Creative Design

/Creative Design

Caring for Your Deck

Last week our blog focused on a fun use of your deck or patio over July 4th. And after the holiday is over, we’ll highlight new ideas for cool ways to use your deck.  

But today our focus is on caring for your decks — especially if they will be getting a lot of use during the height of the outdoor season.

 

 

Deck Structure/Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

Deck Structure/Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

 

For expert advice on deck maintenance, we spoke with Edie Kello from Viance — the company that makes the preservatives for pressure-treated lumber commonly used for deck structures.

 

 

 

Question: What’s your advice on how to maintain a new wood deck.

Answer: “A deck is a special part of your outdoor living space that should last for years,” says Kello. “Keep it looking its best with the right deck cleaners, sealers and stains to enhance its long-term beauty.”

 

Mahogany Deck by Deck and Patio

Mahogany Deck by Deck and Patio

“For New Wood Decks,” she continues:

•Allow the wood 6-8 weeks to dry prior to applying any sealer or stain.

•Apply a high-quality oil or water-based finish with UV protection to slow down the process of the wood turning gray from exposure to the sun.

•Apply a water repellent sealer at least every two years.

•And always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for new and re-applications.

Deck Care

•To provide long term aesthetic appeal, maintain a deck that is dry and clean.

•Keep your deck free from dirt and debris.

•Liquid detergents, water and a stiff bristle brush will remove most mildew and dirt.

•For hard to clean wood surfaces, use a deck brightener containing Oxalic acid to retain the wood’s natural beauty.

•Always follow the manufacturer’s mixing and application instructions.

•Never use household chloride bleaches on decks as it can cause damage to the wood fibers and fasteners.

•Care should be taken if a pressure-washer is used for cleaning decks, as excessive pressure may cause damage to your deck’s surface.

•Make sure water can drain away from the deck and there is adequate ventilation so water can evaporate to lessen mold and mildew growth.

— Edie Kello, Viance Company

 

 

But what if your deck is a composite? Well, all decks benefit from a bit of care and cleaning — even durable capped composite decks. Depending on the type of composite you have, the cleaning materials may vary. So we thought the best thing is to go right to the manufacturer’s mouth, so to speak.

 

Popular Composite Decking

Deck and Patio Trex Pool Surround & Deck

Deck and Patio Trex Pool Surround & Deck

 

 

For details on maintaining Trex decking, check out the information on their different Trex products at their website.

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

Deck and Patio Fiberon Deck

 

 

Here’s how to care and maintain your Fiberon deck from the manufacturer’s website’s blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

 

 

And as for TimberTech, you can download a PDF on how to care for your TimberTech Capped Composite Decking. 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert

 

July 4th Celebrations

July 4th Celebrations

 

July 4th is on Wednesday this year. And unless you want to use precious vacation days, it’s not ideal for getaways.

But if you have a deck or patio — as most of our clients do — you won’t have to go anywhere.

 

 

 

Rather than travel, why not use your home’s hardscape as a stage for a July 4th family concert? Even if it’s small in area, young kids would love to put on a dance recital.

Perhaps older members of the family can get out their acoustic guitars, ukuleles, fiddles, or accordions.

All you need is a family that doesn’t mind the spotlight. And, if one or more happen to play in a rock band — you’ve got the potential for one of your neighborhood’s best-ever July 4th parties.

 

Consider Jennifer and Art Vomvas, clients of ours from E. Norwich. They had just such a summer bash last year, that wasn’t even planned.

L-R, Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk)

L-R, Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk)

“My son, Paul, and his friends from the neighborhood formed a rock band, The Skiffs, a while back,” says Jennifer.

“One day last summer, they decided to practice in the backyard. It was a lovely day and a lot of neighbors were outside, so people started just gathering at our place, including Paul’s younger sister, Emily and her friends. It was Emily who took photos of them practicing.”

The music was a natural attraction, and the Vomvas family’s backyard patio ended up becoming the stage for an impromptu neighborhood rock concert.

“It was in full swing when I got home,” continues Jennifer. “It was completely organic. So I didn’t prepare anything for it in advance. But if I were planning to get my son’s band to play here on the 4th, I’d grab a few extra folding chairs for the neighbors. And instead of having them sit around our outdoor dining table, I’d move it aside and have a few buffet-style munchies people could grab and eat.”

Her son, Paul, adds, “We didn’t actually have this practice-concert on July 4th, but if we do one on the holiday, we would just include a few patriotic rock numbers in our sets.” (Ideas on that below).

 

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

Band Note

Paul Vomvas and his band play at The Homestead Restaurant in Oyster Bay on Wednesday nights.

They call themselves a Jam Band. They write their own songs in addition to doing covers of such rock legends as The Grateful Dead, the Talking Heads, and Herbie Hancock.

 

 

The Vomvas Patio

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

“Deck and Patio built our Belgian Block patio several years ago,” says Jennifer.“They designed it in two-tiers, in a curvy amorphous shape with attractive edging.

“The upper level is home to our barbecue and grill and dining table with chairs, and the lower area houses the fire pit with seating. And there are plantings around the perimeter. Last summer, Paul’s band just moved the upper-level chairs to the lower level, leaving the top tier empty for a stage.”

Jennifer adds that this design also adds interest and divides the space into almost two different rooms.

Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell says that another reason for designing a two-level patio is it helps to make smaller spaces appear larger. “This is particularly important in Nassau County, NY, where properties are tightly compacted,” he says.

 

 

 

Hosting a July 4th Home Rock Concert

 

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

If your deck or patio becomes the stage for a home Rock concert this July 4th, there’s several good patriotic anthems you could request if the band is familiar with them:

Who’ll ever forget Jimi Hendrix’s electric version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. There’s also John Mellencamps’ Little Pink Houses (a.k.a. Ain’t That America). Paul  recommends one of his favorites: U.S. Blues by The Grateful Dead.

So! As Jennifer says, why not borrow some folding chairs before the 4th. Have some easy finger food and drinks at the ready. Then plug in the guitars. Have someone agree to take the photos and video. And let your patio or deck be the stage. We’re pretty sure your neighbors will not only gather, but they might bring the beer and soft drinks, too.

Note: Our feature photo at the top of this page is of the E. Norwich band, The Skiffs. Pictured from L-R are:  Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk. Vomvas home photos by Emily Vomvas.

 

Now. Here’s a little John Mellencamp to get you in the Rock-concert-planning mood.

 

By |2018-06-21T11:38:36+00:00June 21st, 2018|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks|Comments Off on Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert

Outdoor Living: Breathe Free in a Room without Walls

Outdoor rooms don’t have to be elaborate affairs. Some may not require any construction at all.

Take the following Deck and Patio projects. Each one is designed to create the look and feeling of an outdoor room — yet, without constructing any walls.

In all cases, comfort and beauty in the design add to their appealing atmosphere. And with no walls at all, breathing free is guaranteed.

 

Pergolas

 

Pergolas Define Outdoor Space

Pergolas Define Outdoor Space

Adding only a handsome pergola and comfortable furniture, this backyard space has plenty of breathing room.

The elegance and size of the Travertine patio provided the perfect floor for a comfortable outdoor living room.

Note how the pergola’s overhead slats create a shadow carpet that helps define the sense of an elegant outdoor living room.

Along with the adjacent dining area, it is only steps from an outdoor kitchen/bar/barbecue, veneered in natural stone (see immediately below).

 

Travertine Patio/Outdoor Kitchen: Close to the outdoor living room and dining area is the client’s bar/barbecue. With a natural stone veneer, an semi-circular seat wall with the same veneer offers extra seating when entertaining.

Travertine Patio/Outdoor Kitchen: Close to the outdoor living room and dining area is the client’s bar/barbecue. With a natural stone veneer, an semi-circular seat wall with the same veneer offers extra seating when entertaining.

 

 

 

Pergola-Pavilions

Lighting for Outdoor Spaces

Lighting for Outdoor Spaces

 

If you want to enjoy your outdoor space into the evening hours you also have to think about lighting.

One way to handle this is with a closed roof.

This shingle-roof pergola/pavilion with fireplace project was installed at the edge of a patio.

Lighted handsome columns on stone pillars match the fireplace.

The lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

 

 

 

‘No Roof, No Walls’ Outdoor Rooms

 

Outdoor Room on Deck

Outdoor Room on Deck

Along with a hot tub set into a new multi-level deck, all the homeowners needed to have room to breathe was a fire pit and a television — no additional structure was required.

Note: Today’s LED televisions can be properly encased to be theft-free.

Encasing the television carefully will also ensure the proper internal temperature control/circulation to protect it.

There are also televisions designed for outside use which resist rain, dust and other elements.

 

 

 

‘No Fixed Structure’ at All

 

Landscaping Can Define Space

Landscaping Can Define Space

In the end, perhaps you don’t want any fixed structure at all.

These Deck and Patio clients opted to shade a self-supporting hammock with a tilt umbrella. They postponed them next to their pool’s waterfall — creating perfect breathing room space when the Purple Allijm are in bloom (forefront).

Yet, this outdoor room is also moveable. It can be relocated to a different landscaped spot when other seasonal plantings make attractive focal points.

Of course, you don’t need a pool or waterfalls for a tranquil place to refresh the spirit. A container garden can be grouped with seasonal flowers and you have the perfect place to rest — with all the outdoor breathing room you could ever need.

 

Happiness Is Having a Pond To Come Home To

 

A little while back, we posted on Facebook two ‘before and after’ photos of this special Deck and Patio pond project.

Apparently they were so appealing, even Facebook’s change in algorithms (ahem) couldn’t limit post viewers and responses. Indeed, these pics were so well received, we thought we’d revisit the pond project in today’s blog. Enjoy!

 

 

Background

 ‘Before’ Pond Project Photo

‘Before’ Pond Project Photo

 

Shortly after the homeowner purchased his property, he contacted us.

An entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

He asked us to accentuate a beautiful 1880 bridge structure with a man-made reflecting pond.

 

 

 

Pond Project

 

“I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”

–Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

 

 

 Reflecting Koi Pond (Long Island/NY): Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. This water feature is more than 240 feet long and 60 feet so it also captures the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful water expanse made the perfect habitat for koi.

Reflecting Koi Pond (Long Island/NY):

Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. This water feature is more than 240 feet long and 60 feet wide so it also captures the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful expanse of water made the perfect habitat for koi.

 

 

Ideal Pond Design for Koi (Long Island/NY): Deck and Patio’s team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

Ideal Pond Design for Koi (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio’s team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

 

 

Pond Waterfall (Long island/NY): Our designers incorporated a 12’ waterfall with a 20,000 gallon-per-hour water flow. This helps keep the pond fresh and aerated with oxygen.

Pond Waterfall (Long island/NY):

Our designers incorporated a 12’ waterfall with a 20,000 gallon-per-hour water flow. This helps keep the pond fresh and aerated with oxygen.

 

 

Large Reflecting Pond with Stone Bridge (Long Island/NY): The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water. The water stays this way because we used a natural ecosystem to keep it clean. There is a large bog filter at the waterfall on one end, with a 3,000 gallon pondless reservoir with two 20,000 GPH pumps feeding the waterfall.

Large Reflecting Pond with Stone Bridge (Long Island/NY):

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water. The water stays this way because we used a natural ecosystem to keep it clean. There is a large bog filter at the waterfall on one end, with a 3,000 gallon pondless reservoir with two 20,000 GPH pumps feeding the waterfall.

 

 

Award-Winning Reflecting Pond (Long Island/NY): This pond, we’re proud to add, won a God medal award from the Association of Pool and Spa professionals (APSP) for “Residential Water Feature” as part of their "International Awards of Excellence.”

Award-Winning Reflecting Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond, we’re proud to add, won a God medal award from the Association of Pool and Spa professionals (APSP) for “Residential Water Feature” as part of their “International Awards of Excellence.”

 

 

Memorial Weekend: Time to Take It Outside!

We Remember.

We Remember.

With a little help from the weather gods, outdoor living season kicks off over Memorial Weekend.

Of course, Memorial Day itself is first and foremost a time to honor our fallen soldiers. And we all want to do that.

But as a precious long weekend, it has also become a time of getting together with family and friends. And as the first weekend of the outdoor living season, it’s ideal for opening pools, heating up the barbecue, spending time gardening — or just reveling in being outdoors.

 

Locating Your Outdoor Kitchen

 

Locating Outdoor Kitchen

Locating Outdoor Kitchen

Fully equipped kitchens have become a key outdoor living amenity.

And there are reasons for locating your outdoor kitchen away from the house — if you have a ‘destination’ pool, or if other key outdoor living areas are set at a distance.

However, it’s generally a good idea to position your outdoor kitchen as close to the house as possible.

Proximity to your indoor kitchen is one obvious reason for this. But your home’s extended roof, not to mention house walls, can provide protection from the elements.

It’s also easier to hook up electricity by being so close to the home’s utility lines.

 

 

Combo Kitchen/Bar

Combo Kitchen/Bar

When you want your kitchen to be equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot, however, you may want to set your kitchen where the outdoor activities take place.

In this case, your outdoor kitchen needs to be fully equipped so there’s less back and forth to the house. This means having lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, and definitely it should have a sink.

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

 

Stand Alone Outdoor Bars

 

Bar With Water Feature

Bar With Water Feature

 

Depending on what amenities you already have, or your particular landscape, it can be wise to have an outdoor bar/dining spot separate from where the cooking is being done.

And don’t limit yourself to what a bar can be. For example, you can even add waterfalls. The elegant sheet falling ones seen in the photo here gave our clients the sleek modern look they wanted. And, of course, they also provide a very pleasant relaxing sound. This helps friends and family de-stress and invites easy conversation.

We installed the waterfalls with an Aquascape Inc. pondless waterfall system so a pond was not required to capture the falling water.

 

Adding Pool Amenities

 

Pools with Waterfalls

Pools with Waterfalls

Speaking of de-stressing. You might think that being able to cool off, do laps, or play water polo is enough to demand of a swimming pool.

But adding waterfalls can provide a whole new delightful experience.

Not only are these beautiful to look at, but imagine treading water underneath one. Or swimming under it.

Adding such a feature to a pool opens up lots of possibilities like incorporating other fun amenities with it: diving rocks, slides, as well as bright plantings.

There’s lots more to enjoying the outdoor living season. And we will highlight some of these as the season goes on.

 

 

Pool Waterfall

Pool Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape Upgrade: Before, After and In-Between ‘Spool’ Construction

When we previously highlighted this Deck and Patio backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago, our blog posts showcased only the finished project.

However, because this spool has remained a popular download across our social media platforms even today, we thought readers would like to see some of our file photos (below) for this project. They capture its various stages — from the first marking of the grass, to the finished landscaped custom spool with waterfall.

Short Summary of Project

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

 

'Before:' Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

 

“During Spring” As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug so we could do this.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

“During” Waterfall Addition: The boulders needed for a good-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

“During” Waterfall Addition:
The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

 

'Before' the Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see on the right the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small piece of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

‘During’ Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

 “After” Landscaping: First angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard patio.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

 

 

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.

Time to Update Your Backyard Pool Area?

Design/Build Showcase: Deck and Patio transforms cramped backyard into perfect landscape for parties and entertaining

 

 

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

 New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their dated backyard pool area, their main problems were that their old wood deck and red brick patios (above left photo) beside the pool were too small and unusable for parties and entertaining.

In addition, the old retaining wall took away from the attractiveness of the pool area.

Our creative team introduced a unique concept to deal with this area: re-grade the slope, turning it into a “natural” retaining wall (above right photo) including a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden in its place.

For the seven-foot-high “sheet” waterfall and stream, we used Aquascape Inc.’ pondless waterfall system, which allows for a good deal of water volume to create the dramatic effect.

“We particularly value Aquascape’s waterfall systems because they focus, like we do, on an ecosystem approach to water features,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “For this project, the pondless system relies on a natural balance of circulation, filtration, plants, rocks and gravel to ensure sustainability.”

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Another reason our waterfall retaining wall system looks so natural is our waterfall installation team understands how water flows over rock and how it releases from the rock in order to create a natural look and feel.

We avoid the look of steps in the waterfall by making the water change directions in the waterfalls and streams.

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping. Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter and added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

Refurbished Pool and Patio

Refurbished Pool and Patio

With the slope stabilized, our team addressed pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the original liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered.

The solution was to straighten the wall and fill the block in with concrete and steel rebars for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were then added, as well as new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and new liner was installed.

After this, the pool was carefully backfilled and tamped. We compacted the soil back around the pool in three-inch lifts to allow for the immediate installation of new pavers around the pool.

This compacting process is not done by many contractors. The idea is that using compacted soil the base will not settle, so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle.

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers from Cambridge (Sahara). These particular pavers have little or no color fade and the random design pattern adds interest to the patio. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.

 

Close up of Installed Patio

Close up of Installed Patio

The clients chose elegant clean-lined pavers in a random pattern for the new patio areas surrounding the pool.

The clients love their new patio and pondless waterfall. Not only do they find themselves outside more often enjoying nature’s sights and sounds, they have room for parties and entertaining.

In fact, their perfect backyard was there all along — it just needed a vision to bring it out.

 

 

Is Travertine Right for My New Patio?

Understanding what Travertine is, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it reacts in different areas, is something members of our team have discussed with stone experts from around the world.

We have also studied existing Travertine projects over a period of years to see what actually holds up — and what doesn’t — in our climate.

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years.

It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

Italian Travertine, revered for its hardness and porosity, is what the Coliseum in Rome was constructed of, so the durability of Italian Travertine is not in question, although it can be expensive.

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe and is widely used beyond Italy —  mostly in tropical locations for patios, walks, terraces, etc. Although it is typically used indoors in colder climates, there has been an increase in its usage outdoors, in and around pools and homes.

But can all Travertine stone be used this way?

The answer is no, or at least it shouldn’t for best results. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

Turkish Travertine, is very common and, in most instances, is less expensive than the Italian. It does hold up quite well in our Northeast’s freeze/thaw climate.

Be aware, however, that some companies offer very inexpensive Travertine for use outdoors and may seem to be a great deal. However, they may be using stone quarried in, say, China, where the qualities of such stone differ considerably and will not stand up to certain climates. Just because a stone is called “Travertine,” don’t assume it’s all the same. It’s not.

Below, we are highlighting an example of a Travertine (from Turkey) patio we built for clients.

 

Travertine Patio

Travertine Patio

For this expansive Travertine patio, Deck and Patio installed Travertine from Turkey — for its beauty, density and porosity — which we could guarantee would withstand our area’s severe climate changes and maintain its elegance.

 

Travertine’s Appeal

Travertine’s Appeal

The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.” This particular project used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine, and over 180 linear feet of fullnose coping for the pool and spa.

In our area of the Northeast (Long Island, NY), the summer sun gets intense. However, Travertine does not absorb the heat like brick or bluestone, and is similar to light-colored concrete pavers where heat is not retained in the paver. This makes it ideal as a pool surround, where being barefoot is unavoidable.

 

Outdoor Kitchens:

Outdoor Kitchens:

Deck and Patio used a natural stone for the veneer of the bar/barbecue and constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall. This created a unique contrast between the patio, bar area and the extensive back veneer used for the house.

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool and it was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offers a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Travertine doesn’t absorb heat like other materials and offers an elegant contrast to robust lawns and plantings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Type of Pond Will Be Best in My Yard?

“We feel just about any yard can accommodate some sort of pond,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“Whether your yard is expansive or is no bigger than a proverbial postage stamp, ponds range in size from small — to double-ponds and even those with vanishing edges.”

Dave adds that no matter the size, the sounds and beauty of a pond waterscape will offer a welcome place of serenity while attracting delightful wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and croaking frogs.

 

Small Ponds

 

Small Pond with Waterfall

Small Pond with Waterfall

 

For these clients, we tucked a small pond and waterfall into the corner of their driveway.

By adding beautiful creeping ground cover and boulders, even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits.

Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, we used Mother Nature’s own gravity to pump water naturally in the pond.

 

 

 

 

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Pondless Waterfall (Photo: Aquascape Inc.)

Sometimes, when very young children are involved, clients worry that a full, deep pond might present safety concerns. In these cases, many of our clients choose a pondless waterfall.

In a pondless waterfall, river rock allows water to seep down into the ground where it is captured in a below-ground reservoir and recirculated.

And, since regular ponds require seasonal maintenance to keep them healthy and beautiful, a pondless waterfall is easier to care for.

Another reason for choosing a pondless waterfall came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals.

Lastly, budget and property size can be factors. A large space is not needed when you go pondless.

 

 

Medium-Sized Ponds

 

Fun for All

Fun for All

As design and build experts, Deck and Patio always advises installing your pond where you can enjoy it from a deck, patio, bedroom, or kitchen.

It’s important to note that not just humans appreciate a pond water feature.

In addition to the family pooch being endlessly fascinated, birds and butterflies will be attracted. Birds, in particular, love gently moving water.

Just provide a place for them to land, such as rock platforms, or design a shallow end as part of the feature. And by keeping the water circulating, this will also help prevent mosquito larvae from hatching.

 

 

Larger Ponds

 

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

Aquatic Plants are Helpful

When there is room and a budget for a large pond, like this koi pond with several waterfalls and a stream, a backyard can become a private sanctuary.

Note: because ponds do not have too much water action, water lilies are ideal plants, which is especially helpful in larger ponds.

Not only do they produce fragrant flowers that are beautiful, they add shade which helps keep the water temperature down during the heat of summer.

The lower temperature reduces undesirable algae growth; and when koi or other fish are present, water lilies provide great shelter for the fish while keeping the water clear and clean-looking.

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pond

Vanishing Edge Pond

A pond can reach its zenith if it’s possible to give it a vanishing edge. Although these are more commonly done for pools, if local regulations limit the addition of a pool, a pond might be the answer.

That was the case for this multi-part Deck and Patio water feature. It captures the glorious sunsets over Long Island Sound and appears to connect right out to the water’s edge. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, and second lower pond.

Under the feature’s beauty, an extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system using Aquascape Inc. products is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal clear water.