Monthly Archives: March 2019


Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

A low-maintenance pond is one with an ecosystem that works naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. It is a paradise for families to relax by and study throughout all seasons. It also offers a healthy place for desirable wildlife, such as pond fish, birds, etc. 

Such a delightful backyard feature has several elements that contribute to its overall harmony. As certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, Deck and Patio keeps regularly up-to-date with the latest in pond design, construction and maintenance.

Proper Water Circulation

It is essential that any water pump be adequate to the size of your pond and waterfalls. This ensures the amount of water will be aerated sufficiently and will not stagnate or develop excessive bacteria. Instead, the pond receives adequate oxygenation to remain healthy. 

Biological Filters and Skimmers

Ponds should also include a natural filtration system using the right biological filter and mechanical skimmer. Adding rocks and gravel over pond liners will also allow beneficial bacteria to grow for fish to graze on. 

Pond Fish

Koi, in all their jeweled colors, are not just beautiful to look at. They eat algae, and their own waste turns into fertilizer for pond plants. It’s key, though, not to overstock your pond so the balance of fish waste, verses what is being used up, remains in proper balance.

Aquatic Plants

And you thought plants, too, were just pretty faces. No, they also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “In the heat of summer, for example, it’s ideal that approximately 40% of your pond’s surface be covered with plants. Not only do they take care of the algae they also provide shade for the fish when it’s hot,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

“A backyard pond should be a paradise for relaxation as well as a home for desirable wildlife,” adds Dave Stockwell. “I’m referring to wildlife such as birds, frogs, etc. who eat insects as they enjoy the shelter you’ve created for them. In addition, aquatic plants and pond fish are essential elements in the overall ecosystem.” 

Sometimes, Deck and Patio clients want to go even further when creating a natural healthy pond ecosystem. “That’s the rainwater harvesting comes into play,” says Dave. “This involves capturing rainwater, filtering it, and trapping it below ground to be recirculated to maintain the pond’s water level because of evaporation. Aquascape Inc. of St. Charles, IL, has superb systems that capture and circulate rainwater.” 

This captured water never stagnates, says Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascape, because the water is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“Rainfall shortages will never be a problem,” says Helfrich. “Plus, with such a system, town or city water is never being used. Those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago, even during a drought, will not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but excess water reserves can maintain a lawn, and/or a vegetable garden.” 

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature (silver medal from LIPSA) consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond; it’s 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.

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful ecosystems. 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.

Low Maintenance Ponds with 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 shown here include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily. 

“A healthy pond does require some spring and fall maintenance,” says Dave Stockwell. “However, if you build your pond correctly, Mother Nature will do the rest. Not only will you love it in every season, but frogs, birds and butterflies will thank you for it.”


Gardening Trends: Planting and Gardening At Night

Updated 8-10-23

Whether you planted your garden this past spring by phases of the moon or not (see below), the trend in gardening at night continues to get noticed. Just this week, The New York Times posted an article “What You Discover When You Garden at Night” (link here). 

Living on a farm in Pennsylvania, the Times writer found it too hot to garden during the day recently. And while she missed some of the daytime comparisons she’d have when gardening, like certain bird sounds, etc., she found many evening benefits that made up for this change in her gardening habits.

The quiet of the evening gave a hint of meditation to the gardening work, she says, a more peaceful experience. She also noticed “different aspects of the natural world” which she missed being outside during the day. The enjoyment of twinkling fireflies, for example, the sound of crickets and not to mention the first stars in the sky.


Planting by the Moon

Planting by Phases of the Moon

Planting by Phases of the Moon


According to such notable organizations as Better Homes and Gardens (BH&G), planting by the moon’s phases is a trend that may allow us to grow healthier, stronger and more fruitful plants.




For a local perspective on this interesting BG&H post, Deck and Patio has reached out to a local horticulture consultant, Sandra Vultaggio from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Here’s her thoughts:


Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

“I do not know much on the topic of lunar planting, but know of some folklore associated with it. That said, all of what I read in that article sounds plausible. I have also heard that you can time crops by the moon phases. For instance, you can begin planting summer crops outdoors after the last full moon of May. The truth behind this is typically on a full moon, cloudless night, you’ll have the greatest chance of having a frost. And by that time, here on Long island, you’re probably safe from frosts.

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?

Does Moonlight Stimulate Leaf and Stem Growth?


“They also say to plant all of your above-ground-fruiting crops (plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, etc, as well as your flowering annuals) during the waxing moon. Meaning, the time that the moon is growing fuller. The theory suggests that as the light from the moon increases each night, plants are stimulated to produce leaves and stems.”

“On the flip side, plant your below-ground-fruiting crops (carrots, potatoes, onions, as well as trees, shrubs and annuals) during the waning moon. Meaning, the time that the moon is getting smaller. As the amount of over-night light decreases, plants are stimulated to produce roots and tubers.


Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

Candidum Lily Blooms in Spring

“Whether all this is true or not, I do not know. But, like I said, it is very plausible! Our ancestors, old farmers and gardeners, who depended on their gardens and crops for their lives, did not look at a paper calendar to determine planting times. 

They observed their surroundings. Everything from precipitation events, wind direction, moon phases, the arrival of certain wildlife or the bloom-time of certain flowers, all played a part in the decisions on their land. These practices are held scared by some families, as they should. They are invaluable lessons that have been passed down generation to generation.”

— Sandra Vultaggio


Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

Planting Moonflowers in the Northeast:

If you’re thinking of planting annuals by phases of the moon, Moonflowers might be fun. This gorgeous flower is usually seen in more tropical regions than the Northeast — as a perennial. But even with our winters, they have been successfully grown up in our neck of the woods as an “annual.”


Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

Dahlias Make Beautiful Blooms:

These are definitely stunning annuals that can be dug up and stored in winter and can be grown in the northeast despite being tropical plants. Just plant them in spring and treat them as annuals. They have a long bloom period. 







By |2023-08-10T13:40:36-05:00March 21st, 2019|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Gardening Trends: Planting and Gardening At Night

Changing a Liner Pool to Gunite Is Perfect Time for Backyard Haven

Changing a liner pool to a gunite, (or a gunite to vinyl) is a bit of a job. Since there’s some tearing up going on anyway, this is a great opportunity to create the haven you’ve been desiring.

That is exactly what evolved when these Oyster Bay Cove, NY, clients approached Deck and Patio a while back.

The family wanted a change from their existing vinyl-lined pool to a gunite. But during our consultation, it became clear they wanted more than a change in pool materials. They were also unhappy with the pool’s shape/design which didn’t fit well with the architecture of their house. And despite the steep grade that limited construction in their backyard, they really wanted an overall larger pool.

To expand the size of the pool we knew we would have to extend it extremely close to the property’s sharp hillside. “This would require shoring up the slope with boulders, creating various small retaining walls to hold back the grade,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The trick was to bring in machinery and place the boulders in place before we dug the pool and area out.”

Our design team also helped create a more unified look with their contemporary home by designing the upgraded pool in a geometric pattern. “We also tracked down the same brick used on their home’s exterior,” adds Dave. 

In addition, to give the clients the natural look they wanted, we surrounded the pool with beautiful bluestone. “The shape of these stones also mimic the overall geometric design we were going for.”

Other design elements: 

— steps at the base of the retaining wall lead to a peaceful woodland path — at the end of which we hid all the pool equipment, 

— sheer descent waterfalls along the inside of the pool add extra contemporary elegance,  

—and landscape lighting created a beautiful romantic scene at night.

When the whole transformation was complete, not only was the family ecstatic, but their pet turtles seemed to love the transformation as well. With more room to swim in, they took to the new pool like, well, turtles. 

On visiting the project after its completion, the lady of the house let us put an underwater camera on one of them — and the turtles filmed what it’s like inside the pool as he swam. The pool transformation became a haven for them as well.

Here’s that precious video:


Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Deck and Patio remodeled an existing vinyl pool into a larger, geometric gunite, with elegant sheet falling waterfalls. The new design handsomely complements the home’s architecture.  


Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps faced with the same brick as used around the pool’s retaining wall, lead to a peaceful woodland path where the pool equipment has been hidden out of sight.


Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

The pavers of the previous patio/pool surround had not been compacted properly and were separating. The family also wanted a more natural product. Bluestone was chosen and its hues blended nicely with that of the brick-faced retaining walls; in addition, the rectangular shapes of the stones echo the shape of the pool and house windows.


Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY): 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):


Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

It’s hard to decide which time of day presents the most beautiful picture; but nighttime has to be near the top!  



Water Features for Public Spaces, Parks, and Town Centers

In ancient days, water fountains were a source of drinking and wash water for local citizens. Today, cities and towns across the globe add water features to parks and town centers mainly for the beauty and tranquility they bring.

However. Whether the water feature is a fountain, water wall, waterfall, stream, or pond, it is widely accepted today that any such feature be ‘green.’

Such was the case when Deck and Patio, in collaboration with the Town of Huntington, designed/built a self-sustaining or green waterfall/water garden at one of the busiest spots in the area: the Huntington Train Station.

As background: For some time Deck and Patio has operated a sustainable division, our Rainwater Harvesting Group. 

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Dave Stockwell. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater which can be used at private residences as well as in pubic spaces.”

At one’s home, adds Dave, captured rainwater is used for tasks that don’t require treated water such as washing a deck, lawn watering, washing vehicles, and refreshing one’s garden.”

In public spaces, it can be a source for sustaining not only the beautiful relaxing water feature itself, but there, too, the surrounding garden spots and plantings can be watered as well. 

How did the train station project come about?

Huntington Train Station Project

Huntington Train Station Project

The train station is just a few blocks from Deck and Patio’s design center at 189 Broadway.

One day a member of our team was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women planting flowers near the station.

As a local landscaper, we offered to help by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.


Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

“A problem became immediately apparent,” says Dave. “There wasn’t any water source for maintaining the plants. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain them.

“In addition, there was no walkway in this space, beyond a small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was also not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, we approached the Town of Huntington. “They were completely on board,” says Dave. “Huntington Township takes great care to beautify our public spaces, including healthy and cheerful pole planters, etc.”

With the Town’s cooperation, Deck and Patio installed the self-sustaining water feature with an underground reservoir to store captured rainwater. To help accumulate the most rainfall, as well as add a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot, we constructed a walk area made of permeable paves.

“We used Techo-Bloc permeable pavers and installed them over gravel and a rubber liner.,” says Dave. “These pavers allow the rainwater to seep into the ground and into the reservoir where it can be recirculated.

“The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent, using gravity alone, to the reservoir,” adds Dave. The system we used was known then Aquascape RainXchange Harvesting System which is now called “Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System.”

“There is enough captured water to not only sustain the water feature, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Dave. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps falling non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”


Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

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


Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting System includes an auxiliary pump connected to the irrigation system. This ensures that the water used isn’t city water, but harvested entirely from rainwater. The below ground Aquascape Aqua Blox Reservoir holds 500 gallons of rainwater.


Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The water feature at the train station (which is, alas, as of this writing buried under snow and ice!) is in total keeping with the Town’s program of beautification of public spaces.


Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.



Go to Top