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Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

“When it comes to backyard upgrades, most people want some sort of water feature,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In-ground pools can be expensive to both build and maintain.

“There’s more to outdoor living than a pool,” he adds. “We did a project in Massapequa, NY, without a pool that gave both the husband and wife all  they longed for — a true outdoor retreat for a reasonable cost.”

Portable Hot Tub Appears Custom-Built

Portable Hot Tub Appears Custom-Built

Backstory

The couple, says Dave, hankered to enjoy their own backyard — which was tidy but not enticing.

Space was also at a premium. And in lieu of a pool, the couple settled on installing a quality hot tub, in-ground.

An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa.  Plus it would be easy to get in and out of (see before/after photo above).

Creating Focal Point for Spa Enjoyment

Creating Focal Point for Spa Enjoyment

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. 

Upshot?

The pond with waterfalls, hot tub installation and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

“The husband had longed for a pond for some time. And by adding one as part of a single overall project, it saved time and money, and allowed the same designer to plan it all in a harmonious way.”

 

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable spas are self-contained units, with all they need to operate included within itself. “This is what helps make them so cost-friendly compared to other water features,” says Dave.

That said, when installing them in-ground it must be done in a way that allows water from rain to drain away from the spa. If not, the hot tub’s plumbing could get damaged. “In this case, in order to have it completely in-ground, we removed the spa’s plumbing equipment to a protected area above ground where it is accessible for any future repairs.”

 

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

When the clients sit outside now they  enjoy the sound of water as well as see a lovely pond with waterfalls and watch the pond fish swim about. Not only do they have this view from their patio, but even better, they can enjoy it all — and even feed the koi — from their in-ground spa. 

The project’s natural-looking waterfall feature with the pond included surrounding moss rock boulders and lush landscaping. We used Aquascape Inc.’s water systems — high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters etc. 

“The couple told us that their ‘in-tub views’ are spectacular,” says Dave. “Plus the in-ground installation makes it easy to get in and out of the spa. They also said they love the spa’s hydrotherapy for all kinds of relief as well as relaxation. “It was definitely the right choice for them.”

 

 

Outdoor Kitchens: The Heart of Outdoor Living

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

It’s hard to imagine an outdoor party that doesn’t include yummy food cooked up on a barbecue. Outdoor get-togethers like Communions, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, and anniversaries, not to mention Memorial Day and July 4th, invariably include a food element.

Deck and Patio clients are no exception. We’re frequently asked for more than a barbecue. Outdoor living is so valued in our neck of the woods, clients frequently want a full-sized activity center, partly for flexibility in cooking, but also to allow the “cook” or “cooks” to be part of conversations and fun.

 

Backyard Upgrade with Bullfrog Spa

Backyard Upgrade with Bullfrog Spa

The outdoor kitchen we’re highlighting today was part of an overall backyard upgrade that boasts a two-level Techo-Bloc patio, custom fire pit, dining and seating areas, and a water feature with stream and waterfalls that flow alongside a new portable Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub (right). 

Space, however, was an issue when planning this upgrade. Rather than a fixed pergola, the clients chose moveable outdoor umbrellas — or, ‘flexible shade.’

 

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Both patio areas were built with Borealis’ modular slabs from Techo-Bloc. Note how the colorful umbrellas behind the outdoor kitchen can be moved as needed in their yard, and offer such nice pops of color wherever they are positioned.

Their new custom fire pit is overlaid in a facade of natural stone that mimics that of their outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen’s amenities include a built-in stainless steel grill, expansive work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with stools. 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

Project’s Feature Photo (Also Top of Page): The outdoor kitchen’s handsome and expansive granite countertop allows for an eating/drinking bar, while leaving plenty of “prep” space for cooking. Ice and cold drinks fit in the fridge immediately below the eating/drinkingbar area. Note also how the outdoor kitchen is only steps from their hot tub and relaxing water feature. 

A full-sized activity center is the perfect spot for a break anytime. Whether entertaining or not, it’s the heart of outdoor living.

Note: You can see more Deck and Patio outdoor kitchens/bars here.

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

Quality Backyard Makeover Pulls Out all the Stops

 

Pulling out all the stops of an organ increases the sound so an audience can hear everything — every grand sound, in all its lovely variations.

You might say that the two Long Island homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade also “pulled out all the stops” to orchestrate a wonderful experience in outdoor living. Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub (Bullfrog Spa) wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature (which they can enjoy on the upper patio, from the house and poolside) be extremely eco-friendly. For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.”

To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the lower-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Bullfrog Spas:

Bullfrog Spas:

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with Bullfrog’s enviable massage jets — their patented JetPaks.

 

One last thought. The Waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property.

 

Making the Most of a Backyard Slope

We’ve written about this before. Clients with a wish list for a backyard oasis, but they have an unstable hill that forms part of their property. And they’re finding it hard to imagine what is possible.

Fortunately, experienced landscaping firms like Deck and Patio have no problem with the vision thing. In this case, our clients’ hopes for a water feature, pool, patios for socializing, room for sunbathing, and even the ability to enjoy their yard twelve months a year, were not out of reach at all.

Despite problems with the terrain, our team got to work designing/building a truly enviable backyard resort. The vinyl-lined free-form pool we suggested allowed us to shape the pool within sturdy terrain.

The pool boasts deep-end stairs, and is surrounded by a two-level Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec patio, including a lounging area with embedded umbrellas.

“Instead of installing an ugly wooden retaining wall to hold back the grade from the pool, we turned the slope into a delightful natural space. Using boulder coping on the pool and additional moss rocks and plantings all along the slope, we made it very beautiful as well as secure,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We took further advantage of the slope, and gravity’s pull, and incorporated a meandering stream along this planted hillside, ending as waterfalls into the pool.”

 

 

The final challenge was making the oasis usable all year long.

“We helped them choose a portable spa that could run separately from the pool. We fitted it into the transformed slope beside the stream and built a separate small bluestone patio behind the spa; they can enjoy the water feature when inside the hot tub or sitting or lounging on the secluded patio,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern for the patio, with gradations of tones. Designing the patio in multi-levels allowed us to designate spaces for certain activities — dining, lounging, etc.

 

Deep End and Shallow End Stairs:

Deep End and Shallow End Pool Stairs:

Deep end — or swim out — stairs as well as stairs at the shallow end offer easy access to the patio’s lounging area with embedded umbrellas. A natural gas campfire is great for cool evenings and adds a bit of romance in the evenings.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrade: From Very Nice to Sublime

The owners of this Brookville, NY, property had a charming backyard that consisted of a large patio separate from an attractive pool area. When Deck and Patio met with them to discuss a patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

“The clients were surprised at our suggestion that, rather than design/build a custom in-ground gunite spa, they opt for a portable spa,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And when they saw how such a hot tub would fit harmoniously within the yard’s new overarching design theme, they were delighted with this idea.”

The complete upgrade included adding an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.

Plus, the new handsome Techo-Bloc pool surround pavers the clients chose were repeated in the lower patio where a new granite-topped L-shaped outdoor kitchen, and fire pit, both faced in matching stone, were added.

The theme tying it all together, of course, is the stone-facing on many of the elements — balanced by soft hues in the plantings and choice of pavers. Whether it’s going up the steps from the patio to the pool where a stone wall accents the elevation change, sitting around the custom fire pit, barbecuing on a granite-topped outdoor kitchen, or taking in the whole scene while soaking in the spa, the various elements work together beautifully.

The soft hues of the Techo-Bloc’s Aberdeen pavers for the pool surround and lower patio were chosen to add a hint of contemporary flair to the traditional style of the stonework. Their subtle pinks, blues and creams, accented with robust landscaping, add a soothing feeling throughout the backyard oasis.

“This upgrade really brought an already attractive backyard into a true oasis,” says Dave. “Day or night, the only word for it is sublime.”

 

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Stone facing of several amenities help tie this oasis together: fire pit, outdoor kitchen, patio wall and steps, as well as the portable spa encasement (not seen), are all faced in matching stone.

 

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

The clients wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion for a custom installation of a portable Bullfrog Spa. With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it can be used when the pool is closed down. Plus they get the therapeutic benefits of Bullfrog’s renowned JetPaks (hydro jets) without sacrificing drama and elegance.

 

Hot Tub Installation:

Hot Tub Installation:

One truly enjoyable aspect of the clients’ new spa is where it was installed. When soaking in it, they get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool as well as all the way to the lower patio area where the outdoor kitchen and fire pit are.

 

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

A beautiful and highly functional outdoor kitchen, topped in granite and faced in stone, was positioned adjacent to the patio’s dining area and new fire pit.

 

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

One of the features of the clients’ new spa is a sheet-falling waterfall that flows out from its encasement into the pool. A privacy wall holds a dramatic fire blow that spills a waterfall into the spa.

 

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

These Techo-Bloc paving stones are packaged separately giving flexibility in design. Here soft hues (blues, creams, pinks) and various sizes placed in random patterns create the perfect pool surround and patio for this backyard upgrade.

 

 

Bringing Outdoor Living Ideas to Local Fall Festival (Huntington, NY)

 

insert-1 Come October, as the air gets crisp and leaves fall, moms, dads, kids, and grandparents delight in reconnecting outdoors at local fall festivals.

Deck and Patio enjoys participating at these events. In recent years, scheduling problems kept us away from Huntington’s big event. But after learning that festival-goers had been asking organizers if “the company with the fire pits and marshmallows would be there again,” we made sure to return, bringing our outdoor living ideas back to Heckscher Park.

insert-2 The Columbus Day weekend Fall Festival was sponsored by the Huntington Chamber of Commerce. Sharing our assigned space with our good friends at Best Hot Tubs, our booth showcased several outdoor living ideas perfect for this time of year: two operating Bullfrog Spas hot tubs, colorful fall plants, fountains for the garden — and, of course, fire tables and lots of marshmallows.

Considering that the weekend weather didn’t totally cooperate, even more than usual our fire pits, steamy hot tubs, and booth tents were very welcome in the chilly and damp air.

Bullfrog Spas

What a great opportunity it was for our friends at Best Hot Tubs to showcase their top-of-the-line portable Bullfrog Spas. The timing was great as well. Best Hot Tubs showrooms (Westbury, Farmingdale, Windham, NY) offer big savings on Bullfrog Spas in October (up until October 23). Boasting $25 a month low energy cost and enough Bullfrog models to fit all budgets, the tubs were certainly a highlight at our booth.

Setting Up at Heckscher Park, Huntington

Setting Up at Heckscher Park, Huntington

Garden Fountains

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) are frequently surprised that we offer attractive garden water fountains that take up hardly any space and are quick and easy to install.

Sometimes when we are designing a small garden for clients, there seems to be something missing even with the beautiful plants and shrubs, etc. Often, it’s the sound and relaxing sight of water movement that completes the picture.

The stacked stone urns we showcased are from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL).  As a certified Aquascape Inc. contractor, Deck and Patio has used their products in many of the ponds and water features we have designed/built across Long Island. As for their fountains, Aquascape offers a nice variety in various styles, sizes and prices.

 

fire-pits Fire Pits/Fire Tables

We brought along a couple of rectangular or “linear” fire pits which are very popular today. They go very well with an outdoor love seat or L-shaped couch.

As for fire pit accessories, remote controls allow the fire pit to be turned on and off like a light switch. “Even though there’s no danger in turning these particular fire pits on, people like the feeling of extra security,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

Another hot accessory for fire pits are glass guards that create the look of “dancing flames” within. The glass guards project flames, providing a reflection, so you get two or three reflections, in addition to the real flame for a more dynamic experience.

insert-5

 

“Even though there were lots of food vendors at this year’s Fall Festival in Huntington, the ability to roast marshmallows over our fire pits was once again a big hit,” adds Bill Renter, owner of Best Hot Tubs. “We’re all glad we were able to participate once again.”

 

Here’s a few second video of our both at Heckscher Park:

 

Garden Fountains:

Garden Fountains:

Sometimes a small-scale fountain like this stacked stone garden urn from Aquascape Inc. is all that’s needed to complete the perfect garden. The one we used for this project is the smallest (32″ tall) – a perfect scale for their garden.

 

 

Water Features: Memorial Weekend Kicks Off Outdoor Entertaining Season

Deck and Patio’s design/build team is frequently asked what goes into creating a backyard that is ideal for entertaining, as well as outdoor fun.

Depending on what a budget permits and the size of the property, we usually recommend a water feature — be it a pool, pond, stream with waterfalls, or a simple portable hot tub — as a focal point of its surroundings.

“Any time a client wants a water feature in one of our projects, we know it will help make a home run,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “Water is the one of the essential elements of life, and people are naturally drawn to it — which is what you are looking for when entertaining. So after determining all the needs of the client, we ask ourselves — how can water be part of it all.”

 

 

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Pools  

Pools, of course, are the most popular water feature. According to Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, what makes one pool appear awesome over another is usually its surroundings. “Choosing the right harmonizing elements is what makes something breathtaking. It’s how you blend water with its hardscape and landscaped environment.”

Pools vary in shape and complexity and homeowners can also choose between a vinyl pool and gunite, freeform and geometric. When budgets and property sizes are tight, rather than a full-sized regular pool, a smaller “spool” can function as both a small pool and spa.

 

Pool Placement

Pool Placement

The placement of swimming pools and patios is very important. “If you don’t use a landscape designer, you may find that some pool builders simply plop the pool where it’s most convenient for them,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “We tend to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” That was the case for this award-winning pool (left), where we worked with True Blue Swimming Pools. The yard was small but they still got their pool — and enough lawn left for the kids to enjoy.

 

 

Surrounding Patio Areas   

Pool Surrounds

Pool Surrounds

“When it comes to ‘hardscape,’ we try to create truly functional spaces,” says Renter. “We often see a surrounding patio that is 10’ or 12’ feet wide all around the pool. Instead, we specialize in creating functional spaces of different sizes and shapes. We’ll ask if they have patio furniture and we measure it to ensure that there is ample room for that particular grouping, while allowing for easy circulation.”

Deck and Patio also looks to see how the sun comes across the yard. “The chaise lounging area should face the water feature and the afternoon sun. You and your guests wouldn’t want to sit by your pool and have the sun to your back.”

 

 

Dining Areas and Outdoor Kitchens  

We generally locate outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless it’s a destination pool. In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning. “But usually it’s key to be near to the home’s kitchen,” says Renter.

 

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Extra Tip: One trend we’re seeing in outdoor kitchens are warming/cooling drawers made by companies like Ronda. These insulated drawers are sealed and work without electricity so your drinks stay cool or your food stays warm depending on what you put in its lower drawer.

“They have a magnetic seal, which along with being waterproof will also keep away bugs and dust. Indeed, you can choose a single drawer just for keeping dishes and cutlery completely clean,” says Renter.

 

 

Outdoor Bars and Dining Areas

 

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. You can even add waterfalls. Shown here (above right) are sheet waterfalls, which offer a sleek modern look as well as a very pleasant sound. This helps people de-stress while inviting easy conversation.

 

 

 

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Wild-Ride-slide

Wild-Ride-slide

Fun for Kids and Adults 

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. “When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” says Renter.

 

 

 

Tanning-Shelf

Tanning-Shelf

 

 

Other kid favorites: swim outs, deep end stairs and tanning shelves. We’ve found kids love to dive, swim out and dive or slide into the pool again, over and over. A tanning shelf or deep end stairs allow adults and other kids to watch them playing on the slide, etc. These are great places for young and old alike to gather.

 

Backyard Ponds

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Deck and Patio specializes in building ponds so clear and pristine you can swim in  them (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to; it’s also the perfect outdoor attraction for entertaining.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

 

The simplest pond to have is pondless. It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (left) than a pond basin each season and it is a safer environment when children are very young.

 

 

Hot Tubs Make Great Water Features

 

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

 

Keeping it Simple

 

 FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

Sometimes all you need is need is a fire pit and some comfortable furniture on a handsome deck. It would be easy to add a simple water fountain on such a deck so as to not miss out on its tranquil sounds. The deck shown here is Fiberon. Photo: Courtesy of Fiberon Decking.

 

 

 

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Pool Upgrades: Trends, Tips, and Money-Saving Ideas

Deck and Patio loves doing exciting full-size projects, but many times clients simply want an upgrade to their existing yard. That’s understandable, because when it comes to the outdoors, the best way to add value to your home is to renovate what’s already there: a pool, patio, deck or barbecue area — and frequently, save money in the doing!

 

Upgrading In-ground pools

— pumps

Whether your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money. Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to 1/6th of what they currently are,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. They will cost about $1,000-$1,500, but pay back time will be three years or less.

 

change the coping, tile and color of your pool

“For gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes, and even all-tile pools. This can be done even if the old color isn’t worn. A change in tone or color can enliven a pool area or make an old pool look new.

 

 

Pebble Liner

Pebble Liner

Changing your vinyl pool’s liner can make a dramatic difference. “The choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool,” says Renter. “There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool. Naturally, changing the coping at the same time will complete the change.”

 

 

Pool Surrounds

Renovating around a pool is sometimes easier than upgrading the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio. Other ideas for renovating around a pool might be upgrading to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Patio sizes can be reduced and adding stepping stones can be cost effective way of creating a pathway around your pool. Boulders set in the landscape and used for retaining steps are yet another way to reduce the cost of retaining walls and adding beauty.

 

Pool Add-ons

Other pool area renovations have become popular recently because the total cost of the job is significantly reduced due to the existence of a pool: insulating walls, adding stairs, benches, swimouts, water features, slides, campfires, and spillover spas. Another popular upgrade is adding a waterfall. Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

 

 

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Some additions are more involved than others such as adding a tanning shelf. These shelves are a cool way to stay cool when you want to lay out in the sun, says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “The shelves are set in several inches of water and are wide enough for parents to sun bathe while young children play beside them.”

 

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

One way to upgrade around a pool is with a new patio or pool surround, seen here with new Techo-Bloc’s Inca interlocking pavers. Inspired by South American “beauty and mystery” these pavers go well in any style — from Mediterranean to contemporary.

 

Pool Ad-ons:

Pool Ad-ons:

Changing the vinyl liner to your pool is one way to make a dramatic change, as shown in this photo. “In addition natural gas campfires create romantic outdoor mood with the addition of one of these,” says Stockwell. “Adding a slide and/or multiple waterfalls to an existing pool is fun way to make an upgrade.”

 

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool (seen here beside an infinity pool). Add colorful and lush plantings and you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Pools With Spas:

Pools With Spas:

Didn’t include a spa when you had your pool built? These clients simply added a portable Bullfrog Spa, which we nestled into the slope — close to the existing pool. We also added a new stream/waterfall. When the clients are sitting in the new hot tub, it is so close to the stream, they can almost reach out and touch it.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Determine The Best Hot Tub To Buy

Ever wonder how to determine the best hot tub to buy? Deck and Patio is pleased to share our blog page today with guest blogger Danielle Adams — a freelance writer with expertise in the hot tub experience. Enjoy!

 

By Danielle Adams

You’re ready to buy a hot tub, but do you know what kind of hot tub you want? Hot tubs are an investment and before taking the plunge, you want to choose one that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Finding the perfect size, jetting configurations, and seating layout that fit within your budget can vary and provide different benefits.

As you do your due diligence to decide which hot tub is the best one for you, here are a few things to consider.

Bullfrog-1-525x356 Hot Tub Vs. Spa

During your research, you’ve probably run into these two terms interchangeably: “hot tub” and “spa.” But is there a difference between the two? Not really, but this is a common question that gets brought up.

Although these two terms have indicated to different things in the past; today they are considered to be the same thing— a portable tub of water with integrated heating and jetting. The terms have emerged because hot tubs were typically built from wood, in the form of large whiskey barrels or wine casks. Whereas spas were more permanent pools of hot water where people would go for the healing properties of  hydrotherapy.

close-up-of-LIHT-spa-wjet-paks-525x348 Use and Size

What is the purpose of your hot tub? If you know what you are planning on using your hot tub for—neighborhood parties or relaxation with your spouse—you can better decide which size is your best option. Hot tubs come in a wide range of styles and sizes, but some sizes are not always equal to capacity. As you look closer into hot tubs, make sure to look at both the dimensions and capacity.

To get a better idea of what size spa will best fit your lifestyle, consider the maximum number of people who will use the spa on a more regular basis.Then think about the maximum number of people who will ever use the spa, and aim for a nice balance between those two numbers.

While you determine the ideal size for you, take the actual spa size, external dimensions, internal space, water capacity and depth into consideration. Also, measure the spa location at your home to verify the spa will fit in the area you are planning on having it installed.

# 3 Construction

Many high quality spas are created with a durable acrylic shell material. The acrylic material ensures you have a scratch resistant surface that is resistant to moisture, chemicals, and the elements, especially in the long run.

When deciding on the best hot tub, look at what is underneath. Some hot tubs are still constructed with the same mentality of the 1970s and 80s with wood framing. We’ve come a long way since then and, with the improvement in hot tub materials, there are more precise methods and other composite material to ensure you get the best, most efficient product with less chance of error. Check out Bullfrog Spas manufacturing process by KSL.

Energy Efficiency

Going green is a popular trend right now and with good reason. Who doesn’t want to help the environment and save money? As you consider the various hot tub options, it’s important to chose one that is well-insulated, well-designed, and is energy-efficient to help you save on monthly operating costs.

The first thing to look at is insulation. Hot tubs of higher quality have a full foam insulation feature to prevent heat from escaping. Check the California Energy Commission (CEC) to see if your hot tub meets or exceeds the energy guidelines. Also, look at the spa cover to verify it is well made, insulated, and fits over the spa for maximum energy conservation.

In addition to the installation, added energy savings can be found in the plumbing. The plumbing design can have huge impact on energy costs. How so? More plumbing equals more exposure to environmental elements which can lead to friction and more energy being used to pump water to the jets.

Investing in a hot tub takes time, but you want to make sure you choose the best one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Take the time to ask the right questions, do the research, sit in various models, and find the one that you can feel most comfortable in. A hot tub can provide lasting benefits and enjoyment for years to come—if you choose the best one today.

Bullfrog Spas has created an easy, step-by-step guide to help you select and design the best spa model for you.

 

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with http://www.bullfrogspas.com/. When she’s not writing, Danielle enjoys learning more about design, rearranging her house, and spending time with friends.

 

 

 

By |2017-01-21T16:34:36-05:00October 22nd, 2015|Bullfrog Spas, Outdoor Living, Portable Hot Tubs|0 Comments