rainwater harvesting

/Tag: rainwater harvesting

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.

 

insert-c

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

 

Future Trends: Sustainable Water Features May Soon Capture Sunlight As Well As Rainwater

Sustainable Water Features

Sustainable Water Features

Deck and Patio has long specialized in creating serene water features in an eco-friendly way. Such features not only add beauty and enhance a property’s landscaping, but when rainwater harvesting systems are also part of the design, homeowners’ water bills are greatly reduced. Also, because water doesn’t leave the property, fewer pollutants get into area waterways.

Deck and Patio is expert at capturing rainwater from both roofs and permeable paver patios and walkways. “However, we are always on the lookout for better ways to do things,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio. “This means staying on top of the latest technologies and trends in all aspects of water feature technology.”

Infinity Pond

Infinity Pond

One cutting edge sustainable water feature we created (left) is a beautiful multi-faceted ‘infinity’ pond our team built on Long Island.  “It is one of the first infinity ponds done in North America,” adds Renter. “The project included a stream, waterfalls, a second lower pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.”

To create healthy as well as beautiful water feature systems, Deck and Patio uses natural stones and biological filtration systems, including special plants. Yet, there is one eco-friendly solution that has eluded Renter and Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.

“For water features and any stored rainwater to remain healthy, the water must be aerated and moved,” says Stockwell. “This has meant adding pumps, and pumps require the use of electricity — almost always from non-renewable sources. This has been true for swimming pools as well as ponds, waterfalls, etc.”

That, however, may be about to change.

 

Solar Roadways' Solar Pavers

Solar Roadways’ Solar Pavers

One entrepreneurial American couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of the company Solar Roadways, with a view to creating national energy independence, are already testing modular hexagonal solar pavers that can be walked and even driven upon. One of their two test projects is sponsored by the state of Missouri’s highway department and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We were thrilled to learn recently that Solar Roadways’ paver technology is being developed — and in some places is already being tested,” adds Renter. “These new pavers trap sunlight much the way solar panels do on roofs with special circuitry to produce electricity.”

Of course, these solar pavers are made with significantly more durable materials than roof solar panels in order to allow for heavy traffic. This means that Deck and Patio will be able to install self-sustained water features without the need for electricity as well as municipal water.

“In addition, these revolutionary solar pavers will offer heating options that melt snow and ice, making them a great addition to home driveways and public highways in winter,” says Dave Stockwell. “The pavers also include LED lights for lighting the areas.”

 

Testing Solar Pavers in the Netherlands

Testing Solar Pavers in the Netherlands

The promise of these pavers to generate a good amount of electricity seems genuine. Indeed, testing of similar solar pavers by a European manufacturer is being done to great success right now in a village northwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

“We hope to experiment with these new pavers right here in Huntington Station in the not too distant future,” adds Bill Renter.

 

 

Artist's Rendition of Solar Highway

Artist’s Rendition of Solar Highway:

According to Laurel A. McKean, Missouri Department of Transportation, the U.S. company, Solar Roadways, has developed two different glass panels to be tested. One is for highway/roadway installations and one specifically for pedestrian use. The latter has an additive that provides better traction. It’s been briefly tested for bare feet and if other tests confirm this, it could be used in a variety of ways on a home property.

 

Sustainable Water Feature at Huntington Train Station

Sustainable Water Feature at Huntington Train Station:

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), Deck and Patio added a serene water feature and a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot. Permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc were put over gravel and a rubber liner which filter the rainwater runoff before it reaches the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream.

“There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Bill Renter. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay. At present, the system is aerated through the use of electrical pumps. We are hoping when the testing is complete for solar pavers in the United States that we can add these pavers to projects like this one and make them 100 percent eco-friendly.”

 

 

Coming ‘Back Down to Earth’ for Earth Day 2016

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

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

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

Aquascape RainXchange Reservoirs

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

 

Pristine Water Features:

Pristine Water Features:

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

 

Eco-Friendly Water Features:

Eco-Friendly Water Features:

For this “pond-less” waterfall and stream, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house. “Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. “And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

Environmentally-Friendly Backyard Ponds

Backyard ponds with waterfalls and streams can also be created in eco-friendly ways so they not only do no harm, but also help improve the environment. Fish ponds, for example, naturally attract — and provide a haven for — other wildlife that children (as well as adults) love: frogs, salamanders, song birds, etc.

Of course, all these creatures are delightful to watch and listen to. More than that, their presence offer natural ways to a healthier environment. Frogs eat algae in the water which contributes to keeping the water clean; adult toads aid in controlling insects, as do the birds the water attracts; and the koi, which are so much fun to feed, eat any mosquito larva that might develop.

 

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems:

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems:

It is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for fish and plants), in order to keep a pond healthy in a natural way. For this project, we also planted a beautiful Japanese maple that shades the pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo.)

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Not all sustainable water feature projects are for private use. Deck and Patio created this stream and waterfall spot in cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island) where we installed it with a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot. The pathway is made of permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc, which were put over gravel and a rubber liner, which capture and filter the path’s rainwater runoff before it reaches the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir installed at the end of the stream.

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting for Eco-Friendly Irrigation

 

 

Rainwater will not soak into asphalt or concrete.

Rainwater will not soak into asphalt or concrete.

Did you know that according to statistics the “average” homeowner uses approximately 3,000 gallons of water weekly with about 70% used outdoors?

And have you considered that freely available rainwater does not soak into asphalt and concrete for us to capture, but, instead, flows away, picking up contaminants as it goes, on into over-burdened sewer systems (and hence on into our area waterways)?

Well, this runoff is not just water over the dam, if it highlights how valuable rainwater is to us as an, albeit, neglected, but available precious resource. The trick is: how to keep the rain where it falls to be reused.

 

 

 

Rain Runoff: Instead of being just runoff like pictured here, the trick is to capture rain where it falls to be reused.

Rain Runoff: Instead of being just runoff as pictured here, the trick is to capture rain where it falls to be reused.

 

 

 

# 3 insert Harvesting rainwater is not a new idea. People have been collecting it for generations, frequently storing it in rain barrels.

And this is still a viable method. But there’s a lot more that can be done with falling rain than saving small amounts in unattractive above-ground  containers.

 

 

 

Healthy Ecosystems:

Healthy Ecosystems:

Through our Rainwater Harvesting Group, Deck and Patio specializes in installing rainwater harvesting systems that capture rainwater as part of a complete self-sustaining eco-system.

 

 

Beautiful Backyard Water Features:

Beautiful Backyard Water Features:

Captured, filtered and recirculated rainwater, in sufficient amounts to supply attractive water features, work together with carefully chosen plants, fish, rocks and gravel, to maintain a balanced system for long-term sustainability.

 

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting:

Rainwater Harvesting:

Using Aquascape’s RainXchange, and sometimes permeable pavers as pictured here, 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 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.

 

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff:

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff:

For this project, four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff, which goes through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the reservoir for reuse in irrigation and to top off a backyard pond when needed.

 

Backyard Wildlife Refuge:

Backyard Wildlife Refuge:

This 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. Such a feature attracts desirable wildlife such as frogs, butterflies, birds etc. creating one’s own wildlife refuge.

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting: Because Open Space Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

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

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange 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.

Our pond experts at Deck and Patio — and a growing number of new clients — want a pond and waterfall less as a lovely background filler and more for the opportunity it offers to invigorate the surrounding ecosystem.

Indeed, the sound and look of moving water brings any yard or business property a restful escape for rejuvenation, which in and of itself is a great idea. But ponds and pond-less water features also provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.

As certified installers of Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), our water systems and water garden products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Using high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, as well as gravel beds, and water plants, these contribute to creating a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

Such rainwater harvesting systems will support the beautiful water feature you install — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams — by ecologically collecting and reusing rainwater. This captured water can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

Rainwater Harvesting Reservoirs

“Totally below ground, a rainwater harvesting reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “City water is not used. The water is harvested totally from rainfall on the roof of the house or through permeable pavers. Gravity alone collects it into pipes and moves it along.”

 

Pondless Reservoir (Long Island/NY):

Pondless Reservoir (Long Island/NY):

(Above) The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system. Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected. We planted dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe.

 

Beautiful Pondscape (Long Island/NY):

Beautiful Pondscape (Long Island/NY):

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 this pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo).

 

Permeable Pavers for Water Purification and Collection

Permeable pavers over gravel and a rubber liner allow easy walking while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The gravel underneath the pavers filters the collected water runoff before it is sent to any reservoir installed at the end of a stream/water feature.

The system we use for this is a RainXchange Harvesting System, produced by Aquascapes Inc. In addition to using the water collected by the pavers, the system includes an auxiliary pump that can be connected to any irrigation system including a roof runoff system.

In collaboration with the Town of Huntington, we did such a project at our local Train Station:

 

Rainwater Harvesting Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY):

This water feature is not just for aesthetics, but it is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The station area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

100% of this client’s irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. In this first of 3 photos, you see how rainwater is collected from the roof. At any given time, there is now about 1,000 gallons of water in the reservoir and about an equal amount of water underneath their permeable pavers.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water. Under all that, a liner captures the rainwater, and it is pitched so it pushes water towards the underground reservoir.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

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