Kamp Kenan natural water feature

Kamp Kenan tours the world’s most beautiful backyard

Learn how Emil Kreye and Son uses nature as design and maintenances to create sustainable oasis that is built to protect and maintain the plants and animals who keep everything working.

Today I visit my good friends who are the masterminds behind Emil Kreye & Son Inc., a fourth generation landscape contractor located on Long Island, New York. They specializes in the installation of natural water features, waterfalls, streams, ponds, rock gardens, swimming pools, walkways, patios, and natural steps. The property we are about to tour is a true garden oasis that any animal or nature lover would be jealous of. If you like habitats or dream of building an amazing one, then you’ll definitely want to check this out!

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Winding Cypress in Naples FL

Winding Cypress Naples FL garden entrance and water feature designed and built by Emil Kreye and Son, Inc

Most of our work is on Long Island, but occasionally we travel to other states to build a landscape that we have designed. We enjoy the challenges that come with designing projects for different climates. Here are a few photos of a project that we recently completed in Naples Florida. These folks came to us with a request for a dramatic entryway to the gated community of Winding Cypress. We used Tennessee mountain rock to sculpt rock ledges and water features to create a landscape that make a lasting impression on visitors to this upscale gated community. The Tennessee mountain rock fits with the landscape in Naples and plants were chosen to thrive in this more temperate climate.

Be sure to check our more of our gardens at out portfolio page.

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Emil Kreye & Son Featured in Architectural Digest's new book

Featured in Architectural Digest’s New Book

Emil Kreye & Son is honored to have one of the gardens upon which we have collaborated featured in Architectural Digest's new book "Outstanding American Gardens." The John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Garden in Mill Neck, New York, is now showcased in this new book on the best gardens in America. Emil Kreye & Son did the restoration work on the pond and built the waterfall and surrounding rock ledges in this national treasure.

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How to Build a Rain Garden in the Landscape

This rain garden was constructed on a previously flat property in Water Mill, Long Island NY.

Our project goal was to transform a wide open landscape into an intimate space with detailed retaining rock gardens and a diverse sustainable deer resistant planting.

The first consideration was the root system of a mature oak tree. The excavation zone and the retaining rock garden shape was determined by the root system profile. Retaining was  necessary at the sides of the rain garden but we were able to slope the grade leading into and out of the garden.

The next consideration was the rain garden liner and shape. A heavy duty liner was chosen to be able to withstand the wetland and walkway construction. The liner was extended all the way up to the retaining rock to provide moisture to the lower rock garden plantings as well as providing humidity to the moss areas.

On this project we developed a zig zag walkway to provide access directly through the rain garden. This design provided an easy walking surface with interest that enables a visitor to go right down into the garden. The wood walkway is constructed on top of the rubber liner with padding and cement footings.

Before the garden is back filled we sloped all the property drainage into the rain garden as well as the roof water. Overflow level was established with overflow weep holes feeding several plant pockets and the remaining overflow water is plumbed into the existing roof water dry wells.

Wetland plants require different planting soil. The bulk of the rain garden is back filled with sand 6″ to 12″ below the underside of the walkway (depending on the plants water requirements) with the individual planting pockets amended for each plant. The wetland plants were chosen for flowering time, height, shape with some evergreen perennials for winter interest.

The rock gardens were planted with drought resistant alpines and the remaining landscape was planted with deer resistant plants such as Cephalotaxus, Pinus mugo, Leucothoe, Picea, Cornus, and Magnolia.

The garden paths and walkways were covered with medium fine gravel to provide a comfortable walking surface and to prevent erosion into the rain garden.

Visit the rock garden canyon that Emil Kreye & Son inc. installed at Long House Reserve in East Hampton NY. LONGHOUSE SITE

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How to Build a Stream in Your Garden

To build a stream, site evaluation is necessary. The surrounding topography must relate to the water feature. How would water flow through the property naturally, or, what do we need to change to make a stream look as though it flows through the property naturally.

Grade changes are a perfect opportunity to create new interest features in the landscape. A slope on a property is an asset that should be used properly and not wasted. Digging out a slope to build a waterfall will provide for a larger cascade but additional retaining will be necessary. Sloping the waterfall building area will enable the stream to meander with little cascades and a minimal amount of pooling.

On many waterfall projects retaining is necessary. How we decide to retain an area makes a big difference. Retaining walls divide up space. Often it is preferable to build a retaining wall that looks natural. This style of wall does not chop up the property but becomes part of the landscape. The introductions of plants add interest and intimacy.

Instead of using a conventional retaining wall on a project we can use natural rock ledges harvested and re-installed. This method of retaining enhances the project with many living spaces and plant pockets. The rock ledge appears to have been there before the house.

On flat properties a stream may look the most natural. Each level of a cascade can provide different interests and different planting environments. By building usable places in the garden we can lure a visitor into a unique space. This living wall is always evolving; each visit evokes a different experience.

The most important principle to keep in mind is that streams and waterfalls should fit into the landscape.

STREAM CONSTRUCTION – STEP BY STEP:

  1. Excavate area to the elevation of the pool beam or the edge of the pond.
  2. Stabilize the building area. This is the most important part of the project. Depending on how heavy the rock installation, tamped soil, soil cement or a cement foundation may be necessary.
  3. Slope toward the pond, this will prevent the water from running back under the waterproofing material.
  4. Install waterproofing rubber. We do not recommend using cement because it cracks over time and leaks.
  5. Arrange rocks on the rubber carefully. A poorly placed rock can result in a hole in the rubber, which will cause leaking problems over time.
  6. Arrange the retaining rocks outside the rubber to retain the grade.
  7. Install plantings.
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