decks and patios

Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

A low-maintenance pond is one with an ecosystem that works naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. It is a paradise for families to relax by and study throughout all seasons. It also offers a healthy place for desirable wildlife, such as pond fish, birds, etc. 

Such a delightful backyard feature has several elements that contribute to its overall harmony. As certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, Deck and Patio keeps regularly up-to-date with the latest in pond design, construction and maintenance.

Proper Water Circulation

It is essential that any water pump be adequate to the size of your pond and waterfalls. This ensures the amount of water will be aerated sufficiently and will not stagnate or develop excessive bacteria. Instead, the pond receives adequate oxygenation to remain healthy. 

Biological Filters and Skimmers

Ponds should also include a natural filtration system using the right biological filter and mechanical skimmer. Adding rocks and gravel over pond liners will also allow beneficial bacteria to grow for fish to graze on. 

Pond Fish

Koi, in all their jeweled colors, are not just beautiful to look at. They eat algae, and their own waste turns into fertilizer for pond plants. It’s key, though, not to overstock your pond so the balance of fish waste, verses what is being used up, remains in proper balance.

Aquatic Plants

And you thought plants, too, were just pretty faces. No, they also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “In the heat of summer, for example, it’s ideal that approximately 40% of your pond’s surface be covered with plants. Not only do they take care of the algae they also provide shade for the fish when it’s hot,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

“A backyard pond should be a paradise for relaxation as well as a home for desirable wildlife,” adds Dave Stockwell. “I’m referring to wildlife such as birds, frogs, etc. who eat insects as they enjoy the shelter you’ve created for them. In addition, aquatic plants and pond fish are essential elements in the overall ecosystem.” 

Sometimes, Deck and Patio clients want to go even further when creating a natural healthy pond ecosystem. “That’s the rainwater harvesting comes into play,” says Dave. “This involves capturing rainwater, filtering it, and trapping it below ground to be recirculated to maintain the pond’s water level because of evaporation. Aquascape Inc. of St. Charles, IL, has superb systems that capture and circulate rainwater.” 

This captured water never stagnates, says Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascape, because the water is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“Rainfall shortages will never be a problem,” says Helfrich. “Plus, with such a system, town or city water is never being used. Those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago, even during a drought, will not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but excess water reserves can maintain a lawn, and/or a vegetable garden.” 

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature (silver medal from LIPSA) consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond; it’s the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are some of the plants brightening this pondscape.

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful ecosystems. The second you put in a water feature you attract all kinds of wildlife — birds who want to bathe, frogs, salamanders, and insects that the birds feed on.

Low Maintenance Ponds with Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. Plants shown here include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily. 

“A healthy pond does require some spring and fall maintenance,” says Dave Stockwell. “However, if you build your pond correctly, Mother Nature will do the rest. Not only will you love it in every season, but frogs, birds and butterflies will thank you for it.”


Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert


July 4th Celebrations

July 4th Celebrations


July 4th is on Wednesday this year. And unless you want to use precious vacation days, it’s not ideal for getaways.

But if you have a deck or patio — as most of our clients do — you won’t have to go anywhere.




Rather than travel, why not use your home’s hardscape as a stage for a July 4th family concert? Even if it’s small in area, young kids would love to put on a dance recital.

Perhaps older members of the family can get out their acoustic guitars, ukuleles, fiddles, or accordions.

All you need is a family that doesn’t mind the spotlight. And, if one or more happen to play in a rock band — you’ve got the potential for one of your neighborhood’s best-ever July 4th parties.


Consider Jennifer and Art Vomvas, clients of ours from E. Norwich. They had just such a summer bash last year, that wasn’t even planned.

L-R, Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk)

L-R, Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk)

“My son, Paul, and his friends from the neighborhood formed a rock band, The Skiffs, a while back,” says Jennifer.

“One day last summer, they decided to practice in the backyard. It was a lovely day and a lot of neighbors were outside, so people started just gathering at our place, including Paul’s younger sister, Emily and her friends. It was Emily who took photos of them practicing.”

The music was a natural attraction, and the Vomvas family’s backyard patio ended up becoming the stage for an impromptu neighborhood rock concert.

“It was in full swing when I got home,” continues Jennifer. “It was completely organic. So I didn’t prepare anything for it in advance. But if I were planning to get my son’s band to play here on the 4th, I’d grab a few extra folding chairs for the neighbors. And instead of having them sit around our outdoor dining table, I’d move it aside and have a few buffet-style munchies people could grab and eat.”

Her son, Paul, adds, “We didn’t actually have this practice-concert on July 4th, but if we do one on the holiday, we would just include a few patriotic rock numbers in our sets.” (Ideas on that below).


“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

Band Note

Paul Vomvas and his band play at The Homestead Restaurant in Oyster Bay on Wednesday nights.

They call themselves a Jam Band. They write their own songs in addition to doing covers of such rock legends as The Grateful Dead, the Talking Heads, and Herbie Hancock.



The Vomvas Patio

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

“Deck and Patio built our Belgian Block patio several years ago,” says Jennifer.“They designed it in two-tiers, in a curvy amorphous shape with attractive edging.

“The upper level is home to our barbecue and grill and dining table with chairs, and the lower area houses the fire pit with seating. And there are plantings around the perimeter. Last summer, Paul’s band just moved the upper-level chairs to the lower level, leaving the top tier empty for a stage.”

Jennifer adds that this design also adds interest and divides the space into almost two different rooms.

Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell says that another reason for designing a two-level patio is it helps to make smaller spaces appear larger. “This is particularly important in Nassau County, NY, where properties are tightly compacted,” he says.




Hosting a July 4th Home Rock Concert


Setting Up Home Rock Concert

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

If your deck or patio becomes the stage for a home Rock concert this July 4th, there’s several good patriotic anthems you could request if the band is familiar with them:

Who’ll ever forget Jimi Hendrix’s electric version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. There’s also John Mellencamps’ Little Pink Houses (a.k.a. Ain’t That America). Paul  recommends one of his favorites: U.S. Blues by The Grateful Dead.

So! As Jennifer says, why not borrow some folding chairs before the 4th. Have some easy finger food and drinks at the ready. Then plug in the guitars. Have someone agree to take the photos and video. And let your patio or deck be the stage. We’re pretty sure your neighbors will not only gather, but they might bring the beer and soft drinks, too.

Note: Our feature photo at the top of this page is of the E. Norwich band, The Skiffs. Pictured from L-R are:  Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk. Vomvas home photos by Emily Vomvas.


Now. Here’s a little John Mellencamp to get you in the Rock-concert-planning mood.


By |2018-06-21T11:38:36-05:00June 21st, 2018|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks|Comments Off on Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert

Fall Foliage: Tips for Backyard Maintenance

 I Love NY’s Fall Foliage Chart

I Love NY’s Fall Foliage Chart

It hurts to let summer go. But Mother Nature offers us a big treat to ease the pain —

Fall foliage.

It’s so sublime — with its blaze of colors taking weeks to complete — that some of us are desperate to photograph it.

Others can’t wait to walk, bike, or drive Long Island’s trails and byways to watch the leaves change.

Without throwing too many wet blankets on Nature’s gift, just remember that these colorful leaves — glorious as they are —

will be falling to the ground before we know it.



And that means…

drum roll please…

Fall maintenance clean up!


“Taking care of fallen leaves is one of a variety of chores worth your time,” says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.



 Prevent Leaf Tannin Stains:

Prevent Leaf Tannin Stains:

Leaf tannin stains pavers, concrete, and decks. It is better — and easier — to remove the leaves than to seal your decks and patios. Sealers need to be constantly redone, which turns into a lot of maintenance.



Keeping Lawns Healthy in Fall:

Keeping Lawns Healthy in Fall:

“It’s also important to keep leaves off the grass,” says Dave. “Healthy grass can get matted down, and in winter, when it needs sunlight and oxygen, this could be a problem.”



Tree Maintenance in Fall: (Photo: Aquascape, inc.)

Tree Maintenance in Fall: (Photo: Aquascape, inc.)

This is a good time of year to cut any dead tree limbs away, so that coming snow or ice storms won’t cause them to crack and fall. Falling limbs can result in accidents to people, cars, and homes.

One way to predict future problems is to look up the tree carefully before the leaves have fallen. Any branches completely bare of leaves indicate they should be cut off. Also check to see if any low-hanging branches are near power lines; trim these so the weight of snow or ice won’t pull them dow into the wiring.



Fall Driveway Prep with Stakes:

Fall Driveway Prep with Stakes:

To prep your driveway and walkway for winter, it’s helpful to get supplied with fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”) for placing along your driveway in advance of the first snow storm.

You position the stakes to indicate where any costly Belgium Block or other edging could be damaged from snow plows. One end of the stake is pointed for easy insertion in the ground. Also, they come in different colors and you can let a particular color indicate, for example, where a fire hydrant is, the regular curb, your driveway entrance, etc.



Now back to the good news.

As you can see from the above chart from NY State’s Division of Tourism, I Love NY foliage page, Long Islanders have a bit of time yet before peak foliage to schedule our outdoor maintenance  — and our fall foliage activities as well.

This also means, if you have a pond, there’s time left to get netting to protect it from fallen debris.





By |2017-10-12T12:00:45-05:00October 12th, 2017|Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Landscaping, outdoor maintenance, Patios & Decks, paving stones|Comments Off on Fall Foliage: Tips for Backyard Maintenance

Choosing the Perfect Deck Railing

Other than the specifications required in local building codes, there are few rules or requirements in choosing a railing. So even the humble deck railing can help showcase one’s personality and taste.

First, a deck railing by no means has to match the deck. It just needs to coordinate with it. With all the different options available: baluster and post sizes, shapes, materials, and colors — and the freedom to mix and match — a railing is an easy way to express oneself.

Homeowners might then ask themselves: Are we people who cherish privacy? Or, are we nature enthusiasts who want the maximum views possible? Perhaps, we are traditional in our tastes. Then, again, maybe, we prefer a bit of whimsy and like to let loose a little.


CableRail by Feeney

CableRail by Feeney

In this case, lovely outdoor views were of primary concern to clients who are avid outdoor enthusiasts. Acting first as deck builders, Deck and Patio installed a two- story raised deck. And, as is often the case when building a deck, the homeowners also requested a spa. Deck and Patio helped the clients choose the ideal encasement for a new Bullfrog Spa that coordinated nicely with the deck planks and also integrated the spa harmoniously into the deck.

When it came to the deck railing, after all that had been accomplished, it was important that, when the clients sat on their new deck deck or relaxed in the hot tub, the railing infill would not spoil the exquisite views. To accomplish this, infills by “CableRail by Feeney” were chosen because these infills are almost unnoticeable.


TimberTech's "Radiance Rail"

TimberTech’s “Radiance Rail”

The Deck and Patio Company helped these clients add sophisticated drama by framing their new deck with TimberTech’s “Radiance Rail” railing.

Radiance Rail provides the ability to mix and match posts and balusters, and also offers a range of post caps. The ideal choice for these clients was a cap fitted with TimberTech’s recessed DeckLites. This extra outdoor deck lighting not only offered more nighttime safety but provided it in an understated style — perfect for these homeowners.


Trex Railing

Trex Railing (1 of 2)


Trex Railing 2 of 2

Trex Railing 2 of 2

Trex Railing with black metal balusters was chosen by Deck and Patio for this installation because they hold up so well to the elements.

The clients live at a river’s edge, their extraordinary view was so expansive, there was little concern that a railing would obstruct the view. However, these clients, who can step from their deck onto a private dock, functionality and durability were key.

The choice here was handsome Trex Composite Railing with black metal balusters that offered more than waterside security. These railings offer protection from UV rays and will stand against damage from insects, water, or sun.

Note: because the top rail (cap) of a railing is usually selected separately from the infill and posts, the cap presents special opportunity to be creative. You can go wild with color choices, materials and styles, Here’s a tip: Pick a wide top rail if you are a passionate gardener or you love to entertain. With a wider cap, you can easily rest small planters or drinks.


Trex Railing

Trex Railing

Here’s another handsome Trex railing and deck. The railing also once again offers contrast through black balusters. Adding a custom seating area isn’t just great in the warmer months; they also enjoy their deck when it gets colder just by having added a fire table.



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