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Landscape Planning: ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects (Part I)

Fall and winter on Long Island are great seasons to not just plan, but to design/build that backyard upgrade you’ve been wanting.

And the first step is to look over one’s own yard. As you do this, you might enjoy checking out some ‘before’ and ‘after’ Deck and Patio projects. Today’s blog is Part I of a two-part series on ‘before and after’ Deck and Patio projects.

 

Before (left) & After (right)

Before (left) & After (right)

 

“The above project was for a Massapequa couple,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, “who longed to enjoy their backyard more  — which was tidy but not enticing as well as being on the small side.”

So instead of opting for a more expensive pool, the couple decided on a quality hot tub, with a custom in-ground installation.

“An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa,” says Dave.  “Plus it would make it easier for them to get in and out of the spa.

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. They decided on koi pond with waterfalls next to the hot tub.

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, hot tub installation and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool. And they love going outdoors now.

 

Before (left) & After (right)

Before (left) & After (right)

 

After purchasing a new home, the homeowner contacted us because the entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

He asked us to accentuate the property’s beautiful 1880 bridge structure with a man-made reflecting pond.

Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. The water feature we designed and built is more than 240-feet-long and 60-feet-wide, so it also captures the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful expanse of water made the perfect habitat for koi. 

Our team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water, doesn’t it?

 

We will have three more stunning projects next week. Watch this space!

 

 

Tips for Fattening Up Your Pond Fish in Fall

Last week our blog highlighted the need for putting netting over your pond before foliage begins to fall from the trees. Early fall is also a good time to begin fattening up your beautiful pond fish before the cold weather sets in.

 

Pond Fish in Fall

Pond Fish in Fall

Feeding Koi in Fall/Monitoring Pond Water

1.  At 59 degrees: In order to survive their winter hibernation, it is key to plump up your darlings once the pond water gets below 59 degrees. It is recommended that you feed them fish food made for cold water — and gradually increase how much you feed them.

2.  At 55 degrees: Then, as the water temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them. Experts say, once temperatures go below 55 degrees, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. 

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

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

 

 

Koi Do Fine Outdoors in Winter/Photo: Aquascape, Inc

Koi Do Fine Outdoors in Winter/Photo: Aquascape, Inc

Pond Fish Will Be Fine As Temperatures Drop

“Many believe you can’t leave your pond fish outside once the cold sets in,” says Dave Stockwell. “But, actually, they do just fine even during winter.”

That said, Dave does caution pond owners to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.

This can be remedied as long as you give them:

  • two feet of water to swim in,
  • oxygenate the water
  • and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator.

 

 

Unwanted Pond Debris Photo/Aquascape, Inc.

Unwanted Pond Debris Photo/Aquascape, Inc.

 

 

Pond Chemical Treatments

Note: This is also the perfect time to treat your pond ahead of the cold weather. The fact is, even if you netted your pond, some debris will make it into the water no matter how careful you are.

Cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria, works well below 50 degrees (F). It is wise to add it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Pond Come Spring

Healthy Pond Come Spring

Do a little pond maintenance (see last week’s blog) and care for your pond fish, and when spring arrives, you’ll be glad you did. Your pond will require much less work to begin your new season of pond-side outdoor living. This Deck and Patio pond (and the one captured in our feature photo at top of page) are good examples of healthy koi and well-maintained water features.

 

If you have any questions or would like assistance with preparing your pond or caring for your fish, contact our office at 631-549-8100.

 

By |2021-10-07T12:37:06-05:00October 7th, 2021|Aquascape Biofalls, Backyard Escapes, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes, Streams, trees|Comments Off on Tips for Fattening Up Your Pond Fish in Fall

Pond Netting: Because Leaves Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

Fallen Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems

Fallen Leaves Affect Pond Ecosystems

Usually around the middle of October Long Island experiences peak fall foliage. And, as those who have deciduous trees nearby know, those colorful leaves eventually land somewhere not far from the trees.

For some, falling leaves might only require raking or blowing. But those who have a pond or water feature know the leaves left in the water can mean one messy clean up come spring.

 

 

 

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.)

Value of Pond Netting: (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.)

 

Don’t worry that netting will ruin enjoyment of your pond. Granted, netting is not the most beautiful addition.

 

“However, it isn’t up that long. Just get it up before the leaves fall and then simply pull it out once they’ve all dropped,” says Dave. “Just be sure to tent the netting so that it doesn’t sag into the pond water when it’s weighted with leaves.”

 

 

Dave adds that if you are late in putting up the netting, you can always use a long-handle pond net to clear out the debris. It’s just much easier if you use a net.

Another good idea is to trim back and remove any dead foliage from the aquatic plants before or after you put up the netting. “This cuts down excessive organic material that might otherwise decompose in the water feature,” says Dave.

 

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

Caring for Pond Lilies in Fall:

One of the plants that requires trimming is the pond lily. They are idyllic water plants but unless it is cut back to just about its base, it might droop over into the water. This is true of any other marginal plants you have around the edges of your pond.

 

Treating Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

Treating Unwanted Pond Debris: (Photo: Aquascape, Inc.)

 

 

Since some debris will make it into your pond no matter how hard you work, Aquascape Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).  Their expert, Dave Kelly, recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.

There may be a little work involved, but the joys of autumn are well worth it. Fall foliage viewing, apple picking, and evenings beside fire pits while the kids roast marshmallows — all working up to the big day: Halloween — is a very small effort to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2021-09-30T14:14:18-05:00September 30th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Plantings/Pondscapes, Plants, Ponds & Water Features, Seasonal Landscapes, Streams, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Pond Netting: Because Leaves Don’t Fall Far From the Tree

Backyard Upgrade: Adding the Drama of a Waterfall

Just this week, the New York Daily News ran a story “The most incredible waterfall hikes in the world.” Traveling to these worldwide locations might, indeed, be wonderful. 

 

But did you know you can add a dramatic waterfall in your own yard that provides some of that same awe?

 

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

In addition to its majesty, another reason for adding a waterfall, adds Dave, is its ability to block out noise. This is a great help if you live in a heavily trafficked neighborhood.

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.”

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

 

Backyard High Waterfall Drama

“The next project came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The completed job boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto behind a majestic high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.  The waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool.

 

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

 

 

7'-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

7′-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

 

Another good example of waterfalls offering more than majesty is this project where the waterfall area was conceived to fix a soil erosion/retaining grade issue. (See also our feature photo at top of page.)

Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 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.

“Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow from the waterfalls underground and recirculates it.”

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfalls so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

 

Here’s another project where stepping stones bring you past a stunning group of waterfalls.

Not far from the right edge of the project’s pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“Like other projects we’ve done, this waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

 

So! Travel the world and see some of earth’s waterfall majesty by all means. But you can also have some of that awe right in your own yard.

 

 

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.

 

 

A Beautiful Landscape Is More Than Flowers and Shrubs

One of the key elements of any outdoor escape includes beautiful, lush, plantings. So it’s right to consider them when making any landscaping plans. 

But Deck and Patio’s creativity really comes to the fore when plants are gorgeous accents to other landscaping elements: water features, including swimming pools, ponds, streams, etc. Also, plants brighten structures such as pavilions, gazebos, outdoor benches, patios and entranceways.

Let’s first consider the plantings.

Plant in an Eye-Catching Way

Plant in an Eye-Catching Way

There’s no doubt the right plants are key to a beautiful landscape. And the landscape design professionals at The Deck and Patio Company go beyond filling your yard with plant material. We use our extensive knowledge of flora to carefully select the right greenery that suits each client’s style and goals. 

The beauty of any planned landscape also depends on the survival of your plant material. Our experts choose plantings using our extensive experience and knowledge of zones, sun exposure and soil conditions.

“Whether it is creating shade gardens for the shade loving plants, digging the perfect depth for the root balls, ensuring healthy, well-fed soil, our landscapes flourish long after we’ve finished our work,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Here are a few examples:

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Vibration flowers and fragrance were provided here through the use of many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — all planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

This beautiful watery trail meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard. Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward. During winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Even strong architectural structures are enhanced by landscaping. With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls nearby, inside this Deck and Patio pavilion, with the fireplace blazing or not, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio we added, with custom inlays/border, is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock.

 

 

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

 

Backyard Ponds Clean Enough for Swimming

Deck and Patio specializes in building ponds so clear and pristine you can swim in them (even if you don’t wish to). 

Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad. Some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. 

The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to; it’s also the perfect outdoor attraction for entertaining.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds

 

Pristine Deck and Patio Pond

Pristine Deck and Patio Pond

Swimming In Deck and Patio Pond

Swimming In Deck and Patio Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pond shown above is one of two ponds that our clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. 

Now you may think that the lovely young woman in the pond (upper left) is avoiding any ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the second photo (above right), she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

 

Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY)

Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY)

This infinity pond is part of the above double pond project that includes the swimming pond. It is a vanishing edge/infinity pond — one of the first done in North America. It brings Long Island sound right up to their back door.

The entire project includes the infinity pond, a stream, waterfalls, the lower swimming pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.

 

Koi Ponds and‘Pondless’ Waterfalls

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One way to ensure your pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. 

This allows the aquatic plants and filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.

Koi ponds are a delight and an enchanting spot for mediating or to sit beside for reading. Not to mention, children love to feed the fish. Such a pond offers endless enticements for youngsters. 

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

The simplest pond to have is pondless. “Some of our clients prefer this as it will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall than a pond basin each season,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It is also a safer environment when children are very young.”

 

 

 

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Along Sloping Property Setting

Not many would disagree that the homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade conceived a wonderful experience for their outdoor living. 

One notices the beauty. But a major part of the design also serves another purpose. The added waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

 

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature — whose separate installations can be enjoyed from the house, on the upper patio, and poolside — be extremely eco-friendly. 

For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.” To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the upper-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with great massage jets.

 

 

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.

 

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