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Noise Pollution: Blocking Unwanted Noise with Delightful Sounds

Since Richard Nixon was in office, federal and state governments have recognized the harmful effects of noise pollution. According to experts, noise pollution can have a wide range of harmful health effects. 

But more than the really loud booms that can damage eardrums,  routine unpleasant noise, when frequently experienced, can cause hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

 

“One complaint people on Long Island experience around their homes is traffic noise,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It’s one reason Deck and Patio clients love adding water features. Beyond beauty and their peaceful ambience, they also are a great way to eliminate traffic and other unwanted outdoor noises.”

 

Water features provide relaxing burbling sounds. Some have reported that the negative ions abundant in waterfalls actually increase serotonin levels which improve mood.

 

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

 

A closeup of one of our projects with stream and waterfalls (shown left) captures part of a Roslyn, NY, water feature. It is the main waterfall in a series that flow down over moss rocks in a very natural-looking way — if we do say so ourselves.

 

 

 

 

Our clients did not want a pond, so we created a “pondless” feature using Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the flowing water in an underground reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

 

 

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

 

“Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with this 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell. “Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past i.t You might say this lovely setting did more than block out noise — it created a beautiful spot reminiscent of a Caribbean vacation.

 

 

 

 

Blocking City Noise

Backyard Noise Barriers

Backyard Noise Barriers

But, you might ask, Long Island is one thing, but can waterfalls help block city noise. Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise — in the very heart of a borough of New York City.

In addition to an exterior wall, which we softened with bamboo around its perimeter and a “living wall” that holds multiple-sized pots of plants, we added a sizable waterfall that offers up joyous splashing sounds as it falls into their pool. 

“It is truly an oasis in the heart of the city,” says Dave.

 

 

Lots of Noise Barrier Options

Watery Trail

Watery Trail

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

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

 

“You might wonder if waterfalls will really drown out traffic noise,” says Dave. “But the following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa we built gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.”

 

 

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

Backyard Upgrade: Adding the Drama of a Waterfall

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

 

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

 

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

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

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

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

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

 

Backyard High Waterfall Drama

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

 

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

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

 

 

7'-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

7′-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

 

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

Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave.

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

 

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

 

 

5 Tips for Creating Your Outdoor ‘Quiet Place’

Even when you have a fabulous backyard that’s fully loaded with amenities, one outdoor space can still be illusive. Sometimes it’s hard to find a quiet space around your active barbecue and outdoor dining table or near your busy pool.

How then do you carve out your own private place? The good news is that it’s not all that hard to make one.

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? 

If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, there’s no rule that says, when it calls for it, your getaway can’t serve double-duty as a gathering place when it’s not being used as a place for solitude. 

And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed spot.

 

Now for some tips in carving out that quiet spot for yourself:

 

Attractive Focal Point

Attractive Focal Point

Tip # 1.

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. 

Here these Deck and Patio clients had a glorious wooded yard with some private walks. We added stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in and around an existing bridge just below a comfortable park-style bench.

Robust green ground cover and plants appear as if they were always part of the natural woodland. Talk about a quiet space to get away from it all.

 

A Foundation is Key

A Foundation is Key

Tip # 2

Next, create a foundation. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

In this case, we added a small secluded patio adjacent to the pool’s raised spillover custom spa. It’s the perfect spot to get away from it all.

As an escape it includes the gentle sounds of water spilling from the spa into the pool. But you still have a birds-eye view to all the action — when you want to look up from your book!

 

Comfort Is Key

Comfort Is Key

Tip # 3

Also, consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool. It was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offered our clients a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

Such a spot not only serves as a personal retreat, it can also be shared when you want company.

 

Don’t Limit Your Time

Don’t Limit Your Time

Tip # 4 

It’s also key to think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

This ideal waterfall-focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends. Just have that “do not disturb” sign at the ready!

 

Flexible Private Escape

Flexible Private Escape

Tip # 5

Flexibility may also be your answer. Having a private-time-basket that’s always at the ready is a great idea, too. It can be stocked with one or two aromatherapy candles, a favorite cushion, a throw rug for a little spontaneous yoga, ingredients (glass/soda) for your favorite drink, including a corkscrew if it happens to be wine.

This works well when you already have a well-laid patio or deck with large trees and shrubs on the periphery, or some other comfortable foundation. Then simple container gardening allows you to create a flexible quiet spot — on the spot. 

If the containers are not too large, they can be moved at a moment’s notice. In this case, our Deck and Patio’s clients also have an easy-to-move barbecue, as well as easy-living, yet elegant, outdoor furniture. An intimate spot away from the pool and main patio, it is also perfect for intimate dining.

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

Feature Photo at top of page: Small Patio For Reading or Writing

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the client’s new water feature. It’s a great spot to read and have some quiet time.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Plantings: Dressing Your Pond ‘to the Nines’

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

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

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

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

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

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

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

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

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

 

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

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

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

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

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

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

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

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

 

Create Ideal Environment With Landscaping Upgrade

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create an ideal environment for enjoying the outdoor season,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Pondless Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings (Long Island/NY):

Lush Plantings (Long Island/NY):

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Using Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio (Long Island/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patio (Long Island/NY):

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Water Feature Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Ponds Clean Enough for Swimming

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

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

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

 

Natural Swimming Ponds

 

Pristine Deck and Patio Pond

Pristine Deck and Patio Pond

Swimming In Deck and Patio Pond

Swimming In Deck and Patio Pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY)

Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY)

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

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

 

Koi Ponds and‘Pondless’ Waterfalls

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

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

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

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

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

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

 

 

 

 

Getting Behind a Pool Waterfall in Your Own ‘Sea Cave’

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. But, even as adults, we love a personal getaway. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space.

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you?

Well. That’s part of what’s possible in a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat.

Another benefit of a pool grotto is the ability to get away from the heat of the sun. And, still be close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

 

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

 

Completed TN Pool with Grotto

Completed TN Pool with Grotto

1.  Our first example is of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature that came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network.

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

 

 

TN Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls 

TN Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature.

The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls, and a fire feature for inside the pool.”

 

 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

“Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

2.  The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods.

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

 

 

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

The tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water. So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

 

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Why Not Include a Bench with Your Backyard Upgrade

Adding a bench, or other seating, to your backyard provides a treasured rest-spot, where you can be still and take in your property’s pretty views.

All you really need for a view is some sort of focal point, maybe near your favorite tree and a bit of open space, if not something more elaborate like a water feature (see below examples).

Bonus: And if you’ve planted particular flowers or shrubs, your place of contemplation may attract butterflies or hummingbirds near your bench. Even if not, at a minimum, some species of birds will be chirping nearby and the sky will be blue — all with no effort on your part.

Whatever its focal point, the garden bench offers that special up close and personal opportunity to enjoy the outdoors — an enjoyment you might miss from further away in the kitchen, or on the patio or deck.

 

The Bench

Depending on individual taste, there are a wide variety of bench materials and designs available:

—  wrought iron

—  various woods: eucalyptus, reclaimed wood, acacia, cedar, redwood, etc. (just choose a durable/weather-resistant wood)

—  cast aluminum

—  a bamboo bench (great for Asian-inspired gardens)

—  a backless bench, perhaps with hidden storage

—  a swinging or glider bench

—  farmhouse and park style bench

—  or how about dual chairs such as Adirondacks instead of one piece of outdoor furniture

—  or a natural stone slab

 

You can get some idea of how nice it is to have a seating spot through the photos below of Deck and Patio projects.

 

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY):

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY):

How’s this for up-close and personal. These Deck and Patio clients asked us to put smaller stepping stones out to a larger stone island — in the middle of the man-made natural pond we created for them. In lieu of a bench, the addition of two Adirondack chairs presents a perfect spot to feed and watch the koi, and listen to the pond’s waterfalls.

 

Perfect Spot for Contemplation (Long Island/NY:

Perfect Spot for Contemplation (Long Island/NY:

Within this already beautiful setting, Deck and Patio added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge and bench so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around them. (Green bench is in top left of photo)

 

Rock Sofa and Rock Seats (Long Island/NY):

Rock Sofa and Rock Seats (Long Island/NY):

Talk about up close. From this Deck and Patio installed rock sofa/bench — with flanking rock-seats — sitters can stretch back and run their fingers in the waterfalls behind them.

 

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls with Bench (Long Island/NY)

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls with Bench (Long Island/NY)

What a scene to relax by. A gentle stream is coaxed over rocks into several waterfalls. Lily pads wait on croaking frogs. Ornamental grasses wave in the breeze, and flowering perennials add color and charm.

 

Patio Benches/Seating with Fireplace (Long Island/NY):

Patio Benches/Seating with Fireplace (Long Island/NY):

Whether it’s one bench or seating for a group, these benches and seat are perfectly placed to enjoy a waterfall and custom fireplace. 

 

 

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