact will last well into the fall.”

Note: Our feature photo at the top of our blog page today shows a lovely colorful flower from the Aster family. 

 

 

By |2019-08-22T13:33:45-05:00August 22nd, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately above this photo, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorfull plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile.