Backyard Resorts

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The Peaceful Harmony of Free-Form Pools

Last week our blog focused on geometric pools and how their traditional styles offer comfort today. But another trend is also upon us. There are those who find appealing a more relaxed, easy-going, natural style, as seen in the recent popularity of tie-die fashion apparel — which has its roots in 1960’s hippie style. For them, free-form pools fit just like a glove. 

“There’s something peaceful about a free-form water feature as it meanders its way along the natural contours of a landscape,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “It offers a calm sense that it belongs there. Like a natural pond or lake might — only with a patio or deck around it.” 

Project # 1

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Frequently, Deck and Patio designs the patio around a free-form pool in a similar free-form design. This Manhasset, NY, pool project is a great example of such a complementary patio and pool design.

“We also added a stacked stone wall that not only provides plenty of sitting options when the family entertains, the wall helps accentuate the space while also holding back the lawn and plantings.” 

This project design included a lower and upper patio — with the upper patio for the raised spa. Both pool patios were made from concrete paver slabs, which Deck and Patio installed the same way as traditional pavers — on a crushed stone base. Polymer sand joints were added to prevent weeds from growing in between the joints.

“Their backyard was also on the small side,” says Dave. “By designing different patio levels we were able to make the yard appear bigger; also note how the hue of the concrete pavers harmonize with that of the home itself.”

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Many love free-form pools because they meander along with the landscape to suggest a more natural look; here the patio was designed “free-form” as well. The design also called for a stacked stone wall which adds a dramatic outline to it all as well as offering extra seating when entertaining. 

Project # 2

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio won a prestigious award for this project. The publisher of the awards noted that: “It makes the landscaping appear as though it is yielding to the concrete paver patios, pools and retaining walls and it presents nature as in charge of the design, rather than the concrete.”

The homeowner has also told us: “When everything is blooming in our front yard, the beautiful curb appeal continually causes people to stop – even on what is a fairly busy street. Stopping to enjoy what we did there, they always ask if they can see the whole property. After they see this backyard free-form pool with raised spa retreat, stoppers-by are in awe of its beauty.”

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Our design includes an eight-foot-high pondless waterfall which hides pool equipment that local regulations required be put in the middle of the backyard.

The waterfall is powered by a 10,000 GPH pump and is center-lined on the main axis of the house. It creates an enjoyable audio-visual impact which runs virtually year-round.

More than half of the pool and spa beam is supported by over 30 tons of moss rock boulders. The spa and boulder work was specifically carved into the hillside to enhance a sense of enclosure and deal with the severity of the gradient change.

The project’s mature woodland setting has been surrounded by lush plantings in bright colors with long bloom periods. The landscape design also left ample lawn space for the homeowners’ children to play.

Despite a good deal of sophisticated pool technology at work maintaining this beautiful retreat, there’s an easy peaceful feel to it all. Tie-dye swimsuits would feel right at home here — as well as with our first project above.

(Note: To see more Deck and Patio free-form pool projects, simply search free-form pools on the main page of our website.)

 

Geometric Pools: Finding Comfort in the Traditional

Whether it’s because politics has been heating up so much in recent years, or its environmental concerns, or other anxieties, many of us these days find comfort the traditional. 

This could explain one recent trend continuing in 2019 for swimming pools: designing them in the traditional lines of ‘geometric’ pools. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of Deck and Patio’s geometric shaped pool projects. In some cases, we designed the pool; in others, we worked with pool construction companies’ designs.

But, first, just what is a geometric pool? Well a geometric design consists of straight lines, triangles, circles, or similar regular shapes — something that isn’t freeform. However, despite geometric design’s simplicity, these pools are not necessarily simple to build.

One company we’ve worked with on numerous projects is True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY). “With freeform pools, there really is no right or wrong,” says True Blue’s owner Michael Truehart. “With parallel and perpendicular angles, geometric designs have to be exact. Plus, vinyl liners, which are so popular today, are measured and cut by computer and require that everything be on the money.”

That said, perhaps an even bigger factor in this traditional trend is that today’s pool builders can incorporate deluxe features in any pool design, e.g., baja or tanning shelves, waterfalls, beach or sloping entries, swim out steps, in-water ledges and spas, providing extra interest to plain geometric shapes.

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Deck and Patio’s design team chose sandy-hued Techo-Bloc pavers to harmonize with the ‘Sand Pebble’ vinyl pool liner by Loop-Loc installed by True Blue Swimming Pools. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

This same salt-water pool (shown immediately above) includes a generous amount of interesting corners and notch-outs, a “cuddle cove” in between two sheer descent waterfalls, and clean-lined pool steps at each end (swim-outs at the deep end). (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

This photo shown here and as a feature photo at the top of this page shows another True Blue Swimming Pools. They built this lovely geometric pool in a Roman Ell shape with a long shallow and full deep end. It is also a vinyl pool with a liner by Loop-Loc; Also note the Wild Ride water slide by Interfab. The pool boasts a Cambridge Ledgestone XL paver surround/patio and sheer descent waterfalls. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Deck and Patio’s design for this sleek vinyl pool included an in-pool seating ledge (see left bottom edge) and swim-out steps (top of pool). Vinyl refers to the method used to line the pool’s interior. Its base construction, however, is the same as any other. The pool surround/patio was created in a warm chestnut-hued random pattern using Cambridge pavers.

 

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

The steps Deck and Patio installed just above the far end of the pool are part of a natural retaining wall of boulders; they lead to a delightfully landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid. Pool includes sheer descent waterfalls and is surrounded by a patio with complementary random geometric patterns.

 

Best Outdoor Living Spaces: Pool House, Pool, Patio, and a Raised Spa

When you’re looking for the best outdoor living space ideas, it never hurts to consider award-winners, like our project showcase today.

Forgive our shameless self-promotion, but this backyard upgrade earned Deck and Patio a “Gold” award for geometric pool/spa design from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

The main feature in this project’s design was a striking geometric pool, with a raised spa, surrounded by a multi-level patio and a custom pool house with dramatic pergola. Our own team pulled together additional pool design and build experts for the project.

“The use of technology from AutoCad to 3D animation helped our clients picture the project,” says Dave Stockwell. “Starting with this design idea, and working hand in hand with the clients and pool experts, we were able to produce an end result that is absolutely breathtaking.”

After these initial meetings and the opportunity to see what it would look like, the client was very enthusiastic, adds Dave. “The landscaping design offered easy to care for cutout areas around the pool and pool house that offers pops of color and green in a way that continued the overall geometric design.”

Pool With Raised Spa:

Pool With Raised Spa:

The overall plans had a large variety of details and was far from ordinary. The main feature, of course, was the pool and its raised spillover spa, all surrounded by a multi-level patio. The pavers we used were Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers — a product that evokes thoughts of old time European plazas.

 

Custom Pool House:

Custom Pool House:

A major part of the project was a custom designed pool house, complete with all the amenities of home. The pool house has a bathroom, changing room and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view over looking the pool area. It is the perfect spot to take breaks from the spa – an important element for spa enjoyment and safety.

 

Custom Pergolas:

Custom Pergolas:

Stepping out of the pool house, a 25-foot wide shade pergola was built to shade guests from the hot summer sun. Underneath, there is also a stunning bar area, complete with sink and all components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages. 

The bar and raised spa are faced with matching cultured stone, which ties the areas together from a design standpoint.

 

Design/Build 3D Automation:

Design/Build 3D Automation:

This 3D animation allowed the client to view every aspect of the project from any angle they wanted. The 3D technology also allowed us to make changes during the project. This gives clients confidence that last minute changes will fit the overall look we are trying to achieve.

 

Love Birds and Nature? How About Your Own Natural Retreat!

Ever notice how every few scrolls on Twitter, etc. will show a delightful bird, a funny squirrel, someone saving a desperate animal, a croaking frog, or lovely vistas — all squeezed in between posts of angst and politics?

Well. As helpful as these momentary breaks online are, the best break is enjoying nature close up, away from our phones. As Diane Sawyer’s Report: ‘ScreenTime’ showed a few nights ago, families are challenged today. They’re spending too much time with technology. And most, deep down, hunger for more family-time and time outdoors. 

Ms. Sawyer’s report reminded us of a very special Deck and Patio backyard natural retreat we did several years ago. The wife contacted us saying she always loved birds but hadn’t seen many in her yard in a long time. She was also hungering to see butterflies, etc. Could we come up with a plan to bring nature alive on their property?

It soon became clear they wanted something truly special. They had already contacted other companies to provide them with a backyard conservatory and charming wooden bridge. Our challenge was to ensure we incorporated these into our own landscaping design in a harmonious way.

“The multi-feature natural retreat we proposed and built included a deck to overhang a new backyard pond — in such a way so that it looks like the pond continued under the deck,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In addition to these, our plan called for two 35-foot long babbling brooks, multiple waterfalls and lush multi-seasonal landscaping.”

To make it look as if Mother Nature designed this entire retreat, adds Dave, our team chose, for example, each rock and boulder carefully to create the right “water spills.” Sometimes a rock was chosen because of its crevices allowing for planting perennials within. 

The homeowners were very involved in choosing the plants. In the end, we incorporated about 5,000 bulbs, almost 300 species of wooded plants, as well as evergreens, and about 150 varieties of perennials.

 

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

It was important to create a variety of different spaces and focal points, just like you experience in nature when you move about. In one place you sit next to the pond and observe the waterfall. Other times you’re walking through a wooded path. The lush landscape attracts a myriad of birds (and butterflies) so the sights and sounds of nature, along with the rushing water, are as relaxing an experience as is possible outdoors.

 

Waterfalls and Ponds:

Waterfalls and Ponds:

The rocks we used for the four-foot multi-tiered waterfall/pond came from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Some weighed over three tons. Carefully placed, the scenes suggest one is trekking a natural preserve or wilderness. 

 

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Whether on their new deck, or in their glass conservatory, the family enjoys dining together al fresco to the sounds of birds and croaking frogs. When lounging outside, they can take a quiet moment to feed their koi. 

 

 

Swimming Pool Grotto Designs: Fun ‘Out’ of the Sun

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. However, even as adults, we still love our personal getaways. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space. 

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you? 

Well. That’s the possibility of a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat. 

Imagine. Being outdoors, but away from the heat of the sun. And, still close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

1. Our first example of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network. (See large feature photo at top of this page for the complete project.)

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

Close up of Nashville Project’s Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” laughs our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature. The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls and a fire feature for inside the pool.” 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

 “Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

2. The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods. 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

For this second project, the tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water.

So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun. 

 

Outdoor Living Perfection: Fun and Comfort for Family and Friends

Long Islanders are not alone in treasuring the outdoor season. Most everyone wants to be outdoors — and for as many months as possible.

This certainly was the case for this North Shore, Long Island, family. Blessed with a large property, their desire was for a new destination pool area with a sizable, well-appointed pool house where they could enjoy the outdoors, bug-free, from early spring through late fall.

The best place to locate their new pool oasis was a distance from their main house. So, in addition, they wanted to cook/entertain by the pool.

While creating all the necessary plans, Deck and Patio consulted with an architect to ensure the building would perfectly suit their needs.

“The pool house design, for example, was in keeping with their main home’s overall elegance,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “In fact, it was their home that suggested the pool house’s reverse gable.”

Destination Pool with Pool House

Destination Pool with Pool House

The destination pool area’s overall design/plans comprised the following:

  50-foot-long, 26-foot-wide pool (approximate),

•  800-square-foot pool house including a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom;

  elegant Travertine patio

  spillover spa, waterfalls,

  outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade,

  outdoor shower

•  outdoor light for nighttime enjoyment

Initially, our comprehensive plan came in considerably over budget for the clients. 

“We completely understood when they declined our bid,” says Dave Stockwell. “You can imagine how thrilled we were, though, when after seeking estimates elsewhere, they came back. In the end, they simply loved our ideas. Our designs provided all the comfortable space they required for family fun and entertaining.”

The Pool House

The pool house was designed/built with two 20-by-20-rooms: 

— one is a great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet — a cozy haven when nights become cooler, comfortably extending the outdoor season;

 — and the other, a 20-by-20 room with screens on two sides for enjoying warmer nights by the pool without pesky insects.

Lighting Design was also Key

Lighting Design was also Key

Award-Winning Project

There’s another reason Deck and Patio was so glad that they came back to build their oasis.

The completed project won for us an International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA)

Note: Deck and Patio also worked with a reputable lighting firm to create the stunning nighttime scenes. Serene and romantic, the family’s completed destination pool area is delightful at night — an idyllic spot for parties that may begin in the day, but continue long into the night.

 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY): 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

The approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool, built with a concrete wall and vinyl liner, includes an expansive spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall. The free-form pool is surrounded by an elegant Travertine patio.

 

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

An expanse of cedar planks allows for drama and a clean natural look inside the pool house.

 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY): 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

The pool house’s outdoor kitchen (and indoor bathroom) required a second septic system to support such amenities as a kitchen sink, built-in barbecue, storage, and small refrigerator. A real stone veneer adds natural elegance to the L-shaped kitchen.

 

Spring 2019 Vacation: Plan a Kid-Friendly Oasis While School’s Out

Spring Vacation

For Long Island and NY Metro area families, spring vacation is upon us. If you haven’t made plans to travel, or at least planned to be home some of the time, why not involve the kids in helping plan a backyard oasis?

Of course, a backyard oasis that includes, say, a pool or spa etc. will get most kids pretty excited. But should you want to go in a different direction — planning an oasis with their interests in mind — could offer a whole other experience.

Consider this backyard playground we built in Brooklyn awhile ago. The heart of the project is a natural swimming pond instead of a pool. This eco-friendly water feature was constructed initially as a very shallow pond (just 8 inches deep) because at the time the children were young.

This allowed the youngsters to swim and play in safety. However, the pond was also designed/built to grow with them. By installing boulders covered with fabric and gravel at its base, once  they got older, we could simply remove these materials, revealing a full-sized pond that could be stocked with koi.

 “As children mature,” says Dave Stockwell, “they want different experiences. This plan took that into consideration. Of course, it would still remain a natural swimming pond, but with more aquatic life to study, as well as being able to experience under-water swimming and snorkeling, etc.”

Beach-Style Entry

Beach-Style Entry

The overall appearance of the pond was that of a secret cove on a desert island.

“We gave it a beach-stye entry,” says Dave. “Plus there’s a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features. 

Plan It Eco-Friendly!

These Brooklyn parents wanted any project on their property to be earth-friendly. They asked us to capture rainwater for irrigation which we were able to do through our Rainwater Harvesting Division. 

Permeable Pavers

Permeable Pavers

“They chose to go two routes,” adds Dave.

“First, rainwater is captured via Techo-Bloc permeable pavers installed in their new patio area. Voids between the pavers were filled with crushed stone permitting rain to pass through the joint spaces. This permits the water to flow down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and crushed stone to be filtered.”

Deck and Patio also installed on their home four downspouts to collect nearly three-quarters of their roof runoff.

Downspouts

Downspouts

“This captured rainwater also gets filtered,” says Dave. “Filtered containers screen out twigs and small debris before it is captured in the same underground Aquascape reservoir that holds the rainwater collected by the pavers. Then it’s all recycled for use in irrigation and to top off the backyard pond and waterfalls after any evaporation.”

Notes on Rainwater Harvesting

Using Aquascape products, today’s rainwater harvesting systems capture sufficient rainwater to also wash your car and/or hose down the deck and patio. And when you consider that local Long Island and City 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.

Bubbling Rocks

Bubbling Rocks

Aquascape’s systems are, in fact, a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rocks we installed here — with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system.

The clients just enjoy it as a water feature, while the system filters and aerates the stored water to prevent stagnation. An automatic valve we installed kicks in when the water gets low in the pond, waterfalls or streams to replenish them.

This project also included a patio dining area and lounge area where the parents and friends can enjoy the backyard water features as well. But there’s no doubt, the heart of the project was fun for the kids.

So! Consider making this spring vacation an opportunity to plan the perfect oasis for your kids — and maybe even teach them the value of water conservation while you’re at it. Not that kids today need much teaching. They’re the ones often asking us to ‘go green!”

Backyard Landscaping Ideas: Preserving Natural Surroundings

When the homeowners of this dramatic backyard swimming pool oasis originally built their home, it was designed with care not to disturb the property’s mature maples, oaks and pines. So when Deck and Patio was later brought in to upgrade their outdoor living experience, we naturally were just as careful.

The key to our design was locating various water features within a limited space so as not to disturb the environment. Despite building restrictions, the finished project was rich in amenities:

 

Pool/Spa

Pool/Spa

 

— a concrete vinyl-lined pool with waterfalls, 

— a raised spillover spa with an additional waterfall,

and, 

 

 

 

Stream

Stream

Koi Pond

Koi Pond

 

— a stream with waterfalls

— plus a koi pond.

 

 

“We had a lot to consider when we designed this,” says Dave Stockwell. “First, of course, the trees had to be preserved. But we also considered the property’s topography, the soil, solar exposure, the overall size of the property, where we could place active and passive use areas, not to mention the home’s architecture.”

Dave adds that the each feature had to fit with nature and this particular landscape. Besides our technical knowledge, such an accomplishment requires a true passion for nature in order to balance the relationship between architecture with its natural surroundings.

“Needless to say we were thrilled to have been recognized for what accomplished in the design and installation of the pool, spa and water features: We won two prestigious awards from NESPA and APSP for the upgrade.

Here’s some more details for this project:

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

This concrete pool has a vinyl liner. We positioned it into the natural surrounding landscape considering carefully any existing trees and mature shrub root systems. Although it’s not seen in this photo, the clients can enjoy the nearby koi pond and waterfalls while relaxing in their spa. The spa also has its own overhead heated waterfall, which can be adjusted to cool in warmer weather.

 

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

This 5’ high multi-level waterfall and 35’ meandering stream discharge into 10’ x 15’ freeform Koi pond (below). 

 

Koi Pond and Stream:

Koi Pond and Stream:

Pond was built to protect the fish against natural predators. Pond’s small cave, for example, provides a hiding place where koi can lay dormant during winter months and hide when necessary.

 

 Pool and Spa Design:

Pool and Spa Design:

The design of this pool and spa appears “organic” with its natural surroundings; they perfectly fit with the clients’ desire for harmonious bodies of water in keeping with their natural looking residence, patio, outdoor kitchen.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance is provided by many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

 

 

 

Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

A low-maintenance pond is one with an ecosystem that works naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. It is a paradise for families to relax by and study throughout all seasons. It also offers a healthy place for desirable wildlife, such as pond fish, birds, etc. 

Such a delightful backyard feature has several elements that contribute to its overall harmony. As certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, Deck and Patio keeps regularly up-to-date with the latest in pond design, construction and maintenance.

Proper Water Circulation

It is essential that any water pump be adequate to the size of your pond and waterfalls. This ensures the amount of water will be aerated sufficiently and will not stagnate or develop excessive bacteria. Instead, the pond receives adequate oxygenation to remain healthy. 

Biological Filters and Skimmers

Ponds should also include a natural filtration system using the right biological filter and mechanical skimmer. Adding rocks and gravel over pond liners will also allow beneficial bacteria to grow for fish to graze on. 

Pond Fish

Koi, in all their jeweled colors, are not just beautiful to look at. They eat algae, and their own waste turns into fertilizer for pond plants. It’s key, though, not to overstock your pond so the balance of fish waste, verses what is being used up, remains in proper balance.

Aquatic Plants

And you thought plants, too, were just pretty faces. No, they also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “In the heat of summer, for example, it’s ideal that approximately 40% of your pond’s surface be covered with plants. Not only do they take care of the algae they also provide shade for the fish when it’s hot,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

“A backyard pond should be a paradise for relaxation as well as a home for desirable wildlife,” adds Dave Stockwell. “I’m referring to wildlife such as birds, frogs, etc. who eat insects as they enjoy the shelter you’ve created for them. In addition, aquatic plants and pond fish are essential elements in the overall ecosystem.” 

Sometimes, Deck and Patio clients want to go even further when creating a natural healthy pond ecosystem. “That’s the rainwater harvesting comes into play,” says Dave. “This involves capturing rainwater, filtering it, and trapping it below ground to be recirculated to maintain the pond’s water level because of evaporation. Aquascape Inc. of St. Charles, IL, has superb systems that capture and circulate rainwater.” 

This captured water never stagnates, says Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascape, because the water is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“Rainfall shortages will never be a problem,” says Helfrich. “Plus, with such a system, town or city water is never being used. Those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago, even during a drought, will not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but excess water reserves can maintain a lawn, and/or a vegetable garden.” 

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature (silver medal from LIPSA) consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond; it’s the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are some of the plants brightening this pondscape.

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful ecosystems. The second you put in a water feature you attract all kinds of wildlife — birds who want to bathe, frogs, salamanders, and insects that the birds feed on.

Low Maintenance Ponds with Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. Plants shown here include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily. 

“A healthy pond does require some spring and fall maintenance,” says Dave Stockwell. “However, if you build your pond correctly, Mother Nature will do the rest. Not only will you love it in every season, but frogs, birds and butterflies will thank you for it.”

 

Changing a Liner Pool to Gunite Is Perfect Time for Backyard Haven

Changing a liner pool to a gunite, (or a gunite to vinyl) is a bit of a job. Since there’s some tearing up going on anyway, this is a great opportunity to create the haven you’ve been desiring.

That is exactly what evolved when these Oyster Bay Cove, NY, clients approached Deck and Patio a while back.

The family wanted a change from their existing vinyl-lined pool to a gunite. But during our consultation, it became clear they wanted more than a change in pool materials. They were also unhappy with the pool’s shape/design which didn’t fit well with the architecture of their house. And despite the steep grade that limited construction in their backyard, they really wanted an overall larger pool.

To expand the size of the pool we knew we would have to extend it extremely close to the property’s sharp hillside. “This would require shoring up the slope with boulders, creating various small retaining walls to hold back the grade,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The trick was to bring in machinery and place the boulders in place before we dug the pool and area out.”

Our design team also helped create a more unified look with their contemporary home by designing the upgraded pool in a geometric pattern. “We also tracked down the same brick used on their home’s exterior,” adds Dave. 

In addition, to give the clients the natural look they wanted, we surrounded the pool with beautiful bluestone. “The shape of these stones also mimic the overall geometric design we were going for.”

Other design elements: 

— steps at the base of the retaining wall lead to a peaceful woodland path — at the end of which we hid all the pool equipment, 

— sheer descent waterfalls along the inside of the pool add extra contemporary elegance,  

—and landscape lighting created a beautiful romantic scene at night.

When the whole transformation was complete, not only was the family ecstatic, but their pet turtles seemed to love the transformation as well. With more room to swim in, they took to the new pool like, well, turtles. 

On visiting the project after its completion, the lady of the house let us put an underwater camera on one of them — and the turtles filmed what it’s like inside the pool as he swam. The pool transformation became a haven for them as well.

Here’s that precious video:

 

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Deck and Patio remodeled an existing vinyl pool into a larger, geometric gunite, with elegant sheet falling waterfalls. The new design handsomely complements the home’s architecture.  

 

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps faced with the same brick as used around the pool’s retaining wall, lead to a peaceful woodland path where the pool equipment has been hidden out of sight.

 

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

The pavers of the previous patio/pool surround had not been compacted properly and were separating. The family also wanted a more natural product. Bluestone was chosen and its hues blended nicely with that of the brick-faced retaining walls; in addition, the rectangular shapes of the stones echo the shape of the pool and house windows.

 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY): 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

 

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

It’s hard to decide which time of day presents the most beautiful picture; but nighttime has to be near the top!