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The Benefits of Exposure to Nature

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

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

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

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

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

 

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

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

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

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

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

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

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

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

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

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

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

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

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

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

Feature Photo (Top of Page):

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

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

Escape To Your Peaceful Garden This Summer

Flowers Are for Everyone 

Flowers Are for Everyone

Sometimes it seems like there’s no good news. But we can control agitation by making home a place of peace, including a delightful garden to escape to. 

One great thing about flowers is they respond to everyone the same way. They don’t care where they’re planted either. Spend a little time creating a proper  space — right soil, right amount of water, etc. — and they grow and blossom for you and everyone.

Also, a flower or plant doesn’t care if it’s alone. If taken care of, it will smile its bright colors, give off its scent to the breeze and feed visiting pollinators — all without companions.

Didn’t plant bulbs earlier this year? Don’t worry. Even though the heat of summer is almost upon us, there’s lots of stunning flowers that love summer that you can add — so it’s not too late. This weekend’s weather, for example should be temperate and have enough nice sun, so there’s time to spend in your garden.

 

Summer Plant Ideas

We have a list of plants below which are perfect summer plants. We begin with Lilies. They come in lots of colors and have a lovely symbolism. 

 

 

Lilies:

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

Lilies Bloom from Early June

Lilies Bloom from Early June

 

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 (Black-eyed Susans)

A favorite Deck and Patio is the wildflower — the black-eyed Susan, a.k.a., coneflower. These plants are hardy and take heat and bright sunshine well. They provide 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 (Deck and Patio project)

 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Coneflowers/Backyard Beauties.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

 

Red Coleus

Again, this gorgeous plant thrives in the sun. With beautifully leafed flora, they are great as container or bedding plants. Right now is 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.  (Deck and Patio project) 

Red Coleus for drama.  (Deck and Patio project)

 

 

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.

The 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

 

Hibiscus/worth coddling 

Hibiscus/worth coddling

 

People often think of hibiscus (which is our feature photo today/top of page) 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.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

If you’d prefer to have Deck and Patio help plan and landscape your garden, just give us a shout at:

631-549-8100!

 

 

For Mother’s Day Flowers: Think ‘Aquatic’

 

If Mom has a backyard pond, stream or water fountain, rather than giving her the usual bouquet, how about gifting her plants for her outdoor waterscape.

 

Plants for Water Fountains

 

Aquascape Inc. Garden Fountain

Aquascape Inc. Garden Fountain

 

A water fountain that is set in a basin is the perfect spot for adding flowers and greenery. Consider free-floating plants which are perfect for a fountain garden. 

Tip: Don’t forget a bit of Miracle Gro. In a fountain basin, floaters won’t get nutrients from other decaying plants that are found in ponds, etc., so they’ll need some nutrients. 

Another tip: Put these plants in the calmest section of the fountain’s basin so they don’t get too much water splashed on them. If the basin is large enough, perhaps there’s room for a few koi as well. Koi and aquatic plants work well together in keeping a healthy waterscape.

 

 

 

 

Here’s a very short video of the sounds and beauty of a fountain-garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — the country’s leading experts on all things pond and water gardens — describes the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

  • Water Lilies Lotus
  • Marginal Plants Water Lily-like Plants
  • Floating Plants Submerged Plants

And don’t worry if you’re choosing the right plant. Ponds are all the more beautiful with a variety of greenery and color.

“In fact, the best designs for ponds and water gardens utilize a wide mixture of plants in different heights, textures and color from at least three of the above groups,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. 

“This gives the most natural look. When installing these, at Deck and Patio we don’t do it in a symmetrical way. We find that a more random placement provides the most natural look.”

 

And when it comes to gift giving, “random” makes the choosing all the easier.

 

Here’s some more aquatic plant ideas:

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

 

The tall aquatic plant on the left of the pond (canna lily) offers a nice tall statement. It 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.

 

 

Aquatic Plants (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants (Long Island/NY):

 

 

So think water garden plants for this mother’s day. These plants will live a long time in their water bed. And with the outdoor season coming fast toward us, Mom will thank you indeed for the extra color and texture around her favorite sitting spot. 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Two Different Ways To Cope with a Slope

There’s no denying that, even for design/build experts, sloped properties can be a challenge. In the end, as with much of life’s problems — creativity ends up being the key.

“The creative process begins when as we discover who our clients are and what their hopes are for their yard,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Devoting enough time to the interviewing process is an important first step.”

Today we’re highlighting two very different ways to ‘cope with a slope,’ The first project was for Long Island, NY, clients whose yard had a seven-foot elevation rising up from one end of their yard to the other, says Dave.

 

Project # 1

“The clients’ hopes for a full outdoor retreat — pool, spa, patio, waterfall, custom fire pit — all on a tight budget and created in a tighter space — added to the challenges of dealing with their yard’s slope.”

 

Full Outdoor Retreat on Sloped Property

Full Outdoor Retreat on Sloped Property

“Our biggest problem to solve was how to make everything appear like it fit in naturally without it all looking like a giant hill.”

Our design/build staff approached the project by taking on the grade in small bites — working out from an existing lower level patio to a new raised patio and then up to a pool. 

Note: By surrounding the hot tub with natural stone boulders with colorful plantings, the hot tub has a custom set-in-garden appeal. It was also positioned close to their back door so they can enjoy easy access year-long. (Note: You can ask our team about the portable CAL Spas we sell.)

 

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Here you see the completed moss rock waterfall with the sweet potato vine we added. Landscaping helps bring a setting to life and softens the hardscape.

For more details about this project, click here.

 

Project # 2

Our second project earned The Deck and Patio Company a Silver Award from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA). These homeowners are nature lovers. And their property had an unused slope near their patio. 

Our idea was to design/build a 35-foot-stream, with two stepping stone paths on either side, that gently moves along the grade solely with the help of Mother Nature’s gravity. 

We also positioned natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones along its banks to make a perfect area for strolling, bird-watching, etc. The water flows down into a lovely free-form pond near the patio.

 

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

This stunning free-form pond is a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family. Everyone enjoys feeding and watching the vibrant koi as they swim about in it. “We even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the wife. “And we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

It takes expertise and experience to position rocks in such a way as to coax water into waterfalls just like it happens in nature. Members of Deck and Patio’s team enjoy the woods and hillsides of upstate New York — frequently stopping and studying how water flows over rock, how plants crop up alongside of such water trails, etc.

“The whole area attracts so much wildlife — like frogs and birds,” says the homeowner. “This is really one of our favorite things about having a stream and pond.”

The homeowners say they also enjoy the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity they feel watching the fish swimming in the pond. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

To learn more about this backyard stream and pond, click here.

 

 

Pondside: Relaxing and Dining ’Al Fresco’

Even before COVID, dining and relaxing ‘al fresco’ has long been part of the outdoor experience for those with a backyard pond. 

With weather warming, and Memorial Weekend not all that far off, now is a great time to plan a backyard upgrade with a view to enjoying delightful pondside dining and relaxation right at home.

As Certified Contractors of Aquascape Inc. — one of the country’s leading manufacturers of pond and water feature products — Deck and Patio continually stays informed and trained on all the latest techniques and technologies for ideal waterscapes.

Each year, our expert teams can be found installing ponds, water gardens and other water features across Long Island and her environs. And because of our breadth of expertise, we can design/build a complete oasis, including decks and patios, pools, custom and portable hot tubs to complement any waterscape.

We also specialize in eco-friendly ponds sustained through rainwater harvesting. “We also specialize in landscaping waterscapes with gorgeous water plants, stocked with healthy pond fish, and aerated with naturally-looking waterfalls,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The one thing our ponds all have in common, adds Dave, is how much a backyard pond adds to each family’s outdoor experience. Having such a water feature — with the sounds of moving water and natural beauty this provides — makes outdoor living and dining an exceptional experience.

 

Pond-side Living:

Pond-side Living:

Deck and Patio designed/built a new deck with a viewing platform pondside where the family can dine and relax outdoors. You’ve heard of Xanadu, well how about Zen-adu. Imagine. After dinner they can walk across a set of large stepping stones to view the pond from another vantage point.

 

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

This feature photo (see also top of page), was shared with us by Aquascape Inc. Here a group of family and friends — and even someone’s favorite pet —- enjoy a meal beside an exquisite pond stocked with koi. Soothing sounds from the waterfall help everyone relax and be at ease.

 

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Deck and Patio created this natural backyard retreat complete with a large deck and pond that comes up to it. Our design formed different settings and focal points; our team planted over 4,000 bulbs, 300 species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens, and perennials, including 150 different varieties of these species. 

Imagine having the option of dine on your deck or in a backyard glass conservatory. (Note: Deck and Patio did not build the conservatory but worked with the contractors the family hired to bring this beautiful project together harmoniously.)

 

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Aquascape Inc. also provided us with this photo of a charming dining area set on a deck with pond. Note how the wall mural picks up where the real plants leave off, giving a smallish water garden area the sense of natural expanse. The homeowner also chose blue cushions to go with the mural’s water scenes, which helps to tie it all together.

 

A big thank you to Aquascape for sharing some of today’s photos with us.

 

How Can I Keep My Pond Fish Safe from Predators?

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

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

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

 

Safety Begins with Good Pond Design

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

 

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

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

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

Deep water really puts them off.

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

 

 

 

Pond Water Features:

Pond Water Features:

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

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

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

 

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

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

Self-Sustaining Water Features Are More Than Restful Escapes

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

Project # 1

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Project # 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Project # 3

 

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

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

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

 

Project # 4

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Backyard Upgrades: Now Is the Time to Spring Into Action

Plan Now for This Summer

Plan Now for This Summer

Don’t wait for the clocks to change. When it comes to planning backyard upgrades, now is the time to spring forward.

“Early February is a really good time to plan,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Once robins are singing and trees are budding, the phones at Deck and Patio have been ringing for weeks with requests for projects.”

One reason, Dave explains, is there are so many different local codes and variances required for upgrades across Long Island. “And in order to secure permits, we need to get to that early.”

Special projects also require pulling together the right people for every aspect of the design plan. Again, starting early ensures each team will be available to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

 

How to begin

 

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio at work with HGTV’s Pool Kings

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio at work with HGTV’s Pool Kings

 

Choosing the right design/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. In fact, we built these dual ponds (immediately above) for a client during winter. 

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

Deck Design/Building:

Deck Design/Building:

The structure of a deck is most often attached to the house. It’s usually elevated, that is, designed to suit the “lay of the land.” The land’s topography also helps determine how high and how many levels it should be.

In addition to choosing the right design/build experts, the most important thing is choosing the deck material you want to use, i.e., natural wood, capped composite and pressure-treated wood.

You want to have all the materials you need when you are ready to start construction. Planning ahead is key.

 

 

For Well-Being Bring the Natural World Into Your Experience

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

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

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

When Your Backyard Space Is Tight

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Room for a Large Pond

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Swimming with the Koi (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

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

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

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

 

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

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

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

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

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

 

Reaching a Pond’s Zenith

Deck and Patio Infinity Pond

Deck and Patio Infinity Pond

A pond can reach its zenith if it’s possible to give it a vanishing edge. Although these are more commonly done for pools, if local regulations limit the addition of a pool, a pond might be the answer.

That was the case for this multi-part Deck and Patio water feature. It captures the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the water’s edge. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, and second lower pond.

Under the feature’s beauty, an extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system using Aquascape Inc. products is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.

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

 

Holiday Gifts: Surprise the Family with a New Landscaping Plan

Your spouse has been begging for a hot tub. The kids have been relentless in asking for a pool. And for some time, you’ve felt your patio or deck are in great need of an upgrade. 

Computerized Landscaping Plan as a Gift

Computerized Landscaping Plan as a Gift

While you probably couldn’t get a full backyard upgrade wish list constructed in time for the holidays (unless all you want is, say, a portable hot tub), you do have time to surprise the family with a computerized Deck and Patio landscaping plan that you can wrap

With today’s software, the drafting and collaboration landscape design process is surprisingly quick and will provide an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

 

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

 

“The anticipated weather for this December seems very promising in our neck of the woods. It should be easy to walk around your property to measure it, etc.,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And while it’s very helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced, etc., much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth should weather require that.

 

 

Letting the Design Be the Gift

Since most property upgrades begin with a landscape design, the plan itself can be a gift. And you could go all out in this stage of the process — planning a beautiful pond, or other water feature, for example, or a pool with swim-up bar and wild ride slide, a custom spa or portable one integrated into the overall design, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years. 

You can even get landscaping plans for a full upgrade that is done in phases — over, say, a few years — and have printouts out how it will look after each phase. 

The whole project can also be planned out financially, so the different phases can be worked into your yearly budgets. In addition, since landscape plans are computerized, it is no problem if the gift receiver has ideas of their own to add later or changes they want made.

 

Landscape Plan as a Gift

Landscape Plan as a Gift

 

The gift of a landscaping plan is definitely something memorable. And what a joy it will be seeing the plans come to life. 

We’re sharing the following video as inspiration. It begins with one of Deck and Patio’s computerized plans and ends with the finished project showing the wonderful experience of having such a pond. This vanishing edge pond project was built by us in Eatons Neck, NY.

 

 

 

Another Example

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left above) not only helps show what the yard will look like in advance — including from different perspectives. Such a gift also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along, as well as changes from the gift receiver.

In the case of the immediately above Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. 

One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas. 

Insert E  Great Easy Gift

And you’ve got to admit that a computer plan downloaded on a small drive (or even printed out) is easy to wrap!

In every way, a landscaping plan makes a great gift! 

 

 

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