Updating Landscape

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Backyard Pond and Stream Turns ‘Day at the Pond’ Into ‘Every Day’

This Deck and Patio free-form pond and stream turned out to be a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family.

“Everyone loves feeding and watching the koi as they swim about. Because of good outdoor lighting, we even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the mother. “Plus, we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

The homeowners add they are particularly enchanted by the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity everyone feels watching the fish swim. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in the yard helped inspire us at Deck and Patio as well, says owner Dave Stockwell.

“Our design meandered the beautiful watery trail along their property’s formerly unused slope. Gravity is all that’s needed to move the water, so it’s also very energy-efficient.

The 35-foot-stream includes natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones positioned along its banks; the stream ends where it tumbles over moss rock waterfalls into a 10’-by-15’ fish pond.

“The adjacent landscape is dotted with tall grasses (e.g., Miscanthus) and evergreens such as Juniper Parsoni, giving a lush backdrop to it all,” adds Dave.

A natural setting such as this backyard project naturally attracts wildlife, which the homeowners particularly hoped would happen.

“The whole pond and stream areas attract so much delightful wildlife — like frogs and birds,” say the homeowners. “That really is one of our favorite things about having a pond.”

The Deck and Patio Company earned a Silver Award from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) for this project.

 

Free-form Pond and Stream:

Free-form Pond and Stream:

Deck and Patio used a flexible pond liner to create a free-form pond that would blend into the natural landscape. We planted Purple Cone flowers, Coreopsis and Spirea Anthony Waters, as well as tall grasses, and deep green ground cover. Together, the bursts of bright plant color and the sounds of moving water are soothing whether the clients are lounging by their pool, back patio or even in the house.

 

Creating Natural-looking Pondscapes:

Creating Natural-looking Pondscapes:

Having gone to “pond college” at Aquascape, Inc’s Pondemonium, Deck and Patio’s team has learned to look at a property from various viewing points — from wherever the clients will be looking at the water feature, including the house. Here we posited an 11x 16 pond adjacent to their patio.

 

Pondscapes are Beautiful All Year Long:

Pondscapes are Beautiful All Year Long:

“Our clients found that in winter the moss rock boulders become sparkling ice sculptures so they enjoy their water feature all year-long” says Dave Stockwell. “Their backyard hill area sloped toward the house and a pool at the top of the hill. Our design allowed for the stream to begin near the pool and run toward the pond, patio, and house.”

 

Backyard Pondscape and Stream:

Backyard Pondscape and Stream:

Deck and Patio’s design called for an extended patio with bluestone stepping stones leading to the stream, natural stones to walk across it, and more bluestone on the other side up to the pool area.

 

By | 2017-08-17T12:13:03+00:00 August 17th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Backyard Pond and Stream Turns ‘Day at the Pond’ Into ‘Every Day’

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.

 

Natural Landscaping Design: Why You Need Moss Rock

Ever notice in old classic movies how distracting fake scenery looks outside, say, a car that actors are supposedly traveling in?

Well, that’s true in landscaping as well. Creating a serene outdoor scene that looks natural — like Mother Nature sculpted it — requires knowing what elements will make it appear genuine.

For example, whenever we design and build a new water feature or landscape wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

“Deck and Patio finds that these sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

Moss grows well in shady areas, Dave adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting. “Of course, choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is also key to creating a natural-looking scene.

About Moss Rock

Moss rocks are harvested from quarries nationwide; later moss is added. While the moss on the rocks do not flower, the initial planting reproduces through its tiny spores, absorbing water and nutrients through their foliage. The only requirement for healthy growth is the moist conditions derived from water features or other sources.

For our first project showcased below, Deck and Patio added tall grasses and evergreens like Juniper Parsoni, to complete the rich, lush, green backdrop to see. Coneflowers and Spirea Anthony Waterers help bring in the bright bursts of color. During winter months, the moss rock boulders themselves form breathtaking ice sculptures that extend enjoyment of the water feature.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock:

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully 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.

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock: One of our outdoor living experts was called in by the pool company to design a pool surround positioned against a steep hill. Our design plan also included a large retaining wall made of natural elements like moss rock, a stream, a beautiful waterfall, and boulder pool coping — instead of constructing a less attractive wooden retaining wall. Overall, it looks like a natural stream created by Mother Nature meandering down a woodsy hill.(See also 2nd photo below)

 

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

In addition (see immediate photo above), moss rock steps leading to a small blue stone patio became part of Deck and Patio’s overall design. Plus, a portable hot tub was installed on a flattened area in front of the patio.

 

Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

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

In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, it turns out, this is something very much on her mind, too.

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

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

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. “In fact, The National Wildlife Federation has a program (see fact sheet) devoted to reducing lawns and introducing pollinators to the garden through native plants,” says Vultaggio.

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

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

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1. Monarda (Bee Balm):

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

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

 

 

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2. Violet-colored Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather):

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

4.  Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

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

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

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

 

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

 

 


Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

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

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

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

Or…(2) try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil. Of course, if starting this process now, by the time the area is ready, it would be time to put in fall plants. For some ideas on ideal fall plants, visit this earlier blog.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

By | 2017-07-13T12:26:31+00:00 July 13th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

Gardening: Flowers That Thrive in Summer

If you waited too long, and didn’t get around to planting bulbs this spring, no worries! Even though long hot summer days will soon be upon us, there’s lots of beautiful summer-loving flowers you can add. And since weather in the northeast over the next week or so should remain fairly cool, this is ideal weather for time spent in your gardens.

With that in mind, we’re highlighting today a few of plants that will stand up well to heat and thrive.

 

Coneflowers

One of our favorites 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. But they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are 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 it 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

 

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

Talk about saving the best for the last. Verbena shows its stuff (beautiful blooms) during the hottest of summer heat. Available in annual and perennial varieties, they are long lasting spreaders. They come in 250 varieties so there’s lots of color to choose from, including white, pink, or purple.

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas…and as if all this wasn’t good enough, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

 

Verbena/Ideal summer plants

Verbena/Ideal summer plants

 

 

 

 

By | 2017-06-01T14:18:27+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Gardening, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening: Flowers That Thrive in Summer

Outdated Pool Transformed into Updated Beauty

This Deck and Patio project is not a newly completed one. But it is a project that continues to be regularly saved by visitors to our social media pages. So much so, that we thought it was time to blog about it again.

Backstory

At the time, the clients’ 22-year-old gunite pool needed a facelift. Along with the pool, they had a very uncomfortable concrete spa, and only grass for a patio.

The terrain had a slope behind the pool and they had a dated wood retaining wall holding it back. In addition, their backyard was set in a natural woodland area, so any new patio material would have to harmonize with this natural setting. In addition, Deck and Patio was commissioned to create a colorful landscape within this mostly shady area and repair an existing old waterfall.

The Upgrade

The first step was to demolish the uncomfortable existing spa, the old waterfall area, the retaining wall and pool’s old boulder coping.

Next, a new comfortable acrylic spa with molded seats was added. It was faced with interlocking Techo-Bloc concrete blocks that echoed the new Techo-Bloc patio and the moss rock boulders used to create a new natural-looking retaining wall.

Three handsome supporting walls made with Techo-Bloc Walls stones were used  directly behind the new spa to help hold back the grade. Plus, the renovated seven-foot-high moss rock waterfall, ending in new boulder pool coping, added peaceful serenity while also serving to retain the woodland behind the pool.

Next, the old grassy area that surrounded the pool was transformed into a beautiful multi-level patio made of Techo-Bloc tumbled paving stones. The patio paver colors were a blend of tan and natural gray to complement the boulders and moss rock. These Techo-Bloc paving stones boast a lifetime of easy-to-care-for surfaces that hold up very well in the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast where this project is located. Another bonus: these pavers stay cool in summer heat…perfect for bare feet.

Lastly, lots of seasonal colorful plants, that did not require too much direct sunlight, were added as part of the landscaping.

 

Updated Pool/Spa (Huntington/NY):

Updated Pool/Spa (Huntington/NY):

A 22-year-old pool needed refurbishing. Using handsome Techo-Bloc Walls stones for three wall structures, moss rocks and boulder coping, the natural woodland is beautifully retained behind the pool.

 

Techo-Bloc Wall Concrete Blocks (Huntington/NY):

Techo-Bloc Wall Concrete Blocks (Huntington/NY):

Facing the new acrylic spa with concrete blocks is the perfect choice for a natural setting. The spa was designed with a spillover to offer a second waterfall into the pool.

 

 

Pool/Spa Upgrade (Huntington/NY):

Pool/Spa Upgrade (Huntington/NY):

The refurbished natural free-form gunite swimming pool with a new spillover spa, delightful moss rock waterfall, tumbled stone Techo-Bloc patio and robust landscaping together feel like a natural lagoon created by Mother Nature.

 

New Acrylic Spa (Huntington/NY):

New Acrylic Spa (Huntington/NY):

The new Techo-Bloc wall-stone-spa replaces an old concrete spa; it was constructed with a small patio/lounge area and stone steps. The matching retaining walls can act as seating walls when entertaining.

 

Pool/Spa Landscaping (Huntington/NY):

Pool/Spa Landscaping (Huntington/NY):

When working on this upgrade, Deck and Patio was careful to keep some of the existing landscaping, e.g. the gorgeous Japanese lace-leaf maple that shades the waterfall.

 

Patio Landscaping (Huntington/NY):

Patio Landscaping (Huntington/NY):

Deck and Patio designed the Techo-Bloc patio with cutouts to plant attractive flower beds.

 

 

‘Green’ Water Features Don’t Always Require a Pond

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, clients want the beauty of a waterfall feature but don’t want it to include a pond.

That was the case for these clients. They were saving for a swimming pool and wanted a water feature to enjoy in the meantime. Also, since their property was a delightful wooded lot, they asked that any feature look natural so it would fit in with the surroundings.

“Their property is also adjacent to a parkland,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. This was the main reason they didn’t want a pond with any waterfall. They feared a pond, with or without koi, would attract too many wild animals.”

The solution Deck and Patio suggested was for a “pondless” system that included a stream with upper and lower waterfalls. At the end of the stream, where usually a pond would capture the spilling water, we installed a “green” pondless-reservoir underground that holds the water and recirculates it.

“With this system, the spilling water seems to disappear into the gravel,” says Dave. “But it’s really being filtered through the river rock and then a filtration system underground. After it’s collected, it is pumped back up into the stream for a continuous flow.”

We were able to make use of the property’s slope and gravity to move the water down to the waterfall. The water feature was fitted in an existing hill without need to change the terrain much at all. This location was also ideal because it meant the family could enjoy it from within the house as well as from the patio.

“Since landscaping was also important to these clients, we added a lot of vibrant plantings in different colors and textures,” says Dave. “The plants were fitted in and around hand-picked moss rocks and other natural stones in the perfect size and shape.”

For our efforts, the Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) awarded us a Silver Medal for the project.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

If you want a water feature (think stream and waterfalls) but don’t want a pond, then “pondless” is the way to go. Here, Deck and Patio used Aquascape Inc.’s pondless system which captures the water underground and recirculates it. Note how the water seems to be disappearing into the gravel where it is collected in the reservoir and redistributed.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

We used evergreens (e.g., Procumbent Juniper) that are dense and green and very low maintenance; they also spread nicely. Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe add punches of color.

 

 Moss Rock Make Natural Looking Water Features:

Moss Rock Make Natural Looking Water Features:

Note how Pennisetum plantings drape around the moss rock and natural stones; we also placed each stone and used gravity to move the water in different directions as it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Deck and Patio had previously built this handsome Techo-Bloc patio for the clients using “Elena” pavers in “Earth Brown.” The pavers come in kits with five differently-sized stones which allowed us to create a stylish random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Along with the plantings mentioned above, Deck and Patio planted Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance; one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. We also included various deciduous shrubs as well as several Norway Spruce. A Japanese Maple was added behind the upper waterfall for a its texture and color.

 

The Benefits of Aquatic Plants and Water Garden Landscaping


Water Gardens, and the plants installed in and around them, are delightful to look at. They also attract creatures that offer a daily open-air symphony: chirping birds, flapping butterflies, and croaking frogs.

For an ideal water garden eco-system, the key is maintaining clean, healthy water. Pond filtration systems do a lot, as do waterfalls etc. that aerate and oxygenate the water. But at the end of the day, a huge part of creating a healthy system is the water landscaping you do.

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Aquatic Plants

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

  •  Water Lilies
  •  Lotus
  •  Marginal Plants
  •  Water Lily-like Plants
  •  Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these groups,” says Dave 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 looks the most natural.”

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

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

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

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave. “However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. For example, when plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

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

 

 

To complete an enchanting water garden eco-system, the plants you put in around your water feature’s edge will aid in attracting birds, butterflies, pollinators, etc.

 

No pond/water feature will be completely free of algae but it can be kept in check and in a natural way — providing you with a daily outdoor natural symphony.

 

 

 

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (a canna lily) thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

 

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features:

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features:

This photo was taken just after we built the pond. Lily pads, and other in-pond aquatic plants, had yet to be added. But we had installed some attractive peripheral landscaping using plants that like moist, but well-draining soil. These do well around a pond but not in one. The red/pink flowers in the foreground are roses. To the right of them are variegated hydrangea and to the left are variegated hosta. All of these plants attract birds and butterflies.

 

Aquatic Plants:

Aquatic Plants:

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

 

“Pondless" Waterfall Landscaping:

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

Pink petunias add a bright statement away from where the waterfalls spill and seep into the ground. Close to the waterfall area we added grassy plants like Liriope that thrive in moist soil.

 

 

 

 

The Top Elements of an Amazing Outdoor Space

 

 

Even though we got hit with a snow storm only two days ago, we know that last week’s 60 degree-weather will soon be a daily experience. So it’s a great time to plan for outdoor living weather.

As you plan, consider the top elements of an amazing outdoor space we designed/built in Manhasset, NY, a while ago. The project not only thrilled the homeowners, but won Deck and Patio a prestigious design award as well (ahem).

Back Story

The clients had a lovely home. It boasted a lush wooded property, which they did not want to completely sacrifice in any upgrade. Plus, their sloping backyard was small for all the outdoor living amenities they hoped for.

Landscaping Plan

“We are used to dealing with sloping properties. Not to mention smaller lots,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “This is Long Island, after all. However, the point isn’t to simply squeeze everything in. But creatively blend the various elements together so that the softscapes and hardscapes are harmonious, with neither overpowering the other.”

In the case of their new swimming pool, opting for a free-form design allowed for a full-sized pool, despite the yard’s available space. And it was accomplished without sacrificing a surround-patio large enough for entertaining.

“By designing the patio in multi-levels, and taking advantage of the various property slopes, we made the space seem larger,” says Dave. “We also designed the patio in a free-form shape; it not only echoes the style of the pool, but the way it meanders along the landscape gives it a more natural look.”

For patio materials, concrete pavers were decided on. “While other landscapers might have gone along with using natural stone, we encouraged them to choose concrete pavers,” adds Dave. “And while there would be occasions where we would recommend bluestone ourselves, natural stone gets very hot in the sun, which wouldn’t be ideal around the pool and spa.”

The custom raised spill-over spa was built above the pool with its own private patio. “We were able to keep much of the existing trees and bushes around it, offering a natural shady area as an option to sun bathing on the lower pool patio.”

Stepping out of the home’s backdoor, a handsome deck expands outward to the top of one of the backyard’s slopes. Stepping stones lead from there to a set of concrete steps. To the right and left of the bottom step is a stacked stone wall that supports the plantings and lawn; it also provides an extended seating area when the clients are entertaining.

“One very special element was choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which gave us lots of flexibility in design,” adds Dave. “We frequently work in gunite when clients want it, but vinyl pools are created through advanced computerization — allowing us to fit a full-sized pool within the constraints of most any property. The liner goes over a base construction that is made the same way as any other pool, so the structure is sound.”

Dave says that vinyl liners also hold up particularly well in the thaw-freeze climate of the northeast.

“We think the homeowners made great choices for this project. Apparently, the Northeast Spa and Pool Association [NESPA] agreed. They lauded the project with a special merit award.”

 

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Top project elements not mentioned above are low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting. Including such well-designed lighting means the exquisite backyard retreat you planned can be appreciated at night as well as during the day. Nighttime swims, for example, will be particularly glorious. In fact, the Manhasset, NY, outdoor lighting elements added a “Wow” factor that are as romantic as they are practical.

 

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

The concrete pavers are a key element in the overall design of this award-winning project. Their hues coordinate nicely with the home and do not retain heat like natural stone would.

 

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

When entertaining, the project’s stacked stone wall provides ample space for people to sit. It is also an attractive way to support the rising grade. By designing the patio free-form like the pool, it allowed for charming recessed areas to enjoy quiet contemplation or intimate conversations.

 

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

The free-form patio meanders along the pool and lawn area in a natural looking way. The pavers were installed on crushed stone — the same way as traditional pavers; polymer sand joints were included to prevent weeds from popping up in between.

 

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

In future, when the time comes to replace the liner in a vinyl pool, this turns out to be a great wallet-friendly-opportunity to give your pool a facelift and a brand new look. Note: vinyl pools have steel reinforced concrete walls underneath that are thicker and stronger than typical unite pools. So, they’re much more than just comfy on your feet.

 

 

Backyard Upgrade: From Very Nice to Sublime

The owners of this Brookville, NY, property had a charming backyard that consisted of a large patio separate from an attractive pool area. When Deck and Patio met with them to discuss a patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

“The clients were surprised at our suggestion that, rather than design/build a custom in-ground gunite spa, they opt for a portable spa,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And when they saw how such a hot tub would fit harmoniously within the yard’s new overarching design theme, they were delighted with this idea.”

The complete upgrade included adding an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.

Plus, the new handsome Techo-Bloc pool surround pavers the clients chose were repeated in the lower patio where a new granite-topped L-shaped outdoor kitchen, and fire pit, both faced in matching stone, were added.

The theme tying it all together, of course, is the stone-facing on many of the elements — balanced by soft hues in the plantings and choice of pavers. Whether it’s going up the steps from the patio to the pool where a stone wall accents the elevation change, sitting around the custom fire pit, barbecuing on a granite-topped outdoor kitchen, or taking in the whole scene while soaking in the spa, the various elements work together beautifully.

The soft hues of the Techo-Bloc’s Aberdeen pavers for the pool surround and lower patio were chosen to add a hint of contemporary flair to the traditional style of the stonework. Their subtle pinks, blues and creams, accented with robust landscaping, add a soothing feeling throughout the backyard oasis.

“This upgrade really brought an already attractive backyard into a true oasis,” says Dave. “Day or night, the only word for it is sublime.”

 

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Stone facing of several amenities help tie this oasis together: fire pit, outdoor kitchen, patio wall and steps, as well as the portable spa encasement (not seen), are all faced in matching stone.

 

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

The clients wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion for a custom installation of a portable Bullfrog Spa. With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it can be used when the pool is closed down. Plus they get the therapeutic benefits of Bullfrog’s renowned JetPaks (hydro jets) without sacrificing drama and elegance.

 

Hot Tub Installation:

Hot Tub Installation:

One truly enjoyable aspect of the clients’ new spa is where it was installed. When soaking in it, they get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool as well as all the way to the lower patio area where the outdoor kitchen and fire pit are.

 

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

A beautiful and highly functional outdoor kitchen, topped in granite and faced in stone, was positioned adjacent to the patio’s dining area and new fire pit.

 

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

One of the features of the clients’ new spa is a sheet-falling waterfall that flows out from its encasement into the pool. A privacy wall holds a dramatic fire blow that spills a waterfall into the spa.

 

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

These Techo-Bloc paving stones are packaged separately giving flexibility in design. Here soft hues (blues, creams, pinks) and various sizes placed in random patterns create the perfect pool surround and patio for this backyard upgrade.