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Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

 

Natural Landscaping Design: Why You Need Moss Rock

Ever notice in old classic movies how distracting fake scenery looks outside, say, a car that actors are supposedly traveling in?

Well, that’s true in landscaping as well. Creating a serene outdoor scene that looks natural — like Mother Nature sculpted it — requires knowing what elements will make it appear genuine.

For example, whenever we design and build a new water feature or landscape wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

“Deck and Patio finds that these sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

Moss grows well in shady areas, Dave adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting. “Of course, choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is also key to creating a natural-looking scene.

About Moss Rock

Moss rocks are harvested from quarries nationwide; later moss is added. While the moss on the rocks do not flower, the initial planting reproduces through its tiny spores, absorbing water and nutrients through their foliage. The only requirement for healthy growth is the moist conditions derived from water features or other sources.

For our first project showcased below, Deck and Patio added tall grasses and evergreens like Juniper Parsoni, to complete the rich, lush, green backdrop to see. Coneflowers and Spirea Anthony Waterers help bring in the bright bursts of color. During winter months, the moss rock boulders themselves form breathtaking ice sculptures that extend enjoyment of the water feature.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock:

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock: One of our outdoor living experts was called in by the pool company to design a pool surround positioned against a steep hill. Our design plan also included a large retaining wall made of natural elements like moss rock, a stream, a beautiful waterfall, and boulder pool coping — instead of constructing a less attractive wooden retaining wall. Overall, it looks like a natural stream created by Mother Nature meandering down a woodsy hill.(See also 2nd photo below)

 

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

In addition (see immediate photo above), moss rock steps leading to a small blue stone patio became part of Deck and Patio’s overall design. Plus, a portable hot tub was installed on a flattened area in front of the patio.

 

Making the Most of a Backyard Slope

We’ve written about this before. Clients with a wish list for a backyard oasis, but they have an unstable hill that forms part of their property. And they’re finding it hard to imagine what is possible.

Fortunately, experienced landscaping firms like Deck and Patio have no problem with the vision thing. In this case, our clients’ hopes for a water feature, pool, patios for socializing, room for sunbathing, and even the ability to enjoy their yard twelve months a year, were not out of reach at all.

Despite problems with the terrain, our team got to work designing/building a truly enviable backyard resort. The vinyl-lined free-form pool we suggested allowed us to shape the pool within sturdy terrain.

The pool boasts deep-end stairs, and is surrounded by a two-level Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec patio, including a lounging area with embedded umbrellas.

“Instead of installing an ugly wooden retaining wall to hold back the grade from the pool, we turned the slope into a delightful natural space. Using boulder coping on the pool and additional moss rocks and plantings all along the slope, we made it very beautiful as well as secure,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We took further advantage of the slope, and gravity’s pull, and incorporated a meandering stream along this planted hillside, ending as waterfalls into the pool.”

 

 

The final challenge was making the oasis usable all year long.

“We helped them choose a portable spa that could run separately from the pool. We fitted it into the transformed slope beside the stream and built a separate small bluestone patio behind the spa; they can enjoy the water feature when inside the hot tub or sitting or lounging on the secluded patio,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern for the patio, with gradations of tones. Designing the patio in multi-levels allowed us to designate spaces for certain activities — dining, lounging, etc.

 

Deep End and Shallow End Stairs:

Deep End and Shallow End Pool Stairs:

Deep end — or swim out — stairs as well as stairs at the shallow end offer easy access to the patio’s lounging area with embedded umbrellas. A natural gas campfire is great for cool evenings and adds a bit of romance in the evenings.

 

 

 

 

How To Choose the Perfect Pond for Your Property

Whether your property is large and expansive — or no bigger than a postage stamp — most yards can accommodate some type of pond. As you’ll see from examples we’re highlighting today, ponds come in many sizes, shapes, and depths, and sometimes these water features may not be classified as ponds at all.

“When it comes to the pond’s location on the property, we recommend locating it where it can be enjoyed from a patio or deck, bedroom, or kitchen,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.”

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

This deck, for example, was designed with a viewing platform from where the clients can enjoy the pond and the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings. Also note that we  installed large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“However, if the clients are hoping for a more private escape for relaxing and meditating, the ideal spot for a pond may be farther away from the house,” says Dave.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

In this case (above), the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property, and an additional waterfall located near the house. Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall at the top of a slope facing the clients’ indoor kitchen.

“From inside their home the family can enjoy the sights and sounds of this waterfall. A stream on its right flows down through five separate cascades into the lower, and more private pond area — a beautiful oasis for stillness and quiet,” says Dave.

 

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

When space is at a premium (and even when it’s not), Deck and Patio can help clients find ways  to creatively add a pond. The above photo showcases a Trex deck with two handsome “platform” staircases; we installed a beautiful micro pond and waterfall in and around the staircases in what was a former planting bed. “Every time they enter or leave the house they enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond,” says Dave.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

When children are very young, clients often opt for a “pondless” waterfall, in lieu of a pond. With these water features river rock allows flowing water from a waterfall to seep down into the ground where a reservoir captures the water and recirculates it.

 

 

 

 

Natural Playscape with Pond

Natural Playscape with Pond

In the case of these clients, their children were not toddlers. However, they thought them still young enough that some safety precautions should be taken. So Deck and Patio designed/built their city oasis (above) with a temporary 8” shallow pond.

The pond was constructed to “grow” with them. It is actually a deeper pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they are older, can be removed, exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house. Part of what makes a pond spectacular to look at is its landscaping. This requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture. Here (above) we included Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis for pops of bright color along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

 

“Whatever the size or shape of your yard, there is a perfect pond for your property,” says Dave.

 

 

In-ground Pool with “Spillover” Spa: There’s More Than One Way to Make a Splash

In addition to a destination in-ground pool — with moss rock waterfall and handsome patio surround and bright landscaping — these clients asked Deck and Patio for a “spillover” spa that would give them not only the joys of a soaking in its relaxing waters, but provide an additional waterfall splashing into the pool. They also wanted to use this spa/hot tub all year, even when the pool was closed.

The Challenge

Most custom in-ground spas that “spill over” are connected to the pool’s functions requiring the pool be on when operating the spa. This would be a problem for the months the pool is closed. Our solution was, rather than build the usual connecting cement spa, we install a portable Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub in way that looked built in — with a waterfall just below it that appears to be coming from the spa, but actually coming out of the pool itself.

The clients agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted, especially since they would also get the superb hydrotherapy benefits of Bullfrog’s JetPaks massage jets/seats — and have those benefits all year long.

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa

The movement in the pool’s free form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow — ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely backyard oasis for a long time to come. And what about during seasons when the pool is closed? There’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area outside of pool season.

 

 

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio.

 

 

Spill Over Spa:

Spill Over Spa:

Deck and Patio set the Bullfrog Spa all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it — and added a moss rock waterfall just beneath that splashes into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, the waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground spa.

 

 

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Next to the Wild Ride slide that also spills water into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over an extended rock.

 

 

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

The free-form vinyl pool was designed with an expansive tanning shelf that boasts room for two large S-shaped recliners. Having no legs, the recliners sit right in the water for a comfortable way to keep cool and sunbathe at the same time.

 

 

Cambridge Paver Patio:

Cambridge Paver Patio:

The handsome patio/pool surround is made with durable Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection). These pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design.

 

 

Bullfrog Spa Installation:

Bullfrog Spa Installation:

We left one side of the hot tub exposed to make it easy to get to the plumbing operation of the hot tub. However, when looking at the hot tub from the patio or pool area, it appears to be all in-ground.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Backyard Natural Retreat Is Splendid in all Seasons

Design/Build: Even when snow is falling, a backyard oasis can offer delightful daily escapes

 

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert finds that backyard natural retreats — once championed for their “staycation” potential — are becoming more and more popular for short daily escapes. Indeed, quiet moments listening to the trickle of water as birds sing offer ongoing opportunities to disconnect from technology, so sorely needed in today’s modern life. However, many do not realize that these daily escapes can be equally enjoyable in winter!

While The Koi Hibernate

If you add a backyard koi pond as part of your retreat, it no doubt will include a small cave where the koi can lay dormant during winter months. However, that does not mean you need to hide in your indoor home-cave. By including an in-ground or above-ground spa in your backyard oasis, a bubbling, steaming spa will be waiting every day to warm your cold bones, rejuvenate, and supply the ideal spot to watch and listen to winter birds at their feeders — a true winter wonderland!

 

“Winter Wonderland” Backyard Oasis:

“Winter Wonderland” Backyard Oasis:

By including an in-ground or above-ground spa in your backyard oasis, a bubbling, steaming hot tub will be waiting every day to warm your cold bones, rejuvenate, and supply an ideal spot to hear the winter birds sing from their feeders.

 

Splendid In Winter

Imagine a beautiful outdoor retreat with rushing waterfalls that frequently glistens with ice crystals as the cold months settle in. Also, picture the extraordinary sunsets and starry nights that shine through winter’s crisp, clear air — made all the more splendid by a vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool or pond, bringing vistas right up to your backdoor.

Backyard Retreat That Is Splendid In Winter:

Backyard Retreat That Is Splendid In Winter:

The clear, crisp winter air makes for extraordinary sunsets and starry nights — made all the more splendid with a vanishing edge pool or pond.

Under the stillness of one of our large multi-faceted water features (vanishing edge upper pond and lower pond, waterfalls, and a gentle stream) Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert installed an extremely high tech and a complex natural biological filtration system that continuously maintains the feature’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features/Natural Biological Filtration:

Backyard Water Features/Natural Biological Filtration:

An extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system maintains this feature’s crystal clear water.

 

Biological Filtration System

This water feature project includes three bodies of water: two ponds at two levels, and a 3,000-gallon underground storage vault of water – all kept clear and clean with “biological filtration” through the use of beneficial bacteria, plants and other filter media.

The vanishing edge upper pond is raised in front of a bluff. Water spills from it into a delightful connecting meandering stream down to the lower pond located at the side of the house.

Water is pumped from the underground vault to both ponds through variable energy efficient speed pumps. In the upper pond, water enters from its floor. In the lower, it enters through a separate bog – a natural filtering system – and continues through a waterfall into that pond.

Except for what is pumped in from below, everything works through gravity along gradations that our team created in the landscape. Every part of the water feature has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way.

When It’s Easy Being Green

In autumn, leaves from the trees fall into the water and are pushed along the stream where they are caught in a bed of gravel and are easy to remove, like emptying a skimmer basket in a pool. Considering the energy efficient pumps, which only ramp up when the homeowners arrive home, as well as the fact that the system harvests rain water to help sustain its underground water reserve, it’s a project to delight the heart of any green enthusiast.

Multi-Functional Water Feature:

Multi-Functional Water Feature:

Every part of this water feature (summer view) has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way.

 

 

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:40+00:00 December 12th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Are You Afraid to Keep Koi in Your Pond?

When a pond water feature is well designed and built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem. However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, offers encouragement: “While it’s true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions one can take that will mitigate these threats.”

For example, adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond will give fish a safe place to hide from many predators. Also, including rock overhangs around the outside of the pond, which first and foremost will make any pond appear more natural, also discourages cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

In addition, planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner. Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading. Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, we have found will put off many avian predators.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is including scarecrows, such as owl statues. In the end, if all else fails, a netting can always be installed over the pond.

Here’s some of The Deck and Patio’s favorite award-winning pond features. And, yes, even if not picked up in the pictures, there’s koi in each and every one.

 

 

Pond Ecosystems:

Pond Ecosystems:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

The homeowner wanted to accentuate the beautiful 1880 stone bridge structure with a reflecting pond. To allow the entire stone gazebo to reflect in the water, the pond had to be more than 250 feet long and 45 feet wide. This created the perfect habitat for koi. Lots of flowing water, rock overhangs, and lots of space to hide.

 

 

 

Natural Ponds:

Natural Ponds:

When creating a new pond, we consider each rock’s form, texture, shape and height. In addition, incorporating such finishing touches as plant material and gravel helps it appear as if it was created naturally.

 

 

 

Where to Position Ponds:

Where to Position Ponds:

We always look over the property for any new pond — both from inside and outdoors — in order to place the pond in the perfect location. Since in the northeast, we spend more time indoors that in our yards, it is essential to see, and perhaps hear, any water feature from key indoor locations.

 

 

 

Pond Water Movement:

Pond Water Movement:

Having the force of moving water into your pond is not only an aesthetic choice, but will deter many natural koi predators. Also —even if it comes from nearby sprinklers — pond water movement helps keep the pond ecosystem healthy by eliminating stagnation.

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the ‘Eco’ in Pond ‘Ecosystems’

Just what constitutes a healthy pond ‘ecosystem’? Basically, such a pond works with Mother Nature to provide food, shelter, and safety to the wildlife around it, while it creates a low-maintenance piece of paradise for nature lovers.

To attract desirable wildlife (frogs, birds, etc.), and even the insects they eat, requires the right circulation system (pumps and plumbing), proper filtration, aquatic plants, and, of course, fish, which are an integral part of it all.

In addition, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, frequently introduces clients concerned about water conservation to the option of ‘rainwater harvesting’ — a system which collects water from roofs, and other areas of a client’s property, and stores it in an underground tank to be recirculated. These systems are RainXchange Harvesting Systems, produced by Aquascapes Inc., St. Charles, IL which we sell and install.

Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascapes, explains that this reserved tank water never stagnates because it is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“You don’t have to worry about rainfall shortages,” says Helfrich. “With such a system, City water is never being used. Even during draughts, those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago — can not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but can use some of the reserve to maintain their lawn, or even a vegetable garden.”

 

Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature system consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond, and is the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are some of the plants brightening this pondscape.

 

 

 

Beautiful Pondscape:

Beautiful Pondscape:

Along with waterfalls, stream and pond, for a healthy ecosystem, it is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants). A beautiful Japanese maple shades the pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right).

 

 

 

Pond Koi:

Pond Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. Plants include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily.

 

 

 

Pond and Patios:

Pond and Patios:

Installing a multi-faceted water feature that includes stream, waterfalls and pond, nestled in between multi-level patios, creates a restful and functional backyard oasis.

 

 

 

Pond Wildlife:

Pond Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful eco-systems. The second you put in a water feature you attract all kinds of wildlife — birds who want to bathe, frogs, salamanders, and insects that the birds feed on.

 

 

Which Type of Pond Works Best For Your Yard?

We feel pretty much any yard can accommodate a pond water feature. Whether you have an expansive lawn or what you jokingly call a backyard postage-stamp, this type of water feature can range from a modest koi pond to one with a glorious vanishing edge.

So prepare to open up your outdoor chaise lounge, pour yourself something cool, and take in some gentle sounds and beauty along with that cool drink.

 

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As design and build experts, we always advise installing your pond where you can enjoy it from a deck, patio, bedroom, or kitchen. It’s important to note that not just humans appreciate a pond water feature. In addition to the family pooch being endlessly fascinated, birds and butterflies will be attracted. Birds, in particular, love gently moving water.

Just provide a place for them to land, such as rock platforms, or design a shallow end as part of the feature. And by keeping the water circulating, this will also help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

 

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We used stepping stones as a way to cross this pond. Stones provide a more natural aged look and create an exhilarating way to go from one spot to another.

In addition to increasing the natural appearance of the pond, stabilizing boulders and creeping plant material helped reduce the need for a costly retaining wall.

 

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A helpful tip: Because ponds do not have too much water action, water lilies are ideal plants. Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful to look at, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer.

This also reduces algae growth and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for the fish and help keep the water clear and clean-looking.

 

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We tucked a pond and waterfall into the corner of the driveway for these clients. By adding beautiful creeping ground cover and boulders, even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits.

Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, we coaxed Mother Nature’s own gravity into pumping water naturally into a pond.

 

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Here, we were brought in to create an extraordinary outdoor oasis with several water features. One part of the project was to restore an existing 40-foot koi pond which we did by expanding it and giving it a face lift.

It now includes a waterfall, bridge, moss rock cave, a Savio Pond Skimmer and Aquascape Biofalls. The entire plan includes a vanishing edge pool, restored and expanded koi pond, 3,000 square feet of Techo Bloc tumbled stone patio, two natural gas campfires, and large evergreen trees that flank the left and right side for privacy.

 

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We think ponds can reach their zenith when given a vanishing edge. Although these are more commonly done for pools, if local regulations limit the addition of a pool, a pond might be the answer.

That was the case for this multi-part water feature which captures in its stillness the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the Sound. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, and second lower pond. Under the feature’s beauty, an extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.