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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!”

Rainwater Harvesting: Savings from a Rainy Day

Have you ever considered that one way you can save for a rainy day is by saving water from a rainy day? Depending on the municipality that supplies your water and how much water you need for irrigation, etc., capturing rainwater can significantly reduce water bills.

With over 1/2-acre of wooded gardens, these homeowners had a well that operated a sprinkler system. It maintained their vegetable garden along with their entire property’s landscape. After the well stopped working, they asked us to provide another way to irrigate it all without using city water. In addition, they wanted a playground beside a pond, with waterfalls and stream. They hoped captured rainwater would help maintain these as well.

The Rainwater Harvesting System

The system we installed provides two ways to capture all the necessary rainwater. First, water from the roof is collected and sent to an underground 1,000-gallon reservoir. Because the clients also needed a new patio, this presented the ideal opportunity to use “permeable” pavers that collect water underneath what is now a new 1,000-square-foot patio.

Challenges

The home is located in an historic area in central Brooklyn, so all changes to the property and home had to be approved by the local historical society. Also, the property sloped and we needed a series of perforated pipe and bulkhead fittings to get all of the water to flow the correct way. Lastly, the New York City location made for difficult logistics. Excavated materials going out and truck loads of new material coming in was complicated, and we heard many beeping horns.

Results

With the Aquascape RainXchange rainwater harvesting system, 100% of their irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. 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. In addition, we 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 them.

 

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Systems:

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Systems:

The site was pitched the wrong way which made it difficult to get roof water, and water from the permeable pavement, to the 1,000 gallon reservoir. There was also a large pergola with a 30-year-old-grape vine right next to the reservoir that could not be damaged. The peaceful scene of the patio and its surroundings gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

 

Capturing Roof Rainwater:

Capturing Roof Rainwater:

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.

 

Permeable Pavers:

Permeable Pavers:

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 Process:

Rainwater Harvesting Process:

Just off the patio, a bubbling rock, which aerates and cleans the water, is connected to the reservoir system and pumps the water through the gravel to clear out impurities. That pump is hooked up to a high-pressure booster pump which operates the irrigation system for the yard.

 

Backyard Waterfalls and Stream:

Backyard Waterfalls and Stream:

When water gets low in the clients’ water feature, harvested rainwater in the irrigation system replenishes them.

 

Aquascape RainXchange™ Harvesting Systems:

Aquascape RainXchange™ Harvesting Systems:

Aquascape’s systems are a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rock 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.