Monthly Archives: July 2015

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Design/Build Decks: Getting Creative in Your Deck Design

We have to thank Trex for a recent Facebook post about how to be creative in designing your deck. In checking out the post’s link to their photo gallery, we were inspired to look over some of our own decking projects where we used decking materials in a creative way.

It’s not surprising that a good many of our favorite deck projects were built with Trex boards. Trex is, after all, one of the decking manufacturers Deck and Patio most highly recommends. Stain, mold, insect and splinter resistant, their composite materials keep their beauty with little effort. Plus, because of the wide range of colors available, it is easy to be creative with accent borders and other designs.

Deck and Patio, of course, builds decks using a wide range of natural woods, as well as other composite deck boards. However, since the inspiration came from Trex, it’s only right that three of our five examples are constructed from their products.

 

Trex Deck with Hot Tub:

Trex Deck with Hot Tub:

Here (above) we used Trex’s Rope Swing boards for the deck and designed its multi-levels around the clients’ new hot tub. Because it’s a good idea to take breaks from long stays in a hot tub, we added a bench and private screened seating area, also made from Trex boards, with the fence area topped in an attractive lattice design.

 

Custom Trex Deck with Bench:

Custom Trex Deck with Bench:

Again, using Trex (Spiced Rum), we designed and built an attractive bench against the railing for these clients and faced some of the outdoor kitchen with matching boards.

 

Timbertech Deck:

TimberTech Deck:

We designed this 2-level TimberTech XLM PVC deck with one level just for the outdoor dining table and the other places for deep seating outdoor furniture like chaise lounges and the barbecue. For strong accent color we chose black railing.

 

Mahogany Decks:

Mahogany Decks:

Here we used mahogany in a creative application of deck materials. Note the beautiful flower box cut into the deck, the matching railing and handsome facing of the outdoor kitchen. Along with a matching bench, together they make an elegant statement.

 

Trex Pool Surround:

Trex Pool Surround:

Trex decking was cut to edge a beautiful freeform pool situated on a bay off the Atlantic. The pool surround is part of an elegant multi-level deck, which we designed in tiers In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home.

More on Deck and Patio’s creative deck design.

 

Landscaping: The Connection Between ‘Contemplation-Scapes’ and Well-Being

According to recent news reports, studies from Stanford University are only the latest part of an ongoing body of research “exploring the connection between nature and human well-being.”

Indeed, outdoor living experts such as our own Bill Renter at Deck and Patio — not to mention our clients — have long been aware of this connection to well-being.

“I think I always understood the relationship between inner peace and the harmony and order of the natural world,” says Bill Renter. “Since a very young age, I have been inspired by how Mother Nature creates and how this beauty relaxes me. For example, as an avid outdoor enthusiast — mountain-biking, skiing, nature walks etc. — I’ve always gotten my best ideas when outdoors in beautiful surroundings.”

In his book, “Landscape as Spirit: Creating a Contemplative Garden,” landscape architect Martin Hakubai Mosko echoes Bill’s sentiments. He writes: “Inner harmony is expressed as outer beauty” and his various projects, although different in style, are “a reflection of the mind of clarity and calm.”

Bill adds that almost all his design work includes a ‘contemplation-scape’ aspect to it. This involves creating landscaping vistas or focal points that look like Mother Nature created them.

“Bringing the natural world to people’s homes through beautiful ponds, streams and waterfalls, including pools with waterfalls, all surrounded by lush landscaping, does contribute to well-being. Indeed, we strive to create harmony in a simple small patio or deck. The idea is always to create a space that inspires, uplifts, and rejuvenates — no matter the size.”

The first project we’re showcasing today was a property upgrade for a special pair of Dix Hills, Long Island clients. Here, Deck and Patio helped them create a variety of ‘contemplation-scapes’:

 

Backyard Pondless Waterfall:

Backyard Pondless Waterfall:

A pondless waterfall alongside the deck and pool area creates a luxurious and soothing highlight. River stones, moss rock, and plenty of green ground cover add to its natural appeal. Positioned between the driveway and upper patio, it acts as the first stage of a broader ‘contemplation-scape’ that culminates in the upper patio and pool area.

 

 

Fountain-style Water Feature:

Fountain-style Water Feature:

Above the pondless waterfall, where once stood a moss rock waterfall, now stands a sophisticated and elegant fountain-style water feature with three-spilling sheets of water. The pool area’s contemporary design, with Asian influences and sounds from the waterfalls — tied together with lush colorful perennials throughout — inspire restful contemplation before and after swimming.

 

 

Walking Quiet Spaces:

Walking Quiet Spaces:

As was indicated in the Stanford study mentioned above, walking in natural surroundings has a healing effect. For this project, as part of a larger backyard retreat, and to provide contemplation moments even when walking from space to space, we took advantage of the need to hide their pool equipment by making this walkthrough private woodland path.

 

Small ‘Contemplative’ Patio:

Small ‘Contemplative’ Patio:

We used Techo-Bloc pavers to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to a water feature. It’s a great spot to read or just listen to nature and let the movement of water and natural surroundings uplift you.

 

 

Man-made Natural Pond:

Man-made Natural Pond:

These 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. The irregular stepping stones hail back to ancient Japanese gardens. Because nature doesn’t create beauty through strict symmetry, but much more organically, such irregularity was an element of their ‘contemplative world.’ Stepping stones also serve to draw you in as they lead to a special focal spot. Here, two Adirondack chairs were positioned for periods of contemplation, while enjoying the pond and feeding the koi.

 

 

Backyard Contemplation-Scape:

Backyard Contemplation-Scape:

Here a gentle stream is coaxed over rocks into several waterfalls. Lily pads wait on croaking frogs to rest on them. Ornamental grasses wave in the breeze, and flowering perennials add color and charm — a perfect spot for calm thoughts and relaxation.

 

 

In-ground Swimming Pool Trends: What’s Making a Splash?

Talk about making a splash with beautiful backyard escapes! Swimmingpool.com recently highlighted some of the hottest trends in swimming pool design under such sub-headings as: “Attached Hot Tubs,” “Hardscapes,” “Geometric Design,” and “Go Big at Home.”

We can attest to much of the specifics of their post. As Long Island swimming pool designers and builders, we’ve been including many of these amenities for some time. Here’s some examples of how Deck and Patio has incorporated these trends into swimming pools we’ve done for a few of our savvy clients:

 

Attached Hot Tubs:

Attached Hot Tubs:

According to Swimmingpool.com, a growing trend is to “make the hot tub appear ‘invisible’ in the design.” These spa beauties are often placed with walkways or steps as you see here.

For these clients, an up-to-date style wasn’t the only inspiration for the design. With three young children, safety had become a major concern and they also wanted an automatic pool cover. Designing a geometric pool with a built-in spill-over spa recessed inside the pool allowed us to give them one automatic cover for both bodies of water. In addition, special automation allows them to isolate the spa and heat only the spa water.

 

 

Raised Spas:

Raised Spas:

In order to better view a beautiful pool when in the spa, another trend covered under Attached Hot Tubs is elevating spas “above” the pools. Indeed, we proved this a stunning choice for an existing pool by installing a portable Bullfrog Spa with a beautiful natural stone raised above the pool.

Special plumbing was added to regulate the new spa’s sheer descent water feature: water spills from the fire bowl into the hot tub; in turn, spa water flows out into the pool for a beautiful hot springs/Roman pool effect, and, of course, you have the perfect vantage point to enjoy the pool.

 

 

In-ground Swimming Pool “Hardscapes”:

In-ground Swimming Pool “Hardscapes”:

Sometimes, only elegance will do. One of the trends listed for pool hardscapes is Travertine and we have used it for some of our clients such as in this pool surround. Cool even in the heat of summer, Travertine is a type of limestone and is quite different from marble or granite. In climates such as the Northeast, with our freeze/thaw conditions, we’ve found that where Travertine is quarried determines how practical it is. More vital Travertine info.

 

 

Geometric In-ground Pool Design:

Geometric In-ground Pool Design:

Free-form has been popular for a long time, and frankly still is, but there is a trend back to the geometric design. Here the striking geometric pool, with sheer descent waterfalls, is surrounded by a stunning patio in complementary random geometric patterns.

The steps at the far end of the pool — part of a natural retaining wall of boulders and plantings — lead to a delightful landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid.

 

 

Custom In-ground Swimming Pool Features:

Custom In-ground Swimming Pool Features:

Under Swimmingpool.com’s trend “Go Big at Home” doesn’t mean building huge pools necessarily, but this trend is for incorporating ever more custom pool features. Here for drama you see a high waterfall spilling over a romantic grotto with spa inside. A gazebo with outdoor great room, elegant patio surround for entertaining and sunbathing, and lush colorful landscaping are just some of this backyard oasis’ amenities.

 

 

Natural Swimming Ponds: Embracing the Pond Life

According to reports, across ‘the pond’ in Europe, natural swimming ponds have grown in appeal for a quarter of a century. Here at home, however, North Americans have not yet joined the craze with equal zeal. While swimming au naturel (chemical free) certainly appeals to health-conscious North Americans, some can’t get over sharing their backyard swimming water with — ewww — bugs, tadpoles, let alone pond fish.

This, however, may be changing. After all, a man-made natural pond is no different from swimming in a lake, swimming hole, or swimming in the ocean. Who hasn’t brushed up against seaweed, or snorkeled to enjoy colorful fish? And, indeed, in recent years, Deck and Patio has been asked to create man-made ponds on Long Island for the pure enjoyment of swimming in them.

In a recent post on Aquascape Inc.’s website entitled: Growing Up Around a Pond, the writer focuses on the ’10 most interesting things’ she has learned from having just such a pond:

          all bacteria is not bad;

          swimming in a pond is more fun than in a pool;

          ponds are wondrous at night;

          ponds are better than TV or video games.

We would have to agree with her. Snorkeling in a regular swimming pool isn’t all that exciting.

Don’t let the bugs bug you:

Unchecked by the chemicals of a regular swimming pool, the odd dragonfly will no doubt flit across your natural pond’s surface. You may spy a salamander at its edge. And frogs (who eat the more undesirable insects around your pond) may parent some tadpoles in any natural pond. And if there’s koi in your pond, you’ll want to keep them healthy and free of disease.

That aside, swimming in a pristine natural pond is very possible and thrilling. Using the right underlayment, liner, Biofalls and skimmers, bog filtration and water plants are part of creating the perfect experience. Detailed information on how to do this can be found on such helpful websites as Aquascape Inc’s, and local pond experts can aid you in keeping your water clean, and your fish healthy.

 

Swimming with the Koi:

Swimming with the Koi:

The homeowner who wrote the Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Natural Swimming Pond:

Natural Swimming Pond:

This pond is one of two ponds these clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. Now you may think that our beautiful model is avoiding the ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

 

 

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim.

 

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One way to ensure you pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. This allows the aquatic plants and filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.

 

 

Vanishing Edge/Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY):

Vanishing Edge/Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond is an infinity pond, one of the first done in North America. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, a second lower pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.