Backyard Escapes

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Caring for Ponds/Pond Fish in Fall

 

Peak fall foliage is upon us here on Long Island. And while it’s a glorious sight, for those with ponds, it’s also a reminder to do a little maintenance.

Netting Ponds in Fall.

Netting Ponds in Fall.

Our blog a few weeks ago suggested netting your pond before the leaves fall. It’s worth doing in the next few days if you haven’t done it yet.

Once all the leaves have fallen and been captured by the net, you can simply pull it out and once again enjoy your pond unobstructed.

Note: If netting isn’t your thing, a long-handle pond net allows you to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris. It’s a bit more work, but effective. Also, since ponds tend to lose significant water by evaporation during the summer, clearing out debris keeps the pond from getting too shallow and requiring extra water to keep it topped off and healthy. 

 

Aquatic Plants Maintenance

Deck and Patio Ponds

Deck and Patio Ponds

“It’s a good idea to trim back and remove any dead foliage from aquatic plants this time of year,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “This helps remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature. Such decaying material can cause excess gasses and undesirable algae.”

Pond lilies, for example, which are idyllic water plants, tend to need a little maintenance in fall. It’s a good idea to cut them back to just about the base of the plant; also trim back any marginal plants that might eventually droop over into the water.

 

Chemical Pond Treatments

Leaves In Backyard Stream 

Leaves In Backyard Stream

 

Some debris will make it into your pond no matter how careful you are.

Dave Kelly of Aquasacpe Inc. recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F).

Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

 

 

Caring for Pond Fish 

You can — and should — plump up your koi darlings to survive winter hibernation. As temperatures start to drop, gradually increase how much you feed them. When your pond’s water gets below 59 degrees, we recommend using fish food made for cold water. 

Note: As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.   Once water temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.

 

Pond Fish in Fall:

Pond Fish in Fall:

There is nothing cuter than your koi coming to you for more food. However, once the water gets to 50 degrees, experts say stop feeding them entirely.

 

Healthy Ponds:

Healthy Ponds:

Once Spring arrives, and your pond and fish are healthy and thriving, you’ll be glad you took such good care of your pond in the Fall.

There! That’s not so bad, is it. Just remember: a little fall maintenance makes all the difference.

 

The Advantages of Design-Build Construction Projects

Fall is a terrific time to do outdoor upgrades like a new deck or patio. Simple, ground-level expansions can be done by anyone. But if your property’s terrain is challenging, or your outdoor living dreams call for more artistically designed spaces, the advantages of choosing a “design-build” firm is worth consideration.

What Is Design-Build Construction?

Design-build contractors provide the architectural design for a project as well as its construction. This is also true for “outdoor living” contractors like Deck and Patio. 

“Choosing one firm to do the design as well as the construction doesn’t mean the project’s costs will be more expensive than hiring two groups of experts,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Nor will clients lose all control either.”

On the contrary, adds Dave. Clients find they develop a closer relationship with their design-build project manager, who knows all that’s going on and can easily accommodate their changing needs/ideas as the project develops. 

As you’ll see from the examples of some of our work that we’ve included today, when it comes to outdoor living projects, having a singular vision — which might include plantings, waterscapes, and hardscape — results in beautifully harmonious backyard escapes.

Pool Landscaping

Pool Landscaping by Deck and Patio

Pool Landscaping by Deck and Patio

For this handsome free-form pool, Deck and Patio designed a surrounding patio using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with AmorTec.

“The kit allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern, with gradations of tones,” says Dave. 

“Also, our several in-depth consultations with the clients helped us know their needs and tastes, resulting in its multi-level patio design, with designated spaces for all their priorities — dining, lounging, etc.”

Plus, adding a water feature on one side of the pool, along with a pool slide, not only was alluring, adds Dave, but the moss rock boulder placements and landscaping were conceived to do double-duty as a natural-looking retaining area for the pool.

Backyard Water Features

Backyard Water Feature by Deck and Patio

Backyard Water Feature by Deck and Patio

 

Designing and building a backyard water feature takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself.

This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that cause the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or even a pondless-water feature like the one shown here.

 

 

 

Designing/Building for Privacy

Backyard 'Spool' and Patio by Deck and Patio

Backyard ‘Spool’ and Patio by Deck and Patio

Sometimes privacy is an issue when designing for comfortable outdoor living. This property, for example, was open on three sides and in full view of four homes. 

“The clients wanted a ‘spool’ — or a cross between a small pool and a spa — but the best spot for it was in a very exposed area,” says Dave.

Deck and Patio’s landscaping design team used Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars to create an attractive natural privacy screen around the spool. In addition, texture and color were brought in to the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

“We also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers to cascade and wind over and between the rocks we used,” says Dave. “Plus a careful selection of plants provided the area with color from April through October. The whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

 

Design/Build Decks

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

For this project, privacy was not an issue for the clients. In fact, they wanted it as open as possible to take in the property’s wonderful views.

“We designed a 2-level TimberTech XLM PVC deck for them, with one level just for the outdoor dining table, and the other places for deep seating outdoor furniture like chaise lounges and the barbecue,” says Dave.

”We also recommended the black railing for a strong contrasting tone to the decking materials. The design also included 45-degree angles in order to orient the outdoor furniture toward the views.”

So, as you plan for any fall or spring backyard upgrades, an outdoor living design-build firm may be just be the way to go.

 

Fall Is a Great Time to Build a Deck

The leaves are only just changing, but there’s been a real nip in the air in the Northeast lately — telling us fall has definitely arrived. And you know what? Autumn is one of the best seasons for deck building.

“There’s a misconception about adding new decks late October and into November,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “And while the weather does get chilly here, the cooler weather is great for such a project. For one thing, a deck built in fall will be ready and waiting for you come spring.”

Also, November frequently offers several good opportunities for enjoying the outdoors, adds Dave. With the addition of a fire pit, it’s possible to hold several backyard get-togethers before winter completely overtakes the outdoor season.

“Most importantly, with the availability of so many high-quality capped composite and PVC deck materials such as Trex Decking, TimberTech, Fiberon, etc., you don’t have to worry how winter will affect the deck. It’s only when using natural wood that you might feel it is best to wait until spring.”

Also, depending on the complexity of the design, its location, and especially how high off the ground it will be, a deck may not require a permit.

“So it’s possible that a deck, which easily expands a home’s entertaining area, can be built within one to three weeks,” says Dave. “Indeed, we build quite a few decks and patios this time of year. And because it’s not peak season, it’s easier for new clients to get us working for them quickly.”

Leaf Tannins Stain Decks

Leaf Tannins Stain Decks

Speaking of foliage. Natural wood is susceptible to stains from leaf tannin and pine needles etc. If you’re choosing a capped composite deck, such as Trex Decking, you don’t need to worry about staining as much as with natural wood. 

However, the experts at Trex, for example, encourage the removal of dirt and debris using a hose or broom to avoid stains. To remove any that have accumulated, once the deck is dry, apply a “brightener” as directed by the manufacturer. Brighteners contain “oxalic acid”, which will remove tannins.

 

Note: The feature photo today at the top of our blog is courtesy of Trex Company. 

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking (Long Island/NY):

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking (Long Island/NY):

Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck anytime of year, including wonderful colorful options even in November.

 

TimberTech Deck and Railing (Long Island/NY):

TimberTech Deck and Railing (Long Island/NY):

The black “Radiance Rail” used for this deck railing offered a variety of sophisticated posts and balusters and rail caps to choose from; for more nighttime safety, the rail caps were fitted with TimberTech’s recessed DeckLite deck lighting — which is especially appreciated in late fall when it gets dark so early.  

 

Trex Decking and Custom Bench (Long Island/NY):

Trex Decking and Custom Bench (Long Island/NY):

These clients wanted to keep a beloved tree and enjoy its natural shade in summer, so Deck and Patio designed/built a Trex seating bench around it in the middle of the new large Trex deck. The bench offers a great spot for enjoying the property’s waterside views anytime of year.

 

Trex Deck with Fire Table (Long Island/NY):

Trex Deck with Fire Table (Long Island/NY):

This lovely Deck and Patio composite Trex deck and railing with custom seating area can be enjoyed in the cooler months just by adding a fire table.

 

 

 

How Do I Create a Private Outdoor Space?

As youngsters, we had our bedroom where could hide away from too much family togetherness. And you know, we still need a little space we can call our own— or, at least, use on our own. And having such a space outdoors is perhaps the best escape of all.

That’s true even if we already have a fabulous backyard. For if it wasn’t designed with a view for private time, it can be hard to find quiet: e.g., around an active barbecue, busy outdoor dining table, and especially near a pool.

First, Assess What You Have

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, perhaps — it’s not all that hard to create such a spot.

Remember that when it calls for it, your getaway can serve double-duty as a gathering place and a spot for solitude. And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed location.

Now for some tips and examples:

Tip # 1

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. These amenities will not only serve your new personal retreat, they can also be shared. A waterfall, or pretty flower bed, by definition can’t help but be enjoyed from a variety of locations in the yard.

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this Deck and Patio waterfall focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends. The pre-existing patio foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown)

 

Tip # 2 

Create a foundation for a getaway. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

Small Patio For Reading or Writing: 

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the water feature. It’s a great spot to read, while sitting next to a trickling stream and the sounds of waterfalls. Note: The Techo-Bloc patio pavers were engineered in Canada, and they can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.

 

Tip # 3 

Consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

Your Own Private Space:

Your Own Private Space:

If you are planning a whole new patio, this is a great opportunity to plan ahead for that private space. Choosing a multi-level patio design like this Deck and Patio project makes delineating a private get-away space easy. Here, there’s a charming water feature flowing over moss rock covered in lush green ground cover; tall trees create privacy in the background; it’s snug and well away from other patio areas designed for sunning or sitting near the pool.

 

Tip # 4 

Think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

This is a pleasant example of a space that is great for guests and family as well as for quiet private time. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room to add an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the look of their pool’s waterfalls. It’s perfect in the evenings, too. 

 

 

Benefits of Water Gardens: Raising Independent, Confident Kids

There is much debate today whether ‘helicopter’ parenting, i.e., hovering closely around children as they grow up, is better than the more old-fashioned ‘free range’ way,  or more limited parental supervision.

The goal of both sides, of course, is raising confident, independent and safe kids. 

But it was the free-range side of this discussion that caught our eye this week. A recent NPR article focused on how some parents believe that to raise confident and independent children, they need to “let grow.”

The ‘let grow’ is a terrific play on words — especially since what’s behind it emphases the advantages children experience by exploring, on their own, a beautiful outdoor natural environment. 

This does not surprise us at Deck and Patio. We’ve been hearing for many years how much the children of our clients gain by being able to explore Nature close up in a backyard water feature like a pond.

“Not everyone lives near a large park with streams, or a pond, abundant with flora and fauna,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And not every parent is comfortable with letting children stray too far away from home in order to experience this.”

But on answer is certainly adding a wildlife refuge (small wildlife that is) in one’s own property.

As this wonderful video (below) from Aquascape Inc.’s Facebook page shows, when done well, these features can attract lots of interesting and friendly creatures that children love:  birds, frogs, salamanders, butterflies.

Not to mention by adding koi and lovely aquatic plants, depending on their age, children can be entertained as well as educated — on their own — for hours at a time.

 

 

Now while there are a few things to consider, like an ideal pond depth for the age of the children, with a little care, koi ponds bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, many adults can’t resist a swim.

So whether you believe in being a ‘helicopter’ parent, or come down on the side of ‘free range,’ with a backyard koi pond, kids can explore without being far from a watchful eye. They’ll learn independence choosing what to study on any given day: a croaking frog, a bird bathing in the cool water, or jeweled koi eager to be fed.

 

Pond Lessons for Kids

Pond Lessons for Kids

In return for your providing the clean pond water, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides.

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Natural Playscape with Pond:

Natural Playscape with Pond (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio designed/built this city oasis with a temporary 8” shallow pond for younger children, which can be easily turned into a full-size koi pond when the children get older.

Stepping stones lead from the playhouse across the pond to a patio at the back of the house — where parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends can sit and watch the children play and explore (ahem). 

 

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY): Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in their pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Even when the weather is chilly, kids enjoy studying what’s happening in a pond. And when winter comes, and the koi hibernate, they might be able to skate on it. This is one time, no one argues that helicopter parenting isn’t a good thing. Parents will definitely be the ones checking to know if the pond is truly frozen.

 

 

 

 

Conserving Rainwater: One Raindrop at a Time

Despite the inconvenience of rain being forecast over Labor Day weekend, while we’re home enjoying some time off, the rain does offer a teachable moment.

Rainfall is important, isn’t it. Just about all Long Island’s water comes from local aquifers, replenished by rain and snow. As we can see in California, where they are long suffering from droughts, it’s frightening that their aquifers are depleting.

In speaking a while back with Nick Menchyk, assistant Professor (Urban Horticulture & Design) at SUNY Farmingdale, he reminded us:

“On the east coast, while we typically get plenty of rain, 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.”

Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell adds that this is even more important as sea levels rise and the concern that salt water will encroach on our landscapes.

Professor Menchyk says that while he does not consider himself an expert in rainwater harvesting and rain gardens, he told us he is convinced that it’s only a matter of time when the greater eastern seaboard will be looking to how we irrigate.

“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.”

 

Outdoor Water Use

Outdoor Water Use

 

Outdoor Water Use

The “average” homeowner, according to statistics, uses approximately 3,000 gallons of water weekly with about 70% used outdoors.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio’s Rainwater Harvesting Division

Deck and Patio’s Rainwater Harvesting Division

 

As landscapers, maintaining water quality is one of our passions at Deck and Patio.

We have a special division — Rainwater Harvesting Group — dedicated to installing rainwater collection systems that alleviate demand on municipal systems, reduce water bills — all while beautifying and enhancing landscapes and properties.

 

 

 

Capturing Rainwater

Self-Sustaining Eco-Systems

Self-Sustaining Eco-Systems

Deck and Patio specializes in installing systems that capture, filter, and recirculate rainwater, in sufficient amounts that also supply and keep topped off peaceful water features.

This project, for example, includes a stream and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting water collection system. City water is not used. The feature attracts desirable wildlife such as frogs, butterflies, birds etc. creating a delightful wildlife refuge.

The captured rainwater works together with the carefully chosen plants, fish, rocks and gravel, to maintain a balanced system for long-term sustainability.

 

 

Permeable Pavers Will Capture Rainwater

Permeable Pavers Capture Rainwater

Sometimes, as shown here, we also use permeable pavers to ensure we capture sufficient rainwater to maintain the landscape — as well as allow clients to wash their cars and/or hose down their decks and patios. 

And when you consider that local Long island water companies frequently charge an incremental rate, based on the amount of water used, capturing all the non-ingestive water you need from rainfall, the lower your rate will be.

 

Capturing Roof Runoff

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff

For this project, four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff.

It then falls through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the Aquascape reservoir.

There it is recycled for reuse in irrigation and to top off a backyard pond when needed.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ Rainwater Harvesting process for this feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Ponds and pond-less water features can be more than picturesque. They provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.

 

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.

With the system we installed, they collect enough rainwater to take care of their landscape and vegetable garden. More on this Brooklyn, NY, project in future blogs.

Even City Life Can Boast a Backyard Refuge

Whether it’s the long Labor Day holiday weekend created for workers, or simply the few scattered hours you squeeze out of a relentless workweek, it’s nice to enjoy some free time in blissful leisure at home.

Location, Location, Location

However, what if your property isn’t located in a pastoral area that allows for inviting quiet time? What if your locality is all hustle-bustle? Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise — in the very heart of Queens, a teaming borough of New York City.

In this atmosphere, even adding a pool and patio wouldn’t provide the escape the homeowners desired. To create for them a real backyard oasis, we had to block out the noise and oppressive atmosphere.

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions

One of the best ways to screen out noise is a sizable waterfall and the clients opted for one to provide splashing sounds into their new pool. In addition, our clients asked us to build a 12-foot-high concrete block wall. While useful as a noise and environs barrier, a wall can be a bit oppressive in itself.

So the next challenge was to soften the wall’s appearance. First, we planted bamboo around its perimeter. Bamboo can be invasive so we encased the woody grass with concrete blocks to limit its spreading.

Special Feature

One thing great about interior and exterior walls is they make an ideal canvas. Taking full advantage of the wall, Deck and Patio designed and supervised the layout of a “living wall” that can hold multiple-sized pots for plants. When completed, the living wall became living art — changing in color and shape almost daily. (For details on living wall – see photos 5, 6, below.)

 The result: the clients may live in a busy part of New York City, but their Labor Days — and every spare moment they can muster— will be spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Water cascading over rock into another water pool is a natural sound barrier that is peaceful and soothing to the soul. 

 

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

The sounds of the waterfalls, the colorful landscaping and the dramatic concrete block wall together give a sense of refuge in this bustling part of one of America’s five largest cities.

 

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

The free-form vinyl-liner pool includes boulder coping, and a moss rock waterfall with robust plantings that help beautify the wall. 

 

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

The pool’s surrounding patio is made from Techo-Bloc pavers that handsomely complement the 12-foot-high wall and smaller concrete encasement for the bamboo.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

“There are many types of Living Walls; interior and exterior, permanent or seasonal walls, and then there is the ‘Plug n Play’ (manufactured and trademarked by Green Living Technologies, International or GLTi) that we used here.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

The Plug n Play is very versatile and can be manufactured to accept multiple-sized pots (3” to 12″). Drip irrigation is set up on alternating rows and trickles down to each row below; excess water is either captured or drains. Plants are set on an angle with their holes faced downward so the roots/soil can sap up water via wicking effect. These units can be fastened to any type of wall; using the right type of fastener for each respective wall type.

 

Inviting Pool Amenity: Hidden Grotto with Dramatic Waterfall

This backyard upgrade came our way as a referral from someone working with the clients. It went on to win an award, making it all the more special.

The overall project included a free-form concrete pool and spa. But a special part of the design is where the spa was placed — it’s actually hidden inside a large grotto with a high waterfall cascading over it into the pool. 

“We constructed the grotto from large moss rock boulders,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The ceiling is of structural steel and concrete. We also added a tanning shelf inside the pool in the shallow end large enough so that lounge chairs can rest in the water.”

The pool was then surrounded with a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio finished it all with lush landscaping.

 

Pool Grotto:

Pool Grotto:

A key element in giving the pool grotto a natural feel was the extensive use of moss rock. Placing these rocks requires skill and experience. They need to be positioned in a way so that water spills over them like it would appear in nature — like something you’d see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside the spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but is fed by a meandering man-made stream overhead.

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view of the pool seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders. 

 

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

The beautiful design of these paving stones was also inspired by nature as well. The clients chose them for their handsome earth-and sand-tones which we laid out in a random pattern. They offer the perfect contrast to the blue water of the lagoon-style pool.

This project won Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

No Longer a Bystander: Everyone Gathers at Your Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

Do you find yourself asking: What do I want more…a custom outdoor bar or an outdoor kitchen? 

Well consider this. Why not combine these amenities in one handsome outdoor activity center. We’re talking about creating a custom area that is equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot.

Never a Bystander 

A fully equipped custom activity area allows the person doing the cooking to enjoy the company of family and friends in an outdoor setting. With everything needed close at hand, you no longer have to spend a lot of the fun time in a remote kitchen and then transport the meal outside.

Now, that’s outdoor living.

Consider our first example. Deck and Patio created this outdoor kitchen/bar in much that way. 

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

The first step in planning any multi-purpose activity center is to pick a spot where much of the outdoor activities take place. Then you can design it the right size and shape to fit. In this case, it was built on a new patio close to the pool and sun bathing parts of their yard.

The design, which at one end includes a higher raised bar/dining area, incorporated lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, as well as a sink in the kitchen part of the activity center. Being such a fully equipped kitchen, there is less back and forth to the house, so it could be positioned further away from their indoor kitchen. 

Wherever you locate your kitchen, just remember you don’t want to get burned up from intense sun during cooking or dining. A pergola is one answer. But another is to have moveable — yet sturdy — outdoor umbrellas for flexible shade.

 

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

For this project, Deck and Patio constructed a custom activity area on the mid-level of a 3-level deck. Just steps from the top-level’s large seating area, the custom outdoor kitchen/dining area includes a new grill, refrigerator, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. In this case, it’s a truly peaceful spot since we installed a water feature with waterfalls next to their new portable hot tub. It creates a great atmosphere for conversation and enjoying an outdoor meal and drinks. The bar and outdoor kitchen counter was constructed in a curved shape to mimic the patio design. It is granite topped and the base of the activity center is faced in natural stone. The lounging area’s outdoor umbrella is portable, allowing for flexible shade areas, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Deck and Patio again used natural stone for the veneer of this custom bar/barbecue activity center. We also constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall.

This created a unique design contrast between the patio lounge area and the kitchen/bar setting. It also allows for a extra seating space when there’s a crowd.

 

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

For easy dining and before and after cocktail hours, Deck and Patio created this handsome stone-faced outdoor kitchen with a raised bar.

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill. In addition, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry were chosen to last a long time.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

The lower level of this patio is made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

The colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

This Deck and Patio outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with bar stools. The natural stone facade of the activity center harmonizes nicely with the design of their new patio and mimics the facade around the custom fire pit. Again, flexible shade makes the outdoor bar/dining area a natural draw when the sun is strong. 

 

Getting Away to Your Deck

One of our recent blogs covered what fun it would be to have a family concert or recital on our home deck or patio.

Today, in part one of a two-part blog topic, we asking: have you ever considered ‘deck camping,’ or even ‘glamping,’ on your backyard deck?” 

Since, the first rule of setting up any outdoor camp is to locate it on level ground, you’ve got to admit, a deck is perfect in that regard. 

The Joys of Camping

For the uninitiated, when you go camping, not only do you fall asleep to the sound of crickets, and wake to a symphony of birds, but, camping on your own deck means you don’t have to travel anywhere to do it. 

Deck Railing Planter

Deck Railing Planter

This can be a terrific experience even if you don’t have natural wilderness areas on your property to drink in during the evening outside. It’s easy to naturalize your deck with a few containers of plants.

The deck camp begins with a tent, of course. And if you’re worried that you don’t know how to put it up, we have a video immediately below with an Aussie showing the types of tents you can choose, how to open and close them down, and how to use them. He’s clearly keen on family home camping — if you follow all his ideas, you may need to spread your camp off of your deck into your yard. But that would be part of the fun.

 

Video:

 

Also: plan for some folding chairs. Your night outside won’t be spent only in the tent. String a few lights, get out the citronella candles, and you’re pretty much ready to go.

Lastly, just collect enough sleeping bags (or sheets and blankets, see ‘glamping’ below), an easy-to-put-up crib for any younger children and your kids’ favorite blankets and sleep items.

You don’t have to worry about snacks — your kitchen is just steps away. 

Want to Glamp It Up?

Tips for turning the relatively rustic style of camping into the glorious comfort of “glamping” takes a bit more work than pitching a tent if you want to do this at home. For some creative ideas on what goes into having a luxurious camping experience, we found a lot of ideas at the website of glamping holiday resorts. 

For example, our feature photo at the top of our blog is from Daylesford Holiday Park (Victoria Australia). And their website offers some great comfort amenities to get you thinking about what you could include in and around your tent.

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Closer to home, the Collective Hudson Valley has some very sophisticated ideas for true glamping.

Their retreat at Liberty Farms is inspiring. Their setups may be a bit of work if you plan to only camp out for a night or two. But if you want to have your own summer-long glamp-site, their website is not to be missed for ideas.

 

However, if you want to upgrade a camping experience from just plain sleeping bags to something a bit more refined, Pinterest has a wealth of ideas for easy glamping. Here’s just one helpful post we foundt:

 

“Setting Up Camp ..With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.”

“Setting Up Camp
..With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.”

 

Here’s to summer on your deck, 2018! Next week, see Part II on the subject of getting away to your deck!

 

By |2018-07-12T14:54:58+00:00July 12th, 2018|Backyard Escapes, Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Outdoor Rooms, Trex Decking, Wood Decks|Comments Off on Getting Away to Your Deck