decorative water features

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Conserving Rainwater: One Raindrop at a Time

Despite the inconvenience of rain being forecast over Labor Day weekend, while we’re home enjoying some time off, the rain does offer a teachable moment.

Rainfall is important, isn’t it. Just about all Long Island’s water comes from local aquifers, replenished by rain and snow. As we can see in California, where they are long suffering from droughts, it’s frightening that their aquifers are depleting.

In speaking a while back with Nick Menchyk, assistant Professor (Urban Horticulture & Design) at SUNY Farmingdale, he reminded us:

“On the east coast, while we typically get plenty of rain, any time we can harvest and use rainwater for irrigating our landscape — as opposed to pulling it from our aquifers — is going to be beneficial.”

Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell adds that this is even more important as sea levels rise and the concern that salt water will encroach on our landscapes.

Professor Menchyk says that while he does not consider himself an expert in rainwater harvesting and rain gardens, he told us he is convinced that it’s only a matter of time when the greater eastern seaboard will be looking to how we irrigate.

“Whether we like it or not, the future holds limitations in the amount of water we use. Rainwater harvesting is a way we can be responsible stewards of our environment now.”

 

Outdoor Water Use

Outdoor Water Use

 

Outdoor Water Use

The “average” homeowner, according to statistics, uses approximately 3,000 gallons of water weekly with about 70% used outdoors.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio’s Rainwater Harvesting Division

Deck and Patio’s Rainwater Harvesting Division

 

As landscapers, maintaining water quality is one of our passions at Deck and Patio.

We have a special division — Rainwater Harvesting Group — dedicated to installing rainwater collection systems that alleviate demand on municipal systems, reduce water bills — all while beautifying and enhancing landscapes and properties.

 

 

 

Capturing Rainwater

Self-Sustaining Eco-Systems

Self-Sustaining Eco-Systems

Deck and Patio specializes in installing systems that capture, filter, and recirculate rainwater, in sufficient amounts that also supply and keep topped off peaceful water features.

This project, for example, includes a stream and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting water collection system. City water is not used. The feature attracts desirable wildlife such as frogs, butterflies, birds etc. creating a delightful wildlife refuge.

The captured rainwater works together with the carefully chosen plants, fish, rocks and gravel, to maintain a balanced system for long-term sustainability.

 

 

Permeable Pavers Will Capture Rainwater

Permeable Pavers Capture Rainwater

Sometimes, as shown here, we also use permeable pavers to ensure we capture sufficient rainwater to maintain the landscape — as well as allow clients to wash their cars and/or hose down their decks and patios. 

And when you consider that local Long island water companies frequently charge an incremental rate, based on the amount of water used, capturing all the non-ingestive water you need from rainfall, the lower your rate will be.

 

Capturing Roof Runoff

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff

For this project, four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff.

It then falls through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the Aquascape reservoir.

There it is recycled for reuse in irrigation and to top off a backyard pond when needed.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ Rainwater Harvesting process for this feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Ponds and pond-less water features can be more than picturesque. They provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.

 

US Green LEED Grants:

US Green LEED Grants:

These Brooklyn clients have a four-story walk-up and they wanted to collect all the water that comes off their roof. In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, they hoped to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. 

According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.

With the system we installed, they collect enough rainwater to take care of their landscape and vegetable garden. More on this Brooklyn, NY, project in future blogs.

Right As Rain: Rainwater Harvesting Group Wins Award

Update (8-11-15): At their annual Pondemonium teaching event, a few days ago Aquascape Inc. awarded Bill Renter and The Deck and Patio Company “Conservationist of the Year” for this project!! We added a photo of Bill getting the “Top Frog” award immediately below. Note: This new award is above and beyond its earlier 2013 award.

 

Bill Renter Receives Aquascape Inc. Award

Bill Renter Receives Aquascape Inc. Award

 

 

The sustainable division of The Deck and Patio Company — Rainwater Harvesting Group — recently won a prestigious award for a rainwater harvesting project at the LIRR station, in Huntington Station (NY).

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Deck and Patio owner, Bill Renter. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater, which can be used at your residence or business for tasks that don’t require treated water: washing vehicles, lawn watering, washing a deck, or maintaining a garden or water feature. In this case, the project was for a public water feature at our local train station.”

It came about one day when Bill was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women who live nearby. They were planting flowers near the station to brighten it up. As the local landscaper for the area, he offered to help them by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.

“However, I learned at that time there was no immediate access to clean water. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain the plants they put in. I thought there must be a way to help with that, too.

“First, we added some moisture retention product to the soil so less water was needed. Then I noticed there was no walkway beyond the small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, and gaining the support of the Town of Huntington, we installed a lovely water feature as well as a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot.

We laid Techo-Bloc permeable pavers over gravel and a rubber liner. The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent to the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream in the water feature. The system we used is a RainXchange Harvesting System, produced by Aquascapes Inc.

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

This project has ignited interest in creating an entire rainwater harvesting park as part of the Town’s on-going revitalization of Huntington Station. Just recently, our company received a 2014 Bronze Award from Long Island Pool & Spa Association (LIPSA) for the feature.

 

 

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.

 

 

Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY)

The water feature is not just for aesthetics, but it is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants that our Rainwater Harvesting Group planted 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

Rainwater Harvesting System

The RainXchange Harvesting Systems (produced by Aquascapes Inc.) 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.

 

 

Collecting and Recycling Rainwater

Collecting and Recycling Rainwater

This project has ignited interest in creating an entire rainwater harvesting park as part of the Town’s revitalization of the area. In such a park, the rainwater would be harvested from different areas and sustain park streams, ponds, as well as irrigate the turf and plantings.

 

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting: When It Rains, It Stores

Thanks to a revolutionary design from Aquascape Inc., today you can combine a recirculating decorative water feature (humble or grand) with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system. This collected water can be used at your residence and/or business for jobs that don’t require treated water: washing vehicles, watering a lawn, spraying down a deck, or nourishing a garden.

The Deck and Patio Company — through its Rainwater Harvesting Group — specializes in  these Aquascape’s RainXchange systems. Recently, we’ve been at work in Brooklyn, New York, where a very tight city backyard is barely 25’x 12’.

“The clients have a four-story walk-up,” says our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “They wanted to collect all the water that comes off their roof.”

In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, the clients were keen to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to “qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.”

Renter adds that rainwater harvesting also reduces energy and water bills, sometimes by as much as 40%. LEED points can accrue from reducing municipal water requirements, by using locally-sourced materials that reduce transportation costs, and from reusing old bricks or materials, etc.

The following photos and video show The Deck and Patio Company hard at work at this Brooklyn project; we’ve also included two photos that showcase how beautiful a completed water harvesting job can look.

 

Updating Small Backyards:

Updating Small Backyards:

In addition to the the RainXchange system, these clients wanted a small built-in barbecue; they have a vegetable garden and we planted drought-tolerant xeriscape plants across from it.

 

 

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Reservoir

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Reservoir

Water will come off their Brooklyn 4-story roof and collect in a 500-gallon underground rainwater harvesting reservoir. When it’s full, water flows into an overflow regeneration zone where it can perk slowly back into the ground.

 

 

Private Water Systems:

Private Water Systems:

Previously, any excess water from rainfalls etc. ran off into the New York City sewer system; now, because rain water and any overflow will be collected, stored, and controlled, the water for plants and vegetables is completely disconnected from the city sewer system.

 

 

Small Yard Renovations:

Small Yard Renovations:

We had to dig a hole 4’ x 6’ and 3’ deep to install the underground 500-gallon reservoir. This required digging out soil and filling 5-gallon buckets that our team carried one at a time down to the basement, up stairs, and out to a dump truck in front of the house.

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting Components

Rainwater Harvesting Components:

We used all Aquascape Inc. products, e.g: an underlayment to absorb roughness and prevent rocks and roots from puncturing equipment; AquaBlox (plastic matrix modular system for water storage and filtration), submersible pump to operate the water feature (bubbling rock) rock, etc.

 

 

Aerating Water Feature

Aerating Water Feature:

We drilled a hole through a rock to create a bubbling rock feature; water bubbles up and then goes back down; having a connecting water feature allows the water to be continually aerated, thereby helping to purify the water.

 

 

Pondless Waterfall:

Pondless Waterfall:

The “pondless” waterfall we installed some time ago for these clients collects the waterfall’s falling water in an underground tank with a pump that circulates and helps keep the water for this feature pure.

 

 

Multi-faceted Water Feature

Multi-faceted Water Feature:

This more ambitious water feature by Deck and Patio includes a stream, and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same RainXchange water collection system. City water is not used.