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Beautiful Plantings: Dressing Your Pond ‘to the Nines’

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. 

“The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

 

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. 

As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately before this one, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. 

Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

Note: Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorful plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile.

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

 

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!

There’s More to Aquatic Plants Than Meets the Eye

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

It is true that water gardens — and the plants installed in and around them — are delightful to look at.

And they attract equally delightful creatures: chirping birds, flapping butterflies, and croaking frogs.

But there’s more to it all than what meets the eye. “For an ideal water garden eco-system, the key is maintaining clean, healthy water. 

“Pond filtration systems do a lot, as do waterfalls etc. which aerate and oxygenate the water. But at the end of the day, a huge part of creating a healthy system is the water landscaping you do,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

Aquatic floaters and marginals, says Dave, are perfect for gobbling up the excess nutrients that are produced by any pond fish and excessive plant algae growth. They also help by reducing sunlight in the pond, which helps control the growth of algae. 

Plants such as water lilies and irises feed on the nutrients (algae or small primitive unwanted plant life) in the pond water, and produce oxygen while they provide shade and food for the small creatures attracted to the water garden.

Submerged plants  (e.g., anacharis, parrot’s feather or hornwort) will also release oxygen.

 

Aquatic Plants

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

The gurus of all things pond/water garden — Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — list the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

  •  Water Lilies

  •  Lotus

  •  Marginal Plants

  •  Water Lily-like Plants

  •  Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

 

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement looks the most natural.”

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave.

“However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. When plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

But don’t fret if your pond water has a slight tint to it. Crystal clear water has no nutrients. You want some algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. because they offer a diverse food source for pond fish, frogs, and plants. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping them all in balance.

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

The tall aquatic plant on the left of this Deck and Patio pond (a canna lily) thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. 

They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

 

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

This photo was taken just after we built the pond. Lily pads, and other in-pond aquatic plants, had yet to be added. But we had installed some attractive peripheral landscaping using plants that like moist, but well-draining soil. 

These do well around a pond but not in one. The red/pink flowers in the foreground are roses. To the right of them are variegated hydrangea and to the left are variegated hosta. All of these plants attract birds and butterflies.

 

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

In addition to the canna lily, this pond boasts water lilies — both tropical and hardy ones. The pinkish coneflowers on the right of this Deck and Patio pond are not aquatic and are not in the water but are perfect edging plants as they attract desirable wildlife — one of the reasons we love our ponds.

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

Pink petunias add a bright statement away from where the waterfalls spill and seep into the ground. Close to the waterfall area we added grassy plants like Liriope that thrive in moist soil.

 

Landscaping Tip: Rose Beds Don’t Have To Be Red

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

With Valentine’s Day approaching, much of the focus on roses will be on the “red” variation. 

Representing love and passion, red roses are, indeed, a perfect fit for a day devoted to romantic love. But roses can say “Be Mine” without having to be red.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned at Deck and Patio in our landscaping work,” says our owner Dave Stockwell, “red isn’t the only rose color that people love.”

 

Orange (Apricot-Pink) Roses 

Orange (Apricot-Pink) Roses

Take for example this stunning apricot-pink rose that one of our designers added to landscaping around a client’s pool.

Such a dramatic hued plant gets attention. And in smaller spaces like this, it helps the landscape to recede behind it — causing the overall area to seem larger.

As for this color: without a doubt “orange” roses have the most attitude in the rose family. These beauties are known for enthusiasm, not to mention passion.

The color also suggests a sense of significance and even urgency — perhaps just the right color to draw your loved ones outside on a warm summer day.

 

Pink Roses

Pink Roses

 

 

When it comes to pink roses — like these beautiful ones planted and cared for by Deck and Patio — their color symbolizes gentleness and poetic romance, making them another great choice for Valentine’s Day.

They are extremely delicate and graceful and make an exquisite statement in any garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

Traditionally, yellow roses suggest friendship. But they are so sunny that they spread joy to anyone who stops to smell them.

The very earliest yellow roses discovered by Europeans were in the Middle East. But when they brought them home, they noticed they lacked the red rose’s enticing scent.

Through caring and cultivation the yellow rose soon claimed the same aromatic fragrance as their sister flora. You simply can’t go wrong with a garden blooming with sunny yellow roses.

 

 

Red Roses

Red Roses

Last, but by no means least, red roses!

When landscaping around a pond we installed for Deck and Patio clients, we planted red roses around it (foreground). 

These vibrant reds blend beautifully with the variegated hydrangea to their right and the variegated hosta to their left.

All the plants pictured here will attract birds and butterflies. But the dramatic red rose is the eye-catcher.

Needless to say: Red roses symbolize love and romance like no other and also suggest perfection and beauty. 

As a Valentine’s Day gift, or as a dramatic element in your garden, it’s a perfect choice.

 

Caring for Roses

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

Whatever their color, roses need a bit of care in your garden.

Horticulture expert Sandra Vultaggio, says roses should be planted in the sun.

“Also, they need a good amount of air circulation around them,” she says. “Strictly avoid overhead irrigation or sprinkler heads. They will get more disease that way because viruses prefer wet environments. Keep them watered at the roots through a drip system or soaker hose.”

Sandra adds that the best time to plant is really any time throughout the growing season. “An ideal time would be early in the season — April or May.”

 

Knockout Rose

Knockout Rose

Deck and Patio gets a lot of requests for knockout roses, partly because they bloom for a long time throughout growing season and are much easier to care for.

They are also known to be disease and insect resistant which has made them quite popular.

“Contrary to popular belief,” adds Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell, “while knock out roses are extremely hardy and withstand blights, that doesn’t mean they don’t need some care like fertilizer, pruning and water.

Also, some knockouts have succumbed to rosette disease. But if you do the basics, and keep an eye out for any strange looking bright red shoots, these are a great choice.”

 

 

By |2021-02-11T14:20:54-05:00February 11th, 2021|Creative Design, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Landscaping Tip: Rose Beds Don’t Have To Be Red

Pantone Colors for 2021: Bright Yellow Against Silver Gray

Pantone’s 2021 Color is yellow against gray

Pantone’s 2021 Color is yellow against gray

As part of our landscaping work, Deck and Patio designers frequently receive requests for plants in the latest popular colors. So we won’t be surprised to be asked for plantings in the vein of Pantone’s Color(s) for this year: highlighter-yellow against architectural gray.

Choosing two contrasting colors is an unusual choice for Pantone. So it’s helpful to look at why they did this. 

“In a time when we’ve had to insulate ourselves from the world and curl up in monochrome blankets at home, our gray is a dependable gray,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director at Pantone Color Institute.

And if Pantone’s gray evokes American’s mental state this year, their contrasting “bright, highlighter-yellow color is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sun rising over a dark landscape.”

Our own Dave Stockwell adds, “Light at the end of the tunnel is a great way to describe how some of our clients feel about the coming year. They’re not making landscaping plans just for living under COVID, but also for how they want things to be once they can invite lots of people back to their homes.”

Even if Long Islanders don’t have big plans for property upgrades, says Dave, many may wish to include touches of this year’s Pantone colors in their landscape plans. Dramatic yellow blooms set against gray paving stones, for example, could be one perfect way to bring that color combo into one’s yard. 

Here are just two of many “gray” designs offered by paver manufacturers — in this case,  Techo-Bloc, a popular company chosen by many Deck and Patio clients.

 

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Granitex

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Granitex

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Polished

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Polished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly, planting some dazzling yellow plants around such gray pavers (above) would be stunning, we believe.

 

Yellow-Gray Plantings

Another way to bring some Pantone hues to your property could be simply to choose plants that boast both of Panatone’s 2021 tones.

 

Silver Leaf Gazania

This low-growing ground cover plant with masses of silver leaves erupts in lots of yellow flowers during the year’s warmer months. It’s a truly hardy plant that can take even harsh conditions. Sometimes referred to as the African daisy, this plant needs little attention. We use this plant in combination with other low growers. They make a nice edge along the grass. Gazania grows to between 6 and 18 inches.

Silver Leaf Gazania

Silver Leaf Gazania

 

 

Santolina chamaecyparissus aka Cotton Lavender

This semi-woody plant, often called Cotton Lavender or gray Santolina, is an aromatic smallish shrub that boasts silvery gray foliate. It grows to 2-feet tall and 3-feet wide and you’ll see masses of yellow flowers in summer. “Householders may love drying the plants flowers for use in potpourris and also use it as a striking accent plant,” says Dave Stockwell. “Its leaves aren’t flat but three dimensional. We also use it as ground cover and is great weaved in between rocks,” says Dave.

 

Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus

Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus

 

Silver King Artemisia (Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver King’)

Another option is to choose a silvery ground cover planted next to bright yellow coneflowers, like the Silver King Artemisia. Be warned, it is a very aggressive plant, but with care it can enhance your garden. And its silvery foliage can act as accents in decorative wreaths. Ideal for filling in an area that can use some rapid expansive growth, all you need are some bright happy coneflowers or other yellow buds and you’re beautifully on trend.

 

 

Silver King Artemisia

Silver King Artemisia

 

 

 

Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Plant Your Spring Garden

In autumn, floras slowly begin their dormancy process making fall the ideal time to plant your trees, shrubs, and perennials for a beautiful spring garden.

Right now is a great time to plan what bulbs etc. are going where and what you’ll need to install them. But the best time for the actual planting is late October, early November.

“The temperatures around late October are cooler during the day and overnight,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “So plants require less watering. In addition, they are using less energy to push out foliage and roots. 

“That said, proper watering will be necessary for the first two weeks after planting to ensure they ‘heal’ themselves in for the winter.”

 

Installing the Bulbs

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Tulips

Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulbs, such as Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Allium, Crocus, Lilies, etc. all add their own unique color, texture, height, sun and shade tolerance; and some, like Hyacinths, have delightful fragrance.

How you install bulbs is probably the most important aspect of ensuring they flower the following spring.

Each type of bulb has its own specified planting depth and spacing. It is extremely important that you follow this rule (see following depths). If not, the bulbs will not flower or may not leaf out. 

(Take care that the pointy tip of the bulb must be planted straight up; otherwise the bulb will definitely not perform as intended.)

 

 

Gardening

Planting Depths for Spring Bulbs

Alliums: 8 inches

Crocus: 3 inches

Daffodil: 6 inches

Hyacinth: 7 inches

Tulips: 6 inches

 

 

More Tips

— Best Soils for Bulbs: Bulbs grow well in many different soil types. But the one site they won’t enjoy is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plan to plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained sandy loams or loamy sands.

— 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. 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.

 

 

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall. For the Purple Allium seen in the foreground here of a Deck and Patio client’s yard, the best time to plant these bulbs is in September or October here in the northeast. Plant the allium about 4-8 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. And as we said above, ensure their pointy ends are up. Water well once.

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon
Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall. For the Purple Allium seen in the foreground here of a Deck and Patio client’s yard, the best time to plant these bulbs is in September or October here in the northeast. Plant the allium about 4-8 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. And as we said above, ensure their pointy ends are up. Water well once.

 

Crocuses: Colorful crocuses are often the first flower you see in spring. More good news: they return year after year.

Crocuses: Colorful crocuses are often the first flower you see in spring. More good news: they return year after year.

 

Berkshire Botanical Garden “Early fall is also a good time to prune your plants,” says Dave. “Don’t wait too late into fall to prune as frost can damage the stems that have been cut. They need time to callous over. Otherwise, this might inadvertently cause the tree and/or shrub to not bloom or have significant die back.”

Berkshire Botanical Garden
“Early fall is also a good time to prune your plants,” says Dave. “Don’t wait too late into fall to prune as frost can damage the stems that have been cut. They need time to callous over. Otherwise, this might inadvertently cause the tree and/or shrub to not bloom or have significant die back.”

 

 

 

By |2020-10-01T13:47:27-05:00October 1st, 2020|Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Plant Your Spring Garden

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

Outdoor Living: How to Block Out Traffic Noise

When you’re trying to enjoy time in your yard, noise from nearby traffic can be very annoying. Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is located in the heart of Queens, a borough of New York City, and is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise. 

In such a city atmosphere, even adding the pool and patio they asked for wouldn’t provide the escape they desired. To create for them a real backyard oasis, we had to block out the noise and oppressive atmosphere.

“We’ve found that one of the best ways to screen out noise is a sizable waterfall,” says Deck and Patio’s own Dave Stockwell. “Our clients agreed and opted for one that would provide pleasant splashing sounds into their backyard’s new vinyl-lined pool.”

 

Backyard Noise Barriers:

Backyard Noise Barriers:

Water cascading over rock into another water pool is a natural sound barrier that is peaceful and soothing to the soul.

 

In addition to the waterfall, the clients also wanted another noise barrier — a 12-foot-high concrete block wall. 

“While a wall like that is truly useful for privacy as well as a noise barrier, it can be oppressive in itself,” says Dave.

So the next challenge for our designers was to soften the wall’s appearance. One thing great about interior and exterior walls is they make an ideal canvas. 

“First, we planted bamboo around its perimeter,” says Dave. “Bamboo can be invasive so we encased the woody grass with concrete blocks to limit its spreading.”

 

Backyard Refuge:

Backyard Refuge:

The sounds of the waterfalls, the colorful landscaping including the bamboo and the dramatic concrete block wall give a sense of refuge in this bustling part of one of America’s five largest cities.

 

Living Walls

Living Walls

 

 

Taking full advantage of the wall, Deck and Patio designed and supervised the layout of a “living wall” that can hold multiple-sized pots for plants.

When completed, the living wall became living art — changing in color and shape almost daily.

The result: the clients may live in a busy part of New York City, but during outdoor living season — every spare moment they can muster— is spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

 

 

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The free-form vinyl-liner pool includes boulder coping, and a moss rock waterfall with robust plantings that help beautify the wall.

 

Techo-Bloc Patios:

Techo-Bloc Patios:

The pool’s surrounding patio is made from Techo-Bloc pavers that complement the 12-foot-high wall and smaller concrete encasement for the bamboo.

 

Finding Peace In Your Summer Garden

When the cares of the world are all around us, what is it that draws us to our gardens? 

Flowers Are for Everyone 

Flowers Are for Everyone

Perhaps, as someone suggested, gardens teach us grand lessons. Flowers, for example, do not judge — they respond to everybody the same way. Plant them at the right time, in the right soil, with the right amount of water, etc., and they grow and blossom for you.

Even better. A plant doesn’t care what neighborhood it’s in — whether its home is a lush landscape or a tiny window box. 

And a flower or plant doesn’t even care if it’s alone. Nurtured right, it will smile its bright colors, wave gently in the breeze, and feed visiting pollinators — all on its lonesome. 

As for this summer’s garden, if you waited too long, and didn’t get around to planting bulbs this spring, no worries. Even though long hot summer days will soon be upon us, there’s lots of beautiful summer-loving flowers you can add. And since weather in the northeast over the next week or so should remain reasonably temperate, there’ll be plenty of time to spend in your gardens.

 

 

Contact your local nursery

Contact your local nursery

Nurseries and COVID-19

If you are concerned about purchasing flowers during COVID-19, and you are not using a landscaper such as Deck and Patio which supplies the plantings, you can phone your local nursery and see how they are handling sales. 

Hicks Nurseries, a well-known Long Island nursery, says it is practicing safe distancing and all their staff wear masks. They also tell us that those who do not wish to go inside their greenhouse can shop outside where they have also set up a check out.

 

 

 

Now for some beautiful summer plant ideas:

Lilies

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies are perfect summer plants. They come in lots of colors and have a lovely symbolism. 

To enjoy them all summer long, you can plant a variety of the bulbs. Here’s the bloom times for some varieties:

Madonna Lilly blooms in early June.

Asian Lilies: Mid-June

Trumpet Lilies: Late-June

Oriental Lilies: Early August

Nepalese Lilies: Mid-August

Speciosum Hybrids: September

 

 

Coneflowers

One of our favorites is a wildflower — the black-eyed Susan, a.k.a., coneflower. These plants are tough and take heat and bright sunshine well. They add gorgeous bursts of color to any garden, including around water gardens. But they don’t just turn the outdoors lovely. As cut flowers, they make great bouquets.

The following two photos celebrating coneflowers are Deck and Patio projects.

 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Curb Appeal

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.

 

 

Red Coleus

Again, we have a plant here that thrives in the sun. These beautifully leafed flora are great as container or bedding plants. It’s certainly a good time to add them to your gardens — or anywhere you’d like a spot of color — as they don’t survive during frost and cold climes unless you take them inside.

If you plant them now they’ll thrive through the warm months…just pinch the tips from the stems regularly to help growth.

The following Deck and Patio project shows coleus we planted near a water feature.

Red Coleus for drama.

Red Coleus for drama.

 

 

Globe Amaranth

This lovely annual looks like pom-poms; their flowers come in purple, red, and white and last into fall. Hardy as it is, do water it from the soil, not overhead, which can cause a powderly mildew to grow.

These plants will die back when frost appears but their seeds will germinate after winter.

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms

Globe Armaranth/Three cheers for pom-poms

 

 

Hibiscus

People often think of hibiscus as a tropical flower — which it is. But it will thrive surprisingly well elsewhere, including the northeast. They do need lots of space, rich well-drained soil, and plenty of water but are worth the coddling.

Some varieties of hibiscus can grow into trees. How about that.

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

 

Verbena

Talk about saving the best for the last. Verbena shows its stuff (beautiful blooms) during the hottest of summer heat. Available in annual and perennial varieties, they are long lasting spreaders. They come in 250 varieties so there’s lots of color to choose from, including white, pink, or purple.

Some of the species are drought resistant, too, if that’s on your mind. They are often used in herbal teas…and as if all this wasn’t good enough, butterflies and hummingbirds love them.

Verbena/Ideal summer plants  

Verbena/Ideal summer plants

 

 

By |2020-06-04T13:51:31-05:00June 4th, 2020|Backyard Escapes, Gardening, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Finding Peace In Your Summer Garden
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