Fire Pits

/Fire Pits

Fall Outdoor Season: Color It Autumn

Many of us in the northeast retreat very reluctantly to a winter spent indoors. We make every effort to extend the outdoor season with the addition of fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, hot tubs, some even adding a four-season room.

4-Season Room

4-Season Room

Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So its natural that when we see the first leaf turn from green to crimson high in a backyard tree, we know we’re heading into the last outdoor living sprint. The subject today is: how can we make this precious outdoor living time richly colorful for the maximum enjoyment?

Outdoor Displays

One way to make the outdoors inviting is by displaying some of fall’s bounty: gorgeous plants, fruits, vegetables and even berries — all perfect for decorating yards and front door entries.

“Annuals provide color when certain plants are no longer in bloom,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.  “Great color producers for fall that last well into several frosts before dying back to the ground include kale, cabbage, decorative peppers, mums, cyclamen, etc.”

It’s also important to add compost to these plants so they get plenty of food while they are blooming, says Dave. 

“Cold hardy mums, for example, require water every other day as they have copious flowers and use up a lot of energy and will require additional watering if there’s isn’t sufficient rainfall. But what a cheerful display these fruits and plants offer.”

 

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Believe it or not, the pumpkin is not a vegetable — it’s a fruit, and a berry at that. Along with hardy mums in bright yellow, etc., at Deck and Patio’s design center in Huntington Station we love displaying lots of these fall ‘berries’ for pops of bright orange.

 

Grouping Fall Plants:

Grouping Fall Plants:

 

 

For different texture and color, it’s a good idea to create a grouping of fall plants. This nice grouping includes cabbage, deep red mums, and winter pansies for a bright, bold statement. (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental Peppers

Aren’t these ornamental peppers beauties! Grown for their decorative value (although edible, they are rather lacking in flavor) as are the leaves and flowers of the deep red Celosia Cristata (aka cockscomb) behind them.  (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

Planning Ahead for Fall Color

Fall can be a great time to plant color for future autumn glory. Here’s two great ideas:

 

Rosehips:

Rosehips:

Rosehips come from plants also known as Autumn Wild Rose. They can enhance any autumn landscape. Note: Since they can take three years to grow from seeds, you’ll probably want to transplant a grown bush. This is done during the dormant season — sometime between November through February.

This beautiful plant is a wildflower with bright red fruit hips that ripen in fall — and stay around through winter. The rose hips grow as the petals of the summer flowers drop off. These hips contain the seeds of the rose. Prune the bushes down to the ground in winter and then wait. When the temperature warms again in spring, they begin to regrow. By summer, you have wild roses, and in fall, you get the rose hips again.

 

Sumac:

Sumac:

When we recommend a great plant for fall color, we emphasize ones that are interesting throughout the year. With Sumac shrubs and trees, their displays begin with large flower clusters in spring, gorgeously colored fall foliage (as seen here) with berries that can last into winter. 

Any well-drained soil works for this adaptable plant. It can take full sun or partial shade. Note: for the most dramatic fall colors, the flame leaf or prairie sumac have the best flowers and color when planted in full sun.  

 

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. 

 

 

Getting Away to Your Deck

One of our recent blogs covered what fun it would be to have a family concert or recital on our home deck or patio.

Today, in part one of a two-part blog topic, we asking: have you ever considered ‘deck camping,’ or even ‘glamping,’ on your backyard deck?” 

Since, the first rule of setting up any outdoor camp is to locate it on level ground, you’ve got to admit, a deck is perfect in that regard. 

The Joys of Camping

For the uninitiated, when you go camping, not only do you fall asleep to the sound of crickets, and wake to a symphony of birds, but, camping on your own deck means you don’t have to travel anywhere to do it. 

Deck Railing Planter

Deck Railing Planter

This can be a terrific experience even if you don’t have natural wilderness areas on your property to drink in during the evening outside. It’s easy to naturalize your deck with a few containers of plants.

The deck camp begins with a tent, of course. And if you’re worried that you don’t know how to put it up, we have a video immediately below with an Aussie showing the types of tents you can choose, how to open and close them down, and how to use them. He’s clearly keen on family home camping — if you follow all his ideas, you may need to spread your camp off of your deck into your yard. But that would be part of the fun.

 

Video:

 

Also: plan for some folding chairs. Your night outside won’t be spent only in the tent. String a few lights, get out the citronella candles, and you’re pretty much ready to go.

Lastly, just collect enough sleeping bags (or sheets and blankets, see ‘glamping’ below), an easy-to-put-up crib for any younger children and your kids’ favorite blankets and sleep items.

You don’t have to worry about snacks — your kitchen is just steps away. 

Want to Glamp It Up?

Tips for turning the relatively rustic style of camping into the glorious comfort of “glamping” takes a bit more work than pitching a tent if you want to do this at home. For some creative ideas on what goes into having a luxurious camping experience, we found a lot of ideas at the website of glamping holiday resorts. 

For example, our feature photo at the top of our blog is from Daylesford Holiday Park (Victoria Australia). And their website offers some great comfort amenities to get you thinking about what you could include in and around your tent.

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Closer to home, the Collective Hudson Valley has some very sophisticated ideas for true glamping.

Their retreat at Liberty Farms is inspiring. Their setups may be a bit of work if you plan to only camp out for a night or two. But if you want to have your own summer-long glamp-site, their website is not to be missed for ideas.

 

However, if you want to upgrade a camping experience from just plain sleeping bags to something a bit more refined, Pinterest has a wealth of ideas for easy glamping. Here’s just one helpful post we foundt:

 

“Setting Up Camp ..With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.”

“Setting Up Camp
..With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.”

 

Here’s to summer on your deck, 2018! Next week, see Part II on the subject of getting away to your deck!

 

By |2018-07-12T14:54:58+00:00July 12th, 2018|Backyard Escapes, Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Outdoor Rooms, Trex Decking, Wood Decks|Comments Off on Getting Away to Your Deck

Fall Is a Great Time to Design/Build a New Deck

Whether you need to replace your old one, or you are starting from scratch, fall is a great time to build that new deck.

Why? Because design and build firms like Deck and Patio have a bit more available time in their hectic schedules. Fall weather is also usually very good, which allows for outdoor construction jobs to get done quickly.

Plus, with the addition of a few special amenities like a custom fire pit, patio cover, and, perhaps space heaters, the outdoor season can be stretched far beyond early fall.

Deck Basics

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.

 

Decking Materials on Display at Deck and Patio Design Center

Decking Materials on Display at Deck and Patio Design Center

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.

Here’s some of the most commonly used deck materials:

— cedar       — mahogany,

— Ipe          — TimberTech

— Trex        — Fiberon, etc.

Of course, there are advantages and limitations to each of these.

So, how to decide? To make it easier, Deck and Patio has built at our design center in Huntington Station an outdoor display comprised of a wide variety of these materials. Our experts are happy to explain the benefits of each.

Here, you can walk on these installed boards, touch them, and get an idea of what they look like in sunlight. We believe this is the best way to get the information you need to start your deck project.

Safety Is Extremely Important

All of our decks are built to code, including concrete footings 36″ deep and 12″ diameter. Our decks are designed to be safe and unique. For those clients not wishing to go with the traditional rectangular deck, an angular (octagonal), rounded, or curved deck and rails can be designed to suit their outdoor needs.

Make It Multi-Seasonal and Comfortable

There’s lots of custom options for your deck, including special railings, deck design inlays, custom seating, built-in fire pits. Here’s some of our finished decks  that might help you think though your own project:

 

Deck and Patio "Cedar" Deck

Deck and Patio “Cedar” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Mahogany" deck

Deck and Patio “Mahogany” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Ipe" Deck

Deck and Patio “Ipe” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "TimberTech" Deck

Deck and Patio “TimberTech” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Trex" Deck

Deck and Patio “Trex” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Fiberon" Deck

Deck and Patio “Fiberon” Deck

 

By |2017-09-21T13:15:39+00:00September 21st, 2017|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Composite Decking, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Railings, Trex Decking|Comments Off on Fall Is a Great Time to Design/Build a New Deck

Seasonal Pool Closings: Great Time to Talk Upgrades/Renovations

Pool Closings: Good Time to Discuss Upgrades

Pool Closings: Good Time to Discuss Upgrades

When it comes to the outdoors, the best way to add value to your home is to renovate.

And since many people already own a pool, patio, deck or barbecue area, we thought pool closing season is a great time to consider value-based ideas to spruce up these areas.

Whether or not you do any of these upgrades in early fall when closing down the pool, or whether you just discuss ideas for spring, now is a great time to think some upgrades through.

 

 

In-ground Pools

 

Pentair Energy Efficient Variable Speed Pump

Pentair Energy Efficient Variable Speed Pump

Upgrading Pool Pump

It doesn’t really 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 1/6th 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.”

 

 

Some Easy Pool Upgrades

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

Also, you could upgrade the coping to make a fresh, dramatic statement.

Adding New Pool Coping

Adding New Pool Coping

“In this case (above), we added bright blue 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.”

 

Pool Liners

Change to Pool Liner Makes Beautiful Difference

Change to Pool Liner Makes Beautiful Difference

In vinyl pools, you can change a staircase, add a bench or swimout, 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 (right).

There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

 

 

Pool Patio Surrounds, Waterfalls

Patio/Pool Surrounds Make Great Upgrade

Patio/Pool Surrounds Make Great Upgrade

Renovating around a pool 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 upgrading to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Another popular upgrade is adding a slide and/or waterfall. Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

 

 

 

 

5 Must-Haves for Today’s Backyards

Already have a terrific backyard? Well, even the best yards can embrace a trendy must-have every now and then.

Let’s kick off our list of backyard must-haves with a focus on pets.

 

 

Photo: SYNLawn

Photo: SYNLawn

I.  ‘Synthetic Turf’ Dog Run

Imagine a backyard dog run where no fleas or ticks lurk in the grass. Well, a dog run made of synthetic turf will not only not house any irritating pests, but the family pooch will not be exposed to natural-grass pesticides and chemicals that might cause pet allergies.

If that’s not enough reason to go synthetic for Fido, imagine no brown spots or holes to fill because of the dog’s activities. Plus, after a rambunctious outing, he’ll be as clean as he was before he went out — no tracking mud and dirt back into the house, even when the weather is bad. We also understand cleaning synthetic turf is quite easy.

Thanks to SYNLawn for sharing this photo of  two best-pups relaxing on a dog run made from their synthetic turf.

 

 

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

 

 

2.  Upscale Pet Playhouse 

We’re highlighting this pet playhouse today because, although it was built to be a donation, it highlights a growing trend for residential backyards. It was showcased along with other upscale pet playhouses at Long Island Builders Institute’s (LIBI) Annual Home, Trade and Remodeling Expo this past March here on Long Island. The playhouses were built by various LIBI members and were later donated to local town animal shelters.

This handsome playhouse is shaped like a dinosaur, which the team at LIBI describes as welcoming “any little animal who wants to play and rest.” It was donated to the Hempstead animal shelter. Cool, yes?

Thanks to LIBI for sharing it with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Upscale Bird Houses

Granted, wild birds may not exactly be pets. But it’s trendy to treat them like they are. So it’s not surprising that fancy bird houses are growing in popularity. Indeed, there are even awards for the best design in bird houses.

The point is, a bird house can be a reflection of your own style and tastes and certainly can be upscale. And if our avian friends are going to sing for their supper, they might as well be housed as nicely as we are.

 

 

 

 

 

Completed Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Completed Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Deck and Patio/Living Wall

4.  Living Walls

Living Walls house nature’s own handiwork to create outdoor art. This particular model is made by ‘Plug n Play.’ Using their vertical garden system, Deck and Patio’s team designed and installed it as a gorgeous accent on a wall built to block street noise and activity. It really spruced the wall up, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Garden systems like these are versatile and can be constructed to hold different sized pots: in this case from 3” to 12”.

How it works: Drip irrigation fitted on alternating rows trickles down to the rows below and any excess water is captured or drained off. These walls are light in weight and do not need heavy anchor bolts. They can be attached to just about any type of wall – just use the appropriate fastener for the wall type.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Customized Fire Pits

Another on trend backyard amenity is a customized fire pit that coordinates with its surroundings.

The first fire pit shown (above left) was designed by Deck and Patio as part of a backyard makeover that included a meandering stream, bordered with natural stone boulders, and waterfalls that end close to a new Techo-Bloc patio. Note, how we faced the patio fire pit with stone to harmonize with the other design elements.

For the second project (right), we surrounded a propane stainless steel burner campfire with moss rock to give it a customized look that uses similar boulders to the stone steps/rock border just behind it, as well as complementing the veneer on the exposed portion of the pool. Note: The clients added the amusing s’mores sign behind their new campfire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By |2017-06-15T11:27:24+00:00June 15th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on 5 Must-Haves for Today’s Backyards

10 Ways to Enhance Outdoor Living This Season

Camping trips and the rugged outdoor experiences they provide are fine in short bursts. But a full 5 or 6 month outdoor season spent enjoyed in one’s backyard cries out for comfortable and superbly functional amenities.

Today’s blog, however, will not focus so much on the key foundations of outdoor living — patios, decks, and large water features such as swimming pools — as the delightful amenities that enhance them.

 

Here’s Our 9 Ways!

This first photo from Fiberon Decking, for example, highlights two opposite outdoor living enhancements — an attractive fire table that adds warmth on cool evenings and a shade umbrella that reduces the heat of the day.

In addition, note how an awning provides even more relief from the sun on the upper deck level. And very comfortable outdoor furniture means no sense at all of ‘camping out’ when sitting on this deck. Plus a highly functional outdoor kitchen means no need to limit the dining experience — although marshmallows roasted over the fire table is one camping treat worth bringing home.

 

 

A garden gazebo is another wonderful amenity for providing shade and comfort. As architectural statements, gazebos are beautiful to the eye while providing shade, protection from rain, as well as comfortable seating.

But a gazebo can be used in many more ways: as a meditation center; a spot for exercising; the ideal location for a hot tub; a venue for special celebrations like a wedding ceremony. Indeed, we believe this gazebo, built at the edge of a new deck by Deck and Patio, would be a gorgeous location for a wedding. A reception held on this poolside deck would truly be memorable.

 

 

 

 

Trellises and pergolas also make dramatic architectural statements. They require less materials than a gazebo (or 4-season room) to construct, and provide limited shade with just support beams and rafters.

Taking the time to grow vines on a trellis/pergola, however, will eventually increase the amount of shade. In the meantime, one can always add a canopy overhead — a good idea if the space underneath is used frequently when the sun is high.

 

 

Swim-up bars turn a regular backyard pool into a full-blown resort. Looking at these two Deck and Patio projects, one can almost hear steel drums in the background, can’t you? Whenever a a swim-up bar is added to the pool, all that’s needed to complete a vacation-resort feeling are small drink umbrellas in the Mojitos and Piña Coladas.

Deck and Patio not only designs in-pool submerged bar stools for swim-up bars, but we can design it all so this amenity can also be used as a dry bar, enjoyed on the other side.

 

 

In-pool amenities that make a splash include waterfalls and jet sprays like those shown here. When either of these are added to a pool, their gentle sounds screen out in a delightful way any noise from the pool’s high-tech equipment and even nearby traffic.

This Deck and Patio project also includes another outdoor living enhancement — an outdoor shower (not shown). It is located at the base of a stepping stone path that leads up to the hidden pool equipment.

 

Information about tanning shelves (a.k.a. Baja shelves, tanning ledges) seen above in this blog’s feature photo can be seen here. 

 

 

 

Making the Most of a Backyard Slope

We’ve written about this before. Clients with a wish list for a backyard oasis, but they have an unstable hill that forms part of their property. And they’re finding it hard to imagine what is possible.

Fortunately, experienced landscaping firms like Deck and Patio have no problem with the vision thing. In this case, our clients’ hopes for a water feature, pool, patios for socializing, room for sunbathing, and even the ability to enjoy their yard twelve months a year, were not out of reach at all.

Despite problems with the terrain, our team got to work designing/building a truly enviable backyard resort. The vinyl-lined free-form pool we suggested allowed us to shape the pool within sturdy terrain.

The pool boasts deep-end stairs, and is surrounded by a two-level Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec patio, including a lounging area with embedded umbrellas.

“Instead of installing an ugly wooden retaining wall to hold back the grade from the pool, we turned the slope into a delightful natural space. Using boulder coping on the pool and additional moss rocks and plantings all along the slope, we made it very beautiful as well as secure,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We took further advantage of the slope, and gravity’s pull, and incorporated a meandering stream along this planted hillside, ending as waterfalls into the pool.”

 

 

The final challenge was making the oasis usable all year long.

“We helped them choose a portable spa that could run separately from the pool. We fitted it into the transformed slope beside the stream and built a separate small bluestone patio behind the spa; they can enjoy the water feature when inside the hot tub or sitting or lounging on the secluded patio,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern for the patio, with gradations of tones. Designing the patio in multi-levels allowed us to designate spaces for certain activities — dining, lounging, etc.

 

Deep End and Shallow End Stairs:

Deep End and Shallow End Pool Stairs:

Deep end — or swim out — stairs as well as stairs at the shallow end offer easy access to the patio’s lounging area with embedded umbrellas. A natural gas campfire is great for cool evenings and adds a bit of romance in the evenings.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrade: From Very Nice to Sublime

The owners of this Brookville, NY, property had a charming backyard that consisted of a large patio separate from an attractive pool area. When Deck and Patio met with them to discuss a patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

“The clients were surprised at our suggestion that, rather than design/build a custom in-ground gunite spa, they opt for a portable spa,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And when they saw how such a hot tub would fit harmoniously within the yard’s new overarching design theme, they were delighted with this idea.”

The complete upgrade included adding an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.

Plus, the new handsome Techo-Bloc pool surround pavers the clients chose were repeated in the lower patio where a new granite-topped L-shaped outdoor kitchen, and fire pit, both faced in matching stone, were added.

The theme tying it all together, of course, is the stone-facing on many of the elements — balanced by soft hues in the plantings and choice of pavers. Whether it’s going up the steps from the patio to the pool where a stone wall accents the elevation change, sitting around the custom fire pit, barbecuing on a granite-topped outdoor kitchen, or taking in the whole scene while soaking in the spa, the various elements work together beautifully.

The soft hues of the Techo-Bloc’s Aberdeen pavers for the pool surround and lower patio were chosen to add a hint of contemporary flair to the traditional style of the stonework. Their subtle pinks, blues and creams, accented with robust landscaping, add a soothing feeling throughout the backyard oasis.

“This upgrade really brought an already attractive backyard into a true oasis,” says Dave. “Day or night, the only word for it is sublime.”

 

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Stone facing of several amenities help tie this oasis together: fire pit, outdoor kitchen, patio wall and steps, as well as the portable spa encasement (not seen), are all faced in matching stone.

 

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

The clients wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion for a custom installation of a portable Bullfrog Spa. With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it can be used when the pool is closed down. Plus they get the therapeutic benefits of Bullfrog’s renowned JetPaks (hydro jets) without sacrificing drama and elegance.

 

Hot Tub Installation:

Hot Tub Installation:

One truly enjoyable aspect of the clients’ new spa is where it was installed. When soaking in it, they get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool as well as all the way to the lower patio area where the outdoor kitchen and fire pit are.

 

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

A beautiful and highly functional outdoor kitchen, topped in granite and faced in stone, was positioned adjacent to the patio’s dining area and new fire pit.

 

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

One of the features of the clients’ new spa is a sheet-falling waterfall that flows out from its encasement into the pool. A privacy wall holds a dramatic fire blow that spills a waterfall into the spa.

 

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

These Techo-Bloc paving stones are packaged separately giving flexibility in design. Here soft hues (blues, creams, pinks) and various sizes placed in random patterns create the perfect pool surround and patio for this backyard upgrade.

 

 

When To Start Planning a Backyard Retreat

When landscaping firms such as Deck and Patio recommend planning an outdoor retreat before spring arrives, it isn’t self-serving. It is because, if left too late, it may not be possible for a client’s dream backyard to be completed for the year’s outdoor season.

“It’s best to begin in late winter,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, but it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements, and delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process, says Dave, include pulling together those needed for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

Deck and Patio at work

Deck and Patio at work

Choosing the Right Designer/Builder

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

Deck and Patio brochure

Deck and Patio brochure

 

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. “We use surveys and Google Earth, etc. to plan any backyard refurbishment,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

As we highlighted in last week’s blog, it is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

These homeowners brought Deck and Patio on board early on when they were designing their home. This helped create a seamless integration of the landscape and nature with the home’s architecture — the architect even changed his design of the home’s turret in order ensure views from within would capture the various outdoor vistas. (Note: The town involved had strict setback requirements; we brought our 3-D animated landscaping plan to the town which aided in getting the permit granted quickly.)

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

This serenely beautiful vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge. Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge pond design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.