Monthly Archives: May 2016

Water Features: Memorial Weekend Kicks Off Outdoor Entertaining Season

Deck and Patio’s design/build team is frequently asked what goes into creating a backyard that is ideal for entertaining, as well as outdoor fun.

Depending on what a budget permits and the size of the property, we usually recommend a water feature — be it a pool, pond, stream with waterfalls, or a simple portable hot tub — as a focal point of its surroundings.

“Any time a client wants a water feature in one of our projects, we know it will help make a home run,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “Water is the one of the essential elements of life, and people are naturally drawn to it — which is what you are looking for when entertaining. So after determining all the needs of the client, we ask ourselves — how can water be part of it all.”

 

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Pools  

Pools, of course, are the most popular water feature. According to Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, what makes one pool appear awesome over another is usually its surroundings. “Choosing the right harmonizing elements is what makes something breathtaking. It’s how you blend water with its hardscape and landscaped environment.”

Pools vary in shape and complexity and homeowners can also choose between a vinyl pool and gunite, freeform and geometric. When budgets and property sizes are tight, rather than a full-sized regular pool, a smaller “spool” can function as both a small pool and spa.

SHINThe placement of swimming pools and patios is very important. “If you don’t use a landscape designer, you may find that some pool builders simply plop the pool where it’s most convenient for them,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “We tend to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” That was the case for this award-winning pool (left), where we worked with True Blue Swimming Pools. The yard was small but they still got their pool — and enough lawn left for the kids to enjoy.

Surrounding Patio Areas   

Patio designed to harmonize with home architecture

“When it comes to ‘hardscape,’ we try to create truly functional spaces,” says Renter. “We often see a surrounding patio that is 10’ or 12’ feet wide all around the pool. Instead, we specialize in creating functional spaces of different sizes and shapes. We’ll ask if they have patio furniture and we measure it to ensure that there is ample room for that particular grouping, while allowing for easy circulation.”

Deck and Patio also looks to see how the sun comes across the yard. “The chaise lounging area should face the water feature and the afternoon sun. You and your guests wouldn’t want to sit by your pool and have the sun to your back.”

Dining Areas and Outdoor Kitchens  

We generally locate outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless it’s a destination pool. In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning. “But usually it’s key to be near to the home’s kitchen,” says Renter.

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Extra Tip: One trend we’re seeing in outdoor kitchens are warming/cooling drawers made by companies like Ronda. These insulated drawers are sealed and work without electricity so your drinks stay cool or your food stays warm depending on what you put in its lower drawer.

“They have a magnetic seal, which along with being waterproof will also keep away bugs and dust. Indeed, you can choose a single drawer just for keeping dishes and cutlery completely clean,” says Renter.

 

 

Outdoor Bars and Dining Areas

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. You can even add waterfalls. Shown here (above right) are sheet waterfalls, which offer a sleek modern look as well as a very pleasant sound. This helps people de-stress while inviting easy conversation.

 

 

 

Wild-Ride-slide

Wild-Ride-slide

Fun for Kids and Adults 

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. “When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” says Renter.

 

 

 

Tanning-Shelf

Tanning-Shelf

 

 

Other kid favorites: swim outs, deep end stairs and tanning shelves. We’ve found kids love to dive, swim out and dive or slide into the pool again, over and over. A tanning shelf or deep end stairs allow adults and other kids to watch them playing on the slide, etc. These are great places for young and old alike to gather.

 

Backyard Ponds

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Deck and Patio specializes in building ponds so clear and pristine you can swim in  them (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to; it’s also the perfect outdoor attraction for entertaining.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

 

The simplest pond to have is pondless. It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (left) than a pond basin each season and it is a safer environment when children are very young.

 

 

Hot Tubs Make Great Water Features

 

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

 

Keeping it Simple

 

 FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

Sometimes all you need is need is a fire pit and some comfortable furniture on a handsome deck. It would be easy to add a simple water fountain on such a deck so as to not miss out on its tranquil sounds. The deck shown here is Fiberon. Photo: Courtesy of Fiberon Decking.

 

 

 

 

Turning a Sloped Property Into a Water-side Walking Trail

While many of us love nature walks, we don’t all have easy access to hillside trails. Well, imagine being able to enjoy a nature trek any day you feel like it. It’s possible, if you’re fortunate enough to have an unused area of sloping yard.

That was the case for this award-winning project showcase. Their property had an unused slope near their patio. This allowed Deck and Patio to design/build a 35-foot-stream, with two stepping stone paths on either side, that gently moves along the grade solely with the help of Mother Nature’s gravity. We also positioned natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones along its banks to make a perfect area for strolling, bird-watching, etc.

At the end of the stream, the water falls over moss rock into a 10-foot-by-15-foot fish pond. Here, the adjacent landscape is graced with tall grasses (e.g., Miscanthus) and evergreens such as Juniper Parsoni, which provide a lush backdrop to it all.

“The whole area attracts so much wildlife — like frogs and birds,” says the homeowner. “This is really one of our favorite things about having a stream and pond.”

The homeowners say they also enjoy the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity they feel watching the fish swimming in the pond. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

This project earned The Deck and Patio Company a Silver Award from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY):

This beautiful watery trail meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard. Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward. During winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.

 

Landscaping Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Landscaping Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio added such lovely bursts of color as Purple Cone flowers,  Coreopsis and Spirea Anthony Waterers. In addition, tall grasses, deep green ground cover, along with the peaceful sounds of moving water, totally captivate the senses. All this can be viewed from the pool area, back patio, as well as the house.

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

It takes expertise and experience to position rocks in such a way as to coax water into waterfalls just like it happens in nature. Members of Deck and Patio’s team enjoy the woods and hillsides of upstate New York — frequently stopping and studying how water flows over rock, how plants crop up alongside of such water trails, etc.

 

Backyard Upgrades (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Upgrades (Long Island/NY):

Our design plan called for an extended patio with bluestone stepping stones leading to the stream, natural stones to walk across it, and more bluestone on the other side up to the pool area.

 

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

This stunning free-form pond is a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family. Everyone enjoys feeding and watching the vibrant koi as they swim about in it. “We even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the wife. “And we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

 

 

 

 

Pool Upgrades: Trends, Tips, and Money-Saving Ideas

Deck and Patio loves doing exciting full-size projects, but many times clients simply want an upgrade to their existing yard. That’s understandable, because when it comes to the outdoors, the best way to add value to your home is to renovate what’s already there: a pool, patio, deck or barbecue area — and frequently, save money in the doing!

 

Upgrading In-ground pools

— pumps

Whether your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money. Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to 1/6th of what they currently are,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. They will cost about $1,000-$1,500, but pay back time will be three years or less.

 

change the coping, tile and color of your pool

“For gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes, and even all-tile pools. This can be done even if the old color isn’t worn. A change in tone or color can enliven a pool area or make an old pool look new.

 

 

Pebble Liner

Pebble Liner

Changing your vinyl pool’s liner can make a dramatic difference. “The choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool,” says Renter. “There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool. Naturally, changing the coping at the same time will complete the change.”

 

 

Pool Surrounds

Renovating around a pool is sometimes easier than upgrading the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio. Other ideas for renovating around a pool might be upgrading to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Patio sizes can be reduced and adding stepping stones can be cost effective way of creating a pathway around your pool. Boulders set in the landscape and used for retaining steps are yet another way to reduce the cost of retaining walls and adding beauty.

 

Pool Add-ons

Other pool area renovations have become popular recently because the total cost of the job is significantly reduced due to the existence of a pool: insulating walls, adding stairs, benches, swimouts, water features, slides, campfires, and spillover spas. Another popular upgrade is adding a waterfall. Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

 

 

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Some additions are more involved than others such as adding a tanning shelf. These shelves are a cool way to stay cool when you want to lay out in the sun, says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “The shelves are set in several inches of water and are wide enough for parents to sun bathe while young children play beside them.”

 

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

One way to upgrade around a pool is with a new patio or pool surround, seen here with new Techo-Bloc’s Inca interlocking pavers. Inspired by South American “beauty and mystery” these pavers go well in any style — from Mediterranean to contemporary.

 

Pool Ad-ons:

Pool Ad-ons:

Changing the vinyl liner to your pool is one way to make a dramatic change, as shown in this photo. “In addition natural gas campfires create romantic outdoor mood with the addition of one of these,” says Stockwell. “Adding a slide and/or multiple waterfalls to an existing pool is fun way to make an upgrade.”

 

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool (seen here beside an infinity pool). Add colorful and lush plantings and you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Pools With Spas:

Pools With Spas:

Didn’t include a spa when you had your pool built? These clients simply added a portable Bullfrog Spa, which we nestled into the slope — close to the existing pool. We also added a new stream/waterfall. When the clients are sitting in the new hot tub, it is so close to the stream, they can almost reach out and touch it.

 

 

 

 

 

Steep Terrain: Creating a Backyard Escape that “Wows!”

The owner of True Blue Swimming Pools, Michael Truehart, was contracted to do the pool for this project. Much of the small backyard was sloping terrain, and the clients expected, as part of a new “natural-looking oasis that wows,’ that True Blue would build the pool on their only available flat piece of land.

“But Michael felt it was a pity to use up the flat piece of lawn where their children loved to play,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “He suggested, instead, that the seemingly unusable elevated terrain be sculpted into the backyard retreat they wanted.”

This project would require a lot of creative landscaping, and Truehart recommended Deck and Patio be brought in help with the project.

“Manipulating grades — that is working within different levels— is one of the things we do very well,” says Bill Renter, who took the lead for Deck and Patio. “Such gradations can be not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive. We are also expert at creating natural retaining walls, which was key for this project.”

Bill adds that when he works within tight spaces, he makes sure the chaise lounge, dining and patio areas are all large enough for furniture, and have room enough to walk around. He also tries not to over-build or paver the whole space.

However, it wasn’t just elevation changes that presented problems.

“In order to fit a full-sized 24’ x 40’ pool, we also had to deal with stringent Town setback codes,” says Michael Truehart. “One way we addressed these problems was designing the pool on one side with an exposed wall. Boulder coping on the opposite side was expanded by Deck and Patio into a beautiful waterfall feature that also does double-duty as a natural retaining wall.”

The finished vinyl-lined pool has a concrete wall; extra rebar was added to the exposed pool wall for strength, and the concrete footing was sunk well below the frost line to prevent heaving and shifting. In addition to the waterfall area, throughout the retreat, smaller groups of boulders fitted with plantings act as natural and attractive retaining areas.

“Along with the finish work on the pool, including the Cambridge ledgestone veneer on the exposed wall, we also designed/built the Cambridge XL paver patio,” says Renter. “Our work, combined with True Blue’s beautiful pool, gave the clients what they wanted: a full oasis that “wows” — with a little unexpected space left over for their children to play.”

 

Note: This project won an international Gold medal from APSP (Association of Pools and Spas Professionals) Bronze medal from LIPSA (Long Island Pool and Spa Association)

 

Backyard Oasis:

Backyard Oasis:

This project’s pool and pool-side amenities include a Wild Ride slide, granite swim-up bar with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stools, diving rock, Tiki (Hula) patio umbrellas, outdoor shower, and lush plantings.

 

Lagoon-style Swimming Pools:

Lagoon-style Swimming Pools:

Along with designing a freeform shape, True Blue Swimming Pools chose a Loop-Loc “Sea Blue” vinyl liner to give the pool an enticing South Seas’ lagoon appeal. Fullnose coping also offers a harmonizing curved form.

 

Pool With Exposed Wall:

Pool With Exposed Wall:

“One way we addressed the problems in using sloping terrain was designing the pool on one side with an exposed wall, which Deck and Patio veneered in Cambridge ledgestone,” says Michael Truehart of True Blue Pools.

 

Elevated Backyard Terrain:

Elevated Backyard Terrain:

The pool’s vertical Cambridge ledgestone veneer adds drama to the lower patio area. Natural boulder steps (left) lead up to the pool surround’s main lounging area. Restful waterfalls running over moss rock (on the Wild Ride slide part of the pool) are not just beautiful to look at, they do double-duty as a retaining wall.

 

Pool Amenities:

Pool Amenities:

An impressive granite swim-up bar — with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stools shaded by Tiki (Hula) patio umbrella — contribute to the “wow factor” the clients were looking for.