Backyard Resorts

/Backyard Resorts

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!  

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: ‘Phase’ Your Way to an Awesome Retreat

“When it comes to landscaping, sometimes ‘awesome’ isn’t accomplished in one season — let alone, overnight,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

Certainly, this was the case for these Shoreham, NY, homeowners. Their dream backyard includes:

— two-tiered Trex Transcend decking, 

— two ponds, stream, and waterfalls, 

— new Cambridge paver patios, 

— pavilion/outdoor great room with fireplace, 

— and a special hot tub installation with custom open-top pergola.

 To complete it, required a healthy budget and building time. So our design team came up with a thorough plan that could be built in phases.

 

Bullfrog Spa, Deck, and Pergola

Bullfrog Spa,Trex Deck, and Custom Pergola

Phase I. 

In the first phase we built them their new Trex deck (Gravel Path boards) as well as a custom pergola to surround their new Bullfrog Spa.

“I have orthopedic issues,” says the wife. “And my husband has multiple sclerosis, so a spa was very important to us. Deck and Patio’s designer helped us choose the right hot tub with interchangeable, individual massage jets. They’re a snap to change out whenever there’s a particular need.”

For easy daily access, Deck and Patio positioned the hot tub immediately outside their back door, tucked into the deck. Plus, we designed the deck with a raised tier which makes getting in the spa effortless. They just have to sit on its edge and swing their legs over. 

In addition, the deck layout allowed for two adjacent lounging areas for when our clients take breaks from the spa. Our team constructed a custom pergola. Through its elegant definition of space, it provides drama and architectural interest around the hot tub.

 

Shingle-Roof Pavilion with Fireplace

Shingle-Roof Pavilion with Fireplace

Phase II

The clients also wanted an outdoor great room that could be used most of the year. The answer was a handsome shingled roof pavilion with white columns, which also boasts a fireplace for warmth in autumn and winter months. The bases of the columns are faced with the same stone as the fireplace.

“It also offers additional ambience while they’e in their hot tub,” adds Dave.

 

 

 

Smaller of Two Ponds

Smaller of Two Ponds

Phase III

There is no question that backyard water features can add the ‘awesome’ to any retreat. And these homeowners wanted to enjoy waterfalls and ponds from their spa, as well as the deck, patios, and every area of their yard.

“We built two separate ponds with a meandering stream and waterfalls. The smaller pond [left] includes a substantial stone rock acting as a bridge; the larger natural ‘swimming’ pond [below] has a vanishing edge. Right in the very heart of this pond we added a ‘get-a-way’ stone island with stepping stones leading out to it.”

Larger Vanishing Edge Natural Swimming Pond

Larger Vanishing Edge Natural Swimming Pond

When Deck and patio built this complete water feature, there was room in the larger swimming pond (right) to add a sizable stone island.

With smooth natural stones leading to it, the homeowners enjoy a true Zen experience crossing the still pond to their own private island.

For extended moments of contemplation, two Adirondack chairs have been placed there. The wide arms of the chairs allow for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. With a dramatic waterfall focal point, surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape for relaxation.

And whenever they, or family/guests wish, they can enjoy the experience of swimming in the pond. A truly awesome experience, much like swimming in a lake, swimming hole, or even the ocean.

More photos of the completed project follow:

Shoreham/NY Smaller of Two Ponds:

Shoreham/NY Smaller of Two Ponds:

This photo of the smaller pond at sunset was a hit on our social media last week and inspired us to write about the whole Shoreham, NY project. 

 

Shoreham/NY Backyard Retreat:

Shoreham/NY Backyard Retreat:

The view from the homeowners Bullfrog Spa is awesome in all directions. Pictured here is the view looking right, at the larger vanishing edge swimming pond, with waterfalls and stone island.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls, inside the pavilion, with the fireplace blazing, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio with custom inlays/border is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. (Note: Each of the white pavilion columns have lighting.)

 

Water Feature with Waterfall (Shoreham/NY):

Water Feature with Waterfall (Shoreham/NY):

Here’s a close-up of the smaller pond’s waterfall (looking left from the hot tub). 

 

Water Feature with Stream and Landscaping:

Water Feature with Stream and Landscaping:

The two ponds and waterfalls are fed by this delightful stream, which Deck and Patio landscaped with beautiful plantings and river rock.

 

Two-tiered Deck with Hot Tub (Shoreham, NY):

Two-tiered Deck with Hot Tub (Shoreham, NY):

Day or night, this backyard retreat is where our clients want to be. 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Time to Spring Into Action

“If there’s one thing we dislike in our work,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “it’s disappointing a potential client’s request for a special backyard upgrade in time for the upcoming outdoor season.”

Mid February, he adds, may sound to some very early to plan. But once robins are singing and trees are budding, the phones at Deck and Patio have been ringing for many weeks with requests for projects. 

“So it’s best to begin the process in late winter,” Dave adds. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and to secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements; delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process include pulling the right people together for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

The "A" Team: Deck and Patio Works with HGTV's Pool Kings

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio Has worked with HGTV’s Pool Kings

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

 

 Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. In fact, we built these dual ponds (immediately above) for a client during winter. 

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

It is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

This serenely unique vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge.

Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge “pond” design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

 

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 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.)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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).

 

Rainwater Harvesting Systems Make for Eco-Friendly Waterscapes

Deck and Patio strives to not only make water features look natural, but also be natural. In particular, we design/build ponds and waterscapes that are maintained in a natural way — without chemicals.

To accomplish such beautiful and eco-friendly waterscapes, it is helpful to be thoroughly knowledgeable and well trained in this field.

We are, for example, a Certified Contractor of Aquascape, Inc. — a leader in the waterscape industry. Their certification process is rigorous and ensures high standards.

It has been worth the effort. For years, Deck and Patio has been able to bring healthy, low maintenance ponds, streams, waterfalls or pondless water features to over 300 Long Island properties.

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature

 

 

 

 

 

 

One option for clients who prefer not to maintain a pond has been a pondless water feature. Instead of falling into a pond, the flow from waterfalls and streams are built to let the spillover seep through gravel and seemingly disappear into the ground.

The water is actually collected in an underground reservoir system where it is recirculated to replenish the water feature. Here, the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

We surrounded the “pondless” backyard stream with waterfalls (above) by moss rock boulders. The water flows past the client’s newly installed portable hot tub, which was set against a new two-level patio with fire pit and seating/dining areas.

However, there is an even more wonderful way to go “green.” And that is to harvest the rainwater that maintains the water feature.

 

All About Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting Systems

With a pondless waterfall like the project above, the constantly recirculating captured water is definitely eco-friendly. However, natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally.

To go totally “green” — and not use town water to replenish this evaporation — that’s when you’ll want a special reservoir system  — Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System..

In this way, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods.

This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

“An added benefit,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, “is that with harvested rainwater which is filtered and then recirculated, your rainwater runoff isn’t spilling over and running into over-burdened sewer systems.

“As you may know, asphalt and concrete can’t absorb rainwater, which causes the spillover. But we use river rock underneath the waterfalls,” adds Dave. “This filtered the water before it seeps down to the reservoir.”

 

Deck and Patio Feature Using Rainwater Harvesting System

Deck and Patio Feature Using Rainwater Harvesting System

The Aquascape ‘green’ Rainwater Harvesting Systems process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“Like with all our Rainwater Harvesting Systems project, the reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for city water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

Deck and Patio Eco-Friendly Water Features

Deck and Patio Eco-Friendly Water Features

This is another “pond-less” waterfall and stream designed/built by Deck and Patio. Like with all the projects we’re highlight today, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house.

“Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

 

So if you’re hankering for a water feature, and would feel a whole lot better if the water for it is collected rainwater, well, we know a thing or two about how to capture that runoff and use it to beautiful effect.

Creative Landscape Planning Even When It Snows

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Good grief. Just as you begin planning a garden or backyard upgrade, another snow storm pounds Long Island. What’s an outdoor, deck, patio, waterscape, or barbecue-loving enthusiast to do?

If you promised yourself that this spring you’d create the outdoor environment you want, no need to be put off by the snow.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the ground is perfect,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But if you wait until the snow melts and the weather is finally warm, you could find yourself behind a big queue for a landscaper’s attention.”

 

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

Believe it or not, experts like those at Deck and Patio, don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project. Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced. But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.

Sure, you may be thinking. Deck and Patio can see under the snow to the possibilities of a backyard refurbishment, but how does a non-expert grasp what it all will look like?

“It’s understandable that a homeowner would not want to proceed blind,” adds Dave. “And they don’t need to. Through computer animation, we’re able to work up a plan in 3-D that gives a good approximation of what the finished job will look like. There’s no need to rely on one’s imagination.”

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Every aspect of this backyard paradise — infinity (vanishing edge) pool, custom in-ground spa, swim up-walk up bar, pond/waterfalls upgrade, extensive patio, and outdoor kitchen was first done on a 3-D animation program that allowed our clients to literally fly over and walk around this project —even their gas campfires. This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

For these homeowners, the 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house.

 

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left) not only helps show what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

In the case of this Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

 

Baseball Season

Baseball Season

So, no worries about snow when it comes to landscape planning — even if you can’t see the ground.

You don’t want to risk getting in too long a line of those wanting landscaping work.

Of course, if towards the end of the month, the weather messes with the Yankees’ and Mets’ openers — that’s another story! If that happens, we’ll be shaking our fists at the weather right along with you.

 

Thanks to Fiberon Decking and Railing for use of the feature photo at the top of the page.