Outdoor Living

Home/Outdoor Living

Plan Your Backyard Upgrade While Dreaming of Warmer Days

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

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

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Large Pond Under Stone Bridge

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

“We suggested a unique idea to deal with the large wall behind the pool and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”

The plan also called for draining the pool and removing the liner; a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered and we straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl-covered stairs were added to the pool, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

 

New Modern Deck

"Beginning Construction"

“Beginning Construction”

"After Construction"

“Completed Construction”

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Centerport, NY, homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub.

 

New Backyard ‘Spool’

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio built this backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago. The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa. Lush plantings and a new patio completed their new backyard retreat.

So let it snow or blast cold. You can stay warm while planning your new backyard upgrade. 

Stepping Stone Walkway Ideas

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

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

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

Practical Pathway

Practical Pathway

 

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

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

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

Stepping Stones and Ponds

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

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

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

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

 

Stone Island

Stone Island

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

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

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

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

 

Decks and Ponds

Decks and Ponds

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

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

 

 

Waterfall Walk

Waterfall Walk

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

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

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

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

 

Stepping Stone Path

Stepping Stone Path

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

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

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk

Backyard Nature Walk

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Backyard Pond: A Place of Reflection

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

Water Gardens in Giverny, France

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

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

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

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

 

 

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

Deck and Patio Vanishing edge swimming pond capturing a pink sunset

 

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

The same swimming pond at 4 a.m.

 

The vanishing edge pond in fall

The vanishing edge pond in fall

 

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

Catching the reflections of twisted trees

 

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

 

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset:

Vanishing Edge Pond at Sunset

 

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

 

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

Smaller of Two Backyard Ponds

 

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

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

 

 

Choosing a Recreational Pond Over a Swimming Pool

Most people are pretty certain their family will enjoy using a regular pool. But not everyone is so sure about a recreational pond.

Even after learning that these ponds are a growing international trend and are so much better for the environment, they think, why rock the inflatable pool boat so to speak.

However, if like some of Deck and Patio’s Long Island client families, your passion for eco-friendly spaces makes you want to at least ponder (ahem) a recreational pond, one way to test the waters is ask: Do we like swimming in lakes, the ocean, and/or swimming holes? 

If the answer is yes to any of these, then you’ll probably love a natural swimming pond. Why? Because if you’ve swum in the ocean, for example, you’ve probably brushed up against the occasional bit of seaweed and snorkeled to get up close to colorful fish. 

In addition, because swimming in a natural pond means you won’t be swimming in chlorinated water, there’ll be no red eyes or irritated skin.

Because of the benefits to the environment a natural swimming pond offers, and the sheer pleasure families get from them, we’ve been staying on top of the different ponds being constructed across the country. In particular, we keep close watch on the work of the company that crafts the products we use for most of our water features — Aquascape Inc., St. Charles, IL.

And no more so than recently. For in the past year, Aquascape’s main focus, through their Aquascape Construction arm, has been on the design and construction of recreational ponds. And if Aquascape is all in, we’re confident this trend will be growing even wider.

The feature photo at the top of our blog page today is of an Aquascape Construction’s recreational pond that they built last fall in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and which they recently shared on Facebook. Here’s the video of their amazing pond:

 

 

Their pond sure is a beauty, isn’t it? And as much as we love gushing about our mentor, Aquascape, we’re proud to say Deck and Patio has done some nice recreational ponds at home on Long Island.

Here’s one very special award-winner!

Recreational Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

Recreational Swimming Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond (above) is one of two ponds the clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. We can assure you our beautiful model is not avoiding any of the natural pond experience by using a floating device. As you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

“A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

 

Pond Water Feature Includes Stream and Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Pond Water Feature Includes Stream and Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

The water feature being enjoyed by our lovely model in the two previous photos includes not only two ponds but also this beautiful stream that feeds them — which Deck and Patio  landscaped with lush plantings and river rock.

 

Swimming With the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.)

Swimming With the Koi (Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.)

The child in all of us loves natural swim ponds. This photo was published originally by a homeowner who wrote an Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond.” She captured  her son in the photo encouraging a friend to join him in the pond.

A Note on Recreational Pond Maintenance

Eco-friendly recreational ponds require expertise to create a natural swimming  environment to be enjoyed much like swimming holes were in years past. It takes, for example, the correct underlayment, liner, Biofalls (from Aquascape Inc.), bog filtration, as well as the ideal water plants. 

As Aquascape said on Facebook, “The proper amount of filtration and aeration is included in the installation so that maintenance is kept to a minimum.”

 

Outdoor Living: Grilling Season Isn’t Over By a Long Shot

 

Outdoor Grilling Continues Through Fall

Outdoor Grilling Continues Through Fall

If you have been planning to upgrade your charcoal or gas grill to a full outdoor kitchen, but are thinking maybe it’s too late in the year to bother — we’d like to offer a different take. In our neck of the woods, in particular, the grilling season lasts all through 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.

An Outdoor Kitchen Can be Cost-Effective

An Outdoor Kitchen Can be Cost-Effective

“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.”

With that in mind, 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 locate 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!

Landscaping Trends: No Exercise Required When ‘Forest Bathing’

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

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

Bathing in the Beauty of a Wooded Area

Bathing in the Beauty of a Wooded Area

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

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

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

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

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

 

'Forest Bathing' Opportunity on Long Island, NY:

‘Forest Bathing’ Opportunity on Long Island, NY:

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

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

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

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

 

 Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

“Wilderness is a necessity”

— John Muir, environmental philosopher

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

— Albert Einstein

 

 

Happy forest bathing!

 

 

 

Closing Your Pool Is a Great Time to Plan 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.

Whether or not you do any of the following improvements when closing down the pool, or whether you just discuss ideas for spring, after Labor Day Weekend is a great time to plan with a landscaper renovations that will heighten next year’s outdoor living experience.

 

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

Closing your pool is a great time to discuss upgrades

 

In-ground Pools

Upgrading Pool Pump

Upgrading 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 

 Pool 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.”

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 like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Tip: Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Another popular upgrade is adding a slide, 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend — the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends — is just a week away. And while it’s not the end of the outdoor season (see last week’s blog for ideas on how to extend it), it is one of the last big outdoor weekends for entertaining.

So if you are hosting an event, you might want to make it extra special by adding pops of plant color around your deck or patio. Even if you’re not hosting yourself, you might be in need of a hostess gift — like a bouquet from your very own garden.

 

 Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultan

Now, if you’re wondering if it’s too late to be adding flowers that will not only make Labor Day colorful, but will also last well into the fall, not to worry. We have below some great ideas from Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, who has just the right plants in mind.

“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) 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.”

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

 

 

By |2019-08-22T13:33:45-05:00August 22nd, 2019|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Plants, Seasonal Landscapes, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Welcome Guests with Pops of Color this Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend: Summer’s Last Hurrah

Yes, Labor Day is summer’s last hurrah. It’s the final long weekend that punctuates the outdoor living season. To do it up right, you may even now be searching for a large enough tent to accommodate a blow out.

But guess what, Labor Day weekend by no means needs to be the end of outdoor enjoyment here in the northeast. As you plan your this backyard bash, it’s a great time to consider what you can do to ensure you’ll enjoy your yard well beyond summer’s last hurrah.

  1. Pool House

A pool house may sound like a big project — and it can be — but think of its rewards. Not only does it allow you extend 2019’s outdoor season, but it will greatly improve the entirety of next year’s outdoor living season.

For example, with a pool house, no need to call in someone to spray for mosquitos (which you know you hate to do), because you now have a screened in space to enjoy the outdoors. And by going “big” you can opt for such luxury amenities as a pool house with a great room, and say, a sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, fireplace, and even storage closet.  

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

This pool house was part of a destination pool area that included a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, elegant Travertine patio, spillover spa with waterfalls, outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade and an outdoor shower. But pool houses can be designed in far more modest shapes and sizes.

 

2.  Outdoor Fireplaces/Pavilions

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

 

Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic statement. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio (left) was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of a new patio.

 

But fireplaces can also be part of a larger amenity such as a pavilion/gazebo. In the Deck and Patio project pictured immediately below, we included lighted columns on stone pillars to match the stone in the fireplace. Also note how the lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, pavilions offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal.

In addition to the fireplace, 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.

 

 

3.  Fire pits 

Fire pits come already assembled, of course. But there is a large range of ways to customize them to fit your style and location. 

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 their 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 to complement the other amenities and provide a handsome natural appeal.

 

Make It a Great One!

Labor Day Fun

Labor Day Fun

Whatever your outdoor plans, we hope you all enjoy the upcoming Labor Day Weekend and the opportunity for outdoor fun with friends and family it presents.

Whether it’s a pool party, or a sing-along inside a gazebo or pavilion, it may be summer’s last hurrah, but the outdoor season is far from over.

 

 

 

 

The Peaceful Harmony of Free-Form Pools

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

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

Project # 1

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

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

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

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

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

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

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

Project # 2

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

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

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

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

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

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

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

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

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

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