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Plan Your Backyard Upgrade While Dreaming of Warmer Days

There’s more than a deep chill in the air. It even snowed a little over much of Long Island this week. It may not be officially winter yet, but many of us are already dreaming of warmer days.

So as you gaze out over your yard, here’s some ‘before and after’ Deck and Patio projects that might inspire the perfect upgrade for you — done in plenty of time for next year’s outdoor living season.

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Massapequa couple, says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, hankered to enjoy their backyard more  — which was tidy but not enticing.

Space was also at a premium. And in lieu of a rather more expensive pool, the couple settled on installing a quality hot tub, in-ground.

An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa.  Plus it would be easy to get in and out of (see before/after photos above).

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. 

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, hot tub installation and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

 

Large Pond Under Stone Bridge

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after the homeowner purchased his property, he contacted us. An entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

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

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

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

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water, doesn’t it?

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A family in Dix Hills, NY, called on Deck and Patio when they decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area. Their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

“We suggested a unique 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.”

The 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

"Beginning Construction"

“Beginning Construction”

"After Construction"

“Completed Construction”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall. 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 snow or blast cold. You can stay warm while planning your new backyard upgrade. 

Stepping Stone Walkway Ideas

Stepping stones in areas that get heavy foot traffic are an attractive way to protect the lawn. The stones allow grass, or “softscape,” to shine through while still providing the “hardscape” needed.

However. Is this all that stepping stones can do? “By no means,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “While they are very serviceable, they can also contribute to the serenity of a space. They can be a key element of creating ‘contemplation’ spaces, for example.”

Today our blog is showcasing a sampling of stepping stone paths that we have created for clients — ranging from the very practical to the Zen-like in impact.

Practical Pathway

Practical Pathway

 

These clients wanted a footpath leading to their tool shed — a very practical need. But they had a small backyard. We were already installing extensive multi-level paver patios. So it wasn’t surprising they didn’t want more solid brick hardscape on the opposite side of the pool.

Instead, the bluestone stepping stones we installed allowed for greenery to show through. Along with attractive plantings on either side of the pathway, the journey to their shed offers an uplifting experience that’s not just about the tasks at hand.

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Not all stepping stones are flat bluestone slabs. The Japanese introduced Zen-garden landscape design centuries ago, inspiring the world to place larger stones as stepping stones across ponds and water feature

“The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in this yard helped inspire us,” says Dave.

First: Deck and Patio installed regular flat bluestone stepping stones leading up to a flowing stream water feature we were doing. Then: Larger natural stones were added to walk across the stream. More flat bluestone was positioned on the other side as a walkway up to the clients’ pool area. Finally, we also added moss rock in various places which adds color and texture.

“Our clients even enjoy it in winter when the moss rock boulders around the stream become sparkling ice sculptures,” adds Dave.

 

Stone Island

Stone Island

Speaking of larger natural stones, have you ever considered adding a stone “island” in a pond where you can picnic?

When Deck and patio built this lovely water feature, comprising two separate ponds next to each other, there was room in the larger pond (shown here) to add a sizable stone island.

With smooth natural stones leading to it, the homeowners have a true Zen experience walking across the still pond to their own private island.

The clients placed two Adirondack chairs on the island giving them an escape for extended moments of contemplation. Plus, the wide arms of these chairs allow room for a small lunch and cool drink while they listen to birds and watch koi swim. Surrounded by robust bright plantings, including gorgeous aquatic plants, it’s a delightful escape.

 

Decks and Ponds

Decks and Ponds

A deck can be part of the pond/stepping stone contemplation space, too. This Deck and Patio deck was designed with a viewing platform to enjoy the new pond with waterfalls and beautiful landscaping.

At the bottom of a set of stairs, we placed the first of several large stepping stones leading from the deck, providing a delightful walk across the pond to other viewing areas of the multi-faceted water feature.

 

 

Waterfall Walk

Waterfall Walk

So far we’ve explored stepping stones across ponds, one path leading to a utility shed, and below you’ll see stepping stones to a swimming pool.

But here the bluestone stepping stones we added lead past cascading waterfalls, including a dramatic 7’-high waterfall.

“This is a very special experience for the clients,” says Dave. “Usually waterfalls drop into a pond and you can’t walk close to them. But these do not fall into a pond, but pass through river rock into a ‘pondless’ reservoir instead.”

In the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir, the water is filtered and then recirculated so it operates as a self-sustaining system that remains clean and clear. The different rocks used here include river rock, moss rock, spill rocks and, of course, bluestone stepping stones. They all contribute to a footpath experience one might only hope to get on a mountain trek.

 

Stepping Stone Path

Stepping Stone Path

We placed these bluestone stepping stones so they almost skim across the backyard sod. The path connects the clients’ pool patio to a Trex deck and second Cambridge patio located near the house.

This area is also home to a new outdoor kitchen area, complete with barbecue and refrigerator.

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk

Backyard Nature Walk

How’s this for one last example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones.

The stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.

“While this kind of space is ideal on its own,” says Dave, “the idea came to us when we were looking for a creative way to hide their new swimming pool equipment.

“We decided to create this wilderness area with plantings etc. in a way that offered contemplation moments while at the same time finding a creative way to hide their pool equipment.”

 

 

 

 

Backyard Pond: A Place of Reflection

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

The famed impressionist, Claude Monet, loved painting the water gardens in his home in Giverny, France. His paintings capture the trees, clouds, and sky reflected in the lily ponds at various times of day, in very different light — in the pre-dawn, the brightness of noonday, at sunset.

Each example allows the viewer to reflect on the differing views of beauty created by the pond’s stillness. 

We may not all be painters. But we all love to stop and reflect when we see the sky and other objects captured in still waters. 

Consider the happy owners of the following Deck and Patio vanishing edge (infinity) swimming pond. Our own Dave Stockwell explains that water features such as this project’s two man-made ponds, when correctly designed, positioned, and constructed, can provide a transforming experience in one’s life. 

 

 

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

 

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

 

The vanishing edge pond in fall

The vanishing edge pond in fall

 

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

 

“As you can see from the next photo of this pond, sunset is a magnificent time to mediate on the illusions created by the reflecting pond’s placid water,” says Dave. “The water mirrors its surroundings so perfectly, it can be a challenge to tell the real sky, ocean, and landscape from their images on the water.”

 

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset:

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset

 

The entire project was actually two ponds. The first larger pond shown in the above photos is the vanishing edge swimming pond. The smaller of the two ponds, below, is just steps outside the homeowners’ back door. Note how beautiful the back of the house is captured in the pond and reflected back. 

 

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

 

Landscape design is an essential element in bringing about beautiful reflections and peaceful scenes. “Our designers used Mother Nature’s own creations — plants, moss rocks, and the water itself, to design a true mystical experience,” adds Dave. 

To learn more about these two ponds and their natural biological filtration systems, read here. 

 

 

Landscaping Trends: No Exercise Required When ‘Forest Bathing’

We’re happy to say that in a blog early last year entitled, 2018 Landscaping Trends: ‘Forest Bathing’ on Long Island, NY, we shared with our Long Island neighbors the nascent landscaping trend of ‘forest bathing.’

Well, just this week, The Daily Beast reported how broad this tend has become of late in states like Colorado. But before we get into that, let’s get clear again on what ‘forest bathing’ is and is not.   

Bathing in the Beauty of a Wooded Area

Bathing in the Beauty of a Wooded Area

Forest bathing is a Japanese landscaping trend that does not require a bathing suit — or wild evening romps in the moonlight.

It simply means bathing yourself in the beauty of a wooded area via a nature walk. The idea is to allow your inner spirit time to breathe — and any inner tensions to find release.

And as the Daily Beast pointed out, this is not about trekking, mountain biking, or strenuous exercise. It’s quite the opposite. Indeed, ‘no exercise required.’ Just moments of peaceful introspection in a natural outdoor haven. 

Deck and Patio has found that all this comes natural to Long Islanders. In our years of collaboration with many nature-loving clients, we’ve been designing such restful woodland backyard escapes for many years.

Here are a few examples of how Deck and Patio-landscaped just such ‘forest bathing’ areas for a few of our clients.

 

'Forest Bathing' Opportunity on Long Island, NY:

‘Forest Bathing’ Opportunity on Long Island, NY:

This is a great example of a pre-existing wooded area on a local property. Within this already beautiful setting, we added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around it.

We also added additional plantings and lots of green ground cover. It’s the perfect space for them to bathe in natural beauty before they start their day and when they return home.

 

Forest Bathing Offers Great Escape (Long Island/NY):

Forest Bathing Offers Great Escape (Long Island/NY):

 

 

The key to forest bathing is to create or update spaces as they appear in nature — and add only amenities that fit naturally in that environment.

In this case, Deck and Patio added a bridge, water feature, imported boulders and rocks and landscaped it with robust plantings.

It feels like you are in upstate New York, in the mountains. Yet, it’s right in our clients’ backyard.

 

 

 

 

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

As you can see from this Deck and Patio-designed backyard refuge, we were careful to safeguard the existing woodland areas.

Extending out from the parkland areas, the new water feature was brought forward to the entertaining areas through the addition of a pondless waterfall. 

The new multi-level patios were carefully designed so that each patio space had a specific use. The complete project was a perfect blend of softscapes with hardscapes.

 

 Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Many believe that walking in natural surroundings is not only peaceful, but by providing moments of peaceful contemplation, such walks can have a healing effect.

For this space, we took advantage of the family’s desire to hide their pool equipment by creating a private woodland path. We brought in bushes and plantings and fit them among existing old-growth trees. Adding bluestone stepping stones that lead to a larger woodland area contributes to an extended nature walk that is perfect for forest bathing.

This uplifting experience of forest bathing might also include spiritual moments of divine worship. But the essential key is to just give one’s technology-driven life a break, and leave the barbells behind. No place offers a better space for that than a quiet woodland area.

Forest bathing, by the way, is a translation of the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku” — a new philosophy that began in Japan in the 1980s and has been growing as fast as, well, a bamboo forest.

 

 

 

Here’s two quotes to, once again, leave you with:

“Wilderness is a necessity”

— John Muir, environmental philosopher

“Look deep into nature, and then you will  understand everything better.”

— Albert Einstein

 

 

Happy forest bathing!

 

 

 

The Peaceful Harmony of Free-Form Pools

Last week our blog focused on geometric pools and how their traditional styles offer comfort today. But another trend is also upon us. There are those who find appealing a more relaxed, easy-going, natural style, as seen in the recent popularity of tie-die fashion apparel — which has its roots in 1960’s hippie style. For them, free-form pools fit just like a glove. 

“There’s something peaceful about a free-form water feature as it meanders its way along the natural contours of a landscape,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “It offers a calm sense that it belongs there. Like a natural pond or lake might — only with a patio or deck around it.” 

Project # 1

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Frequently, Deck and Patio designs the patio around a free-form pool in a similar free-form design. This Manhasset, NY, pool project is a great example of such a complementary patio and pool design.

“We also added a stacked stone wall that not only provides plenty of sitting options when the family entertains, the wall helps accentuate the space while also holding back the lawn and plantings.” 

This project design included a lower and upper patio — with the upper patio for the raised spa. Both pool patios were made from concrete paver slabs, which Deck and Patio installed the same way as traditional pavers — on a crushed stone base. Polymer sand joints were added to prevent weeds from growing in between the joints.

“Their backyard was also on the small side,” says Dave. “By designing different patio levels we were able to make the yard appear bigger; also note how the hue of the concrete pavers harmonize with that of the home itself.”

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Many love free-form pools because they meander along with the landscape to suggest a more natural look; here the patio was designed “free-form” as well. The design also called for a stacked stone wall which adds a dramatic outline to it all as well as offering extra seating when entertaining. 

Project # 2

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio won a prestigious award for this project. The publisher of the awards noted that: “It makes the landscaping appear as though it is yielding to the concrete paver patios, pools and retaining walls and it presents nature as in charge of the design, rather than the concrete.”

The homeowner has also told us: “When everything is blooming in our front yard, the beautiful curb appeal continually causes people to stop – even on what is a fairly busy street. Stopping to enjoy what we did there, they always ask if they can see the whole property. After they see this backyard free-form pool with raised spa retreat, stoppers-by are in awe of its beauty.”

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Our design includes an eight-foot-high pondless waterfall which hides pool equipment that local regulations required be put in the middle of the backyard.

The waterfall is powered by a 10,000 GPH pump and is center-lined on the main axis of the house. It creates an enjoyable audio-visual impact which runs virtually year-round.

More than half of the pool and spa beam is supported by over 30 tons of moss rock boulders. The spa and boulder work was specifically carved into the hillside to enhance a sense of enclosure and deal with the severity of the gradient change.

The project’s mature woodland setting has been surrounded by lush plantings in bright colors with long bloom periods. The landscape design also left ample lawn space for the homeowners’ children to play.

Despite a good deal of sophisticated pool technology at work maintaining this beautiful retreat, there’s an easy peaceful feel to it all. Tie-dye swimsuits would feel right at home here — as well as with our first project above.

(Note: To see more Deck and Patio free-form pool projects, simply search free-form pools on the main page of our website.)

 

Pool Deck Installations: Bring the Indoors, Outside, with Travertine

2019 has continued the recent design trend of bringing the indoors, outside, says a NAPL survey (National Association of Landscape Professionals). Old simple patios are regularly being replaced by elegant living spaces that turn backyards into functional extensions of home interiors.

One particular trend involves pool deck installations in handsome travertine — a soft natural stone that in the past usually graced only a home’s interior.

 

Two Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Decks

Travertine Pool Deck

Travertine Pool Deck

In this first Deck and Patio project (left), we surrounded a new 50-foot-long, 26-foot-wide pool (approximate) with an elegant pool deck made of Travertine.

The project also boasts a tanning shelf, spillover spa, moss rock waterfalls, volleyball court, and diving rock. The pool was constructed with a concrete wall and vinyl liner. 

“These homeowners also had us build a pool house and an outdoor kitchen (see below), so they really wanted to bring all the comforts and the elegance of their home’s interior pool-side,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

 

 

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio: For the pool house, Deck and Patio consulted with a good friend and architect, James DeLuca. Our collaborative effort inspired a building and extended pool deck that is in keeping with their home’s overall elegance.

 

 

About Travertine

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years. It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

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

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

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

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

 

Both projects we’re showcasing today (above and below) were built from Turkish Travertine. The following pool deck used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine and over 180 linear feet of fullness coping for the pool.

 

Travertine’s Appeal:

Travertine’s Appeal: The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.”

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

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

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

 

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

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

 

Pool Design Trends: You Don’t Have to Go ‘Natural’ to Look ‘Natural’

One growing trend in pool design in North America, long popular across The Pond in Europe, is an all-natural swimming pool, cleaned organically with eco-friendly flora, instead of pool chemicals.

Deck and Patio Natural Swimming Pond Deep Enough to Snorkel In

Deck and Patio Designed/Built This Natural Swimming Pond Deep Enough to Snorkel In

“Deck and Patio, too, has designed and built natural swimming ponds for clients like the one seen here (right), and we love them,” says owner Dave Stockwell. (Click here for more information.)

“But not everyone is comfortable with brushing up against seaweed or sharing their pool/pond with the odd dragonfly,” adds Dave. “The same holds true with swimming next to the odd salamander that might hang around a naturally-maintained pool’s edge. But that doesn’t mean those same homeowners don’t want the look of a more natural environment.”

The following Deck and Patio project is a great example, says Dave. When this couple purchased a home in Merrick, Long Island, they decided to renovate it to capture the spirit of their second home in upstate New York and asked us for “a swimming pool that looked like a pond — i.e., made entirely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel — but filtered and treated chemically like a normal pool.

In designing and building it, our engineers verified the technical aspects throughout the process. This was necessary because creating such an all-rock pool was like fitting puzzle pieces together — only, instead of using cardboard pre-made shapes, we were dealing with four-to-five truckloads of randomly-size Pennsylvania moss rock boulders.

The undertaking involved looking over and measuring each rock before it was fitted in place. Once positioned, in order to ensure the soil pressure wouldn’t push the stones over or knock them down, instead of straight up, we leaned each stone into the grade, tapered upward.

On the bottom of the pool, however, no boulders were used. Here we installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pool water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool.

To continue the natural look, we used boulders to create the four steps leading into the pool as well as into the spa.

 

 Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

The pool was also perfectly situated so as to reflect their newly renovated shingled-style home in its water. We added bright colorful plants in between the boulders, in such a way that they cascade into the pool, like they would in nature. This contributes to a beautiful all-rock pool, filtered and treated chemically, but which looks like a natural pond.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

We used a blend of pool and pond material for this unique pool and spa. The black liner, which reacts with the water to create a stunning pond-like appearance, is a 45-mil EPDM pond liner; we used Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

What you see is a beautiful pond-like pool; but there is a good deal of technology involved. For pool equipment, we used vinyl pool returns, main drains, SAVI color-changing LED lights, all Jandy equipment (energy efficient pump and gas heater), DE filter, salt chlorine generator and iAqualink automation.

 

 Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

The exposed stones around the pool  complement the stone base of the home’s columns and stone foundation, suggesting one harmonious whole.

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Deck and Patio’s design gives the vacation-style Adirondack feeling they wanted; they just step outside to a natural swimming pond where they can hang out with friends and use the hot tub when a chill comes on the evening. The interior of the spa is bluestone to match the surrounding patio.

 

By |2019-07-03T13:51:51-05:00July 3rd, 2019|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Moss Rock and Stones, Natural Swimming Ponds, Outdoor Living, Pools & Spas, Unique Ideas, Vinyl-lined Pools|Comments Off on Pool Design Trends: You Don’t Have to Go ‘Natural’ to Look ‘Natural’

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. 

 

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

Its Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately above this photo, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorfull plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile. 

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

“When it comes to backyard upgrades, most people want some sort of water feature,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In-ground pools can be expensive to both build and maintain.

“There’s more to outdoor living than a pool,” he adds. “We did a project in Massapequa, NY, without a pool that gave both the husband and wife all  they longed for — a true outdoor retreat for a reasonable cost.”

Portable Hot Tub Appears Custom-Built

Portable Hot Tub Appears Custom-Built

Backstory

The couple, says Dave, hankered to enjoy their own backyard — which was tidy but not enticing.

Space was also at a premium. And in lieu of a pool, the couple settled on installing a quality hot tub, in-ground.

An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa.  Plus it would be easy to get in and out of (see before/after photo above).

Creating Focal Point for Spa Enjoyment

Creating Focal Point for Spa Enjoyment

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. 

Upshot?

The pond with waterfalls, hot tub installation and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

“The husband had longed for a pond for some time. And by adding one as part of a single overall project, it saved time and money, and allowed the same designer to plan it all in a harmonious way.”

 

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable spas are self-contained units, with all they need to operate included within itself. “This is what helps make them so cost-friendly compared to other water features,” says Dave.

That said, when installing them in-ground it must be done in a way that allows water from rain to drain away from the spa. If not, the hot tub’s plumbing could get damaged. “In this case, in order to have it completely in-ground, we removed the spa’s plumbing equipment to a protected area above ground where it is accessible for any future repairs.”

 

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

When the clients sit outside now they  enjoy the sound of water as well as see a lovely pond with waterfalls and watch the pond fish swim about. Not only do they have this view from their patio, but even better, they can enjoy it all — and even feed the koi — from their in-ground spa. 

The project’s natural-looking waterfall feature with the pond included surrounding moss rock boulders and lush landscaping. We used Aquascape Inc.’s water systems — high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters etc. 

“The couple told us that their ‘in-tub views’ are spectacular,” says Dave. “Plus the in-ground installation makes it easy to get in and out of the spa. They also said they love the spa’s hydrotherapy for all kinds of relief as well as relaxation. “It was definitely the right choice for them.”