Sustainable Water Features

/Sustainable Water Features

Rainwater Harvesting Systems Make for Eco-Friendly Waterscapes

Deck and Patio strives to not only make water features look natural, but also be natural. In particular, we design/build ponds and waterscapes that are maintained in a natural way — without chemicals.

To accomplish such beautiful and eco-friendly waterscapes, it is helpful to be thoroughly knowledgeable and well trained in this field.

We are, for example, a Certified Contractor of Aquascape, Inc. — a leader in the waterscape industry. Their certification process is rigorous and ensures high standards.

It has been worth the effort. For years, Deck and Patio has been able to bring healthy, low maintenance ponds, streams, waterfalls or pondless water features to over 300 Long Island properties.

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

One option for clients who prefer not to maintain a pond has been a pondless water feature. Instead of falling into a pond, the flow from waterfalls and streams are built to let the spillover seep through gravel and seemingly disappear into the ground.

The water is actually collected in an underground reservoir system where it is recirculated to replenish the water feature. Here, the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

We surrounded the “pondless” backyard stream with waterfalls (above) by moss rock boulders. The water flows past the client’s newly installed portable hot tub, which was set against a new two-level patio with fire pit and seating/dining areas.

However, there is an even more wonderful way to go “green.” And that is to harvest the rainwater that maintains the water feature.

 

All About Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting Systems

With a pondless waterfall like the project above, the constantly recirculating captured water is definitely eco-friendly. However, natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally.

To go totally “green” — and not use town water to replenish this evaporation — that’s when you’ll want a special reservoir system  — Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System..

In this way, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods.

This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

“An added benefit,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, “is that with harvested rainwater which is filtered and then recirculated, your rainwater runoff isn’t spilling over and running into over-burdened sewer systems.

“As you may know, asphalt and concrete can’t absorb rainwater, which causes the spillover. But we use river rock underneath the waterfalls,” adds Dave. “This filtered the water before it seeps down to the reservoir.”

 

Deck and Patio Feature Using Rainwater Harvesting System

Deck and Patio Feature Using Rainwater Harvesting System

The Aquascape ‘green’ Rainwater Harvesting Systems process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“Like with all our Rainwater Harvesting Systems project, the reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for city water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

Deck and Patio Eco-Friendly Water Features

Deck and Patio Eco-Friendly Water Features

This is another “pond-less” waterfall and stream designed/built by Deck and Patio. Like with all the projects we’re highlight today, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house.

“Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

 

So if you’re hankering for a water feature, and would feel a whole lot better if the water for it is collected rainwater, well, we know a thing or two about how to capture that runoff and use it to beautiful effect.

Earth Day 2018: Eco-Friendly Backyard Ponds

Backyard ponds with waterfalls and streams can be created in eco-friendly ways so they not only do no harm, but also help improve the environment.

Isn’t that a comforting idea as Earth Day (April 22nd) approaches?

Fish ponds, for example, naturally attract — and provide a haven for — other wildlife that children (as well as adults) love: frogs, salamanders, song birds, etc.

 

Birds are beneficial

Birds are beneficial

Of course, all these creatures are delightful to watch and listen to. More than that, their presence offer natural ways to a healthier environment.

Frogs eat algae in the water which contributes to keeping the water clean; adult toads aid in controlling insects, as do the birds the water attracts.

Plus, the koi, which are so much fun to feed, eat any mosquito larva that might develop.

 

 

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems

 

 

 

It is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for fish and plants), in order to keep a pond healthy in a natural way.

For this Deck and Patio project (right), we also planted a beautiful Japanese maple that shades the pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo.)

 

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature

Public Sustainable Water Feature

Not all sustainable water feature projects are for private use. Deck and Patio created this stream and waterfall spot (above) in cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island) where we installed the water feature beside a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot.

The pathway is made of permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc, which were put over gravel and a rubber liner, which capture and filter the path’s rainwater runoff before it reaches the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir installed at the end of the stream.

There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings around the water feature. Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into beautiful Huntington Bay.

 

 

Eco-Friendly Water Features

Eco-Friendly Water Features

For this Deck and Patio “pond-less” waterfall and stream, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house.

“Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. “And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

 

 

 

Wildlife Aid Ecosystems

Wildlife Aid Ecosystems

 

“When you attract wildlife such as this North American Bullfrog into your yard and other amphibians who like to hatch eggs in or near water, you contribute to a healthy eco-system,” Dave.

“Frogs, for example, eat algae in the water, thereby helping to keep it clean. Adult toads also aid your garden because they help control insects — as do the birds that the water feature will naturally attract.” (Photo: Wikipedia/Tigershrike)

 

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

 

 

What Type of Pond Will Be Best in My Yard?

“We feel just about any yard can accommodate some sort of pond,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“Whether your yard is expansive or is no bigger than a proverbial postage stamp, ponds range in size from small — to double-ponds and even those with vanishing edges.”

Dave adds that no matter the size, the sounds and beauty of a pond waterscape will offer a welcome place of serenity while attracting delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and croaking frogs.

 

Small Ponds

 

Small Pond with Waterfall

Small Pond with Waterfall

 

For these clients, we tucked a small pond and waterfall into the corner of their driveway.

By adding beautiful creeping ground cover and boulders, even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits.

Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, we used Mother Nature’s own gravity to pump water naturally in the pond.

 

 

 

 

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Sometimes, when very young children are involved, clients worry that a full, deep pond might present safety concerns. In these cases, many of our clients choose a pondless waterfall.

In a pondless waterfall, river rock allows water to seep down into the ground where it is captured in a below-ground reservoir and recirculated.

And, since regular ponds require seasonal maintenance to keep them healthy and beautiful, a pondless waterfall is easier to care for.

Another reason for choosing a pondless waterfall came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals.

Lastly, budget and property size can be factors. A large space is not needed when you go pondless.

 

 

Medium-Sized Ponds

 

Fun for All

Fun for All

As design and build experts, Deck and Patio always advises installing your pond where you can enjoy it from a deck, patio, bedroom, or kitchen.

It’s important to note that not just humans appreciate a pond water feature.

In addition to the family pooch being endlessly fascinated, birds and butterflies will be attracted. Birds, in particular, love gently moving water.

Just provide a place for them to land, such as rock platforms, or design a shallow end as part of the feature. And by keeping the water circulating, this will also help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

 

 

Larger Ponds

 

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

When there is room and a budget for a large pond, like this koi pond with several waterfalls and a stream, a backyard can become a private sanctuary.

Note: because ponds do not have too much water action, water lilies are ideal plants, which is especially helpful in larger ponds.

Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer.

The lower temperature reduces undesirable algae growth; and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for the fish while keeping the water clear and clean-looking.

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pond

Vanishing Edge Pond

A pond can reach its zenith if it’s possible to give it a vanishing edge. Although these are more commonly done for pools, if local regulations limit the addition of a pool, a pond might be the answer.

That was the case for this multi-part Deck and Patio water feature. It captures the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the water’s edge. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, and second lower pond.

Under the feature’s beauty, an extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system using Aquascape Inc. products is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.

 

 

 

 

Building/Designing Natural Looking Waterscapes

To design a natural looking waterscape system, several elements are key: well chosen natural stones, quality biological filtration systems, and a wide range of ground and aquatic plants.

“To say we’ve learned a good deal over the years as to how to do this kind of work is an understatement,” says owner Dave Stockwell. “At Deck and Patio, we’ve created over 300 water features across Long Island, New York City as well as out-of-state.”

Any special tricks Deck and Patio has developed over time are of little value, he adds, if we don’t get the basics right. And those basics begin with the right rocks.”

Rocks and Boulders

When chosen well, and positioned perfectly, rocks can make a man-made waterfall and stream appear as if they’re flowing from a natural mountain bed.

Members of our team have made a study of how rocks precisely affect the flow of water. Our efforts have been rewarded; Deck and Patio has received a multitude of awards for our waterscapes.

Below are some examples of how we pull everything together.

 

Positioning Rocks and Boulders in the Landscape

Positioning Rocks and Boulders in the Landscape

 

The rocks used in this Deck and Patio pond installation – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey, says Dave.

Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, and sometimes for its ideal crevices in which perennials could be planted.

 

 

 

 

 

Moss Rock

Moss Rock

Whenever Deck and Patio designs and builds a new waterscape or natural landscape retaining wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

Moss grows well in shady areas, he adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting.

“Of course, also choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is essential for a natural-looking scene.

 

 

 

 

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams

When gravity urges water onward, it spills over rocks naturally, so it takes a trained eye to ensure any man-made waterscape add rocks as if nature had created the movement and water trail.

For example, each “spill rock” along this Deck and Patio  backyard stream was carefully chosen and positioned to depict the most natural water movement.

The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Plantings

 

Surrounding Plants’ Size, Color, and Texture

Surrounding Plants’ Size, Color, and Texture

When adding a water feature to existing landscape, we consider the color and texture of surrounding plant material, as well as how the plants will eventually grow.

Here Deck and Patio planted low-lying evergreens and ground cover perennials in and around the stream and rock outcroppings. These soften the large boulders, which would otherwise stand out and spoil the natural look.

Larger flowering plantings were installed behind the water feature to provide accenting and screening. On lower portions of the slope, the water feature was planted with flowers for cutting and small beds for annuals so the client could interact with the stream garden throughout the season.

 

 

 

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

 

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

• 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 aquatic groups,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement appears the most natural.”

 

 

Landscaping Long Bloom Periods:

Landscaping Long Bloom Periods:

For this project, Deck and Patio also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers that cascade and wind over and between the rocks we used.

An expert selection of plants can provide color from April through October; note also that here, the whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

 

 

 

Steep Property Grades Can Be Useful

 

Steep Property Grades

Steep Property Grades

“It would be wonderful if we were brought in for a job where we get to sculpt the entire property’s terrain, but, alas, that’s almost never the case,” says Dave Stockwell. “Our job is to integrate water features and the landscaping with what’s already there.”

Surprisingly, a steep property grade can be a good thing when it comes to waterscapes. Such terrain not only offers an opportunity for drama but designing a water feature along such a slope will permit Mother Nature to do all the heavy lifting — or pushing the water along.

In this case we added a stream and plantings along such a property with five cascading waterfalls — using moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals. We also put in a series of stairs and landings to bring them down to the homeowners new pool area.

 

 

More Than Beautiful: Self-Sustaining Water Features

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

It’s true: the sounds and sights of moving water turn any property into a restful escape.

But ponds and pond-less water features can also include rainwater harvesting components — offering a great way to save water and aid the local ecology.

Such rainwater harvesting systems support all types and combinations of water features  — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams.

The captured rainwater can also replenish a water feature’s surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and it is especially helpful during droughts.

As certified installers of renowned Aquascape Inc. products, the water conservation systems and other water garden products Deck and Patio uses are both technologically and biologically efficient.

 

Project # 1

Koi is a healthy part of this pond's natural ecosystem

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem

 

 

The Aquascape products Deck and Patio used for this project include high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, and gravel beds.

Note: Koi can also be a truly beneficial part of a pond’s eco-system, including this self-sustaining one.

 

 

Project # 2

 

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

 

The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“The collection system is located completely below ground,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “The reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for City water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

 

Project # 3

 

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a beautiful pond, waterfalls and stream with a bridge across it.  Along with the right water plants, everything works together to create a very healthy eco-system — underpinning the peaceful vistas that restore the soul.

Why is this important? Well, such products create a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

 

Project # 4

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

With a “pondless” waterfall, the waterfalls and stream do not drop into a pond, but seep through gravel where it is first filtered and then collected in an underground reservoir and continually recirculated. Because you are continually filtering and recirculating water, such a project is definitely eco-friendly.

However, natural evaporation of the water feature will require, like this Deck and patio one, that the recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. So for those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use any town water by even occasionally replenishing your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes the RainXchange reservoir system we used here.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

There are many routes to sustainability. And the beautiful water feature you choose for a restful respite will be truly that…having no tinge of guilt about its impact on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Wildlife Havens Stem from Chemical-free Eco-Systems

 

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Once you have your pond installed in an eco-friendly way, it’s a wonderful feeling to kick back and let the aquatic plants, pond fish, rocks, gravel, filtration and circulation systems — and, yes, beneficial algae— do the daily work of keeping it clean and healthy.

True. Ponds and other water features require some spring and fall maintenance.

But on a daily basis, left to their own devices, they’re self-sustaining. And such a water wonderland soon becomes a haven for beneficial wildlife — wildlife that also contributes to the overall health of your eco-system.

Frogs are beneficial for a chemical-free environment

Frogs contribute to a chemical-free environment

And it’s not just song birds that a backyard refuge will attract. Take the humble frog or toad. Enticed by a nice supply of seasonal food found in a pond’s flowering aquatic or nearby plants, along with plenty of water to drink, they will happily make a home there.

In turn for your gifts to them, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides. They love munching on grubs, beetles, slugs, not to mention mosquito larvae. Indeed, according to online reports, one frog or toad can eat up to 10,000 pests during one season.

So you can understand why Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), who manufacture much of our water feature equipment, couldn’t resist posting a video of the delightful tree froggy found at an water feature installation.

The water feature was created by one of Aquascapes Certified Contractors, Jeff of Pinellas Ponds & Waterfalls  As a fellow Aquascape Certified Contractor, we’re happy to share it below:

 

Pinellas Ponds and Waterfalls

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!Water features attract welcome critters of all sorts – like a cute little tree frog! This week we visit Jeff of Pinellas Ponds & Waterfalls in Florida to view some of the stunning water features he's installed. We'd love to have you come along for the tour!See Full Video Here >> http://bit.ly/Pinellas-Ponds

Posted by Aquascape Inc. on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 

 

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

Did you know you don’t have to have a pond to attract such beneficial wildlife. For this Deck and Patio-built stream and waterfall project, the clients opted for a “pond-less” waterfall system. The water needed to keep the feature topped off and refreshed is harvested from the home’s roof rainwater. Plus, any excess harvested rainwater is used to irrigate their property.

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds: Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

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

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

For this Deck and Patio project, 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.

 

Testing the Waters: Will Our Family Enjoy a Natural Swim Pond?

Most people are pretty certain their family will enjoy using a regular swimming pool. But a swimming pond? Not everyone is so sure.

One way to test the waters so to speak is ask yourself this question: Do we like swimming in lakes, the ocean, and swimming holes? If the answer is yes to any of these, then, you’ll probably love a natural swimming pond.

After all, families swimming in the ocean have probably brushed up against the occasional bit of seaweed and snorkeled to get close up to colorful fish.

So would it surprise you that in recent years, Deck and Patio (already known as pond experts on Long Island) has been asked to create several man-made ponds — designed especially for the clients’ swimming enjoyment?

In fact, here’s a video of people doing just that in a Long Island natural swimming pond created by Deck and Patio:

 

 

But what about bacteria?

In an earlier post on Aquascape Inc.’s website entitled Growing Up Around a Pond, the writer focuses on the ’10 most interesting things’ she has learned from having just such a pond:

all bacteria is not bad;

swimming in a pond is more fun than in a pool;

ponds are wondrous at night;

ponds are better than TV or video games.

We would have to agree with her. Snorkeling in a regular swimming pool isn’t all that exciting.

That aside, swimming in a pristine natural pond is very possible and thrilling. Using the right underlayment, liner, Biofalls and skimmers, bog filtration and water plants are all part of creating the perfect experience.

 

Pond/Playground Oasis in Brooklyn, NY

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

One great example of a swimming pond was this Deck and Patio project in Brooklyn. The heart of the project is, of course, its eco-friendly pond, which we built initially as a very shallow pond — only 8” deep.

That was deep enough so their young children could swim and play in it. However, we also constructed the pond to “grow” with them. We used boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they got older, could be removed — exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

The finished natural playscape is reminiscent of a secret cove on a desert island. It boasts a swimming pond with a beach-style entry, three waterfalls, a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features.

 

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond is one of two ponds the clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. Now you may think that our beautiful model is avoiding the ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

 

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim.

 

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

The child in all of us loves natural swim ponds. This photo was published originally by a homeowner who wrote an Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond.” She captured  her son in the photo encouraging a friend to join him in the pond.

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One ways you ensure a pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. This allows the aquatic plants and natural filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.

 

 

Idyllic Backyard Upgrades Embrace All 4 Seasons

As you know, Mother Nature does not provide flora in our neck of the woods with 4-season blooms and buds — yet there are ways to ensure outdoor living areas always include some color, and definitely, beauty.

So, today, we are highlighting 4 previous Deck and Patio blogs on the subject of seasonal landscapes.

Take for example water features. They are stunning any time of year. The waterfall and pond photo featured above, for example, captures Deck and Patio’s own design center in the heart of winter. We keep our water feature running in all seasons — even when it’s bitterly cold and snowy — and it’s always lovely to look at.

 

Garden Color for Fall and Winter

Garden Color for Fall and Winter

1. Garden Color for Fall and Winter — a Berry Good Thing.

Whether it’s the Red Twig Dogwood, Chokeberry and Winterberry Holly, this blog gives great ideas for backyard flora.

These not only provide food for birds, they offer color through various seasons.

Consider “Callicarpa.” It boasts bright purple berries that begin in fall and last through the winter; Skimmia evergreen shrubs always offer bright green leaves. In spring, they burst open with vibrant white flowers, and in fall, provide crimson red fruits that last through winter.

 

 

Deck and Patio Landscaping:Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

Deck and Patio Landscaping:Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

2.  What is Involved in Creating a Backyard Oasis Landscape?

A good deal goes into creating a backyard retreat that can be enjoyed in many seasons.

Such a plan would also take into consideration the home’s architecture as well as personal style preferences.

“It’s also key to pay close attention to your property grades,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We plan so that the landscape will flourish and last for years. Our designs include a layering technique that offers privacy on the periphery and vibrancy where it will be best enjoyed.”

 

 

 

Red Maple in Fall: (Photo With Permission © by Jeff Dean)

Red Maple in Fall: (Photo With Permission © by Jeff Dean)

3.  For Fiery Fall Foliage: Are You Barking Up the Right Tree?

When we did this blog on the best trees to plant for fiery Fall color, Deck and Patio spoke with Angelo Puleo, Nursery Division, Bissett Nursery (Holtsville, NY).

“One of the most popular and widespread deciduous trees that produces bright reds in autumn is the beautiful Maple tree,” says Puleo. “In particular, we recommend Sugar Maples, and, of course, Oaks for great Fall red color.”

Puleo also recommends the Cleveland Select Pear for robust color, which bursts awake in beautiful white flowers in Spring, and in the Fall, its leaves offer up a deep orange-y-red blaze of color,” he says. For more fiery ideas do check out this blog and Pin away!

And let’s not forget winter!

 

 

Deck and Patio's Design Center

Deck and Patio’s Design Center

Close Up of Water Feature in winter

Close Up of Water Feature in winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Winterizing Waterscapes

With evergreens offering punches of color against a blanket of white, and grades in the property adding interest, a front yard looks like a fairytale in winter.

If you do not want the water in your water feature to freeze, you can choose to winterize your water gardens/waterscapes by running them with heat, which will melt the ice dams as you see here.

But that is not necessary and you might miss some gorgeous crystalized winter scenes.

 

Stepping Stones Turn Footpaths into Contemplation Spaces

Stepping stones are most often used as a way of letting some “softscape” such as grass shine through while still providing some “hardscape” in heavily traffic areas.

But is that all that stepping stones do? “We think not,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “While they are very serviceable, they can also contribute to the serenity of a space. They can be a key element of creating ‘contemplation’ spaces.”

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.