Unique Ideas

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Recipe for a Delightful Garden: Just Add Water!

Just add flowing water, that is!

As garden designers and landscapers, we know flower beds take thought. Color, textures, soil, how much sun or shade, etc. But there’s one easy garden complement that makes any flower bed transformative in how it delights the soul. Even small gardens become something wonderful when the sights and sounds of flowing water are added.

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) may be surprised that we also specialize in smaller water features such as fountains.

Why Are Garden Water Features So Desirable?

First. By bringing the sounds of nature as close as your doorstep, flowing water immediately makes any garden feel more like a part of the natural landscape. 

Second. Not only will you enjoy the sights and sounds of water, but butterflies and birds, and other desirable critters will appreciate your efforts. It feels really good to know you’re supporting such lovable wildlife — and you get to watch them as they take advantage of it. 

Third. A fountain can fit just about anywhere. No need to plan or find room for an elaborate pondscape or another expansive water feature. A fountain (which comes in all sizes) can be added just about anywhere — although we recommend installing it where you can enjoy it from both your patio and inside your home. (More on that below.)

Fourth. A water fountain can run most of the year — including winter. Even when your fall plantings are gone to seed, so to speak, you’ll have something beautiful to look at.

 

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

This photo is one such garden fountain that we added for clients who had recently moved to a new home. (This fountain is also seen above as our feature photo) 

When working at their property, one of our team members mentioned that it felt like the garden was missing something — a feature that would offer both the sound and relaxing sight of water movement. 

The clients agreed that a garden fountain would be an ideal finishing touch in such limited space.

 

And here’s a 5-second video for you to hear the water music of that installation:  

 

 

DIY Fountain Projects

If you’d like to add one of these fountains on your own, all you need is a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a level. 

Then, adding a bag of decorative gravel and mulch, you have a picture-perfect-and-sound-perfect-fountain that not only you will enjoy but so will many of Nature’s lovable wildlife.

Here is a step-by-step DIY video from Aquascape, followed by a link to the various fountains they have available. You can contact them directly — or give us a call to help you make the right choice for your garden, and also install it for you, if you would rather not do it yourself.

 

  

And for a video of the various fountains available from Aquascape or Deck and Patio:

 

 

 

Is Travertine Right for My New Patio?

Understanding what Travertine is, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it reacts in different areas, is something members of our team have discussed with stone experts from around the world.

We have also studied existing Travertine projects over a period of years to see what actually holds up — and what doesn’t — in our climate.

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years.

It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

Italian Travertine, revered for its hardness and porosity, is what the Coliseum in Rome was constructed of, so the durability of Italian Travertine is not in question, although it can be expensive.

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe and is widely used beyond Italy —  mostly in tropical locations for patios, walks, terraces, etc. Although it is typically used indoors in colder climates, there has been an increase in its usage outdoors, in and around pools and homes.

But can all Travertine stone be used this way?

The answer is no, or at least it shouldn’t for best results. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

Turkish Travertine, is very common and, in most instances, is less expensive than the Italian. It does hold up quite well in our Northeast’s freeze/thaw climate.

Be aware, however, that some companies offer very inexpensive Travertine for use outdoors and may seem to be a great deal. However, they may be using stone quarried in, say, China, where the qualities of such stone differ considerably and will not stand up to certain climates. Just because a stone is called “Travertine,” don’t assume it’s all the same. It’s not.

Below, we are highlighting an example of a Travertine (from Turkey) patio we built for clients.

 

Travertine Patio

Travertine Patio

For this expansive Travertine patio, Deck and Patio installed Travertine from Turkey — for its beauty, density and porosity — which we could guarantee would withstand our area’s severe climate changes and maintain its elegance.

 

Travertine’s Appeal

Travertine’s Appeal

The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.” This particular project used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine, and over 180 linear feet of fullnose coping for the pool and spa.

In our area of the Northeast (Long Island, NY), the summer sun gets intense. However, Travertine does not absorb the heat like brick or bluestone, and is similar to light-colored concrete pavers where heat is not retained in the paver. This makes it ideal as a pool surround, where being barefoot is unavoidable.

 

Outdoor Kitchens:

Outdoor Kitchens:

Deck and Patio used a natural stone for the veneer of the bar/barbecue and constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall. This created a unique contrast between the patio, bar area and the extensive back veneer used for the house.

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool and it was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offers a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Travertine doesn’t absorb heat like other materials and offers an elegant contrast to robust lawns and plantings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Testing the Waters: Will Our Family Enjoy a Natural Swim Pond?

Most people are pretty certain their family will enjoy using a regular swimming pool. But a swimming pond? Not everyone is so sure.

One way to test the waters so to speak is ask yourself this question: Do we like swimming in lakes, the ocean, and swimming holes? If the answer is yes to any of these, then, you’ll probably love a natural swimming pond.

After all, families swimming in the ocean have probably brushed up against the occasional bit of seaweed and snorkeled to get close up to colorful fish.

So would it surprise you that in recent years, Deck and Patio (already known as pond experts on Long Island) has been asked to create several man-made ponds — designed especially for the clients’ swimming enjoyment?

In fact, here’s a video of people doing just that in a Long Island natural swimming pond created by Deck and Patio:

 

 

But what about bacteria?

In an earlier post on Aquascape Inc.’s website entitled Growing Up Around a Pond, the writer focuses on the ’10 most interesting things’ she has learned from having just such a pond:

all bacteria is not bad;

swimming in a pond is more fun than in a pool;

ponds are wondrous at night;

ponds are better than TV or video games.

We would have to agree with her. Snorkeling in a regular swimming pool isn’t all that exciting.

That aside, swimming in a pristine natural pond is very possible and thrilling. Using the right underlayment, liner, Biofalls and skimmers, bog filtration and water plants are all part of creating the perfect experience.

 

Pond/Playground Oasis in Brooklyn, NY

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond, NYC

One great example of a swimming pond was this Deck and Patio project in Brooklyn. The heart of the project is, of course, its eco-friendly pond, which we built initially as a very shallow pond — only 8” deep.

That was deep enough so their young children could swim and play in it. However, we also constructed the pond to “grow” with them. We used boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they got older, could be removed — exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

The finished natural playscape is reminiscent of a secret cove on a desert island. It boasts a swimming pond with a beach-style entry, three waterfalls, a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features.

 

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond is one of two ponds the clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. Now you may think that our beautiful model is avoiding the ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

 

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim.

 

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.):

The child in all of us loves natural swim ponds. This photo was published originally by a homeowner who wrote an Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond.” She captured  her son in the photo encouraging a friend to join him in the pond.

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One ways you ensure a pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. This allows the aquatic plants and natural filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.

 

 

Nature Lovers Find Backyard Escapes An Elixir

Don’t you love all the beautiful landscaping photos available on social media? Certainly, Deck and Patio’s team does. We even post a lot of our own. But while it’s an incredible uplift to catch glimpses of serene images of nature during the workday, photos, alas, can’t substitute for the real thing.

 

Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

 

Nature as Elixir

Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Without question, early Native Americans did just that. Chief Ahanton, of one of New Hampshire’s Eastern Woodlands tribes, for example, named the state’s majestic great Lake: Winnipesaukee, — or the smile of the Great Spirit.

And it’s no different today. Pure flowing water — and all that it nourishes — is still considered by many to be sacred. Such scenes touch something deep within, causing us to pause, rest our minds, and rejuvenate.

 

 

INSERT 2 Travel Not Required

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats like Lake Winnipesaukee, the Adirondacks, or the White Mountains, etc., how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our local communities.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? This is because local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be transformed into glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

 

 

Backyard Escape:

Backyard Escape: For this project, Deck and Patio carefully selected boulders and stones, along with bright plantings, to help create a beautiful vista. And as Chief Ahanton would no doubt agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining to a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. For this project we built multi-level patios and carefully delineated how each space was to be used. One area was set up for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also mapped out.

 

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds, to swim upstream into the upper pond. (*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a beautiful wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

All Decking Aside…Where’s the Pool Going to Go?

The owners of this relatively small Nassau County (Long Island/NY) property approached Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, for a new deck. They also shared their dismay at having been told by other firms that their backyard terrain would not allow for the construction of a pool.

As Bill discussed plans for renovating their existing natural wood deck into Trex decking, they were delighted by his assurance that a pool would not be impossible at all; it just would take a bit of creative design.

The major issue with their property was that it inclined toward the house. Other  impediments included restrictive Town setbacks. Deck and Patio tackled these issues by setting the pool mid-grade, and building risers up to the pool height.

In addition, we built the attractive water feature behind the pool to deal with the rising higher grade, as well as to screen out the neighbors — all while maintaining a natural and beautiful scene.

And “pool aside,” the beautiful Trex decking and Cambridge patio and pool surround are pretty special, too.

 

Free-form Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

Free-form Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

By choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which can be constructed in any shape, curve, or angle, this allowed for great flexibility in design. Plus, the homeowners were not stuck with unattractive white interior stairs that wouldn’t blend with the rest of the pool, nor did they sacrifice a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.

 

 

Pool Surround (Long Island/NY):

Pool Surround (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio also surrounded the pool with a patio created from Cambridge’s Round Table pavingstones. The pavers’ dimpled, embossed surfaces gently roll into soft, beveled edges on four straight-sided Cambridge Shapes with ArmorTec. The pavers were laid in a modified herringbone pattern.

 

 

Stepping Stone Paths (Long Island/NY):

Stepping Stone Paths (Long Island/NY):

Bluestone stepping stones skim across the backyard sod and connect the pool patio to the deck and patio at the house, which is also home to the outer kitchen area, complete with BBQ and refrigerator. The entire project was finished off with the installation of lush colorful landscaping and low voltage lighting.