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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.

 

 

‘Pool Shell’ Change Is Perfect Time for Other Backyard Upgrades

If you’re planning to change the shell of your pool from, say, vinyl to gunite, or from gunite to vinyl, this is the perfect time to add other wonderful outdoor features. 

When an Oyster Bay family wanted to change their existing vinyl-lined pool to gunite, they knew there would be so much tearing up going on anyway in their yard, why not upgrade the area.

In discussions with Deck and Patio, it became clear they also wanted to change the shape/design of their pool to better match the architecture of their home. 

“We were able to create a more unified look for them by upgrading their existing pool into a geometric shape,” says our own Dave Stockwell. 

This required expanding the size of their pool, which meant extending it very close to their property’s sharp hillside. 

“For the pool’s retaining walls, we tracked down the same brick used on their home’s exterior. We also had to shore up the slope with boulders, creating various small retaining walls to hold back the grade,” adds Dave. “The trick was to bring in machinery and put the boulders in place before we dug the pool and area out.”

To give the clients the natural look they wanted, we surrounded the pool with beautiful bluestone. “The shape of these stones also mimic the overall geometric design we were going for.”

 

Other design elements: 

— steps at the base of the retaining wall lead to a peaceful woodland path — at the end of which we hid all the pool equipment, 

— sheer descent waterfalls along the inside of the pool add extra contemporary elegance,  

—and landscape lighting created a beautiful romantic scene at night.

 

When the whole transformation was complete, not only was the family ecstatic, but their pet turtles seemed to love the transformation as well. With more room to swim in, they took to the new pool like, well, turtles. 

 

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Deck and Patio remodeled an existing vinyl pool into a larger, geometric gunite, with elegant sheet falling waterfalls. The new design handsomely complements the home’s architecture.  

 

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps faced with the same brick as used around the pool’s retaining wall, lead to a peaceful woodland path where the pool equipment has been hidden out of sight.

 

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

The pavers of the previous patio/pool surround had not been compacted properly and were separating. The family also wanted a more natural product. Bluestone was chosen and its hues blended nicely with that of the brick-faced retaining walls; in addition, the rectangular shapes of the stones echo the shape of the pool and house windows.

 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY): 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Beautiful sheet falling waterfalls (often called ‘sheer descents’) perfectly harmonize with the overall more contemporary feel to their upgraded pool area.

 

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

It’s hard to decide which time of day presents the most beautiful picture; but nighttime has to be near the top!  

 

 

New In-ground Pool: Bringing That Vacation Feeling Back Home

Vacation Blues with Icicles

Vacation Blues with Icicles

 

Sometimes we get the blues after we return home from a vacation. And with this weekend’s big snowstorm expected for Long Island, those blues will have icicles dripping off them. 

So how about some sunnier thoughts? Like the story of Deck and Patio clients who did something about those pesky post-vacation blues. 

 

 

The couple loved spending time in their vacation home in New York’s Adirondacks. They loved swimming in lakes, nature walks, etc. So when they bought a new home in Merrick, Long Island, they renovated the house and property in a way that captured the soul of their upstate second home.

The Backyard

“For the backyard, they wanted something special,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Their idea was for a swimming pool that looked like a pond, or a pool made completely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel. But they did, want the pool to still be filtered and treated chemically like a regular pool.”

Deck and Patio engineers verified the technical aspects throughout the designing and building of the pool. “Creating such an all-rock pool was like fitting puzzle pieces together,” adds Dave. “Only, instead of using pre-made shapes, we had to deal with 4-5 truckloads of randomly-sized Pennsylvania moss rock boulders.

Our team had to look over and measure each rock before it was fitted in place. After that, so as to ensure the soil pressure wouldn’t push them over or knock them down, we leaned each stone into the grade, tapered upward.

The bottom of the pool was a different story. Here we installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pond (pool) water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool.

Continuing the natural appearance, Deck and Patio used boulders to create the four steps leading into the pool as well as into their custom spa.

 

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

We positioned the pool to reflect their newly renovated shingled-style home in its water. Deck and Patio added bright colorful plants in between the boulders, in such a way that they cascade into the pool, like they would in nature. This contributed to a beautiful all-rock pool, filtered and treated chemically, but which looks like a natural pond.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using a blend of pool and pond material, we created a unique pool and spa. The black liner, which reacts with the water created a stunning pond-like appearance. It is a 45-mil EPDM pond liner; we used Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

While all you see is a beautiful pond-like pool, there is a good deal of technology involved. For pool equipment, we used vinyl pool returns, main drains, SAVI color-changing LED lights, all Jandy equipment (energy efficient pump and gas heater), DE filter, salt chlorine generator and iAqualink automation.

 

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

The exposed stones around the pool  complement the stone base of the home’s columns and stone foundation, suggesting one harmonious whole.

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Deck and Patio’s design gives the vacation-style Adirondack feeling they wanted; they just step outside to a natural swimming pond where they can hang out with friends and use the hot tub when a chill comes on the evening.

 

So stay warm this weekend — and dream of warmer times.

Landscaping Ideas: Add Plants in Pantone’s ‘Very Peri’ Color

Very Peri’ is Pantone’s Color for 2022

Very Peri’ is Pantone’s Color for 2022

Last month, Pantone announced Very Peri as its 2022 color of the year. They made their choice with a view to encourage an “altered landscape of possibilities” during a time when our “notions and standards are changing,” 

Pantone believes that Very Peri “displays a needed spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence” helpful in encouraging creativity and imaginative expressions.” 

Pantone’s new color definitely provides homeowners with the opportunity to create contrast and interest in their landscapes.

“We frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “We love helping them keep up with the times, while always ensuring any updates are in harmony with the rest of what’s there.”

Dave adds that even if families aren’t planning major updates to their properties, incorporating some fresh touches of color such as Pantone’s Very Peri is an easy change.

For those who’d like to get started planning some seasonal floral updates, here’s just some plants that mimic Very Peri nicely:

 

Periwinkles

Periwinkles: This flower’s color and name may have inspired Pantone’s choice for 2022. “It’s such a superb spreading shrub, we like it because it’s great for erosion control. Grown as a ground cover, it blooms in April and May.”

This plant also helps control the growth of weeds. It’s a good climber, too. Caution: Plant it on its own where it won’t overtake or choke valuable plantings. It likes partial shade and acidic soil. If you don’t want it to spread too far and rapidly, you can plant it in full sun.

 

 

Iris

Iris

 

 

Iris: These beauties come in a variety of sizes and colors. Mark your calendar as the best time to plant them is late summer to early autumn. Most varieties need full sun. “We always recommend preparing the planting beds ahead. 

About two weeks before, loosen the soil in a depth close to a foot to allow for good drainage. They don’t need much water except just before bloom time. Caution: These plants are bad if ingested and definitely are not good for your pets. 

 

 

 

 

Delphinium elatum

Delphinium elatum

Delphinium elatum: A member of the buttercup family, delphiniums are delightful perennials that add lovely color when they bloom during spring to early summer. A sturdy plant grows tall and is nicely herbaceous. 

“In our neck of the woods,” says Dave, “these plants require special care, but are worth the effort we think.”

Perhaps in keeping with Pantone’s purpose in choosing the Very Peri color, these old-fashioned flowers, if you’ve got the time to care for them, can make a magnificent statement. 

They require high fertility, careful staking to keep them standing in rainstorms, etc. Give them space to spread out and ample air circulation. For more on this, check out this article.  

 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo: Hydrangea

 

Feature Photo at top of page: We selected hydrangea as our feature photo today because it not only is available in Pantone’s Very Peri color but is a favorite here on Long Island and easy to grow.  

More plantings available in this color choice are: hyacinths, verbena bonariensis, clematis ‘multi blue,’ nemesia denim blue, and, of course, one of our favorites — alliums! 

 

 

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

The Perfect Waterscapes for Tight Spaces

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water features (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) might be surprised at the attractive garden waterscapes we install in tight spaces.

The fountain we’re highlighting today was for clients who had recently moved to a new home. When working at their property, one of our team members mentioned that it felt like the garden was missing something — a feature that would offer both the sound and relaxing sight of water movement. 

The clients agreed that a garden fountain would be an ideal finishing touch in such limited space.

They asked us to order and install the fountain. However, fountainscapes make a very easy DIY project. The ‘stacked stone urn’ fountain seen here is from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL). As a certified Aquascape Inc. contractor, Deck and Patio has used their products in many of the ponds and water features we have designed/built across Long Island. As for their fountains, Aquascape offers a nice variety in various styles, sizes and prices (see video below).

If you’d like to add one on your own, all you need is a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a level. Then, adding a bag of decorative gravel and mulch, you have a picture-perfect-and-sound-perfect-fountain that not only you will enjoy, but butterflies and birds will appreciate your efforts as well.

The first two photos and first video show the fountain we installed for our new clients. Below these, we include a DIY video from Aquascape followed by a link to the various fountains they have available.

 

Garden Fountain:

Garden Fountain:

Although we installed this “stacked stone urn” fountain for the clients, they are easy DIY projects. The kits come pretty well fabricated with a catch basin, pump, piping, and in different sizes. The one we used is the smallest (32” tall) — a perfect scale for this garden.

 

Garden Fountains:

Garden Fountains:

When adding a garden fountain, it is a good idea to locate it near your patio/deck so you can enjoy it whenever you are outside. And if you can position it close to a window, you will be able to not only enjoy the fountain indoors, but also the birds and butterflies who stop by to take a drink.

 

So you can hear the water music, here’s a 5-second Deck and Patio video of this stacked stone urn fountain:

 

 

 

For more water fountain ideas, enjoy this video:

 

 

 

And for a great DIY video from Aquascape for installing their fountains:

 

 

 

By |2021-08-19T13:27:02-05:00August 19th, 2021|Creative Design, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Plants, Serenity Escapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on The Perfect Waterscapes for Tight Spaces

Landscaping: Making a Home for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

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

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

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

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

 

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

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

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

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

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

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

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

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

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

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

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

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

 

 

 

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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