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Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

 

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. 

 

 

 

Quality Upgrade Ideas for Your Outdoor Barbecue

 

According to trend spotters, the watchword for today’s outdoor upgrades is:

Quality.

Take the humble barbecue. It remains the beating heart of outdoor entertaining. But more and more it has become only a part of a more expansive outdoor kitchen that’s set in attractive custom cabinetry etc. — and made to last.

 

Of course, the first thing any outdoor kitchen will need is outdoor plumbing and electrical outlets to hook up the sinks and appliances. And it is key to locate the kitchen as accessible to your indoor kitchen as possible. That said, design and function will depend on your style and budget.

Some Deck and Patio Barbecue Projects to Inspire You

 

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

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill.

Close to the indoor kitchen, and with no obstructions in the way, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry should last a good long time.

 

 

 

 

This project  combined a new Trex Transcend deck with a full outdoor kitchen. “Trex is one of several composite decking manufacturers whose names are synonymous with ‘quality,’ says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Here, the deck is not only an outdoor gathering area, but it makes an elegant foundation for the barbecue.”

The outdoor kitchen itself boasts a durable and stylish granite top. Its cultured stone facade goes all the way to the ground making a dramatic statement that can be appreciated throughout the yard; kitchen amenities include not just the barbecue, but a refrigerator, double-side burner, as well as three drawers — all made with high quality stainless steel. Note how a large space was not required to design/build a superior barbecue area.

 

 

 

Again, Deck and Patio clients wanted their outdoor kitchen’s mechanics and amenities hidden in a work station with a stone facade for elegance and durability. Boasting a large work area, this kitchen includes a sink, refrigerator, eating bar with bar stools — and, of course, a quality barbecue.

The curved shape of the outdoor kitchen’s station, including one end designed as a circle, hints at the home’s turret. Note: A large shade umbrella over the bar can be moved as needed. Also, when sun is intense, extra umbrellas from the patio’s lounge area can be brought to the bar/cooking area.

 

 

When we think of pergolas, we think of beautiful architectural statements. And they are that for sure. They also beautifully delineate spaces such as for an outdoor kitchen.

But did you also consider that a pergola allows you to cover the top with a tarp that can hang down a bit when it’s pouring outside? After all, a quality barbecue and it’s juicy grilled meats and vegetables shouldn’t be inaccessible just when you want a grilled steak the most.

This L-shaped outdoor kitchen countertop also serves as a bar.

 

 

 

Certainly, the more seating the better when planning your outdoor kitchen. Here, Deck and Patio used natural stone for the veneer of the barbecue/bar and added a seat wall made with the same veneer.

We also added the same edge-restraint as the capstone, creating an interesting tie-in with the extensive brick veneer used for the house. The seat wall is handsome and ample in size, but it is also comfortable and will last a long time.

Once again, the curved design of the kitchen and seat wall complement the home’s turret, while some of the dark stones in the veneer echo the turret’s roof.

“One way you know any upgrade you are planning will be, in fact, one of quality,” says Dave Stockwell, “is how well your build/design firm stands by its work. We always recommend materials that are backed with good warranties from trustworthy manufacturers and are proud of our own reputation for ensuring complete satisfaction in our work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Key Reasons to Choose the Right Pool Patios

“People love their pool patios,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In fact, they probably use their pool surrounds for sunbathing, dining and just lounging a lot more than they use the pool.”

Whether clients choose to surround their pool with landscaped grass, wood (or decking composite materials), stone (e.g., Travertine), poured concrete, or pavers, there are 5 key things to consider.

Oops. Sandal Tan Lines

Oops. Sandal Tan Lines

1. Okay for Bare Feet

No one wants to wear shoes or sandals beside a pool — and not just because they cause tan lines!

But, ouch, pool surrounds can retain a lot of heat in the Northeast, where summer heat can be very intense. So choosing a material that does not trap heat is an important consideration to save you from blisters.

“Unless you have a lot of shade around your pool, you want to stay away from brick or bluestone,” says Dave. “Yet, you can still have the elegance of natural stone. Travertine, for example, is a good choice because as it does not absorb heat like other stone materials.”

Deck and Patio Project Using Trex Transcend Decking

Deck and Patio Project Using Trex Transcend Decking

 

For those who prefer the look of wood, composite decking can be a good choice because you can be sure there will be no splinters that might occur with plain natural wood.

Deck and Patio has done beautiful pool decks using Trex Transcend decking, as well as Fiberon and TimberTech. Note: Because of Fiberon’s grooved design, the board fasteners are hidden, which means there are no nails to ever injure bare feet either.

“As for certain pavers, they are also a good choice, especially lighter-hued tones which will naturally hold less heat,” says Dave.

 

                                                           2. Staying Cool

Deck and Patio Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Swim Up/Outdoor Bar

Deck and Patio Swim Up/Outdoor Bar

“You don’t want to get overheated when sunbathing,” says Dave. “This is one reason tanning shelves have become so popular. Part pool amenity and part extension of your pool patio, these shelves (a.k.a. ledges, Baja ledge, doggie deck) — allow sun bathers to sit in shallow pool water where they can splash water around themselves whenever they want.

Another way to stay cool and extend your patio into your pool, is a swim up bar. These bars can be enjoyed from the patio itself or from in the pool. Add an umbrella, and you won’t know if you are home or on vacation in the Caribbean.

 

 

Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Surround

3. Need for Durability

While in many areas of the country, pool use is seasonal, outdoor living lasts at least from spring through fall. Even if the pool isn’t open, the pool area is used a good deal for just relaxing or regular entertaining.

“Composite decking materials are very durable and low maintenance,” says Dave. “They are also rot, insect, moisture, fade resistant. Regular wood does need to be treated on a regular basis, but if you choose a wood like Brazilian Walnut hardwood (Ipe), it has the strength, hardness and durability to resist splintering, termites, wear, etc.”

The right pavers, e.g., Techo-Bloc which are engineered in Canada, stand up extremely well to the freeze/thaw that occurs in our part of the Northeast.

Travertine is also very durable — just be sure it isn’t coming from say, China, where the Travertine they quarry is not nearly as durable as more costly Mexican, Italian and Turkish Travertine. If you get your stone through a reputable company, it should hold up to the weather changes that occur the Northeast.

“So make sure your pool patio doesn’t absorb too much heat, is slip resistant, and won’t cause you splinters or any feet tearing. Stay cool when sunbathing, and choose a pool surround material that is durable,” says Dave. “There’s a wide range of good choices available. Speak with an expert and share what your style and preferences are. Experienced patio landscapers will help you find the perfect surround for your pool, and design the outdoor space to maximize your enjoyment.”

Note: Re the featured photo at the top of the page: the reconfigured upper patio — where our clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture, thereby allowing several people to be out of the sun at the same time.

 

 

How To Be Confident In Backyard Design Plans

Sometimes even having a reputation as a top notch landscape design/build firm isn’t enough. For, while these Deck and Patio clients were enthusiastic about our design ideas, not being able to picture how it all would look when it was finished concerned them.

This was understandable. We weren’t being hired to simply tidy up their yard. They were looking for a backyard retreat that included a pool with spillover spa, dramatic pool surround, pool house and bar area and attractive landscaping — all in a contemporary design that fitted their style.

3D Landscape Design Plan

3D Landscape Design Plan

“However, our design team had an easy solution,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “We completed a 3D digital animation of the entire project using a special computer program. This permitted them to view every part of the retreat from any angle they wished. Once they saw what it all would look like, they were eager to go forward.”

Dave adds that having this computer program allowed us to document changes during the project — thereby giving the clients confidence that any alterations would appear as expected.

“A major part of their retreat was a custom-designed pool house, with all the amenities of a home. The patio was built with Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers that are reminiscent of old-time European plazas; but we laid them in a random pattern that complemented the lines of the geometric pool.”

Outside the pool house is a custom 25-foot-wide pergola that enhances their ability to entertain in comfort. Providing shade while sitting at the bar or in lounge chairs, it is also a beautiful architectural piece that adds drama to the space.

The project was recognized by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) with a Gold Award for geometric pool design.

“The award, although given to us, was as much the clients’ as ours,” says Dave. They contributed and participated at every level.”

 

 Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

The main feature in this award-winning project was a striking geometric pool with a raised spa surrounded by a multi-level patio. Deck and Patio’s carpentry crew and masons worked tirelessly on this project. From the 25-foot-long microlam beam on the pergola to the smallest detail and door stop on the pool house, everything was built from scratch.

 

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

The raised spa, topped with the same Cambridge Ledgestone pavers used on the patio, spills over through a rectangular cutout that echoes the pool’s overall geometric design.

 

 

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

As the clients step out of the pool house, they walk under a 25-foot-wide shade pergola making this space ideal for entertaining; there is also a handsome bar area, fitted with a sink and all the components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages.

 

 

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

A major part of the project was this custom-designed pool house, complete with a bathroom, changing room, and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view overlooking the pool.

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Features Are Easy to Create and Maintain

In order to enjoy the beauty and serenity of a flowing stream or waterfall, some sort of basin is required to capture the water. Frequently, such a basin is a pond, possibly adorned with exotic water plants as well as being a home to pond fish. But there are many who want a water feature — just not with a pond.

 

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Those with very young children, for example, sometimes worry that a full, deep pond in their backyard might present safety concerns, and prefer a pondless waterfall (left) where river rock allows water to seep down into the ground. In addition, come spring and fall, ponds require maintenance to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Another reason for not wanting a pond came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals. With other clients, budget and property size are factors.

For all or any of these reasons, if you are considering a water feature, you may want to go “pondless.”

Certified Aquascape Contractor

Deck and Patio is a Certified Aquascape Contractor, which means we’ve been pre-qualified as experts in designing and building water features of all types, including “pondless” waterfalls. Aquascape offers years of experience in this field and their products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Their pondless systems allow water to drain through gravel into a reservoir, which stores the filtered water underground and recirculates it.

 

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

For the handsomely landscaped pondless waterfall pictured here (right), we planted durable thick and compact evergreens, including the low-maintenance Procumbent Juniper, which spreads well. For splashes of color we added Begonias, Coleus, plus Astilbe with its beautiful and showy flowers.

With a pondless waterfall, you are recirculating water, which is definitely eco-friendly. But natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. For those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use town water to replenish your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes a RainXchange reservoir system.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

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Water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete and picks up contaminants

“Whether you harvest rainwater or maintain your water feature with town water, an Aquascape Inc. pondless system will keep the spillover water from running into over-burdened sewer systems,” says Dave.

“That is because we use river rock underneath the waterfall. It not only allows water to seep through to the reservoir, but it helps filter it. This river rock process is essential, because water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete, but, instead, flows away to the local waterways, picking up contaminants as it goes.

“So if you’re not sure you want a pond, but definitely want the sounds and sights of running water, pondless just may be the way to go,” says Dave.

 

 

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

 

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola-adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

 

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of what was an existing patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of their patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

 

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

 

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Inspiration Can Come from Unlikely Places

 

When looking for ideas to update their properties, it’s not unusual for homeowners to turn to such online social networks as Pinterest, Houzz, Google Plus, etc. Certainly, we post our own projects on these sites and find inspiration there, too.

That said, our design staff gets most of its best ideas outside, when taking in vistas that we can hear, smell, and touch. Indeed, when you’re passionate about the outdoors, you find you can’t turn off your inspiration-antenna, even when on vacation.

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida), Author: Lee Bailey from Beverley, UK

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida), Author: Lee Bailey from Beverley, UK

That was the case for Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter after he visited Disney World. And what awed him there became the inspiration behind one of our company’s most awarded projects.

“These clients wanted something very special,” says Renter. “When thinking about it, I realized I had been really impressed with how Disney World had been a feast for the senses — that there was always something around the corner, something to draw you to the next space. And that’s what my design was all about for these clients.”

Indeed, the homeowners admit to be in awe of what Deck and Patio Co. accomplished.

“You almost don’t want to stop anywhere,” says the husband. “You can’t wait to see what is coming up next. You climb on huge moss-covered rocks, or stroll around the spa waterfall to get to the water slide, then down a little bluestone walkway, even passing by a stream on the way. It’s spectacular.”

His wife loves how their new backyard “resort” offers the thoughtful comforts of many hotel/resort amenities. For example, four embedded umbrella stands are installed in the main tumbled stone patio.

Landscaping Ideas:

Landscaping Ideas:

“They are positioned perfectly,” she says. “I just open them for parties or when serving food and get 50 percent shading of the patio area. Or for sunbathing, I just close them and the sun will go all the way across.”

Landscaper Renter has also successfully mimicked the background music at hotel resorts – that is heard but is never intrusive.

The landscaper adds that in 2005, this project also won the “International Award of Excellence – Gold Medal” – from the APSP (The Association for Pool and Spa Professionals) in the category of a vinyl pool in excess of 601 square feet.

Yet, a beautiful as the completed project is, the awards were given for more than just what meets the eye. Design and execution challenges for this 46-by-32-foot free-form vinyl pool/spa began with a 13-foot elevation change that runs the length of the pool area.

In addition to a stunning pool, spill over spa, patio area, multiple waterfalls and a swim up bar in the backyard, Renter added a gorgeous pond with waterfalls on the side of the property, just below a rolling green lawn.

“Sometimes you want a break from all the fun and activity of the pool/patio area,” says Renter. “And we gave them that. It’s even beautiful in winter to stop and spend a few moments there.”

 

 

Pool Water Slides:

Pool Water Slides:

Renter adds that, of course, the clients love the built-in water slide, and there are five waterfalls (one reaching 7×10 feet), plus immense moss rocks — some weighing in excess of six thousand pounds.

 

Swim Up Bars:

Swim Up Bars:

Family and friends really enjoy being able to get a cool drink by swimming up to the 38-foot “swim-up bar” that has submerged barstools. He adds that this amenity is very popular with adults, as it is a great spot for swimmers and strollers to meet and talk, without the swimmers having to get out of the water.

 

Swimming Pools:

Swimming Pools:

And for nighttime entertaining, the automated color logic lights, the ten speakers that pick up commercial-free satellite radio, the glorious 7×11 foot vinyl-lined spa, and the romantic gas campfires, make this anyone’s definition of nighttime paradise.

 

Backyard Ponds and Waterfalls

Backyard Ponds and Waterfalls:

Away from all the activity the pool area generates, these clients now have a gorgeous spot for meditation that includes a fish pond. wooden bridge, multiple waterfalls, lush plantings and garden bench.

 

Ponds in Winter:

Ponds in Winter:

Even after the snow falls, these clients find they can’t resist stopping by their pond and enjoy quiet moments alone with nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vinyl-Lined Pools Allow Flexibility in Pool Design

Although Deck and Patio builds concrete (gunite) pools, many of our clients prefer the feel of vinyl and especially the flexibility that vinyl offers in designing a pool.

“Sometimes stringent local setback codes affect pool design, other times the backyard space is small or the terrain challenging. Whatever the difficulties, with today’s advanced computerization of liner fabrications used in vinyl-lined pools, we can construct a swimming pool in any shape, curve, or angle, so there’s freedom in giving clients exactly what they want,” says Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter.

With such flexibility in pool design, homeowners are also not stuck with what some believe to be unattractive white interior stairs. “The liner is fabricated to include the stairs and any other in-pool amenities. This is helpful because white stairs do not blend with the rest of the pool,” says Renter, “and, of course, there’s no sacrificing a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.”

Of course, the base construction of a vinyl pool is much the same as any other. Vinyl simply refers to the method used to line a pool’s interior. These liners come in a large variety of colors, which can react with the water to create a romantic “grotto” or “lagoon’ effect, so popular today. Plus, the concrete walls of vinyl-lined pools have a lifetime guarantee.

“Often known for being the lowest-cost option, vinyl pools and spas are easily customizable,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In addition, replacement cost for the outer liner is modest compared to other pool fixes. Because of this, we can offer a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look down the road. Plus, in the Northeast, vinyl-lined pools perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate.”

The first project we’re highlighting today (see first photo below) is unique with an interesting twist on the typical vinyl liner. It’s a swimming pool that looks 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. Its liner isn’t “vinyl.” Instead, because of the very unique pool design the clients wanted, the best choice was a rubber pond liner. It’s as comfortable as vinyl and was a necessary choice for the job.

 

Adirondack-style Pool:

Adirondack-style Pool:

Despite looking like it’s a natural pond set within rocks, on the bottom of the pool there are no boulders. We installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pool water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool and is comfortable to swim in. We used a blend of pool and pond materials — a black liner, which reacts with the water to create a stunning pond-like appearance (a 45-mil EPDM pond liner) and Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls. Plus, the serenity of it all gives no hint of the high-tech energy efficient components supporting it. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to the backyard retreat.

 

 

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

This entire Manhasset, NY project included a free-form, vinyl-lined pool that meanders along the landscape, along with a spillover spa. We tucked it into the back right corner of the clients’ backyard and surrounded it with a stacked stone wall and lush plantings. If you have a small yard — as was the case here — Deck and Patio frequently recommends designing different patio levels which help make the yard appear bigger.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, portable spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio. The movement in the pool’s free-form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture – with a view on how it will grow – ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely oasis for a long time to come.

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

These clients wanted a good deal more than an outdoor pool and patio; they wanted a wide range of resort-style amenities to enhance their already existing majestic views of Long Island Sound. One such amenity was a vinyl-lined vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool that brings the view of the shoreline right up to their backyard patio. In addition, we included a spectacular custom spa, also perfectly positioned to enjoy the “vanishing edge” views. (Sunset photo of this project follows.)

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

This resort-style outdoor living oasis includes vanishing (vinyl lined) pool, custom spa, tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning. A swim-up U-shaped bar also serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

 

 

Breathing Room: Outdoor Rooms Come In all Shapes

Outdoor rooms can be elaborate affairs. Indeed, one project we are showcasing today is an enclosed pool house that boasts two separate outdoor rooms. Still another is a completely enclosed four seasons room.

But as This Old House Magazine recently showed in 39 DIY Budget-wise Ways to Create Outdoor Rooms, just about any outdoor space can be turned into an open-air living room offering room to breathe.

The key is comfort. Just as indoors, outdoor rooms are for spending time relaxing with friends and family or just taking time to refresh your own spirit. And as long as you’ve created a cozy atmosphere, you not only don’t need walls around the space — you don’t even need a roof.

Breathing Room

In the end, the only rules for an outdoor room is to breathe fresh air. Once you consider your budget, ask yourself: How do I want to use the space? Am I looking for lots of nighttime enjoyment, including protection from mosquitos? How many seasons is it for? Who will use it the most in the family? Is it intended to be a swimming pool or other water feature amenity?

Here’s how some of our clients answered those questions, and how Deck and Patio helped them fulfill their plans.

Outdoor Rooms with Walls and Roofs

Insert # 1The Ultimate: Pool House with Outdoor Rooms.

This completed project won Deck and Patio a prestigious international APSP award. Along with a pool with waterfalls and spillover spa, elegant Travertine patio/pool surround, outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade (unseen), and outdoor shower, we built them a stunning pool house with “two” separate outdoor rooms. The pool is located far from the house and they wanted the ability to cook by the pool, as well as have a place to relax — bug free. The 800-square-foot pool house includes a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom, as well as separate great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet.

 

Destination Pool with Pool House:

Destination Pool with Pool House:

At night, this destination pool area (see also photo above) is as romantic as it is serene. It is an idyllic spot for parties that begin in the day and continue long into the night.

 

 

Insert # 2A Fully-enclosed Four Seasons Room:

After an evening of being pestered by insects, these clients decided they wanted their outdoor room “screened.” Later, when they decided to use it when it was windy as well as in the cold months, the screens became windows. And once it was to be fully closed in, opportunities for more special amenities opened up.

The completed four seasons room not only harmonizes with their home, as well as having screens, it boasts fully operating windows, automated Mitsubishi ductless heating and air conditioning, a flat screen television, and enough room for their young child to use his ride-on toys. No matter the season, this outdoor room’s large Anderson windows offer a 360-degree view of their lovely property.

 

Outdoor Rooms Without Walls

Insert # 3Travertine Patio With Pergola:

Not all outdoor rooms require walls. Using only a handsome pergola and comfortable furniture, this backyard space has plenty of breathing room.

Note how the pergola’s overhead slats create a shadow-carpet that helps define an elegant outdoor living room. The adjacent dining area is only steps from an outdoor kitchen/bar/barbecue veneered in natural stone (see immediately below). The property’s glorious expansive Travertine patio serves as the floor for these happy spaces.

 

 

Travertine Patio/Outdoor Kitchen:

Travertine Patio/Outdoor Kitchen:

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.

 

Insert # 4

 

Lighting! Lighting! Lighting!:

During the day, you have earth’s sun to provide all the light you need.

But, when it comes to an inviting outdoor room at night, lighting can greatly add to the experience. This shingle-roof pergola/pavilion/fireplace project was installed at the edge of a patio. With lighted handsome columns on stone pillars that match the fireplace, lighting creates the perfect evening ambience through several seasons.

 

Outdoor Rooms without Walls or Roofs

Outdoor Room on Deck:

Outdoor Room on Deck:

Along with a hot tub set into their multi-level deck, thee homeowners created room to breathe by adding comfortable furniture, a fire pit and a television. Note: Today’s LED televisions can be properly encased to be theft-free. In fact, Best Hot Tubs’ outdoor living expert has helped clients do just that. Encasing the television carefully will also ensure the proper internal temperature control/circulation to protect it. There are also televisions designed for outside use which resist rain, dust and other elements.

 

No Fixed Structure At All

 

Photo # 5If you agree with This Old House Magazine’s feature mentioned above (and we do), maybe you don’t need anything fixed to create an idyllic outdoor living space. Here, to shade a self-supporting hammock, the clients positioned a tilt umbrella next to their pool’s delightful waterfall. It’s the perfect spot when the Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon are in bloom (forefront).

Yet this outdoor room can be moved to another spot when other plantings are relaxing focal points. And you don’t need a pool or waterfalls for a tranquil place to refresh the spirit. Create a container garden by grouping some seasonal flowers together and set up a place to rest — you’ll all the outdoor breathing room you need.

 

 

Backyard Upgrade Ideas: Don’t Forget the Focal Point

A backyard focal point could be a tree that’s beautiful all year, a butterfly garden that includes late blooming plants, or a garden bench set amid wispy ornamental grasses and trees with bright fall foliage. Or, like in the backyard upgrade we’re highlighting here, what catches your eye (and ear) when you walk outdoors can be an inspiring water feature.

In the end, the focal point is simply what you are emphasizing. You can have more than one if your yard is large enough, but it should be done in a way so that various points do not compete with each other.

When these clients approached us for a full backyard upgrade, they wanted several elements:  a two-level patio, fire pit, hot tub, fresh landscaping, and an outdoor kitchen. They also wanted a special water feature that could be enjoyed wherever you are in the yard — or a main focal point that wasn’t static but a “living landscape.”

Water Feature

The completed water feature consists of a “pond-less” waterfall and stream — and, of course, it was all strategically placed so as to be viewed from both the main kitchen window, the new two-level patio, and the hot tub.

An added benefit is the feature was made with all Aquascape Inc. components, so it is eco-friendly: the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

Patio and Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

To support the water feature’s natural appeal, the two-level patio was made with a Techo-Bloc paver that gives the suggestion of natural wood and the fire pit and outdoor kitchen facade were made of natural stone. Despite the height of the outdoor kitchen, and the impressive patio pattern, the water feature’s size, movement, and drama means it is never outshone.

That does not mean, however, that the other elements aren’t beautiful and significant. Indeed, everything should work together as one harmonious whole.

 

 Backyard Focal Points:

Backyard Focal Points:

Moving water is delightful to listen to as well as watch. This pond-less stream and waterfalls were positioned so as to catch the eye immediately when stepping outside; it can also be enjoyed from the kitchen window.

 

 

Backyard Focal Points:

Backyard Focal Points:

The stream and waterfalls flow next to the clients’ new Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub — adding another layer of relaxation to the spa experience.

 

 

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

By providing the rich look of wood flooring, Techo-Bloc Borealis’ modular 5”-and-10”-wide slabs have been called trompe l’oeil by industry professionals. Offering such a natural wood look, it was the perfect choice for a patio that sits beside a flowing stream with waterfalls.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen:

Outdoor Kitchen:

The clients’ new outdoor kitchen/eating bar was set on the lower-level of their new patio — just next to the end of the waterfall/stream. An ideal place for gathering for drinks before dinner is made all the better with the sounds and movements of an adjacent water feature.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchens and Fire Pits:

Outdoor Kitchens and Fire Pits:

The mechanics of the fire pit and outdoor kitchen are hidden within stone facades. The outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

Flexible Shade:

Flexible Shade:

When open, embedded umbrellas provide flexible shade opportunities anywhere they are needed. Moved behind the eating bar, the umbrellas are a great substitute for a pergola; they are more flexible than fixed shade amenities because various umbrellas can be open and closed at the same time or moved as the sun does. When all open, you have a perfect area to place a buffet or sit and and relax in full shade.