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How Can I Enjoy My Deck in the Winter?

“Enjoy my deck in winter?” you might be asking. Actually, yes. The weather where we live in Long Island, NY, can be harsh  — and also not so bad. 

So to get the snowdown on how best to enjoy our decks even when it’s snowy, we spoke to Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at a leading capped-composite decking manufacturer: Fiberon Decking.

First. Remove any Snow

Kello says the most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

How to Best Remove Snow

How to Best Remove Snow

“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones.

If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface. Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”

Kello does not recommend using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel, Kello recommends sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“

 

How to Best Remove Snow

Removing snow is key to outdoor winter enjoyment. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Keeping Warm on Your Deck

Deck and Patio Deck with Natural Gas Fire Pit 

Deck and Patio Deck with Natural Gas Fire Pit

Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer.

Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.

“Fire pits and fireplaces are other popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.

It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”

 

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Trapping Your Heat

Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. “It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.

 

Deck Covering: A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

Deck Covering: A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Now, for the Enjoyment!

If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.

Hot Tub Deck

Hot Tub Deck

Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.

Like in our feature photo at the top of the page, she also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. 

“If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

So, as the song says, when it comes to enjoying your deck even in winter….let it snow, let snow, let it snow.

 

By |2019-12-19T13:31:43-05:00December 19th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Composite Decking, Design and Build Experts, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Portable Hot Tubs, Seasonal Landscapes, Snow Removal|Comments Off on How Can I Enjoy My Deck in the Winter?

Give Yourself the Gift of a Backyard Pond

'Tis The Season

‘Tis The Season

You might be wondering if this is the best time of year to give yourself and family the gift of a backyard water feature. After all, aren’t ponds, streams, waterfalls, for the outdoor living season?

While most water features, particularly ponds, are, indeed, enjoyed extensively in warm weather, a water feature is actually appreciated during all seasons, including winter. And sometimes they are even built during winter’s blasts.

“Not to mention that during the gift-giving season we’re often encouraged to think deeply about what we’d love to receive ourselves as well as what to give to others,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

But why now precisely? Shouldn’t we wait for spring? 

“You’d be surprised what can be built outdoors during these colder months,” adds Dave. “Even if it’s not fully built until spring, it’s great to get a good start.”  Click here for a Deck and Patio water feature built primarily during winter.

 

Holiday Gift Wish List

 

Natural Swimming Pond

Also called “recreational ponds,” these water features offer the opportunity to swim and snorkel without having to deal with chlorinated water. 

 

The Gift of Snorkeling:

The Gift of Snorkeling:

You’ll definitely get on Santa’s “nice” list when opting for swimming/snorkeling in your own natural or recreational pond over a regular pool. Natural ponds are good for the environment.

“In order to snorkel in your own home pond, it’s important to build a pond big and deep enough,” says Dave. “It’s also key to not overload your pond with fish so the pond remains pristine for swimming. “This way, the aquatic plants and natural filtration systems are able to absorb and ‘clean’ the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.”

To learn more about Deck and Patio natural swimming ponds, click here.  Then next year, Santa won’t have to snorkel his way to your home via the local aquarium.

 

Koi Pond

Ponds in Spring/Summer:

Outdoor Living Season

Outdoor Living Season

Even if they’re not built for swimming, once the weather warms, ponds are a natural wonderland for children to explore. Plus, they provide a lovely spot for dining al fresco, or just sitting beside while reading a book. Feeding your koi is also a delightful way to relax and let stress just fall away. 

 

Ponds in Autumn

Ponds in Autumn

Ponds in Winter

Ponds in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few autumn leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color.  Learn more here.

Many people love to be outdoors in winter and a pond helps create the perfect winter wonderland. A popular trend these days is creating a winter walk “event” for strolling by lighted trees or bushes, also a fully-operating water feature with waterfalls, and even enjoying an ice rink for skating. 

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

It takes some prep work and lots of caution and care to make a rink, but according to naturally-recognized “The Pond Guy” you can, indeed, turn your pond into a rink for skating.

The Pond Guy has several blogs on this topic covering how to create good ice, what red flags to look for, how to check the ice, and how to create a glassy smooth surface. For two of his blogs, click here and here. 

 

 

Getting Ready for the First Snowfall

Prepping for Snow

Prepping for Snow

When you have a home, snow can present problems beyond keeping stairs and walks free of snow and ice. 

It’s also critical that water cut offs are accessible, and that your driveway is ice and snow free.

If you plan to take care of all this yourself, make sure that your snow blower, generator, roof rake, deicers, etc. are all placed where they can be easily retrieved. 

Also be aware that snow and ice storms are occasionally accompanied by a power failure. So do plan ahead, including putting fresh batteries in your carbon monoxide monitor. Also, have emergency telephone numbers near the phone.

 

Driveway Prep

Plow Stakes

Plow Stakes

Even before you hear of any storm approaching, it’s important to “prep” your driveway and walkway by installing fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”). And the longer you put it off, the harder the ground will get from the cold. 

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

Position the stakes to indicate where any costly Belgium Block or other edging could be damaged from snow plows. One end of the stake is pointed for easy insertion in the ground. Also, they come in different colors and you can let a particular color indicate, for example, where a fire hydrant is, the regular curb, your driveway entrance, etc.

If your driveway is straight, you won’t need as many markers. But if it’s curved, it’s important to mark key points at every turn. In addition, if you will be doing the snow removal yourself, chances are you’ll be doing it before or after work, when it’s dark. In this case, consider reflective snow stakes, which, while more costly, can be alternated with less-expensive non-reflective ones. This way, you’ll be sure to see all the important areas.

When placing the stakes, consider placing them further back from the driveway than the 2 inches often recommended. This allows for the opening of car doors, piling of shoveled snow, etc. without dislodging or covering a key stake.

 

Roof Prep

Roof Snow Removal

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.

 

Snow Blowers, Shoveling

Snow Removal

Snow Removal

Even an inexpensive snow blower is preferable to shoveling by hand.

But if you are going to shovel, here’s a tip: coat the scoop of the shovel with non-stick cooking spray. Be sure, whether you are using a snow blower or shoveling, to remove the snow in small increments at a time — don’t try to do it all at once.

 

 

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.

 

Dix Hills Snowplowing

Dix Hills Snowplowing

 

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.)

 

 

 

By |2019-11-21T13:53:57-05:00November 21st, 2019|Driveways, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes, Snow Removal|Comments Off on Getting Ready for the First Snowfall

Plan Your Backyard Upgrade While Dreaming of Warmer Days

There’s more than a deep chill in the air. It even snowed a little over much of Long Island this week. It may not be officially winter yet, but many of us are already dreaming of warmer days.

So as you gaze out over your yard, here’s some ‘before and after’ Deck and Patio projects that might inspire the perfect upgrade for you — done in plenty of time for next year’s outdoor living season.

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Massapequa couple, says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, hankered to enjoy their backyard more  — which was tidy but not enticing.

Space was also at a premium. And in lieu of a rather more expensive pool, the couple settled on installing a quality hot tub, in-ground.

An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa.  Plus it would be easy to get in and out of (see before/after photos above).

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also 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. 

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

 

Large Pond Under Stone Bridge

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after the homeowner 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 a 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 is more than 240-feet-long and 60-feet-wide, so it also captures 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. 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, owner of Deck and Patio. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”

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

"Beginning Construction"

“Beginning Construction”

"After 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 provides 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 let it snow or blast cold. You can stay warm while planning your new backyard upgrade. 

Help the Declining Bird Population While Brightening Up Your Winter Yard

Long Islanders, including many Deck and Patio clients, are strong environmentalists and nature lovers. And they are well aware of recent news reports that North America has lost 3 billion birds since 1970. 

What may be news to some is that not all the loss has been among rare birds. One in four colorful blue jays, for example, have been lost, and we recommend a SC Times post that includes some great tips on a variety of ways we all can help.

News has not been all bad though. Because of conservation efforts, populations of waterfowl have increased in recent decades. However, even with the increase in waterfowl, the overall loss in birds does tug on the conscience. 

Inviting Birds to Your Property

We may not have any snowy owls to protect, on Long island, but we can provide a safe habitat for lots of delightful birds — and birds of glorious color that can brighten our winter season.

 

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Peanut Wreath

Peanut Wreath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Jays, who do need help, are colorful birds that by nature are happy to stay around in winter. These avian friends love to congregate in groups come winter. They also will squirrel food away. Some have witnessed Blue Jays hiding nuts in trees.

We spoke with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead about attracting the Jays.

 “If you want to help Blue Jays, they really like nuts and peanuts. I use a peanut wreath and fill it with shelled peanuts. This type of feeder attracts a lot of Blue Jays.”

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

 

Cardinals

Cardinals

Cardinals

Consider how the bright red plumage of the Cardinal could cheer the dreariest of days while you’re helping to save birds overall. The male’s full-bodied red actually gets more striking during winter. This is when some of their remaining gray-tipped feathers fall off, showing even more vibrant red.

What a picture they make resting on icy branches and snow. “If you want to attract them, Cardinals love black oil sunflower and safflower seeds,” says Vultaggio.

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

 

Chickadees

Chickadees

Chickadees

Chickadees prefer the same type of seeds as the Cardinal: black oil sunflower and safflower.

Vultaggio is also delighted by their sounds: “They actually say chickadee when they sing.”

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

“They dine primarily on insects, seeds and berries,” adds Vultaggio.

“They are active and agile little birds. These little acrobats are a delight to watch when they hang upside down from twigs or at your feeder.

 

Extra Tips

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

2.  Bird Baths are a great help to birds in winter 

3.  Put up bird houses designed for specific birds

 

 

Bird Baths:

Bird Baths:

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

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

Pictured immediately above is a Heated Deck-Mounted Birdbath by Allied Precision. “You’ll also find that in winter birds tend to appear in groups since many eyes make it safer to watch out for predators.” 

 

Upscale Birdhouses:

Upscale Birdhouses:

Granted, wild birds may not exactly be pets. But it’s trendy to treat them like they are. So it’s not surprising that fancy bird houses are growing in popularity. Indeed, there are even awards for the best design in bird houses.

The point is, a bird house can be a reflection of your own style and tastes and certainly can be upscale, all while you’re aiding in bird conservation. Besides, if our avian friends are going to sing for their supper, they might as well be housed as nicely as we are. 

It’s worth checking to learn what the birds you’re trying to attract require. For example, Blue Jays like to nest at least 10 feet off the ground so your birdhouse should be at least that high in a tree or pole. They like to use tree roots and small thin sticks to create a nest so you can place them nearby along with the food they prefer. 

 

Birds are, indeed, such a wonderful way to add color to your winter garden. And it feels great to know you are helping in a very small way to reverse the trends of bird loss on our continent. 

Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is of a tit bird feeding on a tit ring. 

By |2019-11-08T16:28:33-05:00November 7th, 2019|Backyard Escapes, Environment Issues, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Help the Declining Bird Population While Brightening Up Your Winter Yard

Some Like It Hot: Enjoying Red Fall Foliage at Home

Fiery Red Foliage

Fiery Red Foliage

When the weather gets cool, some really like it hot…fiery red hot, that is. The heat we’re talking about is blazing red foliage — bursts of color that some find ease the pain of the outdoor season coming to an end.

More than that, say experts, the color red goes beyond sensual pleasure. It stimulates the human system — even increasing pulse and heart rates. It’s well worth it then to be able to enjoy autumn’s bursts of fiery red daily, by having the right trees in your yard.

That said, brilliant red foliage outside our very own windows requires planning. To get all the dirt on what trees to plant, we spoke with Angelo Puleo, Nursery Division at Bissett Nursery (Holtsville, NY).

 

Maple Trees

“One of the most popular and widespread deciduous trees that produces bright reds in autumn is the beautiful Maple tree,” says Pueleo. “In particular, along with oaks, we recommend Sugar Maples for great fall red color.”

 

Choosing the right Maple

Choosing the right Maple

 

Note: Be sure to ask experts at an established nursery or landscaping firm which variety of maple, etc. will produce red leaves in fall, as some varieties offer up a blazing yellow instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it’s just for another blog post.

 

 

Red Maple in Fall:

Red Maple in Fall:

A beautiful shade tree in summer with brilliant color in autumn, the Red Maple can be planted any time of year, including fall.

 

Cleveland Select Pear 

Puleo also recommends the Cleveland Select Pear for robust color. Like the Oak and Maple, it is also hardy and can withstand most winds and storms, including ice storms — a real plus in our neck of the woods (the Northeast).

Cleveland Select Pear:

Cleveland Select Pear:

“In spring, the Cleveland Select Pear bursts awake in beautiful white flowers, and in the fall, its leaves offer up a deep orangey-red blaze of color,” adds Pueleo.

Bradford Pear Tree:

Bradford Pear Tree: (Photo With Permission: Abrahami):

A close cousin of the Cleveland Select Pear, the Bradford is pictured here as its leaves begin to turn from green to fall-red.

 

Japanese Maple 

When it comes to smaller trees, Deck and Patio designers often consider Japanese Maples in landscaping plans; red-leafed versions of this beautiful tree offer degrees of red from spring through fall (see last photo). Planting them in early fall allows for new root growth in time for spring.

Japanese Maple (Photo With Permission: Wikipedia 松岡明芳):

Japanese Maple (Photo With Permission: Wikipedia 松岡明芳):

This beautiful Japanese Maple is native to Japan and other nearby Asian countries such as South Korea. It’s prized for the shape of its leaves and rich red color. It’s useful to note that there are different types of Japanese maples. Some stay red ’til their leaves drop in autumn but others leaf out in brilliant reds in spring and turn to yellows and orange in fall. These, of course, can be dazzling, too, but be sure you get what you want.

 

Mighty Oaks

In 2004, the gorgeous and majestic oak tree was designated the USA’s official national tree. Known for its wonderful shade and lumber it grows to great heights from just an acorn. You can begin from a seed, but you might also want to transplant one that is partially grown. While you can transplant up to between 5 and 8 feet in growth, it’s best to go with a smaller tree to allow its roots to cope in the process.  

Mighty Oak:

Mighty Oak:

A few varieties of oak grow rapidly (e.g., Heritage Oak, Swamp White Oak and Northern Red Oak), making them an ideal choice. Like all the trees mentioned in this blog post, leave about 10 feet between each one when planting. The oaks are sun lovers so choose a sunny spot. Note: For those who keep horses, the oak’s acorn and leaves can be toxic to animals such as horses. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list for fiery red foliage. But we hope it’ll be enough to get your heart pumping every time you walk outdoors next fall. The fiery red scene will so take you away that you’ll forget you’re wearing a jacket.

 

 

By |2019-10-24T12:42:51-05:00October 24th, 2019|Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Gardening, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes, trees, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Some Like It Hot: Enjoying Red Fall Foliage at Home

Backyard Pond: A Place of Reflection

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

The famed impressionist, Claude Monet, loved painting the water gardens in his home in Giverny, France. His paintings capture the trees, clouds, and sky reflected in the lily ponds at various times of day, in very different light — in the pre-dawn, the brightness of noonday, at sunset.

Each example allows the viewer to reflect on the differing views of beauty created by the pond’s stillness. 

We may not all be painters. But we all love to stop and reflect when we see the sky and other objects captured in still waters. 

Consider the happy owners of the following Deck and Patio vanishing edge (infinity) swimming pond. Our own Dave Stockwell explains that water features such as this project’s two man-made ponds, when correctly designed, positioned, and constructed, can provide a transforming experience in one’s life. 

 

 

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

 

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

 

The vanishing edge pond in fall

The vanishing edge pond in fall

 

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

 

“As you can see from the next photo of this pond, sunset is a magnificent time to mediate on the illusions created by the reflecting pond’s placid water,” says Dave. “The water mirrors its surroundings so perfectly, it can be a challenge to tell the real sky, ocean, and landscape from their images on the water.”

 

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset:

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset

 

The entire project was actually two ponds. The first larger pond shown in the above photos is the vanishing edge swimming pond. The smaller of the two ponds, below, is just steps outside the homeowners’ back door. Note how beautiful the back of the house is captured in the pond and reflected back. 

 

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

 

Landscape design is an essential element in bringing about beautiful reflections and peaceful scenes. “Our designers used Mother Nature’s own creations — plants, moss rocks, and the water itself, to design a true mystical experience,” adds Dave. 

To learn more about these two ponds and their natural biological filtration systems, read here. 

 

 

It’s Time to Fatten Up Your Pond Fish

Our blog last week suggested netting your pond before the leaves fall. It’s worth doing in the next few days if you haven’t done it yet. This is also the time for pond owners to be fattening up their pond’s fish.  

Feeding Pond Fish in Fall

Feeding Pond Fish in Fall

When pond water gets below 59 degrees, you can — and should — plump up your darlings to survive winter hibernation. Using fish food made for cold water, gradually increase how much you feed these lovely fish as temperatures start to drop.

 

As the water temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them. Once temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Dave Kelly, from Aquascape inc., 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.

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

 

 

The Koi Will Be Fine As Temperatures Drop

Koi Will Do Fine Outdoors in Winter

Koi Will Do Fine Outdoors in Winter

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

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

This can be remedied as long as you give them:

 

 

•two feet of water to swim in,

•oxygenate the water,

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

 

 

Note: In a few weeks, we’ll write more on caring for pond fish in winter.

Chemical Pond Treatments

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

 

This is also the perfect time to treat your pond ahead of the cold weather. Realize, that even if you netted your pond, some debris will make it into the water no matter how careful you are.

Dave Kelly 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.

 

Healthy Pond Come Spring

Healthy Pond Come Spring

Do a little pond maintenance (see last week’s blog) and care for your pond fish, and when spring arrives, you’ll be glad you did. Your pond will require much less work to begin your new season of pond-side outdoor living .

If you have any questions or would like assistance with preparing your pond or caring for your fish, contact our office at 631-549-8100.

By |2019-10-10T12:08:51-05:00October 10th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Koi Ponds, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on It’s Time to Fatten Up Your Pond Fish

Use Pond Netting: Like Apples, Leaves Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

Apple Picking Season

Apple Picking Season

 

 

One way you know it’s fall on Long Island is apple-picking kicks into gear just as leaves start changing color. Perhaps the smell of warm cider against the backdrop of bright colored leaves is Mother Nature’s consolation for taking away summer.

Of course, like all good things, this consolation comes with a few chores. Because what follows peak color (expected to arrive here around October 19th) is the inevitable clean up.

 

 

 

Fallen Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems

Fallen Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems

 

If these leaves fall on the lawn, they can easily be raked and collected. However, if you have a pond or other water feature, those fallen leaves can cause a bit of a mess and a lot more work come spring.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution. “It’s a good idea to get pond netting up before the leaves begin to fall,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

 

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.)

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.)

Ideally you’ll have your netting up before any leaves fall. And then simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. “And you can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves,” adds Dave.

The netting will save countless hours come spring says Dave. “Of course, if you’re a bit late doing that, you can always use a long-handle pond net to clear out the debris, but it’s much easier if you use a net.”

Another good idea, says Dave, is to trim back and remove and dead foliage from the aquatic plants before or after you put up the net. This cuts down excessive organic material that might otherwise decompose in the water feature.”

 

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Pond lilies are idyllic water plants. However, during early fall, they are one of the plants that it’s a good idea to cut back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water. 

 

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

 

Since some debris will make it into your pond no matter how hard you work, Aquascape Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).  Their expert, Dave Kelly, recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

 

Okay, so there’s a few chores to do. But Mother Nature is putting on a show over the next few weeks. And if you’re planning to travel to view the colors change and learn when we’ll be at peak here on Long Island or elsewhere, a good foliage map is produced by the Smoky Mountain National Park (link).

Below is a screen shot of their map showing Long Island should be at near peak color around October 12th. But it’s always a good idea to get updates because rain, wind and rapid temperature changes can affect the timing.

 

Smoky Mountain National Park map

Smoky Mountain National Park map

 

Also! A great link for the best places for apple picking on Long Island can be found at mommypoppins.com.  We also have a screen shot of their feature article on this (below).

 

From Mommypoppins.com

From Mommypoppins.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2019-10-03T13:28:19-05:00October 3rd, 2019|Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Use Pond Netting: Like Apples, Leaves Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

Closing Your Pool Is a Great Time to Plan Upgrades

As Labor Day approaches, families start thinking of closing down their pools for the year. This seasonal routine is also a great time to plan value-based ideas to upgrade your pool and pool area.

Whether or not you do any of the following improvements when closing down the pool, or whether you just discuss ideas for spring, after Labor Day Weekend is a great time to plan with a landscaper renovations that will heighten next year’s outdoor living experience.

 

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

 

In-ground Pools

Upgrading Pool Pump

Upgrading Pool Pump

Pumps

It really doesn’t matter if your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money say pool experts.

“Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to one sixth of what they currently are. There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. And the cost of the new pump is paid back quickly — often in three years or less.”

 

Coping 

 Pool Coping

Other upgrade ideas would be to simply change the coping, tile and color of your pool. In gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes and even all-tile pools.

“Here (above) we added dramatic coping to a pool in Oyster Bay, NY. Our design called for installing the coping on the far side of the pool — flush with the lawn.”

Changing Pool Liners

Changing Pool Liners

Liners

In vinyl pools you can also change a staircase, add a bench or swim-out, change the coping, and of course change your old liner.

Liner color choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool as seen in this photo. There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

Pool Patio Surrounds, Waterfalls

New Patio/Waterfall

New Patio/Waterfall

Renovating around a pool, whether it’s in-ground or not, is sometimes easier than renovating the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio.

Other ideas might be changing to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Tip: Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Another popular upgrade is adding a slide, waterfalls, and water sprays (feature photo at top of page shows both sprays and falls). Tip: Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

Have a relaxing Labor Day Weekend…and, then, let’s get planning!