Outdoor Living

/Outdoor Living

Backyard Pavilions: Outdoor Living Par Excellence

Here, in Long Island, NY, we are passionate about outdoor living. And for many, there’s no better way to enjoy al fresco living than under the shade of a handsome pavilion or gazebo. 

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, these structures offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal. A large variety of designs permit individual architectural statements in any yard. 

Deck and Patio at work in Manhasset

Deck and Patio at work in Manhasset, NY

“The winter has been moderate so far this year,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “So Deck and Patio has been able to continue our outdoor living projects without stopping.

“One project we’re working on right now in a section of Manhasset — Flower Hill — is a dramatic 16’ x 28’ pavilion. When finished, it will boast roofing shingles to match those of their new custom home, interior AZEK finishes, stone bases for the pavilion’s columns, and a fireplace to name just some of its amenities.”

In addition, the clients won’t have to rely only on the fireplace for warmth. 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.

The overall backyard project will also include a new gunite pool and sumptuous landscaping. 

Backstory

“At their former home, we had built a smaller pavilion as well as other outdoor amenities for these same clients,” Dave continues. “And when they decided to sell that home, the very first day it was on the market, potential buyers saw their yard and made an offer immediately, saying, “This is our home! Where we want to be forever.” 

Now our clients, having purchased a new home in Manhasset, are again upgrading their yard, this time on an even grander scale. As a plan for their new spectacular backyard resort emerged, our clients told Dave, “For sure, this will be the home we want to stay in forever.”

When this Manhasset outdoor living project including pavilion is complete, we’ll showcase it here in our blog. In the meantime, below is a small sampling of Deck and Patio pavilions/gazebos that we’ve built on Long Island — finished projects — that highlight the grandeur pavilions/gazebos offer any yard — par excellence.

 

Shingle-roof Pergola/Pavilion/Long Island, NY:

Shingle-roof Pergola/Pavilion/Long Island, NY:

This pergola/pavilion with fireplace project was installed at the edge of a patio that also boasts a hot tub. Note how the handsome lighted columns on stone pillars of the pavilion match those of the fireplace. The lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

 

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY:

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY:

Some clients’ taste for outdoor space includes a romantic statement such as this lovely gazebo and harmonizing deck. Bright plantings surround the area and a charming stepping stone path adds additional appeal. 

Notice how there’s little doubt that these inhabitants like to entertain. One can easily imagine this as the perfect spot at any time — but it’s especially well designed for inviting over friends and family.

 

Backyard Pavilion with Ceiling Fans (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Pavilion with Ceiling Fans (Long Island/NY):

This dramatic shingle-roof pavilion with interior lighting has two ceiling fans. The columns rest on stone pillars that match the stone on the yard’s new steps. (Note how the roof shingles match those of the clients’ home.)

 

 

In Winter, Flowing Water Becomes Crystalized Art

If you installed a water feature (stream with waterfalls, pond, fountain) in recent months, you are in for a surprise winter gift. As temperatures stay cold, this outdoor flowing water will crystalize, transforming drops and streams into delightful pieces of art.

Winter in some parts of the country can be long and harsh. And there are those who choose to close down a pond or waterfall/stream in winter. There are easy steps to do that, including shutting down and removing the feature’s pump. Tip: Aquasacpe Inc. (International pond/water feature experts ) suggest storing the pump in a frost-free location, submerged in water to keep the seals from drying out.

However, here on Long Island, winter is more sporadic in its assaults. Keeping a feature’s water flowing in winter allows homeowners to enjoy ice sculptures whenever the cold stays around for awhile. Deck and Patio, for example, certainly keeps our own water feature operating at our design studio all winter through. 

Pond Fish

Running your water feature in winter can be especially helpful if you have pond fish. The continual movement of water discourages freezing where the water falls into the pond. Along with an aerator, the flowing water should maintain a hole in any ice that forms. A hole lets any harmful gasses escape and not build up under the ice and harm the fish. Read more on how to care for pond fish here.

Below are some examples of the beauty winter can sculpt in your yard with the help of a little flowing water. 

 

Pond in Summer

Pond in Summer

Pond in Winter

Pond in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above pond belongs to one of Deck and Patio’s clients. When we stopped by to do some maintenance during a prolonged cold snap (right), we couldn’t resist photographing it. Note how the ice forms on the natural stone boulders; the water falling over the stones crystalizes into glistening flowing threads. We thought it an exquisite site. The photo (left) is the same pond in summer and winter.

 

Winter Fountainscapes:

Winter Fountainscapes:

Small decorative waterscapes like this fountain/miniature pond feature are delightful in winter months as well as summer. Note how the small trickle of water has become a jeweled thread of ice. 

 

Business Complex Water Feature:

Business Complex Water Feature:

Fountains are not just for backyards. They are a wonderful indulgence at commercial offices as well — and as you can see from this winter scene, clearly a year-round uplift for management and staff. 

 

Winterizing Waterscapes:

Winterizing Waterscapes:

If you do not want the water to freeze, you can choose to winterize your water gardens/waterscapes by running them with heat, which will melt the ice dams. But that is not necessary. Note how the falling water aerates the pond water just underneath. Photo: Courtesy of Aquasacpe Inc.

 

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond in Winter.

Backyard Pond Summer

Backyard Pond Summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of this pond (above) were shot at different angles, in different seasons. The first photo (Left)  shows the pond after we had just built it, but had not yet started it up. It was quickly crushed with snow during the Northeast Blizzard of 2013. 

Note the boulder stepping stones and moss rock island covered in snow in the middle of the pond. Despite the storm completely covering the water feature, we think the pond was as beautiful a sight as it was later that summer (Right) where you can see the pond’s stone island and stepping stones photographed the next summer free of snow. 

 

 

Emerging Landscaping Trends for 2019 (Part II)

As promised last week, today’s blog is Part II of our focus on landscaping trends for 2019. To further inspire our outdoor living aficionados, we’re showcasing below a few more Deck and Patio projects that, according to trend spotters, are definitely in vogue.

So let’s complete our look at 2019 landscaping trends!

Curb Appeal

According to HGTV, a neatly trimmed and elegantly paved entryway never goes out of style. Of course, the design can also be stylish.

 

Landscaping Outdoor Entryways

Landscaping Outdoor Entryways

For this entryway, Deck and Patio designed the shape of flower bed cutouts and chose the hues of the plants as complements to the overall tiered paver hardscapes. Even the outdoor light pillar was done in the same paving material for a beautiful — and harmonious  — curb appeal. 

Party Spots

Creating inviting outdoor spaces is key to entertaining, says HGTV.

 

Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor Entertaining

“Constructing outdoor living spaces ideal for entertaining is at the core of Deck and Patio’s work,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “For the project shown here, we added a pergola over an outdoor bar equipped with two sheet-falling waterfalls. The pergola provides shade for the bar, ideal during the heat of summer. Plus the sounds of falling water encourages relaxed conversation. 

“We also added large shade umbrellas over the client’s new portable hot tub and lounge areas for great pool-side shade and ambience. Anywhere you go on this patio,” says Dave, “it’s inviting for guests.” 

Fountains and Flowers

Adding the sound of water is a huge trend in landscaping. 

Garden Fountains

Garden Fountains

Since fountains come in all sizes there is a right one for just about any outdoor space. Consider this Aquasacpe Inc. fountain that is not only a treat for the senses when the clients are outdoors, it was placed close to a window so they can appreciate it from inside as well. 

Garden Rooms that Bloom

One landscaping trend that continually grows and grows in popularity is the private outdoor escape. 

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.

Inviting Landscaping

Well designed landscapes are inviting as a place to refresh to soul.

Landscape Havens

Landscape Havens

Lush landscapes aren’t just havens for humans. A bit of lavender, for example, is one example of flora that will draw butterflies. And a bird bath (see feature photo at top of page) won’t just be a rest for your avian friends. Other amusing critters can’t resist a nice spot for refreshment. 

 

 

Landscaping Trends for 2019

Are you yearning for a bit of outdoor whimsy like attaching a swing to your pergola? Or perhaps you’re hungering for backyard woodland garden design? Maybe you’ve been asking your landscaper to come up with a stylish entryway to your home? 

If any of these fit your mood lately, you may be what the pros call a trendsetter. Because these very ideas are some of the emerging landscaping trends for 2019 according to HGTV.  

Deck and Patio was particularly delighted to note that water features continue their rise in HGTV’s landscaping trends. Ponds, streams, waterfalls, including pool water features, with picturesque viewing areas, are specialities of our firm.

 

One of three out-of-state Deck and Patio projects

One of three out-of-state Deck and Patio projects

 

“When you have passion for your work, it’s nice to know it’s shared by your community and by those in the know,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “As landscape and garden designers, we’ve built a reputation as go-to experts for water features.”

Indeed. Deck and Patio has constructed over 300 ponds and water features on Long Island alone. However, good news spreads and we’ve also been invited out-of-state to Kentucky and Tennessee to design/construct dramatic water features for special pool projects.”

 

Pool Kings HGTV Project:

Pool Kings HGTV Project:

Here is another Pool Kings project which was highlighted on one of their HGTV television episodes. The water feature project was in Tennessee — quite a distance from our usual Long Island, NY, area of operation.

 

Speaking of Whimsy

Private Island in Backyard Pond:

Private Island in Backyard Pond:

We don’t know if this qualifies as whimsical, but it definitely is unique, imaginative and totally unexpected we believe. It was a Deck and Patio design idea we suggested when building a backyard pond for clients. We added stepping stones (unseen) which go from their new patio out to the large stone island where they can escape to relax and enjoy their pond up close.

 

Beautiful Woodland Garden Paths

Woodland garden design

Woodland garden design

These Deck and Patio clients had a beautiful wooded yard with some pre-existing nature walks. They also had a bridge. We designed stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the bridge, just below a comfortable park-style bench. 

In addition, we added beautiful ground cover and leafy plants. The point was to increase their enjoyment of being out in their own private refuge without disturbing the property’s natural woodland. 

Next week, our blog will highlight a few more of HGTV trends and how Deck and Patio is keeping Long Islanders (as well as those farther south) landscaped with the times.

 

 

The Advantages of Design-Build Construction Projects

Fall is a terrific time to do outdoor upgrades like a new deck or patio. Simple, ground-level expansions can be done by anyone. But if your property’s terrain is challenging, or your outdoor living dreams call for more artistically designed spaces, the advantages of choosing a “design-build” firm is worth consideration.

What Is Design-Build Construction?

Design-build contractors provide the architectural design for a project as well as its construction. This is also true for “outdoor living” contractors like Deck and Patio. 

“Choosing one firm to do the design as well as the construction doesn’t mean the project’s costs will be more expensive than hiring two groups of experts,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Nor will clients lose all control either.”

On the contrary, adds Dave. Clients find they develop a closer relationship with their design-build project manager, who knows all that’s going on and can easily accommodate their changing needs/ideas as the project develops. 

As you’ll see from the examples of some of our work that we’ve included today, when it comes to outdoor living projects, having a singular vision — which might include plantings, waterscapes, and hardscape — results in beautifully harmonious backyard escapes.

Pool Landscaping

Pool Landscaping by Deck and Patio

Pool Landscaping by Deck and Patio

For this handsome free-form pool, Deck and Patio designed a surrounding patio using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with AmorTec.

“The kit allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern, with gradations of tones,” says Dave. 

“Also, our several in-depth consultations with the clients helped us know their needs and tastes, resulting in its multi-level patio design, with designated spaces for all their priorities — dining, lounging, etc.”

Plus, adding a water feature on one side of the pool, along with a pool slide, not only was alluring, adds Dave, but the moss rock boulder placements and landscaping were conceived to do double-duty as a natural-looking retaining area for the pool.

Backyard Water Features

Backyard Water Feature by Deck and Patio

Backyard Water Feature by Deck and Patio

 

Designing and building a backyard water feature takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself.

This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that cause the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or even a pondless-water feature like the one shown here.

 

 

 

Designing/Building for Privacy

Backyard 'Spool' and Patio by Deck and Patio

Backyard ‘Spool’ and Patio by Deck and Patio

Sometimes privacy is an issue when designing for comfortable outdoor living. This property, for example, was open on three sides and in full view of four homes. 

“The clients wanted a ‘spool’ — or a cross between a small pool and a spa — but the best spot for it was in a very exposed area,” says Dave.

Deck and Patio’s landscaping design team used Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars to create an attractive natural privacy screen around the spool. In addition, texture and color were brought in to the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

“We also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers to cascade and wind over and between the rocks we used,” says Dave. “Plus a careful selection of plants provided the area with color from April through October. The whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

 

Design/Build Decks

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

TimberTech Deck by Deck and Patio

For this project, privacy was not an issue for the clients. In fact, they wanted it as open as possible to take in the property’s wonderful views.

“We designed a 2-level TimberTech XLM PVC deck for them, with one level just for the outdoor dining table, and the other places for deep seating outdoor furniture like chaise lounges and the barbecue,” says Dave.

”We also recommended the black railing for a strong contrasting tone to the decking materials. The design also included 45-degree angles in order to orient the outdoor furniture toward the views.”

So, as you plan for any fall or spring backyard upgrades, an outdoor living design-build firm may be just be the way to go.

 

Fall Is a Great Time to Build a Deck

The leaves are only just changing, but there’s been a real nip in the air in the Northeast lately — telling us fall has definitely arrived. And you know what? Autumn is one of the best seasons for deck building.

“There’s a misconception about adding new decks late October and into November,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “And while the weather does get chilly here, the cooler weather is great for such a project. For one thing, a deck built in fall will be ready and waiting for you come spring.”

Also, November frequently offers several good opportunities for enjoying the outdoors, adds Dave. With the addition of a fire pit, it’s possible to hold several backyard get-togethers before winter completely overtakes the outdoor season.

“Most importantly, with the availability of so many high-quality capped composite and PVC deck materials such as Trex Decking, TimberTech, Fiberon, etc., you don’t have to worry how winter will affect the deck. It’s only when using natural wood that you might feel it is best to wait until spring.”

Also, depending on the complexity of the design, its location, and especially how high off the ground it will be, a deck may not require a permit.

“So it’s possible that a deck, which easily expands a home’s entertaining area, can be built within one to three weeks,” says Dave. “Indeed, we build quite a few decks and patios this time of year. And because it’s not peak season, it’s easier for new clients to get us working for them quickly.”

Leaf Tannins Stain Decks

Leaf Tannins Stain Decks

Speaking of foliage. Natural wood is susceptible to stains from leaf tannin and pine needles etc. If you’re choosing a capped composite deck, such as Trex Decking, you don’t need to worry about staining as much as with natural wood. 

However, the experts at Trex, for example, encourage the removal of dirt and debris using a hose or broom to avoid stains. To remove any that have accumulated, once the deck is dry, apply a “brightener” as directed by the manufacturer. Brighteners contain “oxalic acid”, which will remove tannins.

 

Note: The feature photo today at the top of our blog is courtesy of Trex Company. 

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking (Long Island/NY):

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking (Long Island/NY):

Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck anytime of year, including wonderful colorful options even in November.

 

TimberTech Deck and Railing (Long Island/NY):

TimberTech Deck and Railing (Long Island/NY):

The black “Radiance Rail” used for this deck railing offered a variety of sophisticated posts and balusters and rail caps to choose from; for more nighttime safety, the rail caps were fitted with TimberTech’s recessed DeckLite deck lighting — which is especially appreciated in late fall when it gets dark so early.  

 

Trex Decking and Custom Bench (Long Island/NY):

Trex Decking and Custom Bench (Long Island/NY):

These clients wanted to keep a beloved tree and enjoy its natural shade in summer, so Deck and Patio designed/built a Trex seating bench around it in the middle of the new large Trex deck. The bench offers a great spot for enjoying the property’s waterside views anytime of year.

 

Trex Deck with Fire Table (Long Island/NY):

Trex Deck with Fire Table (Long Island/NY):

This lovely Deck and Patio composite Trex deck and railing with custom seating area can be enjoyed in the cooler months just by adding a fire table.

 

 

 

Net Your Pond in Fall, If You Can’t Leave It To Beavers

Autumn Ponds

Autumn Ponds

A few leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color. 

Too much debris collecting at the bottom of a water feature will leave sludge on its floor. Over time, the build up can become so thick it can affect the pond’s depth and alter the water quality.

What to do? 

If you’re a naturalist, you might hope Mother Nature and beavers could come to the rescue. Their flat tails, acting as shovels, could have that sludge dug up and turned into a beaver lodge before you can say TIMBER! 

Alas, the rodents disappeared from Long Island long ago. Anyway they would gnaw through those precious deciduous trees that dropped the leaves in the first place. 

Beavers

Beavers

But Deck and Patio suggests a simpler alternative — cute as beaver’s buck teeth may be. Simple pond netting, put up in advance of peak autumn foliage, will capture the leaves and other debris. 

“Of course it’s best to put up the netting before the leaves drop,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “However, if some leaves have already fallen in, a long-handle pond net can be used to scoop out the debris before covering it with the net.” 

Dave adds that if you’ve had some buildup, there are natural pond cleaners that will break down accumulation from previous years.

 

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful in due course to put up pond netting to collect foliage debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

 

Installing Pond Netting:

Installing Pond Netting:

Aquascape’s Dave Kelly suggests tenting the net so it won’t sag into the pond when its full of leaves.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

 

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Fall Outdoor Season: Color It Autumn

Many of us in the northeast retreat very reluctantly to a winter spent indoors. We make every effort to extend the outdoor season with the addition of fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, hot tubs, some even adding a four-season room.

4-Season Room

4-Season Room

Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So its natural that when we see the first leaf turn from green to crimson high in a backyard tree, we know we’re heading into the last outdoor living sprint. The subject today is: how can we make this precious outdoor living time richly colorful for the maximum enjoyment?

Outdoor Displays

One way to make the outdoors inviting is by displaying some of fall’s bounty: gorgeous plants, fruits, vegetables and even berries — all perfect for decorating yards and front door entries.

“Annuals provide color when certain plants are no longer in bloom,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.  “Great color producers for fall that last well into several frosts before dying back to the ground include kale, cabbage, decorative peppers, mums, cyclamen, etc.”

It’s also important to add compost to these plants so they get plenty of food while they are blooming, says Dave. 

“Cold hardy mums, for example, require water every other day as they have copious flowers and use up a lot of energy and will require additional watering if there’s isn’t sufficient rainfall. But what a cheerful display these fruits and plants offer.”

 

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Believe it or not, the pumpkin is not a vegetable — it’s a fruit, and a berry at that. Along with hardy mums in bright yellow, etc., at Deck and Patio’s design center in Huntington Station we love displaying lots of these fall ‘berries’ for pops of bright orange.

 

Grouping Fall Plants:

Grouping Fall Plants:

 

 

For different texture and color, it’s a good idea to create a grouping of fall plants. This nice grouping includes cabbage, deep red mums, and winter pansies for a bright, bold statement. (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental Peppers

Aren’t these ornamental peppers beauties! Grown for their decorative value (although edible, they are rather lacking in flavor) as are the leaves and flowers of the deep red Celosia Cristata (aka cockscomb) behind them.  (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

Planning Ahead for Fall Color

Fall can be a great time to plant color for future autumn glory. Here’s two great ideas:

 

Rosehips:

Rosehips:

Rosehips come from plants also known as Autumn Wild Rose. They can enhance any autumn landscape. Note: Since they can take three years to grow from seeds, you’ll probably want to transplant a grown bush. This is done during the dormant season — sometime between November through February.

This beautiful plant is a wildflower with bright red fruit hips that ripen in fall — and stay around through winter. The rose hips grow as the petals of the summer flowers drop off. These hips contain the seeds of the rose. Prune the bushes down to the ground in winter and then wait. When the temperature warms again in spring, they begin to regrow. By summer, you have wild roses, and in fall, you get the rose hips again.

 

Sumac:

Sumac:

When we recommend a great plant for fall color, we emphasize ones that are interesting throughout the year. With Sumac shrubs and trees, their displays begin with large flower clusters in spring, gorgeously colored fall foliage (as seen here) with berries that can last into winter. 

Any well-drained soil works for this adaptable plant. It can take full sun or partial shade. Note: for the most dramatic fall colors, the flame leaf or prairie sumac have the best flowers and color when planted in full sun.  

 

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.