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Noise Pollution: Blocking Unwanted Noise with Delightful Sounds

Since Richard Nixon was in office, federal and state governments have recognized the harmful effects of noise pollution. According to experts, noise pollution can have a wide range of harmful health effects. 

But more than the really loud booms that can damage eardrums,  routine unpleasant noise, when frequently experienced, can cause hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

 

“One complaint people on Long Island experience around their homes is traffic noise,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “It’s one reason Deck and Patio clients love adding water features. Beyond beauty and their peaceful ambience, they also are a great way to eliminate traffic and other unwanted outdoor noises.”

 

Water features provide relaxing burbling sounds. Some have reported that the negative ions abundant in waterfalls actually increase serotonin levels which improve mood.

 

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

 

A closeup of one of our projects with stream and waterfalls (shown left) captures part of a Roslyn, NY, water feature. It is the main waterfall in a series that flow down over moss rocks in a very natural-looking way — if we do say so ourselves.

 

 

 

 

Our clients did not want a pond, so we created a “pondless” feature using Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the flowing water in an underground reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

 

 

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

 

“Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with this 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell. “Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past i.t You might say this lovely setting did more than block out noise — it created a beautiful spot reminiscent of a Caribbean vacation.

 

 

 

 

Blocking City Noise

Backyard Noise Barriers

Backyard Noise Barriers

But, you might ask, Long Island is one thing, but can waterfalls help block city noise. Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise — in the very heart of a borough of New York City.

In addition to an exterior wall, which we softened with bamboo around its perimeter and a “living wall” that holds multiple-sized pots of plants, we added a sizable waterfall that offers up joyous splashing sounds as it falls into their pool. 

“It is truly an oasis in the heart of the city,” says Dave.

 

 

Lots of Noise Barrier Options

Watery Trail

Watery Trail

“There is a wide choice of design options for your own backyard water feature,” says Dave.

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

 

“You might wonder if waterfalls will really drown out traffic noise,” says Dave. “But the following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa we built gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.”

 

 

Visit Deck and Patio at Heckscher Park Fall Festival

Columbus Weekend, through Monday (5 PM), we are at Heckscher Park’s Fall Festival. Stop by and see our display area. You can sit for a moment and check out some good ideas for outdoor living:

  • hot tub sale (we’ve brought 2 spas for you to look over)
  • mini patio made from Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec
  • autumn flower display with waterfall
  • fire feature with lightscape

Our award-winning staff will be there and can talk to you about any of your outdoor living needs — from pools, patios, decks, water features, hot tubs, pavilions, fire features and, of course, landscaping. Or just stop by and relax as you enjoy all the Fall Fair has to offer.

Here’s some photos of our display:

 

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio (Patio pavers: Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec)

 

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio (Patio pavers: Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec)

 

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio

Heckscher Park: Deck and Patio (Patio pavers: Cambridge Pavingstones With ArmorTec)

 

 

Prepare for Next Year’s Outdoor Season this Fall

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

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

 

Decks/Patios

 

Deck and Patio Cedar Deck

Deck and Patio Cedar Deck

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Installed Techo-Bloc Pavers

Deck and Patio Installed Techo-Bloc Pavers

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Extending the Outdoor Living Season

 

Covered Patio

Covered Patio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

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

 

Extend Outdoor Season

Extend Outdoor Season

 

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

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

 

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

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

 

Choosing The Right Fire Feature

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

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

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

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

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

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

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

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

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

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

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

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

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

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

 

Today’s Feature Photo

Today’s Feature Photo

 

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

Now, the promised Ina Garten recipe:

 

 

 

 

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:

10 min

Prep:  5 min

Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving

Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 marshmallow

2 Graham crackers

Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions

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

2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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

Labor Day Is Not the End of the Grilling Season

Outdoor Grilling Season Continues Throughout Fall

Outdoor Grilling Season Continues Throughout Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Outdoor Kitchen on Lower Patio

Outdoor Kitchen on Lower Patio

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

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

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

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

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

As for the particular amenities show here, one trend we’re seeing in outdoor kitchens are warming/cooling drawers made by companies like Ronda. These insulated drawers are sealed and work without electricity. Your drinks stay cool or your food stays warm depending on what you put in its lower drawer.

They have a magnetic seal, which along with being waterproof will also keep away bugs and dust. Indeed, you can choose a single drawer just for keeping dishes and cutlery completely clean.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchens:

Outdoor Kitchens:

Deck and Patio used a natural stone for the veneer of the bar/barbecue and constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall. This created a unique contrast between the patio, bar area and the extensive back veneer used for the house.

\

 

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

For this project, Deck and Patio constructed a custom activity area on the mid-level of a 3-level deck. Just steps from the top-level’s large seating area, the custom outdoor kitchen/dining area includes a new grill, refrigerator, a small bar to enjoy the water views, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

Wherever you locate your kitchen, just remember you don’t want to get burned up from intense sun during cooking or dining. A pergola is one answer. But another is to have moveable — yet sturdy — outdoor umbrellas for flexible shade.

 

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. In this case, it’s a truly peaceful spot since we installed a water feature with waterfalls next to their new portable hot tub. It creates a great atmosphere for conversation and enjoying an outdoor meal and drinks.

The bar and outdoor kitchen counter was constructed in a curved shape to mimic the patio design. It is granite topped and the base of the activity center is faced in natural stone. The lounging area’s outdoor umbrella is portable and can be used where needed, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen/Bar with Pergola:

Outdoor Kitchen/Bar with Pergola:

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

 

The Beatles?

The Beatles?

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Labor Day Is Perfect Time to Plan Pool Upgrades

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

 

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

 

 

In-ground Pools

 

Pentair Variable Speed Pool Pump

Pentair Variable Speed Pool Pump

Pumps

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

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

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

 

Coping 

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

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

 

Upgrading Coping

Upgrading Coping

 

 

 

Changing Pool Liners

Changing Pool Liners

Liners

 

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

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

 

 

 

Pool Patio Surrounds, Waterfalls

 

New Patio/Waterfall

New Patio/Waterfall

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Spruce Up the Yard with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just about two weeks away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season, it is one of the final big outdoor weekends for entertaining — even if we have to gather wearing masks etc.

In order to make your outdoor area extra special for Labor Day, how about  adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting a party yourself, but are attending someone else’s, a refreshed plantings allows you to create a special hostess gift, like a bouquet from your very own garden.

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant

 

And for some good news: It’s not too late to be adding flowers for Labor Day that will also last well into the fall. Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant, has provided us with just the right plants to add this time of year.

“Late in the summer season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.”\

As for which ones to look out for, she agrees with Deck and Patio that the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) with its bright yellow heart is a great choice to add mid-to-late August. The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

 

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower)

 

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices. For example, Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says.

 

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

Chelone, (aka Turtlehead)

 

Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy), as well as Asters, are also great choices,” she continues. “These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” 

 

Sedum — Autumn Joy

Sedum — Autumn Joy

 

For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

 

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

Solidago (aka Goldenrod)

 

“I suggest getting these perennials in the ground sooner rather than later,” she continues. If it hasn’t rained before planting, soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

“It’s easy to make a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” adds Dave Stockwell. “Sandra’s ideas for adding color and beauty will not only make Labor Day Weekend entertaining colorful, but the impact will last well into the fall.”

 

Asters

Asters

 

 

Note: Our feature photo at the top of our blog page today shows a lovely colorful flower from the Aster family. 

 

 

 

By |2021-08-26T10:08:41-05:00August 26th, 2021|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Spruce Up the Yard with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Landscaping: Making a Home for Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the Eastern Monarch Butterfly population fell again this past February.

The yearly count they say: “continues to show a dramatic decline in this imperiled species.” And to many, these beautiful nectar-feeding insects have become the face of wildlife extinction.

“Isn’t it wonderful, then, that we can do our part to help prevent this decline,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“It can be difficult for these pollinators to find pure food sources causing them to use a lot of energy just hunting for food. So we love that many of our clients ask us to plant flowers that will attract them.”

 

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

Creating Safe Habitats for Caterpillars

In addition to adding the right plants, Dave says it’s also key to create a safe habitat for their caterpillars. Some herbs are ideal for that; Dill and Dutchman’s Pipe, for example, not only provide caterpillars food, but also protective cover before they turn into butterflies.

Organic gardening and environmentally-friendly lawn care products also go hand-in-hand with attracting and protecting the pollinators.

“Earth-friendly lawn and plant care is very possible,” says Dave. “It isn’t essential to go for a fast kill of plant disease and pests. In doing that, you might also hurt helpful organisms in the process. Heavy use of toxic chemicals are also dangerous to pets and children. It is much healthier to control them — and protect butterflies and other pollinators in the process — through a more organic approach.”

Out friends at Hicks Nurseries suggest that tubular-shaped plants or “Umbrels” provide a wonderful sanctuary for butterflies. These give them a landing plant filled with nectar just waiting for them, says one of their experts, who also suggests a seasonal approach that not only provides multi-seasonal color in gardens, but extra months of safe, bountiful habitats.

In spring, you can plant Columbine, Bachelor Buttons, Bleeding Hearts, and Dianthus, for example. In summer, there’s 30-40 plants to choose from, including Black Eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Bush to name just a few. In fall, there’s Sedums, Joe Pye Weed, Asters, and Golden Rod.

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

 

Butterflies will get plenty of moisture from droplets left from sprinklers, morning dew, etc. “However, they do seem to love oranges, not only for food, but to quench their thirst,” says Caldwell. 

Note: To keep ants away from the fruit, put the slice on a smaller dish and insert it into a larger one with water. Also, cut fresh slices into the fruit every day.

“It’s wonderful that so many Long Islanders are helping the environment, in their own quiet way,” says Dave. “They celebrate Earth Day, every day, by creating safe, beautiful habitats for butterflies and other pollinators.”

 

 

 

 

Monarchs Love Oranges!

Monarchs Love Oranges!

As the name implies, Butterfly Bush is a great choice for attracting butterflies in the summer. “They can reach up to 6-8 feet in height,” says Hicks Nurseries. “They’re fast growing and don’t need a lot of care.”

 

Lavender and Butterflies:

Lavender and Butterflies:

Dave Stockwell says that Lavender (shown here) is another plant butterflies love. “It also gives off a calming peaceful scent. There are several types of lavender that bloom at different times — so you can have its perfume from spring nearly through fall.”

 

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Black Eyed Susans (Photo: Hicks Nurseries):

Great for attracting butterflies, these biennials are also a haven for other pollinators like bees. Their bright yellow petals and dark centers can’t help but make you smile.

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrade: Adding the Drama of a Waterfall

Just this week, the New York Daily News ran a story “The most incredible waterfall hikes in the world.” Traveling to these worldwide locations might, indeed, be wonderful. 

 

But did you know you can add a dramatic waterfall in your own yard that provides some of that same awe?

 

“There is a wide choice of design options for your own backyard water feature,” says Dave Stockwell.

In addition to its majesty, another reason for adding a waterfall, adds Dave, is its ability to block out noise. This is a great help if you live in a heavily trafficked neighborhood.

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

 

Backyard High Waterfall Drama

“The next project came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The completed job boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto behind a majestic high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.  The waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool.

 

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

 

 

7'-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

7′-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

 

Another good example of waterfalls offering more than majesty is this project where the waterfall area was conceived to fix a soil erosion/retaining grade issue. (See also our feature photo at top of page.)

Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave.

“Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow from the waterfalls underground and recirculates it.”

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfalls so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

 

Here’s another project where stepping stones bring you past a stunning group of waterfalls.

Not far from the right edge of the project’s pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“Like other projects we’ve done, this waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

 

So! Travel the world and see some of earth’s waterfall majesty by all means. But you can also have some of that awe right in your own yard.

 

 

5 Tips for Creating Your Outdoor ‘Quiet Place’

Even when you have a fabulous backyard that’s fully loaded with amenities, one outdoor space can still be illusive. Sometimes it’s hard to find a quiet space around your active barbecue and outdoor dining table or near your busy pool.

How then do you carve out your own private place? The good news is that it’s not all that hard to make one.

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, there’s no rule that says, when it calls for it, your getaway can’t serve double-duty as a gathering place when it’s not being used as a place 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 spot.

 

Now for some tips in carving out that quiet spot for yourself:

 

Attractive Focal Point

Attractive Focal Point

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. 

Here these Deck and Patio clients had a glorious wooded yard with some private walks. We added stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in and around an existing bridge just below a comfortable park-style bench.

Robust green ground cover and plants appear as if they were always part of the natural woodland. Talk about a quiet space to get away from it all.

 

A Foundation is Key

A Foundation is Key

Tip # 2

Next, create a foundation. 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.

In this case, we added a small secluded patio adjacent to the pool’s raised spillover custom spa. It’s the perfect spot to get away from it all.

As an escape it includes the gentle sounds of water spilling from the spa into the pool. But you still have a birds-eye view to all the action — when you want to look up from your book!

 

Comfort Is Key

Comfort Is Key

Tip # 3

Also, 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.

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

Such a spot not only serves as a personal retreat, it can also be shared when you want company.

 

Don’t Limit Your Time

Don’t Limit Your Time

Tip # 4 

It’s also key to 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.

This ideal 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. Just have that “do not disturb” sign at the ready!

 

Flexible Private Escape

Flexible Private Escape

Tip # 5

Flexibility may also be your answer. Having a private-time-basket that’s always at the ready is a great idea, too. It can be stocked with one or two aromatherapy candles, a favorite cushion, a throw rug for a little spontaneous yoga, ingredients (glass/soda) for your favorite drink, including a corkscrew if it happens to be wine.

This works well when you already have a well-laid patio or deck with large trees and shrubs on the periphery, or some other comfortable foundation. Then simple container gardening allows you to create a flexible quiet spot — on the spot. 

If the containers are not too large, they can be moved at a moment’s notice. In this case, our Deck and Patio’s clients also have an easy-to-move barbecue, as well as easy-living, yet elegant, outdoor furniture. An intimate spot away from the pool and main patio, it is also perfect for intimate dining.

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

Feature Photo at top of page: Small Patio For Reading or Writing

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the client’s new water feature. It’s a great spot to read and have some quiet time.

 

 

 

 

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