Yearly Archives: 2015

Landscaping Trends 2024: The Benefits of Harvesting Rainwater

Updated 1-4-24

Living in the northeast, we don’t usually experience a shortage of rain. So why bother harvesting rainwater you might ask? 

Major Benefits to Rainwater Harvesting

Major Benefits to Rainwater Harvesting

As the Washington Post reminded us this week in their report, capturing rainwater isn’t just about saving water for potential droughts. Capturing rainwater — and using it for tasks such as watering the garden or landscape, topping off water features, washing the car, etc. — has some major benefits that should be very dear to the hearts of Long Islanders.

When rainwater rushes along our roads and byways into sewers, it picks up contaminants along the way. By the time it makes it to our waterways, The rainwater is not healthy and is deposited where swimming, surfing, boating and other water sports are a passion for many. 

But when homeowners capture and use rainwater, it stops a lot of that runoff from flooding or carrying pollutants into natural bodies of water, says the Washington Post. This helps avoid flooding as well.’


Average Homeowner Water Use


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.



Water Gardens and Fountainscapes: Beautiful All Year Through

In a previous blog, we showcased Aquascape Inc. Fountainscapes as a great way to experience a water feature in your yard without committing to a larger pond or waterfall system.

You might be wondering, why bring this up now, when winter is about to set in? Actually winter is the point. This blog focuses on just how beautiful water features — of any size — are during winter.

In fact, when the temperature drops, flowing water can turn into art as it crystalizes.

Take for example, the waterfalls we created a few years back on Long Island (NY) as part of a double-pond, stream and multiple-waterfall feature. When months later we stopped by during a strong cold snap, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sparkling water falls as they crystalized (first photo below).

In order to give you a fuller picture of the winter beauty that can be part of a water feature, we also posted below three glorious fountainscapes operating in winter.


Water Features in Winter:

Water Features in Winter:

(Long Island/NY) – During a prolonged cold snap, ice forms on the natural stone boulders of this water feature; the water falling over the stones crystalizes into glistening flowing threads — an exquisite sight!


Fountainscapes in Winter:

Fountainscapes in Winter:

This fountainscape is part of a fountain/miniature pond feature that is arguably even more delightful in winter months than in summer. Note how the small stream of water has become a jeweled thread of ice.


Office Complex Fountainscape

Office Complex Fountainscape







Fountains are not just for backyards. No sir, they are a wonderful indulgence at business offices as well — and as you can see from this winter scene,  clearly a year-round uplift for management and staff.





Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

If you do not want the water to freeze, you can choose to winterize your water gardens/waterscapes by running them with heat, which will melt the ice dams. But that is not necessary and might you miss some gorgeous winter scenes.




Of course, winter isn’t the only time of year you’ll appreciate a water feature; even a simple fountain will provide the delightful sound of moving water and a picturesque setting. Photo: Aquascape Inc. Garden Fountain



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.



Enjoying Your Deck in Winter: Expert Tips from Fiberon Decking

“Enjoying my deck in winter?” you might be asking. Actually, yes!

To get the snowdown on how to enjoy our decks even when it’s snowy outside, we spoke to Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at a leading capped-composite decking manufacturer: Fiberon Decking.

# 1 Removing Snow from Your Deck

Kello says the most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones. If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface.  Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”

Kello does not recommend using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel, Kello recommends sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“


Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing snow is key to outdoor winter enjoyment. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing


Keeping Warm on Your Deck

Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer. Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.

“Fire pits and fireplaces are other popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.

It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”


Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing


Trapping Your Heat

Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. “It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.


 Deck Covering:

Deck Covering:

A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing


Now, for the Enjoyment!

If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.



Photo # 5


Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.






# 6




She also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. “If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”



Other suggestions:


# 7

add color and life on your deck by including flowers such as Pansies, Johnny Jump Ups, Cabbage and Kale, or perennials such ornamental grasses and lavender.

“The point is, even when it snows, you really can enjoy the crisp fresh air right outside your door if you make it comfortable enough,” says Kello.

More: Fiberon Decking



Project Showcase: How’s This for a Four-Seasons Outdoor Room?

In the Northeast, where fall can change to winter at any moment, we thought we’d share an earlier post showcasing an ideal four-seasons outdoor room. Enjoy!


November 20, 2014: Project Showcase: What Would Your Ideal Outdoor Room Include?

“Sometimes we dream of an outdoor space we’d love to have ourselves, — like this four-seasons outdoor room — and without fail, our team comes across a client who wants it, too,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter.

That said, the idea for this climate-controlled four-seasons room didn’t come about all it once. It evolved in degrees. Deck and Patio had been contracted to build an entire backyard retreat, in three phases, for these clients. In phase one, we built a sound-barrier fence to block noise from a nearby busy street. Phase two, which eventually included this four seasons room, was for a Trex Transcend deck and railing, an outdoor kitchen, and an opened roof structure for sitting out and enjoying the yard.

“When we were creating the deck and open roof structure, however, after an evening of being pestered by insects, the clients decided they wanted it screened. Soon screens turned into windows for added protection during windy times. And, of course, once it was to be fully closed in, opportunities for special amenities opened up.”

First, to ensure the completed outdoor room would be in keeping with their two-story brick home, Renter consulted with an architect. The completed four seasons room not only harmonizes with their home, it boasts fully operating windows, as well as screens, automated Mitsubishi ductless heating and air conditioning, flat screen television, and enough room for their young child to use his ride-on toys.

In the end, the clients new outdoor room more than matched Deck and Patio’s own dream for such a space. (Note: Phase three, and the final phase of their outdoor retreat, will be a new pool and surround, and a pond.)


Four Seasons Room

Four Seasons Room:

The outdoor room’s large Anderson windows offer a 360-degree view. These scenes will be even more enchanting when the pond, swimming pool and surround are completed in phase three. Then the clients will be able to watch children in the pool, and relax in their outdoor room at the same time.




Hydrangeas and long-blooming roses add color and brightness to the landscaping around the new four seasons outdoor room. The room’s white siding of PVC trim board is maintenance free, is paintable, and will never rot. With PVC lattice in deep brown underneath, it all coordinates perfectly with the deck and railing.


Trex Transcend Decking

Trex Transcend Decking:

The Trex Transcend decking has a picture-frame border where two boards of a different color frame the entire deck. The framing is “vintage lantern” and the body is “tree house.” The flooring inside the outdoor room is also Trex Transcend.


Trex Transcend Railing

Trex Transcend Railing:

The Trex deck railings have white posts and rails and “vintage lantern” balusters. Trex LED lighting is added on the post caps to shine down on the posts; the stair risers have Trex accent riser lights which shine on the stair treads.


Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen:

The new outdoor kitchen, with granite top, has a cultured stone facade that goes all the way to the ground; barbecue, refrigerator, double-side burner, and three drawers are made with high quality stainless steel.




Fall/Winter Garden Color for Long Island and the Northeast


Did you know that even during winter northeastern gardens can be full of color and interest? Have you spied any of the gorgeous berries blossoming right now around Long Island?

For example, Callicarpa bodinieri, aka “Beautyberry,”  is one of Mother Nature’s delights that thrive locally and is offering lovely color right now (see large feature image above). This ‘beauty’ not only makes a sublime colorful statement in fall, but the berries remain through winter.

To obtain a comprehensive list of what will lift winter doldrums with outdoor color and texture, Deck and Patio spoke with Sandra Vutaggio, Horticulture Consultant at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, NY. She shared a substantial list of choices that will provide either bark interest, colorful berries/seedheads, late-season foliage, flowers or evergreen (see list below).

Some of the listed flora actually fit under multiple categories: Skimmia, for example, offers crimson-red berry interest in fall and winter, and also bright white flowers in spring.

“Deciduous plants like Oakleaf Hydrangea have late season foliage and later offer nice bark in winter,” says Vutaggio.

“All on the list grow well in the northeast, although some can be a little fussy. The Skimmia are an example of those that are a little temperamental and harder to grow. Camellias, which thrive much further south, can be marginally hardy, if planted in a good protected spot where they will get a wind break; then they’ll do fine on Long Island.”

Vutaggio adds that any winter interest in the garden should include some evergreens because they will be the backdrop to anything else that you plant.

Other Tips from Vutaggio:

For perennials — e.g., Hellebore (listed under Flowers) and Rudbeckia (under Seeds): if instead of cutting them down you leave them planted, they provide interest amid snow; the Rudbeckia will provide seed heads which will draw birds to them during winter.

You can still get perennials into the ground right now, but for the larger trees and shrubs, you should wait until early spring until the ground is workable to give them time to grow roots and adjust to your property.

Trees like the Crepe Myrtle, which offer beautiful pink spring flowers and, in fall, finish flowering when the leaves pod up into pretty berries, also provide interesting bark color in winter. More on Crepe Myrtle:

Evergreens of all shapes, sizes and variegation add winter interest. Many junipers turn a bronze/purple in the winter as well. Just google the names on the following list to discover all the wonderful options available for winter color and interest.


Cornell Coop Ext List jpeg



Callicarpa (or Beautyberry):

The beautiful purple berries of the Callicarpa begin in fall and last through winter. Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden


Crepe Myrtle:

Crepe Myrtle:

Thriving on Long Island and the northeast, the Crepe Myrtle brings delicate clusters of pink blossoms in late spring (shown behind waterfall); in fall, it offers bright red-orange leaves and in winter interesting bark. Photo: With Permission: Southern Lagniappe)




These evergreen shrubs sport bright green leaves and, in spring, bring vibrant white flowers; in fall, they offer up crimson red fruits (berries) that last all through winter and are especially fine in December. In fact, they make great Christmas or Thanksgiving hostess gifts as they are slow growers that are ideal starting out in pots and containers.  Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia




Designing and Building Decks in Late Fall

“One common misconception about new decks is that there’s no sense in building one in late fall,” says Bill Renter, Deck and Patio outdoor living expert.

“Here in the Northeast, for example, the weather does indeed get chilly in mid-November, but cooler weather is actually good for this kind of project. For one thing, if built now, a deck will be ready and waiting when the first buds bloom in spring.”

November frequently offers several good opportunities for enjoying the outdoors, adds Bill. With the addition of a fire pit, it’s possible to hold several backyard get togethers before winter completely overtakes the outdoor season.

“Most important, with the availability of so many high-quality capped composite and PVC deck materials such as TimberTech, Trex Decking, Fiberon, etc., you don’t have to worry how winter will affect the deck. It’s only when using natural wood that you might feel it is best to wait until spring.”

Also, depending on the complexity of the design, its location, and especially how high off the ground it will be, a deck may not require a permit.

“So it’s possible that a deck, which easily expands a home’s entertaining area, can be built within one to three weeks,” says Bill. “In fact, we build quite a few decks and patios this time of year.”


Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking:

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking:

Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck anytime of year, including wonderful colorful options even in November.


TimberTech Deck and Railing:

TimberTech Deck and Railing:

The black “Radiance Rail” used for this deck railing offered a variety of sophisticated posts and balusters and rail caps to choose from; for more nighttime safety, the rail caps were fitted with TimberTech’s recessed DeckLite deck lighting — which is especially appreciated in late fall when it gets dark so early.


Trex Decking and Custom Bench:

Trex Decking and Custom Bench:

These clients wanted to keep a beloved tree and enjoy its natural shade in summer, so Deck and Patio designed/built a Trex seating bench around it in the middle of the new large Trex deck. The bench offers a great spot for enjoying the property’s waterside views anytime of year.


Trex Deck with Fire Table:

Trex Deck with Fire Table:

This lovely Deck and Patio composite Trex deck and railing with custom seating area can be enjoyed in the cooler months just by adding a fire table.



Infinity Pool Project in Cove Neck, Long Island (NY)

Swimming at the edge of your world


Some say the first infinity pool was built at France’s Palace of Versailles, where from, say, one of the palace’s gardens, the eye is enticed across an expansive “infinite” pool of water up to the panoramic King’s palace.

Now perhaps it’s a breathtaking sunset that you want to draw the eye to on your property, or a gorgeous flower garden, or scenic bay. Indeed, in today’s project showcase, it was their property’s spectacular views of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore that drew these Deck and Patio clients to such a pool.

Infinity Pools

Man-made infinity (aka vanishing edge) pools expand the serenity of a backyard pool by drawing the eye to some other exquisite scene, thereby substantially increasing the restful beauty of any backyard retreat.  However, the finished results belie their underpinnings. These pools — no matter which focal point you are drawing the eye to — require experts to design and install it.

“Vanishing edge pools are an optical illusion that suggest the water is vanishing out of the back edge of the pool,” says our outdoor living expert, Bill Renter. “Nothing is, of course, vanishing in a vanishing edge pool. The water is actually clinging to a recess in the pool wall which then drops into a catch pool below. And while this sounds simple enough, it requires a good deal of mastery to design it correctly. An undersized catch pool can almost never be corrected.”

Bill explains that if the catch pool or basin isn’t large enough there won’t be enough water returning to the main pool and can cause serious problems. Insufficient water may also be a real disappointment, since many like the idea of an infinity pool precisely because the water they swim in will never be stagnant, but will be continually recycled through the pool.

The key, then, is to make sure you deal with experts. And what you get for your effort, is — dare we say it — fit for a king.



Additional note on catch basins: If the catch pool or basin isn’t large enough there won’t be enough water returning to the main pool and the catch pool will run dry. That can trigger huge water bills because it would have to be constantly refilled to compensate for not having enough room to store water. In addition,  during rain falls, the basin could be overwhelmed, leading to it overflowing, or eroding or liquefying the soil behind it.



Infinity Pool (Cove Neck/NY): Depending on where you are in this vanishing edge pool will determine which extraordinary vista your eyes are drawn to.

Infinity Pool (Cove Neck/NY): Depending on where you are in this vanishing edge pool will determine which extraordinary vista your eyes are drawn to.


Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool.

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool.


Infinity Pool Catch Basin (Cove Neck/NY): One reason people love infinity pools is that the water is never stagnant but flows into a catch pool and is recycled.

Infinity Pool Catch Basin (Cove Neck/NY): One reason people love infinity pools is that the water is never stagnant but flows into a catch pool and is recycled.


Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In addition to the recycled pool water, for this project, a custom “spillover” spa offers healthy aeration to the pool water.

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In addition to the recycled pool water, for this project, a custom “spillover” spa offers healthy aeration to the pool water.


Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Everywhere you look in this completed backyard project there is a lovely scene worth pausing for.

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Everywhere you look in this completed backyard project there is a lovely scene worth pausing for.


Infinity Pool and Spa (Cove Neck/NY): It’s wonderful when you can’t decide which is the best seat in the ‘house’ — the pool or the spa!

Infinity Pool and Spa (Cove Neck/NY):: It’s wonderful when you can’t decide which is the best seat in the ‘house’ — the pool or the spa!


Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): You don’t have to be a descendant of Louis IV to swim in royal waters.

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): You don’t have to be a descendant of Louis IV to swim in royal waters.



Aquascape Water Gardens: The Appeal of Koi Ponds

Pond lovers are familiar with Aquascape as the leading water garden innovator in North America, so we were more than flattered when, in early May, our own Bill Renter was invited to do a guest blog on koi ponds for their web site. In case you missed it, we’re sharing it today.

Koi Ponds – For the Child in Us All  

By Bill Renter, Outdoor Living Expert

“Growing up, I was what they call today a ‘free-range’ kid. Like most children back then, I was free to explore the outdoors on my own and interact with nature.

Things are different today. Parents and child caretakers are far more cautious about letting children wander on their own. This is one reason, I believe, why koi ponds have skyrocketed in appeal. Through them, Mother Nature’s best experiences are brought right to our own backyards.

For sure, kids love watching and feeding colorful pond fish. Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand. And since it’s better to feed them in small amounts throughout the day, pretty much any time the kids are free, it’s a good time for the koi, too.

Backyard ponds attract other wildlife that children love: frogs, salamanders — basically any amphibian that lay their eggs in or near water. Plus birds will flock there, including song birds.

However, predatory birds like heron may be attracted to the koi. There are steps you can take to dissuade them, like netting, decoys, and electronic scarecrows with sensors that spray water when they catch movement. Also, thoughtful landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water. And from the outset, having the right depth of water in the pond (no less than 24″) is key to keeping heron at bay.

My favorite koi ponds are the larger ‘swimming ponds.’ Children can snorkel in these and get up face to face with the fish. For swimming, you want clean water, so I’d recommend not overstocking your pond. You don’t want more fish waste than can be reasonably absorbed by aquatic plants and the pond’s bog filtration system.

Now while there are a few things to consider, with a little care, koi ponds are ideal to bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, I can’t resist a swim.

So I say … go ahead … be a ‘helicopter’ parent or grandparent, and hover over the kids. With a backyard koi pond, kids aren’t missing out on much at all.”


Pond Fish:

Pond Fish:

Koi are gentle creatures that will swim right up to be fed, accepting food directly from the hand.


Good Pond Design:

Good Pond Design:

Well designed landscaping can provide protection as herons prefer an unobstructed path to wade into the water.


Swimming Ponds:

Swimming Ponds:

Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.


Useful Pond Koi:

Useful Pond Koi:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; in this Deck and Patio-designed pond, the koi have lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.




How To Determine The Best Hot Tub To Buy

Ever wonder how to determine the best hot tub to buy? Deck and Patio is pleased to share our blog page today with guest blogger Danielle Adams — a freelance writer with expertise in the hot tub experience. Enjoy!


By Danielle Adams

You’re ready to buy a hot tub, but do you know what kind of hot tub you want? Hot tubs are an investment and before taking the plunge, you want to choose one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Finding the perfect size, jetting configurations, and seating layout that fit within your budget can vary and provide different benefits.

As you do your due diligence to decide which hot tub is the best one for you, here are a few things to consider.

Bullfrog-1-525x356 Hot Tub Vs. Spa

During your research, you’ve probably run into these two terms interchangeably: “hot tub” and “spa.” But is there a difference between the two? Not really, but this is a common question that gets brought up.

Although these two terms have indicated to different things in the past; today they are considered to be the same thing— a portable tub of water with integrated heating and jetting. The terms have emerged because hot tubs were typically built from wood, in the form of large whiskey barrels or wine casks. Whereas spas were more permanent pools of hot water where people would go for the healing properties of  hydrotherapy.

close-up-of-LIHT-spa-wjet-paks-525x348 Use and Size

What is the purpose of your hot tub? If you know what you are planning on using your hot tub for—neighborhood parties or relaxation with your spouse—you can better decide which size is your best option. Hot tubs come in a wide range of styles and sizes, but some sizes are not always equal to capacity. As you look closer into hot tubs, make sure to look at both the dimensions and capacity.

To get a better idea of what size spa will best fit your lifestyle, consider the maximum number of people who will use the spa on a more regular basis.Then think about the maximum number of people who will ever use the spa, and aim for a nice balance between those two numbers.

While you determine the ideal size for you, take the actual spa size, external dimensions, internal space, water capacity and depth into consideration. Also, measure the spa location at your home to verify the spa will fit in the area you are planning on having it installed.

# 3 Construction

Many high quality spas are created with a durable acrylic shell material. The acrylic material ensures you have a scratch resistant surface that is resistant to moisture, chemicals, and the elements, especially in the long run.

When deciding on the best hot tub, look at what is underneath. Some hot tubs are still constructed with the same mentality of the 1970s and 80s with wood framing. We’ve come a long way since then and, with the improvement in hot tub materials, there are more precise methods and other composite material to ensure you get the best, most efficient product with less chance of error. Check out Bullfrog Spas manufacturing process by KSL.

Energy Efficiency

Going green is a popular trend right now and with good reason. Who doesn’t want to help the environment and save money? As you consider the various hot tub options, it’s important to chose one that is well-insulated, well-designed, and is energy-efficient to help you save on monthly operating costs.

The first thing to look at is insulation. Hot tubs of higher quality have a full foam insulation feature to prevent heat from escaping. Check the California Energy Commission (CEC) to see if your hot tub meets or exceeds the energy guidelines. Also, look at the spa cover to verify it is well made, insulated, and fits over the spa for maximum energy conservation.

In addition to the installation, added energy savings can be found in the plumbing. The plumbing design can have huge impact on energy costs. How so? More plumbing equals more exposure to environmental elements which can lead to friction and more energy being used to pump water to the jets.

Investing in a hot tub takes time, but you want to make sure you choose the best one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Take the time to ask the right questions, do the research, sit in various models, and find the one that you can feel most comfortable in. A hot tub can provide lasting benefits and enjoyment for years to come—if you choose the best one today.

Bullfrog Spas has created an easy, step-by-step guide to help you select and design the best spa model for you.


About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with When she’s not writing, Danielle enjoys learning more about design, rearranging her house, and spending time with friends.




By |2017-01-21T16:34:36-05:00October 22nd, 2015|Bullfrog Spas, Outdoor Living, Portable Hot Tubs|0 Comments
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