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It’s Pond Maintenance Time in Long Island, NY

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

We’re nearing peak foliage in most parts of Long Island. And that lovely sight reminds us it’s time to do some pond maintenance.

In a previous blog, we reminded water feature lovers to put a net over them before the leaves begin to fall. 

Once all the leaves have dropped and been captured by the net, you can simply pull it out and once again enjoy your pond unobstructed.

Note: If netting isn’t your thing, a long-handle pond net allows you to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris. It’s a bit more work, but effective. 

Also, since ponds tend to lose significant water by evaporation during the summer, clearing out debris keeps the pond from getting too shallow and needing extra water to keep it topped off and healthy. 


Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

“It’s a good idea to trim back and remove any dead foliage from aquatic plants this time of year,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “This helps remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature. Such decaying material can cause excess gasses and undesirable algae.”

Pond lilies, for example, which are idyllic water plants, tend to need a little maintenance in fall. It’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.



Chemical Pond Treatments

 Leaves In Backyard Stream

Leaves In Backyard Stream


Some debris will make it into your pond no matter how careful you are.

Dave Kelly of renounced pond experts Aquasacpe Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).

Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.





Caring for Pond Fish

You can — and should — plump up your koi darlings to survive winter hibernation. As temperatures start to drop, gradually increase how much you feed them. When your pond’s water gets below 59 degrees, we recommend using fish food made for cold water. 

Note: As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.   Once water temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

Pond Fish in Fall: There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

Pond Fish in Fall:
There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.


There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.


Healthy Ponds: Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall. There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.

Healthy Ponds:
Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall.


If you have questions, or need assistance, give our office a call at 631-549-8100.


Need a Landscaping Idea for Your Backyard Slope?

A few years ago, Deck and Patio had clients whose property had an unused backyard hill area that sloped toward their house. And they asked us to think about how to best make use of it.

“At the top of the slope was a pool,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Our idea was to take advantage of the slope by designing a stream beginning near the pool to run downward toward the house, ending in waterfalls and a koi pond. We also suggested a new patio and stepping stones as finishing touches.”

Stream Ending in Pond

Stream Ending in Pond

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 inside 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.”

Frankly, the clients’ desire for a natural-scape in the yard helped inspire us at Deck and Patio,” owner Dave.

“Our design meandered the serene 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 like 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 positioned an 11x 16 pond adjacent to their patio.


Pondscapes-Beautiful All Year Long:

Pondscapes-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.




In Times of Stress, Americans Seek Safe Outdoor Spaces

According to the Washington Post this week, one way Americans have been seeking refuge during the pandemic is by visiting botanical gardens. Out in the air, well away from others, they can stroll amid nature’s beauty, and like the iconic image of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat, throw off with joy their uncomfortable protective masks.

While the Post’s main focus was on visiting botanical gardens — which can be a wonderful outing for enjoyable social distancing — some of Deck and Patio’s clients are creating peace-evoking scenic spots right in their own yards.


Creating a ‘Breathe-Free Refuge’ at Home


Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

Sometimes you can combine a refuge designed for peaceful relaxation with other more practical needs.

This photo (left), for example, shows how Deck and Patio designed/built a “natural” retaining wall for some clients. 

“Retaining walls can be pretty boring to look at,” says Dave Stockwell. “But they don’t have to be. Here a ‘natural’ retaining wall includes a ‘pondless’ water feature. The water from the waterfall is captured underground, in a safe area where very young children can’t access it. From there, the water is filtered and recirculated.”

In addition, this retaining area has been installed with lush plantings, river rock and natural stone steps which together with the water feature create a beautiful nature walk — all while serving the purpose of holding back the grade.

Dave notes that the reserved underground tank water never stagnates because it is continuously circulated up from the underground pond via the waterfall.


Sometimes You Want a Pond


Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

These clients (above) didn’t have young toddlers and wanted a full pond. Their completed water feature system consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond, and it is the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. 

Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are just some of the various plants brightening this pondscape.


Children Love Koi

Children Love Koi


Koi ponds were once a characteristic of Japanese gardens, but have been growing in popularity around the world, including Long Island.

And why not. Listening to the sounds of trickling water, while watching colorful koi swim around throughout several seasons is transforming. 

Whether it’s built near a patio, bridge or deck, this water feature is an attraction to more than adults.

Children love ponds, including feeding koi. It’s truly interactive in that way.

This pond (right) is owned by Brian Helfrich of Aquascape Inc. — the company that makes the water feature systems that Deck and Patio uses.




Sometimes a Garden Is Enough

Water features are wonderful but you can create a perfect place to de-stress without one. 


Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Note how the colorful plantings, moss rocks and deep green ground cover (above) line the steps leading to the clients’ charming wooden bridge.  

With or without water features, it is a lovely spot to enjoy your backyard oasis. By adding this garden bridge, “It became a favorite spot for the homeowners,” says Dave.


 Backyard Strolling

Backyard Strolling (Long Island/NY)

This completed walking/strolling area, like most of our projects, was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it were designed by Mother Nature herself.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” In addition to being a delight for the eyes, such a spot offers wonderful scents which the family can breathe in — mask-free. 

“Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting, especially today,” says Dave. “A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you absorb the beauty and quiet.”


Feature Photo at Top of Page: Above a natural retaining wall, Deck and Patio carved out a patio area with waterfall for the clients where they can sit after a stroll and breathe it all in.



Landscaping Awards: Sweeping the Entire Water Features’ Category

Submitting your company’s project(s) for recognition by your peers requires a bit of work. For example, arranging for a photographer to visit the completed job sites — hopefully on sunny days — must also be coordinated with our Deck and Patio clients. 

Then choosing just the right photos and writing up details of the work to support these entries  requires precious time — usually during our busiest time of year. Only then, does “fingers crossed” waiting begin.

Winning Awards

When you consider the quality of Deck and Patio’s competitors, over the years we’ve always been humbled not to mention a little bit proud when winning our share of awards. 

And right now we are in the process of arranging photography for some of our most recent work. 

While this is being done, we couldn’t resist remembering that time, not too long ago, when Deck and Patio actually swept APSP’s entire water feature category.

“To receive an award from The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) — the voice of the pool and spa industry — is a great achievement,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “To have won Gold, Silver and Bronze for three of our water features, and to have been the only company to win in that category that year, says all the effort and love we put into our work was recognized.”

Here are those awards:


1.  Gold Award, Islip NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Residential Water Features 


Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY)

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY)

The waterfalls we created to flow over rocks in this water feature are not just for beauty; they aerate the 23  by 16,  2-foot-deep pond, keeping it from becoming stagnant. In addition to aquatic plants in and around the pond, the landscaping included bright plantings. We added colorful koi, plus the pond attracts other desirable wildlife for a blissful backyard escape that is a delight for all the senses.

 Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

We also added stepping stones across this same pond, which make it possible to go from their new deck out into the yard — in a way that contributes to the overall restful experience of the water feature. The stones’ irregularity and careful placement create an element of what the ancient Japanese called the ‘contemplative world.’


2.  Silver Award, Brooklyn/NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Residential Water Features

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Even though they live in a bustling, high-traffic part of New York City, this client wanted her children to experience the same interaction with nature that she had as a child. For them we designed/built a complete backyard playground oasis: a swimming pond with a beach-style entry and a water feature with three waterfalls.

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Instead of using any chemicals, to keep the pond healthy through a natural eco-system, we used all Aquascape Inc. equipment and components. 

We also constructed the shallow pond as a deeper koi pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel; when the children are older, this can be removed, leaving only the liner, to create a full-sized koi pond providing an entirely different experience for the children.


3. Bronze Award, Fort Salonga/NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Exterior/Interior Portable Hot Tubs

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

These clients wanted a spillover spa, but so they could enjoy it all year, they wanted it separate from the pool. To provide the look they wanted, along with year-round use, we built a portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it.

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

We also added a moss rock waterfall just beneath the hot tub that spills into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, this waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground concrete spillover spa.


Those three jobs won the whole water features category! Gold, Silver, Bronze. Fingers crossed on our new round of submissions!


Get Ready for Summer with a Stone Bar and Trellis

These Long Island, NY, clients wanted to upgrade their backyard with lots of outdoor living amenities. But space was at a premium. There wasn’t room, for example, for a pond with waterfalls. Also, designing/adding a waterfall area to their new pool (something Deck and Patio is known for) would have reduced the desired patio space. 

Sheer Descent Waterfalls

Sheer Descent Waterfalls

“So our design team came up with the idea of having two sheer descent waterfalls  flowing out of the stone outdoor bar they wanted,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

“We designed the waterfalls be be ‘pondless’ — so the spill is captured below ground without the usual above-ground presence of a pond.”

(Sheer descents are also known as sheet falling or water curtain waterfalls.




'Pondless' Waterfalls

‘Pondless’ Waterfalls

The best part of these waterfalls is their ability to offer the audio and visual enjoyments of continuous flowing water while using only a minimum of water flow. The Aquascape underground “pondless waterfall” system stores and recirculates the captured water through an underneath pump that sends the water up through a filter.

Note: The charming block of plantings in front of the bar provides a natural softscape that breaks up the surrounding hardscapes with bursts of color and softness.



Custom Wood Trellis/Pergola

Custom Trellis

Custom Trellis


The addition of a custom wood trellis over the bar helped create an “outdoor great room” effect through the use of this attractive piece of architecture.

It also adds to the private escape feeling which is desirable anytime, but which is particularly valuable these days when travel is so unappealing to many. 

Homeowners can add climbing roses or other climbing plants to such a trellis for additional natural beauty. And the shade from the pergola will increase over the years as the vines continue to grow.





Custom Bar with Trellis

Custom Bar with Trellis

The custom bar with trellis was set across from a slightly raised patio lounge area furnished with circular wicker seating and a shade umbrella.

The bar’s stone mimics the lovely patio paving stones; it is topped by a counter made from composite decking material that gives the appearance of wood, but without the cracking, rotting, or splitting.  This countertop also requires no sealants because the composite materials are already protected from UV rays, and is very resistant to damage from insects, water or sun.


A note about the Cambridge Random Pavers used in this project. 

Cambridge Pavingstones

Cambridge Pavingstones

To create the patio pool surround and other patio areas, we compacted the soil back around the pool to allow for the immediate installation of the new pavers around the pool.

This compacting process is not done by many contractors. We, however, have been doing it successfully for over 15 years with little or no soil movement.

The idea is that, using compacted soil, the base will not settle so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle.

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.



Vinyl Pool

Vinyl Pool



This project also included a vinyl-pool with automated cover and additional patio lounging areas.




The Backyard Sanctuary You Always Wanted



Wish Lists Are Key

Wish Lists Are Key


Have you been wanting a backyard sanctuary but don’t know what to do first? Sometimes, the best way to begin is to create a wish list.

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This is what they wanted for their outdoor sanctuary:




Wish List Come to Life

Wish List Come to Life

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This was their list for an outdoor sanctuary:

— an in-ground vinyl-lined pool

— large patio area,

— outdoor kitchen,

— outdoor shower,

— fire pit,

— serene streams and waterfalls, and

— high-tech/energy-efficient pool components that are undetectable in the landscape.


“We were happy to assure them that we could bring together all the expertise necessary and design and organize it all,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In fact, incorporating outdoor technology with all the mechanics well hidden in beautiful settings fit right into our wheelhouse. It’s one of our trademarks.”


Energy-Efficient Pool





The water in a pool is often around 85 or 90 degrees, while the surrounding soil is considerably cooler. Adding insulation around the outside of the pool wall, as we did for this project, creates a thermal break between the warm water and the soil that really saves energy by helping the pool water to retain its warmth.




We worked with the owners to find energy-efficient solutions for the whole project. There are many ways to increase efficiency:

To heat the pool, we added a hybrid system that uses both a gas heater and an electric heat pump. The heat pump acts like a reverse air conditioner, pulling in warmth from the air and transferring it into the pool. This design not only adds heat taken from the air — and not from electricity — but the gas heater can act as back up when the air temperature is very low or when creating heat more quickly is required.

The “variable speed pump” is an extremely efficient pump that allows low energy use by slowing down the motor dramatically. It decreases the amount of energy the pump uses. It can run twenty-four-seven much more efficiently than others pumps that are used only a few hours a day.


Raising and lowering the speed of the pump is programmed by computer and they can control when it turns on and off. The computer will also monitor the chemical levels in the pool and decrease or increase them as required.



Hiding the Automation Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Deck and Patio hid the pool equipment away, up a delightful pathway, behind the waterfalls.

We designed and built the streams and waterfalls to flow through berm with moss rock. The gentle sounds of two streams leading to two separate waterfalls, as well as the splash of jet sprays, screen out any sounds from high-tech pool equipment.





Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy efficient components supporting it all. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to backyard retreat. 

An outdoor shower stands at base of stepping stone pathway (right) that leads up to pool equipment.



Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls.

Note: Updating Your Pool

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

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


Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Their sanctuary’s outdoor kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.







How to Protect Your Pond Fish From Attack

If you’ve been spending more time at home like so many in our area of New York, we bet some of that’s been outdoors. And those with a pond are probably noticing that your pond fish are coming out of hibernation. Ahh. Spring.

One thing we hope you haven’t noticed, however, is any of your precious koi suddenly disappearing!

Now if that’s the case, we feel your pain. Not only do we enjoy watching and feeding these jeweled treasures, koi help balance the entire ecosystem of a pond. So we get it that you want to protect them. 


Safety Begins with Good Pond Design

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

If your koi pond was designed and built well, it was designed and built deep.

A water feature with sufficient water depth, for example, will dissuade raccoons and cats from going after your fish, since neither species enjoys swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages the most challenging predator, the heron, from wading into your pond. Herons enjoy walking around in slightly shallow water.

Deep water really puts them off.

So a pond designed with high rock ledges and no easy wading entrance discourages a heron from hunting your fish.



Pond Water Features:

Pond Water Features:

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of bubble rocks, waterfalls, or even water from nearby sprinklers, will put off many predators. Also, unlike still water which offers a glass-like surface, bubbling water from a waterfall etc. disturbs that serene surface, making it harder for predators to see the fish underneath. 

“In addition, when we construct a pond, we frequently include underwater koi castles,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “When the koi sense danger, they can hid in there until the creature has given up.”



Other Tips for Protecting Koi

  1. Statues: Some swear by scarecrows like owl statues. Others recommend a decoy-heron. Indeed, being territorial, herons will usually avoid conflict with what they perceive as another heron. Be sure the decoy is large enough to appear as a reasonable threat, however. And it is also important to move the decoy every few days. Herons are clever and will soon figure out a decoy that never moves isn’t a danger.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers 2. Another effective deterrent is installing a motion-activated sprinkler. We found, for example, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, who says that after testing just about every animal repellent conceivable: “…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

The motion-activated sprinkler is just one of several deterrents that should be used, adds Dave. “It can be effective, but works best in combination with some of the other suggestions we’ve given here today.”

3. Pond Netting/Fish Wire: “The most effective guarantee for safeguarding pond fish is pond netting,” says Dave. “But, because they spoil the look of the pond, most people prefer to use netting only during fall foliage. However, another suggestion which you’ll see in the following video seems a better alternative. Fish wire can be strung around pond areas where predators can get close enough to grab your fish.



The following YouTube video is by Foisy Aquatics who has a YouTube channel devoted just to fish.



Today’s Feature Photo (at Top of Page):  Koi are a healthy part of this Deck and Patio pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of high rock overhangs to discourage predators. A motion-activated sprinkler and a koi castle offer the final bits of security.


By |2020-04-23T14:29:27-05:00April 23rd, 2020|Aquascape Biofalls, Backyard Escapes, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Ponds & Water Features|Comments Off on How to Protect Your Pond Fish From Attack

Birdsongs Are Actually Good For You



Note: We highly recommend opening the above video before reading further. That way you can experience the transforming effects of bird songs — while reading about the transforming effects of birds songs and how to entice more birds to your yard!


Birdsongs’ Restorative Effects


City Birdsongs

Because of extensive sheltering-in-place, even city dwellers are hearing natural sounds these days that usually are muted by the normal drone of human activity.

Rebecca Franks wrote on Facebook that she used to think there weren’t really any birds in the city where she was living. She rarely saw them and never heard them. “I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing.”

And what better time to learn that hearing birdsongs is actually good for you. A recent study says that, depending on the particular birdsong and its type and frequency, the sound of birds can actually help one feel better and react more positively to life — offering restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.


Attracting Birds to Your Yard

Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders

Before rushing out to put up more bird houses and feeders, remember attracting birds takes some planning.

Deck and Patio has been in the business of creating bird-friendly landscapes for over 25 years. And we’ve learned a thing or two.

For example. Birds aren’t as happy with your perfectly cut and edged expansive lawns as your neighbors might be. And while the odd bird house or feeder will help attract a few birds to a nicely manicured area, birds, prefer a bit of density.

“Songbirds love bushes and trees,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Birds of all sorts drop by for the food, comfort and privacy such lush vegetation gives them. And in turn for access to some clean water and natural munchies, like berries, they’ll give you an opera of stress-reducing songs. Berries, by the way, have been known to tempt even timid birds out of hiding, like woodpeckers.”

Here’s an example of a modest natural sanctuary we designed/built for one of our clients.


Attracting Birds:

Attracting Birds:

Although the neighbors of these clients have a natural wooded area, we added bushes, trees and plenty of plantings to their own yard. This means birds and their songs will be closer by and easier to hear. The crepe myrtles, for example, contribute to an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October, providing a haven for a variety of visiting birds.


Some April ‘To Do’s’

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

During March and April many birds migrate back up north. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are just one species that make their home in Mexico and Central America during winter, and are already back in our neck of the woods.

So if you want to invite them to your yard, it’s time to fill hummingbird feeders etc. As for blooms, horticulturist Sandra Vultaggio says that these hummingbirds particularly love rhododendrons and azaleas. “They also love Columbine, which they track as they move north.”

Other delightful birds — e.g., the Baltimore Oriole and certain Warblers — also arrive on Long Island and other areas of the Northeast in April.

Oriole migration coincides with that of hummingbirds, says Vultaggio — arriving usually a week ahead of their smaller rapid-flapping friends. For the Orioles, she puts out oranges, which they love.

Like hummingbirds, Orioles winter in Mexico and Central and South America. It’s worth planning for their arrival because they don’t stay around long. They begin migrating south again in August. So get your Oriole-feeders out early.

Some ‘Not To Do’s’

“April is a good time of year to postpone any severe pruning you might want to do,” says Vultaggio. “This time of year is usually mating season, and squirrels and birds are busy building their nests.”

“You don’t want to be cutting down trees while these creatures are nesting. Also, it’s helpful to the birds if you don’t make a thorough clean up of your yard during spring maintenance. Leave behind loose twigs and leaves for them to build their nests.”

During April, gardeners often find it necessary to go after insects and pests that might destroy their garden. This can mean applying fungicide or spraying insecticides.

“Be sure that when you do this, not to spray the blooming trees and shrubs. You don’t want to harm birds, bees and other pollinating insects,” says Dave.

Extra Tips

If you’re not an avian expert and are not sure which bird is which, you’ll appreciate the Audubon Soceity’s app. Not only will it help you identify the birds you see, but you can keep track of them, share photos, etc. There’s a good tutorial on their app’s information page, just click here. 

So make your home’s outdoors as much of bird sanctuary as possible. If you help the birds…they’ll help you right back! In the meantime, if you need a little restorative birdsong uplift, try out  Bird Song Opera. It’s great.  


Landscape Planning: Sheltering In Place Yet Still Moving Forward

Just when you promised yourself that this is the year you’d have the outdoor haven you’ve always wanted, most of New York, for very good reason, went on lock-down. And the local news is very worrying at times. Confined at home, we yearning for some normalcy back.

One thing you can still do, despite sheltering at home, is to keep your dreams for a property upgrade moving forward.

Planning Landscaping Projects While Sheltering in Place

Deck and Patio is well set up to develop landscape plans without meeting clients in person. For example, we do not need to see your property first-hand to begin planning. All we need — via email or phone — is a rough idea of what you are hoping for. 

Google Earth Map

Google Earth Map

Then, through the use of technology such as Google Earth maps, we collect a clear outline of the terrain and size of the property. From that, we make a rough plan which can be emailed to clients, followed by a video-conference or discussions by phone. 

Once we’re all on the same page, the fun begins. A Deck and Patio designer enters design details into our computer software program resulting in a 3-D Animation Plan, which will not only show what the upgraded yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

Will Deck and Patio Need to Visit the Property’s Site?

Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool, for example, that’s being upgraded or replaced. But any necessary on-site inspections can be arranged so as to minimize, or eliminate entirely, any personal meet ups with you. And with ongoing tele-conferencing, we can get your input and discuss any adjustments throughout this process.

 It could very well be that by the time the plans are finalized that either sheltering in place is no longer required or any ongoing restrictions will still permit outdoor landscaping projects to be done — with care and proper procedures.

An Example of Computerized Landscape Planning

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project (also shown at top of this page), the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, we upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

3-D Design

3-D Design

Completed Project

Completed Project







Again, we used 3-D animation to show how this multilevel pool area would change. We showed how we would turn what the client described as a problem area into a feature, by enlarging the upper area, where the client liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view. The lower area was expanded for sunning; an outdoor kitchen was added for entertaining.

The upper patio — where the clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture. In addition, an equally confining lower patio was enlarged for sunning; an outdoor kitchen (at the side of the house) was added for easy entertaining.


Completed Project

Completed Project




Let’s do all we can to stop the contagion, for sure. That said, while sheltering in place, we can still move forward.








Backyard Waterfalls Make the Right Noises

There are some noises we want when enjoying our backyard escapes — the open-air symphony of birds, flapping butterflies and croaking frogs. And the laughter of children and friends.

Of course, there are noises we don’t want. Cars wizzing by on a high-trafficked street, beeping horns, etc.

But what’s a homeowner to do, if their cherished home is in a busy area?

“Many parts of Long Island is fairly built-up,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “In Nassau County, for example, the homes can be quite close together. But even in Suffolk, it’s hard to get completely away from traffic.”

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project, the homeowners had longed for a restful backyard, but their property was located close to a busy four-lane road. How could they enjoy a pool and spa amid disturbing noise?

“We were happy to reassure them that they could have an undisturbed backyard oasis,” says Dave. “The key was including in the landscaping design a substantial rushing waterfall near the pool. It would not only be beautiful to look at, but its relaxing sounds would mask   unpleasant street sounds.”  (A short video that captures the sounds of their waterfall can be found below after our first two photos.)


Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Not far from the right edge of the pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“The waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.


Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

This is a close up of the Rosyln, NY main waterfall. Water flows down moss rocks in a natural-looking way, and seeps through river rock, where it is captured in an underground reservoir. The water is filtered and recirculated, making it very eco-friendly.


The following video lets you hear the delightful sounds of rushing water at this Rosyln, Long Island, NY, project.


Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Pleasant sounds are the very opposite of unpleasant noise. And this backyard Roslyn, NY, paradise retreat is blessed with delightful sounds. These sounds can be enjoyed in the pool, while sunbathing on a wide patio, when relaxing in a quiet upper patio, when rocking back and forth in the outdoor swing — not to mention when relaxing in the spillover spa.


Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

Deck and Patio surrounded the backyard retreat’s new freeform vinyl pool and raised spillover spa with handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patios and bright plantings. The raised spa has its own separate overhead waterfall as well as a spillover into the pool. All this adds to an undisturbed backyard experience.

A diving rock and landscaping cutouts add to this pool area’s summer charms. In addition, the Cambridge paving stones are tough when it comes to winter’s cold weather. The pavers seem to withstand abuse better than any poured and stenciled concrete.


Poolside Landscaping:

Poolside Landscaping:

Bright plantings with green ground cover, along with river stone gravel and delightful stepping stone path, add to the natural look and serenity of the barrier/pool area.