Outdoor Living

/Outdoor Living

How Do I Create a Private Outdoor Space?

As youngsters, we had our bedroom where could hide away from too much family togetherness. And you know, we still need a little space we can call our own— or, at least, use on our own. And having such a space outdoors is perhaps the best escape of all.

That’s true even if we already have a fabulous backyard. For if it wasn’t designed with a view for private time, it can be hard to find quiet: e.g., around an active barbecue, busy outdoor dining table, and especially near a pool.

First, Assess What You Have

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, perhaps — it’s not all that hard to create such a spot.

Remember that when it calls for it, your getaway can serve double-duty as a gathering place and a spot for solitude. And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed location.

Now for some tips and examples:

Tip # 1

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. These amenities will not only serve your new personal retreat, they can also be shared. A waterfall, or pretty flower bed, by definition can’t help but be enjoyed from a variety of locations in the yard.

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this Deck and Patio waterfall focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends. The pre-existing patio foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown)

 

Tip # 2 

Create a foundation for a getaway. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

Small Patio For Reading or Writing: 

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the water feature. It’s a great spot to read, while sitting next to a trickling stream and the sounds of waterfalls. Note: The Techo-Bloc patio pavers were engineered in Canada, and they can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.

 

Tip # 3 

Consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

Your Own Private Space:

Your Own Private Space:

If you are planning a whole new patio, this is a great opportunity to plan ahead for that private space. Choosing a multi-level patio design like this Deck and Patio project makes delineating a private get-away space easy. Here, there’s a charming water feature flowing over moss rock covered in lush green ground cover; tall trees create privacy in the background; it’s snug and well away from other patio areas designed for sunning or sitting near the pool.

 

Tip # 4 

Think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

This is a pleasant example of a space that is great for guests and family as well as for quiet private time. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room to add an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the look of their pool’s waterfalls. It’s perfect in the evenings, too. 

 

 

Benefits of Water Gardens: Raising Independent, Confident Kids

There is much debate today whether ‘helicopter’ parenting, i.e., hovering closely around children as they grow up, is better than the more old-fashioned ‘free range’ way,  or more limited parental supervision.

The goal of both sides, of course, is raising confident, independent and safe kids. 

But it was the free-range side of this discussion that caught our eye this week. A recent NPR article focused on how some parents believe that to raise confident and independent children, they need to “let grow.”

The ‘let grow’ is a terrific play on words — especially since what’s behind it emphases the advantages children experience by exploring, on their own, a beautiful outdoor natural environment. 

This does not surprise us at Deck and Patio. We’ve been hearing for many years how much the children of our clients gain by being able to explore Nature close up in a backyard water feature like a pond.

“Not everyone lives near a large park with streams, or a pond, abundant with flora and fauna,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And not every parent is comfortable with letting children stray too far away from home in order to experience this.”

But on answer is certainly adding a wildlife refuge (small wildlife that is) in one’s own property.

As this wonderful video (below) from Aquascape Inc.’s Facebook page shows, when done well, these features can attract lots of interesting and friendly creatures that children love:  birds, frogs, salamanders, butterflies.

Not to mention by adding koi and lovely aquatic plants, depending on their age, children can be entertained as well as educated — on their own — for hours at a time.

 

 

Now while there are a few things to consider, like an ideal pond depth for the age of the children, with a little care, koi ponds bring out the child in us all. Even today, when a pond is large enough, many adults can’t resist a swim.

So whether you believe in being a ‘helicopter’ parent, or come down on the side of ‘free range,’ with a backyard koi pond, kids can explore without being far from a watchful eye. They’ll learn independence choosing what to study on any given day: a croaking frog, a bird bathing in the cool water, or jeweled koi eager to be fed.

 

Pond Lessons for Kids

Pond Lessons for Kids

In return for your providing the clean pond water, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides.

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Natural Playscape with Pond:

Natural Playscape with Pond (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio designed/built this city oasis with a temporary 8” shallow pond for younger children, which can be easily turned into a full-size koi pond when the children get older.

Stepping stones lead from the playhouse across the pond to a patio at the back of the house — where parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends can sit and watch the children play and explore (ahem). 

 

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY): Another blog post on Aquascape’s website, titled: “Growing Up Around a Pond,” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in their pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Ponds Offer Multi-Seasonal Enjoyment:

Even when the weather is chilly, kids enjoy studying what’s happening in a pond. And when winter comes, and the koi hibernate, they might be able to skate on it. This is one time, no one argues that helicopter parenting isn’t a good thing. Parents will definitely be the ones checking to know if the pond is truly frozen.

 

 

 

 

Testing the Water with a Small Water Feature

Not every property, or budget, can accommodate an expansive (albeit glorious) backyard pond — with multiple waterfalls (sigh) and maybe even room to swim (amazing). Some may not be sure they’d even want such a large feature and would like to test something smaller first.

If you are hesitant about a larger pond or water feature project, we’re showcasing today two more modest ideas — good examples of how you can dip your toe in the water so-to-speak, whether you live in bustling New York City, or the slower-paced, and occasionally closely-built neighborhoods of Long Island. 

 

Hauppauge, NY

Deck and Patio designed and built a Trex deck with two elegant “platform” staircases surrounded by planting beds around an accent tree.

Left Platform Staircase

Left Platform Staircase

Right Platform Staircase

Right Platform Staircase

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though space was at a premium, during construction we suggested the idea of adding a small water feature and pond. 

 

Micro Pond by Deck and Patio

Micro Pond by Deck and Patio

 

“Our designer was inspired by “Falling Water” by Frank Lloyd Wright,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“But, of course, on a much smaller scale.”

The micro-pond with waterfall was added in an old planting bed on their property that contoured in and around the deck and platform stairs.

“Now every time they enter or leave the house our clients enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond — without taking up much space.”

 

 

 

 

New York City, NY

Courtyard: Before

Courtyard: Before

Courtyard: After

Courtyard: After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The former courtyard of these Deck and Patio clients was rustic and not at all in keeping with their more sophisticated contemporary tastes. Deck and Patio designed for them a water wall and pond project right in the heart of New York City.

 

Water Wall by Deck and Patio

Water Wall by Deck and Patio

The wall was constructed with a trough at the top. A weir controls the flow of the feature’s water into the trough, allowing it to be increased or decreased.

We also took care to install the weir perfectly level to ensure the water flows evenly over the top of the wall. 

“There are no spills between the bluestone slabs of the wall,” explains Dave. “Some of the slabs were pulled out slightly to create a splash off of them in key spots.

We also added a variable speed pump so the water can flow slow and quiet or fast and loud.”

This water wall also has a variable drive pump with an Intelliflow by Pentair. A narrow pond underneath the wall captures the flowing water and recirculates it. 

 

“Not all water features need take up a lot of space,” says Dave. “Yet they can still enhance your outdoor living with the sounds and sights of falling water.” 

 

 

 

Even City Life Can Boast a Backyard Refuge

Whether it’s the long Labor Day holiday weekend created for workers, or simply the few scattered hours you squeeze out of a relentless workweek, it’s nice to enjoy some free time in blissful leisure at home.

Location, Location, Location

However, what if your property isn’t located in a pastoral area that allows for inviting quiet time? What if your locality is all hustle-bustle? 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 Queens, a teaming borough of New York City.

In this atmosphere, even adding a pool and patio wouldn’t provide the escape the homeowners desired. To create for them a real backyard oasis, we had to block out the noise and oppressive atmosphere.

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions

One of the best ways to screen out noise is a sizable waterfall and the clients opted for one to provide splashing sounds into their new pool. In addition, our clients asked us to build a 12-foot-high concrete block wall. While useful as a noise and environs barrier, a wall can be a bit oppressive in itself.

So the next challenge was to soften the wall’s appearance. First, we planted bamboo around its perimeter. Bamboo can be invasive so we encased the woody grass with concrete blocks to limit its spreading.

Special Feature

One thing great about interior and exterior walls is they make an ideal canvas. Taking full advantage of the wall, Deck and Patio designed and supervised the layout of a “living wall” that can hold multiple-sized pots for plants. When completed, the living wall became living art — changing in color and shape almost daily. (For details on living wall – see photos 5, 6, below.)

 The result: the clients may live in a busy part of New York City, but their Labor Days — and every spare moment they can muster— will be spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Water cascading over rock into another water pool is a natural sound barrier that is peaceful and soothing to the soul. 

 

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

The sounds of the waterfalls, the colorful landscaping and the dramatic concrete block wall together give a sense of refuge in this bustling part of one of America’s five largest cities.

 

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

The free-form vinyl-liner pool includes boulder coping, and a moss rock waterfall with robust plantings that help beautify the wall. 

 

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

The pool’s surrounding patio is made from Techo-Bloc pavers that handsomely complement the 12-foot-high wall and smaller concrete encasement for the bamboo.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

“There are many types of Living Walls; interior and exterior, permanent or seasonal walls, and then there is the ‘Plug n Play’ (manufactured and trademarked by Green Living Technologies, International or GLTi) that we used here.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

The Plug n Play is very versatile and can be manufactured to accept multiple-sized pots (3” to 12″). Drip irrigation is set up on alternating rows and trickles down to each row below; excess water is either captured or drains. Plants are set on an angle with their holes faced downward so the roots/soil can sap up water via wicking effect. These units can be fastened to any type of wall; using the right type of fastener for each respective wall type.

 

Recipe for a Delightful Garden: Just Add Water!

Just add flowing water, that is!

As garden designers and landscapers, we know flower beds take thought. Color, textures, soil, how much sun or shade, etc. But there’s one easy garden complement that makes any flower bed transformative in how it delights the soul. Even small gardens become something wonderful when the sights and sounds of flowing water are added.

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) may be surprised that we also specialize in smaller water features such as fountains.

Why Are Garden Water Features So Desirable?

First. By bringing the sounds of nature as close as your doorstep, flowing water immediately makes any garden feel more like a part of the natural landscape. 

Second. Not only will you enjoy the sights and sounds of water, but butterflies and birds, and other desirable critters will appreciate your efforts. It feels really good to know you’re supporting such lovable wildlife — and you get to watch them as they take advantage of it. 

Third. A fountain can fit just about anywhere. No need to plan or find room for an elaborate pondscape or another expansive water feature. A fountain (which comes in all sizes) can be added just about anywhere — although we recommend installing it where you can enjoy it from both your patio and inside your home. (More on that below.)

Fourth. A water fountain can run most of the year — including winter. Even when your fall plantings are gone to seed, so to speak, you’ll have something beautiful to look at.

 

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

This photo is one such garden fountain that we added for clients who had recently moved to a new home. (This fountain is also seen above as our feature photo) 

When working at their property, one of our team members mentioned that it felt like the garden was missing something — a feature that would offer both the sound and relaxing sight of water movement. 

The clients agreed that a garden fountain would be an ideal finishing touch in such limited space.

 

And here’s a 5-second video for you to hear the water music of that installation:  

 

 

DIY Fountain Projects

If you’d like to add one of these fountains on your own, all you need is a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a level. 

Then, adding a bag of decorative gravel and mulch, you have a picture-perfect-and-sound-perfect-fountain that not only you will enjoy but so will many of Nature’s lovable wildlife.

Here is a step-by-step DIY video from Aquascape, followed by a link to the various fountains they have available. You can contact them directly — or give us a call to help you make the right choice for your garden, and also install it for you, if you would rather not do it yourself.

 

  

And for a video of the various fountains available from Aquascape or Deck and Patio:

 

 

 

Inviting Pool Amenity: Hidden Grotto with Dramatic Waterfall

This backyard upgrade came our way as a referral from someone working with the clients. It went on to win an award, making it all the more special.

The overall project included a free-form concrete pool and spa. But a special part of the design is where the spa was placed — it’s actually hidden inside a large grotto with a high waterfall cascading over it into the pool. 

“We constructed the grotto from large moss rock boulders,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The ceiling is of structural steel and concrete. We also added a tanning shelf inside the pool in the shallow end large enough so that lounge chairs can rest in the water.”

The pool was then surrounded with a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio finished it all with lush landscaping.

 

Pool Grotto:

Pool Grotto:

A key element in giving the pool grotto a natural feel was the extensive use of moss rock. Placing these rocks requires skill and experience. They need to be positioned in a way so that water spills over them like it would appear in nature — like something you’d see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside the spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but is fed by a meandering man-made stream overhead.

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view of the pool seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders. 

 

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

The beautiful design of these paving stones was also inspired by nature as well. The clients chose them for their handsome earth-and sand-tones which we laid out in a random pattern. They offer the perfect contrast to the blue water of the lagoon-style pool.

This project won Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

No Longer a Bystander: Everyone Gathers at Your Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

Do you find yourself asking: What do I want more…a custom outdoor bar or an outdoor kitchen? 

Well consider this. Why not combine these amenities in one handsome outdoor activity center. We’re talking about creating a custom area that is equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot.

Never a Bystander 

A fully equipped custom activity area allows the person doing the cooking to enjoy the company of family and friends in an outdoor setting. With everything needed close at hand, you no longer have to spend a lot of the fun time in a remote kitchen and then transport the meal outside.

Now, that’s outdoor living.

Consider our first example. Deck and Patio created this outdoor kitchen/bar in much that way. 

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

The first step in planning any multi-purpose activity center is to pick a spot where much of the outdoor activities take place. Then you can design it the right size and shape to fit. In this case, it was built on a new patio close to the pool and sun bathing parts of their yard.

The design, which at one end includes a higher raised bar/dining area, incorporated lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, as well as a sink in the kitchen part of the activity center. Being such a fully equipped kitchen, there is less back and forth to the house, so it could be positioned further away from their indoor kitchen. 

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.

 

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, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

 

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, allowing for flexible shade areas, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Deck and Patio again used natural stone for the veneer of this custom bar/barbecue activity center. We also 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 design contrast between the patio lounge area and the kitchen/bar setting. It also allows for a extra seating space when there’s a crowd.

 

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

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. In addition, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry were chosen to last a long time.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

The lower level of this patio is made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

The colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

This Deck and Patio outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with bar stools. The natural stone facade of the activity center harmonizes nicely with the design of their new patio and mimics the facade around the custom fire pit. Again, flexible shade makes the outdoor bar/dining area a natural draw when the sun is strong. 

 

Sheet Falling Waterfalls: Add a Splash of Elegance to Your Yard

Whether they’re called ‘sheer descent,’ ‘sheet falling,’ or ‘water curtains,’ these elegant waterfalls add a splash of elegance to any yard.

“Clients with free-form pools, and more natural landscape designs, often prefer free-flowing waterfalls,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “But those who style tends toward the contemporary, and who prefer, for example, geometric pools, really appreciate the modern feel of sheet falling waterfalls.” 

These sheet falling water features flow in an attractive angle to produce a sleek effect in both sight and sound, says Dave. Falling in a continuous stream (or sheet), their water flow thrusts outward in an arc from a pool wall or other encasement and the water pressure may be adjusted for a range of effects.

Pool equipment companies, including Jandy, manufacture this type of waterfall fixture with self-contained plumbing that is simple to install for an easy upgrade in many areas of your yard. 

For example, Deck and Patio incorporated these waterfalls in a variety of ways — as the “spill” of a spillover spa, an elegant flow inside pools, and even flowing from an outdoor bar. (See examples below.)

Wherever they are added, these water features are a sheer joy — perfect for just about any size space.

 

Pool Waterfall/Howard Beach, NY:

Pool Waterfall/Howard Beach, NY:

We installed this fountain-style ‘sheer descent’ waterfall within a Techo-Bloc Graphix wall attached to their home’s backyard pool, at the same time we added a new Techo-Bloc paver pool surround. The contemporary look of the wall and arched water flow perfectly complement their geometric pool.

 

Sheer Descent Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Sheer Descent Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio built this outdoor bar with a sheer descent waterfall feature. The two waterfalls use only a minimum of water flow. This is because we installed an underground Aquascape “pondless waterfall” system that captures the falling water after it seeps through the ground, and filters it as it pumps it back up into fresh falling water. (Note: This is a closeup photo of the feature photo at the top of today’s page.)

 

Salt Water Pool with Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Salt Water Pool with Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio’s landscape designer chose Techo-Bloc pavers to harmonize with the vinyl pool liner by Loop-Loc (installed by True Blue Swimming Pools). 

The two flanking sheer descents flow out of a raised patio lounging area — a perfect spot to enjoy the sounds of the waterfalls while sun bathing.

 

Custom Hot Tub With Waterfall (Long Island/NY):

Custom Hot Tub With Waterfall (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio’s complete upgrade of our clients’ pool included an encased portable spa with a sheer descent waterfall flowing out of it into the pre-existing pool. A new privacy wall, also faced in stone, stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and a second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.

 

Geometric Pool with Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Geometric Pool with Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The steps Deck and Patio installed just above the far end of the pool are part of a natural retaining wall of boulders; they lead to a delightfully landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid. And, of course, the pool includes elegant sheer descent waterfalls and is surrounded by a patio in complementary random geometric patterns.

 

 

By |2018-07-26T13:36:57+00:00July 26th, 2018|Backyard Upgrades, Design and Build Experts, Outdoor Living, Pondless Waterfalls, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Waterfalls, Spillover/Custom Spas, Sustainable Water Features|Comments Off on Sheet Falling Waterfalls: Add a Splash of Elegance to Your Yard

Posh Picnics: Getting Away to Your Deck – Part II

In Part II of ‘getting away to your deck,’ we’re sharing another fun and trendy outdoor activity: hosting a posh picnic. 

This outdoor dining experience is quite different from the sit-on-the-grass type of al fresco meal. Most of the menu will be pre-made like a regular picnic, but it tends to be more gourmet and served à la fancy.

Most importantly, any outdoor dining chairs ensure there will be no sore backsides, or “numb bums” as in the case of picnics on a blanket on the ground.

A posh picnic can be part of a ‘glamping’ weekend (see last week’s blog) or an event all of its own. Of course, it can be held away from home, but it’s a lot easier hosted right in your own yard and deck. It can also be catered. 

 

 

Posh Up Your Deck Decor

Very Posh Picnic

Very Posh Picnic

Even if you have a handsome deck (as all our Deck and Patio projects are of course…ahem), you can still consider some decorative flourishes. 

But before choosing them, you might want to begin with a theme. For example, you could host a ‘garden party picnic’ — where beautiful blooms take center stage.

You could also include on your invitations what your guests should wear. 

For example, you can host a cocktail hour on your patio before the picnic and pass around some finger foods like mini Caprese bites, or strawberry bruschetta or anything that might have come from your garden. For this kind of theme, ladies might be encouraged to wear clothing designed with florals.

Next. Besides a sturdy table, some sort of tablecloth is a must — perhaps white linen but something more colorful might suit you best. Also consider some crystal glasses, and, of course, at least a few pieces of fine china. 

 

Lighting Sets the Right Mood

Lighting Sets the Right Mood

To finish glamming up your deck, add some attractive throw pillows to your picnic table benches or dining chairs, if they do not already have comfy cushions.

And if you think the event will last into the evening, a few strings of lights and music will help keep the mood lively.

 

Picnic Menu’s Are Usually Made Ahead

The basic idea for a posh picnic is: the breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea is primarily made up of pre-packaged or pre-cooked foods — in other words, this isn’t a barbecue. And because it’s on your deck, everything is just steps away in your kitchen. No concerns about transporting delicate foods in the warm summer weather.

 

Posh Picnic Appetizers

Posh Picnic Appetizers

Posh Picnic Appetizers

 

For appetizers, how about some prosciutto, cheese, white wine and aioli along with baskets of crusty bread.

Maybe serve this with some pâté and olives.

 

 

 

Simplified Main Menu

 Posh Fried Chicken

Posh Fried Chicken

A relative once told me she was, “gourmet-impaired,” and some of your friends may also prefer simpler food. So, for an upscale menu that’s more tried and true, there’s nothing like cold fried chicken with coleslaw and potato salad. 

To ‘glamp’ these menu items up, just tie a pretty ribbon around tiered serving plates, or simply use  decorative plates or bowls when serving them. Frankly, we don’t know anyone who’d turn their nose up at crispy fried chicken and a glass of cold white wine.

 

Gourmet Main Menus

Yummy Cold Salmon

Yummy Cold Salmon

 

Grilled Ahi tuna, ready to be grabbed from your kitchen fridge when it’s time to serve, is one sophisticated choice.

Another is cold salmon fillets.

 

Either of these could be served with an idea we saw on Pinterest: roasted aubergine and lentil salad with mint and yoghurt dressing.

Sound pretty yummy?

 

The Yummiest!

Lobster..Yum!

Lobster..Yum!

Of course, you won’t go wrong with warm or cold lobster, served in a buttery broth or with some homemade mayonnaise, a rémoulade, or a béarnaise or hollandaise on the side for dipping.

This crustacean doesn’t require much gilding, but a variety of salads would be nice. For cold lobster, maybe a potato salad of purple or multi-colored baby potatoes. 

 

Desserts, etc.

And for dessert? A summer fruit salad and almond cake could be a crowd pleaser. Or a rich homemade brownie, or perhaps some mini meringues, or different colored French macarons (very different from macaroons).   

If your theme is a posh afternoon tea, the ideas are endless. Scones would be a must for this, with lots of fresh berries and cream — and, of course, some cucumber or poached salmon sandwiches. We believe you can even hire a butler to serve, if you wan to go the full Downton Abbey monty. 

One last suggestion. Don’t forget some filtered water along with the wine and/or champagne.

 

So here’s to summer on your deck, 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

By |2018-07-19T13:34:32+00:00July 19th, 2018|Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Outdoor Furniture, Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Trex Decking, Wood Decks|Comments Off on Posh Picnics: Getting Away to Your Deck – Part II

Getting Away to Your Deck

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

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

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

The Joys of Camping

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

Deck Railing Planter

Deck Railing Planter

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

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

 

Video:

 

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

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

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

Want to Glamp It Up?

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

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

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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