vanishing edge pond

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Landscape Design Is Not Just Flowers and Shrubs

Movie: Greenfingers

Movie: Greenfingers

If anyone has seen the movie Greenfingers (the British way of saying Green Thumb), you may have wished that you had some of the same natural talent its star character, played by Clive Owen, discovered he had for making things bloom. 

And its okay to wish you had a green thumb. But beautiful landscaping can go far beyond flowers and shrubs. Water features, proper use of moss rock boulders, outdoor structures like pavilions or gazebos, can add a great deal to an outdoor oasis.

But, we agree that one of the key elements of any outdoor escape includes beautiful, lush, plantings.

 

Lets Consider The Plantings

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

There’s no doubt the right plants are key to a beautiful landscape. And the landscape design professionals at The Deck and Patio Company go beyond filling your yard with plant material. We use our extensive knowledge of flora to carefully select the right greenery that suits each client’s style and goals. 

For example, it’s key to place tall and smaller plants in an eye-catching display. Colorful flowering plants are incorporated into our designs in a way that accent and compliment your home’s exterior and the sites around it. 

The beauty of any planned landscape also depends on the survival of your plant material. Deck and Patio experts choose plantings using our extensive experience and knowledge of zones, sun exposure and soil conditions.

“Whether it is creating shade gardens for the shade loving plants, digging the perfect depth for the root balls, ensuring healthy, well-fed soil, our landscapes flourish long after we’ve finished our work,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

But Deck and Patio’s creativity really comes to the fore when plants are gorgeous accents to other landscaping elements: water features, including swimming pools, ponds, streams, etc. Also, plants brighten structures such as pavilions, gazebos, outdoor benches, patios and entranceways.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance were provided here through the use of many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — all planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris.

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Even strong architectural structures are enhanced by landscaping. With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls nearby, inside this Deck and Patio pavilion, with the fireplace blazing or not, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio we added, with custom inlays/border, is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. .

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: ‘Phase’ Your Way to an Awesome Retreat

“When it comes to landscaping, sometimes ‘awesome’ isn’t accomplished in one season — let alone, overnight,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

Certainly, this was the case for these Shoreham, NY, homeowners. Their dream backyard includes:

— two-tiered Trex Transcend decking, 

— two ponds, stream, and waterfalls, 

— new Cambridge paver patios, 

— pavilion/outdoor great room with fireplace, 

— and a special hot tub installation with custom open-top pergola.

 To complete it, required a healthy budget and building time. So our design team came up with a thorough plan that could be built in phases.

 

Bullfrog Spa, Deck, and Pergola

Bullfrog Spa,Trex Deck, and Custom Pergola

Phase I. 

In the first phase we built them their new Trex deck (Gravel Path boards) as well as a custom pergola to surround their new Bullfrog Spa.

“I have orthopedic issues,” says the wife. “And my husband has multiple sclerosis, so a spa was very important to us. Deck and Patio’s designer helped us choose the right hot tub with interchangeable, individual massage jets. They’re a snap to change out whenever there’s a particular need.”

For easy daily access, Deck and Patio positioned the hot tub immediately outside their back door, tucked into the deck. Plus, we designed the deck with a raised tier which makes getting in the spa effortless. They just have to sit on its edge and swing their legs over. 

In addition, the deck layout allowed for two adjacent lounging areas for when our clients take breaks from the spa. Our team constructed a custom pergola. Through its elegant definition of space, it provides drama and architectural interest around the hot tub.

 

Shingle-Roof Pavilion with Fireplace

Shingle-Roof Pavilion with Fireplace

Phase II

The clients also wanted an outdoor great room that could be used most of the year. The answer was a handsome shingled roof pavilion with white columns, which also boasts a fireplace for warmth in autumn and winter months. The bases of the columns are faced with the same stone as the fireplace.

“It also offers additional ambience while they’e in their hot tub,” adds Dave.

 

 

 

Smaller of Two Ponds

Smaller of Two Ponds

Phase III

There is no question that backyard water features can add the ‘awesome’ to any retreat. And these homeowners wanted to enjoy waterfalls and ponds from their spa, as well as the deck, patios, and every area of their yard.

“We built two separate ponds with a meandering stream and waterfalls. The smaller pond [left] includes a substantial stone rock acting as a bridge; the larger natural ‘swimming’ pond [below] has a vanishing edge. Right in the very heart of this pond we added a ‘get-a-way’ stone island with stepping stones leading out to it.”

Larger Vanishing Edge Natural Swimming Pond

Larger Vanishing Edge Natural Swimming Pond

When Deck and patio built this complete water feature, there was room in the larger swimming pond (right) to add a sizable stone island.

With smooth natural stones leading to it, the homeowners enjoy a true Zen experience crossing the still pond to their own private island.

For extended moments of contemplation, two Adirondack chairs have been placed there. The wide arms of the chairs allow for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. With a dramatic waterfall focal point, surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape for relaxation.

And whenever they, or family/guests wish, they can enjoy the experience of swimming in the pond. A truly awesome experience, much like swimming in a lake, swimming hole, or even the ocean.

More photos of the completed project follow:

Shoreham/NY Smaller of Two Ponds:

Shoreham/NY Smaller of Two Ponds:

This photo of the smaller pond at sunset was a hit on our social media last week and inspired us to write about the whole Shoreham, NY project. 

 

Shoreham/NY Backyard Retreat:

Shoreham/NY Backyard Retreat:

The view from the homeowners Bullfrog Spa is awesome in all directions. Pictured here is the view looking right, at the larger vanishing edge swimming pond, with waterfalls and stone island.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls, inside the pavilion, with the fireplace blazing, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio with custom inlays/border is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. (Note: Each of the white pavilion columns have lighting.)

 

Water Feature with Waterfall (Shoreham/NY):

Water Feature with Waterfall (Shoreham/NY):

Here’s a close-up of the smaller pond’s waterfall (looking left from the hot tub). 

 

Water Feature with Stream and Landscaping:

Water Feature with Stream and Landscaping:

The two ponds and waterfalls are fed by this delightful stream, which Deck and Patio landscaped with beautiful plantings and river rock.

 

Two-tiered Deck with Hot Tub (Shoreham, NY):

Two-tiered Deck with Hot Tub (Shoreham, NY):

Day or night, this backyard retreat is where our clients want to be. 

 

 

 

 

How To Choose the Perfect Pond for Your Property

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

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

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

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

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

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

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

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

 

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

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

 

 

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Natural Playscape with Pond

Natural Playscape with Pond

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

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

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

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

 

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

 

 

Putting the ‘Eco’ in Pond ‘Ecosystems’

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

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

 

 

 

Beautiful Pondscape:

Beautiful Pondscape:

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

 

 

 

Pond Koi:

Pond Koi:

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

 

 

 

Pond and Patios:

Pond and Patios:

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

 

 

 

Pond Wildlife:

Pond Wildlife:

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

 

 

Which Type of Pond Works Best For Your Yard?

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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