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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!

The Value of Trees in Your Landscape Plan

“Look deep into nature, and then you will  understand everything better.”

— Albert Einstein


Frequently, here on Long island, when we visit the property of a new client to discuss an upgrade, we are welcomed into a lush woodland scene. “So whatever they are looking for to enhance their outdoor living,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell, “our first priority is to safeguard those trees. And if there are none, we often recommend planting some as part of the landscaping design plan.”

In our work, we utilize a wide range of landscaping elements such as flowers, shrubs, ground cover, waterfalls, and, of course, trees, in and around useful hardscapes, such as decks, patios and pool surrounds. And while most appreciate trees for their color or shade, their full value to the landscape isn’t always well known.



Value of Trees

The Value of Trees

The Value of Trees

Trees are truly worth hugging. They filter the air which can be full of pollutants such as dust and impurities.

“Trees can also collect and filter rainfall,” adds Dave, “which is something we are very invested in as a company. Our division, Rainwater Harvesting, focuses on capturing rainwater underground through permeable pavers and roof runoff, etc. We are also mindful of the advantages of trees doing the same work, side-by-side with our man-made systems, preventing pollutants from entering local waterways.”

Trees, of course, are better known for their ability to release pure oxygen back into the air after they have filtered out any pollutants. It has been said that just one large tree can improve the air for four adults. 

“So you can see why we feel trees are so worth either preserving or transplanting in when there are no trees at all,” says Dave.



Healthy Trees Increase Appraisal Value

Healthy Trees Increase Appraisal Value


Some realtors suggest another benefit from trees. Apparently healthy trees add to the value of a property’s appraisal, which helps provide a return for any investment made by transplanting trees into one’s landscape or protecting those that are there.





Plant Once, By Doing It Right

Planting Trees Takes Expertise

Planting Trees Takes Expertise

While most people can put a plant or bulb into the soil, a tree can be a bit tricker and requires some expertise.

“Just like it’s important to know how to work around a woodland area so as not to damage any existing precious trees,” says Dave, “it takes some art and experience to plant a tree effectively.”

Some common mistakes our landscapers come across are trees being planted too deep with too much mulch, and or tree roots being strangled in wire baskets, plastic rope or burlap.





Deck and Patio Projects


Pre-existing Wooded Area

Pre-existing Wooded Area

The above photo is a great example of a pre-existing wooded area on a local property where Deck and Patio was brought in for an upgrade. We secured the trees ahead of time so no machinery damaged them in any way. 

Within this already beautiful setting, we added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around it.

We also added additional plantings and lots of green ground cover. Now they have the perfect space to take in their property’s natural beauty before they start their day and when they return home at day’s end.



Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

The key in creating or updating spaces as they appear in nature is to add only amenities that fit naturally in that environment.

In this case, Deck and Patio added a bridge, water feature, imported boulders and rocks and landscaped it with robust plantings.

It feels like you are in upstate New York, in the mountains.

Yet, it’s right in our clients’ backyard. As you can see, the wooded areas are healthy, blending perfectly with the landscaping plan without interference with their ongoing job: to clean the air and add more oxygen.





Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

As you can see from this Deck and Patio-designed backyard refuge, we were careful to safeguard the existing woodland areas.

Extending out from the parkland areas, the new water feature was brought forward to the entertaining areas through the addition of a pondless waterfall. 

The new multi-level patios were carefully designed so that each patio space had a specific use. The complete project was a perfect blend of softscapes with hardscapes.



Private Woodland Path, Long island, NY

Private Woodland Path, Long island, NY


For this space, we took advantage of the family’s desire to hide their pool equipment by creating a private woodland path. We brought in bushes and plantings and fit them among existing old-growth trees. 

Adding bluestone stepping stones that lead to a larger woodland area contributes to an extended nature walk.

Such an uplifting nature walk gives one’s technology-driven life a break, and leaves the barbells behind. No place offers a better space for that than a quiet woodland area.




Trees add value to any landscape

Trees add value to any landscape



Today’s feature photo at top of page: This Deck and Patio pool/patio/landscaping project was done in collaboration with True Blue Swimming Pools.





Waterside Living: Landscaping After a Storm

As of this writing, there are still a few homes in Long Island that have yet to regain power after Tropical Storm Isaias two weeks ago. And as with all major storms, those who live close to the water deal with additional challenges and problems.

Isaias Winds Brought Salt Water

Isaias Winds Brought Salt Water

For example, not only did Isaias knock down trees all over the Island, but as News 12 reported, the wind, as it picked up salt water, caused a strange phenomenon.

Many bushes and trees — that weren’t uprooted or outwardly damaged — were “burned” by the salt and have since turned brown — as if autumn had already arrived.   

It seems Mother Nature has many ways of destroying the landscape. And because our homes are our havens, resurrecting damaged properties always begins in heartache.



Landscaping After a Storm

When such a new beginning is needed, our job at Deck and Patio is to restore a home’s landscaping — with sensitivity as well as with creative ideas. 

For example, after a hurricane ravaged Long Island a few years back, we were called in to help do just that.

The owners of a waterside property — whose home was situated on a bay off the Atlantic in Bellmore — were initially shaken by the loss of their outdoor living backyard amenities.

After visiting the site, Deck and Patio was inspired to design/build a new 3-tier Trex deck and free-form vinyl pool to replace what was lost. 

“One reason we chose a composite decking material like Trex Transcend is, not only does it hold up to intense sun, it won’t absorb water like natural wood will,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Plus, Trex’s steel elevation framing provides an additional measure of security when strong winds hit.”


Deck Level One


Custom Multi-Level Deck:

Custom Multi-Level Deck:

The backdoor of this home is set high above ground. In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, Deck and Patio’s team divided the deck into three levels leading from the door, down to a new freeform vinyl pool and beautiful deck surround.


Deck Level Two


Custom Outdoor Kitchen:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen:

Considering the vistas open to this home, maximizing them was an important factor in every part of our design. Facing in a different direction just steps from the seating area, level two of the new deck offered a custom outdoor kitchen/eating area.

A new grill, refrigerator, and smoker/cooker were set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the Trex decking. The white vinyl railing offers dramatic framing around the warm wood tone of the outdoor kitchen and deck.


Deck Level Three


Elegant Multi-Level Trex Deck with Pool Surround:

Elegant Multi-Level Trex Deck with Pool Surround:

In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, our design called for three deck levels leading from the door down to a new freeform vinyl pool.

The Trex composite decking we used is a composite fabrication that eliminates cracking, rotting or splitting — perfect for waterside living. Trex requires no sealants because the composite materials are protected from UV rays; it also allows no damage from insects, water, or sun.


Trex Vinyl Pool Surround:

Trex Vinyl Pool Surround:

Again, considering the beautiful vistas open to this home, maximizing views was an important factor in every part of our design.

The pool is vinyl-lined; our design/build team added a Long Island boulder wall in front of some plantings to increase the natural look of the pool area; we also added a large custom diving rock.



When It Comes to Lawns, Consider What Millennials Would Do

Did you know ‘sustainability” is very important to 87 percent of millennials? When you consider millennials are 30 percent of the population, their preferences for environmentally-friendly lifestyles should make everyone sit up and take notice. 

Millennial Lifestyle

Millennial Lifestyle

Millennial Lifestyle

From all we’re learning about this age group (22-38 years) they are serious about sustainability and put their money where their beliefs are.

They prefer to learn online rather than in-person,  marry later, love tiny homes (at least postpone larger ones), prefer take-out to home-meal preparation — finding other ways to spend time with their children rather than at meal time.

Some are also joining ‘agrihoods’ or “agricultural neighborhoods” which are smaller communities designed to be good to the environment.


Landscaping the Millennial Way


Such passion has inspired Deck and Patio today to consider what millennials would do and highlight how homeowners can reduce the size of their expansive lawns, should they desire.

Note: Reducing lawn size does not mean giving the land over to seed. In true millennial fashion, reducing the size of one’s lawn should be part of a well-planned landscape — one that is vibrant and beautiful, as well as eco-friendly. 


Lawns Require Care

Lawns Require Care

“We love caring for expansive lawns,” says Dave Stockwell.

“But a beautifully manicured green lawn does take a lot of watering and fertilizing. Not to mention mowing. As they say, it’s not easy being green.”

For those wishing to reduce their lawn size, Dave has some helpful tips in removing turf grass.



Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

Removing Turfgrass

Removing 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. Of course, if starting this process now, by the time the area is ready, it would be time to put in fall plants. For some ideas on ideal fall plants, visit this earlier blog.

— Dave Stockwell



What To Plant In Place of Turfgrass

In speaking with a Long Island horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio, we discovered that this same subject has been on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” she adds. “A lawn is a high-input plant like Dave Stockwell says. So it’s a particularly good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggests, 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. “In fact, The National Wildlife Federation has a program devoted to reducing lawns and introducing pollinators to the garden through native plants,” says Vultaggio.


Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

For those who are eager to save some money, time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggests 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 Sicata (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.



Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed)

Asclepias tuberosa (Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed)Milkweed)

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

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.  (This photo (right) is of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.)





Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)

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.)


So here’s to millennials and their commitment to sustainability. If you have any questions on this topic, feel free to contact our office for more ideas.


By |2020-07-23T12:16:28-05:00July 23rd, 2020|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Environment Issues, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Lawns, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on When It Comes to Lawns, Consider What Millennials Would Do

Bring Your Backyard to Life with a New Deck and Pond

Most are aware that when you add a pond to your yard, the water feature naturally attracts desirable wildlife such as birds, butterflies, etc.

But a deck can add life, too.

A deck that abuts a pond, for example, creates an idyllic spot for a variety of fun pursuits: cocktails after work, dining al fresco, bird watching, koi study/feeding, watercolor painting, book reading, and even meditation.

Because of such enticements, laughter and human chatter frequently mingle with birdsongs and the croaking of frogs. And backing up this vibrant symphony are the tranquil sounds of waterfalls and babbling brooks. 

The following Deck and Patio project is one such life-bringing project. (And we are delighted to say that it won for us two prestigious Gold Medal awards (APSP Awards/NESPA Awards).


The homeowners felt they had neglected their love of nature long enough. They wanted a new backyard that was a home for desirable wildlife and lush vegetation, a place to regularly refresh the soul and spirit as well as entertain. 

The wife says she always loved birds and nature but hadn’t seen birds in a long time. A fully-blooming landscape was important to them, not only to attract birds but lots of butterflies. We proposed a multi-feature natural retreat that included a deck and pond. 


The Pond


Brooks, Waterfalls, Pond

Brooks, Waterfalls, Pond

This retreat includes two 35-foot babbling brooks and a four-foot multi-tiered waterfall that feed into the pond. The rocks we installed – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, sometimes for their ideal crevices in which garden perennials could be planted.


The Deck

For their deck, the clients wanted natural wood. 

“We often recommend using the remarkably durable Brazilian Walnut hardwood (Ipe – pronounced “e-pay”) that we used for this project,” says Dave Stockwell.

“Ipe’s strength, hardness and durability also resists splintering, termites, wear, rot, fire, chemicals, marine borers and almost every other threat imaginable. And because it is 100 percent natural wood, it is recyclable at the end of its long service life.”


Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Because we were installing the pond at the same time, we were able to design it all as a whole. Note how the pond seems to continue to flow under the deck, even though it doesn’t. The bridge, which was not done by Deck and Patio, was also constructed out of Ipe.


The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining (Long Island/NY):

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining (Long Island/NY):

Imagine dining on your deck as the sun sets when you can not only hear birds singing goodnight, but being so near the pond, the gentle swish of koi swimming is part of the experience. That’s pretty much as good as as life gets. 


Aquatic Plants for Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants for Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Creeping Jenny is one of the many aquatic plants Deck and Patio used here, first as a type of ground cover, but also for its cascading ability over rocks into the pond. Its pale green (chartreuse) leaves are shiny and luxurious and in summer boasts tiny yellow flowers. 


Pond With Waterfalls:

Pond With Waterfalls:

The four-foot multi-tiered waterfall feeding into the pond appears just like you see it in nature. To accomplish this, it is important to understand the way water moves over rock. Natural looking movement is determined by the type of rocks used, forcing water to move multiple ways when it comes down over the waterfall.


We also considered every detail carefully to ensure that it would fit perfectly with the additional elements the homeowners had hired other companies to do, such as the conservatory and small bridge — always taking into account how everything would appear in nature. 





Making the World a Better Place through Rainwater Harvesting

Next Wednesday (April 22nd) is not only Earth Day, but it’s the Day’s 50th anniversary. To mark this year’s event, NASA says it’s taking the adage “Make the World a Better Place” seriously by using technology over in-person activities. Their website will host at-home science activities, videos from earth and space, social media engagement etc.

If you’re asking what can we do locally in each community to contribute, we have a thought. Here at Deck and Patio we have a division called Rainwater Harvesting. If using less local water is something you find you’d like to do, you’ll be happy to learn that harvested rainwater can be used for washing your car, watering your garden and lawn, etc. You can get in touch with us to begin planning such a change.

Do You Need a Large Property to Harvest Rainwater?

A few years ago, long before COVID-19, The Deck and Patio Company — through our Rainwater Harvesting Group — did just such a project in Brooklyn, New York. Certainly these clients had a very tight city backyard. It was barely 25’x 12’.

“The clients had a four-story walk-up,” adds Dave Stockwell. “They wanted us to help them   collect all the water that came off their roof.”

In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, the clients were keen to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. 

According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to “qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.”

In addition, says Dave, rainwater harvesting reduces energy and water bills, sometimes by as much as 40%.

The following photos and video show The Deck and Patio Company hard at work  awhile back (in the good old days) at this Brooklyn project. As you’ll see, we are happy to go the extra mile no matter how tight or challenging a property site turns out to be.


Updating Small Backyards:

Updating Small Backyards:

In addition to the the Rainwater Harvesting System by Aquascape Inc, these clients wanted a small built-in barbecue; they also had a vegetable garden and we planted drought-tolerant xeriscape plants across from it.


Installing Rainwater Harvesting Reservoir:

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Reservoir:

Our team was hard at work here prepping a large enough hole to install an adequate tank. Water comes off their Brooklyn 4-story roof and is collected in a 500-gallon underground rainwater harvesting reservoir. When it’s full, water flows into an overflow regeneration zone where it can perk slowly back into the ground.


Private Water Systems:

Private Water Systems:

Previously, any excess water from rainfalls etc. ran off into the New York City sewer system; now, because rainwater and any overflow will be collected, stored, and controlled, the water for plants and vegetables is completely disconnected from the city sewer system.


Small Yard Renovations:

Small Yard Renovations:

We had to dig a hole 4’ x 6’ and 3’ deep to install the underground 500-gallon reservoir. This required digging out soil and filling 5-gallon buckets that our team carried one at a time down to the basement, up stairs, and out to a dump truck in front of the house.


Aerating Water Feature:

Aerating Water Feature:

We drilled a hole through a rock to create a bubbling rock feature; water bubbles up and then goes back down; having a connecting water feature allows the water to be continually aerated, thereby helping to purify the water.



By |2020-04-16T14:10:00-05:00April 16th, 2020|Aquascape Biofalls, Backyard Escapes, Design and Build Experts, Environment Issues, Gardening, Herb/Vegetable Gardens, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Rainwater Harvesting|Comments Off on Making the World a Better Place through Rainwater Harvesting

Birdsongs Are Actually Good For You



Note: We highly recommend opening the above video before reading further. That way you can experience the transforming effects of bird songs — while reading about the transforming effects of birds songs and how to entice more birds to your yard!


Birdsongs’ Restorative Effects


City Birdsongs

Because of extensive sheltering-in-place, even city dwellers are hearing natural sounds these days that usually are muted by the normal drone of human activity.

Rebecca Franks wrote on Facebook that she used to think there weren’t really any birds in the city where she was living. She rarely saw them and never heard them. “I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing.”

And what better time to learn that hearing birdsongs is actually good for you. A recent study says that, depending on the particular birdsong and its type and frequency, the sound of birds can actually help one feel better and react more positively to life — offering restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.


Attracting Birds to Your Yard

Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders

Before rushing out to put up more bird houses and feeders, remember attracting birds takes some planning.

Deck and Patio has been in the business of creating bird-friendly landscapes for over 25 years. And we’ve learned a thing or two.

For example. Birds aren’t as happy with your perfectly cut and edged expansive lawns as your neighbors might be. And while the odd bird house or feeder will help attract a few birds to a nicely manicured area, birds, prefer a bit of density.

“Songbirds love bushes and trees,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Birds of all sorts drop by for the food, comfort and privacy such lush vegetation gives them. And in turn for access to some clean water and natural munchies, like berries, they’ll give you an opera of stress-reducing songs. Berries, by the way, have been known to tempt even timid birds out of hiding, like woodpeckers.”

Here’s an example of a modest natural sanctuary we designed/built for one of our clients.


Attracting Birds:

Attracting Birds:

Although the neighbors of these clients have a natural wooded area, we added bushes, trees and plenty of plantings to their own yard. This means birds and their songs will be closer by and easier to hear. The crepe myrtles, for example, contribute to an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October, providing a haven for a variety of visiting birds.


Some April ‘To Do’s’

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

During March and April many birds migrate back up north. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are just one species that make their home in Mexico and Central America during winter, and are already back in our neck of the woods.

So if you want to invite them to your yard, it’s time to fill hummingbird feeders etc. As for blooms, horticulturist Sandra Vultaggio says that these hummingbirds particularly love rhododendrons and azaleas. “They also love Columbine, which they track as they move north.”

Other delightful birds — e.g., the Baltimore Oriole and certain Warblers — also arrive on Long Island and other areas of the Northeast in April.

Oriole migration coincides with that of hummingbirds, says Vultaggio — arriving usually a week ahead of their smaller rapid-flapping friends. For the Orioles, she puts out oranges, which they love.

Like hummingbirds, Orioles winter in Mexico and Central and South America. It’s worth planning for their arrival because they don’t stay around long. They begin migrating south again in August. So get your Oriole-feeders out early.

Some ‘Not To Do’s’

“April is a good time of year to postpone any severe pruning you might want to do,” says Vultaggio. “This time of year is usually mating season, and squirrels and birds are busy building their nests.”

“You don’t want to be cutting down trees while these creatures are nesting. Also, it’s helpful to the birds if you don’t make a thorough clean up of your yard during spring maintenance. Leave behind loose twigs and leaves for them to build their nests.”

During April, gardeners often find it necessary to go after insects and pests that might destroy their garden. This can mean applying fungicide or spraying insecticides.

“Be sure that when you do this, not to spray the blooming trees and shrubs. You don’t want to harm birds, bees and other pollinating insects,” says Dave.

Extra Tips

If you’re not an avian expert and are not sure which bird is which, you’ll appreciate the Audubon Soceity’s app. Not only will it help you identify the birds you see, but you can keep track of them, share photos, etc. There’s a good tutorial on their app’s information page, just click here. 

So make your home’s outdoors as much of bird sanctuary as possible. If you help the birds…they’ll help you right back! In the meantime, if you need a little restorative birdsong uplift, try out  Bird Song Opera. It’s great.  


Harvesting Long Island Rainwater is a Good Thing

According to statistics the average homeowner uses approximately 3,000 gallons of water weekly with about 70% used outdoors. 

“However, because typically, many locations on the East Coast, including Long Island, get plenty of rain, we have traditionally not worried about such numbers,” says Dave Stockwell. “But with climate concerns on the rise, opting to harvest rainfall for non-ingestive purposes seems much wiser than unnecessarily pulling precious water from local aquifers.”


Water Will Not Soak into Asphalt and Concrete

Water Will Not Soak into Asphalt and Concrete


Dave adds there are other benefits to capturing rainwater beyond using less water from our aquifers.

“We have a good deal of asphalt and concrete on Long Island. Rainwater does not soak into these materials. It flows away, picking up contaminants as it goes. This contaminated water ends up in our over-burdened sewer systems and eventually gets into our area waterways.”





Keeping Rain Where It Falls

Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel

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. Through our Rainwater Harvesting Group, Deck and Patio, for example, specializes in installing rainwater harvesting systems that can be part of a complete self-sustaining beautiful eco-system.

Properly 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.


Capture Rainwater for Lawn Irrigation

Uses for Captured Rainwater

Using Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System (previously branded RainXchange), and sometimes permeable pavers or roof runoff spouts, today’s rainwater harvesting systems capture sufficient rainwater to irrigate your garden and lawn, maintain any water feature, and also wash your car and/or hose down your 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,” adds Dave.



Harvested Rainwater Maintains Water Feature

Harvested Rainwater Maintains Water Feature

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a stream and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting water collection system. City water is not used. Such a feature attracts desirable wildlife including frogs, butterflies, birds etc. and naturally creates its own wildlife refuge.


Rainwater Part of Healthy Ecosystem:

Rainwater Part of Healthy Ecosystem:

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 (photo’s bottom right).


Permeable Pavers

Permeable Pavers

These pavers are fitted over gravel and a rubber liner is another way to harvest rainwater. They 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.

Deck and Patio specializes in installing systems that capture, filter, and recirculate rainwater, in sufficient amounts to use in your yard for non-ingestive purposes, as well as  supply and keep topped off healthy water features.


Help the Declining Bird Population While Brightening Up Your Winter Yard

Long Islanders, including many Deck and Patio clients, are strong environmentalists and nature lovers. And they are well aware of recent news reports that North America has lost 3 billion birds since 1970. 

What may be news to some is that not all the loss has been among rare birds. One in four colorful blue jays, for example, have been lost, and we recommend a SC Times post that includes some great tips on a variety of ways we all can help.

News has not been all bad though. Because of conservation efforts, populations of waterfowl have increased in recent decades. However, even with the increase in waterfowl, the overall loss in birds does tug on the conscience. 

Inviting Birds to Your Property

We may not have any snowy owls to protect, on Long island, but we can provide a safe habitat for lots of delightful birds — and birds of glorious color that can brighten our winter season.


Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Peanut Wreath

Peanut Wreath








Blue Jays, who do need help, are colorful birds that by nature are happy to stay around in winter. These avian friends love to congregate in groups come winter. They also will squirrel food away. Some have witnessed Blue Jays hiding nuts in trees.

We spoke with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead about attracting the Jays.

 “If you want to help Blue Jays, they really like nuts and peanuts. I use a peanut wreath and fill it with shelled peanuts. This type of feeder attracts a lot of Blue Jays.”

They are also such fun to watch — not to mention they add a lot of color against a winter  landscape.”





Consider how the bright red plumage of the Cardinal could cheer the dreariest of days while you’re helping to save birds overall. The male’s full-bodied red actually gets more striking during winter. This is when some of their remaining gray-tipped feathers fall off, showing even more vibrant red.

What a picture they make resting on icy branches and snow. “If you want to attract them, Cardinals love black oil sunflower and safflower seeds,” says Vultaggio.

It’s helpful to note that Cardinals usually eat early in the morning or late in the evening so make sure feeders are well stocked at these times. Also, being a larger bird, they prefer a larger feeder that won’t sway too much as they eat.





Chickadees prefer the same type of seeds as the Cardinal: black oil sunflower and safflower.

Vultaggio is also delighted by their sounds: “They actually say chickadee when they sing.”

Chickadees are vibrant even though, as part of the Titmouse family, they are known for their gray color and lighter bellies.

“They dine primarily on insects, seeds and berries,” adds Vultaggio.

“They are active and agile little birds. These little acrobats are a delight to watch when they hang upside down from twigs or at your feeder.


Extra Tips

1.  Vulraggio also puts out suet in winter, which she says attracts other birds including woodpeckers.

2.  Bird Baths are a great help to birds in winter 

3.  Put up bird houses designed for specific birds



Bird Baths:

Bird Baths:

A bird bath is important. Water is often scarce in the dead of winter.

Of course, you don’t want the water to ice up and there are lots of bird bath heaters, including solar heated bird baths.

Pictured immediately above is a Heated Deck-Mounted Birdbath by Allied Precision. “You’ll also find that in winter birds tend to appear in groups since many eyes make it safer to watch out for predators.” 


Upscale Birdhouses:

Upscale Birdhouses:

Granted, wild birds may not exactly be pets. But it’s trendy to treat them like they are. So it’s not surprising that fancy bird houses are growing in popularity. Indeed, there are even awards for the best design in bird houses.

The point is, a bird house can be a reflection of your own style and tastes and certainly can be upscale, all while you’re aiding in bird conservation. Besides, if our avian friends are going to sing for their supper, they might as well be housed as nicely as we are. 

It’s worth checking to learn what the birds you’re trying to attract require. For example, Blue Jays like to nest at least 10 feet off the ground so your birdhouse should be at least that high in a tree or pole. They like to use tree roots and small thin sticks to create a nest so you can place them nearby along with the food they prefer. 


Birds are, indeed, such a wonderful way to add color to your winter garden. And it feels great to know you are helping in a very small way to reverse the trends of bird loss on our continent. 

Note: Our feature photo at the top of the page is of a tit bird feeding on a tit ring. 

By |2019-11-08T16:28:33-05:00November 7th, 2019|Backyard Escapes, Environment Issues, Landscaping, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Help the Declining Bird Population While Brightening Up Your Winter Yard
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