Updating Landscape

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Landscaping Trends: No Exercise Required When ‘Forest Bathing’

We’re happy to say that in a blog early last year entitled, 2018 Landscaping Trends: ‘Forest Bathing’ on Long Island, NY, we shared with our Long Island neighbors the nascent landscaping trend of ‘forest bathing.’

Well, just this week, The Daily Beast reported how broad this tend has become of late in states like Colorado. But before we get into that, let’s get clear again on what ‘forest bathing’ is and is not.   

Bathing in the Beauty of a Wooded Area

Bathing in the Beauty of a Wooded Area

Forest bathing is a Japanese landscaping trend that does not require a bathing suit — or wild evening romps in the moonlight.

It simply means bathing yourself in the beauty of a wooded area via a nature walk. The idea is to allow your inner spirit time to breathe — and any inner tensions to find release.

And as the Daily Beast pointed out, this is not about trekking, mountain biking, or strenuous exercise. It’s quite the opposite. Indeed, ‘no exercise required.’ Just moments of peaceful introspection in a natural outdoor haven. 

Deck and Patio has found that all this comes natural to Long Islanders. In our years of collaboration with many nature-loving clients, we’ve been designing such restful woodland backyard escapes for many years.

Here are a few examples of how Deck and Patio-landscaped just such ‘forest bathing’ areas for a few of our clients.

 

'Forest Bathing' Opportunity on Long Island, NY:

‘Forest Bathing’ Opportunity on Long Island, NY:

This is a great example of a pre-existing wooded area on a local property. Within this already beautiful setting, we added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around it.

We also added additional plantings and lots of green ground cover. It’s the perfect space for them to bathe in natural beauty before they start their day and when they return home.

 

Forest Bathing Offers Great Escape (Long Island/NY):

Forest Bathing Offers Great Escape (Long Island/NY):

 

 

The key to forest bathing is to create or update spaces as they appear in nature — and add only amenities that fit naturally in that environment.

In this case, Deck and Patio added a bridge, water feature, imported boulders and rocks and landscaped it with robust plantings.

It feels like you are in upstate New York, in the mountains. Yet, it’s right in our clients’ backyard.

 

 

 

 

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

As you can see from this Deck and Patio-designed backyard refuge, we were careful to safeguard the existing woodland areas.

Extending out from the parkland areas, the new water feature was brought forward to the entertaining areas through the addition of a pondless waterfall. 

The new multi-level patios were carefully designed so that each patio space had a specific use. The complete project was a perfect blend of softscapes with hardscapes.

 

 Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Many believe that walking in natural surroundings is not only peaceful, but by providing moments of peaceful contemplation, such walks can have a healing effect.

For this space, we took advantage of the family’s desire to hide their pool equipment by creating a private woodland path. We brought in bushes and plantings and fit them among existing old-growth trees. Adding bluestone stepping stones that lead to a larger woodland area contributes to an extended nature walk that is perfect for forest bathing.

This uplifting experience of forest bathing might also include spiritual moments of divine worship. But the essential key is to just give one’s technology-driven life a break, and leave the barbells behind. No place offers a better space for that than a quiet woodland area.

Forest bathing, by the way, is a translation of the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku” — a new philosophy that began in Japan in the 1980s and has been growing as fast as, well, a bamboo forest.

 

 

 

Here’s two quotes to, once again, leave you with:

“Wilderness is a necessity”

— John Muir, environmental philosopher

“Look deep into nature, and then you will  understand everything better.”

— Albert Einstein

 

 

Happy forest bathing!

 

 

 

Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just a week away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season (see last week’s blog for ideas on how to extend it), it is one of the last big outdoor weekends for entertaining.

So if you are hosting an event, you might want to make it extra special by adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting yourself, you might be in need of a hostess gift — like a bouquet from your very own garden.

 

 Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultan

Now, if you’re wondering if it’s too late to be adding flowers that will not only make Labor Day colorful, but will also last well into the fall, not to worry. We have below some great ideas from Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, who has just the right plants in mind.

“Late in the summer season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.” 

 

 

As for which ones to look out for, she agrees with Deck and Patio that the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) is a great choice to add mid-to-late August. The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

 

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices. For example, Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says.

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

 

Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy), as well as Asters, are also great choices,” she continues. “These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” 

Sedum — Autumn Joy

Sedum — Autumn Joy

 

For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

 

“I suggest getting these perennials in the ground sooner rather than later,” she continues. If it hasn’t rained before planting, soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

“It’s easy to make a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” adds Dave Stockwell. “Sandra’s ideas for adding color and beauty will not only make Labor Day Weekend entertaining colorful, but the impact will last well into the fall.”

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

 

 

By |2019-08-22T13:33:45-05:00August 22nd, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Landscape Design Is Not Just Flowers and Shrubs

Movie: Greenfingers

Movie: Greenfingers

If anyone has seen the movie Greenfingers (the British way of saying Green Thumb), you may have wished that you had some of the same natural talent its star character, played by Clive Owen, discovered he had for making things bloom. 

And its okay to wish you had a green thumb. But beautiful landscaping can go far beyond flowers and shrubs. Water features, proper use of moss rock boulders, outdoor structures like pavilions or gazebos, can add a great deal to an outdoor oasis.

But, we agree that one of the key elements of any outdoor escape includes beautiful, lush, plantings.

 

Lets Consider The Plantings

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

There’s no doubt the right plants are key to a beautiful landscape. And the landscape design professionals at The Deck and Patio Company go beyond filling your yard with plant material. We use our extensive knowledge of flora to carefully select the right greenery that suits each client’s style and goals. 

For example, it’s key to place tall and smaller plants in an eye-catching display. Colorful flowering plants are incorporated into our designs in a way that accent and compliment your home’s exterior and the sites around it. 

The beauty of any planned landscape also depends on the survival of your plant material. Deck and Patio experts choose plantings using our extensive experience and knowledge of zones, sun exposure and soil conditions.

“Whether it is creating shade gardens for the shade loving plants, digging the perfect depth for the root balls, ensuring healthy, well-fed soil, our landscapes flourish long after we’ve finished our work,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

But Deck and Patio’s creativity really comes to the fore when plants are gorgeous accents to other landscaping elements: water features, including swimming pools, ponds, streams, etc. Also, plants brighten structures such as pavilions, gazebos, outdoor benches, patios and entranceways.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance were provided here through the use of many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — all planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris.

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Even strong architectural structures are enhanced by landscaping. With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls nearby, inside this Deck and Patio pavilion, with the fireplace blazing or not, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio we added, with custom inlays/border, is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. .

 

 

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately above this photo, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorfull plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile. 

 

Gardening Fans: Meet Your Summer Loves

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

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

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

Tell me more, tell me more

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

Hibiscus

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

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

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

Verbena

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

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

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

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

Butterflies love Verbena

Butterflies love Verbena

 

Coneflowers 

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

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

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Red Coleus

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

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

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

Globe Amaranth

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

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

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms.

 

Purple Allium 

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

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

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

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

Purple Allium

Purple Allium

 

Outdoor Lighting

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

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

Landscape Lighting

Landscape Lighting Makes Night Beautiful

 

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

A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

“The key to an ideal water garden eco-system is maintaining clean, healthy water,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It is then that you attract and support delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, frogs, etc.”

Pond filtration systems and operating waterfalls are a big part of keeping water clean and oxygenated (aerated), adds Dave. “However, another major part of creating and maintaining a healthy water garden system is the aquatic and surrounding landscaping you do.”

Deck and Patio Pond

Deck and Patio Pond

Aquatic Plants

Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — the country’s leading experts on all things pond and water gardens — describes the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

Water Lilies Lotus

Marginal Plants Water Lily-like Plants

Floating Plants Submerged Plants

(Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is a Lotus.)

“The best designs for ponds and water gardens utilize a wide mixture of plants in different heights, textures and color from at least three of the above groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. When installing these, at Deck and Patio we don’t do it in a symmetrical way. We find that a more random placement provides the most natural look.”

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (canna lily) offers a nice tall statement. It 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.

But there’s more to aquatic plants 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 controls the growth of algae. 

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

Aquatic Plant: Arable Hornwort

One submerged plant, arable hornwort, is a great example of plants that eat up algae and 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.

 

Aquatic Plants (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants (Deck and Patio Project /Long Island/NY):

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.

_____________

Bonus: Keeping the garden’s water circulating using a pump, or adding waterfalls, will help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching. 

 

By |2019-05-22T14:14:02-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Aquascape Biofalls, Creative Design, Gardening, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on A Healthy Water Garden Eco-system Includes Delightful Aquatic Plants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

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

 

Waterfalls and Ponds:

Waterfalls and Ponds:

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

 

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

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

 

 

Earth Day 2019: Protecting Earth’s Species

“In nature, nothing exists alone.”
— Rachel Carson, 1962

 

Butterfly

Butterfly

From whales to elephants, coral reefs to pollinators, this year’s Earth Day (Monday, April 22) will be focused on protecting the earth’s species. And while not everyone is quite prepared to, say,  set up bee hives in their yards, there is a pollinator almost everyone does want to attract and protect — the butterfly.

“We’re frequently asked by our clients to create settings that will attract these beautiful insects,” says Dave Stockwell. And we’re not the only ones. Local nurseries have seen a large spike in purchases in recent years of pollinator-friendly plants. 

Whether or not you are a gardener yourself or prefer using a landscaper (we can recommend one, should you need it (smile), creating butterfly-friendly areas in your yard is a very easy way to do your part In the Earth Day celebrations. 

“Hummingbirds are another pollinator you will wish to attract,” adds Dave. “When attracting pollinators, you might also attract some bees, but if you plan your yard’s landscape design well, you can enjoy all these small visitors, but at a comfortable arm’s length. This is good for both you and the insects.”

Another consideration, of course, is avoiding toxic chemicals in your plant care.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” says Dave. “It not necessary to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. Besides, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Not to mention that toxic chemicals in large amounts are also dangerous to pets and children. A more organic approach is a much healthier way to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process while you’re at it.”

caterpillar

caterpillar

 

Let’s start with the basics.

It’s just as important that caterpillars have a safe habitat on your property as it does the full-grown insect.

Consider such herbs as Dutchman’s Pipe or Dill which not only give the larvae something to munch on but also provide protective cover.

 

Moving on to food.

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Umbrells (or tubular-shaped plants) are a great example of a protective sanctuary for butterflies. It’s a great landing plant and its nectar is just what these insects love.

Also consider a variety of plantings throughout the seasons to create friendly habitats:

— in spring, plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus;

— in summer: there’s a large number of choices including Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush and Black Eyed Susan;

— in fall, consider Asters (see feature photo at top of page), Golden Rod and Sedums.

 

Special Treats for Butterflies

Butterflies Love Oranges

Butterflies Love Oranges

 

“Humans and birds aren’t the only species who love orange juice,” says Dave. “In addition to the liquid butterflies get from from leftover sprinkler droplets and morning dew, they love a bit of orange.”

One of our contacts at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury suggests that, “if you want to keep ants away from the sliced fruit, put it on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day, he says.

 

 

“As we go about our daily work,” says Dave, “we’re happy to meet so many Long Islanders who are helping the environment, in their own quiet way. They, in fact, celebrate Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

By |2019-04-11T12:23:11-05:00April 11th, 2019|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plants, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Earth Day 2019: Protecting Earth’s Species

Gardening Trends: Planting Your Garden by Phases of the Moon

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

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by the Moon

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

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

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

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

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

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

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

 

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

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

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

— Sandra Vultaggio

 

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

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

 

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

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

Planting by the moon's phases

Planting by the moon’s phases

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

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

Happy spring!

 

 

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

Water Features for Public Spaces, Parks, and Town Centers

In ancient days, water fountains were a source of drinking and wash water for local citizens. Today, cities and towns across the globe add water features to parks and town centers mainly for the beauty and tranquility they bring.

However. Whether the water feature is a fountain, water wall, waterfall, stream, or pond, it is widely accepted today that any such feature be ‘green.’

Such was the case when Deck and Patio, in collaboration with the Town of Huntington, designed/built a self-sustaining or green waterfall/water garden at one of the busiest spots in the area: the Huntington Train Station.

As background: For some time Deck and Patio has operated a sustainable division, our Rainwater Harvesting Group. 

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Dave Stockwell. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater which can be used at private residences as well as in pubic spaces.”

At one’s home, adds Dave, captured rainwater is used for tasks that don’t require treated water such as washing a deck, lawn watering, washing vehicles, and refreshing one’s garden.”

In public spaces, it can be a source for sustaining not only the beautiful relaxing water feature itself, but there, too, the surrounding garden spots and plantings can be watered as well. 

How did the train station project come about?

Huntington Train Station Project

Huntington Train Station Project

The train station is just a few blocks from Deck and Patio’s design center at 189 Broadway.

One day a member of our team was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women planting flowers near the station.

As a local landscaper, we offered to help by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.

 

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

“A problem became immediately apparent,” says Dave. “There wasn’t any water source for maintaining the plants. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain them.

“In addition, there was no walkway in this space, beyond a small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was also not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, we approached the Town of Huntington. “They were completely on board,” says Dave. “Huntington Township takes great care to beautify our public spaces, including healthy and cheerful pole planters, etc.”

With the Town’s cooperation, Deck and Patio installed the self-sustaining water feature with an underground reservoir to store captured rainwater. To help accumulate the most rainfall, as well as add a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot, we constructed a walk area made of permeable paves.

“We used Techo-Bloc permeable pavers and installed them over gravel and a rubber liner.,” says Dave. “These pavers allow the rainwater to seep into the ground and into the reservoir where it can be recirculated.

“The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent, using gravity alone, to the reservoir,” adds Dave. The system we used was known then Aquascape RainXchange Harvesting System which is now called “Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System.”

“There is enough captured water to not only sustain the water feature, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Dave. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps falling non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”

 

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

The water feature is not just for aesthetics. It is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants we added absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.

 

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting System includes an auxiliary pump connected to the irrigation system. This ensures that the water used isn’t city water, but harvested entirely from rainwater. The below ground Aquascape Aqua Blox Reservoir holds 500 gallons of rainwater.

 

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The water feature at the train station (which is, alas, as of this writing buried under snow and ice!) is in total keeping with the Town’s program of beautification of public spaces.

 

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.