attracting wildlife

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Benefits of Water Gardens: Raising Independent, Confident Kids

There is much debate today whether ‘helicopter’ parenting, i.e., hovering closely around children as they grow up, is better than the more old-fashioned ‘free range’ way,  or more limited parental supervision.

The goal of both sides, of course, is raising confident, independent and safe kids. 

But it was the free-range side of this discussion that caught our eye this week. A recent NPR article focused on how some parents believe that to raise confident and independent children, they need to “let grow.”

The ‘let grow’ is a terrific play on words — especially since what’s behind it emphases the advantages children experience by exploring, on their own, a beautiful outdoor natural environment. 

This does not surprise us at Deck and Patio. We’ve been hearing for many years how much the children of our clients gain by being able to explore Nature close up in a backyard water feature like a pond.

“Not everyone lives near a large park with streams, or a pond, abundant with flora and fauna,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And not every parent is comfortable with letting children stray too far away from home in order to experience this.”

But on answer is certainly adding a wildlife refuge (small wildlife that is) in one’s own property.

As this wonderful video (below) from Aquascape Inc.’s Facebook page shows, when done well, these features can attract lots of interesting and friendly creatures that children love:  birds, frogs, salamanders, butterflies.

Not to mention by adding koi and lovely aquatic plants, depending on their age, children can be entertained as well as educated — on their own — for hours at a time.

 

 

Now while there are a few things to consider, like an ideal pond depth for the age of the children, with a little care, koi ponds bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, many adults can’t resist a swim.

So whether you believe in being a ‘helicopter’ parent, or come down on the side of ‘free range,’ with a backyard koi pond, kids can explore without being far from a watchful eye. They’ll learn independence choosing what to study on any given day: a croaking frog, a bird bathing in the cool water, or jeweled koi eager to be fed.

 

Pond Lessons for Kids

Pond Lessons for Kids

In return for your providing the clean pond water, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides.

 

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.

 

Natural Playscape with Pond:

Natural Playscape with Pond (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio designed/built this city oasis with a temporary 8” shallow pond for younger children, which can be easily turned into a full-size koi pond when the children get older.

Stepping stones lead from the playhouse across the pond to a patio at the back of the house — where parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends can sit and watch the children play and explore (ahem). 

 

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY): Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in their pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Even when the weather is chilly, kids enjoy studying what’s happening in a pond. And when winter comes, and the koi hibernate, they might be able to skate on it. This is one time, no one argues that helicopter parenting isn’t a good thing. Parents will definitely be the ones checking to know if the pond is truly frozen.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Turning a Sloped Property Into a Water-side Walking Trail

While many of us love nature walks, we don’t all have easy access to hillside trails. Well, imagine being able to enjoy a nature trek any day you feel like it. It’s possible, if you’re fortunate enough to have an unused area of sloping yard.

That was the case for this award-winning project showcase. Their property had an unused slope near their patio. This allowed Deck and Patio to design/build a 35-foot-stream, with two stepping stone paths on either side, that gently moves along the grade solely with the help of Mother Nature’s gravity. We also positioned natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones along its banks to make a perfect area for strolling, bird-watching, etc.

At the end of the stream, the water falls over moss rock into a 10-foot-by-15-foot fish pond. Here, the adjacent landscape is graced with tall grasses (e.g., Miscanthus) and evergreens such as Juniper Parsoni, which provide a lush backdrop to it all.

“The whole area attracts so much wildlife — like frogs and birds,” says the homeowner. “This is really one of our favorite things about having a stream and pond.”

The homeowners say they also enjoy the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity they feel watching the fish swimming in the pond. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

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

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

This beautiful watery trail meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard. Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward. During winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.

 

Landscaping Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Landscaping Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio added such lovely bursts of color as Purple Cone flowers,  Coreopsis and Spirea Anthony Waterers. In addition, tall grasses, deep green ground cover, along with the peaceful sounds of moving water, totally captivate the senses. All this can be viewed from the pool area, back patio, as well as the house.

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

It takes expertise and experience to position rocks in such a way as to coax water into waterfalls just like it happens in nature. Members of Deck and Patio’s team enjoy the woods and hillsides of upstate New York — frequently stopping and studying how water flows over rock, how plants crop up alongside of such water trails, etc.

 

Backyard Upgrades (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Upgrades (Long Island/NY):

Our design plan 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.

 

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

This stunning free-form pond is a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family. Everyone enjoys feeding and watching the vibrant koi as they swim about in it. “We even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the wife. “And we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

 

 

 

 

Aquascape Water Gardens: The Appeal of Koi Ponds

Pond lovers are familiar with Aquascape as the leading water garden innovator in North America, so we were more than flattered when, in early May, our own Bill Renter was invited to do a guest blog on koi ponds for their web site. In case you missed it, we’re sharing it today.

Koi Ponds – For the Child in Us All  

By Bill Renter, Outdoor Living Expert

“Growing up, I was what they call today a ‘free-range’ kid. Like most children back then, I was free to explore the outdoors on my own and interact with nature.

Things are different today. Parents and child caretakers are far more cautious about letting children wander on their own. This is one reason, I believe, why koi ponds have skyrocketed in appeal. Through them, Mother Nature’s best experiences are brought right to our own backyards.

For sure, kids love watching and feeding colorful pond fish. Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand. And since it’s better to feed them in small amounts throughout the day, pretty much any time the kids are free, it’s a good time for the koi, too.

Backyard ponds attract other wildlife that children love: frogs, salamanders — basically any amphibian that lay their eggs in or near water. Plus birds will flock there, including song birds.

However, predatory birds like heron may be attracted to the koi. There are steps you can take to dissuade them, like netting, decoys, and electronic scarecrows with sensors that spray water when they catch movement. Also, thoughtful landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water. And from the outset, having the right depth of water in the pond (no less than 24″) is key to keeping heron at bay.

My favorite koi ponds are the larger ‘swimming ponds.’ Children can snorkel in these and get up face to face with the fish. For swimming, you want clean water, so I’d recommend not overstocking your pond. You don’t want more fish waste than can be reasonably absorbed by aquatic plants and the pond’s bog filtration system.

Now while there are a few things to consider, with a little care, koi ponds are ideal to bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, I can’t resist a swim.

So I say … go ahead … be a ‘helicopter’ parent or grandparent, and hover over the kids. With a backyard koi pond, kids aren’t missing out on much at all.”

 

Pond Fish:

Pond Fish:

Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand.

 

Good Pond Design:

Good Pond Design:

Well designed landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water.

 

Swimming Ponds:

Swimming Ponds:

Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Useful Pond Koi:

Useful Pond Koi:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; in this Deck and Patio-designed pond, the koi have lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

 

Worthy of a Fairytale : Award Winning Project Showcase

Children are natural enthusiasts of local landscapes, who delight in a brook or stream they can wade in, collect pollywogs from, or skip stones along. Even when a stream isn’t nearby or accessible to them, children tend to let their imaginations take them to enchanting outdoor places — through books, movies, etc.

In the case of this project showcase, we can not say what inspired the clients’ desire for this backyard stream and pond. We suspect, however, that a generous degree of childlike enthusiasm underpinned their plans and hopes.

The “Fairytale” Project

The clients’ property had an unused slope near their patio. This allowed the 35-foot-stream we added to move along with the help of Mother Nature’s own gravity. Natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones, were positioned along its banks.

The stream ends where it tumbles over moss rock waterfalls into a 10-foot-by-15-foot fish pond. Here, the adjacent landscape is graced with tall grasses (e.g., Miscanthus) and evergreens such as Juniper Parsoni, which provide a lush backdrop to it all.

“The whole area attracts so much wildlife — like frogs and birds,” says the homeowner. “That is really is one of my favorite things about having a pond.”

The homeowners say they also enjoy the sounds of the falls and the serenity they feel watching the fish swimming. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

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

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

This beautiful watery trail meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard. Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward. During winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.

 

Landscaping Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Landscaping Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio added such lovely bursts of color as Purple Cone flowers,  Coreopsis and Spirea Anthony Waterers. In addition, tall grasses, deep green ground cover, along with the peaceful sounds of moving water, totally captivate the senses. All this can be viewed from the pool area, back patio, as well as the house.

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

It takes expertise and experience to position rocks in such a way as to coax water into waterfalls just like it happens in nature. Bill Renter, our Outdoor Living Expert, has been passionate about the outdoors since he was a child. Even today, he spends every chance he can walking the woods and hillsides of upstate New York — stopping and studying how water flows over rock, how plants crop up along side of such water trails, etc.

 

Backyard Upgrades (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Upgrades (Long Island/NY):

Our design plan 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.

 

worthy-of-a-fairytale-award-winning-project-showcase-gardening-landscape-outdoor-living

This stunning free-form pond is a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family. Everyone enjoys feeding and watching the vibrant koi as they swim about in it. “We even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the wife. “And we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

Backyard Natural Retreat Is Splendid in all Seasons

Design/Build: Even when snow is falling, a backyard oasis can offer delightful daily escapes

 

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert finds that backyard natural retreats — once championed for their “staycation” potential — are becoming more and more popular for short daily escapes. Indeed, quiet moments listening to the trickle of water as birds sing offer ongoing opportunities to disconnect from technology, so sorely needed in today’s modern life. However, many do not realize that these daily escapes can be equally enjoyable in winter!

While The Koi Hibernate

If you add a backyard koi pond as part of your retreat, it no doubt will include a small cave where the koi can lay dormant during winter months. However, that does not mean you need to hide in your indoor home-cave. By including an in-ground or above-ground spa in your backyard oasis, a bubbling, steaming spa will be waiting every day to warm your cold bones, rejuvenate, and supply the ideal spot to watch and listen to winter birds at their feeders — a true winter wonderland!

 

“Winter Wonderland” Backyard Oasis:

“Winter Wonderland” Backyard Oasis:

By including an in-ground or above-ground spa in your backyard oasis, a bubbling, steaming hot tub will be waiting every day to warm your cold bones, rejuvenate, and supply an ideal spot to hear the winter birds sing from their feeders.

 

Splendid In Winter

Imagine a beautiful outdoor retreat with rushing waterfalls that frequently glistens with ice crystals as the cold months settle in. Also, picture the extraordinary sunsets and starry nights that shine through winter’s crisp, clear air — made all the more splendid by a vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool or pond, bringing vistas right up to your backdoor.

Backyard Retreat That Is Splendid In Winter:

Backyard Retreat That Is Splendid In Winter:

The clear, crisp winter air makes for extraordinary sunsets and starry nights — made all the more splendid with a vanishing edge pool or pond.

Under the stillness of one of our large multi-faceted water features (vanishing edge upper pond and lower pond, waterfalls, and a gentle stream) Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert installed an extremely high tech and a complex natural biological filtration system that continuously maintains the feature’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features/Natural Biological Filtration:

Backyard Water Features/Natural Biological Filtration:

An extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system maintains this feature’s crystal clear water.

 

Biological Filtration System

This water feature project includes three bodies of water: two ponds at two levels, and a 3,000-gallon underground storage vault of water – all kept clear and clean with “biological filtration” through the use of beneficial bacteria, plants and other filter media.

The vanishing edge upper pond is raised in front of a bluff. Water spills from it into a delightful connecting meandering stream down to the lower pond located at the side of the house.

Water is pumped from the underground vault to both ponds through variable energy efficient speed pumps. In the upper pond, water enters from its floor. In the lower, it enters through a separate bog – a natural filtering system – and continues through a waterfall into that pond.

Except for what is pumped in from below, everything works through gravity along gradations that our team created in the landscape. Every part of the water feature has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way.

When It’s Easy Being Green

In autumn, leaves from the trees fall into the water and are pushed along the stream where they are caught in a bed of gravel and are easy to remove, like emptying a skimmer basket in a pool. Considering the energy efficient pumps, which only ramp up when the homeowners arrive home, as well as the fact that the system harvests rain water to help sustain its underground water reserve, it’s a project to delight the heart of any green enthusiast.

Multi-Functional Water Feature:

Multi-Functional Water Feature:

Every part of this water feature (summer view) has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way.

 

 

By |2017-01-21T16:34:40+00:00December 12th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Refreshing Moments Enjoying a Deck and Patio Retreat

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert finds that backyard natural retreats — once championed for their “staycation” potential — are becoming more and more popular for short daily escapes. Quiet moments in a hammock or deck chair — listening to the trickle of water as birds sing all around — offer ongoing opportunities to disconnect from technology, so sorely needed in today’s modern life.

One Deck and Patio project perfectly exemplifies the kind of ongoing escape people are seeking. The homeowners of this award-winning installation felt they had neglected their love of nature long enough and wanted a new backyard that was a home for wildlife and lush vegetation, a place to regularly refresh the soul and spirit.

The wife says she always loved birds and nature but hadn’t seen birds in a long time. A fully-blooming landscape was also important they felt, not only to attract birds but lots of butterflies.

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert proposed a multi-feature natural retreat. One special detail in the overall design is the deck actually overhangs a pond so it appears as if the pond is partially underneath the deck and continuing down the property.

 

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The deck designed and built by the Deck and Patio Company overhangs the pond.

Our outdoor living expert’s plans for this retreat also included two 35-foot babbling brooks and a four-foot multi-tiered waterfall to feed into the pond.

 

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Deck and Patio’s natural retreat included two 35-foot babbling brooks.

 

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Deck and Patio’s outdoor retreat contained a four foot multi-tiered waterfall to feed into the pond.

Our outdoor living expert also considered how Deck and Patio’s designs and installations would fit with the additional elements the homeowners had hired other companies to do, such as a conservatory and a small bridge — always taking into account how everything would appear in nature.

The streams and waterfalls look natural because Deck and Patio’s expert understands the way water moves over rock, which is what makes our waterfalls and streams look natural. Movement is determined by the type of rocks we used, thus forcing water to move multiple ways when it comes down over the waterfall.

Plus, the rocks employed in this inspired pond installation – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, sometimes for their ideal crevices in which garden perennials could be planted.

 

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The deck, water features, and landscaping designed and built by Deck and Patio work harmoniously with elements done by other companies.

Every plant in this installation was approved by the homeowners, in addition to being approved by Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert. We planted 4-5,000 bulbs, over 300 species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens, and perennials including 150 different varieties of these species.

The layout of the project detailed different settings and focal points. In some cases you are setting next to a pond observing a waterfall; in other cases you’re walking through a woodland path. The result is a wonderful outdoor experience. First, one is captivated by the sensational color scheme — in this case — pinks, purples, yellows and lavender.

 

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Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert suggests taking some moments not just to smell the roses but also to feed the koi.

The layout of the project detailed different settings and focal points. In some cases you are setting next to a pond observing a waterfall; in other cases you’re walking through a woodland path. The result is a wonderful outdoor experience. First, one is captivated by the sensational color scheme — in this case — pinks, purples, yellows and lavender.

 

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Deck and Patio can create a woodland path as part of an outdoor retreat.

 

 

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert is available to help you plan your own special retreat. Soon you, too, can leave the cell phones, iPads, laptop, and remote controls on the kitchen table for a little while each day. Instead, enjoy heading outside with some food for the koi.