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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. 

 

 

Designing an Ideal Pond for Your Property’s Size and Shape

Whether your property is large and expansive — or no bigger than a postage stamp — most yards can accommodate some type of pond. 

As you’ll see from examples we’re highlighting, ponds come in many sizes, shapes, and depths, and sometimes these water features may not be classified as ponds at all.

“When it comes to a water feature’s location on a property, we recommend installing it where it can be enjoyed from a patio or deck, bedroom, or kitchen,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.”

Larger Properties

In our first showcased Deck and Patio pond project (below), the clients also wanted a new deck. It was ideal being able to design both the pond and deck together for a truly integrated result.

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

We designed the above deck with a viewing platform. From there, the clients can take in the whole pond. It’s also an inviting spot for dining with family or friends. And the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings — adds to the ambience. 

You can also see that we added large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“That path across provides the clients with what they were hoping for — an escape to a private place for relaxing and meditating. Of course you can always design your pond further away from the house for even more privacy,” says Dave.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond (above) in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house, for maximum enjoyment throughout the day. 

Some of the plantings used are Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis, providing bright pops of color, along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

As you will see from all our ponds, part of what makes these water features so spectacular — and so relaxing — is their landscaping. Landscaping a pond requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture.

 

Total Backyard Sanctuary

Total Backyard Sanctuary

When constructing this backyard sanctuary, complete with koi pond, we built an Iron Woods Ipe deck (not shown); the bridge that crosses the pond is also made of Ipe — one of the strongest woods in the world; it is painted white to complement the clients’ existing backyard conservatory. 

The whole project earned Deck and Patio both a NESPA and APSP Gold award.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

 

Additional Pond Waterfall

Additional Pond Waterfall

For this water feature, the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: an additional waterfall located near the house and a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property. 

Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall (left) at the top of a slope facing the clients’ indoor kitchen.

“From inside their home the family can enjoy the sights and sounds of this waterfall. A stream on its right flows down through five separate cascades into the lower, and more private pond area — a beautiful oasis for stillness and quiet,” says Dave.

 

Main Pond:

Main Pond:

This photo is the main pond of the additional waterfall above which was located near their destination-pool recreation area in another part of their property.

 

When Property Space Is Smaller

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

When space is at a premium (and even when it’s not), Deck and Patio can help clients find ways to creatively add a pond. 

The above photo showcases a Trex deck with two handsome “platform” staircases; we installed a beautiful micro pond and waterfall in and around the staircases in what was a former planting bed. 

“Every time they enter or leave the house they enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond,” says Dave. “So space is never an issue at all.”

 

Waterfalls Without The Pond

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Pondless Waterfall/Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

When children are very young, clients often opt for a “pondless” waterfall, in lieu of a pond.

With these water features, river rock allows flowing water from a waterfall to seep down into the ground where a reservoir captures the water and recirculates it.

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

A pondless system, as show in this Deck and Patio project, 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.

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.

 

As you can see from these projects above, size and style depends on what meets the needs of each specific client. “Our ponds are never cookie-cutter,” says Dave. “The design and installation location always stems from our meetings with clients and visits to their properties.”

 

Don’t Miss Out on Winter’s Stunning Serenity Escapes

Even if you don’t have a water feature in your backyard, whenever winter chills come calling, Mother Nature draws stunning serenity escapes elsewhere that are worthy of drawing us outdoors.

Nearby public parks, for example, usually have waterscapes, including ponds — all made picturesquel by the deep freeze. 

Taking time to enjoy such scenes in winter has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious peaceful escape. Canadian reports show that being outside in the sun can help “combat the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is especially helpful as we social distance during COVID. 

And if the beauty and sunshine are not enough, these same reports also say that being outside in the cold causes us to expend more energy, thereby burning away “some of those holiday cookie calories.”

 

Enjoying Waterscapes in Winter

Personal Fountainscape

Personal Fountainscape

“As you can see from our photos today, water features aren’t just phenomenal in spring, summer and fall,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “When winter gets her hands on a local water feature, she creates stunning pictures in the icy cold.”

And even a small decorative waterscape located at your home — like this fountain/miniature pond (left) — can be serene in winter months. Note how the small trickle of water becomes a jeweled thread of ice in intense cold. 

 

Commercial Property Fountainscape

Commercial Property Fountainscape

 

 

Plus water fountains are not just for our backyards or public parks. They are a wonderful indulgence at business offices. As you can see from this winter scene (right), they are a year-round uplift for management and staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the temperature drops

Winter photo of D&P project 

Winter photo of D&P project

Same pond in warmer weather

Same pond in warmer weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here on Long Island, winter is more sporadic in its assaults so it’s possible to keep a personal water feature flowing in winter. This allows homeowners to enjoy ice sculptures whenever the cold stays around for a bit.

Take for example, the waterfalls we created a few years back as part of a double-pond, stream and multiple-waterfall feature for an area family (see two photos immediately above).

Months later, when we stopped by during a strong cold snap, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sparkling waterfalls as they were partially crystalizing.

Note: Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form.

But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

Pond Fish

Happy Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc.)

Happy Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc.)

 

Speaking of pond fish. You might not be able to see your little fishies all that well when the temperature drops because they’re not as active. But they do just fine during winter.

That said, our own Dave Stockwell does caution to be alert. When ice covers your personal property’s 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.

 

 

 

The hole allows the naturally-produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascape Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick, suggests using a pond de-icer.

“This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.

The fish do not need to eat during this time. In fact, they shouldn’t be fed at all.

 

 

Upshot? Don’t miss out on winter’s serenity escapes. They do us more good than meets the eye. Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

Upshot? Don’t miss out on winter’s serenity escapes. They do us more good than meets the eye. Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Pond Maintenance Time in Long Island, NY

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

We’re nearing peak foliage in most parts of Long Island. And that lovely sight reminds us it’s time to do some pond maintenance.

In a previous blog, we reminded water feature lovers to put a net over them before the leaves begin to fall. 

Once all the leaves have dropped and been captured by the net, you can simply pull it out and once again enjoy your pond unobstructed.

Note: If netting isn’t your thing, a long-handle pond net allows you to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris. It’s a bit more work, but effective. 

Also, since ponds tend to lose significant water by evaporation during the summer, clearing out debris keeps the pond from getting too shallow and needing extra water to keep it topped off and healthy. 

 

Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

“It’s a good idea to trim back and remove any dead foliage from aquatic plants this time of year,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “This helps remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature. Such decaying material can cause excess gasses and undesirable algae.”

Pond lilies, for example, which are idyllic water plants, tend to need a little maintenance in fall. It’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.

 

 

Chemical Pond Treatments

 Leaves In Backyard Stream

Leaves In Backyard Stream

 

Some debris will make it into your pond no matter how careful you are.

Dave Kelly of renounced pond experts Aquasacpe Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).

Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

 

 

 

Caring for Pond Fish

You can — and should — plump up your koi darlings to survive winter hibernation. As temperatures start to drop, gradually increase how much you feed them. When your pond’s water gets below 59 degrees, we recommend using fish food made for cold water. 

Note: As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.   Once water temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And 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.

Pond Fish in Fall: There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

Pond Fish in Fall:
There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.

 

Healthy Ponds: Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall. There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.

Healthy Ponds:
Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall.

 

If you have questions, or need assistance, give our office a call at 631-549-8100.

 

Budget Backyard Upgrade: ‘Hot Tub with a View’

When a Massapequa, NY, couple contacted our office a while back. they were looking for a change to their yard. They felt what they had wasn’t too enticing. 

“Given the size of their property as well as their budget, a pool was out of the question,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “So we suggested that a budget-friendly quality portable hot tub, set in the ground could appear like a stylish custom built spa.”

However, even though the couple knew they’d love spending time outdoors in such a hot tub, they also wanted something special to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. 

Most people enjoy some sort of water feature with moving water. So Deck and Patio suggested a small pond with waterfalls next to the spa.

“When we mentioned it, we learned the husband had longed for a pond for some time,” says Dave. “And by adding one as part of a single overall project with the spa, it would save time and money, and allow the same designer to plan it all in a harmonious way.”

 

Massapequa, NY, Before Photo

Massapequa, NY, Before Photo

Here is the Massapequa, NY backyard before we added a spa and pond. You can see that the yard was on the small side with not too many existing options that could act as focal points for outdoor enjoyment. 

 

The Spa

 

Massapequa Project/Spa Installation:

Massapequa Project/Spa Installation:

By customizing the installation of a portable spa, putting it in-ground, made the hot tub itself appear like it was a custom-made spa.  Plus it’s easy to get in and out of.

“Deck and Patio is a local distributor for portable CAL Spas, which can be installed in-ground like this one,” says Deck and Patio’s Parker Lippolt. 

“Our CAL Spas also offer customizable therapy options with adjustable water jets, which are great benefits. With three different series — each with a selection of models — there’s enough choices, including swim spas, to fit just about anyone’s need.”

 

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

“Portable spas are self-contained units, with all they need to operate included within itself. Which is what helps make them so cost-friendly compared to other water features,” adds Dave.

That said, when installing them in-ground, it must be done in a way that allows water from rain to drain away from the spa. If not, the hot tub’s plumbing could get damaged. 

“In this case, in order to have it completely in-ground, we removed the spa’s plumbing equipment to a protected area above ground where it is accessible for any future repairs.”

 

The Pond

 

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

When the clients sit outside now they enjoy the sound of water as well as see a lovely pond with waterfalls. And they get to watch the pond fish swim about. Not only do they have this view from their patio, but even better, they can enjoy it all — and even feed the koi — from their in-ground spa. 

 

Pond With Waterfall

Pond With Waterfall

The project’s natural-looking pond with a waterfall feature included surrounding moss rock boulders and lush landscaping. We used Aquascape Inc.’s water systems — high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters etc. 

“The couple told us that their ‘in-tub views’ are spectacular,” says Dave. “Plus the in-ground installation makes it easy to get in and out of the spa. They also said they love the spa’s hydrotherapy for all kinds of relief as well as relaxation. 

“It was definitely the right choice for them.”

 

Landscaping Awards: Sweeping the Entire Water Features’ Category

Submitting your company’s project(s) for recognition by your peers requires a bit of work. For example, arranging for a photographer to visit the completed job sites — hopefully on sunny days — must also be coordinated with our Deck and Patio clients. 

Then choosing just the right photos and writing up details of the work to support these entries  requires precious time — usually during our busiest time of year. Only then, does “fingers crossed” waiting begin.

Winning Awards

When you consider the quality of Deck and Patio’s competitors, over the years we’ve always been humbled not to mention a little bit proud when winning our share of awards. 

And right now we are in the process of arranging photography for some of our most recent work. 

While this is being done, we couldn’t resist remembering that time, not too long ago, when Deck and Patio actually swept APSP’s entire water feature category.

“To receive an award from The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) — the voice of the pool and spa industry — is a great achievement,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “To have won Gold, Silver and Bronze for three of our water features, and to have been the only company to win in that category that year, says all the effort and love we put into our work was recognized.”

Here are those awards:

 

1.  Gold Award, Islip NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Residential Water Features 

 

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY)

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY)

The waterfalls we created to flow over rocks in this water feature are not just for beauty; they aerate the 23  by 16,  2-foot-deep pond, keeping it from becoming stagnant. In addition to aquatic plants in and around the pond, the landscaping included bright plantings. We added colorful koi, plus the pond attracts other desirable wildlife for a blissful backyard escape that is a delight for all the senses.

 Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Gold Award (Islip, NY):

We also added stepping stones across this same pond, which make it possible to go from their new deck out into the yard — in a way that contributes to the overall restful experience of the water feature. The stones’ irregularity and careful placement create an element of what the ancient Japanese called the ‘contemplative world.’

 

2.  Silver Award, Brooklyn/NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Residential Water Features

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Even though they live in a bustling, high-traffic part of New York City, this client wanted her children to experience the same interaction with nature that she had as a child. For them we designed/built a complete backyard playground oasis: a swimming pond with a beach-style entry and a water feature with three waterfalls.

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Silver Award (Brooklyn, NY):

Instead of using any chemicals, to keep the pond healthy through a natural eco-system, we used all Aquascape Inc. equipment and components. 

We also constructed the shallow pond as a deeper koi pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel; when the children are older, this can be removed, leaving only the liner, to create a full-sized koi pond providing an entirely different experience for the children.

 

3. Bronze Award, Fort Salonga/NY/Category: Hot Tubs, Spas, and Water Features/Exterior/Interior Portable Hot Tubs

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

These clients wanted a spillover spa, but so they could enjoy it all year, they wanted it separate from the pool. To provide the look they wanted, along with year-round use, we built a portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it.

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

Deck and Patio’s APSP Bronze Award (Fort Salonga, NY):

We also added a moss rock waterfall just beneath the hot tub that spills into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, this waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground concrete spillover spa.

 

Those three jobs won the whole water features category! Gold, Silver, Bronze. Fingers crossed on our new round of submissions!

 

Bring Your Backyard to Life with a New Deck and Pond

Most are aware that when you add a pond to your yard, the water feature naturally attracts desirable wildlife such as birds, butterflies, etc.

But a deck can add life, too.

A deck that abuts a pond, for example, creates an idyllic spot for a variety of fun pursuits: cocktails after work, dining al fresco, bird watching, koi study/feeding, watercolor painting, book reading, and even meditation.

Because of such enticements, laughter and human chatter frequently mingle with birdsongs and the croaking of frogs. And backing up this vibrant symphony are the tranquil sounds of waterfalls and babbling brooks. 

The following Deck and Patio project is one such life-bringing project. (And we are delighted to say that it won for us two prestigious Gold Medal awards (APSP Awards/NESPA Awards).

Backstory

The homeowners felt they had neglected their love of nature long enough. They wanted a new backyard that was a home for desirable wildlife and lush vegetation, a place to regularly refresh the soul and spirit as well as entertain. 

The wife says she always loved birds and nature but hadn’t seen birds in a long time. A fully-blooming landscape was important to them, not only to attract birds but lots of butterflies. We proposed a multi-feature natural retreat that included a deck and pond. 

 

The Pond

 

Brooks, Waterfalls, Pond

Brooks, Waterfalls, Pond

This retreat includes two 35-foot babbling brooks and a four-foot multi-tiered waterfall that feed into the pond. The rocks we installed – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, sometimes for their ideal crevices in which garden perennials could be planted.

 

The Deck

For their deck, the clients wanted natural wood. 

“We often recommend using the remarkably durable Brazilian Walnut hardwood (Ipe – pronounced “e-pay”) that we used for this project,” says Dave Stockwell.

“Ipe’s strength, hardness and durability also resists splintering, termites, wear, rot, fire, chemicals, marine borers and almost every other threat imaginable. And because it is 100 percent natural wood, it is recyclable at the end of its long service life.”

 

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Because we were installing the pond at the same time, we were able to design it all as a whole. Note how the pond seems to continue to flow under the deck, even though it doesn’t. The bridge, which was not done by Deck and Patio, was also constructed out of Ipe.

 

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining (Long Island/NY):

The Ultimate in Outdoor Dining (Long Island/NY):

Imagine dining on your deck as the sun sets when you can not only hear birds singing goodnight, but being so near the pond, the gentle swish of koi swimming is part of the experience. That’s pretty much as good as as life gets. 

 

Aquatic Plants for Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Aquatic Plants for Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Creeping Jenny is one of the many aquatic plants Deck and Patio used here, first as a type of ground cover, but also for its cascading ability over rocks into the pond. Its pale green (chartreuse) leaves are shiny and luxurious and in summer boasts tiny yellow flowers. 

 

Pond With Waterfalls:

Pond With Waterfalls:

The four-foot multi-tiered waterfall feeding into the pond appears just like you see it in nature. To accomplish this, it is important to understand the way water moves over rock. Natural looking movement is determined by the type of rocks used, forcing water to move multiple ways when it comes down over the waterfall.

 

We also considered every detail carefully to ensure that it would fit perfectly with the additional elements the homeowners had hired other companies to do, such as the conservatory and small bridge — always taking into account how everything would appear in nature. 

 

 

 

 

Avoid Cabin Fever and Spring Clean Your Pond

Avoiding Cabin Fever

Avoiding Cabin Fever

In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the first day of spring. Nothing could be more welcome. But with so many of us working from home, or even confined to home, just being able to go outdoors in our yards is essential to keeping ‘cabin fever’ at bay.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard pond, there’s some activities families in isolation might want to do together — or at least ensure someone (ahem) performs such outdoor refurbishments as spring pond maintenance.

It’s true, that as certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, many local pond owners prefer experts like Deck and Patio get their pond ready for the coming outdoor season. But, if you’re eager to get outside yourself and don’t mind putting on some boots and getting your hands dirty, we have some maintenance tips for you today.

 

 

What’s Involved in Spring 

Cleaning Your Pond? 

Debris in Water Features

Debris in Water Features

If your aquatic plants were not properly cut back in fall, they may very well have fallen back into the pond, decomposed, and dirtied the water.

However, even if you did cut them back, some cleaning will probably be required. How much cleaning may depend on your pond’s size. 

Smaller ponds tend to have more impurities than larger ones.

“It’s not unlike a fish bowl verses a fish tank,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “A fish tank is much easier to maintain than a fish bowl, isn’t it? There’s just more water to absorb impurities. However, even larger ponds require basic maintenance, such as cleaning out the filtration systems, fertilizing aquatic plants, adding new filter mats when required, etc.”

Dave adds that depending on the quality of the water, draining of the pond, rinsing it out, and refilling it using a de-chlorinator may be required as well.

Immediately below is a helpful video by Aquascape Inc. showing what’s needed in pond spring cleaning:

 

 

“If you’re draining the pond, it’s important to take great care of any pond fish during the process,” says Dave. “Keep them safe in a kiddie pool or the like, and put a net over them so they don’t jump out. Also, be sure to acclimate them during reentry.”

Here’s some additional tips. These are from Forrest Churchill for how best to integrate your pond fish back into the cleaned pond:

 

 

 

 

Pond-less Waterfalls:

Pond-less Waterfalls:

It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (pictured above) than a pond basin. Just dig out any debris in the Pond-less Waterfalls Snorkel Vault and, if it is required, drain the water using a clean-out pump placed into the vault — being careful not to flood any particular area.

 

Spring Pond Cleaning:

Spring Pond Cleaning:

The larger the pond, the better quality the water will be come spring. This beautiful pond project is really two ponds (one shown); in the larger pond pictured here there was even room for adding a large stone island with stepping stones out to it, where two Adirondack chairs were positioned for periods of contemplation and feeding the koi.

 

 Spring Cleaning Begins in Winter:

Spring Cleaning Begins in Winter:

Even if you cut back your aquatic plants and water grasses, some will decompose. When doing spring cleaning, be sure it’s before the pond water temperature gets above 55 degrees. Otherwise, bacteria from the warmer water will have formed — causing another undesirable green phase.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Spring pond cleaning is essential for a pond clear enough to swim in (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 right bog filtration and water plants, along with Biofalls (such as Aquascape Inc.’s) support your seasonal care for a healthy water feature.

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, and pond-er spring.

 

Spring Maintenance

Spring Maintenance

 

 

 

Stay well, everyone! Spring maintenance may be a welcome activity for the family. Of course, we’re happy to help as well. 631-549-8100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Backyard Pond Retreat that ‘Feels Magical’

This editorial space is usually given to highlighting our own Deck and Patio projects. But, occasionally, we give a bow to work done by others that impresses us.

Such is the case with the following Chicago, IL pond. It was designed and built for his own backyard by Brian Helfrich, lead designer and president of construction at Aquascape, Inc. 

Aquascape is the leading water garden innovator in North America. From aquatic plant information, pond design ideas and equipment, to training/certification programs, they are the final word in koi ponds, water gardens and fountains.

“Brian is a water garden expert who was able to turn his backyard into a personal water garden retreat,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s outdoor living at its finest.”

Helfrich built his pond over 10 years ago which has become a delightful backyard escape during all seasons. Soft moss has collected on the boulders and rocks, and other rocks have been softened by the use of ground covers like Hostas and other smaller plants.

The trees in his yard have also matured. To help create privacy and, where needed, block unattractive views, conifers like Green Giant Arborvitae or Norway Spruce were used.

The water feature oasis is a blend of ponds, streams, waterfalls, gazebo with bridge, beautifully landscaped areas, and patios. The first photo of this expansive refuge (below) shows one of its waterfalls. It was positioned close to a welcoming patio where, “Friends and family gather for meals and celebrations,” says Aquascape.

Helfrich Pond/Patio at Dusk:

Helfrich Pond/Patio at Dusk:

“A pond or water feature adds so much to outdoor entertaining and living,” says Dave Stockwell. “And just like Brian did for his project, when we construct ponds, we always try to include adjacent or close by patio areas.”

Children Love Koi

Children Love Koi

 

Whether it’s a patio or bridge or deck, a pond is an attraction to more than adults. Children love ponds, including feeding koi. A pond is truly interactive in that way.

Koi ponds were once a characteristic of Japanese gardens, but have been growing in popularity around the world. And why not. Listening to the sounds of trickling water, while watching colorful koi swim around throughout several seasons is transforming.

 

 

 

Speaking of the seasons. We love ponds all year, even in winter, but autumn can be an extraordinary experience.

 

Gazebo/Bridge When New

Gazebo/Bridge When New

Beautifully Weathered Bridge/Gazebo

Beautifully Weathered Bridge/Gazebo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoyment of a well designed pond, like the one Brian Helfrich has built, begins in the morning when you’re having that first cup of coffee.

A well-placed pond with streams and falls will be viewable from the most used rooms of your home and especially from the kitchen.

“It’s wonderful to watch the leaves bud, grow and change, and see it all reflected in your pond,” says Dave.

 

Adding a Bridge

Adding a Bridge

Bridges add a lovely design element to a backyard pond oasis. Here, Brian’s structure acts as a walkway along the side of his home. Plants and shrubs offer a pleasing “softscape” contrast to the rock and wood “hardscapes.” Note how the design makes it all appear organic, with water flowing in and around all the hardscape areas. 

 

Pond Waterfall

Pond Waterfall

Pondless Waterfall

Pondless Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above two photos show two of the waterfalls that are part of the overall water garden. The one on the left is a waterfall cascading down into the pond, while the one on the right is a “pondless” waterfall, which is a perfect place for very young children to play. This pondless waterfall has been designed to let the water to seep through a “pebble beach” area before being filtered, captured below and recirculated.

We’re told by Aquascape that small birds love the pondless area and use it as their own private oasis to congregate, drink and enjoy a bird bath. 

The feature photo at the top of our page today is of one of Brian’s waterfalls captured at night. Landscape lighting helps create a very special mood in and around the pond when, as they described it, “the yard feels almost magical.” Brian says he designed the water feature but he built it with the help of Certified Aquascape Contractors across the country. Deck and Patio is proud to claim that same status.

To see more photos of this pond and learn more about it, click here. 

 

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