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Visit Deck and Patio at Heckscher Park Fall Festival

Columbus Weekend, through Monday (5 PM), we are at Heckscher Park’s Fall Festival. Stop by and see our display area. You can sit for a moment and check out some good ideas for outdoor living:

  • hot tub sale (we’ve brought 2 spas for you to look over)
  • mini patio made from Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec
  • autumn flower display with waterfall
  • fire feature with lightscape

Our award-winning staff will be there and can talk to you about any of your outdoor living needs — from pools, patios, decks, water features, hot tubs, pavilions, fire features and, of course, landscaping. Or just stop by and relax as you enjoy all the Fall Fair has to offer.

Here’s some photos of our display:

 

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio (Patio pavers: Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec)

 

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio (Patio pavers: Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec)

 

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio (Patio pavers: Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec)

 

 

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

Prepare for Next Year’s Outdoor Season this Fall

It is becoming commonplace to design/build next year’s backyard upgrades in the previous fall. Whether it’s replacing an old deck or patio, starting from scratch, or adding amenities you’ve always wanted like a pool, fall is the perfect time to do these.

“For one thing, design and build firms like Deck and Patio have a bit more available time in the less hectic schedules of fall,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Autumn weather is also very good for construction, allowing jobs to get done quickly. Plus, we find our clients want to be ready — or at least have a great start — in enjoying next year’s outdoor living season come spring.”

 

Decks/Patios

 

Deck and Patio Cedar Deck

Deck and Patio Cedar Deck

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Installed Techo-Bloc Pavers

Deck and Patio Installed Techo-Bloc Pavers

When it comes to patios, driveways and pool surrounds, digging up your property in fall is less of a hassle after the outdoor season is mostly over and you’re not outside as much.

Also, just like with building a deck, there’s less damage to the landscape when plants are dormant. 

Choosing the right hardscape materials is important in the northeast’s freeze/thaw climate. The wrong products trap heat in the summer which can be tough on bare feet. And who wants to wear shoes or sandals around a pool or hot tub? 

That said, it’s equally important that the paving material you choose can stand up to the freezing weather that occurs in our cold seasons. 

 

“Helping our clients choose the right product for a patio or deck is part of our service,” says Dave. “And whatever the choices, we know how to install them correctly. For patios, we have earned many HNA awards from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute which signify the superior design ability and competence of installation by our construction experts.”

 

Extending the Outdoor Living Season

 

Covered Patio

Covered Patio

As you prepare for next spring, you can also add amenities that will extend the present fall outdoor living season. One way is to include a special new outdoor kitchen. 

“Even better, outdoor kitchens can be installed fairly quickly,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Planning for such an amenity isn’t too challenging. There’s the need to determine the kitchen’s best location for optimal outdoor living enjoyment, and also enabling a hook up to water and power sources. But these things usually aren’t difficult.”

But, if a pavilion or covered patio is part of your planning, you might get to enjoy the outdoor well into autumn. 

Pergolas/pavilions can be installed with a fireplace. Open to breezes and the scents of flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays in summer, drizzling rain in spring or fall, these structures offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal. A large variety of designs permit individual architectural statements in any yard. 

All that is needed to show a change in the seasons is to change the cushions on the outdoor furniture and, perhaps, the flower arrangement on the fireplace.

For summer, you can add screens, says Dave. “In addition, our clients won’t have to rely only on the fireplace for warmth in the cooler months. Because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.”

 

As the fall progresses, we will be highlighting other projects that can be done during the cooler months. Watch this space.

 

Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

New Yorkers love being outdoors. So Labor Day or any hints of a chill in the air remind us it’s all coming rapidly to an end. But we can extend the outdoor season to the max with a fire feature. 

 

Extend Outdoor Season

Extend Outdoor Season

 

“Along with adding warmth, today’s fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “They provide a great place to gather and lengthen the outdoor grilling season by providing a warm place for people to gather.”

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

 

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

Choosing The Right Fire Feature

“The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Dave.

“As a rule, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

And while personal choices vary — as you will see from the sampling we’re showcasing today, however, there is one thing all fire features have in common: 

S’mores frequently are involved. (A delicious recipe from the Hampton’s own Ina Garten follows follows at the end of our blog — — with the Barefoot Contessa’s permission!

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For an inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit. The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone for its handsome natural appeal.

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

Today’s Feature Photo

Today’s Feature Photo

 

In planning their outdoor space, the clients asked us to leave room for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

Now, the promised Ina Garten recipe:

 

 

 

 

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:

10 min

Prep:  5 min

Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving

Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 marshmallow

2 Graham crackers

Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions

Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.

2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

By |2021-09-16T13:20:55-05:00September 16th, 2021|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Fireplaces, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

Spruce Up the Yard with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just about two weeks away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season, it is one of the final big outdoor weekends for entertaining — even if we have to gather wearing masks etc.

In order to make your outdoor area extra special for Labor Day, how about  adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting a party yourself, but are attending someone else’s, a refreshed plantings allows you to create a special hostess gift, like a bouquet from your very own garden.

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant

 

And for some good news: It’s not too late to be adding flowers for Labor Day that will also last well into the fall. Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant, has provided us with just the right plants to add this time of year.

“Late in the summer season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.”\

As for which ones to look out for, she agrees with Deck and Patio that the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) with its bright yellow heart is a great choice to add mid-to-late August. The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

 

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

 

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices. For example, Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says.

 

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

 

Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy), as well as Asters, are also great choices,” she continues. “These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” 

 

Sedum — Autumn Joy

Sedum — Autumn Joy

 

For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

 

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

 

“I suggest getting these perennials in the ground sooner rather than later,” she continues. If it hasn’t rained before planting, soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

“It’s easy to make a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” adds Dave Stockwell. “Sandra’s ideas for adding color and beauty will not only make Labor Day Weekend entertaining colorful, but the impact will last well into the fall.”

 

Asters

Asters

 

 

Note: Our feature photo at the top of our blog page today shows a lovely colorful flower from the Aster family. 

 

 

 

By |2021-08-26T10:08:41-05:00August 26th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Spruce Up the Yard with Pops of Color this Labor Day

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.

 

 

 

Landscaping Trends: Reducing the Size of Your Lawn

Not Easy Being Green

Not Easy Being Green

A beautifully manicured green lawn takes a lot of watering and fertilizing, not to mention mowing. It’s truly not easy being green.

We spoke a while back with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension. It turned out, that lawn reduction was something very much on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” said Vultaggio. “A lawn is a high-input plant that requires a good deal of water and fertilizer to stay green, so it’s a good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggested, instead, planting more native perennials and shrubs.“Over time, after the planting stage, these will require much less irrigation. Perennials are pretty self-sufficient in searching for water on their own. Plus, their fertilizer requirements are at a minimum.”

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. 

For those unsure on how Ito remove turfgrass, Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, offers tips at the end of this blog:

 

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

 

For those who are eager to save some money and time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggested the following native plants:

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1. Monarda (Bee Balm):

Native to North America, this beautiful flowering plant is from the mint family. It’s easy to grow, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

It’s tubular flowers come in a variety of colors (pink, white, violet, red) and bloom in high summer through early fall. Bee Balm takes to full sun or light shade, and prefers a well-drained fertile soil. It needs some protection from excess moisture in winter.

 

 

 

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2. Violet-colored Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather):

Gayfeather (tall purple plant on the left) is an extremely easy plant to grow.

It blooms in late summer and grows from corms that sprout in spring. Part of the sunflower family, it, too, is native to North America. It likes full sun, well-drained soils; it attract birds and butterflies, and is an ideal perennial.

Because the Gayfeather often grows to a robust 2-4’ feet tall, it may require staking or some other support.

 

 

 

 

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

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed is native to eastern North America and blooms in clusters of orange flowers from mid-late summer. It is drought-tolerant and attracts birds and pollinators. It is a particularly good source of nectar for Monarchs; plus Monarch caterpillars feed off its leaves.

This plant thrives in poor dry soils, likes full sun; it is deer resistant, and is nicely fragrant.  These above two photos are of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

 

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

4.  Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

This frequently bi-colored flower makes a dramatic statement in the garden and is an ideal plant for those who are new to gardening. In fact, this plant is so easy to grow it has been described as “tough to kill.” It is fairly drought-resistant, plus hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is best planted in early spring or late fall.

When in bloom, the blossoms appear a bit like a hot poker or torch and for those feeling a bit of sadness saying good-bye to some of their lawn, note that these plants boast very “grass-like” leaves. This photo is of Vultaggio’s own garden and is courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

(Note: the dramatic dark blue/black flowers in the foreground are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ which bloom from late spring to early autumn.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

How to remove turfgrass.

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

— Use powdered lime, flour, or spray paint to mark the exact section you wish to cut back;

— Water the area ahead of time and then ‘scalp’ the grass (cut it to expose the stems)

— Now you have two options:

1) The physically harder, but quicker, one is: Using a turf cutter or spade, dig out the turf. Add soil and plant right away.  (Note: keep the removed turfgrass. After the sod breaks down, the turf can help make nitrogen-rich soil around the roots of plants).Or…

2) Try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

 

By |2021-06-10T12:32:45-05:00June 10th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Environment Issues, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Lawns, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on Landscaping Trends: Reducing the Size of Your Lawn

There’s More to Aquatic Plants Than Meets the Eye

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Aquatic Plants

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

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

  •  Water Lilies

  •  Lotus

  •  Marginal Plants

  •  Water Lily-like Plants

  •  Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

 

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

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

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

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

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

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

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

 

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

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

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

 

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

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

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

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

 

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

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

Valentine’s Day Dinner/Red Rose

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

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

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

 

Orange (Apricot-Pink) Roses 

Orange (Apricot-Pink) Roses

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

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

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

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

 

Pink Roses

Pink Roses

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

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

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

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

 

 

Red Roses

Red Roses

Last, but by no means least, red roses!

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

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

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

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

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

 

Caring for Roses

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

Mystic Rose – Photo/Sandra Vultaggio

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

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

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

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

 

Knockout Rose

Knockout Rose

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

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

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

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

 

 

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