Monthly Archives: July 2016

//July

Nature Lovers Find Backyard Escapes An Elixir

Don’t you love all the beautiful landscaping photos available on social media? Certainly, Deck and Patio’s team does. We even post a lot of our own. But while it’s an incredible uplift to catch glimpses of serene images of nature during the workday, photos, alas, can’t substitute for the real thing.

 

Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

 

Nature as Elixir

Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Without question, early Native Americans did just that. Chief Ahanton, of one of New Hampshire’s Eastern Woodlands tribes, for example, named the state’s majestic great Lake: Winnipesaukee, — or the smile of the Great Spirit.

And it’s no different today. Pure flowing water — and all that it nourishes — is still considered by many to be sacred. Such scenes touch something deep within, causing us to pause, rest our minds, and rejuvenate.

 

 

INSERT 2Travel Not Required

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats like Lake Winnipesaukee, the Adirondacks, or the White Mountains, etc., how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our local communities.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? This is because local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be transformed into glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

 

 

Backyard Escape:

Backyard Escape: For this project, Deck and Patio carefully selected boulders and stones, along with bright plantings, to help create a beautiful vista. And as Chief Ahanton would no doubt agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining to a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. For this project we built multi-level patios and carefully delineated how each space was to be used. One area was set up for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also mapped out.

 

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds, to swim upstream into the upper pond. (*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a beautiful wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

Pergolas: When Throwing a Little Shade is a Good Thing

Perhaps it’s our cold winters. Or our great shorelines, rivers and lakes. Whatever the reason, in the northeast we love summer sun. We revel in sunny water sports, sunbathing, barbecues, etc. Yet, while enjoying the outdoors, there are times when we look for an escape from the sun and are grateful for something that will throw us a little shade.

A shade umbrella can often fit the bill. But unless you have a bank of them, or are seated together at a dining table, they are really only good for one person and they don’t offer the architectural beauty of a built structure. Cabanas and pavilions offer substantial and roomy breaks from the sun, but these may require permits and considerable planning to design/build.

It’s not surprising, then, that many find the simplest solution for some shade is the elegant pergola. “Pergolas are considered decorative or ornamental, so they rarely require permits,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And their construction is fairly straightforward, especially when using a prefabricated kit.

“While we do build a lot of pavilions and cabanas, etc., just as frequently, clients opt for the less complicated pergola. Occasionally, those that already have a cabana or pavilion want a little extra shade thrown in another outdoor area.”

unspecifiedDeck and Patio has found that clients also love the pergola’s open design. “Whether it’s made of vinyl, cedar, or fiberglass, etc., the structure allows for refreshing cross currents of air, yet is elegant enough to frame a picture-perfect outdoor sitting/gathering area,” adds Stockwell. “Plus, because of their simple design, you can expand them to fit pretty much any size space.”

What Exactly Defines a Pergola?

A pergola is constructed with open rafters at the top and is supported by posts. It’s usually of simple, durable construction and is free standing.

# 5“We find the two most popular pergola materials are vinyl and cedar,” says Stockwell. “Vinyl is usually white or cream in tone. Both are resistant to weather, rot and insects, although vinyl is completely immune to such deterioration.”

In the end, some clients prefer the handsome look of wood, and find they don’t mind periodic refinishing, which is necessary with natural wood structures (even cedar will require occasional staining and a sealant, otherwise its color will change over time). While others want a maintenance-free structure and choose vinyl.”

According to Stockwell, when deciding where you will place the pergola, consider where you will want shade most often — e.g., over a new outdoor bar, seating area, or barbecue. Then, so as to capture the right amount of shade from the pergola’s rafters, take note how the sun passes over your yard before deciding where to position it all, and at what angle, etc.

 

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

In addition to defining space elegantly, a pergola provides lots of shade if it is positioned well. Here, it crowns a handsome bar with stone facade with openings for two sheer descent waterfalls.

 

Pillared Pergola:

Pillared Pergola:

This pergola was built long and wide to shade a comfortable outdoor sitting area that includes a fire pit. It was positioned adjacent to a dining area shaded by a large umbrella. At the right time of day, the shade cast by the pergola’s rafters looks almost like a carpet — perfect for an outdoor sitting area.

 

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

This dramatic outdoor bar area is also a swim-up bar with in-pool bar stools. Its U shape turns into a patio-bar nestled underneath a handsome pergola. With striking white columns the pergola offers architectural drama as well as sufficient shade amid the day’s bright sunshine.

 

Pergola with Vines:

Pergola with Vines:

While creating a patio using permeable Techo-Bloc pavers that capture rainwater for the yard’s water features and landscape irrigation, the clients also wanted a large pergola. In doing all this, we were careful to protect their property’s 30-year-old-grape vine. The finished patio’s peaceful scene gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

The expansive pergola adorned with trailing plantings and vines offers lots of shade for outdoor dining. The new seat wall makes it easy for crowd-entertaining, providing extra sitting room within the pergola’s shade.

 

 

 

Future Trends: Sustainable Water Features May Soon Capture Sunlight As Well As Rainwater

Sustainable Water Features

Sustainable Water Features

Deck and Patio has long specialized in creating serene water features in an eco-friendly way. Such features not only add beauty and enhance a property’s landscaping, but when rainwater harvesting systems are also part of the design, homeowners’ water bills are greatly reduced. Also, because water doesn’t leave the property, fewer pollutants get into area waterways.

Deck and Patio is expert at capturing rainwater from both roofs and permeable paver patios and walkways. “However, we are always on the lookout for better ways to do things,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio. “This means staying on top of the latest technologies and trends in all aspects of water feature technology.”

Infinity Pond

Infinity Pond

One cutting edge sustainable water feature we created (left) is a beautiful multi-faceted ‘infinity’ pond our team built on Long Island.  “It is one of the first infinity ponds done in North America,” adds Renter. “The project included a stream, waterfalls, a second lower pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.”

To create healthy as well as beautiful water feature systems, Deck and Patio uses natural stones and biological filtration systems, including special plants. Yet, there is one eco-friendly solution that has eluded Renter and Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell.

“For water features and any stored rainwater to remain healthy, the water must be aerated and moved,” says Stockwell. “This has meant adding pumps, and pumps require the use of electricity — almost always from non-renewable sources. This has been true for swimming pools as well as ponds, waterfalls, etc.”

That, however, may be about to change.

 

Solar Roadways' Solar Pavers

Solar Roadways’ Solar Pavers

One entrepreneurial American couple, Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of the company Solar Roadways, with a view to creating national energy independence, are already testing modular hexagonal solar pavers that can be walked and even driven upon. One of their two test projects is sponsored by the state of Missouri’s highway department and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We were thrilled to learn recently that Solar Roadways’ paver technology is being developed — and in some places is already being tested,” adds Renter. “These new pavers trap sunlight much the way solar panels do on roofs with special circuitry to produce electricity.”

Of course, these solar pavers are made with significantly more durable materials than roof solar panels in order to allow for heavy traffic. This means that Deck and Patio will be able to install self-sustained water features without the need for electricity as well as municipal water.

“In addition, these revolutionary solar pavers will offer heating options that melt snow and ice, making them a great addition to home driveways and public highways in winter,” says Dave Stockwell. “The pavers also include LED lights for lighting the areas.”

 

Testing Solar Pavers in the Netherlands

Testing Solar Pavers in the Netherlands

The promise of these pavers to generate a good amount of electricity seems genuine. Indeed, testing of similar solar pavers by a European manufacturer is being done to great success right now in a village northwest of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

“We hope to experiment with these new pavers right here in Huntington Station in the not too distant future,” adds Bill Renter.

 

 

Artist's Rendition of Solar Highway

Artist’s Rendition of Solar Highway:

According to Laurel A. McKean, Missouri Department of Transportation, the U.S. company, Solar Roadways, has developed two different glass panels to be tested. One is for highway/roadway installations and one specifically for pedestrian use. The latter has an additive that provides better traction. It’s been briefly tested for bare feet and if other tests confirm this, it could be used in a variety of ways on a home property.

 

Sustainable Water Feature at Huntington Train Station

Sustainable Water Feature at Huntington Train Station:

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), Deck and Patio added a serene water feature and a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot. Permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc were put over gravel and a rubber liner which filter the rainwater runoff before it reaches the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream.

“There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Bill Renter. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay. At present, the system is aerated through the use of electrical pumps. We are hoping when the testing is complete for solar pavers in the United States that we can add these pavers to projects like this one and make them 100 percent eco-friendly.”