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Backyard Upgrades: Winter Is a Great Time to Plan

Landscape Planning in Winter

Landscape Planning in Winter

If you’ve promised yourself that this spring you’ll begin creating the outdoor environment you want, here’s a tip.

There’s no need to wait until the ground is no longer cold.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the ground is perfect,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But if you wait until all the snow melts and the weather is finally warm, you could find yourself behind a big queue for a landscaper’s attention.”

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

Believe it or not, experts like those at Deck and Patio don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project. Granted, it is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced. But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.

Sure, you may be thinking. Deck and Patio can see under the snow and imagine the possibilities of a backyard refurbishment, but how does a non-expert grasp what it all will look like?

“It’s understandable that a homeowner would not want to proceed blind,” adds Dave. “And they don’t need to. Through computer animation, we’re able to work up a plan in 3-D that gives a good approximation of what the finished job will look like. There’s no need to rely on one’s imagination.”

 

How Computer Animation Helps

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (top left) not only helps show what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

In the case of this Long Island, NY, project  (top right), the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

 

For the following homeowners, 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. 

After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. 

In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house. Here is a photo of the completed project:

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade

 

Every aspect of the following backyard paradise — infinity (vanishing edge) pool, custom in-ground spa, swim up-walk up bar, pond/waterfalls upgrade, extensive patio, and outdoor kitchen was first done on a 3-D animation program that allowed our clients to literally fly over and walk around this project —even their gas campfires. 

This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

 

Here’s hoping some of the above has started your creative juices flowing. 

 

Designing an Ideal Pond for Your Property’s Size and Shape

Whether your property is large and expansive — or no bigger than a postage stamp — most yards can accommodate some type of pond. 

As you’ll see from examples we’re highlighting, ponds come in many sizes, shapes, and depths, and sometimes these water features may not be classified as ponds at all.

“When it comes to a water feature’s location on a property, we recommend installing it where it can be enjoyed from a patio or deck, bedroom, or kitchen,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.”

Larger Properties

In our first showcased Deck and Patio pond project (below), the clients also wanted a new deck. It was ideal being able to design both the pond and deck together for a truly integrated result.

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

We designed the above deck with a viewing platform. From there, the clients can take in the whole pond. It’s also an inviting spot for dining with family or friends. And the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings — adds to the ambience. 

You can also see that we added large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“That path across provides the clients with what they were hoping for — an escape to a private place for relaxing and meditating. Of course you can always design your pond further away from the house for even more privacy,” says Dave.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond (above) in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house, for maximum enjoyment throughout the day. 

Some of the plantings used are Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis, providing bright pops of color, along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

As you will see from all our ponds, part of what makes these water features so spectacular — and so relaxing — is their landscaping. Landscaping a pond requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture.

 

Total Backyard Sanctuary

Total Backyard Sanctuary

When constructing this backyard sanctuary, complete with koi pond, we built an Iron Woods Ipe deck (not shown); the bridge that crosses the pond is also made of Ipe — one of the strongest woods in the world; it is painted white to complement the clients’ existing backyard conservatory. 

The whole project earned Deck and Patio both a NESPA and APSP Gold award.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

 

Additional Pond Waterfall

Additional Pond Waterfall

For this water feature, the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: an additional waterfall located near the house and a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property. 

Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall (left) at the top of a slope facing the clients’ indoor kitchen.

“From inside their home the family can enjoy the sights and sounds of this waterfall. A stream on its right flows down through five separate cascades into the lower, and more private pond area — a beautiful oasis for stillness and quiet,” says Dave.

 

Main Pond:

Main Pond:

This photo is the main pond of the additional waterfall above which was located near their destination-pool recreation area in another part of their property.

 

When Property Space Is Smaller

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

When space is at a premium (and even when it’s not), Deck and Patio can help clients find ways to creatively add a pond. 

The above photo showcases a Trex deck with two handsome “platform” staircases; we installed a beautiful micro pond and waterfall in and around the staircases in what was a former planting bed. 

“Every time they enter or leave the house they enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond,” says Dave. “So space is never an issue at all.”

 

Waterfalls Without The Pond

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Pondless Waterfall/Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

When children are very young, clients often opt for a “pondless” waterfall, in lieu of a pond.

With these water features, river rock allows flowing water from a waterfall to seep down into the ground where a reservoir captures the water and recirculates it.

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

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

A pondless system, as show in this Deck and Patio project, recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. 

It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel.

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe.

 

As you can see from these projects above, size and style depends on what meets the needs of each specific client. “Our ponds are never cookie-cutter,” says Dave. “The design and installation location always stems from our meetings with clients and visits to their properties.”

 

Making the Most of 2021’s Outdoor Living Season

Google Earth

Google Earth

Even though winter isn’t over, many are already wondering how to make the most of the 2021 outdoor living season. Just the possibility of welcoming friends again to our backyards, and not just close family, is thrilling to imagine.

Whether or not a reduced pandemic will allow such outdoor bashes, we know we will be able to bust loose at some point. So as we gaze over our yards, imagining what upgrades we’d like, Deck and Patio has some outdoor living spaces ideas. 

 

When to Plan

 

You might think you should postpone landscape upgrades until spring.

“People think they can’t begin planning until it’s warm,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “But that’s really not necessary at all. It can be done during any season, including winter.”

Insert A. Landscape Planning Via Google Earth 

Even if the ground is covered in snow, adds Dave, our experts don’t need to see the ground to begin. Plus, with the computer software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process is surprisingly quick — even providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look after the work is done.

“Granted, it is helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced,” says Dave. “But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.”

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you will see from the before photo (above left), space is often tight. Even so, this Massapequa couple hankered to enjoy their backyard more.

“Space was definitely at a premium,” says Dave. “So in lieu of what would have been a more expensive pool, the couple decided on a hot tub, installed with a custom look, in-ground, which would also made it easier to get in and out of.”

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. The idea of a pond, with soothing waterfall, and colorful koi swimming about that they could feed right from the hot tub, was the perfect complement (see right photo), 

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, custom hot tub installation, and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

 

Large Pond Under Stone Bridge

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after the owner purchased his property, he contacted us. An entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

He asked us to accentuate the property’s beautiful 1880 bridge structure with a man-made reflecting pond. Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. 

The water feature we designed and built was more than 240-feet-long and 60-feet-wide, so it also captured the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful expanse of water made the perfect habitat for koi. 

Our team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water, doesn’t it?

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A family in Dix Hills, NY, called on Deck and Patio when they decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area (see above before/after photos above). Their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

“We suggested a unique idea to deal with the large wall behind the pool and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”

Stepping stones in front of the waterfall makes it possible to walk right up to the waterfall — like being on a Caribbean vacation. The teaming waterfall flows into a “pondless” waterfall system, capturing the water under ground, filtering it, and recirculating it.

The plan also called for draining the pool and removing the liner; a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered and we straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl-covered stairs were added to the pool, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

 

New Modern Deck

 

“During Construction”

“During Construction”

“Completed Construction”

“Completed Construction”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Centerport, NY, homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub.

 

New Backyard ‘Spool’

 

"Before"

“Before”

“After”

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio built this backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago. The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provide the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa. Lush plantings and a new patio completed their new backyard retreat.

So even if it snows, or blasts cold, yu can stay warm but still start planning your new backyard upgrade. 

 

Lush Landscapes

Lush Landscapes

 

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: Note how vibrant, lush landscaping enhances any outdoor space — be it patio, pool area, and even around a spa. 

 

Don’t Miss Out on Winter’s Stunning Serenity Escapes

Even if you don’t have a water feature in your backyard, whenever winter chills come calling, Mother Nature draws stunning serenity escapes elsewhere that are worthy of drawing us outdoors.

Nearby public parks, for example, usually have waterscapes, including ponds — all made picturesquel by the deep freeze. 

Taking time to enjoy such scenes in winter has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious peaceful escape. Canadian reports show that being outside in the sun can help “combat the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is especially helpful as we social distance during COVID. 

And if the beauty and sunshine are not enough, these same reports also say that being outside in the cold causes us to expend more energy, thereby burning away “some of those holiday cookie calories.”

 

Enjoying Waterscapes in Winter

Personal Fountainscape

Personal Fountainscape

“As you can see from our photos today, water features aren’t just phenomenal in spring, summer and fall,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “When winter gets her hands on a local water feature, she creates stunning pictures in the icy cold.”

And even a small decorative waterscape located at your home — like this fountain/miniature pond (left) — can be serene in winter months. Note how the small trickle of water becomes a jeweled thread of ice in intense cold. 

 

Commercial Property Fountainscape

Commercial Property Fountainscape

 

 

Plus water fountains are not just for our backyards or public parks. They are a wonderful indulgence at business offices. As you can see from this winter scene (right), they are a year-round uplift for management and staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the temperature drops

Winter photo of D&P project 

Winter photo of D&P project

Same pond in warmer weather

Same pond in warmer weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here on Long Island, winter is more sporadic in its assaults so it’s possible to keep a personal water feature flowing in winter. This allows homeowners to enjoy ice sculptures whenever the cold stays around for a bit.

Take for example, the waterfalls we created a few years back as part of a double-pond, stream and multiple-waterfall feature for an area family (see two photos immediately above).

Months later, when we stopped by during a strong cold snap, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sparkling waterfalls as they were partially crystalizing.

Note: 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.

 

Pond Fish

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

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

 

Speaking of pond fish. You might not be able to see your little fishies all that well when the temperature drops because they’re not as active. But they do just fine during winter.

That said, our own Dave Stockwell does caution to be alert. When ice covers your personal property’s 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.

 

 

Upshot? Don’t miss out on winter’s serenity escapes. They do us more good than meets the eye. Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

Upshot? Don’t miss out on winter’s serenity escapes. They do us more good than meets the eye. Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscaping Upgrades: Let Us Worry About the Weather!

Because this spool has remained a popular download across our social media platforms even today, we thought readers would like to see some of our file photos for this project. 

These capture its various stages — from the first marking of the grass during very cold months, to the finished landscaped custom spool with waterfall. When we started out, it was cold and snow did (temporarily) interrupt the project. . 

Short Summary

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

As you will see from the process of this project, winter was upon us not long after we began. Of course, winter in our neck of the woods does not always mean snowy or even frozen ground and we do a lot of construction during the cold months.  

For this project, fortunately, we had had time to dig out the area before we had a big snow — giving a great head start come spring. We simply covered the hole while we all waited for warmer weather to arrive.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

 

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

 

“During” Spring As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

“During” Waterfall Addition: The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

“During” Waterfall Addition:
The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

 

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

“After” Landscaping: First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

When Do Backyard Upgrades Require Design/Build Expertise?

Fall, and even winter, are great times to do outdoor upgrades. And if your needs are simple ground-level upgrades, they can be done pretty much by anyone.

But if your property’s terrain is challenging, or your outdoor living dreams call for more artistically designed spaces, the advantages of choosing a “design-build” firm is worth consideration.

What Is Design-Build Construction?

Design-build inside contractors provide the architectural design for a project as well as its construction. This is also true for “outdoor living” contractors like Deck and Patio.

“Choosing one firm to do the design as well as the construction doesn’t cause the project’s costs to be more expensive than hiring two groups of experts,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Nor will clients lose all control either.”

On the contrary, adds Dave. Clients find they develop a closer relationship with their design-build project manager, who knows all that’s going on and can easily accommodate their changing needs/ideas as the project develops.

As you’ll see from the examples of some of our work that we’ve included today, when it comes to outdoor living projects, having a singular vision — which might include plantings, waterscapes, and hardscape — results in beautifully harmonious backyard escapes.

 

Pool Landscaping

 

Multi-level Patio Design

Multi-level Patio Design

For this handsome free-form pool, Deck and Patio designed a surrounding patio using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with AmorTec.

“The kit allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern, with gradations in tones,” says Dave.

“Also, our several in-depth consultations with the clients helped us know their needs and tastes, resulting in its multi-level patio design, with designated spaces for all their priorities — dining, lounging, etc.”

Plus, adding a water feature on one side of the pool, along with a pool slide, not only was alluring, adds Dave, but the moss rock boulder placements and landscaping do double-duty as a natural-looking retaining area for the pool.

 

Backyard Water Features

Natural Looking Water Feature Design

Natural Looking Water Feature Design

 

Designing and building a backyard water feature takes time, especially if you want your man-made feature to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. 

This requires ordering and installing perfect-sized rocks and boulders which will cause water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or, in this case, a ‘pondless’ water feature.

 

 

 

Designing/Building for Privacy

Backyard ‘Spool’

Backyard ‘Spool’

Sometimes the need for privacy is an issue when designing for comfortable outdoor living. This property, for example, was open on three sides and in full view of four homes.

“The clients wanted a ‘spool’ — or a cross between a small pool and a spa — but the best spot for it was in a very exposed area,” says Dave.

Deck and Patio’s landscaping design team used Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars to create an attractive natural privacy screen around the spool. In addition, texture and color were brought in to the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

“We also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers to cascade and wind over and between the rocks we installed,” says Dave. “Plus a careful selection of plants provides the area with color from April through October. The whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

This project was actually built during winter months. Next week our blog will focus on how that project was designed, built, and completed including dealing with the worst of winter. 

 

Design/Build Decks

Deck Built To Enjoy the Views

Deck Designed/Built To Enjoy the Views

For this project, privacy was not an issue for the clients. In fact, they wanted it as open as possible to take in the property’s wonderful views.

“We designed a 2-level TimberTech XLM PVC deck for them, with one level just for the outdoor dining table, and the other places for deep seating outdoor furniture like chaise lounges and the barbecue,” says Dave.

”We also recommended the black railing for a strong contrasting tone to the decking materials. The design also included 45-degree angles in order to orient the outdoor furniture toward the views.”

 

 

Turning Landscape Design Problems Into Advantages

Since we’ve been spending so much more time at home these days, lots of Long Islanders are viewing their home properties through a critical lens. Every flaw is becoming enlarged.

And, indeed, some flaws are genuinely problematic —  if they limit what can be done in the yard, and/or the enjoyment of being outside.

We’re happy to offer encouragement today. Because very often, landscaping design issues can become advantages.

Let’s begin with noting the three biggest issues: 

 

1— Noise from nearby traffic can be very annoying when trying to enjoy time outside.

2 —Privacy can be an issue when neighborhood properties flow together with no separation.

3 —Soil erosion along steep grades — often the most challenging —  seem to limit what can be done in the yard.

 

Let’s tackle the most difficult of these first.

 

Soil Erosion/Sloping Grades 

Like with these two Deck and Patio projects, even when there is a steep grade, the addition (or rearrangement of) boulders, rocks and plantings can transform a problem area into a real advantage.

 

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural Stone Path to Slide

Natural Stone Path to Slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the first photo (above left), in order to add a pool, a retaining wall of support was needed to hold back the grade. Instead of an unattractive wooden one, Deck and Patio suggested the addition of boulders etc. as the ideal spot for several waterfalls and a water slide nestled into the slope . This turned the area into a natural vista that enhances, instead of takes away, from the family’s enjoyment of their yard.

The photo (above right) shows how for another Long Island, NY, project, in addition to adding water features, a natural stone path up to the top of the slide can also be as beautiful as helpful. Not only are the steps attractive and in keeping with the rest of the design, but they serve as additional support in retaining the grade.

In both projects, we also added different shaped stones as diving rocks and the overall landscaping plan utilized colorful plantings to aid in soil retention.

 

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

This is a third example (right) of Deck and Patio’s handling of a soil erosion/retaining grade issue. Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell.

“Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow underground and recirculates it.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

Blocking Out Traffic Noise 

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Deck and Patio loves constructing water features for their beauty and peaceful ambience but did you know they are also a way to eliminate traffic and other outdoor noises?

This closeup (left) of a backyard stream with waterfalls was added to the yard of Roslyn, NY, Deck and Patio clients. It is the main waterfall in a series of several that flow down moss rocks in a very natural-looking way.

These clients also did not want a pond, so we used the same Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the water underground in an reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

You might be thinking, will a waterfall really drown out traffic noise? The following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Privacy

 

Privacy for Backyard ‘Spool’

Privacy for Backyard ‘Spool’

We all want to enjoy the outdoors with some feeling of privacy. That can be especially true when we have a pool or a spa.

For these clients, where space was at a premium, the clients wanted a ‘spool’ (combined pool/spa), but the property had no natural barriers for privacy.

“When making the landscaping design we planned for color from April through late-October,” says Dave. “And in order to ensure they’d have an attractive privacy screen, we added Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars along the periphery. For more texture and color and additional buffering dividers, the plan called for flowering deciduous shrubs.”

The clients not only got privacy but an extended outdoor season, adds Dave. “The waterfall runs warm water in the cooler months and along with a natural gas campfire, they can stay sitting outside whether in or out of their spool.”

 

It’s Pond Maintenance Time in Long Island, NY

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

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

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

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

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

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

 

Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

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

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

 

 

Chemical Pond Treatments

 Leaves In Backyard Stream

Leaves In Backyard Stream

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Caring for Pond Fish

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Budget Backyard Upgrade: ‘Hot Tub with a View’

When a Massapequa, NY, couple contacted our office a while back. they were looking for a change to their yard. They felt what they had wasn’t too enticing. 

“Given the size of their property as well as their budget, a pool was out of the question,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “So we suggested that a budget-friendly quality portable hot tub, set in the ground could appear like a stylish custom built spa.”

However, even though the couple knew they’d love spending time outdoors in such a hot tub, they also wanted something special to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. 

Most people enjoy some sort of water feature with moving water. So Deck and Patio suggested a small pond with waterfalls next to the spa.

“When we mentioned it, we learned the husband had longed for a pond for some time,” says Dave. “And by adding one as part of a single overall project with the spa, it would save time and money, and allow the same designer to plan it all in a harmonious way.”

 

Massapequa, NY, Before Photo

Massapequa, NY, Before Photo

Here is the Massapequa, NY backyard before we added a spa and pond. You can see that the yard was on the small side with not too many existing options that could act as focal points for outdoor enjoyment. 

 

The Spa

 

Massapequa Project/Spa Installation:

Massapequa Project/Spa Installation:

By customizing the installation of a portable spa, putting it in-ground, made the hot tub itself appear like it was a custom-made spa.  Plus it’s easy to get in and out of.

“Deck and Patio is a local distributor for portable CAL Spas, which can be installed in-ground like this one,” says Deck and Patio’s Parker Lippolt. 

“Our CAL Spas also offer customizable therapy options with adjustable water jets, which are great benefits. With three different series — each with a selection of models — there’s enough choices, including swim spas, to fit just about anyone’s need.”

 

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

“Portable spas are self-contained units, with all they need to operate included within itself. Which is what helps make them so cost-friendly compared to other water features,” adds Dave.

That said, when installing them in-ground, it must be done in a way that allows water from rain to drain away from the spa. If not, the hot tub’s plumbing could get damaged. 

“In this case, in order to have it completely in-ground, we removed the spa’s plumbing equipment to a protected area above ground where it is accessible for any future repairs.”

 

The Pond

 

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

When the clients sit outside now they enjoy the sound of water as well as see a lovely pond with waterfalls. And they get to watch the pond fish swim about. Not only do they have this view from their patio, but even better, they can enjoy it all — and even feed the koi — from their in-ground spa. 

 

Pond With Waterfall

Pond With Waterfall

The project’s natural-looking pond with a waterfall feature included surrounding moss rock boulders and lush landscaping. We used Aquascape Inc.’s water systems — high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters etc. 

“The couple told us that their ‘in-tub views’ are spectacular,” says Dave. “Plus the in-ground installation makes it easy to get in and out of the spa. They also said they love the spa’s hydrotherapy for all kinds of relief as well as relaxation. 

“It was definitely the right choice for them.”

 

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

Mesh Pool Cover by Loop Loc

Mesh Pool Cover by Loop Loc

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

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

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

 

 

Healthy Pond Water

Healthy Pond Water

 

In the case of the pond, too much debris collecting at the bottom will leave sludge on its floor. Over time, the build up can become so thick it can affect the pond’s depth and alter the water quality.

 

 

 

The antidote?

Simple pond netting, put up in advance of peak autumn foliage, will capture the leaves and other debris.

“Of course it’s best to put up the netting before the leaves drop,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “However, if some leaves have already fallen in, a long-handle pond net can be used to scoop out the debris before covering it with the net.” 

Dave adds that if you’ve had some buildup, there are natural pond cleaners that will break down accumulation from previous years.

 

Fall Backyard Maintenance: Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful in due course to put up pond netting to collect foliage debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

Fall Backyard Maintenance:
Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful in due course to put up pond netting to collect foliage debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY): Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):
Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

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