Monthly Archives: August 2014

//August

Do You Recognize These Pond Guys?

UPDATE: The ‘Pond Stars’ mentioned in the following blog are now on the web only as the “Aquascape Pond Squad” on YouTube. 

 

 

 

Outdoor living enthusiasts already know them as the ‘top three pond builders in the world.’

For those unaware of their talents, the time has come to meet Greg Wittstock, Ed Beaulieu and Brian Helfrich — Owner, Vice President, and Construction Manager, respectively, of Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL).

Why? Here’s the buzz. The trio’s gifts for creating beautiful water gardens recently came to the notice of a television producer, and the new reality series — “Pond Stars” — was born. Each episode will feature the trio going about their day-to-day activities of designing and building water features for all kinds of people and situations.

Whether one fits into the category of already loving one’s backyard, or just wanting to love it, this series will be filled with the inspiration you hanker for. Having spent time with them at a recent waterscape event, Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter came home convinced their series will do for backyard retreat lovers what Forensic Files is doing for crime puzzlers, and Dance Moms is doing for, well, pushy Moms.

The premiere episode, “Time for Turtles,” has Greg, Ed and Brian rushing to complete two projects: the first for an environmental center where the pond will be used as an outdoor classroom for an upcoming kids camp.

Will they get in done in time? Will the kids see the center’s rescued turtles happy and secure in a water garden? Of course! The fun is seeing them do it…under pressure…with maximum difficulties, all the while informing us of how a backyard retreat gets created.

Perhaps one way to show how enticing the episodes will be is to feature several Deck and Patio ponds, where we’ve used the stars’ own Aquascape products and expertise. So mark your calendars. “Pond Stars” premieres Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 10 p.m. EDT on NatGeo WILD.

 

 

Pond Stars Plus Two

Pond Stars Plus Two

Our first photo shows Bill (center) at Pondemonium 2014 with the Pond Stars and Aquascape’s Chris Hanson who also appears in some Pond Stars episodes.

 

 

Backyard Water Garden

Backyard Water Garden:

This Deck and Patio man-made pond with waterfalls and stream enjoy a healthy ecosystem. Note: it is essential to choose the right stones and gravel for your pond, which provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants and helps to reduce algae.

 

 

Backyard Water Gardens

Backyard Water Gardens

One needs to be there to appreciate the sounds of the water and the falls – plus the birds singing and the frogs croaking — and to watch the koi swimming around.

 

 

 

Water Lilies:

Water Lilies:

Water lilies are ideal plants for a pond. Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful to look at, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer. This also reduces algae growth and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for them.

 

 

Bridge On the River Koi:

Bridge On the River Koi:

Okay, it’s not a river, it’s a Deck and Patio man-made pond, complete with rushing water stream, waterfall, stock of vibrant koi, water plants, bridge and viewing deck.

 

 

 

Awe-Inspiring Reflections From Man-Made Ponds

“I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”
― Henry David ThoreauWalden

At one time, enjoying something as relaxing and restful as reflections in a pond was occasioned by a lake-side holiday or visit to the mountains. However, with the growth in popularity of backyard escapes/oases, homeowners, in increasing numbers, are bringing that experience home.

Indeed, there is something mystical and restive in pausing alongside pristine still water. It is especially restorative to study the reflections of the surroundings that such water throws back — including distant delights like the clouds and the moon.

As a student of nature and avid outdoor enthusiast, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, believes that water features such as man-made ponds, when correctly designed, positioned, and constructed, can provide a transforming experience in one’s life: a ‘little world all to oneself’ to paraphrase Thoreau.

The following two projects are such examples.

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

This vanishing edge pond, like this project’s second smaller pond, is more than a reflecting pond; it’s also a swimming pond — part of a pristine Deck and Patio backyard oasis that includes the two ponds, a stream, and waterfalls. (See also next 3 photos).

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pond:

Vanishing Edge Pond:

Sunset is a magnificent time to mediate on the illusions created by the reflecting pond’s placid water. The water mirrors its surroundings so perfectly, it can be a challenge to tell the real sky, ocean, and landscape from their reflections.

 

 

Reflecting Pond:

Reflecting Pond:

The smaller of the two ponds is just steps outside the homeowners’ back door. Note how beautiful the back of the house is captured in the pond and reflected back.

 

 

Pond Stepping Stones:

Pond Stepping Stones:

During the day, stepping stones across vanishing edge pond bring you up close to the images created in the water. Bend down, gently pass your hand through its stillness, and watch the reflections ripple. If there’s a better pastime, we’ve never come across it.

 

 

Man-Made Ponds:

Man-Made Ponds:

Landscape design is an essential element in bringing about beautiful reflections and peaceful scenes. Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter used Mother Nature’s own creations — plants, moss rocks, and the water itself, to design a true mystical experience for this project.

 

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:42+00:00 August 21st, 2014|Infinity Pools, Ponds & Water Features, Pools & Spas|0 Comments

Deck Nation: Why Do We Love Our Decks So Much?

Recent published statistics from the North American Decking and Railing Association (NADR) show that America’s love affair with residential decking is not abating. It is rising (4.8% last year).  As the economy continues to improve, experts predict future demand will be even higher.

One reason for the increase could be that Americans, like most humans, do not want to be hemmed in. We often feel constrained in our professional life, but when we come home, it’s Home, Home on the Range. Our DNA hungers for open space, blue skies and starry nights.

But why decks, in particular? Sometimes, we choose between a deck or patio because of topography alone. One will simply work better than the other. But a key element in favor of decks has to be: as much as we love looking at grass — in decades past, a picnic was considered the pinnacle in outdoor living — today, we want to be off the ground and track as little of it as possible back into the house. Decks allow you to be somewhat above the soil, sitting comfortably on an outdoor extension of our kitchen, den, master suite, etc. And there is no doubt that decking materials, be they wood or wood in appearance, add to that sense of extension.

There might be some financial considerations as well: “Perhaps not on its own, but when a deck helps stage an attractive backyard lifestyle, it will definitely add value to a home,” says Jacquie Lewisy, residential real estate agent at Signature Premier Properties’ (Huntington corporate office).

That’s some of Deck and Patio’s thoughts. Why do you think we love our decks so much?

 

 

Trex Decks:

Trex Decks:

Many homeowners today are choosing composite materials for their new decks, such as this beautiful Trex deck, explains Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. This expansive deck, with recessed hot tub, overlooks a beautiful pastoral scene with pool.

 

 

Trex Decking and Stairs:

Trex Decking and Stairs:

Trex uses recycled materials in the manufacture of its decking. It boasts no cracking, rotting or splitting, protection from UV rays, no need for sealants, a slip-resistant surface and protection from insect, water and sun damage.

 

 

Iron Woods Decking:

Iron Woods Decking:

For this deck, the clients wanted natural wood and we used ‘Iron Woods,’ also called Ipe, which is an incredibly durable hardwood. It is highly rated for strength, hardness and durability.

 

 

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

Iron Woods “Ipe” Deck:

We also installed a beautiful pond in this backyard retreat; note how the pond seems to continue to flow under the deck, even though it doesn’t. The bridge is also Ipe.

 

 

Trex Spa Deck:

Trex Spa Deck:

Another beautiful Trex composite deck, designed to capture views of a pool. Note how the choice of deck color was also used in the railing and as a case for the hot tub.

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:45+00:00 August 14th, 2014|Ask the Experts, Deck and Patios|0 Comments

What Time of Day Showcases this Backyard Retreat Best?

Boasting a spectacular view of Long Island Sound, this award winning project is one that Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, is understandably proud of.  Complete with large patio areas, infinity pool, large spillover spa, waterfall, pond with wooden bridge, and spectacular LED lighting, its design took into consideration how it would appear at different times of day.

The vanishing edge pool brings the dramatic view of the shoreline right up to the backyard — creating a variety of changing images depending upon whether it is day, evening, or night. And not only the pool and patio offer these fabulous sights. The custom spa was also positioned to take in these “vanishing edge” vistas.

The same care went into the design of the upgraded and expanded pond area. Its beautiful details are delightful during the day, intoxicating at sunset, and oh so romantic at night.

The entire project comprises: vanishing edge pool with five water pumps, 3,000 square feet of Techo-Bloc tumbled stone patio, an outdoor kitchen with patio bar, two natural gas campfires, and extensive landscaping that includes large evergreen trees that flank the left and right side for privacy. In the pool, there are two waterfalls, five bar stools in front of a swim up bar, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning. (Note: this project garnered several awards, including three gold awards.)

We invite you to look over the photos and tell us what time of day do you think showcases this project best.

 

Vanishing Edge “Infinity” Pools:

Vanishing Edge “Infinity” Pools:

During the day, the view out to Long Island Sound is breathtaking from both the pool and spa. Note: the outdoor kitchen includes two bars: a patio bar with bar stools, and a swim up bar with in-pool seats.

 

 

 

Backyard Ponds:

Backyard Ponds:

Even during the day when all details are clear, the serene pond area, with waterfall, bridge, and moss rock cave, offers no hint of the technology keeping the pond healthy and pristine, e.g., a Savio skimmer traps most debris before it settles at the bottom of the pond, and an Aquascape Biofalls system continually filters the pond naturally by using bacteria to break down any pond waste.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

At sunset, not only unobstructed views of Long Island Sound are brought up to the patio and vanishing edge pool and spa, but the reflection of the setting sun is also; also at sunset, the edge of the infinity pool is exquisitely tinged in pale orange.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

At sunset, in the far distance, evening lights on Connecticut’s shore twinkle under a deep blue sky that is brushed with rose-colored radiance; LED lights and glowing natural gas campfires emphasize different areas of the retreat, providing security, drama and beauty.

 

 

 

Backyard Pond:

Backyard Pond:

Just as sunset is about over, LED lighting creates mystery and romance around the pond. Traces of a pink sky makes a delightful backdrop to the evening pond’s browns and greens.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

Some might say that nighttime offers the ultimate outdoor experience. The lighting, which creates such extraordinary vistas, has been carefully hidden to give wonderful effects, yet go unseen. In fact, all the expertise and technology behind the waterfalls — water pumps, the DE filter, gas heater, LED lights, EOS wireless automation, etc. — go entirely unnoticed.