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Landscaping: Making a Home for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Eastern Monarch Butterfly population fell again this past February.

The yearly count they say: “continues to show a dramatic decline in this imperiled species.” And to many, these beautiful nectar-feeding insects have become the face of wildlife extinction.

“Isn’t it wonderful, then, that we can do our part to help prevent this decline,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“It can be difficult for these pollinators to find pure food sources causing them to use a lot of energy just hunting for food. So we love that many of our clients ask us to plant flowers that will attract them.”

 

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

In addition to adding the right plants, Dave says it’s also key to create a safe habitat for their caterpillars. Some herbs are ideal for that; Dill and Dutchman’s Pipe, for example, not only provide caterpillars food, but also protective cover before they turn into butterflies.

Organic gardening and environmentally-friendly lawn care products also go hand-in-hand with attracting and protecting the pollinators.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” says Dave. “It isn’t essential to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. In doing that, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Heavy use of toxic chemicals are also dangerous to pets and children. It is much healthier to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process — through a more organic approach.”

Out friends at Hicks Nurseries suggest that tubular-shaped plants or “Umbrels” provide a wonderful sanctuary for butterflies. These give them a landing plant filled with nectar just waiting for them, says one of their experts, who also suggests a seasonal approach that not only provides multi-seasonal color in gardens, but extra months of safe, bountiful habitats.

In spring, you can plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus, for example. In summer, there’s 30-40 plants to choose from, including Black Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush to name just a few. In fall, there’s Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Asters, and Golden Rod.

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

 

Butterflies will get plenty of moisture from droplets left from sprinklers, morning dew, etc. “However, they do seem to love oranges, not only for food, but to quench their thirst,” says Caldwell. 

Note: To keep ants away from the fruit, put the slice on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day.

“It’s wonderful that so many Long Islanders are helping the environment, in their own quiet way,” says Dave. “They celebrate Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

 

 

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

As the name implies, Butterfly Bush is a great choice for attracting butterflies in the summer. “They can reach up to 6-8 feet in height,” says Hicks Nurseries. “They’re fast growing and don’t need a lot of care.”

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

Dave Stockwell says that Lavender (shown here) is another plant butterflies love. “It also gives off a calming peaceful scent. There are several types of lavender that bloom at different times — so you can have its perfume from spring nearly through fall.”

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Great for attracting butterflies, these biennials are also a haven for other pollinators like bees. Their bright yellow petals and dark centers can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

 

Eco-Friendly Projects for Earth Day, 2021

One week from today is Earth Day –when people around the world will highlight a variety of ways to help preserve our planet.

Many parents might even want to involve their children in home earth-friendly activities.

 

Involving the Kids

Butterfly Themed Lesson for Kids

Butterfly Themed Lesson for Kids

 

 Pinterest, for example, is full if ideas on how to involve the kids come April 22nd: 

— butterfly themed lessons for preschool (left), 

— creating spring sensory bins, 

— flower planting themed activities, 

— making a worm-friendly mud containers

 

 

 

 

Contemporary Rain Barrel Urn/Gardeners.com

Contemporary Rain Barrel Urn/Gardeners.com

Some parents might even involve their children in setting up a simple rainwater harvesting project — barrel rainwater harvesting.

“Basically all that involves is connecting a pipeline from a roof or terrace to a large barrel,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “You can even set up several barrels for collecting the rain, since we often get a fair amount in our neck of the woods.”

If you don’t want to purchase special rain barrels, you can use a simple trash holder. Plus, getting the kids to help clean the trash clan before setting it up is an easy safe job for them. 

 

 

Rainwater Garden

If you’re storing rainwater and have a garden, you can place a pipe to directly connect with it. “All it needs is an easy tap in order to control the water flow and prevent any overflow into the garden,” says Dave. “Some might even increase the amount of gardening they are doing because of the abundance of water they have at hand.”

It’s helpful to remember that only a small amount of falling rain actually seeps into the ground. Much of it ends up as runoff in our sewers and on into our waterways. So saving it and utilizing it is truly a gift to mother earth for Earth Day 2021.

 

Sustainable Water Features

For those interested in adding a water feature to their yard, business, or public land, but don’t want to waste precious water to keep it running and topped off, can consider more complicated rainwater harvesting products.

“Indeed, we are so very passionate about rainwater harvesting that we have a special division at Deck and Patio devoted to such beneficial water preservation projects,” says Dave.

Here’s an example:

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

For this project, we also installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes it.

While we’ve done hundreds of green water features at private homes across Long Island, a favorite project we sharing below we did several years ago for the Town of Huntington at the local railroad station. 

And for an example of a public project:

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington, NY):

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), we added this 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.

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington/NY):

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

 

As Earth Day approaches, there’s lots of ways to celebrate Mother Earth. Happy conserving!

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

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!

 

 

Coming ‘Back Down to Earth’ for Earth Day 2016

Earth Day is once again upon us. And isn’t it heartening that so many countries and citizens around the world will be considering the needs of our planet at the same time? One of the special celebrations taking place this year on Earth Day (April 22)  is the signing ceremony for the international Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which many agree is a step in the right direction for safeguarding our shared home.

But Earth Day is also celebrated each and every day  — a ‘coming back down to earth’ so to speak — where individuals and communities regularly act in useful and practical ways to nourish their own corners of Mother Earth. Some are diligent about recycling, others capture rainwater for irrigation, still others install solar panels, or use organic fertilizers.

For Deck and Patio, protecting the earth is a priority as we create beautiful outdoor living spaces. Indeed, we specialize in helping clients design/build outdoor amenities that are as eco-friendly as they are enchanting. In some cases, these not only do no harm to the local environment, but the projects actually help to improve it.

Aquascape RainXchange Reservoirs

As Certified Aquascape Contractors, Deck and Patio strives not to only make serene water features look natural, but also be natural. One way we do this is by using an Aquascape RainXchange reservoir. The reservoir, which stores water underground to be recirculated, can be used as part of a “pond-less” water feature system. Instead of falling into a pond, the flow from waterfalls and streams seemingly disappears into gravel, where it is filtered, and eventually recirculated. (Examples: see first two photos below)

 

Pristine Water Features:

Pristine Water Features:

This “pond-less” waterfall and stream was installed with all Aquascape Inc. components, so it is eco-friendly: the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

 

Eco-Friendly Water Features:

Eco-Friendly Water Features:

For this “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.”

Environmentally-Friendly Backyard Ponds

Backyard ponds with waterfalls and streams can also be created in eco-friendly ways so they not only do no harm, but also help improve the environment. 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.

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; and 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 project, 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 in cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island) where we installed it with 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.

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

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.

 

 

Day 2016 coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO.

Day 2016 coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO.

 

This is the second of a two-part series in honor of Earth Day 2016 (April 22nd). 

 

 

Earth Day 2016: Attracting Butterflies to Home Gardens

 

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

As landscapers, Deck and Patio’s team is frequently asked by homeowners to plant flowers that will attack butterflies. Yet even we were surprised at how widespread the desire for butterfly gardens has become.

In speaking recently with our friends at Hicks Nurseries, in Westbury, we learned that they have seen a huge spike in the purchase of pollinator-friendly plants, as well as a large uptick in the size of audiences attending seminars on the subject.

“Those interested are outdoor people, who traditionally enjoyed creating gardens that brought in birds to feeders and provided opportunities to watch butterflies,” says Caldwell. “More and more, however, we’re seeing a desire to create safe havens for butterflies, as well as other pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds.”

Caldwell says the growing awareness in how pesticides has affected the pollinator populations has helped stir this awakening. “Butterflies and other animal groups are having trouble with repopulation because it is so hard for them to find pure food sources. Butterflies, for example, often use too much energy hunting for food.

“It’s also key to create a safe habitat for their caterpillars. Some herbs are ideal for that; Dill and Dutchman’s Pipe, for example, not only provide caterpillars food, but also protective cover before they turn into butterflies.”

Organic gardening and environmentally-friendly lawn care products go hand-in-hand with protecting and attracting the pollinators, Caldwell adds. Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, agrees.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” he says. “It isn’t essential to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. In doing that, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Heavy use of toxic chemicals are also dangerous to pets and children. It is much healthier to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process — through a more organic approach.”

As for ideal food, tubular-shaped plants or “Umbrels” provide a wonderful sanctuary for butterflies. “These give them a landing plant filled with nectar just waiting for them,” says Caldwell. She also suggests a seasonal approach that not only provides multi-seasonal color in gardens, but extra months of safe, bountiful habitats.

“In spring, you can plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus, for example. In summer, there’s 30-40 plants to choose from, including Black Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush to name just a few. In fall, there’s Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Asters, and Golden Rod.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies will get plenty of moisture from droplets left from sprinklers, morning dew, etc. “However, they do seem to love oranges, not only for food, but to quench their thirst,” says Caldwell. Note: To keep ants away from the fruit, put the slice on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day.

“We were delighted to learn that so many Long Islanders are helping, in their own quiet way, to help the environment” says Dave Stockwell. “They’re celebrating Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

 

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

Butterfly Bush (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

As the name implies, Butterfly Bush is a great choice for attracting butterflies in the summer. “They can reach up to 6-8 feet in height,” says Caldwell. “They’re fast growing and don’t need a lot of care.”

 

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

Dave Stockwell (Deck and Patio) says that Lavender (shown here) is another plant butterflies love. “It also gives off a calming peaceful scent. There are several types of lavender that bloom at different times — so you can have its perfume from spring nearly through fall.”

 

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Great for attracting butterflies, these biennials are also a haven for other pollinators like bees. Their bright yellow petals and dark centers can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

Earth Day 2016 Earth Day coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO

Earth Day 2016 Earth Day coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO

This is the first of a two-part series in honor of Earth Day 2016 (April 22nd). Next week, our blog will cover sustainable water features and rainwater harvesting. 

 

 

 

Rain On! Making Every Day “Earth Day”

Next Wednesday (April 22) is Earth Day, a day when people around the world focus on the well-being of Planet Earth.

At Deck and Patio, however, we strive to make every day Earth Day. When working to beautify a landscape, we consider the project’s impact not only on the property, but how it will affect  surrounding habitats.

It is not surprising, then, that water being such a dominant part of the Earth’s health, offering sustainable water features to our clients has become a key element of our business. When these are installed, consumption of the local municipal water supply is significantly reduced.

In fact, Long Island and her environs’ growing passion for such projects has evolved an entire separate division at our company: The Rainwater Harvesting Group, where RainXchange systems by Aquascape Inc. are the mainstay of our water preservation projects. And they have included residential, public, commercial, and industrial properties.

Here is a small sampling.

 

Backyard Habitat for Wildlife:

Backyard Habitat for Wildlife:

There are lots of bonuses in having a backyard sustainable water feature. Because the water held in the Aquascape RainXchange system is always moving and being aerated, it can’t help but become a sanctuary for wildlife.

 

How Wildlife Aid Ecosystems:

How 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,” says Bill Renter, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert. “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)

 

RainXchange Systems:

RainXchange Systems:

For this same decorative water feature, the water seems to disappear into the gravel, but instead is collected in a completely sub-surface system. There it is recirculated to maintain the feature. Bright plantings that include green ground cover and water plants, as well as river gravel, add to the natural look and serenity of it all.

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), we 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.

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

“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.”

 

Rainwater Collection from Brooklyn Roof:

Rainwater Collection from Brooklyn Roof:

Here you see us when we were hard at work in Brooklyn. Now that it’s finished, when water falls off the clients’ 4-story roof, it collects in a 500-gallon underground rainwater harvesting reservoir (RainXchange). “When the reservoir is full, water flows into an overflow regeneration zone where it can perk slowly back into the ground,” says Renter.

 

Private Water Systems:

Private Water Systems:

In the past, excess rainfall from this Brooklyn 4-story roof ran off — unfiltered — into the NY City sewer system. Now, because the overflow is collected, stored, and controlled, rainwater maintains their backyard plant and vegetable gardens, completely separate from the city’s water systems.

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