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Winter Garden Hues: Birds of a ‘Colorful’ Feather

In the Northeast, we love our change in seasons. And around this time each year, as winter is on the horizon, Deck and Patio’s blog has offered ideas on trees and bushes whose bark or berries bring color to winter gardens.

Today, however, we’re focusing on a very special and even more lively source of winter garden beauty: colorful avian visitors that can be enticed with just a little effort on our part.

 

Cardinals

Take the bright red plumage of the Cardinal. The male’s full-bodied red actually gets more striking during winter.

This is when some of their remaining gray-tipped feathers fall off, showing even more vibrant red.

What a picture they make resting on icy branches and snow.

“If you want to attract them, Cardinals love black oil sunflower and safflower seeds,” says Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, NY.

It’s helpful to note that Cardinals usually eat early in the morning or late in the evening so make sure feeders are well stocked at these times. Also, being a larger bird, they prefer a larger feeder that won’t sway too much as they eat.

 

Blue Jays

Blue Jays are another colorful bird that stays around in winter.

These gorgeous birds love to congregate in groups come winter. They also will squirrel food away. Some have witnessed Blue Jays hiding nuts in trees.

And as for sound, they have been known to scare off other birds by imitating the call of hawks.

 

 

“They also like nuts and peanuts,” says Vultaggio.

“I use a peanut wreath and fill it with shelled peanuts. This type of feeder attracts a lot of Blue Jays.

They are such fun to watch — not to mention they add a lot of color against the white landscape.”

 

 

 

Chickadees

Chickadees prefer the same type of seeds as the Cardinal: black oil sunflower and safflower. Vultaggio is also delighted by their sounds — ‘they actually say chickadee when they sing.”

Chickadees are vibrant even though, as part of the Titmouse family, they are known for their gray color and lighter bellies.

“They dine primarily on insects, seeds and berries,” adds Vultaggio. “They are active and agile little birds. These little acrobats are a delight to watch when they hang upside down from twigs or at your feeder.

 

 

 

Additional Birds

Vulraggio also puts out suet in winter, which she says attracts other birds including woodpeckers.

“A bird bath is also important. Water is often scarce in the dead of winter.

Of course, you don’t want the water to ice up and there are lots of bird bath heaters, including solar heated bird baths.

Pictured here is a Heated Deck-Mounted Birdbath by Allied Precision.

“You’ll also find that in winter these birds tend to appear in groups since many eyes make it safer to watch out for predators. Birds are such a wonderful way to add color to your winter garden.”

 

 

 

Flora

To achieve color through flora, a previous Deck and Patio blog includes a fairly comprehensive list of flora that will help “lift winter doldrums with outdoor color and texture” — information that we put together also with the help of Sandra Vultaggio.

Winterberry (shown here) is a great example of the color and texture available in winter. This dramatic and colorful bush is from a species of the deciduous holly family and is native to the Northeast.

A slow grower, it loses its leaves each autumn. And, birds love the berries…what more needs to be said.

 

By | 2017-11-16T13:35:00+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Gardening, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Winter Garden Hues: Birds of a ‘Colorful’ Feather

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.