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Landscape Planning Can Make a Great Gift

Whether it’s for the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah, New Year’s, or an upcoming anniversary, birthday, or even Valentine’s Day, landscape planning can make a great gift. 

Through the software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process for landscaping is surprisingly quick — providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the spring,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But that’s really not necessary at all. It can be done during any season.”

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

Even if the ground is covered in snow, experts like those at Deck and Patio don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project.

“Granted, it is helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced,” adds Dave. “But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.”

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, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years.

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 Planning as a Gift

Landscape Planning 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. 

Indeed, just this week we posted on Facebook a video of a Deck and Patio vanishing edge pond project we built in Eatons Neck, NY.

The video 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. Here it is again, immediately below. 

 

 

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. 

 

Great Gift Ideas

Great Gift Ideas

 

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! 

 

 

Outdoor Living: Grilling Season Isn’t Over By a Long Shot

 

Outdoor Grilling Continues Through Fall

Outdoor Grilling Continues Through Fall

If you have been planning to upgrade your charcoal or gas grill to a full outdoor kitchen, but are thinking maybe it’s too late in the year to bother — we’d like to offer a different take. In our neck of the woods, in particular, the grilling season lasts all through 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.

An Outdoor Kitchen Can be Cost-Effective

An Outdoor Kitchen Can be Cost-Effective

“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.”

With that in mind, 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 locate 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.

 

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!

Closing Your Pool Is a Great Time to Plan 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.

Whether or not you do any of the following improvements when closing down the pool, or whether you just discuss ideas for spring, after Labor Day Weekend is a great time to plan with a landscaper renovations that will heighten next year’s outdoor living experience.

 

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

 

In-ground Pools

Upgrading Pool Pump

Upgrading 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 

 Pool 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.”

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 like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Tip: Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Another popular upgrade is adding a slide, 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geometric Pools: Finding Comfort in the Traditional

Whether it’s because politics has been heating up so much in recent years, or its environmental concerns, or other anxieties, many of us these days find comfort the traditional. 

This could explain one recent trend continuing in 2019 for swimming pools: designing them in the traditional lines of ‘geometric’ pools. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of Deck and Patio’s geometric shaped pool projects. In some cases, we designed the pool; in others, we worked with pool construction companies’ designs.

But, first, just what is a geometric pool? Well a geometric design consists of straight lines, triangles, circles, or similar regular shapes — something that isn’t freeform. However, despite geometric design’s simplicity, these pools are not necessarily simple to build.

One company we’ve worked with on numerous projects is True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY). “With freeform pools, there really is no right or wrong,” says True Blue’s owner Michael Truehart. “With parallel and perpendicular angles, geometric designs have to be exact. Plus, vinyl liners, which are so popular today, are measured and cut by computer and require that everything be on the money.”

That said, perhaps an even bigger factor in this traditional trend is that today’s pool builders can incorporate deluxe features in any pool design, e.g., baja or tanning shelves, waterfalls, beach or sloping entries, swim out steps, in-water ledges and spas, providing extra interest to plain geometric shapes.

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Deck and Patio’s design team chose sandy-hued Techo-Bloc pavers to harmonize with the ‘Sand Pebble’ vinyl pool liner by Loop-Loc installed by True Blue Swimming Pools. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

This same salt-water pool (shown immediately above) includes a generous amount of interesting corners and notch-outs, a “cuddle cove” in between two sheer descent waterfalls, and clean-lined pool steps at each end (swim-outs at the deep end). (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

This photo shown here and as a feature photo at the top of this page shows another True Blue Swimming Pools. They built this lovely geometric pool in a Roman Ell shape with a long shallow and full deep end. It is also a vinyl pool with a liner by Loop-Loc; Also note the Wild Ride water slide by Interfab. The pool boasts a Cambridge Ledgestone XL paver surround/patio and sheer descent waterfalls. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Deck and Patio’s design for this sleek vinyl pool included an in-pool seating ledge (see left bottom edge) and swim-out steps (top of pool). Vinyl refers to the method used to line the pool’s interior. Its base construction, however, is the same as any other. The pool surround/patio was created in a warm chestnut-hued random pattern using Cambridge pavers.

 

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

The steps Deck and Patio installed just above the far end of the pool are part of a natural retaining wall of boulders; they lead to a delightfully landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid. Pool includes sheer descent waterfalls and is surrounded by a patio with complementary random geometric patterns.

 

Landscape Design Is Not Just Flowers and Shrubs

Movie: Greenfingers

Movie: Greenfingers

If anyone has seen the movie Greenfingers (the British way of saying Green Thumb), you may have wished that you had some of the same natural talent its star character, played by Clive Owen, discovered he had for making things bloom. 

And its okay to wish you had a green thumb. But beautiful landscaping can go far beyond flowers and shrubs. Water features, proper use of moss rock boulders, outdoor structures like pavilions or gazebos, can add a great deal to an outdoor oasis.

But, we agree that one of the key elements of any outdoor escape includes beautiful, lush, plantings.

 

Lets Consider The Plantings

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

There’s no doubt the right plants are key to a beautiful landscape. And the landscape design professionals at The Deck and Patio Company go beyond filling your yard with plant material. We use our extensive knowledge of flora to carefully select the right greenery that suits each client’s style and goals. 

For example, it’s key to place tall and smaller plants in an eye-catching display. Colorful flowering plants are incorporated into our designs in a way that accent and compliment your home’s exterior and the sites around it. 

The beauty of any planned landscape also depends on the survival of your plant material. Deck and Patio experts choose plantings using our extensive experience and knowledge of zones, sun exposure and soil conditions.

“Whether it is creating shade gardens for the shade loving plants, digging the perfect depth for the root balls, ensuring healthy, well-fed soil, our landscapes flourish long after we’ve finished our work,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

But Deck and Patio’s creativity really comes to the fore when plants are gorgeous accents to other landscaping elements: water features, including swimming pools, ponds, streams, etc. Also, plants brighten structures such as pavilions, gazebos, outdoor benches, patios and entranceways.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance were provided here through the use of many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — all planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris.

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Even strong architectural structures are enhanced by landscaping. With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls nearby, inside this Deck and Patio pavilion, with the fireplace blazing or not, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio we added, with custom inlays/border, is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. .

 

 

Natural Settings Elevate Health and Happiness According to Studies

Millions of Americans love being outdoors, reveling in beautiful natural settings. But should you feel guilty about spending so much time outdoors? Shouldn’t you really be at the gym, doing errands or housework?

Well! You can stop that self-criticism right now. 

Being outdoors improves health

Being outdoors improves health

This week, the Washington Post reported  that studies prove: “spending time outdoors” is linked to a “serious boost in well-being, the kind that lasts a lifetime.”     

Not only that, adds the Post, those who weekly spent two to three hours in natural settings are not only more likely to be happy with their lives, but the benefits to physical health were even greater — with 60 percent of such outdoor enthusiasts more likely to be in good health than their “cooped in counterparts.”

 

Washington Post Excerpt:

“People who already spend a lot of time outdoors aren’t likely to find these results surprising: There’s already a substantial body of work linking green spaces to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, mental health problems and overall mortality; and to greater rates of health, happiness, and cognitive development in children.”

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create ideal environments for improving well-being,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings:

Lush Plantings:

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock:

Using Moss Rock:

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. 

 

Best Outdoor Living Spaces: Pool House, Pool, Patio, and a Raised Spa

When you’re looking for the best outdoor living space ideas, it never hurts to consider award-winners, like our project showcase today.

Forgive our shameless self-promotion, but this backyard upgrade earned Deck and Patio a “Gold” award for geometric pool/spa design from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

The main feature in this project’s design was a striking geometric pool, with a raised spa, surrounded by a multi-level patio and a custom pool house with dramatic pergola. Our own team pulled together additional pool design and build experts for the project.

“The use of technology from AutoCad to 3D animation helped our clients picture the project,” says Dave Stockwell. “Starting with this design idea, and working hand in hand with the clients and pool experts, we were able to produce an end result that is absolutely breathtaking.”

After these initial meetings and the opportunity to see what it would look like, the client was very enthusiastic, adds Dave. “The landscaping design offered easy to care for cutout areas around the pool and pool house that offers pops of color and green in a way that continued the overall geometric design.”

Pool With Raised Spa:

Pool With Raised Spa:

The overall plans had a large variety of details and was far from ordinary. The main feature, of course, was the pool and its raised spillover spa, all surrounded by a multi-level patio. The pavers we used were Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers — a product that evokes thoughts of old time European plazas.

 

Custom Pool House:

Custom Pool House:

A major part of the project was a custom designed pool house, complete with all the amenities of home. The pool house has a bathroom, changing room and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view over looking the pool area. It is the perfect spot to take breaks from the spa – an important element for spa enjoyment and safety.

 

Custom Pergolas:

Custom Pergolas:

Stepping out of the pool house, a 25-foot wide shade pergola was built to shade guests from the hot summer sun. Underneath, there is also a stunning bar area, complete with sink and all components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages. 

The bar and raised spa are faced with matching cultured stone, which ties the areas together from a design standpoint.

 

Design/Build 3D Automation:

Design/Build 3D Automation:

This 3D animation allowed the client to view every aspect of the project from any angle they wanted. The 3D technology also allowed us to make changes during the project. This gives clients confidence that last minute changes will fit the overall look we are trying to achieve.

 

Outdoor Kitchens: The Heart of Outdoor Living

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

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

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

 

Backyard Upgrade with Bullfrog Spa

Backyard Upgrade with Bullfrog Spa

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

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

 

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

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

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

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

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

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

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

 

Love Birds and Nature? How About Your Own Natural Retreat!

Ever notice how every few scrolls on Twitter, etc. will show a delightful bird, a funny squirrel, someone saving a desperate animal, a croaking frog, or lovely vistas — all squeezed in between posts of angst and politics?

Well. As helpful as these momentary breaks online are, the best break is enjoying nature close up, away from our phones. As Diane Sawyer’s Report: ‘ScreenTime’ showed a few nights ago, families are challenged today. They’re spending too much time with technology. And most, deep down, hunger for more family-time and time outdoors. 

Ms. Sawyer’s report reminded us of a very special Deck and Patio backyard natural retreat we did several years ago. The wife contacted us saying she always loved birds but hadn’t seen many in her yard in a long time. She was also hungering to see butterflies, etc. Could we come up with a plan to bring nature alive on their property?

It soon became clear they wanted something truly special. They had already contacted other companies to provide them with a backyard conservatory and charming wooden bridge. Our challenge was to ensure we incorporated these into our own landscaping design in a harmonious way.

“The multi-feature natural retreat we proposed and built included a deck to overhang a new backyard pond — in such a way so that it looks like the pond continued under the deck,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In addition to these, our plan called for two 35-foot long babbling brooks, multiple waterfalls and lush multi-seasonal landscaping.”

To make it look as if Mother Nature designed this entire retreat, adds Dave, our team chose, for example, each rock and boulder carefully to create the right “water spills.” Sometimes a rock was chosen because of its crevices allowing for planting perennials within. 

The homeowners were very involved in choosing the plants. In the end, we incorporated about 5,000 bulbs, almost 300 species of wooded plants, as well as evergreens, and about 150 varieties of perennials.

 

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

It was important to create a variety of different spaces and focal points, just like you experience in nature when you move about. In one place you sit next to the pond and observe the waterfall. Other times you’re walking through a wooded path. The lush landscape attracts a myriad of birds (and butterflies) so the sights and sounds of nature, along with the rushing water, are as relaxing an experience as is possible outdoors.

 

Waterfalls and Ponds:

Waterfalls and Ponds:

The rocks we used for the four-foot multi-tiered waterfall/pond came from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Some weighed over three tons. Carefully placed, the scenes suggest one is trekking a natural preserve or wilderness. 

 

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Whether on their new deck, or in their glass conservatory, the family enjoys dining together al fresco to the sounds of birds and croaking frogs. When lounging outside, they can take a quiet moment to feed their koi. 

 

 

Swimming Pool Grotto Designs: Fun ‘Out’ of the Sun

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. However, even as adults, we still love our personal getaways. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space. 

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you? 

Well. That’s the possibility of a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat. 

Imagine. Being outdoors, but away from the heat of the sun. And, still close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

1. Our first example of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network. (See large feature photo at top of this page for the complete project.)

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

Close up of Nashville Project’s Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” laughs our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature. The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls and a fire feature for inside the pool.” 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

 “Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

2. The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods. 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

For this second project, the tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water.

So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun.