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Feeding Your Koi: Fall Requires New Routines

 

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

 

And you think you have digestion issues. Well, according to top experts (e.g., The Pond Guy/Aquascape Inc.), your pond fish have real issues digesting their food when the temperature changes.

“Keep feeding your fish summer food,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “as long as the weather is consistently warm. Do this until it gets consistently cool. It’s then you should switch to cold weather food.”

 

 

Regularly Check Pond Water Temperature

Feeding Pond Fish in Fall

Feeding Pond Fish in Fall

Begin checking your pond’s water temperature beginning in early fall.

When pond water gets below 59 degrees, you can — and should — plump up your koi darlings to survive winter hibernation. Using fish food made for cold water, gradually increase how much you feed these lovely fish as temperatures start to drop.

As the water temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them. Once temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Dave Kelly, from Aquascape inc., the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. 

And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

So even though there is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

 

Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

 

“Fall is also a good time to trim back and remove any dead foliage from your pond’s aquatic plants this time of year,” says Dave Stockwell. “This helps remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature. Such decaying material can cause excess gasses and undesirable algae.”

Pond lilies, for example, which are idyllic water plants, tend to need a little maintenance in fall. It’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.

 

 

 

Pond Fish in Fall:

Pond Fish in Fall:

There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. Just a reminder, however. Once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely. 

Welcome to fall!

 

A Few Maintenance/Planting Tips – Before the Leaves Fall

Over the next weeks, we’ll provide more in depth information on specific fall backyard maintenance. But today, we’ve got a few tips to begin planning.

 

Fall Foliage Is Coming

Fall Foliage Is Coming

 

 

It may be weeks yet before you’ll have to face falling leaves, but for sure that colorful foliage will fall in the not too distant future. So kick back and give a few thoughts to some backyard maintenance that can be done now — and that might make falling leaves less of a problem.

 

 

 

 

Pruning at: Berkshire Botanical Garden

Pruning at: Berkshire Botanical Garden

 

Pruning is not something to wait doing. Actually right now — on the cusp of early fall — is the ideal time for this bit of maintenance. Cutting plants back now will give them enough time to callous over before the first frost.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.

 

 

 

 

Ponds

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

If you have a pond or water feature, before too long, it will be time to protect your feature from falling leaves.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and easily dispose of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. By the way, water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

Pond experts suggest “tenting” the net so it doesn’t sag into the water when it becomes heavy with leaves and debris.

It’s also a good idea to trim back aquatic plants to reduce the amount of organic material decomposing in the colder months.

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Before the leaves start falling off your trees, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”

So, tree trimming should be on that “to do” list before the leaves fall.

 

 

 

Plantings

Skimmia:

Skimmia: (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, beginning now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

In an earlier blog, we discussed — Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio pond project built during winter

Deck and Patio pond project built during winter

 

 

A bit of effort before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.

 

 

 

 

 

By |2022-09-15T13:35:07-05:00September 15th, 2022|Backyard Maintenance, Backyard Refurbishments, fall maintenance, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes, Streams, trees|Comments Off on A Few Maintenance/Planting Tips – Before the Leaves Fall

Caring for Your Deck From July 4th and Beyond

Once July 4th kicks off summer entertaining, and fun in the sun, your deck gets a lot of use. Indeed, for many of us, decks and summer are the heart of the outdoor living season.

 

Deck Structure/Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

Deck Structure/Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

 

So how can you take good care of your deck during all this activity? A while ago, we spoke with Edie Kello from Viance — the company that makes the preservatives for pressure-treated lumber.

Kello answered some of the most common questions homeowners have regarding maintaining their decks:

 

 

Question: When it comes to decks, what’s your advice on maintaining them.

Answer: “A deck should last for years. Keep it looking its best with the right deck cleaners sealers and stains to ensure its long-term beauty. Here’s some tips:

 

For New ‘Wood’ Decks:

• Allow the wood 6-8 weeks to dry prior to applying any sealer or stain.

• Apply a high-quality oil or water-based finish with UV protection to slow down the process of the wood turning gray from exposure to the sun.

• Apply a water repellent sealer at least every two years.

• And always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for new and re-applications.

• To provide long term aesthetic appeal, maintain a deck that is dry and clean.

• Keep your deck free from dirt and debris.

• Liquid detergents, water and a stiff bristle brush will remove most mildew and dirt.

• For hard to clean wood surfaces, use a deck brightener containing Oxalic acid to retain the wood’s natural beauty.

• Always follow the manufacturer’s mixing and application instructions.

• Never use household chloride bleaches on decks as it can cause damage to the wood fibers and fasteners.

• Care should be taken if a pressure-washer is used for cleaning decks, as excessive pressure may cause damage to your deck’s surface.

  • Make sure water can drain away from the deck and there is adequate ventilation so water can evaporate to lessen mold and mildew growth.”

— Edie Kello, Viance Company

 

Of course not all decks are natural wood. What about composite materials? 

Well, all decks benefit from a bit of care and cleaning — even durable capped composite decks. Depending on the type of composite you have or choose, the cleaning materials may vary. So Deck and Patio went right to the manufacturer’s mouth, so to speak and have included links where helpful:

 

Popular Composite Decking

 

Deck and Patio Trex Pool Surround & Deck

Deck and Patio Trex Pool Surround & Deck

 

 

Trex Decking

This deck and pool surround was designed and built by Deck and Patio using Trex Decking. For details on maintaining your Trex deck, check out the information at their website.

 

 

 

 

Award-winning Deck and Patio Fiberon Project

Award-winning Deck and Patio Fiberon Project

 

 

Fiberon Decking

This multi-level deck with pool surround included a level devoted to the family’s new portable hot tub. Here’s how to care and maintain your Fiberon deck from the manufacturer’s website’s blog.

 

 

 

 

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

 

 

TimberTech Decking

Here Deck and Patio built another raised multi-level deck with spaces devoted to different outdoor living spaces — from dining, lounging, and barbecuing. And as for TimberTech, you can download a PDF on how to care for your TimberTech Capped Composite Decking.

 

 

 

 

How Can I Improve My Pool Area?

Long frustrated by a dated backyard pool area, this Dix Hills family was particularly focused on the old wood deck and red brick patios around their pool which were to small for parties and entertaining.

Another issue was an old retaining wall which spoiled the look of the pool area.

Deck and Patio’s creative team inspired these clients with this suggestion: re-grade the slope area and replace it with a “natural” retaining wall with a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.

Rather than create a pond to capture the water from the planned seven-foot-high “sheet” waterfall, a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape was recommended. 

 

 

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We particularly value Aquascape’s waterfall systems because they focus, like we do, on an ecosystem approach to water features,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “For this project, the pondless system relies on a natural balance of circulation, filtration, plants, rocks and gravel to ensure sustainability.”

 

 

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

 

To achieve a natural looking waterfall, the design/build team needs to understand how water flows over and releases from rock in nature in order to re-create the feeling you’re hiking or strolling along some natural pathway. 

We avoid a man-made water feature appearance by designing it so the water changes directions in the waterfalls and streams.

Once this project’s stream and waterfall was complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping. Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter and added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

 

Refurbished Pool and Patio

Refurbished Pool and Patio

With the slope stabilized, our team addressed pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the original liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered.

We straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steel rebars for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were then added, as well as new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and new liner was installed.

After this, the pool was carefully backfilled and tamped. We compacted the soil back around the pool in three-inch lifts to allow for the immediate installation of new pavers around the pool.

 

 

Note: This compacting process is not done by many contractors. The idea is that using compacted soil the base will not settle, so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle. 

 

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers from Cambridge (Sahara). These particular pavers have little or no color fade and the random design pattern adds interest to the patio. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.

 

 

How Can I Keep My Pond Fish Safe from Predators?

According to retailers, the pond and water garden industry has enjoyed a leap is sales during the pandemic. This jump has appeared in both water feature installations and maintenance services. 

“Ponds are a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors without having to leave home. And they can be built in any size,” says Dave Stockwell. “But those who want a pond large enough for koi often worry if they will be able to keep their pond fish safe from predators.”

Pond fish are worth protecting. They are not just lovely to look at; koi help balance the entire ecosystem of a pond.

 

Safety Begins with Good Pond Design

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

 

“If your koi pond was designed and built well, it was designed and built deep,” says Dave.

A water feature with sufficient water depth will dissuade, for example,  raccoons and cats from going after your fish, since neither species enjoy swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages the most challenging predator, the heron, from wading into your pond. Herons enjoy walking around in slightly shallow water.

Deep water really puts them off.

So a pond designed with high rock ledges and no easy wading entrance discourages a heron from hunting your fish.

 

 

 

Pond Water Features:

Pond Water Features:

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of bubble rocks, waterfalls, or even water from nearby sprinklers will put off many predators. 

Also, unlike still water which offers a glass-like surface, bubbling water from a waterfall etc. disturbs that serene surface, making it harder for predators to see the fish underneath.

 “In addition, when we construct a pond, we frequently include underwater koi castles,” says Dave.. “When the koi sense danger, they can hid in there until the creature has given up.”

 

1. Statues: Some swear by scarecrows like owl statues. Others recommend a decoy-heron. Indeed, being territorial, herons will usually avoid conflict with what they perceive as another heron. Be sure the decoy is large enough to appear as a reasonable threat, however. And it is also important to move the decoy every few days. Herons are clever and will soon figure out a decoy that never moves isn’t a danger.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

 

2. Another effective deterrent is installing a motion-activated sprinkler. We found, for example, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, who says that after testing just about every animal repellent conceivable: “…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

The motion-activated sprinkler is just one of several deterrents that should be used, adds Dave. “It can be effective, but works best in combination with some of the other suggestions we’ve given here today.”

3. Pond Netting/Fish Wire: “The most effective guarantee for safeguarding pond fish is pond netting,” says Dave. “But, because they spoil the look of the pond, most people prefer to use netting only during fall foliage. However, another suggestion which you’ll see in the following video seems a better alternative. Fish wire can be strung around pond areas where predators can get close enough to grab your fish.

 

 

The following YouTube video is by Foisy Aquatics who has a YouTube channel devoted just to fish.

 

 

 

Final Note: Koi are a healthy part of this Deck and Patio pond’s natural ecosystem. We construct ponds so they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. We also ensure the pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. We add plenty of high rock overhangs to discourage predators. A motion-activated sprinkler and a koi castle offer the final bits of security.

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Add Plants in Pantone’s ‘Very Peri’ Color

Very Peri’ is Pantone’s Color for 2022

Very Peri’ is Pantone’s Color for 2022

Last month, Pantone announced Very Peri as its 2022 color of the year. They made their choice with a view to encourage an “altered landscape of possibilities” during a time when our “notions and standards are changing,” 

Pantone believes that Very Peri “displays a needed spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence” helpful in encouraging creativity and imaginative expressions.” 

Pantone’s new color definitely provides homeowners with the opportunity to create contrast and interest in their landscapes.

“We frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “We love helping them keep up with the times, while always ensuring any updates are in harmony with the rest of what’s there.”

Dave adds that even if families aren’t planning major updates to their properties, incorporating some fresh touches of color such as Pantone’s Very Peri is an easy change.

For those who’d like to get started planning some seasonal floral updates, here’s just some plants that mimic Very Peri nicely:

 

Periwinkles

Periwinkles: This flower’s color and name may have inspired Pantone’s choice for 2022. “It’s such a superb spreading shrub, we like it because it’s great for erosion control. Grown as a ground cover, it blooms in April and May.”

This plant also helps control the growth of weeds. It’s a good climber, too. Caution: Plant it on its own where it won’t overtake or choke valuable plantings. It likes partial shade and acidic soil. If you don’t want it to spread too far and rapidly, you can plant it in full sun.

 

 

Iris

Iris

 

 

Iris: These beauties come in a variety of sizes and colors. Mark your calendar as the best time to plant them is late summer to early autumn. Most varieties need full sun. “We always recommend preparing the planting beds ahead. 

About two weeks before, loosen the soil in a depth close to a foot to allow for good drainage. They don’t need much water except just before bloom time. Caution: These plants are bad if ingested and definitely are not good for your pets. 

 

 

 

 

Delphinium elatum

Delphinium elatum

Delphinium elatum: A member of the buttercup family, delphiniums are delightful perennials that add lovely color when they bloom during spring to early summer. A sturdy plant grows tall and is nicely herbaceous. 

“In our neck of the woods,” says Dave, “these plants require special care, but are worth the effort we think.”

Perhaps in keeping with Pantone’s purpose in choosing the Very Peri color, these old-fashioned flowers, if you’ve got the time to care for them, can make a magnificent statement. 

They require high fertility, careful staking to keep them standing in rainstorms, etc. Give them space to spread out and ample air circulation. For more on this, check out this article.  

 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo: Hydrangea

 

Feature Photo at top of page: We selected hydrangea as our feature photo today because it not only is available in Pantone’s Very Peri color but is a favorite here on Long Island and easy to grow.  

More plantings available in this color choice are: hyacinths, verbena bonariensis, clematis ‘multi blue,’ nemesia denim blue, and, of course, one of our favorites — alliums! 

 

 

Landscaping: As Leaves Start to Fall, Think Spring!

 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

 

Frankly, everyone loves the first sight of bright cheery flowers that tell us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome flowers grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall — late October and November.

For planting ideas, we spoke a while back with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant, who had some wonderful tips on planting bulbs.

 

 

 

When to Plant Spring Bulbs

Waiting until the soil temperature in fall has dipped to about 55°F is ideal. Usually this corresponds to overnight air temperatures cooling to around 40 – 50°F.

 

Which Bulbs to Plant in Fall

Deer-Proofing Your Garden 

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

“We have a considerable deer population on Long Island,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And we agree wholeheartedly with Sandra who recommends choosing bulbs that the deer tend to avoid.”

Such plants she recommends includes daffodils, allium (ornamental onion), hyacinth, grape hyacinth and crocus. 

“And though not actually bulbs, you can venture into some of the other tuberous perennials like peony and tall bearded iris as well,” adds Sandra.

 

 

 

Grape Hyacinth: “We often use these beauties to make lovely edging to other spring flowers,” says Dave. 

Grape Hyacinth: “We often use these beauties to make lovely edging to other spring flowers,” says Dave.

 

Crocus: These delightful plants are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.  

Crocus: These delightful plants are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

 

Best Soils for Bulbs

Sandra adds that bulbs grow nicely  in many different soil types. But the one site they don’t do well in is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained “sandy loams or loamy sands.”

 

Spacing the Bulbs When Planting

If you are not using a landscaping firm like Deck and Patio to do the planting, it’s comforting to remember that all of the spacing information, etc. is provided as part of the growing instructions for each bulb. 

Planting depths even vary between varieties, depending on if you have a large “trumpet” variety, or the small ‘Tete A Tete’ varieties, says Sandra. Most bulbs will enjoy a sunny garden, but will usually perform well in a partially sunny garden as well.

 

Should You Compost

“Compost is not necessary to layer on top. If you feel your soil is lacking organic matter, you will be better off incorporating compost into the top 6” of soil before planting,” she adds. “Mix bonemeal or superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole, or incorporate it into the soil around each bulb’s planting hole.”

What Tools Will You Need

As far as tools go, adds Sandra, to make the job easiest is to buy a bulb planter. “This is a metal garden gadget that you stick in the ground, pull it up and out comes a cylinder of soil. Place the bulb, right-side up into the hole, and cover back up with soil. If you don’t have a bulb planter, and garden trowel will do just fine.”

Short on time? Dig larger holes and place a few bulbs in each hole so the flowers come up in clumps, she says.

 

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden:   ‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard. 

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden:  
‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

 

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

We also asked Ms. Vultaggio what inspires her about spring flowers. She concluded today’s tips with: “Audrey Hepburn said ‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.’ I agree that when you plant this little brown bulb in the soil, you plant the hope that you’ll see it break ground and bloom in the spring.”

 

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips:  

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips:

Note from Deck and Patio: Ms. Vultaggio’s comment on Audrey Hepburn reminds us that one of the episodes on the actress’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs.

These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode — and that they are one of the horticulturist’s suggested bulbs.

 

 

 

By |2021-10-28T10:54:11-05:00October 28th, 2021|Backyard Maintenance, fall maintenance, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Landscaping: As Leaves Start to Fall, Think Spring!
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