rainwater harvesting

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Spring 2019 Vacation: Plan a Kid-Friendly Oasis While School’s Out

Spring Vacation

For Long Island and NY Metro area families, spring vacation is upon us. If you haven’t made plans to travel, or at least planned to be home some of the time, why not involve the kids in helping plan a backyard oasis?

Of course, a backyard oasis that includes, say, a pool or spa etc. will get most kids pretty excited. But should you want to go in a different direction — planning an oasis with their interests in mind — could offer a whole other experience.

Consider this backyard playground we built in Brooklyn awhile ago. The heart of the project is a natural swimming pond instead of a pool. This eco-friendly water feature was constructed initially as a very shallow pond (just 8 inches deep) because at the time the children were young.

This allowed the youngsters to swim and play in safety. However, the pond was also designed/built to grow with them. By installing boulders covered with fabric and gravel at its base, once  they got older, we could simply remove these materials, revealing a full-sized pond that could be stocked with koi.

 “As children mature,” says Dave Stockwell, “they want different experiences. This plan took that into consideration. Of course, it would still remain a natural swimming pond, but with more aquatic life to study, as well as being able to experience under-water swimming and snorkeling, etc.”

Beach-Style Entry

Beach-Style Entry

The overall appearance of the pond was that of a secret cove on a desert island.

“We gave it a beach-stye entry,” says Dave. “Plus there’s a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features. 

Plan It Eco-Friendly!

These Brooklyn parents wanted any project on their property to be earth-friendly. They asked us to capture rainwater for irrigation which we were able to do through our Rainwater Harvesting Division. 

Permeable Pavers

Permeable Pavers

“They chose to go two routes,” adds Dave.

“First, rainwater is captured via Techo-Bloc permeable pavers installed in their new patio area. Voids between the pavers were filled with crushed stone permitting rain to pass through the joint spaces. This permits the water to flow down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and crushed stone to be filtered.”

Deck and Patio also installed on their home four downspouts to collect nearly three-quarters of their roof runoff.

Downspouts

Downspouts

“This captured rainwater also gets filtered,” says Dave. “Filtered containers screen out twigs and small debris before it is captured in the same underground Aquascape reservoir that holds the rainwater collected by the pavers. Then it’s all recycled for use in irrigation and to top off the backyard pond and waterfalls after any evaporation.”

Notes on Rainwater Harvesting

Using Aquascape products, today’s rainwater harvesting systems capture sufficient rainwater to also wash your car and/or hose down the deck and patio. And when you consider that local Long Island and City 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.

Bubbling Rocks

Bubbling Rocks

Aquascape’s systems are, in fact, a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rocks we installed here — with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system.

The clients just enjoy it as a water feature, while the system filters and aerates the stored water to prevent stagnation. An automatic valve we installed kicks in when the water gets low in the pond, waterfalls or streams to replenish them.

This project also included a patio dining area and lounge area where the parents and friends can enjoy the backyard water features as well. But there’s no doubt, the heart of the project was fun for the kids.

So! Consider making this spring vacation an opportunity to plan the perfect oasis for your kids — and maybe even teach them the value of water conservation while you’re at it. Not that kids today need much teaching. They’re the ones often asking us to ‘go green!”

Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

A low-maintenance pond is one with an ecosystem that works naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. It is a paradise for families to relax by and study throughout all seasons. It also offers a healthy place for desirable wildlife, such as pond fish, birds, etc. 

Such a delightful backyard feature has several elements that contribute to its overall harmony. As certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, Deck and Patio keeps regularly up-to-date with the latest in pond design, construction and maintenance.

Proper Water Circulation

It is essential that any water pump be adequate to the size of your pond and waterfalls. This ensures the amount of water will be aerated sufficiently and will not stagnate or develop excessive bacteria. Instead, the pond receives adequate oxygenation to remain healthy. 

Biological Filters and Skimmers

Ponds should also include a natural filtration system using the right biological filter and mechanical skimmer. Adding rocks and gravel over pond liners will also allow beneficial bacteria to grow for fish to graze on. 

Pond Fish

Koi, in all their jeweled colors, are not just beautiful to look at. They eat algae, and their own waste turns into fertilizer for pond plants. It’s key, though, not to overstock your pond so the balance of fish waste, verses what is being used up, remains in proper balance.

Aquatic Plants

And you thought plants, too, were just pretty faces. No, they also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “In the heat of summer, for example, it’s ideal that approximately 40% of your pond’s surface be covered with plants. Not only do they take care of the algae they also provide shade for the fish when it’s hot,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

“A backyard pond should be a paradise for relaxation as well as a home for desirable wildlife,” adds Dave Stockwell. “I’m referring to wildlife such as birds, frogs, etc. who eat insects as they enjoy the shelter you’ve created for them. In addition, aquatic plants and pond fish are essential elements in the overall ecosystem.” 

Sometimes, Deck and Patio clients want to go even further when creating a natural healthy pond ecosystem. “That’s the rainwater harvesting comes into play,” says Dave. “This involves capturing rainwater, filtering it, and trapping it below ground to be recirculated to maintain the pond’s water level because of evaporation. Aquascape Inc. of St. Charles, IL, has superb systems that capture and circulate rainwater.” 

This captured water never stagnates, says Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascape, because the water is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“Rainfall shortages will never be a problem,” says Helfrich. “Plus, with such a system, town or city water is never being used. Those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago, even during a drought, will not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but excess water reserves can maintain a lawn, and/or a vegetable garden.” 

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature (silver medal from LIPSA) consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond; it’s 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.

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful ecosystems. 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.

Low Maintenance Ponds with 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 shown here include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily. 

“A healthy pond does require some spring and fall maintenance,” says Dave Stockwell. “However, if you build your pond correctly, Mother Nature will do the rest. Not only will you love it in every season, but frogs, birds and butterflies will thank you for it.”

 

Water Features for Public Spaces, Parks, and Town Centers

In ancient days, water fountains were a source of drinking and wash water for local citizens. Today, cities and towns across the globe add water features to parks and town centers mainly for the beauty and tranquility they bring.

However. Whether the water feature is a fountain, water wall, waterfall, stream, or pond, it is widely accepted today that any such feature be ‘green.’

Such was the case when Deck and Patio, in collaboration with the Town of Huntington, designed/built a self-sustaining or green waterfall/water garden at one of the busiest spots in the area: the Huntington Train Station.

As background: For some time Deck and Patio has operated a sustainable division, our Rainwater Harvesting Group. 

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Dave Stockwell. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater which can be used at private residences as well as in pubic spaces.”

At one’s home, adds Dave, captured rainwater is used for tasks that don’t require treated water such as washing a deck, lawn watering, washing vehicles, and refreshing one’s garden.”

In public spaces, it can be a source for sustaining not only the beautiful relaxing water feature itself, but there, too, the surrounding garden spots and plantings can be watered as well. 

How did the train station project come about?

Huntington Train Station Project

Huntington Train Station Project

The train station is just a few blocks from Deck and Patio’s design center at 189 Broadway.

One day a member of our team was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women planting flowers near the station.

As a local landscaper, we offered to help by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.

 

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

“A problem became immediately apparent,” says Dave. “There wasn’t any water source for maintaining the plants. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain them.

“In addition, there was no walkway in this space, beyond a small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was also not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, we approached the Town of Huntington. “They were completely on board,” says Dave. “Huntington Township takes great care to beautify our public spaces, including healthy and cheerful pole planters, etc.”

With the Town’s cooperation, Deck and Patio installed the self-sustaining water feature with an underground reservoir to store captured rainwater. To help accumulate the most rainfall, as well as add a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot, we constructed a walk area made of permeable paves.

“We used Techo-Bloc permeable pavers and installed them over gravel and a rubber liner.,” says Dave. “These pavers allow the rainwater to seep into the ground and into the reservoir where it can be recirculated.

“The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent, using gravity alone, to the reservoir,” adds Dave. The system we used was known then Aquascape RainXchange Harvesting System which is now called “Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System.”

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

 

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

The water feature is not just for aesthetics. It is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants we added 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 (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting System 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.

 

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The water feature at the train station (which is, alas, as of this writing buried under snow and ice!) is in total keeping with the Town’s program of beautification of public spaces.

 

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.

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Time to Spring Into Action

“If there’s one thing we dislike in our work,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “it’s disappointing a potential client’s request for a special backyard upgrade in time for the upcoming outdoor season.”

Mid February, he adds, may sound to some very early to plan. But once robins are singing and trees are budding, the phones at Deck and Patio have been ringing for many weeks with requests for projects. 

“So it’s best to begin the process in late winter,” Dave adds. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and to secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements; delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process include pulling the right people together for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

The "A" Team: Deck and Patio Works with HGTV's Pool Kings

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio Has worked with HGTV’s Pool Kings

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

 

 Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. In fact, we built these dual ponds (immediately above) for a client during winter. 

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

It is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

This serenely unique vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge.

Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge “pond” design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

 

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.

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!

 

 

More Than Beautiful: Self-Sustaining Water Features

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

It’s true: the sounds and sights of moving water turn any property into a restful escape.

But ponds and pond-less water features can also include rainwater harvesting components — offering a great way to save water and aid the local ecology.

Such rainwater harvesting systems support all types and combinations of water features  — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams.

The captured rainwater can also replenish a water feature’s surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and it is especially helpful during droughts.

As certified installers of renowned Aquascape Inc. products, the water conservation systems and other water garden products Deck and Patio uses are both technologically and biologically efficient.

 

Project # 1

Koi is a healthy part of this pond's natural ecosystem

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem

 

 

The Aquascape products Deck and Patio used for this project include high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, and gravel beds.

Note: Koi can also be a truly beneficial part of a pond’s eco-system, including this self-sustaining one.

 

 

Project # 2

 

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

 

The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“The collection system is located completely below ground,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “The reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for City water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

 

Project # 3

 

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a beautiful pond, waterfalls and stream with a bridge across it.  Along with the right water plants, everything works together to create a very healthy eco-system — underpinning the peaceful vistas that restore the soul.

Why is this important? Well, such products create a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

 

Project # 4

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

With a “pondless” waterfall, the waterfalls and stream do not drop into a pond, but seep through gravel where it is first filtered and then collected in an underground reservoir and continually recirculated. Because you are continually filtering and recirculating water, such a project is definitely eco-friendly.

However, natural evaporation of the water feature will require, like this Deck and patio one, that the recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. So for those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use any town water by even occasionally replenishing your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes the RainXchange reservoir system we used here.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

There are many routes to sustainability. And the beautiful water feature you choose for a restful respite will be truly that…having no tinge of guilt about its impact on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

When To Start Planning a Backyard Retreat

When landscaping firms such as Deck and Patio recommend planning an outdoor retreat before spring arrives, it isn’t self-serving. It is because, if left too late, it may not be possible for a client’s dream backyard to be completed for the year’s outdoor season.

“It’s best to begin in late winter,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, but it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements, and delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process, says Dave, include pulling together those needed for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

Deck and Patio at work

Deck and Patio at work

Choosing the Right Designer/Builder

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

Deck and Patio brochure

Deck and Patio brochure

 

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. “We use surveys and Google Earth, etc. to plan any backyard refurbishment,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

As we highlighted in last week’s blog, it is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

These homeowners brought Deck and Patio on board early on when they were designing their home. This helped create a seamless integration of the landscape and nature with the home’s architecture — the architect even changed his design of the home’s turret in order ensure views from within would capture the various outdoor vistas. (Note: The town involved had strict setback requirements; we brought our 3-D animated landscaping plan to the town which aided in getting the permit granted quickly.)

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

This serenely beautiful vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge. Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge pond design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Features Are Easy to Create and Maintain

In order to enjoy the beauty and serenity of a flowing stream or waterfall, some sort of basin is required to capture the water. Frequently, such a basin is a pond, possibly adorned with exotic water plants as well as being a home to pond fish. But there are many who want a water feature — just not with a pond.

 

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Those with very young children, for example, sometimes worry that a full, deep pond in their backyard might present safety concerns, and prefer a pondless waterfall (left) where river rock allows water to seep down into the ground. In addition, come spring and fall, ponds require maintenance to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Another reason for not wanting a pond came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals. With other clients, budget and property size are factors.

For all or any of these reasons, if you are considering a water feature, you may want to go “pondless.”

Certified Aquascape Contractor

Deck and Patio is a Certified Aquascape Contractor, which means we’ve been pre-qualified as experts in designing and building water features of all types, including “pondless” waterfalls. Aquascape offers years of experience in this field and their products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Their pondless systems allow water to drain through gravel into a reservoir, which stores the filtered water underground and recirculates it.

 

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

For the handsomely landscaped pondless waterfall pictured here (right), we planted durable thick and compact evergreens, including the low-maintenance Procumbent Juniper, which spreads well. For splashes of color we added Begonias, Coleus, plus Astilbe with its beautiful and showy flowers.

With a pondless waterfall, you are recirculating water, which is definitely eco-friendly. But natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. For those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use town water to replenish your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes a RainXchange reservoir system.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

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Water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete and picks up contaminants

“Whether you harvest rainwater or maintain your water feature with town water, an Aquascape Inc. pondless system will keep the spillover water from running into over-burdened sewer systems,” says Dave.

“That is because we use river rock underneath the waterfall. It not only allows water to seep through to the reservoir, but it helps filter it. This river rock process is essential, because water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete, but, instead, flows away to the local waterways, picking up contaminants as it goes.

“So if you’re not sure you want a pond, but definitely want the sounds and sights of running water, pondless just may be the way to go,” says Dave.

 

 

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

 

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola-adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

 

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of what was an existing patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of their patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

 

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

 

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Ending the Summer Entertaining Season with a Splash of Color

While Labor Day weekend (just two weeks away) is not the end of the outdoor season, it is the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends.

This means you’re probably either planning to host or attend one or more family barbecues, pool parties, summer movie parties, or just plain end-of-summer gatherings. There may be corporate shindigs happening as well. Not to mention kids will be begging for a last sprinkler cool-down with friends.

Those hosting such outdoor festivities have probably been looking over their property’s landscaping, with a view of how the yard will look when entertaining.

Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio

We are happy to report that it’s far from too late to add a splash of color and beauty right now that will last well into Fall. In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, she offered our readers some great landscaping ideas.

“Late in the season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.”

As for which ones to look out for, she agreed with the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) that we showcased on Facebook this week as a great choice to add mid-to-late August.  The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices, e.g., Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says. “And Asters, as well as Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy) are also great choices. These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

“I suggest getting them in the ground sooner than later,” she continues, “and because of the drought in the Long Island area, it’s important to soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

But what about droughts? Shouldn’t we be considerate and fair in how much water we use? As many of you know, Deck and Patio has a division completely devoted to rainwater harvesting  and we are available to give advice on how best to collect rainwater for use in maintaining water features as well as property landscaping.

“In the meantime, there are things we can do immediately to conserve water for our gardens,” says Vultaggio.

“Think about the water we throw away just when making a pot of pasta. Rather than let it go down the sink, simply let it cool and use it in your garden. The fact that pasta was cooked in the water will not harm your plants. I recommend keeping a bucket for water collection. Put your pasta water there and any leftover water in drinking glasses. Just be mindful of all the water we use that can be conserved. In a recent blog, Gardening in a Drought, I highlighted a variety of ways to ensure a healthy garden despite low precipitation.”

“So don’t feel guilty making a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Even if you don’t yet have a rainwater collection system, you can nourish your landscape by not wasting household water as outlined by Ms. Vultaggio.”

Below are photos of some ideal plants to add in time for Labor Day. These should add color and beauty well into Fall. And if you aren’t entertaining at home, these would make great hostess gifts. Happy Labor Day wherever you spend it!

 

Anemone Windflower -- or "Honorine Jobert

Anemone Windflower — or “Honorine Jobert

 

 

Chelone or Turtlehead

Chelone or Turtlehead

 

 

Asters

Asters

 

Sedum or Autumn Joy

Sedum or Autumn Joy

 

 

Solidago or Goldenrod

Solidago or Goldenrod