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Outdoor Living Design: Let’s Rock This Place!

Rocks are a natural part of nature. And in landscaping, when boulders and stones are chosen well and positioned perfectly around your home’s landscape, a man-made waterfall or stream can appear as if it’s flowing from a natural stream carved out by Mother Nature herself.

Elsewhere on your property, a single, perfectly-sized, durable rock can become a pool’s diving board that feels like you’re jumping off a small cliff into a Caribbean lagoon. The right choice in patio pavers also add to an outdoor living elegant design.

 

 

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Set against lush plantings and a beautiful man-made waterfall, this diving rock and the sandy-hued paving stone patio feel like they’ve come about organically.

On a smaller scale, a group of flat, well-placed stepping stones (e.g. bluestone) can turn a functional lawn-protecting pathway into a peaceful stroll well worth the taking.

 

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

How’s this for a example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones in a landscaped area. For this project, the stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.

 

Moss Rocks

To create truly natural-looking water features, it is key to know how rocks affect water flow as it occurs in nature. We are happy to say that over the years, Deck and Patio has received a multitude of awards for doing just that — choosing the perfect rocks for water features, and then artfully installing them to great effect.

“Deck and Patio finds that moss rocks, or sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams (Long Island/NY):

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams (Long Island/NY):

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Upgrading Your Existing Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Upgrading Your Existing Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Where once stood an outdated waterfall, now stands a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water, and of course the perfect stones and boulders, including smaller and beautiful river rocks. 

 

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

“Just about any backyard space has room to ‘rock’ the space. Here is another nice example of where we designed and built a dramatic man-made waterfall that appears as if it had been created by Mother Nature herself.

 

Using Rocks for Outdoor Living Design (Long Island/NY):

Using Rocks for Outdoor Living Design (Long Island/NY):

Just look at how many ways rocks were used in this Deck and Patio project to create a beautiful backyard landscape…a natural looking retaining wall, attractive pool paver surround, natural looking waterfalls, campfires, stone steps up the grade. We are proud to say that it’s a Deck and Patio award-winning design that truly rocks!

 

Backyard Retreat: Start Planning for a Summer Spent Outdoors

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Upgrade

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Retreat

The owner of this rather stunning (if we do say so ourselves) Massapequa, NY, backyard retreat says he and his wife smile every time they hear someone say how “large” their yard is.

“Before Deck and Patio did this for us, our backyard looked so cramped, we never used it. In hot weather we just lived indoors.”

The design for this pool-spa combo, and for which Deck and Patio won an award,  includes a deck, vinyl-lined pool, which we  wrapped closely around the corner of the house and deck, an expansive two-level patio, custom spillover spa, two waterfalls, two stepping stone paths and lush plantings.

“When we work with tight yard spaces,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “we take care that areas for the chaise lounge, as well as dining and outdoor entertaining locations are large enough for furniture and the ability to walk around. It’s also key to not over-build or paver the whole space.”

Dave adds that manipulating area grades into multi-level patios are not only attractive and spatially functional, they can make smaller yards appear considerably larger.

The clients’ children love the spa and the homeowners appreciate how it extends the outdoor season. The spa’s water temperature is easily regulated. “It is always clean because water is continually filtered throughout the whole system,” adds Dave.

When work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked the clients, especially within such a cramped space. “I soon learned everything they did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. 

Because the property was flat, Deck and Patio’s 3-D renditions showed the clients how we would make the yard appear bigger — even indicating what the views would look like from various areas inside the house.

Note: True Blue Swimming Pools of Dix Hills, NY, worked with Deck and Patio to build the vinyl pool and spa for our clients. 

 

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Manipulating the grades by adding different levels (upper and lower patios, raised spa. etc.) is one of the things we do to create a larger sense of space. Such gradations are not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive.

 

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Designing a pool to wrap closely around the corner of the house allowed for a full-size pool as well as spa and waterfalls. Vinyl-lined pools make it easier to implement such a tight design.

 

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

A second stepping stone path leads away from the back step to the diving rock and the deep end of the pool. Stepping stones allow you to leave some softspace (green grass, plantings etc.) so there’s not too much  hardscapes (concrete, pavers, etc.).

 

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

A spillover custom spa and additional pool waterfalls look natural falling over moss rocks chosen to fit the spaces perfectly. Lush colorful plantings add to the beauty of the scene. 

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

This close up shot of one of this pool’s waterfalls shows the details of creating a natural-looking scene: carefully chosen moss rocks for the right “spills,” ground cover, shrubs, river rock, etc.

 

 

Beautiful Solutions for 3 Landscape Problem Areas

For many of us, when we look over our home’s property, it’s much like looking in a mirror — all we see are the flaws. That said, sometimes our yards really do have issues that keep us from enjoying the outdoors.

3 Problem Landscaping Issues

1— Noise from nearby traffic can be very annoying when trying to enjoy time outside.

2 —Privacy can be an issue when neighborhood properties flow together with no separation.

3 —Soil erosion along steep grades — often the most challenging —  can severely limit what we think can be done in our yard.

We thought we tackle some of the most difficult first.

Soil Erosion/Sloping Grades

Even when there is a steep grade, the addition (or rearrangement of) boulders, rocks and plantings can transform a problem area into a real advantage. 

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural stone path to water slide

Natural stone path to water slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the first photo (above left), in order to add a pool, a retaining wall of support was needed to hold back the grade. Instead of an unattractive wooden one, Deck and Patio suggested the addition of boulders etc. as the ideal spot for several waterfalls and a water slide nestled into the slope . This turned the area into a natural vista that enhances, instead of takes away, from the family’s enjoyment of their yard.

The photo (above right) shows how, in addition to adding water features, a natural stone path up to the top of the slide can also be as beautiful as helpful. Not only are the steps attractive and in keeping with the rest of the design, but they serve as additional support in retaining the grade.

In both projects, we also added different shaped stones as diving rocks and the overall landscaping plan utilized colorful plantings to aid in soil retention.

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell. “Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow underground and recirculates it.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

 

Blocking Out Traffic Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Deck and Patio loves constructing water features for their beauty and peaceful ambience but did you know they are also a way to eliminate traffic and other outdoor noises? 

This closeup of a backyard stream with waterfalls was added to the yard of Roslyn, NY, Deck and Patio clients. It is the main waterfall in a series of several that flow down moss rocks in a very natural-looking way.

These clients also did not want a pond, so we used the same Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the water underground in an reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

You might be thinking, will a waterfall really drown out traffic noise? The following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa that gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.

 

 

Backyard Privacy

Privacy for Backyard 'Spool'

Privacy for Backyard ‘Spool’

We all want to enjoy the outdoors with some feeling of privacy. That can be especially true when we have a pool or a spa. 

For these clients, where space was at a premium, the clients wanted a ‘spool’ (combined pool/spa), but the property had no natural barriers for privacy. 

“When making the landscaping design we planned for color from April through late-October,” says Dave. “And in order to ensure they’d have an attractive privacy screen, we added Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars along the periphery. For more texture and color and additional buffering dividers, the plan called for flowering deciduous shrubs.”

The clients not only got privacy but an extended outdoor season, adds Dave. “The waterfall runs warm water in the cooler months and along with a natural gas campfire, they can stay sitting outside whether in or out of their spool.”

 

Backyard Pavilions: Outdoor Living Par Excellence

Here, in Long Island, NY, we are passionate about outdoor living. And for many, there’s no better way to enjoy al fresco living than under the shade of a handsome pavilion or gazebo. 

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, these structures offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal. A large variety of designs permit individual architectural statements in any yard. 

Deck and Patio at work in Manhasset

Deck and Patio at work in Manhasset, NY

“The winter has been moderate so far this year,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “So Deck and Patio has been able to continue our outdoor living projects without stopping.

“One project we’re working on right now in a section of Manhasset — Flower Hill — is a dramatic 16’ x 28’ pavilion. When finished, it will boast roofing shingles to match those of their new custom home, interior AZEK finishes, stone bases for the pavilion’s columns, and a fireplace to name just some of its amenities.”

In addition, the clients won’t have to rely only on the fireplace for warmth. Because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.

The overall backyard project will also include a new gunite pool and sumptuous landscaping. 

Backstory

“At their former home, we had built a smaller pavilion as well as other outdoor amenities for these same clients,” Dave continues. “And when they decided to sell that home, the very first day it was on the market, potential buyers saw their yard and made an offer immediately, saying, “This is our home! Where we want to be forever.” 

Now our clients, having purchased a new home in Manhasset, are again upgrading their yard, this time on an even grander scale. As a plan for their new spectacular backyard resort emerged, our clients told Dave, “For sure, this will be the home we want to stay in forever.”

When this Manhasset outdoor living project including pavilion is complete, we’ll showcase it here in our blog. In the meantime, below is a small sampling of Deck and Patio pavilions/gazebos that we’ve built on Long Island — finished projects — that highlight the grandeur pavilions/gazebos offer any yard — par excellence.

 

Shingle-roof Pergola/Pavilion/Long Island, NY:

Shingle-roof Pergola/Pavilion/Long Island, NY:

This pergola/pavilion with fireplace project was installed at the edge of a patio that also boasts a hot tub. Note how the handsome lighted columns on stone pillars of the pavilion match those of the fireplace. The lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

 

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY:

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY:

Some clients’ taste for outdoor space includes a romantic statement such as this lovely gazebo and harmonizing deck. Bright plantings surround the area and a charming stepping stone path adds additional appeal. 

Notice how there’s little doubt that these inhabitants like to entertain. One can easily imagine this as the perfect spot at any time — but it’s especially well designed for inviting over friends and family.

 

Backyard Pavilion with Ceiling Fans (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Pavilion with Ceiling Fans (Long Island/NY):

This dramatic shingle-roof pavilion with interior lighting has two ceiling fans. The columns rest on stone pillars that match the stone on the yard’s new steps. (Note how the roof shingles match those of the clients’ home.)

 

 

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images, or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video: