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Landscaping Ideas: Pulling Out All the Stops

You love to cook and no ordinary outdoor barbecue will do. Gathering with family and friends in the evening around a fire is also your nirvana. And you want your kids to spend time enjoying a good swim.

The question is how do we as a family want to spend time together in 2022?

To formulate the perfect landscaping plan for your family, first, it is the job of professionals like Deck and Patio to understand each client. Are you avid gardeners, for example? Or will you want plants that survive with little effort?

How a plan combines hardscapes (patios, driveways, etc.) with the softscapes (trees, plantings and grasses) is very important. In addition, how homeowners will use the space, the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

 

Manhasset Project

Manhasset Project

This Manhasset, Long Island, family had a large list of amenities that we designed and built for them:

— a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool;

— a flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall;

— a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone; 

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

— and a very special amenity: a large sunken fire pit. 

The veneer of the fire pit was also used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa. It’s all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

“They wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says our own Dave Stockwell “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. It was that they were repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them which to us is the very best testimonial.”

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

 

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

 

“In designing the large 16’ x 32’ pavilion with fireplace, we also dealt with the fact that our clients wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these are effective in deterring irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather,” says Dave.

For colder weather, the large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside of a new pavilion, but flush to it. This allows for the maximum of space.

 

 

 

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Deck and Patio captured some drama with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

 

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradise: An Oasis-style Pool with Portable Spa

 ‼️ Note:  We’ve got CalSpas in stock here at our Deck and Patio design center in Greenlawn. ‼️

 

Pools and hot tubs may both be water features but they are not interchangeable.  One is for relaxing and letting tensions drain away and the other is for lively activity. Both are wonderful elements in any backyard oasis.

The project we’re highlighting today was for a family who originally contacted us for a pool with waterfall, quality patio and a “spillover spa.” 

Portable Spa (Left) with Waterfall Below

Portable Spa (Left) with Waterfall Below

“Custom in-ground spas, especially spillovers,” says Dave Stockwell, “are usually connected to the pool’s functions. So when the pool is shut down  — usually by late September here on Long Island — the spa gets shut down, too.

“Our idea was rather than build the usual pool-connecting cement spa, to install a portable hot in a way that looked built in — and with a waterfall just below it.”

After the clients realized that with the portable spa they’d also get superb hydrotherapy benefits, they agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted.

Plus, while in the pool — and from many parts of the patio — this additional waterfall appears as if the water’s coming out from the spa — or that it’s a spillover hot tub.

 

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa Project

The completed backyard retreat includes a free-form pool that is surrounded by plant material that was chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow. 

“We wanted to ensure that their backyard will be a lovely oasis for a long time to come,” says Dave.

 

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, Wild Ride slide, portable spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patio.

“Even during seasons when the pool is closed, there’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area so the view from the hot tub remains very pleasant for most of the year.”

 

Spill Over Spa:

Spill Over Spa:

Deck and Patio set the portable spa all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it — and added a moss rock waterfall just beneath that splashes into the pool.

 

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Next to the Wild Ride slide that also spills water into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over an extended rock. The free-form vinyl pool was designed with an expansive tanning shelf that boasts room for two large S-shaped recliners. Having no legs, the recliners sit right in the water for a comfortable way to keep cool and sunbathe at the same time.

 

Cambridge Paver Patio:

Cambridge Paver Patio:

The handsome patio/pool surround is made with durable Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection). These pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design.

 

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

APSP Bronze Award): To provide the look the clients wanted – a custom spillover spa — along with year-round use, we built the portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it. Bluestone stepping stones allow for more softscape to be seen.

 

 

Professional Tips for Enjoying Your Deck in Winter

‼️ Removing Snow – ‼️Keeping Warm on Your Deck – ‼️Trapping Your Heat – ‼️A Fun Deck Amenity (Hot Tub)

 

So far —  knock on wood — in our part of the Northeast, we’ve been experiencing quite the mild spell as the official winter season approaches. But even if and when it gets much colder, you’ll be surprised how much you can use your deck, even after it snows.

To provide some professional tips on doing just that, we spoke a while back with Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at one of the top capped-composite decking manufacturers: Fiberon Decking. 

 

‼️ Removing Snow From Your Deck

 

Remove Snow from Your Deck/Photo Fiberon

Remove Snow from Your Deck/Photo Fiberon

 

It is key to remove any existing snow from your deck, says Kello. But he notes, 

whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, he recommends not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones. 

“And if you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface.  Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled ‘safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass,’” he says.

He suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow. Sand can mar a deck’s surface.

Protecting Your Pets

Protecting Your Pets

 

“If the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel. Also, sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue is a very good idea. This is especially important if you have pets.

“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“

 

 

‼️ Keeping Warm on Your Deck

 

Having a deck heater (or patio heater) will allow you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer. 

“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.

Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

“However, fire pits and fireplaces are other very popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.

“It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”

 

Fire Pits/Fire Tables: A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:
A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

‼️ Trapping Your Heat

 

Deck Covering/Fiberon Decking and Railing

Deck Covering/Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. 

“It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.

 

 

 

‼️ Now, for A Fun Deck Amenity!

 

If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.

Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.

Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.

 

She also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. “If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

She also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. “If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and a general Happy Holidays to everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designing and Building a Water Feature During the Colder Months

“You would be quite surprised what can be built during these colder months,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Depending on the water feature you want, even if it’s not fully built until spring, now is a great time to start. 

Backyard ponds can become rinks in winter

Backyard ponds can become rinks in winter

“Ponds and other water features can also be stunning in winter,” says Dave. “Many people love to be outdoors in winter and a pond helps create the perfect winter wonderland in their own yards.

Indeed, a popular trend these days is creating a winter walk “event” by strolling by lighted trees, a fully-operating water feature with waterfalls, and also enjoying an ice rink for skating.

Even if begun today, however, a backyard pond won’t be ready in time for Santa to skate on it this Christmas. But it’s possible, depending on the weather, that it will be ready in time for some family ice skating later this winter.  (See below for some tips on turning a pond into a skating rink.)

 

Landscape Design/Build During Winter

While the following project isn’t a pond — it is a ‘spool’ (or a cross between a spa and pool — it is a good example of designing and building backyard upgrades in winter. 

 

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new 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 snow was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spool which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

“During.” Winter snow was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spool 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 allowing us to proceed early.

“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.

 

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 Sandalwood) 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 Sandalwood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

Enjoying water features all year long:

 

Ponds in Autumn

Ponds in Autumn

 

Ponds in Winter/Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Ponds in Winter/Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

A few autumn leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color.  Learn more here.

 

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

 

It takes some prep work and lots of caution and care to make a rink, but according to naturally-recognized “The Pond Guy” you can, indeed, turn your pond into a rink for skating.

The Pond Guy has several blogs on this topic covering how to create good ice, what red flags to look for, how to check the ice, and how to create a glassy smooth surface. For two of his blogs, click here and here. 

 

 

 

Holiday Gifts: Surprise the Family with a New Landscaping Plan

Your spouse has been begging for a hot tub. The kids have been relentless in asking for a pool. And for some time, you’ve felt your patio or deck are in great need of an upgrade. 

Computerized Landscaping Plan as a Gift

Computerized Landscaping Plan as a Gift

While you probably couldn’t get a full backyard upgrade wish list constructed in time for the holidays (unless all you want is, say, a portable hot tub), you do have time to surprise the family with a computerized Deck and Patio landscaping plan that you can wrap

With today’s software, the drafting and collaboration landscape design process is surprisingly quick and will provide an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

 

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

 

“The anticipated weather for this December seems very promising in our neck of the woods. It should be easy to walk around your property to measure it, etc.,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And while it’s very helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced, etc., much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth should weather require that.

 

 

Letting the Design Be the Gift

Since most property upgrades begin with a landscape design, the plan itself can be a gift. And you could go all out in this stage of the process — planning a beautiful pond, or other water feature, for example, or a pool with swim-up bar and wild ride slide, a custom spa or portable one integrated into the overall design, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years. 

You can even get landscaping plans for a full upgrade that is done in phases — over, say, a few years — and have printouts out how it will look after each phase. 

The whole project can also be planned out financially, so the different phases can be worked into your yearly budgets. In addition, since landscape plans are computerized, it is no problem if the gift receiver has ideas of their own to add later or changes they want made.

 

Landscape Plan as a Gift

Landscape Plan as a Gift

 

The gift of a landscaping plan is definitely something memorable. And what a joy it will be seeing the plans come to life. 

We’re sharing the following video as inspiration. It begins with one of Deck and Patio’s computerized plans and ends with the finished project showing the wonderful experience of having such a pond. This vanishing edge pond project was built by us in Eatons Neck, NY.

 

 

 

Another Example

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

In the case of the immediately above Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. 

One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

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

Insert E  Great Easy Gift

And you’ve got to admit that a computer plan downloaded on a small drive (or even printed out) is easy to wrap!

In every way, a landscaping plan makes a great gift! 

 

 

Landscape Planning: ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects (Part II)

As we promised in last week’s blog, today we’re sharing additional ‘Before’ and ‘After’ design/build projects. We hope they inspire your own backyard upgrade.

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

“Before” (left) “After" (right)

“Before” (left) “After” (right)

These Dix Hills homeowners called on Deck and Patio when they decided to update their backyard pool area. Their old wood deck and red brick patios (above left) were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. They were looking for a complete plan to transform the space.

“We suggested a special idea to deal with the large wall behind the pool and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden (above right).”

Our design/build plan also called for draining the pool and removing the liner; a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered and we straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl-covered stairs were added to the pool, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

 

New Modern Deck

“Before” (left) “After" (right)

“Before/During Construction” (left) “After” (right)

These Centerport, NY, homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub

 

New Backyard ‘Spool’

“Before” (left) “After" (right)

“Before” (left) “After” (right)

Deck and Patio built this backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago. 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 it 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. 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. Lush plantings and a new patio completed their new backyard retreat.

So let it blast cold — or even snow. With a backyard ‘spool’ you can stay indoors or even go out and still be warm.

 

 

Prepare for Next Year’s Outdoor Season this Fall

It is becoming commonplace to design/build next year’s backyard upgrades in the previous fall. Whether it’s replacing an old deck or patio, starting from scratch, or adding amenities you’ve always wanted like a pool, fall is the perfect time to do these.

“For one thing, design and build firms like Deck and Patio have a bit more available time in the less hectic schedules of fall,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Autumn weather is also very good for construction, allowing jobs to get done quickly. Plus, we find our clients want to be ready — or at least have a great start — in enjoying next year’s outdoor living season come spring.”

 

Decks/Patios

 

Deck and Patio Cedar Deck

Deck and Patio Cedar Deck

 

The structure of a deck is most often attached to the house. It’s usually elevated, that is, designed to suit the “lay of the land.” The land’s topography also helps determine how high and how many levels it should be.

In addition to choosing the right design/build experts, the most important thing is choosing the deck material you want to use, i.e., natural wood, capped composite and pressure-treated wood.

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Installed Techo-Bloc Pavers

Deck and Patio Installed Techo-Bloc Pavers

When it comes to patios, driveways and pool surrounds, digging up your property in fall is less of a hassle after the outdoor season is mostly over and you’re not outside as much.

Also, just like with building a deck, there’s less damage to the landscape when plants are dormant. 

Choosing the right hardscape materials is important in the northeast’s freeze/thaw climate. The wrong products trap heat in the summer which can be tough on bare feet. And who wants to wear shoes or sandals around a pool or hot tub? 

That said, it’s equally important that the paving material you choose can stand up to the freezing weather that occurs in our cold seasons. 

 

“Helping our clients choose the right product for a patio or deck is part of our service,” says Dave. “And whatever the choices, we know how to install them correctly. For patios, we have earned many HNA awards from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute which signify the superior design ability and competence of installation by our construction experts.”

 

Extending the Outdoor Living Season

 

Covered Patio

Covered Patio

As you prepare for next spring, you can also add amenities that will extend the present fall outdoor living season. One way is to include a special new outdoor kitchen. 

“Even better, outdoor kitchens can be installed fairly quickly,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Planning for such an amenity isn’t too challenging. There’s the need to determine the kitchen’s best location for optimal outdoor living enjoyment, and also enabling a hook up to water and power sources. But these things usually aren’t difficult.”

But, if a pavilion or covered patio is part of your planning, you might get to enjoy the outdoor well into autumn. 

Pergolas/pavilions can be installed with a fireplace. Open to breezes and the scents of flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays in summer, drizzling rain in spring or fall, these structures offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal. A large variety of designs permit individual architectural statements in any yard. 

All that is needed to show a change in the seasons is to change the cushions on the outdoor furniture and, perhaps, the flower arrangement on the fireplace.

For summer, you can add screens, says Dave. “In addition, our clients won’t have to rely only on the fireplace for warmth in the cooler months. Because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.”

 

As the fall progresses, we will be highlighting other projects that can be done during the cooler months. Watch this space.

 

Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

New Yorkers love being outdoors. So Labor Day or any hints of a chill in the air remind us it’s all coming rapidly to an end. But we can extend the outdoor season to the max with a fire feature. 

 

Extend Outdoor Season

Extend Outdoor Season

 

“Along with adding warmth, today’s fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “They provide a great place to gather and lengthen the outdoor grilling season by providing a warm place for people to gather.”

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

 

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

Choosing The Right Fire Feature

“The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Dave.

“As a rule, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

And while personal choices vary — as you will see from the sampling we’re showcasing today, however, there is one thing all fire features have in common: 

S’mores frequently are involved. (A delicious recipe from the Hampton’s own Ina Garten follows follows at the end of our blog — — with the Barefoot Contessa’s permission!

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For an inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit. The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone for its handsome natural appeal.

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

Today’s Feature Photo

Today’s Feature Photo

 

In planning their outdoor space, the clients asked us to leave room for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

Now, the promised Ina Garten recipe:

 

 

 

 

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:

10 min

Prep:  5 min

Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving

Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 marshmallow

2 Graham crackers

Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions

Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.

2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

By |2021-09-16T13:20:55-05:00September 16th, 2021|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Fireplaces, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

Labor Day Is Not the End of the Grilling Season

Outdoor Grilling Season Continues Throughout Fall

Outdoor Grilling Season Continues Throughout Fall

It is by no means too late in the season to upgrade your charcoal or gas grill to a full outdoor kitchen. In our neck of the woods, the grilling season lasts all throughout fall.

“Even better, outdoor kitchens can be installed fairly quickly,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Planning for such an amenity isn’t too challenging. There’s the need to determine the kitchen’s best location for optimal outdoor living enjoyment, and also enabling a hook up to water and power sources. But these things usually aren’t difficult.”

Water and electricity are important because an outdoor kitchen encompasses much more than just a barbecue. In most cases they include a sink, refrigerator, a gleaming grill, cabinets for all kinds of storage and some sort of masonry construction.

We find sometimes that clients opt for a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen as a more cost-effective way to extending their indoor cooking area — without having to remodel the whole kitchen,” adds Dave. “This is especially true when the home is on the smaller side.”

Of course, says Dave, even those who already have large modern indoor kitchens love the convenience of an outdoor center that can become the heart of outdoor parties and gatherings.”

Let’s look at a sampling of the the various designs and sizes of outdoor kitchens Deck and Patio has built all across Long Island.

 

Outdoor Kitchen on Lower Patio

Outdoor Kitchen on Lower Patio

This outdoor kitchen’s amenities, built on the lower of two new Deck and Patio patios, include a built-in stainless steel grill, expansive work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with stools. 

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

Their new custom fire pit is overlaid in a facade of natural stone that mimics that of their outdoor kitchen.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Deck and Patio frequently locates outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless the property has a destination pool. In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning.

As for the particular amenities show here, 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. 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.

 

 

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.

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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, a small bar to enjoy the water views, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

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.

 

 

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 and can be used where needed, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen/Bar with Pergola:

Outdoor Kitchen/Bar with Pergola:

Of course, if you prefer permanent shade over your outdoor kitchen/dining area you can opt for a pergola like this custom one we built poolside. With a stainless grill, refrigerator, sink, storage areas, and a custom rock facade, the outdoor kitchen boasts a bar/dining area as well — a great escape after leaving the pool.

 

The Beatles?

The Beatles?

 

 

 

So! For great outdoor living all through fall, just remember what The Beatles used to sing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Labor Day Is Perfect Time to Plan Pool Upgrades

As Labor Day approaches families start thinking of closing down their pools for the year. This seasonal routine is also a great time to plan value-based ideas to upgrade your pool and pool area with your landscaper.

 

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

 

 

In-ground Pools

 

Pentair Variable Speed Pool Pump

Pentair Variable Speed Pool Pump

Pumps

It really doesn’t matter if your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money say pool experts.

“Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to one sixth of what they currently are. There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. And the cost of the new pump is paid back quickly — often in three years or less.”

 

Coping 

Other upgrade ideas would be to simply change the coping, tile and color of your pool. In gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes and even all-tile pools.

“Here (above) we added dramatic coping to a pool in Oyster Bay, NY. Our design called for installing the coping on the far side of the pool — flush with the lawn.”

 

Upgrading Coping

Upgrading Coping

 

 

 

Changing Pool Liners

Changing Pool Liners

Liners

 

In vinyl pools you can also change a staircase, add a bench or swim-out, change the coping, and of course change your old liner.

Liner color choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool as seen in this photo. There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

 

 

Pool Patio Surrounds, Waterfalls

 

New Patio/Waterfall

New Patio/Waterfall

Renovating around a pool, whether it’s in-ground or not, is sometimes easier than renovating the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio.

Other ideas might be changing to a new patio material. Tip: Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Another popular upgrade is adding a slide, spa, waterfalls, and water sprays (feature photo at top of page shows both sprays and falls). Tip: Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

 

 

Have a relaxing Labor Day Weekend…and, then, let’s get planning!

 

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