Concrete (Gunite) Spas

/Concrete (Gunite) Spas

Pool Renovation: No Need to Start from Scratch

Blending the old with the new is frequently possible when it comes to swimming pools and backyard upgrades. Take the project we’re highlighting today. The pool and its equipment was over 20 years old. The homeowners thought it probably wasn’t possible to upgrade it.

But, looking over the project, Deck and Patio came up with ideas that allowed them to keep the existing pool and spa.

“Our initial concern was whether we could get at the pool’s old plumbing,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But we learned the clients also wanted changes to what they felt was a ‘confining upper patio’ area. Since this required tearing out all the patio areas, that would give us the perfect opportunity to get at all the equipment for an upgrade.”

Deciding What to Keep, Upgrade, or Restore

Working closely with the homeowners, an overall plan emerged that called for updating the existing gunite swimming pool and spa, removing and expanding the various patio areas, eliminating obstruction of the property’s fabulous views of Long Island Sound,  and adding new landscaping that would enhance the newly opened up views.

 

 

Pool Upgrade (Long Island/NY):

Pool Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Pool Upgrade

Deck and Patio changed the inside of the pool by refinishing its old white interior to a new dark gray. The gray tone reacts with the water to create the more “natural lagoon” feeling you see here.

“We also added swim-out steps as a modern amenity,” says Dave Stockwell, “and of course modernized the plumbing, etc, which should last for many years to come.”

 

 

 

Spa Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Spa Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Spa Upgrade

The custom spa does double duty because it is continuously being filled with pool water which then spills over into the pool. This means the pool water is recirculated and aerated via the spa.

“When refurbishing the spa, we took the opportunity to upgrade it and enhance the spillover into a larger waterfall to create an even more special scene,” says Dave. “In addition, we added boulders around its spillover area for a more natural look.”

 

 

 

Patio Upgrades (Long Island/NY)

Patio Upgrades (Long Island/NY)

Patio Upgrade

Enlarging the various patio areas completely changed the clients’ outdoor living experience. Using Techo-Bloc pavers, Deck and Patio expanded the upper patio where the clients prefer to sit when they want a cool spot to enjoy views of the pool and the water vistas beyond.

The lower patio had been just as confining for the clients. Now they had an enlarged lower Techo-Bloc patio/pool surround for sun bathing etc. Plus, the upgrade allows plenty of room for a new outdoor kitchen and dining area, an additional seating area — all of which makes entertaining so much easier.

 

 

 

Landscaping Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Landscaping Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Landscaping Upgrade

Landscaping is not just an opportunity to create beautiful scenes. Groups of colorful or dense plantings can be strategically placed to block out things you don’t want to see. Here, Deck and Patio did all that, allowing the family to enjoy everything their new property upgrade offers.

Their yard boasts a comfortable feeling of expanse now. Different areas are defined for different purposes. Views were opened up and enhanced.

 

 

 

Backyard/Pool Upgrade

Backyard/Pool Upgrade

 

 

 

“This became a happy upgrade for our clients. It completely transformed their outdoor living experience. Best of all, they didn’t have to start from scratch,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

No Room for a Pool? How About an Award-Winning ‘Spool?’

 

Not everyone has room for, or even wants, a full-sized swimming pool. But what if you still yearn for a water feature that you and your family can enjoy? Well, the answer for these clients was an in-ground “spool” or combination “spa/pool.”

After listening to their needs and preferences, we suggested the idea of spool with a spilling waterfall that keeps the spool cool in the summer, and hot during the evenings or cold winter months. This type of water feature has room for several adults and can be enjoyed year round without having to maintain a full-sized pool.

Because the clients’ 8’x10’ completed custom vinyl-lined spool operates as a spa, it includes massage jets for relaxing hydrotherapy. Above it, a stream of water flows through moss rock boulders and lush plantings into a soothing waterfall that can be enjoyed when soaking anytime of year.

The clients also opted for a handsome patio of Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes. The landscaping was also carefully planned to provide color from April through late October: Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars were used to create an attractive privacy screen. Plus, texture and color were brought into the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

We were very pleased that this custom ‘spool’ not only perfectly suited the clients desires for a backyard refuge that fit well within their yard, but it also won for us two prestigious awards: Gold from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) and Silver from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

Small Backyard Pool/Spa:

Small Backyard Pool/Spa:

Tucked beautifully into a corner of their backyard patio, these clients enjoy year-round their custom in-ground vinyl spa-pool combo — or “spool.”

 

 

Backyard Refuge:

Backyard Refuge:

Deck and Patio also designed/built the clients handsome Techo-Bloc patio (Elena in Sandlewood) in rich earth tones. In cooler months the waterfall runs warm water; a natural gas campfire also helps extend the outdoor season whether the clients are sitting in or out of the spool.

 

 

Spa/Pool Combo:

Spa/Pool Combo:

Rushing stream that flows through large moss rock boulders and lush plantings creates soothing waterfall to be enjoyed while soaking in spa.

 

 

Pool/Spa Combo for Small Backyard:

Pool/Spa Combo for Small Backyard:

These clients wanted a pool or a water feature, and a patio as a fun place to entertain, but their backyard was too small for a pool. Their new spool, which can stay cool during hot summer days and can be heated up on a cool evening or winter’s day, was the perfect solution.

 

 

 

 

Water Features for Pools

There are several enticing styles of water features you can add to your pool. However, in today’s blog, we are focusing on a particular water feature stand-out: stream-fed waterfalls.

While pools, themselves, are the most prevalent water features, the amenities you add to them, in particular water features, can take them from ordinary to sublime.

Reminiscent of Mother Nature’s own ponds and lakes — where water pools are the outcome of streams and rivers feeding oxygenated waterfalls cascading from above — adding water features provide a very special dimension to a backyard pool.

A key element in giving the feature a natural feel is the use of moss rock. Of course, the skill comes in positioning the rocks in such a way so the water spills over them just like you would see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

The first project we are highlighting today showcases a majestic high waterfall spilling over natural boulders into a freeform concrete pool and spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but like all the ones in today’s blog, it is fed by a meandering man-made stream.

 

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

The spa in this project is private — nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders fitted with a structural steel and concrete ceiling. The entire project included a freeform pool with grotto spa, Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and in-pool tanning shelf; it won for Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver medal for design from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

A rushing stream of hot water flows over a large moss rock into a new spa built by Deck and Patio. From there, a spillover waterfall flows out from the spa five feet above the main swimming pool.

 

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Imagine sitting at a granite-topped swim-up bar on comfortable in-pool stools while enjoying the sounds and beauty of several stream-fed waterfalls. For this project, Deck and Patio was able to turn the biggest challenge of the property — its rising elevation — into a benefit. Gravity alone moves the water down the slope into the waterfalls. This project won us several gold meals; one from NSPI and one from NESPA.

 

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Although we have successfully built natural swimming pools for clients with waterfalls fed by streams, this project is not one of our own.  We are using it today because it so beautifully showcases how much children love natural swimming pools. It was supplied to us by the company that manufacturers much of our water feature equipment — Aquascape, Inc. (St. Charles, IL). The pool waterfalls are stream-fed into a “natural” swimming pond. Swimming in such pools isn’t any different from taking a swim in an old fashioned swimming hole, or the ocean for that matter. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.

 

 Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The sound of waterfalls cascading over natural rock offers relaxing sounds as well as a beautiful vista when dining al fresco. Here, Deck and Patio also added a sound system in this backyard retreat that pumps music; together with the waterfalls the sounds are wonderful for entertaining or family fun.

 

Pool Water Features:

Pool Water Features:

Sunset is a glorious time to be by the pool, especially when the sounds of multiple waterfalls complete the scene. Here a stream feeds two separate waterfalls on either side of a water slide that makes its own waterfall. This is definitely where you want to be at the end of each workday.

 

 

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.

SHINThe 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   

Patio designed to harmonize with home architecture

“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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat In Keeping With Natural Surroundings

The Deck and Patio Company won major awards for this beautiful backyard retreat

 

This property’s residence was carefully designed and built amongst mature oaks, maples and pines. Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, and his team, also took great care to preserve as much of this as possible when we added the various water features: a concrete, vinyl-lined pool, raised spa, stream, waterfalls, and koi pond.

To accomplish this, many site-related factors had to be considered: topography, solar exposure, soil conditions, existing trees, property size, active and passive use areas, as well as the style of architecture.

We have found, in fact, that recreating water and nature is an art form that takes a trained eye, many years of field experience, extensive knowledge of hydraulics and plant material, a true passion for nature, and, most importantly, an understanding of how to balance the relationship between architecture with its natural surroundings.

In recognition for all we accomplished in the design and installation of the pool, spa and water features, this back yard retreat garnered two prestigious awards from NESPA and APSP in 2007.

 

Freeform Concrete Pool:

Freeform Concrete Pool:

Vinly-lined pool was nestled into landscape with careful consideration for existing trees and mature shrub root systems. From spa, clients can view koi pond and waterfalls while relaxing. (Note: Waterfall spilling into the spa acts as a delightful massage.)

 

 

 

Multi-tiered Waterfall/Stream:

Multi-tiered Waterfall/Stream:

5’-high multi-tiered waterfall and 35’ meandering stream discharge into 10’ x 15’ freeform Koi pond. The surrounding moss rock and plantings help create a natural look.

 

 

 

Koi Pond:

Koi Pond:

Pond was built with much consideration for the fish since natural predators exist in and around the locale. The pond’s small cave provides a hiding place where koi can lay dormant during winter months. Plus the pond is fed fresh water continuously from the waterfall/stream.

 

 

 

Pool and Spa Design:

Pool and Spa Design:

This beautiful lagoon-like free-form pool and spa were designed to be “organic” with natural surroundings; they capture very essence of clients’ desire for harmonious body of water in keeping with residence, patio, outdoor kitchen, and new waterfall, stream and pond.

 

 

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance — known to bring out the peace within —  are represented here in many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings that also offer robust successional color throughout pool season.