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Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

New Yorkers love being outdoors. So Labor Day or any hints of a chill in the air remind us it’s all coming rapidly to an end. But we can extend the outdoor season to the max with a fire feature. 

 

Extend Outdoor Season

Extend Outdoor Season

 

“Along with adding warmth, today’s fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “They provide a great place to gather and lengthen the outdoor grilling season by providing a warm place for people to gather.”

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

 

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

Choosing The Right Fire Feature

“The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Dave.

“As a rule, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

And while personal choices vary — as you will see from the sampling we’re showcasing today, however, there is one thing all fire features have in common: 

S’mores frequently are involved. (A delicious recipe from the Hampton’s own Ina Garten follows follows at the end of our blog — — with the Barefoot Contessa’s permission!

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For an inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit. The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone for its handsome natural appeal.

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

Today’s Feature Photo

Today’s Feature Photo

 

In planning their outdoor space, the clients asked us to leave room for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

Now, the promised Ina Garten recipe:

 

 

 

 

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:

10 min

Prep:  5 min

Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving

Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 marshmallow

2 Graham crackers

Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions

Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.

2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

By |2021-09-16T13:20:55-05:00September 16th, 2021|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Fireplaces, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

Spruce Up the Yard with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just about two weeks away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season, it is one of the final big outdoor weekends for entertaining — even if we have to gather wearing masks etc.

In order to make your outdoor area extra special for Labor Day, how about  adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting a party yourself, but are attending someone else’s, a refreshed plantings allows you to create a special hostess gift, like a bouquet from your very own garden.

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant

 

And for some good news: It’s not too late to be adding flowers for Labor Day that will also last well into the fall. Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant, has provided us with just the right plants to add this time of year.

“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) with its bright yellow heart 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.”

 

Asters

Asters

 

 

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

 

 

 

By |2021-08-26T10:08:41-05:00August 26th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Spruce Up the Yard with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Landscaping: Making a Home for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Eastern Monarch Butterfly population fell again this past February.

The yearly count they say: “continues to show a dramatic decline in this imperiled species.” And to many, these beautiful nectar-feeding insects have become the face of wildlife extinction.

“Isn’t it wonderful, then, that we can do our part to help prevent this decline,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“It can be difficult for these pollinators to find pure food sources causing them to use a lot of energy just hunting for food. So we love that many of our clients ask us to plant flowers that will attract them.”

 

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

In addition to adding the right plants, Dave says it’s also key to create a safe habitat for their caterpillars. Some herbs are ideal for that; Dill and Dutchman’s Pipe, for example, not only provide caterpillars food, but also protective cover before they turn into butterflies.

Organic gardening and environmentally-friendly lawn care products also go hand-in-hand with attracting and protecting the pollinators.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” says Dave. “It isn’t essential to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. In doing that, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Heavy use of toxic chemicals are also dangerous to pets and children. It is much healthier to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process — through a more organic approach.”

Out friends at Hicks Nurseries suggest that tubular-shaped plants or “Umbrels” provide a wonderful sanctuary for butterflies. These give them a landing plant filled with nectar just waiting for them, says one of their experts, who also suggests a seasonal approach that not only provides multi-seasonal color in gardens, but extra months of safe, bountiful habitats.

In spring, you can plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus, for example. In summer, there’s 30-40 plants to choose from, including Black Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush to name just a few. In fall, there’s Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Asters, and Golden Rod.

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

 

Butterflies will get plenty of moisture from droplets left from sprinklers, morning dew, etc. “However, they do seem to love oranges, not only for food, but to quench their thirst,” says Caldwell. 

Note: To keep ants away from the fruit, put the slice on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day.

“It’s wonderful that so many Long Islanders are helping the environment, in their own quiet way,” says Dave. “They celebrate Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

 

 

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

As the name implies, Butterfly Bush is a great choice for attracting butterflies in the summer. “They can reach up to 6-8 feet in height,” says Hicks Nurseries. “They’re fast growing and don’t need a lot of care.”

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

Dave Stockwell says that Lavender (shown here) is another plant butterflies love. “It also gives off a calming peaceful scent. There are several types of lavender that bloom at different times — so you can have its perfume from spring nearly through fall.”

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Great for attracting butterflies, these biennials are also a haven for other pollinators like bees. Their bright yellow petals and dark centers can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

 

Landscaping Trends: Reducing the Size of Your Lawn

Not Easy Being Green

Not Easy Being Green

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

We spoke a while back with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension. It turned out, that lawn reduction was something very much on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” said Vultaggio. “A lawn is a high-input plant that requires a good deal of water and fertilizer to stay green, so it’s a good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggested, instead, planting more native perennials and shrubs.“Over time, after the planting stage, these will require much less irrigation. Perennials are pretty self-sufficient in searching for water on their own. Plus, their fertilizer requirements are at a minimum.”

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. 

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

 

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

 

For those who are eager to save some money and time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggested the following native plants:

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1. Monarda (Bee Balm):

Native to North America, this beautiful flowering plant is from the mint family. It’s easy to grow, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

It’s tubular flowers come in a variety of colors (pink, white, violet, red) and bloom in high summer through early fall. Bee Balm takes to full sun or light shade, and prefers a well-drained fertile soil. It needs some protection from excess moisture in winter.

 

 

 

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2. Violet-colored Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather):

Gayfeather (tall purple plant on the left) is an extremely easy plant to grow.

It blooms in late summer and grows from corms that sprout in spring. Part of the sunflower family, it, too, is native to North America. It likes full sun, well-drained soils; it attract birds and butterflies, and is an ideal perennial.

Because the Gayfeather often grows to a robust 2-4’ feet tall, it may require staking or some other support.

 

 

 

 

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

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed is native to eastern North America and blooms in clusters of orange flowers from mid-late summer. It is drought-tolerant and attracts birds and pollinators. It is a particularly good source of nectar for Monarchs; plus Monarch caterpillars feed off its leaves.

This plant thrives in poor dry soils, likes full sun; it is deer resistant, and is nicely fragrant.  These above two photos are of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

 

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

4.  Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

This frequently bi-colored flower makes a dramatic statement in the garden and is an ideal plant for those who are new to gardening. In fact, this plant is so easy to grow it has been described as “tough to kill.” It is fairly drought-resistant, plus hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is best planted in early spring or late fall.

When in bloom, the blossoms appear a bit like a hot poker or torch and for those feeling a bit of sadness saying good-bye to some of their lawn, note that these plants boast very “grass-like” leaves. This photo is of Vultaggio’s own garden and is courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

(Note: the dramatic dark blue/black flowers in the foreground are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ which bloom from late spring to early autumn.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

How to remove turfgrass.

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

— Use powdered lime, flour, or spray paint to mark the exact section you wish to cut back;

— Water the area ahead of time and then ‘scalp’ the grass (cut it to expose the stems)

— Now you have two options:

1) The physically harder, but quicker, one is: Using a turf cutter or spade, dig out the turf. Add soil and plant right away.  (Note: keep the removed turfgrass. After the sod breaks down, the turf can help make nitrogen-rich soil around the roots of plants).Or…

2) Try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

 

By |2021-06-10T12:32:45-05:00June 10th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Environment Issues, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Lawns, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on Landscaping Trends: Reducing the Size of Your Lawn

There’s More to Aquatic Plants Than Meets the Eye

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

It is true that water gardens — and the plants installed in and around them — are delightful to look at.

And they attract equally delightful creatures: chirping birds, flapping butterflies, and croaking frogs.

But there’s more to it all than what meets the eye. “For an ideal water garden eco-system, the key is maintaining clean, healthy water. 

“Pond filtration systems do a lot, as do waterfalls etc. which aerate and oxygenate the water. But at the end of the day, a huge part of creating a healthy system is the water landscaping you do,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

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

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

Submerged plants  (e.g., anacharis, parrot’s feather or hornwort) will also release oxygen.

 

Aquatic Plants

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

The gurus of all things pond/water garden — Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — list the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

  •  Water Lilies

  •  Lotus

  •  Marginal Plants

  •  Water Lily-like Plants

  •  Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

 

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement looks the most natural.”

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave.

“However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. When plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

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

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

The tall aquatic plant on the left of this Deck and Patio 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.

 

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

This photo was taken just after we built the pond. Lily pads, and other in-pond aquatic plants, had yet to be added. But we had installed some attractive peripheral landscaping using plants that like moist, but well-draining soil. 

These do well around a pond but not in one. The red/pink flowers in the foreground are roses. To the right of them are variegated hydrangea and to the left are variegated hosta. All of these plants attract birds and butterflies.

 

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

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

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

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.

 

Landscaping Tip: Rose Beds Don’t Have To Be Red

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

With Valentine’s Day approaching, much of the focus on roses will be on the “red” variation. 

Representing love and passion, red roses are, indeed, a perfect fit for a day devoted to romantic love. But roses can say “Be Mine” without having to be red.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned at Deck and Patio in our landscaping work,” says our owner Dave Stockwell, “red isn’t the only rose color that people love.”

 

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 suggest 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 were 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

Last, but by no means least, red roses!

When landscaping around a pond we installed for Deck and Patio clients, we planted red roses around it (foreground). 

These vibrant reds blend beautifully with the variegated hydrangea to their right and the variegated hosta to their left.

All the plants pictured here 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 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.

 

Caring for Roses

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

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

Horticulture expert Sandra Vultaggio, 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 also 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 |2021-02-11T14:20:54-05:00February 11th, 2021|Creative Design, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Landscaping Tip: Rose Beds Don’t Have To Be Red

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. 

 

Antidote for a ‘Winter’ Polar Vortex? Planning a ‘Summer’ Vortex Slide

Central Park, NY

Central Park, NY

Weather reports say that around the end of this month a ‘displaced’ polar vortex might overtake our area with freezing temperatures and storms. 

Whether or not the weather in our part of the Northeast becomes brutal, the timing — end of January — is ideal for planning a more fun ‘Vortex’ that will thrill your family come summer.

We’re talking about an exciting swimming pool slide.

 

Outdoor Summer Thrills

Vortex Slide

Vortex Slide

As many families know, Vortex, Typhoon, or Cyclone, even, describe exciting rides at waterparks. And like other enjoyable amenities that once required travel, homeowners are bringing those very waterpark thrills to their own backyards. 

 

There are several companies whose frightening-sounding water slides offer such home excitement: e.g., S.R. Smith (Cyclone, Turbo Twister, Typhoon, Vortex.), Aquaslide (Jungle Joe and Jungle Joe II), Inter-Fab (Wild Ride Slides)

 

 

Indeed, Deck and Patio has been involved in installing such slides on Long Island and the New York Metro area for years. Their sizes and shapes have varied, as well as the scope of the project installations — depending on the client’s budget, property size, and the amount of adrenaline rush desired.

Of course, you can have a slide, on its own, well-secured to your pool without any special landscaping. Or you can have a landscaping firm like Deck and Patio design/build a special setting around the slide you choose.

Beyond even that, SR Smith makes a slide that can be custom-built to fit your existing landscape or future landscape plans. BYOS 1 and BYOS 2 slides are configured and designed to fit your plans and ideas.

“One thing very special about BYOS,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell “is they can be can be set into a sloped landscape to look almost natural or just plan funky and fun. You decide everything. That’s the real fun of it.”

 

Wild Ride Slide: Fun for Kids and Adults

Wild Ride Slide: Fun for Kids and Adults

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. “When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall when climbing up its steps, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” adds Dave. “Also note that next to this Wild Ride water slide with its water falling into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over extended rock.

 

Slide’s Side Benefit

No matter if the scope of the project is big or small, after it’s installed, clients discover something often unexpected. When not in use by thrill-seekers, the calming sounds of water spilling from the slide into their pool transforms their Cyclone, Typhoon, Wild Ride etc. into a gentle water feature.

So readers: You learned it here first. Water slides aren’t just for thrills. On any given day, they can also help you relax. And there’ll be nothing more relaxing during any ‘polar vortex’ than planning some warm weather thrills.

 

Access to Pool Slide:

Access to Pool Slide:

It is important to have sufficient room to allow easy access to the slide and any surrounding patio. For this project, in order to cut back on having too much hardscape, we used stepping stones up from the patio to the slide, which are more in keeping with the slide’s natural setting.

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

Talk about thrills! Deck and Patio created this award-winning feature several years ago. It called for installing a large serpentine slide around a huge moss rock water feature.

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

This is the same slide project as pictured immediately above. When we worked on this water feature, we added large natural stones for the climb up to the top of the slide. Also note how an additional waterfall from the hilltop stream falls into the slide itself for an additional thrill.

 

Natural Retaining Walls:

Natural Retaining Walls:

When planning out this project, we suggested using Rocka steps, moss rock boulders, and creeping plant material instead of the usual retaining wall. This more natural setting provided the sloping landscape required for a fun pool slide.

 

BYOS Custom Slide:

BYOS Custom Slide:

This slide is not one of ours. It was custom built by BYOS for Pulliam Pools in Texas. It’s a great example of perfectly fitting a custom-slide into a beautiful landscape plan. Photo: Courtesy of BYOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pantone Colors for 2021: Bright Yellow Against Silver Gray

Pantone’s 2021 Color is yellow against gray

Pantone’s 2021 Color is yellow against gray

As part of our landscaping work, Deck and Patio designers frequently receive requests for plants in the latest popular colors. So we won’t be surprised to be asked for plantings in the vein of Pantone’s Color(s) for this year: highlighter-yellow against architectural gray.

Choosing two contrasting colors is an unusual choice for Pantone. So it’s helpful to look at why they did this. 

“In a time when we’ve had to insulate ourselves from the world and curl up in monochrome blankets at home, our gray is a dependable gray,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director at Pantone Color Institute.

And if Pantone’s gray evokes American’s mental state this year, their contrasting “bright, highlighter-yellow color is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sun rising over a dark landscape.”

Our own Dave Stockwell adds, “Light at the end of the tunnel is a great way to describe how some of our clients feel about the coming year. They’re not making landscaping plans just for living under COVID, but also for how they want things to be once they can invite lots of people back to their homes.”

Even if Long Islanders don’t have big plans for property upgrades, says Dave, many may wish to include touches of this year’s Pantone colors in their landscape plans. Dramatic yellow blooms set against gray paving stones, for example, could be one perfect way to bring that color combo into one’s yard. 

Here are just two of many “gray” designs offered by paver manufacturers — in this case,  Techo-Bloc, a popular company chosen by many Deck and Patio clients.

 

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Granitex

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Granitex

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Polished

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Polished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly, planting some dazzling yellow plants around such gray pavers (above) would be stunning, we believe.

 

Yellow-Gray Plantings

Another way to bring some Pantone hues to your property could be simply to choose plants that boast both of Panatone’s 2021 tones.

 

Silver Leaf Gazania

This low-growing ground cover plant with masses of silver leaves erupts in lots of yellow flowers during the year’s warmer months. It’s a truly hardy plant that can take even harsh conditions. Sometimes referred to as the African daisy, this plant needs little attention. We use this plant in combination with other low growers. They make a nice edge along the grass. Gazania grows to between 6 and 18 inches.

Silver Leaf Gazania

Silver Leaf Gazania

 

 

Santolina chamaecyparissus aka Cotton Lavender

This semi-woody plant, often called Cotton Lavender or gray Santolina, is an aromatic smallish shrub that boasts silvery gray foliate. It grows to 2-feet tall and 3-feet wide and you’ll see masses of yellow flowers in summer. “Householders may love drying the plants flowers for use in potpourris and also use it as a striking accent plant,” says Dave Stockwell. “Its leaves aren’t flat but three dimensional. We also use it as ground cover and is great weaved in between rocks,” says Dave.

 

Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus

Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus

 

Silver King Artemisia (Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver King’)

Another option is to choose a silvery ground cover planted next to bright yellow coneflowers, like the Silver King Artemisia. Be warned, it is a very aggressive plant, but with care it can enhance your garden. And its silvery foliage can act as accents in decorative wreaths. Ideal for filling in an area that can use some rapid expansive growth, all you need are some bright happy coneflowers or other yellow buds and you’re beautifully on trend.

 

 

Silver King Artemisia

Silver King Artemisia

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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