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Landscape Planning: Sheltering In Place Yet Still Moving Forward

Just when you promised yourself that this is the year you’d have the outdoor haven you’ve always wanted, most of New York, for very good reason, went on lock-down. And the local news is very worrying at times. Confined at home, we yearning for some normalcy back.

One thing you can still do, despite sheltering at home, is to keep your dreams for a property upgrade moving forward.

Planning Landscaping Projects While Sheltering in Place

Deck and Patio is well set up to develop landscape plans without meeting clients in person. For example, we do not need to see your property first-hand to begin planning. All we need — via email or phone — is a rough idea of what you are hoping for. 

Google Earth Map

Google Earth Map

Then, through the use of technology such as Google Earth maps, we collect a clear outline of the terrain and size of the property. From that, we make a rough plan which can be emailed to clients, followed by a video-conference or discussions by phone. 

Once we’re all on the same page, the fun begins. A Deck and Patio designer enters design details into our computer software program resulting in a 3-D Animation Plan, which will not only show what the upgraded yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

Will Deck and Patio Need to Visit the Property’s Site?

Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool, for example, that’s being upgraded or replaced. But any necessary on-site inspections can be arranged so as to minimize, or eliminate entirely, any personal meet ups with you. And with ongoing tele-conferencing, we can get your input and discuss any adjustments throughout this process.

 It could very well be that by the time the plans are finalized that either sheltering in place is no longer required or any ongoing restrictions will still permit outdoor landscaping projects to be done — with care and proper procedures.

An Example of Computerized Landscape Planning

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project (also shown at top of this page), the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, we upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

3-D Design

3-D Design

Completed Project

Completed Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, we used 3-D animation to show how this multilevel pool area would change. We showed how we would turn what the client described as a problem area into a feature, by enlarging the upper area, where the client liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view. The lower area was expanded for sunning; an outdoor kitchen was added for entertaining.

The upper patio — where the clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture. In addition, an equally confining lower patio was enlarged for sunning; an outdoor kitchen (at the side of the house) was added for easy entertaining.

 

Completed Project

Completed Project

 

 

 

Let’s do all we can to stop the contagion, for sure. That said, while sheltering in place, we can still move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Waterfalls Make the Right Noises

There are some noises we want when enjoying our backyard escapes — the open-air symphony of birds, flapping butterflies and croaking frogs. And the laughter of children and friends.

Of course, there are noises we don’t want. Cars wizzing by on a high-trafficked street, beeping horns, etc.

But what’s a homeowner to do, if their cherished home is in a busy area?

“Many parts of Long Island is fairly built-up,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “In Nassau County, for example, the homes can be quite close together. But even in Suffolk, it’s hard to get completely away from traffic.”

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project, the homeowners had longed for a restful backyard, but their property was located close to a busy four-lane road. How could they enjoy a pool and spa amid disturbing noise?

“We were happy to reassure them that they could have an undisturbed backyard oasis,” says Dave. “The key was including in the landscaping design a substantial rushing waterfall near the pool. It would not only be beautiful to look at, but its relaxing sounds would mask   unpleasant street sounds.”  (A short video that captures the sounds of their waterfall can be found below after our first two photos.)

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Not far from the right edge of the 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.

“The waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

This is a close up of the Rosyln, NY main waterfall. Water flows down moss rocks in a natural-looking way, and seeps through river rock, where it is captured in an underground reservoir. The water is filtered and recirculated, making it very eco-friendly.

 

The following video lets you hear the delightful sounds of rushing water at this Rosyln, Long Island, NY, project.

 

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Pleasant sounds are the very opposite of unpleasant noise. And this backyard Roslyn, NY, paradise retreat is blessed with delightful sounds. These sounds can be enjoyed in the pool, while sunbathing on a wide patio, when relaxing in a quiet upper patio, when rocking back and forth in the outdoor swing — not to mention when relaxing in the spillover spa.

 

Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

Deck and Patio surrounded the backyard retreat’s new freeform vinyl pool and raised spillover spa with handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patios and bright plantings. The raised spa has its own separate overhead waterfall as well as a spillover into the pool. All this adds to an undisturbed backyard experience.

A diving rock and landscaping cutouts add to this pool area’s summer charms. In addition, the Cambridge paving stones are tough when it comes to winter’s cold weather. The pavers seem to withstand abuse better than any poured and stenciled concrete.

 

Poolside Landscaping:

Poolside Landscaping:

Bright plantings with green ground cover, along with river stone gravel and delightful stepping stone path, add to the natural look and serenity of the barrier/pool area.

 

 

 

 

A Backyard Pond Retreat that ‘Feels Magical’

This editorial space is usually given to highlighting our own Deck and Patio projects. But, occasionally, we give a bow to work done by others that impresses us.

Such is the case with the following Chicago, IL pond. It was designed and built for his own backyard by Brian Helfrich, lead designer and president of construction at Aquascape, Inc. 

Aquascape is the leading water garden innovator in North America. From aquatic plant information, pond design ideas and equipment, to training/certification programs, they are the final word in koi ponds, water gardens and fountains.

“Brian is a water garden expert who was able to turn his backyard into a personal water garden retreat,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s outdoor living at its finest.”

Helfrich built his pond over 10 years ago which has become a delightful backyard escape during all seasons. Soft moss has collected on the boulders and rocks, and other rocks have been softened by the use of ground covers like Hostas and other smaller plants.

The trees in his yard have also matured. To help create privacy and, where needed, block unattractive views, conifers like Green Giant Arborvitae or Norway Spruce were used.

The water feature oasis is a blend of ponds, streams, waterfalls, gazebo with bridge, beautifully landscaped areas, and patios. The first photo of this expansive refuge (below) shows one of its waterfalls. It was positioned close to a welcoming patio where, “Friends and family gather for meals and celebrations,” says Aquascape.

Helfrich Pond/Patio at Dusk:

Helfrich Pond/Patio at Dusk:

“A pond or water feature adds so much to outdoor entertaining and living,” says Dave Stockwell. “And just like Brian did for his project, when we construct ponds, we always try to include adjacent or close by patio areas.”

Children Love Koi

Children Love Koi

 

Whether it’s a patio or bridge or deck, a pond is an attraction to more than adults. Children love ponds, including feeding koi. A pond is truly interactive in that way.

Koi ponds were once a characteristic of Japanese gardens, but have been growing in popularity around the world. And why not. Listening to the sounds of trickling water, while watching colorful koi swim around throughout several seasons is transforming.

 

 

 

Speaking of the seasons. We love ponds all year, even in winter, but autumn can be an extraordinary experience.

 

Gazebo/Bridge When New

Gazebo/Bridge When New

Beautifully Weathered Bridge/Gazebo

Beautifully Weathered Bridge/Gazebo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoyment of a well designed pond, like the one Brian Helfrich has built, begins in the morning when you’re having that first cup of coffee.

A well-placed pond with streams and falls will be viewable from the most used rooms of your home and especially from the kitchen.

“It’s wonderful to watch the leaves bud, grow and change, and see it all reflected in your pond,” says Dave.

 

Adding a Bridge

Adding a Bridge

Bridges add a lovely design element to a backyard pond oasis. Here, Brian’s structure acts as a walkway along the side of his home. Plants and shrubs offer a pleasing “softscape” contrast to the rock and wood “hardscapes.” Note how the design makes it all appear organic, with water flowing in and around all the hardscape areas. 

 

Pond Waterfall

Pond Waterfall

Pondless Waterfall

Pondless Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above two photos show two of the waterfalls that are part of the overall water garden. The one on the left is a waterfall cascading down into the pond, while the one on the right is a “pondless” waterfall, which is a perfect place for very young children to play. This pondless waterfall has been designed to let the water to seep through a “pebble beach” area before being filtered, captured below and recirculated.

We’re told by Aquascape that small birds love the pondless area and use it as their own private oasis to congregate, drink and enjoy a bird bath. 

The feature photo at the top of our page today is of one of Brian’s waterfalls captured at night. Landscape lighting helps create a very special mood in and around the pond when, as they described it, “the yard feels almost magical.” Brian says he designed the water feature but he built it with the help of Certified Aquascape Contractors across the country. Deck and Patio is proud to claim that same status.

To see more photos of this pond and learn more about it, click here. 

 

Can I Fit a Full-Sized Pool On My Small Property?

The owners of this relatively small Nassau County (Long Island/NY) property approached Deck and Patio for a new deck. They also shared their dismay at having been told by other firms that their backyard terrain would not allow for the construction of a pool. 

As our team discussed plans for renovating their existing natural wood deck into Trex decking, they were delighted by our assurance that a pool would not be impossible; it just would take a bit of creative design. 

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

The major issue with their property was that it wasn’t very large and inclined toward the house.

Other impediments included restrictive Town setbacks. Deck and Patio tackled these issues by setting the pool mid-grade, and building risers up to the pool height. 

In addition, we built the attractive water feature behind the pool to deal with the rising higher grade, as well as to screen out the neighbors — all while maintaining a natural and beautiful scene. 

And “pool aside,” the beautiful Trex decking and Cambridge patio and pool surround are pretty special, too.

By choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which can be constructed in any shape, curve, or angle, this allowed for great flexibility in design. Plus, the homeowners were not stuck with unattractive white interior stairs that wouldn’t blend with the rest of the pool, nor did they sacrifice a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.

 Pool Surround (Long Island/NY):

Pool Surround (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio also surrounded the pool with a patio created from Cambridge’s Round Table pavingstones. The pavers’ dimpled, embossed surfaces gently roll into soft, beveled edges on four straight-sided Cambridge Shapes with ArmorTec. The pavers were laid in a modified herringbone pattern.

 

 Stepping Stone Path (Long Island/NY):

Stepping Stone Path (Long Island/NY):

Bluestone stepping stones skim across the backyard sod and connect the pool patio to the deck and patio at the house, which is also home to the outdoor kitchen area, complete with BBQ and refrigerator. The entire project was finished off with the installation of lush colorful landscaping and low voltage lighting.

 

Landscaping with Pantone’s Color for 2020: ‘Classic Blue’ Is Elegant and Reassuring

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s color of the year. This year Pantone has chosen ‘Classic Blue.’ According to their announcement, in making this decision, they considered the following: 

 

Pantone's Statement

 

“Classic Blue’ certainly is a reassuring color,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “We have available lovely blue plants that can bring that sense of reassurance, that anchoring, to any landscape or garden.”

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

One spring bloomer that Dave recommends in the ‘Balkan Anemone’ (left) which is hardy and blooms again and again each year.

Its star-like petals are also stunning in the evening and at night as they sparkle amid landscape lighting and moonlight. 

Tall and lace-y, this flower is also known as ‘Grecian Windflower.’ If you are planting them yourself, it’s best to do it in autumn, in moist soil with partial shade. For an Anemone planting guide, click here.

 

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Then, of course, there is a Long Island, NY, favorite — the stunning hydrangea. One lovely example is the Nikko Blue. 

However, achieving a true blue hue to this plant requires a certain type of soil, or you won’t get the blue color.  For more on growing blue hydrangeas, click here.

Note: Blue hydrangeas make such gorgeous bouquets, which means the interior of your home can be as filled with Pantone’s color for 2020 as your garden.

Cornflower

Cornflower

Cornflower

Of course, don’t forget the traditional blue ‘cornflower.’ This plant is hardy and can withstand draught and are delightful interspersed around a garden. They can be grown as a perennial or annual. 

By the way, cornflowers fit particularly well with Pantone’s intention in bringing classic blue to the forefront for 2020 because they are symbols of very old traditions. One website described them as reminding us of “the cultural ebb and flow of mankind throughout the centuries.” Now that’s an anchor.

Another note on cornflowers, they grow easily from seed — which makes them effortless to disperse in the garden — and they last quite a while as a cut flower and keep their color when dried. 

Availability

“As most gardeners know, blue isn’t the most prevalent color in plants. That said, our buyers do have a range of blue plants available,” adds Dave, “And of course, we have many sources.”

One mid-western U.S. florist company, Dreisbach Wholesale Florists, got the jump on Pantone back in June when this blue color was their choice for a Floral Friday focus. Although they admitted on their website, that: “…blue can be a challenge for [floral arrangements] since there are a limited number of naturally occurring blue blooms. Don’t let that stop you!”  

And Deck and Patio adds, when it comes to gardens, don’t let that stop you! As you’ll see from the flowers we listed above — as well as in the feature shot at the top of this page, there are enough blue flowers to incorporate Pantone’s reassuring color throughout your landscape. (Note: *Feature art at the top of our page today is courtesy of Dreisbach Wholesale Florists.)

 

Outdoor Color Is More Than Flowers

In choosing Classic Blue, Pantone said they also wanted to evoke “the vast and infinite evening sky,” which, Deck and Patio believes, can be achieved in many ways in the landscape. “You can change your pool and spa’s vinyl liner or Gunite finish to bring about this soaring feeling, for example,” says Dave. “Like this dramatic custom pool and spa project we did a while ago.”

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

To enhance an already beautiful view of Long Island Sound, the owners of the waterside home wanted an infinity pool; a spectacular “infinity” spa also became part of the project. A swim-up U-shaped bar serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

The ultimate in resort-style living includes a tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning.

You might say this project is awash in glorious Classic Blue. 

So readers. How will you bring Pantone’s elegant and reassuring Classic Blue into your yard this year? 

 

The Healing Benefits of a Garden

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.” said Edward Flaherty, author of landscape stories. Certainly studies confirm what this author believes. One study, for example, proved how “natural environments refocus our attention, lessening stress and hastening healing.” 

There’s another study by Paoli Memorial Hospital where they began noticing how patients in certain rooms with attractive outdoor views were recovering more quickly than those without.  

As they looked in to it, they discovered that patients’ charts showed how much more work was required by the nursing staff for those facing, say, a brick wall. Their chart comments included: “needs much encouragement” and “upset and crying.” However, those looking out onto to a natural view had higher spirits and needed fewer pain killers as they progressed than the others. 

“Since I was a young man, I’ve always had a sense that beautiful landscapes healed the spirit,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s one of the reasons I do this work. But I was surprised myself by these studies that proved natural beauty can also speed up recovery of the sick.”

Dave continues, “Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting. We are overwhelmed with stimuli. A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you take in the serenity and quiet.”

Deck and Patio has a history of creating beautiful landscaping projects projects where families can revive themselves. 

 

Deck and Patio Beginning a new landscaping project

Deck and Patio Beginning a new landscaping project

 

In this photo (left), you see members of Deck and Patio’s landscaping team beginning the work to create a serene space by bringing in plants with variations in color and texture, as well as creating slope gradations for visual impact.

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio completed project

Deck and Patio completed project

This completed walking area (right) was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it was designed by Mother Nature herself.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” Such a spot offers wonderful scents as well being a delight for the eyes. 

 

 

 

Landscaping Around a Pond:

Landscaping Around a Pond:

These clients wanted a water feature as part of their landscaping plan. Along with robust green ground cover that Deck and Patio added in and around the waterfall’s natural rocks, the pond also bursts alive with color. Bright orange blossoms of “Canna Lilies” (left), which take full sun but can thrive in partial shade, offer up tropical-like blossoms. The green-leafed plant to the right is “Hosta” which boasts delightful waxy leaves and produces white flowers in late summer.

 

 

Landscaped Pathways:

Landscaped Pathways:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool or even just beside your house. Then by adding colorful and lush plantings you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Backyard Garden with Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden with Bridge (Long Island/NY):

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

 

 

Beautiful Garden Rooms

Beautiful Garden Rooms:

For these clients, the “garden” serves several purposes. Planted directly into the slope, supported by massive rock steps, it becomes part of a lovely “natural” retaining wall.

The upper patio area is surrounded by lush greenery, bright plantings and a tranquil waterfall. Whether one escapes here to read a book, meditate, or just relax and listen to the sounds of flowing water and chirping birds, there’s a reason garden rooms are a popular landscaping trend.

 

“Whether or not our landscaping designs will heal everything that ails you,” adds Dave, “we know for sure they will heal the spirit. And maybe that is quite enough.”

 

A Repeat Customer Is the Best Testimonial

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Oasis

Deck and Patio Backyard Oasis

Last fall we completed this backyard upgrade for a client’s newly-built home in Manhasset, NY.

The project boasts: a free-form heated Gunite pool with spillover spa and Jandy equipment, stream-fed waterfalls, pavilion, sunken fire pit with circular seating, outdoor kitchen, Cambridge Pavingstone patios/pool surround, and lush landscaping. 

“The couple wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. You see, they came to us as repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them, which to us is the very best testimonial.”

Backstory

In 2011, Deck and Patio upgraded this family’s deck area when they lived in Roslyn, NY, (click here to view that complete project).  At the time, the couple really wanted a pool, but the Town had denied the request.

“The husband told us after we completed the deck, pavilion etc. that ‘one day, when we get our next house, and I can build a pool, you’ll be the first person I call.’”

And, indeed, in 2018, after their new home in Manhasset was built, they had lots of room for a pool (immediately below).

Manhasset ‘Before’ Photo

Manhasset Property before Deck and Patio began upgrade.

 

Custom Pool and Spa:

Deck and Patio designed a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool (above) with a  flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall; also a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone. We also allowed for a Dolphin waterslide, and partial boulder coping. 

Manhasset Project's Pool and Spa Area:

Manhasset Project’s Pool and Spa Area:

“After the backyard upgrade designs were approved by our clients and the Town, we immediately brought in True Blue Swimming Pools to construct the pool,” says Dave.

“The magnificent color of the water you see in the photos, for example, is due to True Blue’s choice of a custom Pebble Tec finish for both the pool and spa. Pebble Tec’s finish is also durable, textured and non-slip, as well as stain-resistant.

The pool/spa, of course, is a completely new design, but hints of the old Roslyn project are reflected in some other new backyard oasis’s amenities. 

 

Pavilion with Fireplace

Their previous smaller Roslyn pavilion was fine when they had only one child who was very young — he could scoot around inside it on his tricycle — but now they had two children who would require more space and more activity.” 

And although the previous project did boast a fully enclosed climate-controlled four-seasons room, this time, they were happy to sacrifice the ability to control the enclosure’s temperature for a much larger entertaining space. 

Custom Pavilion Fireplace

Custom Pavilion Fireplace

“For the new large 16’ x 32’ pavilion, we dealt with the fact that they wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these do deter irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather.

For colder weather, a large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside it, but flush to it, to allow for the maximum of space.”

 

 

Old Roslyn Project

Old Roslyn Project

New Manhaset Project

New Manhaset Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

One bit of drama we designed for them back at their old roslyn home was a stone veneer wall behind their deck’s new outdoor kitchen (left above). Note how, in Manhasset (above right), we capture that same drama — and some — with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

Deck and Patio Designed/Built Sunken Fire Pit:

Deck and Patio Designed/Built Sunken Fire Pit:

Speaking of the sunken fire pit, Deck and Patio designed it as a true gathering place, says Dave. “The homeowners wanted a wood-burning fireplace for the pavilion, but the fire pit he intended to be used a lot by his children and, therefore, wanted it natural gas with an electronic ignition that he can control from the house.”

Indeed, adds Dave, everything is on a smart Jandy system — from music, lights, the fire pit, swimming pool and spa.

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

The outdoor kitchen is constructed with a concrete block base and veneered to match other amenities. It has a grill, fridge, ice maker, etc.  The husband is a wine connoisseur so it also has a wine fridge.

“We love this project for another reason,” says Dave. “It is a truly fun unique area that highlights everything Deck and Patio is known for — lush plantings, lawns, waterfalls, fire pits, patios, and custom spas.

“We finished the job about end-June into early July this year, which made a short outdoor living season for them. But because of the heated pool, the family told us they used it all the way into fall. They didn’t close the pool until end-October.”

 

Landscape Focal Points: Leading Your Eye to a Peaceful 2020

The winter holidays are over. Even if you still have to drag a Christmas tree to the curb, at least the pressure is off. It’s time to appreciate the joys of relaxation. And, even better, to look forward to relaxing outdoors come spring. 

Enjoying Your Landscape's Design

Enjoying Your Landscape’s Design

But even outdoors, there are tricks to making truly restive spaces. The key is to have serene focal points that draw the eye where you sunbathe, enjoy a hot tub, read a book, dine al fresco, or just relax. 

Focal points keep the eye from being confused with too much to take in. They allow your eyes to fix on one spot or item rather than jump from object to object. Resting the eye on an attractive spot encourages muscles to loosen, allows levels of harmful hormones to decline, and, without effort, you breathe out a peaceful “ahhhh.”

“We plan focal points in all our designs,” says Dave Stockwell. “For more substantial projects, like grand swimming pools, the property’s own views can become a natural focal point by adding a vanishing edge to the pool. But sometimes it can be as simple as one beautiful tree, or a garden statue set amid lush plantings. Of course, adding the sights and sound of moving water adds to the restful experience.” 

 

Below we have some Deck and Patio projects that highlight focal points:

Using a Natural View as a Focal Point: One of the many vanishing edge pools we’ve been involved with includes one this one in Cove Neck, NY, where the homeowners had a spectacular water view.

Using a Natural View as a Focal Point: One of the many vanishing edge pools we’ve been involved with includes this one in Cove Neck, NY, where the homeowners had a spectacular water view.

 

Water Features as Focal Point: This captures the view from the homeowners new patio where colorful plantings help create a beautiful setting. But notice how the eye naturally is drawn to the waterfall. In addition, the sounds of moving water adds to an experience of relaxation.

Water Features as Focal Point: This photo captures the view from the homeowners new patio; see how colorful plantings help create a beautiful setting. And notice how the eye naturally is drawn to the waterfall. In addition, the sounds of moving water adds to an experience of relaxation.

 

Deck’s Outdoor Seating Area

Deck’s Outdoor Seating Area

Dining Area of Deck

Dining Area of Deck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multiple Focal Points in One Deck Design: We designed the above Timbertech deck in 45-degree angles to orient the different spaces, including positioning the outdoor furniture toward the stunning views. 

 

Stand-Alone Fireplace at Patio’s Edge: Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic focal point. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of a new patio which makes the whole experience that more relaxing — and warm, when the weather requires it.

Stand-Alone Fireplace at Patio’s Edge: Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic focal point. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of the new patio which makes the whole experience that more relaxing — and warm, when the weather requires it.

 

Dramatic Plants as Focal Points: Here we planted bullrush, horsetail, a rose hybrid water lily — and tall dramatic pink canna lilies that draw the eye naturally.

Dramatic Plants as Focal Points: Here we planted bullrush, horsetail, rose hybrid water lilies — and tall, dramatic pink, canna lilies that draw the eye naturally.

 

Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon Draw the Eye: These beautiful purple flowers (seen in the foreground) are planted in the fall and are one of the many plantings that offer robust color in the summer outdoor season and thrive nicely. We chose them for this design plan for their height as well as their lovely color contrast. They make a great focal point when in the hammock. Whether it’s a tree, plant, waterfall, outdoor fireplace or the property’s own lovely views, focal points in the design aid outdoor relaxation.

Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon Draw the Eye: These beautiful purple flowers (seen in the foreground) are planted in the fall and are one of the many plantings that offer robust color in the summer outdoor season and thrive nicely. We chose them for this design plan for their height as well as their lovely color contrast. They make a great focal point from the hammock.

Whether it’s a tree, plant, waterfall, outdoor fireplace or the property’s own lovely views, focal points in the design aid outdoor relaxation. They are sure to lead your eye to a peaceful 2020!

 

 

How Can I Enjoy My Deck in the Winter?

“Enjoy my deck in winter?” you might be asking. Actually, yes. The weather where we live in Long Island, NY, can be harsh  — and also not so bad. 

So to get the snowdown on how best to enjoy our decks even when it’s snowy, we spoke to Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at a leading capped-composite decking manufacturer: Fiberon Decking.

First. Remove any Snow

Kello says the most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

How to Best Remove Snow

How to Best Remove Snow

“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones.

If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface. Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”

Kello does not recommend using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel, Kello recommends sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“

 

How to Best Remove Snow

Removing snow is key to outdoor winter enjoyment. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Keeping Warm on Your Deck

Deck and Patio Deck with Natural Gas Fire Pit 

Deck and Patio Deck with Natural Gas Fire Pit

Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer.

Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.

“Fire pits and fireplaces are other popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.

It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”

 

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Trapping Your Heat

Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. “It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.

 

Deck Covering: A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

Deck Covering: A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Now, for the Enjoyment!

If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.

Hot Tub Deck

Hot Tub Deck

Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.

Like in our feature photo at the top of the page, she also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. 

“If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

So, as the song says, when it comes to enjoying your deck even in winter….let it snow, let snow, let it snow.

 

By |2019-12-19T13:31:43-05:00December 19th, 2019|Ask the Experts, Composite Decking, Design and Build Experts, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Portable Hot Tubs, Seasonal Landscapes, Snow Removal|Comments Off on How Can I Enjoy My Deck in the Winter?

Landscape Planning Can Make a Great Gift

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

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

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

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

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

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

Letting the Design Be the Gift

Since most property upgrades begin with a landscape design, the plan itself can be a gift. And you could go all out in this stage of the process — planning, a beautiful pond, or other water feature, for example, or a pool with swim-up bar and wild ride slide, a custom spa, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years.

The whole project can also be planned out financially, so the different phases can be worked into your yearly budgets. In addition, since landscape plans are computerized, it is no problem if the gift receiver has ideas of their own to add later or changes they want made.

Landscape Planning as a Gift

Landscape Planning as a Gift

The gift of a landscaping plan is definitely something memorable. And what a joy it will be seeing the plans come to life. 

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

The video begins with one of Deck and Patio’s computerized plans and ends with the finished project showing the wonderful experience of having such a pond. Here it is again, immediately below. 

 

 

Another Example

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan.

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan.

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left above) not only helps show what the yard will look like in advance — including from different perspectives. Such a gift also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along, as well as changes from the gift receiver.

In the case of the immediately above Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. 

One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas. 

 

Great Gift Ideas

Great Gift Ideas

 

And you’ve got to admit that a computer plan downloaded on a small drive (or even printed out) is easy to wrap!

In every way, a landscaping plan makes a great gift!