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The Benefits of Exposure to Nature

When surfing social media, the posts that get most attention are beautiful landscaping photos. If catching a quick glimpse of nature online seems to refresh the spirit, imagine what time spent outdoors in a natural setting does.

The University of Washington wrote a piece on this very subject not too long ago. And after two years of study, while they remain baffled as to “how” nature heals more than the soul, they do know that exposure to a beautiful landscape is beneficial to one’s overall well being.

The study also indicated that some doctors in their areas were already suggesting “doses of nature to their adult patients to treat conditions ranging from heart disease to depression.” 

The researchers also discovered that spending time in nature can be a challenge, depending on one’s neighborhood, etc. But providing specific spots to “safely enjoy nature” is worth the effort both at home and in the local community.

We thought we’d share today some examples of Long Island homeowners who have employed Deck and Patio to create mini-natural havens in their own yards.

 

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Deck and Patio carefully selected the boulders and stones, along with bright plantings to create this beautiful vista. And as many would agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining for a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. Here we built multi-level patios and carefully spaced how each area was to be used. 

We set up one area for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also planned out.

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. 

The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds to swim upstream into the upper pond. 

(*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a lovely wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

Feature Photo (Top of Page):

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats, how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our own backyard.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? Local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

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.

 

 

Self-Sustaining Water Features Are More Than Restful Escapes

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

The sounds and sights of moving water can turn any property into a restful escape. But a backyard water feature can be more than beautiful and restful — if it is ‘self-sustaining.”

Self-sustaining ponds and “pond-less” water features boast rainwater harvesting components, which offer great ways to save water and aid the local ecology.

Such rainwater harvesting systems support all types and combinations of water features  — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams.

In addition to replenishing the ponds, streams, waterfalls etc. themselves, captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscapes, and wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc.

 

 

As certified installers of renowned Aquascape Inc. products, the water conservation systems and other water garden products Deck and Patio uses are both technologically and biologically efficient.

 

 

 

Project # 1

Koi is a healthy part of this pond's natural ecosystem

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem

 

 

The Aquascape products Deck and Patio used for this project include high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, and gravel beds.

Note: Koi can also be a truly beneficial part of a pond’s eco-system, including this self-sustaining one.

 

 

 

 

Project # 2

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

The Aquascape ‘green’ rainwater harvesting process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“The collection system is located completely below ground,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell.

“The reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.

“There is no requirement for city water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

Project # 3

 

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a beautiful pond, waterfalls and stream with a bridge across it.  Along with the right water plants, everything works together to create a very healthy eco-system — underpinning the peaceful vistas which restore the soul.

Why is this important? Such products create a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

 

Project # 4

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

With a “pondless” waterfall, the waterfalls and stream do not drop into a pond, but seep through gravel where it is first filtered and then collected in an underground reservoir and continually recirculated. Because you are continually filtering and recirculating water, such a project is definitely eco-friendly.

However, natural evaporation of the water feature will require, like this Deck and patio one, that the recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. So for those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use any town water by even occasionally replenishing your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes the reservoir system we used here.

With their rainwater harvesting system, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods.

 

There are many routes to sustainability. And the beautiful water feature you choose for a restful respite will be truly that…having no tinge of guilt about its impact on the environment.

For Well-Being Bring the Natural World Into Your Experience

There was a time when mankind spent a huge part of its daily life in the outdoors. But we’re a long way from those hunter/gatherer days. Today, we’re so advanced, we spend much more time staring at our screens rather than starring at the night sky — or watching a mother bird feed its young (in someone’s online tweet doesn’t count). 

As reported in a recent The Atlantic feature, there’s reason to reassess the way we balance our lives. Psychologists of late, while measuring happiness and well-being, have discovered a “significant association between nature connectedness and life satisfaction and happiness.

Ensuring the family visits more regularly parks and arboretums, etc. can help. But for a greater immersion, and presumably increased well-being, it might be worth exploring some natural environments that Deck and Patio either designed/built for nature-loving clients or has designed/built similar ones.

When Your Backyard Space Is Tight

We don’t all have such a large wooded property that we can enjoy ‘forest bathing’ like some researchers suggest, or a deep large pond for swimming. But many have enough space to fit in a small pond with a bit of inspired landscaping.

Small “Pondless” Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Small “Pondless” Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

“A pondless waterfall,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “not only requires less space than a regular pond, but is ideal when a family has very young children. Some of our clients worry that a full, deep pond might present safety concerns for toddlers.”

Plus, adds Dave, a pondless waterfall doesn’t require much maintenance so is easier to care for.

Budget, too, is also a consideration. A pondless waterfall offers the joys of flowing water, it attracts beneficial wildlife, and draws the family outdoors. A great option.

 

 

Room for a Large Pond

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Swimming in a pristine natural pond is thrilling and chemical free — a delight. Of course, unchecked by the chemicals of a regular swimming pool, the odd dragonfly will no doubt flit across your natural pond; you might even find a salamander sunbathing at its edge. 

In addition, frogs (who eat the more undesirable insects around your pond) may parent some tadpoles in any natural pond. And if there’s koi in the pond, it’s important to keep them free of disease.

All that said, people swim in lakes and the ocean and even water holes. So this is really the same thing and children love it. Plus, a large gorgeous pond is an attraction for your family whether or not you create it for swimming. 

 

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

When there is room and a budget for a large pond, like this koi Deck and patio pond with several waterfalls and a stream, a backyard can become a private sanctuary to begin enjoying all the positive effects of being out in nature.

Note: because ponds do not have too much water action, water lilies are ideal plants, which is especially helpful in larger ponds.

Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer.

The lower temperature reduces undesirable algae growth; and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for the fish while keeping the water clear and clean-looking.

 

Reaching a Pond’s Zenith

Deck and Patio Infinity Pond

Deck and Patio Infinity Pond

A pond can reach its zenith if it’s possible to give it 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 Deck and Patio water feature. It captures the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the water’s edge. 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 using Aquascape Inc. products is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.

Now, tell us you wouldn’t spend more time enjoying nature with any of these water features! And the benefits for your well-being are priceless.

 

Noise Pollution: Blocking Unwanted Noise with Delightful Sounds

Since Richard Nixon was in office, federal and state governments have recognized the harmful effects of noise pollution. According to experts, noise pollution can have a wide range of harmful health effects. 

But more than the really loud booms that can damage eardrums,  routine unpleasant noise, when frequently experienced, can cause hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

 

“One complaint people on Long Island experience around their homes is traffic noise,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It’s one reason Deck and Patio clients love adding water features. Beyond beauty and their peaceful ambience, they also are a great way to eliminate traffic and other unwanted outdoor noises.”

 

Water features provide relaxing burbling sounds. Some have reported that the negative ions abundant in waterfalls actually increase serotonin levels which improve mood.

 

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

 

A closeup of one of our projects with stream and waterfalls (shown left) captures part of a Roslyn, NY, water feature. It is the main waterfall in a series that flow down over moss rocks in a very natural-looking way — if we do say so ourselves.

 

 

 

 

Our clients did not want a pond, so we created a “pondless” feature using Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the flowing water in an underground reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

 

 

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

 

“Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with this 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell. “Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past i.t You might say this lovely setting did more than block out noise — it created a beautiful spot reminiscent of a Caribbean vacation.

 

 

 

 

Blocking City Noise

Backyard Noise Barriers

Backyard Noise Barriers

But, you might ask, Long Island is one thing, but can waterfalls help block city noise. Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise — in the very heart of a borough of New York City.

In addition to an exterior wall, which we softened with bamboo around its perimeter and a “living wall” that holds multiple-sized pots of plants, we added a sizable waterfall that offers up joyous splashing sounds as it falls into their pool. 

“It is truly an oasis in the heart of the city,” says Dave.

 

 

Lots of Noise Barrier Options

Watery Trail

Watery Trail

“There is a wide choice of design options for your own backyard water feature,” says Dave.

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

 

“You might wonder if waterfalls will really drown out traffic noise,” says Dave. “But the following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa we built gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.”

 

 

Landscaping: Making a Home for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Eastern Monarch Butterfly population fell again this past February.

The yearly count they say: “continues to show a dramatic decline in this imperiled species.” And to many, these beautiful nectar-feeding insects have become the face of wildlife extinction.

“Isn’t it wonderful, then, that we can do our part to help prevent this decline,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“It can be difficult for these pollinators to find pure food sources causing them to use a lot of energy just hunting for food. So we love that many of our clients ask us to plant flowers that will attract them.”

 

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

In addition to adding the right plants, Dave says it’s also key to create a safe habitat for their caterpillars. Some herbs are ideal for that; Dill and Dutchman’s Pipe, for example, not only provide caterpillars food, but also protective cover before they turn into butterflies.

Organic gardening and environmentally-friendly lawn care products also go hand-in-hand with attracting and protecting the pollinators.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” says Dave. “It isn’t essential to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. In doing that, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Heavy use of toxic chemicals are also dangerous to pets and children. It is much healthier to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process — through a more organic approach.”

Out friends at Hicks Nurseries suggest that tubular-shaped plants or “Umbrels” provide a wonderful sanctuary for butterflies. These give them a landing plant filled with nectar just waiting for them, says one of their experts, who also suggests a seasonal approach that not only provides multi-seasonal color in gardens, but extra months of safe, bountiful habitats.

In spring, you can plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus, for example. In summer, there’s 30-40 plants to choose from, including Black Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush to name just a few. In fall, there’s Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Asters, and Golden Rod.

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

 

Butterflies will get plenty of moisture from droplets left from sprinklers, morning dew, etc. “However, they do seem to love oranges, not only for food, but to quench their thirst,” says Caldwell. 

Note: To keep ants away from the fruit, put the slice on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day.

“It’s wonderful that so many Long Islanders are helping the environment, in their own quiet way,” says Dave. “They celebrate Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

 

 

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

As the name implies, Butterfly Bush is a great choice for attracting butterflies in the summer. “They can reach up to 6-8 feet in height,” says Hicks Nurseries. “They’re fast growing and don’t need a lot of care.”

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

Dave Stockwell says that Lavender (shown here) is another plant butterflies love. “It also gives off a calming peaceful scent. There are several types of lavender that bloom at different times — so you can have its perfume from spring nearly through fall.”

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Great for attracting butterflies, these biennials are also a haven for other pollinators like bees. Their bright yellow petals and dark centers can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

 

Pool, Spa, Pond & Stream In Keeping with Natural Surroundings

Along with a concrete vinyl-lined pool with waterfalls, for this backyard oasis we added a raised spillover spa with an additional waterfall, a stream with waterfalls, plus a koi pond.

 

Protecting Mature Trees

Protecting Mature Trees

“We had a lot to consider when we designed this,” says Dave Stockwell. “First, of course, the property’s trees — mature maples, oaks and pines — had to be preserved. 

“But we also considered the topography, the soil, solar exposure, the overall size of the property, where we could place active and passive use areas, not to mention the home’s architecture.”

Dave adds that each feature had to fit with nature and this particular landscape.

Besides Deck and Patio’s technical knowledge, such an accomplishment requires a true passion for nature in order to balance the relationship between architecture with its natural surroundings.

“Needless to say we were thrilled to have been recognized for what accomplished in the design and installation of the pool, spa and water features,” says Dave. “We won two prestigious awards from NESPA and APSP for the upgrade.”

The key to our design was locating various water features within a limited space so as not to disturb the environment. Despite building restrictions, the finished project was rich in amenities: Here’s some more details for this project:

 

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

This concrete pool has a vinyl liner. We positioned it into the natural surrounding landscape considering carefully any existing trees and mature shrub root systems. Although it’s not seen in this photo, the clients can enjoy the nearby koi pond and waterfalls while relaxing in their spa. The spa also has its own overhead heated waterfall, which can be adjusted to cool in warmer weather.

 

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

This 5’ high multi-level waterfall and 35’ meandering stream discharge into 10’ x 15’ freeform Koi pond (below). 

 

Koi Pond and Stream:

Koi Pond and Stream:

Pond was built to protect the fish against natural predators. Pond’s small cave, for example, provides a hiding place where koi can lay dormant during winter months and hide when necessary.

 

Pool and Spa Design:

Pool and Spa Design:

The design of this pool and spa appears “organic” with its natural surroundings; they perfectly fit with the clients’ desire for harmonious bodies of water in keeping with their natural looking residence, patio, outdoor kitchen.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance is provided by many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

 

Environmentally-Friendly Travertine Pavers

“Natural stone continues to be a popular option, both indoors and outdoors,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “One reason for this continued popularity is an ever-rising desire to use natural, environmentally-friendly materials.”

Indeed, natural stone, like Travertine, is a beautiful material that holds its beauty and integrity for years.

“One particular outdoor living trend,” adds Dave, “involves pool deck installations in handsome travertine — a soft stone that in the past usually graced only a home’s interior.”

 

Two Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Decks

Pool with Travertine Pavers

Pool with Travertine Pavers

In this first Deck and Patio project (left and above), we surrounded a new 50-foot-long, 26-foot-wide (approximate) pool with an elegant pool deck made of Travertine.

The project also boasts a tanning shelf, spillover spa, moss rock waterfalls, volleyball court, and diving rock.

The pool was constructed with a concrete wall and vinyl liner. 

“These homeowners also had us build a pool house and an outdoor kitchen (see below), so they really wanted to bring all the comforts and the elegance of their home’s interior pool-side,” says Dave.

 

 

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

For the pool house, Deck and Patio consulted with a good friend and architect, James DeLuca. Our collaborative effort inspired a building and extended pool deck that is in keeping with their home’s overall elegance.

 

About Travertine

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years. It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

Italian Travertine, revered for its hardness and porosity, is what the Coliseum in Rome was constructed of, so the durability of Italian Travertine is not in question, although it can be expensive.

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

Turkish Travertine, is very common and, in most instances, is less expensive than the Italian. It does hold up quite well in our Northeast’s freeze/thaw climate.

Be aware, however, that some companies offer very inexpensive Travertine for use outdoors and may seem to be a great deal. However, they may be using stone quarried in, say, China, where the qualities of such stone differ considerably and will not stand up to certain climates. Just because a stone is called “Travertine,” don’t assume it’s all the same. It’s not.

 

Both projects we’re showcasing today (above and below) were built from Turkish Travertine. The following pool deck used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine and over 180 linear feet of fullness coping for the pool.

 

Travertine’s Appeal:

Travertine’s Appeal:

The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.”

 

In our area of the Northeast (Long Island, NY), the summer sun gets intense. However, Travertine does not absorb the heat like brick or bluestone, and is similar to light-colored concrete pavers where heat is not retained in the paver. This makes it ideal as a pool surround, where being barefoot is unavoidable.

 

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool and it was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offers a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Travertine doesn’t absorb heat like other materials and offers an elegant contrast to robust lawns and plantings.

 

 

 

 

Landscaping Trends: Reducing the Size of Your Lawn

Not Easy Being Green

Not Easy Being Green

A beautifully manicured green lawn takes a lot of watering and fertilizing, not to mention mowing. It’s truly not easy being green.

We spoke a while back with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension. It turned out, that lawn reduction was something very much on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” said Vultaggio. “A lawn is a high-input plant that requires a good deal of water and fertilizer to stay green, so it’s a good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggested, instead, planting more native perennials and shrubs.“Over time, after the planting stage, these will require much less irrigation. Perennials are pretty self-sufficient in searching for water on their own. Plus, their fertilizer requirements are at a minimum.”

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. 

For those unsure on how Ito remove turfgrass, Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, offers tips at the end of this blog:

 

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

 

For those who are eager to save some money and time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggested the following native plants:

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1. Monarda (Bee Balm):

Native to North America, this beautiful flowering plant is from the mint family. It’s easy to grow, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

It’s tubular flowers come in a variety of colors (pink, white, violet, red) and bloom in high summer through early fall. Bee Balm takes to full sun or light shade, and prefers a well-drained fertile soil. It needs some protection from excess moisture in winter.

 

 

 

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2. Violet-colored Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather):

Gayfeather (tall purple plant on the left) is an extremely easy plant to grow.

It blooms in late summer and grows from corms that sprout in spring. Part of the sunflower family, it, too, is native to North America. It likes full sun, well-drained soils; it attract birds and butterflies, and is an ideal perennial.

Because the Gayfeather often grows to a robust 2-4’ feet tall, it may require staking or some other support.

 

 

 

 

3.  Nectar and pollen-rich Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed):

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed is native to eastern North America and blooms in clusters of orange flowers from mid-late summer. It is drought-tolerant and attracts birds and pollinators. It is a particularly good source of nectar for Monarchs; plus Monarch caterpillars feed off its leaves.

This plant thrives in poor dry soils, likes full sun; it is deer resistant, and is nicely fragrant.  These above two photos are of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

 

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

4.  Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

This frequently bi-colored flower makes a dramatic statement in the garden and is an ideal plant for those who are new to gardening. In fact, this plant is so easy to grow it has been described as “tough to kill.” It is fairly drought-resistant, plus hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is best planted in early spring or late fall.

When in bloom, the blossoms appear a bit like a hot poker or torch and for those feeling a bit of sadness saying good-bye to some of their lawn, note that these plants boast very “grass-like” leaves. This photo is of Vultaggio’s own garden and is courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

(Note: the dramatic dark blue/black flowers in the foreground are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ which bloom from late spring to early autumn.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

How to remove turfgrass.

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

— Use powdered lime, flour, or spray paint to mark the exact section you wish to cut back;

— Water the area ahead of time and then ‘scalp’ the grass (cut it to expose the stems)

— Now you have two options:

1) The physically harder, but quicker, one is: Using a turf cutter or spade, dig out the turf. Add soil and plant right away.  (Note: keep the removed turfgrass. After the sod breaks down, the turf can help make nitrogen-rich soil around the roots of plants).Or…

2) Try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

 

By |2021-06-10T12:32:45-05:00June 10th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Environment Issues, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Lawns, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on Landscaping Trends: Reducing the Size of Your Lawn

Eco-Friendly Projects for Earth Day, 2021

One week from today is Earth Day –when people around the world will highlight a variety of ways to help preserve our planet.

Many parents might even want to involve their children in home earth-friendly activities.

 

Involving the Kids

Butterfly Themed Lesson for Kids

Butterfly Themed Lesson for Kids

 

 Pinterest, for example, is full if ideas on how to involve the kids come April 22nd: 

— butterfly themed lessons for preschool (left), 

— creating spring sensory bins, 

— flower planting themed activities, 

— making a worm-friendly mud containers

 

 

 

 

Contemporary Rain Barrel Urn/Gardeners.com

Contemporary Rain Barrel Urn/Gardeners.com

Some parents might even involve their children in setting up a simple rainwater harvesting project — barrel rainwater harvesting.

“Basically all that involves is connecting a pipeline from a roof or terrace to a large barrel,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “You can even set up several barrels for collecting the rain, since we often get a fair amount in our neck of the woods.”

If you don’t want to purchase special rain barrels, you can use a simple trash holder. Plus, getting the kids to help clean the trash clan before setting it up is an easy safe job for them. 

 

 

Rainwater Garden

If you’re storing rainwater and have a garden, you can place a pipe to directly connect with it. “All it needs is an easy tap in order to control the water flow and prevent any overflow into the garden,” says Dave. “Some might even increase the amount of gardening they are doing because of the abundance of water they have at hand.”

It’s helpful to remember that only a small amount of falling rain actually seeps into the ground. Much of it ends up as runoff in our sewers and on into our waterways. So saving it and utilizing it is truly a gift to mother earth for Earth Day 2021.

 

Sustainable Water Features

For those interested in adding a water feature to their yard, business, or public land, but don’t want to waste precious water to keep it running and topped off, can consider more complicated rainwater harvesting products.

“Indeed, we are so very passionate about rainwater harvesting that we have a special division at Deck and Patio devoted to such beneficial water preservation projects,” says Dave.

Here’s an example:

 

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.

While we’ve done hundreds of green water features at private homes across Long Island, a favorite project we sharing below we did several years ago for the Town of Huntington at the local railroad station. 

And for an example of a public project:

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington, NY):

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), we added this serene water feature and a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot.

Permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc were put over gravel and a rubber liner which filter the rainwater runoff before it reaches the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream.

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington/NY):

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

 

As Earth Day approaches, there’s lots of ways to celebrate Mother Earth. Happy conserving!

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