Monthly Archives: May 2014

Putting the ‘Eco’ in Pond ‘Ecosystems’

Just what constitutes a healthy pond ‘ecosystem’? Basically, such a pond works with Mother Nature to provide food, shelter, and safety to the wildlife around it, while it creates a low-maintenance piece of paradise for nature lovers.

To attract desirable wildlife (frogs, birds, etc.), and even the insects they eat, requires the right circulation system (pumps and plumbing), proper filtration, aquatic plants, and, of course, fish, which are an integral part of it all.

In addition, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, frequently introduces clients concerned about water conservation to the option of ‘rainwater harvesting’ — a system which collects water from roofs, and other areas of a client’s property, and stores it in an underground tank to be recirculated. These systems are RainXchange Harvesting Systems, produced by Aquascapes Inc., St. Charles, IL which we sell and install.

Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascapes, explains that this reserved tank water never stagnates because it is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“You don’t have to worry about rainfall shortages,” says Helfrich. “With such a system, City water is never being used. Even during draughts, those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago — can not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but can use some of the reserve to maintain their lawn, or even a vegetable garden.”

 

Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature system consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond, and is 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.

 

 

 

Beautiful Pondscape:

Beautiful Pondscape:

Along with waterfalls, stream and pond, for a healthy ecosystem, it is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants). A beautiful Japanese maple shades the pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right).

 

 

 

Pond Koi:

Pond 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 include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily.

 

 

 

Pond and Patios:

Pond and Patios:

Installing a multi-faceted water feature that includes stream, waterfalls and pond, nestled in between multi-level patios, creates a restful and functional backyard oasis.

 

 

 

Pond Wildlife:

Pond Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful eco-systems. 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.

 

 

Different Level Patios, Flower Beds and Raised Waterfall Make Backyard Appear Larger

The homeowners of this property had an existing small koi pond. They dreamed of also having a pool, with landscaping and a waterfall, but felt they didn’t have the space for it all.

When viewing the property, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, saw the the main drawback was how flat the grade was. Through 3-D renditions, he showed the homeowners how different patio levels would make the yard appear bigger.

Bill designed the new pool, waterfall, patios and plant beds to fit perfectly with their pond. The new landscaping boasts hydrangeas, roses, ornamental grasses, and flowering perennials.

The homeowners children were about 9 or 10. After the project was finished, the clients say they no longer had to go to family and friends to enjoy the outdoors, but their children could love growing up in their own home.

Our clients added that bringing in a special lighting scheme allows them to enjoy the backyard retreat from the day on into night. The lighting transforms their backyard into a completely different, yet still beautiful, atmosphere.

 

 

Gorgeous Patio Areas:

Gorgeous Patio Areas:

Beautiful plantings, punctuated by accent boulders and moss rocks, paint a natural setting around the multi-tiered tumbled stone patio. Adding crepe myrtles to the landscaping offers an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October.

 

 

 

Backyard Al Fresco Dining:

Backyard Al Fresco Dining:

Waterfalls cascading over natural rock creates the perfect mood for meditation or romantic al fresco dining. A sound system was added that pumps music, and with waterfall running, together is perfect for entertaining or more intimate family fun.

 

 

 

Landscape Design:

Landscape Design:

By creating the multi level patio, waterfall and different levels and colors of plant beds, new dimensions were added. For example, the new bold apricot-pink roses attract attention, causing the landscape to recede behind them, making the overall area appear larger.

 

 

 

Stepping Stone Paths:

Stepping Stone Paths:

The homeowners wanted a path to the tool shed. But with extensive multi-level pavers being used, in such a small back yard, it was natural the homeowners didn’t want more swaths of brick. The stepping stone path offers a more natural feel and sofens the landscape.

 

 

 

Four Vinyl-Lined Pools We Love

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, designs and builds gunite pools, in addition to vinyl. However, he finds that many of his clients prefer the padded, smooth, soft feel of vinyl. And because advanced computerization of liner fabrications allow us to construct them in any shape, curve, or angle, there’s freedom in giving clients exactly what they want.

With such flexibility in pool design, homeowners are also not stuck with unattractive white interior stairs that do not blend with the rest of the pool, nor do they sacrifice a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.

Of course, the base construction of a vinyl pool is much the same as any other. Vinyl simply means the method used to line a pool’s interior. These liners come in a large variety of colors, which can react with the water to create a romantic “grotto” or “lagoon’ effect, so popular today. Plus, the concrete walls of vinyl-lined pools have a lifetime guarantee.

Bill and his design team always begin by asking clients about their plans for a pool, their lifestyles and their children’s needs, then come up with a unique concept to fulfill every desire. Using CAD drawings, digital imaging and a 3D animation video on a flat screen television, we show clients how the pool will look with the existing home and environment.

These four projects are good examples of the flexibility and beauty of vinyl.

 

Backyard Sanctuary:

Backyard Sanctuary:

This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy efficient components supporting it all. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to backyard retreat. Biggest challenge to project was creating four-inch ledge around pool which secures closed pool cover.

 

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pools:

Vanishing Edge Pools:

The challenges for this ‘vanishing edge’ pool project included creating a vinyl-liner pool with 5 bar stools, complicated tri-level floor, 3 staircases, in-floor cleaning, vinyl spillover spa, and vinyl-lined catch pool. The success of accomplishing all this was sweet, indeed.

 

 

 

Cambridge Pavingstones:

Cambridge Pavingstones:

We surrounded this vinyl-lined pool and spill-over spa in handsome Cambridge Pavingstones, with artful cut-outs for plantings. The beautiful hue of the pool water caused by its vinyl liner, set against the pavers, with a huge backdrop of lush green grass create a very special setting.

 

 

 

Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

Because of the topography, the pool had to be located far from the house, down a steep grade. Deck and Patio’s vision included adding beautiful creeping ground cover and boulders, so that even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits.

 

 

 

 

Turning a Tired Backyard Into Award-Winning Retreat

Like many homeowners, you may already have a landscaped backyard, possibly with a pool that’s been through a number of summers. You’ve probably considered doing something with it, but what? Take a look at this pool renovation project that helped our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, capture the #1 ranking several years ago in patio design.

As the mason contractor on the job, our firm was dealing with a 20-year old pool with similarly-aged coping surrounded by grass where had never been a patio. There was also a concrete spa the family never used because it was uncomfortable.

The fact that the clients really loved the existing pool coping made Bill’s job even more interesting. After visiting several mason suppliers, and finding it impossible to obtain the original coping, he turned to Techo-Bloc to make a match. This coping had tan and grey tones, and Techo-Bloc’s sandalwood paving stones were an extremely good complement.

We also constructed a retaining wall and masonry steps down to the pool patio. The finished design featured a five-level patio all around the swimming pool. Later we added new maintenance-free decking.

So if you’re interested in creating your own backyard paradise, whatever the size of your space, a little creativity goes a long way.

 

 

Cascading Water Features:

Cascading Water Features:

There are five different patio levels around the pool, all comprised of Techo-Bloc. The design features cascading water, a hot water fall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool.

 

 

 

Raised Spillover Spas:

Raised Spillover Spas:

We began by demolishing the old uncomfortable spa and replacing it with a new acrylic one. Using Techo-Bloc “Creta” wall stone, we created the face between the raised acrylic spillover spa and the swimming pool.

 

 

 

Techo-Bloc Patios

Techo-Bloc Patios

The couple didn’t want to deal with much maintenance and our solution was a raised patio design. The challenge was the steep slope that ran away from the house making it necessary to put solid compactable materials underneath to avoid settling issues later on.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreats:

Backyard Retreats:

In total, there are five waterfalls, plus a swim-up bar in the pool that features stunning granite countertops and a shade pergola. From the highest waterfall, to the lawn below, is an elevation change of twelve feet, all with a different grades.

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Difficult Challenges To Adding a Pool

Take heart if you want a pool, but you’ve been told it’s impossible. Even if you’ve been turned down more than once, it’s worth  it to keep asking. The happy owners of this pool, for example, called our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, to renovate their deck from natural wood to Trex, and had decided to ask one last time about the possibility of a pool. To their surprise, he told them it wasn’t impossible at all: it would just take a bit of innovation.

The major issue with their property was that it inclined toward the house. Other  impediments were restrictive town setbacks. Deck and Patio tackled these issues by setting the pool mid-grade, and building risers up to the pool height.

In addition, we built the attractive water feature behind the pool to deal with the rising higher grade, as well as to screen out the neighbors — all while maintaining a natural and beautiful scene.

 

 

Free-form Pool

Free-form Pool

Vinyl-lined pools can be constructed in any shape, curve, or angle due to the advanced computerization of liner fabrication. The concrete walls of vinyl-lined pools have a lifetime guarantee. With such a pool, the homeowners are not stuck with unattractive white interior stairs that do not blend with the rest of the pool, nor do they sacrifice a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.

 

 

 

Pool Surround:

Pool Surround:

This pool is surrounded by a patio created from Cambridge’s Round Table pavingstones. The pavers’ dimpled, embossed surfaces gently roll into soft, beveled edges on four straight-sided Cambridge Shapes with ArmorTec. The pavers were laid in a modified herringbone pattern.

 

 

 

Stepping Stone Paths:

Stepping Stone Paths:

Bluestone stepping stones skim across the backyard sod and connect the pool patio to the deck and patio at the house, which is also home to the outer kitchen area, complete with BBQ and refrigerator. The entire project was finished off with the installation of lush colorful landscaping and low voltage lighting.