Creative Design

/Creative Design

How Do I Create a Private Outdoor Space?

As youngsters, we had our bedroom where could hide away from too much family togetherness. And you know, we still need a little space we can call our own— or, at least, use on our own. And having such a space outdoors is perhaps the best escape of all.

That’s true even if we already have a fabulous backyard. For if it wasn’t designed with a view for private time, it can be hard to find quiet: e.g., around an active barbecue, busy outdoor dining table, and especially near a pool.

First, Assess What You Have

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, perhaps — it’s not all that hard to create such a spot.

Remember that when it calls for it, your getaway can serve double-duty as a gathering place and a spot for solitude. And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed location.

Now for some tips and examples:

Tip # 1

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. These amenities will not only serve your new personal retreat, they can also be shared. A waterfall, or pretty flower bed, by definition can’t help but be enjoyed from a variety of locations in the yard.

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this Deck and Patio waterfall focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends. The pre-existing patio foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown)

 

Tip # 2 

Create a foundation for a getaway. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

Small Patio For Reading or Writing: 

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the water feature. It’s a great spot to read, while sitting next to a trickling stream and the sounds of waterfalls. Note: The Techo-Bloc patio pavers were engineered in Canada, and they can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.

 

Tip # 3 

Consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

Your Own Private Space:

Your Own Private Space:

If you are planning a whole new patio, this is a great opportunity to plan ahead for that private space. Choosing a multi-level patio design like this Deck and Patio project makes delineating a private get-away space easy. Here, there’s a charming water feature flowing over moss rock covered in lush green ground cover; tall trees create privacy in the background; it’s snug and well away from other patio areas designed for sunning or sitting near the pool.

 

Tip # 4 

Think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

This is a pleasant example of a space that is great for guests and family as well as for quiet private time. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room to add an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the look of their pool’s waterfalls. It’s perfect in the evenings, too. 

 

 

Benefits of Water Gardens: Raising Independent, Confident Kids

There is much debate today whether ‘helicopter’ parenting, i.e., hovering closely around children as they grow up, is better than the more old-fashioned ‘free range’ way,  or more limited parental supervision.

The goal of both sides, of course, is raising confident, independent and safe kids. 

But it was the free-range side of this discussion that caught our eye this week. A recent NPR article focused on how some parents believe that to raise confident and independent children, they need to “let grow.”

The ‘let grow’ is a terrific play on words — especially since what’s behind it emphases the advantages children experience by exploring, on their own, a beautiful outdoor natural environment. 

This does not surprise us at Deck and Patio. We’ve been hearing for many years how much the children of our clients gain by being able to explore Nature close up in a backyard water feature like a pond.

“Not everyone lives near a large park with streams, or a pond, abundant with flora and fauna,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And not every parent is comfortable with letting children stray too far away from home in order to experience this.”

But on answer is certainly adding a wildlife refuge (small wildlife that is) in one’s own property.

As this wonderful video (below) from Aquascape Inc.’s Facebook page shows, when done well, these features can attract lots of interesting and friendly creatures that children love:  birds, frogs, salamanders, butterflies.

Not to mention by adding koi and lovely aquatic plants, depending on their age, children can be entertained as well as educated — on their own — for hours at a time.

 

 

Now while there are a few things to consider, like an ideal pond depth for the age of the children, with a little care, koi ponds bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, many adults can’t resist a swim.

So whether you believe in being a ‘helicopter’ parent, or come down on the side of ‘free range,’ with a backyard koi pond, kids can explore without being far from a watchful eye. They’ll learn independence choosing what to study on any given day: a croaking frog, a bird bathing in the cool water, or jeweled koi eager to be fed.

 

Pond Lessons for Kids

Pond Lessons for Kids

In return for your providing the clean pond water, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides.

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Natural Playscape with Pond:

Natural Playscape with Pond (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio designed/built this city oasis with a temporary 8” shallow pond for younger children, which can be easily turned into a full-size koi pond when the children get older.

Stepping stones lead from the playhouse across the pond to a patio at the back of the house — where parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends can sit and watch the children play and explore (ahem). 

 

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY): Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in their pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Even when the weather is chilly, kids enjoy studying what’s happening in a pond. And when winter comes, and the koi hibernate, they might be able to skate on it. This is one time, no one argues that helicopter parenting isn’t a good thing. Parents will definitely be the ones checking to know if the pond is truly frozen.

 

 

 

 

Testing the Water with a Small Water Feature

Not every property, or budget, can accommodate an expansive (albeit glorious) backyard pond — with multiple waterfalls (sigh) and maybe even room to swim (amazing). Some may not be sure they’d even want such a large feature and would like to test something smaller first.

If you are hesitant about a larger pond or water feature project, we’re showcasing today two more modest ideas — good examples of how you can dip your toe in the water so-to-speak, whether you live in bustling New York City, or the slower-paced, and occasionally closely-built neighborhoods of Long Island. 

 

Hauppauge, NY

Deck and Patio designed and built a Trex deck with two elegant “platform” staircases surrounded by planting beds around an accent tree.

Left Platform Staircase

Left Platform Staircase

Right Platform Staircase

Right Platform Staircase

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though space was at a premium, during construction we suggested the idea of adding a small water feature and pond. 

 

Micro Pond by Deck and Patio

Micro Pond by Deck and Patio

 

“Our designer was inspired by “Falling Water” by Frank Lloyd Wright,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“But, of course, on a much smaller scale.”

The micro-pond with waterfall was added in an old planting bed on their property that contoured in and around the deck and platform stairs.

“Now every time they enter or leave the house our clients enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond — without taking up much space.”

 

 

 

 

New York City, NY

Courtyard: Before

Courtyard: Before

Courtyard: After

Courtyard: After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The former courtyard of these Deck and Patio clients was rustic and not at all in keeping with their more sophisticated contemporary tastes. Deck and Patio designed for them a water wall and pond project right in the heart of New York City.

 

Water Wall by Deck and Patio

Water Wall by Deck and Patio

The wall was constructed with a trough at the top. A weir controls the flow of the feature’s water into the trough, allowing it to be increased or decreased.

We also took care to install the weir perfectly level to ensure the water flows evenly over the top of the wall. 

“There are no spills between the bluestone slabs of the wall,” explains Dave. “Some of the slabs were pulled out slightly to create a splash off of them in key spots.

We also added a variable speed pump so the water can flow slow and quiet or fast and loud.”

This water wall also has a variable drive pump with an Intelliflow by Pentair. A narrow pond underneath the wall captures the flowing water and recirculates it. 

 

“Not all water features need take up a lot of space,” says Dave. “Yet they can still enhance your outdoor living with the sounds and sights of falling water.” 

 

 

 

Conserving Rainwater: One Raindrop at a Time

Despite the inconvenience of rain being forecast over Labor Day weekend, while we’re home enjoying some time off, the rain does offer a teachable moment.

Rainfall is important, isn’t it. Just about all Long Island’s water comes from local aquifers, replenished by rain and snow. As we can see in California, where they are long suffering from droughts, it’s frightening that their aquifers are depleting.

In speaking a while back with Nick Menchyk, assistant Professor (Urban Horticulture & Design) at SUNY Farmingdale, he reminded us:

“On the east coast, while we typically get plenty of rain, any time we can harvest and use rainwater for irrigating our landscape — as opposed to pulling it from our aquifers — is going to be beneficial.”

Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell adds that this is even more important as sea levels rise and the concern that salt water will encroach on our landscapes.

Professor Menchyk says that while he does not consider himself an expert in rainwater harvesting and rain gardens, he told us he is convinced that it’s only a matter of time when the greater eastern seaboard will be looking to how we irrigate.

“Whether we like it or not, the future holds limitations in the amount of water we use. Rainwater harvesting is a way we can be responsible stewards of our environment now.”

 

Outdoor Water Use

Outdoor Water Use

 

Outdoor Water Use

The “average” homeowner, according to statistics, uses approximately 3,000 gallons of water weekly with about 70% used outdoors.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio’s Rainwater Harvesting Division

Deck and Patio’s Rainwater Harvesting Division

 

As landscapers, maintaining water quality is one of our passions at Deck and Patio.

We have a special division — Rainwater Harvesting Group — dedicated to installing rainwater collection systems that alleviate demand on municipal systems, reduce water bills — all while beautifying and enhancing landscapes and properties.

 

 

 

Capturing Rainwater

Self-Sustaining Eco-Systems

Self-Sustaining Eco-Systems

Deck and Patio specializes in installing systems that capture, filter, and recirculate rainwater, in sufficient amounts that also supply and keep topped off peaceful water features.

This project, for example, includes a stream and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting water collection system. City water is not used. The feature attracts desirable wildlife such as frogs, butterflies, birds etc. creating a delightful wildlife refuge.

The captured rainwater works together with the carefully chosen plants, fish, rocks and gravel, to maintain a balanced system for long-term sustainability.

 

 

Permeable Pavers Will Capture Rainwater

Permeable Pavers Capture Rainwater

Sometimes, as shown here, we also use permeable pavers to ensure we capture sufficient rainwater to maintain the landscape — as well as allow clients to wash their cars and/or hose down their decks and patios. 

And when you consider that local Long island water companies frequently charge an incremental rate, based on the amount of water used, capturing all the non-ingestive water you need from rainfall, the lower your rate will be.

 

Capturing Roof Runoff

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff

Harvesting Rainwater Roof Runoff

For this project, four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff.

It then falls through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the Aquascape reservoir.

There it is recycled for reuse in irrigation and to top off a backyard pond when needed.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ Rainwater Harvesting process for this feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Ponds and pond-less water features can be more than picturesque. They provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.

 

US Green LEED Grants:

US Green LEED Grants:

These Brooklyn clients have a four-story walk-up and they wanted to collect all the water that comes off their roof. In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, they hoped to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. 

According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.

With the system we installed, they collect enough rainwater to take care of their landscape and vegetable garden. More on this Brooklyn, NY, project in future blogs.

Even City Life Can Boast a Backyard Refuge

Whether it’s the long Labor Day holiday weekend created for workers, or simply the few scattered hours you squeeze out of a relentless workweek, it’s nice to enjoy some free time in blissful leisure at home.

Location, Location, Location

However, what if your property isn’t located in a pastoral area that allows for inviting quiet time? What if your locality is all hustle-bustle? Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise — in the very heart of Queens, a teaming borough of New York City.

In this atmosphere, even adding a pool and patio wouldn’t provide the escape the homeowners desired. To create for them a real backyard oasis, we had to block out the noise and oppressive atmosphere.

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions

One of the best ways to screen out noise is a sizable waterfall and the clients opted for one to provide splashing sounds into their new pool. In addition, our clients asked us to build a 12-foot-high concrete block wall. While useful as a noise and environs barrier, a wall can be a bit oppressive in itself.

So the next challenge was to soften the wall’s appearance. First, we planted bamboo around its perimeter. Bamboo can be invasive so we encased the woody grass with concrete blocks to limit its spreading.

Special Feature

One thing great about interior and exterior walls is they make an ideal canvas. Taking full advantage of the wall, Deck and Patio designed and supervised the layout of a “living wall” that can hold multiple-sized pots for plants. When completed, the living wall became living art — changing in color and shape almost daily. (For details on living wall – see photos 5, 6, below.)

 The result: the clients may live in a busy part of New York City, but their Labor Days — and every spare moment they can muster— will be spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Water cascading over rock into another water pool is a natural sound barrier that is peaceful and soothing to the soul. 

 

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

The sounds of the waterfalls, the colorful landscaping and the dramatic concrete block wall together give a sense of refuge in this bustling part of one of America’s five largest cities.

 

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

The free-form vinyl-liner pool includes boulder coping, and a moss rock waterfall with robust plantings that help beautify the wall. 

 

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

The pool’s surrounding patio is made from Techo-Bloc pavers that handsomely complement the 12-foot-high wall and smaller concrete encasement for the bamboo.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

“There are many types of Living Walls; interior and exterior, permanent or seasonal walls, and then there is the ‘Plug n Play’ (manufactured and trademarked by Green Living Technologies, International or GLTi) that we used here.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

The Plug n Play is very versatile and can be manufactured to accept multiple-sized pots (3” to 12″). Drip irrigation is set up on alternating rows and trickles down to each row below; excess water is either captured or drains. Plants are set on an angle with their holes faced downward so the roots/soil can sap up water via wicking effect. These units can be fastened to any type of wall; using the right type of fastener for each respective wall type.

 

Recipe for a Delightful Garden: Just Add Water!

Just add flowing water, that is!

As garden designers and landscapers, we know flower beds take thought. Color, textures, soil, how much sun or shade, etc. But there’s one easy garden complement that makes any flower bed transformative in how it delights the soul. Even small gardens become something wonderful when the sights and sounds of flowing water are added.

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) may be surprised that we also specialize in smaller water features such as fountains.

Why Are Garden Water Features So Desirable?

First. By bringing the sounds of nature as close as your doorstep, flowing water immediately makes any garden feel more like a part of the natural landscape. 

Second. Not only will you enjoy the sights and sounds of water, but butterflies and birds, and other desirable critters will appreciate your efforts. It feels really good to know you’re supporting such lovable wildlife — and you get to watch them as they take advantage of it. 

Third. A fountain can fit just about anywhere. No need to plan or find room for an elaborate pondscape or another expansive water feature. A fountain (which comes in all sizes) can be added just about anywhere — although we recommend installing it where you can enjoy it from both your patio and inside your home. (More on that below.)

Fourth. A water fountain can run most of the year — including winter. Even when your fall plantings are gone to seed, so to speak, you’ll have something beautiful to look at.

 

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

This photo is one such garden fountain that we added for clients who had recently moved to a new home. (This fountain is also seen above as our feature photo) 

When working at their property, one of our team members mentioned that it felt like the garden was missing something — a feature that would offer both the sound and relaxing sight of water movement. 

The clients agreed that a garden fountain would be an ideal finishing touch in such limited space.

 

And here’s a 5-second video for you to hear the water music of that installation:  

 

 

DIY Fountain Projects

If you’d like to add one of these fountains on your own, all you need is a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a level. 

Then, adding a bag of decorative gravel and mulch, you have a picture-perfect-and-sound-perfect-fountain that not only you will enjoy but so will many of Nature’s lovable wildlife.

Here is a step-by-step DIY video from Aquascape, followed by a link to the various fountains they have available. You can contact them directly — or give us a call to help you make the right choice for your garden, and also install it for you, if you would rather not do it yourself.

 

  

And for a video of the various fountains available from Aquascape or Deck and Patio:

 

 

 

Inviting Pool Amenity: Hidden Grotto with Dramatic Waterfall

This backyard upgrade came our way as a referral from someone working with the clients. It went on to win an award, making it all the more special.

The overall project included a free-form concrete pool and spa. But a special part of the design is where the spa was placed — it’s actually hidden inside a large grotto with a high waterfall cascading over it into the pool. 

“We constructed the grotto from large moss rock boulders,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The ceiling is of structural steel and concrete. We also added a tanning shelf inside the pool in the shallow end large enough so that lounge chairs can rest in the water.”

The pool was then surrounded with a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio finished it all with lush landscaping.

 

Pool Grotto:

Pool Grotto:

A key element in giving the pool grotto a natural feel was the extensive use of moss rock. Placing these rocks requires skill and experience. They need to be positioned in a way so that water spills over them like it would appear in nature — like something you’d see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside the spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but is fed by a meandering man-made stream overhead.

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view of the pool seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders. 

 

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

The beautiful design of these paving stones was also inspired by nature as well. The clients chose them for their handsome earth-and sand-tones which we laid out in a random pattern. They offer the perfect contrast to the blue water of the lagoon-style pool.

This project won Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

No Longer a Bystander: Everyone Gathers at Your Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

Do you find yourself asking: What do I want more…a custom outdoor bar or an outdoor kitchen? 

Well consider this. Why not combine these amenities in one handsome outdoor activity center. We’re talking about creating a custom area that is equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot.

Never a Bystander 

A fully equipped custom activity area allows the person doing the cooking to enjoy the company of family and friends in an outdoor setting. With everything needed close at hand, you no longer have to spend a lot of the fun time in a remote kitchen and then transport the meal outside.

Now, that’s outdoor living.

Consider our first example. Deck and Patio created this outdoor kitchen/bar in much that way. 

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

The first step in planning any multi-purpose activity center is to pick a spot where much of the outdoor activities take place. Then you can design it the right size and shape to fit. In this case, it was built on a new patio close to the pool and sun bathing parts of their yard.

The design, which at one end includes a higher raised bar/dining area, incorporated lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, as well as a sink in the kitchen part of the activity center. Being such a fully equipped kitchen, there is less back and forth to the house, so it could be positioned further away from their indoor kitchen. 

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.

 

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

For this project, Deck and Patio constructed a custom activity area on the mid-level of a 3-level deck. Just steps from the top-level’s large seating area, the custom outdoor kitchen/dining area includes a new grill, refrigerator, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. In this case, it’s a truly peaceful spot since we installed a water feature with waterfalls next to their new portable hot tub. It creates a great atmosphere for conversation and enjoying an outdoor meal and drinks. The bar and outdoor kitchen counter was constructed in a curved shape to mimic the patio design. It is granite topped and the base of the activity center is faced in natural stone. The lounging area’s outdoor umbrella is portable, allowing for flexible shade areas, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Deck and Patio again used natural stone for the veneer of this custom bar/barbecue activity center. We also 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 design contrast between the patio lounge area and the kitchen/bar setting. It also allows for a extra seating space when there’s a crowd.

 

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

For easy dining and before and after cocktail hours, Deck and Patio created this handsome stone-faced outdoor kitchen with a raised bar.

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill. In addition, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry were chosen to last a long time.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

The lower level of this patio is made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

The colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

This Deck and Patio outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with bar stools. The natural stone facade of the activity center harmonizes nicely with the design of their new patio and mimics the facade around the custom fire pit. Again, flexible shade makes the outdoor bar/dining area a natural draw when the sun is strong. 

 

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