Monthly Archives: February 2016

//February

Swimming Pool Slides: Bringing Waterpark Thrills Home

When you hear the words Cyclone, Vortex and Typhoon you might be tempted to run for cover, unless, of course, you’re at a waterpark where water slides with such names are the very reason for going.

And like so many other amenities that once required travel, homeowners are bringing waterpark thrills into their own backyards. There are several companies who’s frightening-sounding water slides offer just such home excitement: e.g., S.R. Smith (Cyclone, Turbo Twister, Typhoon etc.), Aquaslide (Jungle Joe and Jungle Joe II).

Indeed, Deck and Patio has been involved in installing their slides on Long Island and the New York Metro area for years. Their sizes and shapes have varied, as well as the scope of the projects (amount of landscaping desired) — depending on the client’s budget, property size, and the amount of adrenaline rush they desired.

Of course, you can have a slide, on its own, well-secured to your pool without any special landscaping. Or you can have a landscaping firm design/build a special setting around the slide you choose.

Beyond even that, if you want a slide custom-built to fit your existing landscape or future landscape plans, there is another company — Inter-Fab Inc. — who’s BYOS 1 and BYOS 2 slides are configured and designed to fit your plans and ideas.

“One thing very special about BYOS,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter, “is they can be funky and fun, or they can be set into a sloped landscape to look almost natural. You decide everything. That’s the fun of it.”

Slide’s Side Benefit

No matter if the scope of the project is big or small, after its installed, clients discover something often unanticipated. When not in use by thrill-seekers, the calming sounds of water spilling from the slide into their pool transforms their Cyclone, Typhoon, Wild Ride etc. into a gentle water feature.

So readers: You learned it here first. Water slides aren’t just for thrills. On any given day, they can also help you relax.

 

Wild Ride Slide:

Wild Ride Slide:

Next to the Wild Ride water slide with its water falling into the pool, Deck and Patio installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over extended rock.

 

 

Access to Pool Slide:

Access to Pool Slide:

It is important to have sufficient room to allow easy access to the slide and any surrounding patio. For this project, in order to cut back on having too much hardscape, we used stepping stones up from the patio to the slide, which are more in keeping with the slide’s natural setting.

 

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

Talk about thrills! Deck and Patio created this award-winning feature several years ago. It called for installing a large serpentine slide around a huge moss rock water feature.

 

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

This is the same slide project as pictured immediately above. When we worked on this water feature, we added large natural stones for the climb up to the top of the slide. Also note how an additional waterfall from the hilltop stream falls into the slide itself for an additional thrill.

 

 

Natural Retaining Walls:

Natural Retaining Walls:

When planning out this project, we suggested using Rocka steps, moss rock boulders, and creeping plant material instead of the usual retaining wall. This more natural setting provided the sloping landscape required for a fun pool slide.

 

 

BYOS Slide:

BYOS Slide:

This slide is not one of ours. It was custom built by BYOS for Pulliam Pools in Texas. It’s a great example of perfectly fitting a custom-slide into a beautiful landscape plan. Photo: Courtesy of Inter-Fab Inc.

 

 

Trends in Backyard Design: Water Features Are Enjoying a Rippling Effect

 

In a recent online post on what’s new in outdoor design, hgtv.com (House & Garden/TV) set water-feature-loving hearts a pumping. They have found that one of today’s top outdoor trends in backyard design is the backyard water feature.

In our experience at Deck and Patio, there are many reasons for this popularity. In addition to water features providing an attractive focal point all year through — be it a simple easy-to-install single portable fountain, or a gorgeous deep natural swimming pond complete with waterfalls and streams — the sound and sight of moving water is instantly soothing. And when created on a large-enough scale, such a feature can even block out unwanted noise.

Another major factor in their popularity are the many options available. Whatever one’s taste, there’s a feature to match it — from historic rustic to contemporary and sleek.

That brings us to perhaps the biggest reason for the growth in this backyard trend:

                      Any budget can absorb it!

 

Bubbling Fountains

Relatively inexpensive, bubbling rocks, single urns, and multiple rock fountains bring the sounds and sight of moving water to your backyard effortlessly.

 

Garden Fountain (Long Island/NY)

Garden Fountain (Long Island/NY)

When Deck and Patio’s designer was completing this garden, he noticed that “something was missing.” The clients agreed that a modest water fountain would add more life and provide a focal point in the garden. The “stacked stone urn” design they chose is the smallest kit available from Aquascape Inc. (32” tall), which suited their style and was the perfect scale for the garden.

 

 

Bubbling Rock Water Features (Brooklyn/NY):

Bubbling Rock Water Features (Brooklyn/NY):

While this bubbling rock is part of a larger rainwater harvesting/pond project (Brooklyn/NY), it can be installed on its own to provide the sight and sounds of moving water. When sitting out on their patio, the fountain offers the homeowners a serene focal point that also helps irrigate the garden.

 

Sheet Waterfalls

Sheet waterfalls are a popular choice for people who enjoy a sleek modern look. Also called Sheer Descent, these waterfalls provide a particular soothing sound unique to their design.

Outdoor Bar with Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Outdoor Bar with Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Space was at a premium in this yard and the usual type of large water feature (e.g., pond fed by streams with waterfalls etc.) wouldn’t have fit. The Deck and Patio designer suggested adding two sheer descent waterfalls flowing out of the new stone bar we were constructing for them. The flowing water is collected underground and re-circulated, eliminating the usual above-ground presence of a pond.

 

Waterfalls/Ponds and Water Gardens

Cascading water in our backyards offer more than beauty. They can help eliminate noise problems.

Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

These clients had a backyard noise problem. Their home is located close to a very busy street and the solution we came up with is for this lovely pondless waterfall. The noise is completely eliminated by the flowing water cascading over imported moss rock boulders. It’s beautiful to look at whether you are lounging on the patio or taking a swim in the pool — and when outdoors, the family feels like they are far away from the hubbub of daily life.

 

Ponds and Water Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Ponds and Water Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Backyard ponds and water gardens have been growing in popularity for some time; recent trends are for adding aquatic plants. These plants are not just beautiful to look at. Carefully chosen, they absorb nutrients an pollutants and help purify the pond. Along with the water, these plants become a magnet for local birds who come to bathe and rest on or near the plants. In this project, we added ornamental grasses and lily pads inside the pond surrounded by flowering perennials for color and charm.

 

Water Features are for All Seasons

When our clients ask our experts if they should close down their ponds or fountains for the winter, our answer is frequently, No! Most ponds — even stocked with koi — can operate during winter.

Fountainscapes (Long Island/NY):

Fountainscapes (Long Island/NY):

Crafted in delightful old-world charm, this fountainscape is part of a fountain/miniature pond feature that is as peaceful in winter months as it is in summer. Note how the small stream of water becomes a jeweled thread of ice during winter’s icy blasts.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds

Being able to swim in your own backyard pristine natural pond is perhaps the ultimate in backyard water features. The best natural swimming ponds are built big and deep enough to allow for snorkeling and provide ample room to swim.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Natural Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

It requires expertise to create a natural swimming  environment and be able to enjoy it much like we did swimming holes in years past. It takes, for example, the correct underlayment, liner, Biofalls (Aquascape Inc.), bog filtration, as well as the ideal water plants etc. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting Incentive Programs: Savings From a Rainy Day

Because water is so important to our every day lives, improving and maintaining water quality is our passion at Deck and Patio. In fact, we have a special division — Rainwater Harvesting Group — dedicated to installing rainwater collection systems that alleviate demand on municipal systems, reduce water bills and beautify and enhance landscaping and properties.

In addition to saving on water bills, fortunate residents in other parts of the United States, who have installed rainwater harvesting collection systems (alas not New York as of this writing), can take advantage of state and/or local rebates — the amount of the rebate being frequently determined by the type and size of the harvesting system installed (i.e., barrel collection or pump driven).

One city — Austin, TX — has an excellent rebate program. Granted, Texas has suffered through five straight years of droughts until last year’s spring rains were finally sufficient, so saving rainwater there is a high priority. However, other areas in the country, not so plagued by droughts, offer similar water rebates through their own state and local initiatives.

To find out how such programs might benefit Long Island, we spoke with Nick Menchyk, Assistant Professor (Urban Horticulture & Design) at SUNY Farmingdale.

“On the east coast, we typically get plenty of rain. However, any time we can harvest and use rainwater for irrigating our landscape — as opposed to pulling it from our aquifers — is going to be beneficial. Where government programs around the country exist, these programs have worked very well, and we should look at this at the local level here on Long Island,” says Professor Menchyk.

He adds that in California, for example, they offered rebates to remove turfgrass in favor of drought tolerant landscapes and that state funding ran out of money because so many people jumped at it.

“So any time you can encourage people to use that rain barrel or an in-ground system to collect rainwater is bound to be effective.”

While he does not consider himself an expert in rainwater harvesting and rain gardens, Professor Menchyk is convinced that it’s only a matter of time when the greater eastern seaboard will be looking to how we irrigate, as well as which plants work well in droughts and in rain gardens.

“Whether we like it or not, the future holds limitations in the amount of water we use. Rainwater harvesting is a way we can be responsible stewards of our environment now. We have such a unique area on Long Island. Along the coast, we are less than 11 feet from ground water. Any way we can capture water from impervious parts of our landscapes — and prevent it from leaving our property — is going to reduce the number of pollutants and nutrients getting into our lakes, streams, oceans and potentially into the ground water.”

A special thanks to Professor Menchyk. As an additional note: While harvesting rainwater is not a new idea, rebates for installing such systems are still very new. Deck and Patio’s research shows that only the following states, either through state or local municipalities, offer incentives for rainwater harvesting at this time: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington. and Washington D.C.

 

Capturing Rainwater Runoff:

Capturing Rainwater Runoff:

The average homeowner uses about 3,000 gallons of water a week, 70% of which is for irrigation — or water that doesn’t need to be treated. For this project, four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff, which goes through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the reservoir for reuse in irrigation and to top off a backyard pond when needed.

 

 

Healthy Eco-Systems:

Healthy Eco-Systems:

Deck and Patio frequently uses rainwater harvesting as part of a complete, self-sustaining eco-system. This water feature includes a stream and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same Aquascape RainXchange water collection system. City water is not used. The feature attracts desirable wildlife such as frogs, butterflies, birds etc. creating a delightful wildlife refuge.

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Railroad Station:

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Railroad Station:

Here is a great example of government and business working hand-in-hand to beautify the landscape while capturing rainwater for irrigation. Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

 

 

Water Features:

Water Features:

All rainwater harvesting systems need some way to aerate the water. In this case, a beautiful water feature with waterfalls provides this service. The waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it — and the right water plants will absorb nutrients and pollutants  to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, under-ground liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The area is a magnet for local birds who come to bathe and drink.

 

 

US Green LEED Grants:

US Green LEED Grants:

These Brooklyn clients have a four-story walk-up and they wanted to collect all the water that comes off their roof. In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, they hoped to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.