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Before the Leaves Fall: Some Backyard Maintenance Tips




It’s weeks away. But as sure as leaf tannin stains decks and driveways, fall foliage is coming.

So kick back and give a few thoughts to some backyard maintenance that can be done now — and might make falling leaves less of a problem.







Right now — on the cusp of early fall — is the ideal time to prune. Cutting plants back now will give them enough time to callous over before the first frost.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.





Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

One area that needs a little care before leaves drop is the backyard pond.

In a previous post, our blog covered in detail the importance of protecting pond water from falling leaves.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

Pond experts at Aquascape Inc., a leading pond supply company, also suggest “tenting” the net so it doesn’t sag into the water when it becomes heavy with leaves and debris.

They also say to trim back aquatic plants to reduce the amount of organic material decomposing in the colder months. A previous blog offers more details on water plants and how to care for pond fish in fall.




Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.


Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”







Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

In an earlier blog, we discussed — Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.




Deck and Patio Pond Project

Deck and Patio Pond Project

A bit of effort in fall — before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.



Future Trends: Sustainable Water Features May Soon Capture Sunlight As Well As Rainwater

Sustainable Water Features

Sustainable Water Features

Deck and Patio has long specialized in creating serene water features in an eco-friendly way. Such features not only add beauty and enhance a property’s landscaping, but when rainwater harvesting systems are also part of the design, homeowners’ water bills are greatly reduced. Also, because water doesn’t leave the property, fewer pollutants get into area waterways.

Deck and Patio is expert at capturing rainwater from both roofs and permeable paver patios and walkways. “However, we are always on the lookout for better ways to do things,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio. “This means staying on top of the latest technologies and trends in all aspects of water feature technology.”

Infinity Pond

Infinity Pond

One cutting edge sustainable water feature we created (left) is a beautiful multi-faceted ‘infinity’ pond our team built on Long Island.  “It is one of the first infinity ponds done in North America,” adds Renter. “The project included a stream, waterfalls, a second lower pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.”

To create healthy as well as beautiful water feature systems, Deck and Patio uses natural stones and biological filtration systems, including special plants. Yet, there is one eco-friendly solution that has eluded Renter and Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.

“For water features and any stored rainwater to remain healthy, the water must be aerated and moved,” says Stockwell. “This has meant adding pumps, and pumps require the use of electricity — almost always from non-renewable sources. This has been true for swimming pools as well as ponds, waterfalls, etc.”

That, however, may be about to change.


Solar Roadways' Solar Pavers

Solar Roadways’ Solar Pavers

One entrepreneurial American couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of the company Solar Roadways, with a view to creating national energy independence, are already testing modular hexagonal solar pavers that can be walked and even driven upon. One of their two test projects is sponsored by the state of Missouri’s highway department and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We were thrilled to learn recently that Solar Roadways’ paver technology is being developed — and in some places is already being tested,” adds Renter. “These new pavers trap sunlight much the way solar panels do on roofs with special circuitry to produce electricity.”

Of course, these solar pavers are made with significantly more durable materials than roof solar panels in order to allow for heavy traffic. This means that Deck and Patio will be able to install self-sustained water features without the need for electricity as well as municipal water.

“In addition, these revolutionary solar pavers will offer heating options that melt snow and ice, making them a great addition to home driveways and public highways in winter,” says Dave Stockwell. “The pavers also include LED lights for lighting the areas.”


Testing Solar Pavers in the Netherlands

Testing Solar Pavers in the Netherlands

The promise of these pavers to generate a good amount of electricity seems genuine. Indeed, testing of similar solar pavers by a European manufacturer is being done to great success right now in a village northwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

“We hope to experiment with these new pavers right here in Huntington Station in the not too distant future,” adds Bill Renter.



Artist's Rendition of Solar Highway

Artist’s Rendition of Solar Highway:

According to Laurel A. McKean, Missouri Department of Transportation, the U.S. company, Solar Roadways, has developed two different glass panels to be tested. One is for highway/roadway installations and one specifically for pedestrian use. The latter has an additive that provides better traction. It’s been briefly tested for bare feet and if other tests confirm this, it could be used in a variety of ways on a home property.


Sustainable Water Feature at Huntington Train Station

Sustainable Water Feature at Huntington Train Station:

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), Deck and Patio added a serene water feature and a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot. Permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc were put over gravel and a rubber liner which filter the rainwater runoff before it reaches the reservoir we 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,” says Bill Renter. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay. At present, the system is aerated through the use of electrical pumps. We are hoping when the testing is complete for solar pavers in the United States that we can add these pavers to projects like this one and make them 100 percent eco-friendly.”