Seasonal Landscapes

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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. 

 

Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

When it comes to summer loves (no, not the kind in Justin Timberlake’s song, or Olivia Newton John’s and John Travolta’s Summer Nights), we’re talking about those you meet when you go outdoors: flowers — beautiful, colorful and fragrant flowers.

But for all their hardiness in some ways, in other ways flowers can be delicate. Not all of them can stand up to intense heat. And since most outdoor living happens in the high temperatures of summer, you need to plan for that.

If, however, when the month of June arrived, you realized you never planted spring bulbs, no worries. A beautiful landscape, spruced up with heat-tolerant flora, is still possible.

Tell me more, tell me more

The weather in the northeast over the next week or so includes great planting weather, if intermittently. So we’re highlighting today a few plants that will stand up well to even long summer heatwaves and still thrive.

Hibiscus

People often think of hibiscus as a tropical flower — which it is. But it will thrive surprisingly well elsewhere, including the northeast. They do need lots of space, rich well-drained soil, and plenty of water but are worth the coddling.

Some varieties of hibiscus can grow into trees. How about that.

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

Verbena

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

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

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

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas. In addition, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

Butterflies love Verbena

Butterflies love Verbena

 

Coneflowers 

One of our favorites for summer endurance is a wildflower — the Black-eyed Susan, a.k.a., coneflower. These plants are tough and take heat and bright sunshine well. They add gorgeous bursts of color to any garden, including around water gardens. And they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are from Deck and Patio projects.

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Red Coleus

Again, we have a plant here that thrives in the sun. These beautifully leafed flora are great as container or bedding plants. It’s certainly a good time to add them to your gardens — or anywhere you’d like a spot of color — as they don’t survive during frost and cold climes unless you take them inside. If you plant them now they’ll thrive through the warm months…just pinch the tips from the stems regularly to help growth.

The following Deck and Patio project shows coleus we planted near a water feature.

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Globe Amaranth

This lovely annual looks like pom-poms; their flowers come in purple, red, and white and last into fall. Hardy as this plant is, do water it from the soil, not overhead, which can cause a powderly mildew to grow.

These plants will die back when frost appears, but their seeds will germinate after winter.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

 

Purple Allium 

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

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

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

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

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

 

Outdoor Lighting

Speaking of Summer Nights, you can enjoy your backyard garden in the evening and at night (including late summer by adding the right flowers like asters)  —  if you’ve installed some landscape lighting. A beautifully lighted garden makes a perfect romantic setting that stimulates the sense of smell as well as sight.

Ahh. Summer days drifting away to oh oh the summer nights

Landscape Lighting

Landscape Lighting Makes Night Beautiful

 

By |2019-06-14T12:57:17-05:00June 14th, 2019|Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

Love Birds and Nature? How About Your Own Natural Retreat!

Ever notice how every few scrolls on Twitter, etc. will show a delightful bird, a funny squirrel, someone saving a desperate animal, a croaking frog, or lovely vistas — all squeezed in between posts of angst and politics?

Well. As helpful as these momentary breaks online are, the best break is enjoying nature close up, away from our phones. As Diane Sawyer’s Report: ‘ScreenTime’ showed a few nights ago, families are challenged today. They’re spending too much time with technology. And most, deep down, hunger for more family-time and time outdoors. 

Ms. Sawyer’s report reminded us of a very special Deck and Patio backyard natural retreat we did several years ago. The wife contacted us saying she always loved birds but hadn’t seen many in her yard in a long time. She was also hungering to see butterflies, etc. Could we come up with a plan to bring nature alive on their property?

It soon became clear they wanted something truly special. They had already contacted other companies to provide them with a backyard conservatory and charming wooden bridge. Our challenge was to ensure we incorporated these into our own landscaping design in a harmonious way.

“The multi-feature natural retreat we proposed and built included a deck to overhang a new backyard pond — in such a way so that it looks like the pond continued under the deck,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In addition to these, our plan called for two 35-foot long babbling brooks, multiple waterfalls and lush multi-seasonal landscaping.”

To make it look as if Mother Nature designed this entire retreat, adds Dave, our team chose, for example, each rock and boulder carefully to create the right “water spills.” Sometimes a rock was chosen because of its crevices allowing for planting perennials within. 

The homeowners were very involved in choosing the plants. In the end, we incorporated about 5,000 bulbs, almost 300 species of wooded plants, as well as evergreens, and about 150 varieties of perennials.

 

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

It was important to create a variety of different spaces and focal points, just like you experience in nature when you move about. In one place you sit next to the pond and observe the waterfall. Other times you’re walking through a wooded path. The lush landscape attracts a myriad of birds (and butterflies) so the sights and sounds of nature, along with the rushing water, are as relaxing an experience as is possible outdoors.

 

Waterfalls and Ponds:

Waterfalls and Ponds:

The rocks we used for the four-foot multi-tiered waterfall/pond came from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Some weighed over three tons. Carefully placed, the scenes suggest one is trekking a natural preserve or wilderness. 

 

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Whether on their new deck, or in their glass conservatory, the family enjoys dining together al fresco to the sounds of birds and croaking frogs. When lounging outside, they can take a quiet moment to feed their koi. 

 

 

Gardening Trends: Planting Your Garden by Phases of the Moon

The last super moon of 2019 — often called the worm moon, or the last full moon of winter — has been regaling us this week — and last night’s was a stunner! What a way to say good-bye to winter and welcome spring. The timing of the worm moon’s light show helps underscore an emerging trend in gardening.

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by the Moon

According to such notable organizations as Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G), planting by the moon’s phases is a trend that may allow us to grow healthier, stronger and more fruitful plants.

To help us think this interesting BG&H post through, Deck and Patio has been in touch with a local horticulture consultant. Below, Sandra Vultaggio from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Here’s her response:

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

“I do not know much on the topic of lunar planting, but know of some folklore associated with it. That said, all of what I read in that article sounds plausible. I have also heard that you can time crops by the moon phases. For instance, you can begin planting summer crops outdoors after the last full moon of May. The truth behind this is typically on a full moon, cloudless night, you’ll have the greatest chance of having a frost. And by that time, here on Long island, you’re probably safe from frosts.

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

“They also say to plant all of your above-ground-fruiting crops (plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc, as well as your flowering annuals) during the waxing moon. Meaning, the time that the moon is growing fuller. The theory suggests that as the light from the moon increases each night, plants are stimulated to produce leaves and stems.”

“On the flip side, plant your below-ground-fruiting crops (carrots, potatoes, onions, as well as trees, shrubs and annuals) during the waning moon. Meaning, the time that the moon is getting smaller. As the amount of over-night light decreases, plants are stimulated to produce roots and tubers.

 

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

“Whether all this is true or not, I do not know. But, like I said, it is very plausible! Our ancestors, old farmers and gardeners, who depended on their gardens and crops for their lives, did not look at a paper calendar to determine planting times. 

They observed their surroundings. Everything from precipitation events, wind direction, moon phases, the arrival of certain wildlife or the bloom-time of certain flowers, all played a part in the decisions on their land. These practices are held scared by some families, as they should. They are invaluable lessons that have been passed down generation to generation.”

— Sandra Vultaggio

 

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

If you’re thinking of planting annuals by phases of the moon, Moonflowers might be fun. This gorgeous flower is usually seen in more tropical regions than the Northeast — as a perennial. But even with our winters, they have been successfully grown up in our neck of the woods as an “annual.”

 

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

These are definitely stunning annuals that can be dug up and stored in winter and can be grown in the northeast despite being tropical plants. Just plant them in spring and treat them as annuals. They have a long bloom period. 

Planting by the moon's phases

Planting by the moon’s phases

So if you’ve had a chance to enjoy this week’s salute to spring in the sky — the worm moon — take note of its message. The ground is warming up enough for worms to come to the surface — and planting time is here. 

If you decide to plant flowers or crops via the moon’s phases, let us know how it went.

Happy spring!

 

 

By |2019-03-21T13:41:57-05:00March 21st, 2019|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening Trends: Planting Your Garden by Phases of the Moon

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

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

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

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

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

 

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

 

 

 

 

So! Let’s get planning:

Coral Drift Rose

Coral Drift Rose

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

Heuchera ‘Marmalade’

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coral Charm Peony (Photo: Waysidegardens.com)

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Dianthus 'Coral Reef' from ILoveHostas.net

Dianthus ‘Coral Reef’ from ILoveHostas.net

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

Salvia coccinea ‘Coral Nymph’

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

Kniphofia Redhot Popsicle

 

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

Coral Dahlia from Sun Spot catalog

 

Coral Rose

The pièce de résistance: a delicate Coral Rose.

 

 

 

 

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

Can Pond Fish Survive in a Frozen Pond?

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

2014 Polar Vortex weather map

 

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

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

The big question is:

Can Koi Survive in Frozen Ponds?

Pond Gases Must Escape

Pond Gases Must Escape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

Prepare Ponds for Winter:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

 

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

Merry Christmas, everyone!

In Winter, Flowing Water Becomes Crystalized Art

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

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

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

Pond Fish

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

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

 

Pond in Summer

Pond in Summer

Pond in Winter

Pond in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Winter Fountainscapes:

Winter Fountainscapes:

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

 

Business Complex Water Feature:

Business Complex Water Feature:

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

 

Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

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

 

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond Summer

Backyard Pond Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Being Prepared for Winter Snowstorms

Snowflake

Snowflake

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

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

 

 

Acrobatics Required

Acrobatics Required

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

— Put some fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide monitor.

 

 

Snow Removal:

Snow Removal:

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

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

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

Now. The real fun begins. 

 

Pre-Storm Driveway Preparation

Plow Stakes

Plow Stakes

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

 

Note: wood plow/snow stakes aren’t as strong as fiberglass and can be easily damaged.

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

 

 

Roof Prep

Gutters in Winter

Gutters in Winter

Snow can cause a lot of pressure on your roof. 

One of the best ways to remove it is with a roof rake, so it’s good to have it readily on hand.

Also take a look at your gutters to make sure ice doesn’t dam them up and cause leaking into your home or attic.

Some experts recommend stringing heat cables through them, or on the roof just above the gutters.

This should be done, of course, before major snowstorms to avoid any Clark Griswald-like ice rockets from a frozen gutter fail.

 

 

 

 

 

Professional Snow Removal

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Of course, the easiest way to handle some of this is to contact professionals like Deck and Patio’s Dix Hills Snowplowing.

In speaking with our own Office Manager, Linda LaRose, if you live in our corner of Suffolk County (Huntington/Dix Hills) and wish to have us take care of your snow removal, you can contact us with no obligation (631-549-8100).

Once we hear from you, Linda will email a contract to review and you can always call her with questions before signing on, or incurring any expense. When you make this initial contact, this would be the right time to let us know if you have any special requirements: e.g., early service, service at 1-inch (ours usually begins at 2”), sand service, if garage doors need to shoveled, mail box cleared, etc.

We can also stake the driveway for you, if you ask for it. (Note: For snow removal from roofs, you should contact a roof contractor for their specialized service.)

 

 

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

 

 

Caring for Ponds/Pond Fish in Fall

 

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

Netting Ponds in Fall.

Netting Ponds in Fall.

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

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

Note: If netting isn’t your thing, a long-handle pond net allows you to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris. It’s a bit more work, but effective. Also, since ponds tend to lose significant water by evaporation during the summer, clearing out debris keeps the pond from getting too shallow and requiring extra water to keep it topped off and healthy. 

 

Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

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

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

 

Chemical Pond Treatments

Leaves In Backyard Stream 

Leaves In Backyard Stream

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Caring for Pond Fish 

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

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

 

Pond Fish in Fall:

Pond Fish in Fall:

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

 

Healthy Ponds:

Healthy Ponds:

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

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

 

Gardening: There’s a Fall Chill in the Air. It’s Time to Think Spring

When you can no longer sit out in the evening without a fire pit to warm you, it’s time to plan for spring. Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall — late October and November. 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

To get some great planting ideas for a spring garden, we spoke with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornel Cooperative Extension, who has some great tips on planting bulbs.

“When to Plant Spring Bulbs

Gardeners wait until the fall to plant their spring bulbs. Waiting until the soil temperature has dipped to about 55°F is ideal. Usually this corresponds to overnight air temperatures cooling to around 40 – 50°F.

 

Which Bulbs to Plant

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

Considering the deer population on Long Island, I would recommend choosing bulbs that the deer tend to avoid.

I suggest planting daffodils, allium (ornamental onion), hyacinth, grape hyacinth and crocus.

Though not actually bulbs, you can venture into some of the other tuberous perennials like peony and tall bearded iris as well.

 

 

Grape Hyacinth: These beauties can make beautiful edging to other spring flowers.

Grape Hyacinth: These beauties can make beautiful edging to other spring flowers.

 

Crocus: These beauties are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

Crocus: These beauties are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

 

Best Soils for Bulbs

Bulbs grow well  in many different soil types but the one site they won’t enjoy is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plan to plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained sandy loams or loamy sands.

Spacing the Bulbs When Planting

As far as spacing, bulb depth and so forth, all of that information is provided as part of the growing instructions for each bulb. Planting depths even vary between varieties, depending on if you have a large “trumpet” variety, or the small ‘Tete A Tete’ varieties. Most bulbs will enjoy a sunny garden, but will usually perform well in a partially sunny garden as well.

Should You Compost

Compost is not necessary to layer on top. If you feel your soil is lacking organic matter, you will be better off incorporating compost into the top 6” of soil before planting. Mix bonemeal or superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole, or incorporate it into the soil around each bulb’s planting hole.

What Tools Will You Need

As far as tools go, to make the job easiest is to buy a bulb planter. This is a metal garden gadget that you stick in the ground, pull it up and out comes a cylinder of soil. Place the bulb, right-side up into the hole, and cover back up with soil. If you don’t have a bulb planter, and garden trowel will do just fine. Short on time? Dig larger holes and place a few bulbs in each hole so the flowers come up in clumps.”

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden: ‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden:
‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

 

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Note from Deck and Patio: Ms. Vultaggio’s comment on Audrey Hepburn reminds us that one of the episodes on the actress’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. 

These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode — and that they are one of the horticulturist’s suggested bulbs.

Our thanks to Sandra Vultaggio for her helpful spring gardening ideas. The weather, by the way, is perfect on Long Island right now  to start thinking of spring! Happy Planting!