Pergola

/Pergola

10 Ways to Enhance Outdoor Living This Season

Camping trips and the rugged outdoor experiences they provide are fine in short bursts. But a full 5 or 6 month outdoor season spent enjoyed in one’s backyard cries out for comfortable and superbly functional amenities.

Today’s blog, however, will not focus so much on the key foundations of outdoor living — patios, decks, and large water features such as swimming pools — as the delightful amenities that enhance them.

 

Here’s Our 9 Ways!

This first photo from Fiberon Decking, for example, highlights two opposite outdoor living enhancements — an attractive fire table that adds warmth on cool evenings and a shade umbrella that reduces the heat of the day.

In addition, note how an awning provides even more relief from the sun on the upper deck level. And very comfortable outdoor furniture means no sense at all of ‘camping out’ when sitting on this deck. Plus a highly functional outdoor kitchen means no need to limit the dining experience — although marshmallows roasted over the fire table is one camping treat worth bringing home.

 

 

A garden gazebo is another wonderful amenity for providing shade and comfort. As architectural statements, gazebos are beautiful to the eye while providing shade, protection from rain, as well as comfortable seating.

But a gazebo can be used in many more ways: as a meditation center; a spot for exercising; the ideal location for a hot tub; a venue for special celebrations like a wedding ceremony. Indeed, we believe this gazebo, built at the edge of a new deck by Deck and Patio, would be a gorgeous location for a wedding. A reception held on this poolside deck would truly be memorable.

 

 

 

 

Trellises and pergolas also make dramatic architectural statements. They require less materials than a gazebo (or 4-season room) to construct, and provide limited shade with just support beams and rafters.

Taking the time to grow vines on a trellis/pergola, however, will eventually increase the amount of shade. In the meantime, one can always add a canopy overhead — a good idea if the space underneath is used frequently when the sun is high.

 

 

Swim-up bars turn a regular backyard pool into a full-blown resort. Looking at these two Deck and Patio projects, one can almost hear steel drums in the background, can’t you? Whenever a a swim-up bar is added to the pool, all that’s needed to complete a vacation-resort feeling are small drink umbrellas in the Mojitos and Piña Coladas.

Deck and Patio not only designs in-pool submerged bar stools for swim-up bars, but we can design it all so this amenity can also be used as a dry bar, enjoyed on the other side.

 

 

In-pool amenities that make a splash include waterfalls and jet sprays like those shown here. When either of these are added to a pool, their gentle sounds screen out in a delightful way any noise from the pool’s high-tech equipment and even nearby traffic.

This Deck and Patio project also includes another outdoor living enhancement — an outdoor shower (not shown). It is located at the base of a stepping stone path that leads up to the hidden pool equipment.

 

Information about tanning shelves (a.k.a. Baja shelves, tanning ledges) seen above in this blog’s feature photo can be seen here. 

 

 

 

Quality Upgrade Ideas for Your Outdoor Barbecue

 

According to trend spotters, the watchword for today’s outdoor upgrades is:

Quality.

Take the humble barbecue. It remains the beating heart of outdoor entertaining. But more and more it has become only a part of a more expansive outdoor kitchen that’s set in attractive custom cabinetry etc. — and made to last.

 

Of course, the first thing any outdoor kitchen will need is outdoor plumbing and electrical outlets to hook up the sinks and appliances. And it is key to locate the kitchen as accessible to your indoor kitchen as possible. That said, design and function will depend on your style and budget.

Some Deck and Patio Barbecue Projects to Inspire You

 

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.

Close to the indoor kitchen, and with no obstructions in the way, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry should last a good long time.

 

 

 

 

This project  combined a new Trex Transcend deck with a full outdoor kitchen. “Trex is one of several composite decking manufacturers whose names are synonymous with ‘quality,’ says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Here, the deck is not only an outdoor gathering area, but it makes an elegant foundation for the barbecue.”

The outdoor kitchen itself boasts a durable and stylish granite top. Its cultured stone facade goes all the way to the ground making a dramatic statement that can be appreciated throughout the yard; kitchen amenities include not just the barbecue, but a refrigerator, double-side burner, as well as three drawers — all made with high quality stainless steel. Note how a large space was not required to design/build a superior barbecue area.

 

 

 

Again, Deck and Patio clients wanted their outdoor kitchen’s mechanics and amenities hidden in a work station with a stone facade for elegance and durability. Boasting a large work area, this kitchen includes a sink, refrigerator, eating bar with bar stools — and, of course, a quality barbecue.

The curved shape of the outdoor kitchen’s station, including one end designed as a circle, hints at the home’s turret. Note: A large shade umbrella over the bar can be moved as needed. Also, when sun is intense, extra umbrellas from the patio’s lounge area can be brought to the bar/cooking area.

 

 

When we think of pergolas, we think of beautiful architectural statements. And they are that for sure. They also beautifully delineate spaces such as for an outdoor kitchen.

But did you also consider that a pergola allows you to cover the top with a tarp that can hang down a bit when it’s pouring outside? After all, a quality barbecue and it’s juicy grilled meats and vegetables shouldn’t be inaccessible just when you want a grilled steak the most.

This L-shaped outdoor kitchen countertop also serves as a bar.

 

 

 

Certainly, the more seating the better when planning your outdoor kitchen. Here, Deck and Patio used natural stone for the veneer of the barbecue/bar and added a seat wall made with the same veneer.

We also added the same edge-restraint as the capstone, creating an interesting tie-in with the extensive brick veneer used for the house. The seat wall is handsome and ample in size, but it is also comfortable and will last a long time.

Once again, the curved design of the kitchen and seat wall complement the home’s turret, while some of the dark stones in the veneer echo the turret’s roof.

“One way you know any upgrade you are planning will be, in fact, one of quality,” says Dave Stockwell, “is how well your build/design firm stands by its work. We always recommend materials that are backed with good warranties from trustworthy manufacturers and are proud of our own reputation for ensuring complete satisfaction in our work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Confident In Backyard Design Plans

Sometimes even having a reputation as a top notch landscape design/build firm isn’t enough. For, while these Deck and Patio clients were enthusiastic about our design ideas, not being able to picture how it all would look when it was finished concerned them.

This was understandable. We weren’t being hired to simply tidy up their yard. They were looking for a backyard retreat that included a pool with spillover spa, dramatic pool surround, pool house and bar area and attractive landscaping — all in a contemporary design that fitted their style.

3D Landscape Design Plan

3D Landscape Design Plan

“However, our design team had an easy solution,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “We completed a 3D digital animation of the entire project using a special computer program. This permitted them to view every part of the retreat from any angle they wished. Once they saw what it all would look like, they were eager to go forward.”

Dave adds that having this computer program allowed us to document changes during the project — thereby giving the clients confidence that any alterations would appear as expected.

“A major part of their retreat was a custom-designed pool house, with all the amenities of a home. The patio was built with Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers that are reminiscent of old-time European plazas; but we laid them in a random pattern that complemented the lines of the geometric pool.”

Outside the pool house is a custom 25-foot-wide pergola that enhances their ability to entertain in comfort. Providing shade while sitting at the bar or in lounge chairs, it is also a beautiful architectural piece that adds drama to the space.

The project was recognized by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) with a Gold Award for geometric pool design.

“The award, although given to us, was as much the clients’ as ours,” says Dave. They contributed and participated at every level.”

 

 Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

The main feature in this award-winning project was a striking geometric pool with a raised spa surrounded by a multi-level patio. Deck and Patio’s carpentry crew and masons worked tirelessly on this project. From the 25-foot-long microlam beam on the pergola to the smallest detail and door stop on the pool house, everything was built from scratch.

 

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

The raised spa, topped with the same Cambridge Ledgestone pavers used on the patio, spills over through a rectangular cutout that echoes the pool’s overall geometric design.

 

 

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

As the clients step out of the pool house, they walk under a 25-foot-wide shade pergola making this space ideal for entertaining; there is also a handsome bar area, fitted with a sink and all the components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages.

 

 

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

A major part of the project was this custom-designed pool house, complete with a bathroom, changing room, and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view overlooking the pool.

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Features Are Easy to Create and Maintain

In order to enjoy the beauty and serenity of a flowing stream or waterfall, some sort of basin is required to capture the water. Frequently, such a basin is a pond, possibly adorned with exotic water plants as well as being a home to pond fish. But there are many who want a water feature — just not with a pond.

 

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Aquascape Inc.

Those with very young children, for example, sometimes worry that a full, deep pond in their backyard might present safety concerns, and prefer a pondless waterfall (left) where river rock allows water to seep down into the ground. In addition, come spring and fall, ponds require maintenance to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Another reason for not wanting a pond came up with one our water feature clients. Their property abutted parklands, and they feared a pond would attract too many wild animals. With other clients, budget and property size are factors.

For all or any of these reasons, if you are considering a water feature, you may want to go “pondless.”

Certified Aquascape Contractor

Deck and Patio is a Certified Aquascape Contractor, which means we’ve been pre-qualified as experts in designing and building water features of all types, including “pondless” waterfalls. Aquascape offers years of experience in this field and their products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Their pondless systems allow water to drain through gravel into a reservoir, which stores the filtered water underground and recirculates it.

 

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

Deck and Patio Pondless Waterfall

For the handsomely landscaped pondless waterfall pictured here (right), we planted durable thick and compact evergreens, including the low-maintenance Procumbent Juniper, which spreads well. For splashes of color we added Begonias, Coleus, plus Astilbe with its beautiful and showy flowers.

With a pondless waterfall, you are recirculating water, which is definitely eco-friendly. But natural evaporation will require that this recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. For those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use town water to replenish your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes a RainXchange reservoir system.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

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Water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete and picks up contaminants

“Whether you harvest rainwater or maintain your water feature with town water, an Aquascape Inc. pondless system will keep the spillover water from running into over-burdened sewer systems,” says Dave.

“That is because we use river rock underneath the waterfall. It not only allows water to seep through to the reservoir, but it helps filter it. This river rock process is essential, because water doesn’t soak into asphalt and concrete, but, instead, flows away to the local waterways, picking up contaminants as it goes.

“So if you’re not sure you want a pond, but definitely want the sounds and sights of running water, pondless just may be the way to go,” says Dave.

 

 

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

Natural Retaining Wall with Pondless Waterfall: Here, Deck and Patio used plantings as a key part of a natural retaining wall we built. “Along with boulders and other rocks, their root systems add to the overall strength of the support system,” says Dave Stockwell. “Deck and Patio always chooses plants for their color, bloom periods and how they grow. You can see the river rock we used here instead of concrete or asphalt so that the water seeps through into the reservoir below.

 

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

Outdoor Bar with Pondless Waterfalls: Here sheet waterfalls (a.k.a. sheer descent waterfalls) offer a modern sleek look as they flow out from a pergola-adorned bar positioned just above the family’s swimming pool. Robust plantings bring bright pops of color; the flowing water is captured in a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape Inc.

 

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of what was an existing patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

Pondless Water Feature as Focal Point: Lush landscape surrounds a pondless waterfall that makes an ideal focal point near the edge of their patio. The fact that the pondless waterfall feature doesn’t require much maintenance (that a pond would require), it is provides a truly relaxing escape for some quiet, or to enjoy it with friends.

 

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

Walkway Waterfall: Our new “hardscape” patio design was tied together with lush, colorful perennials throughout, and at the top of the asphalt walkway we had room to add a new waterfall to create a luxurious and soothing highlight. As you can see from this photo, if you are going “pondless” you can fit a waterfall just about anywhere…even between a driveway and upper patio.

 

 

 

Patios That Are Small Wonders

 

When outdoor space is at a premium, small-scale patios may be a necessity. And in a recent post “Living Large on Small Patios,” HGTV online showed how top designers can make  compact patios enticing.

 

Their interesting post inspired us to review some of Deck and Patio’s projects to see how we designed/built such patios to also be small wonders. Here’s a sampling:

 

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

In addition to the two-level patio, for this project our clients opted for a water feature that could be enjoyed from wherever they were in their yard. The stream with waterfalls, running alongside a new hot tub, became an attractive and soothing focal point when sitting on the small upper-patio.

It is easy to see how the Techo-Bloc Borealis’ pavers (modular 5” and 10” wide slabs) were used to great effect in creating such an inviting space. Often called tromp l’oeil by industry professionals, the slabs allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring.

With the addition of some attractive outdoor furniture and fire pit, the clients have a relaxing and beautiful small-scale outdoor room.

 

 Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

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

These 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.

 

Pergolas and Patios

Pergolas and Patios

Despite having a small area for their new one-level patio, and in addition to a large outdoor umbrella for shade, these clients did opt for a pergola, which can be enjoyed for its architectural interest alone. Of course, the pergola also offers shade during the hot sunshine of summer, as well as privacy. It also harmonizes well with the Cambridge “Renaissance” 6 x 9 Ruby Onyx pavers they chose for the patio.

In addition to a fireplace and fire pit, the clients wanted a fence that would keep their dog out of their garden. After cutting down a large bush in their yard, we used the leftover twigs to create a 2.5-foot fence with a gate. This fence not only protects the garden but provides an interesting focal point in the yard.

Indeed, with a garden adjacent to their dining area, if they want some fresh herbs to dress their salads or spice up their barbecue, they can simply open the gate and snip! Note how we included handsome bluestone stepping stones inside the gate for doing just that.

 

Multi-level Patios

Multi-level Patios

Sometimes limited space isn’t the impetus for creating small wonder patios. The inspiration can stem from the desire for intimacy, quiet, or privacy that only a small-scale design can offer.

Such is the case with this charming space, which is one of 5 levels of a much larger patio. Pictured are moss rock stairs leading to it from one of the lower levels. Beautiful landscaping and a waterfall add to the tranquility of this secluded corner of their backyard, but it is its small size that truly makes it feel like an exquisite private escape.

 

Private Patios

Private Patios

Had you ever thought of building a small patio just for writing or reading? If you had, perhaps it would look something like this delightful space designed and built by Deck and Patio.

It was constructed with Techo-Bloc pavers next to a new water feature we added. Sitting beside the trickling stream, hearing the sounds of gentle waterfalls — far away from any other outdoor activities — provides an idyllic spot to read or just meditate.

 

Changeable Patios

Changeable Patios

We’d like to think that HGTV would have included in their post this small Deck and Patio patio had they known about it. Its landscaping décor would make any decorator’s heart sing. With large trees on the distant periphery, simple container gardening allows the homeowners to move lush colorful plants wherever the activities are taking place. By not making the containers too heavy, this is an easy thing to do.

Note, it also has an easy to move simple barbecue, as well as elegant, but easy-to-lift, outdoor furniture.

 

 

Deck Designers/Builders, Long Island, NY: Two New Fiberon Deck Projects

Deck and Patio frequently designs/builds decks using “capped composite” materials from several quality manufacturers.

For the uninitiated, “capped composite” refers to an improvement made in recent years to regular composite decking through the addition of an extra “cap” or “cover” that adds an extra layer of protection against damage.

In our blog today, we’re highlighting two such Deck and Patio decks. These “works-in-progress” projects are both located in Oyster Bay, NY, and include a pool and handsome landscaping.

“When choosing deck materials, the homeowners looked at all the options and both clients decided on Fiberon decking,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“While most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, Fiberon’s special warranty was also a factor for these clients. Not only will they get the usual 25-year warranty on materials, with Fiberon they also get a five-year warranty on labor.”

This extra warranty means there will be no cost at all to these homeowners should there be any staining or scratching, etc. in the first five years. “And they will continue to have the material warranty for another 20 years,” says Dave.

Another factor for the clients was that Fiberon decking boards are easy to install due to their grooved design. Deck and Patio’s builders can fit them together through hidden fasteners, leaving no nails or screws showing — just a clean, smooth look.

“Both clients also liked the color variations and chose Fiberon’s ProTect  “Chestnut” boards that offer subtle streaking and woodgrain patterns.”

First Work-in-Progress Project

Working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY), Deck and Patio designed, and is in the process of building, a two-level deck (see first three photos below). The completed project will include an outdoor kitchen and dining area on the second level with a pergola providing shade over the outdoor kitchen cabinet. The pergola will also have LED lighting that will shine down on the cabinetry, creating a beautiful evening ambience.

When the lower deck level is complete, it will act as a magnificent above-ground-pool surround, ideal for entertaining/sunbathing. Parts of the deck will have lattice skirting, and because they don’t have a shed, we designed access panels so the family can use under the deck for storage.

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Early in the process, Deck and Patio built framing for a deck that will surround the above-ground pool by True Blue Swimming Pools. The pool is set in the lower level of the two-level deck.

 

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Here we are putting down the Fiberon boards over the frame for this Oyster Bay, NY project.

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Note how the Fiberon boards fit together with no showing nails or screws. This clean look means you can walk barefoot without any concern.

 

Second Work-in-Progress

Again, working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) in Oyster Bay, NY, Deck and Patio is building a new replacement deck around an existing pool that is being upgraded. The clients’ previous pressure-treated deck was 25 years old.

“When pressure treated decks like this one get old, the nails tend to pop,” says Dave Stockwell. “After years of banging them back in, the nails don’t hold anymore. In addition, such older decks weren’t framed correctly for today’s codes. You can see in one of the photos below how the old boards are actually sagging. This creates a real hazard when walking around the pool.”

The far side of their new deck will have handsome coping built flush to the lawn and landscape. Our design also includes custom curves not often seen on decking. “These clients are great fans of perennial gardens, and as part of the overall landscaping design, we’re creating one for them with stepping stones from the deck that will go through the new garden to the lawn area.

The first of four photos below is Deck and Patio’s design rendering of the whole project.

 

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

This project is in Oyster Bay, NY and includes an upgraded swimming pool, large Fiberon capped composite decking and robust landscaping, including a perennial garden. Note the unusual custom curves Deck and Patio designed for several parts of the deck.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

You can see the old deck’s boards are buckling up in different places making walking around the clients’ pool hazardous. The new Fiberon decking will be smooth and clean  — with no exposed nails or screws.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

This is a close up photo of the old pressure treated deck boards that had to be removed.

 

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Here you see that the old deck is gone and we’re on our way to creating the beautiful new deck surround and landscaping (see design rendering above).

 

 

Pergolas: When Throwing a Little Shade is a Good Thing

Perhaps it’s our cold winters. Or our great shorelines, rivers and lakes. Whatever the reason, in the northeast we love summer sun. We revel in sunny water sports, sunbathing, barbecues, etc. Yet, while enjoying the outdoors, there are times when we look for an escape from the sun and are grateful for something that will throw us a little shade.

A shade umbrella can often fit the bill. But unless you have a bank of them, or are seated together at a dining table, they are really only good for one person and they don’t offer the architectural beauty of a built structure. Cabanas and pavilions offer substantial and roomy breaks from the sun, but these may require permits and considerable planning to design/build.

It’s not surprising, then, that many find the simplest solution for some shade is the elegant pergola. “Pergolas are considered decorative or ornamental, so they rarely require permits,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And their construction is fairly straightforward, especially when using a prefabricated kit.

“While we do build a lot of pavilions and cabanas, etc., just as frequently, clients opt for the less complicated pergola. Occasionally, those that already have a cabana or pavilion want a little extra shade thrown in another outdoor area.”

unspecifiedDeck and Patio has found that clients also love the pergola’s open design. “Whether it’s made of vinyl, cedar, or fiberglass, etc., the structure allows for refreshing cross currents of air, yet is elegant enough to frame a picture-perfect outdoor sitting/gathering area,” adds Stockwell. “Plus, because of their simple design, you can expand them to fit pretty much any size space.”

What Exactly Defines a Pergola?

A pergola is constructed with open rafters at the top and is supported by posts. It’s usually of simple, durable construction and is free standing.

# 5“We find the two most popular pergola materials are vinyl and cedar,” says Stockwell. “Vinyl is usually white or cream in tone. Both are resistant to weather, rot and insects, although vinyl is completely immune to such deterioration.”

In the end, some clients prefer the handsome look of wood, and find they don’t mind periodic refinishing, which is necessary with natural wood structures (even cedar will require occasional staining and a sealant, otherwise its color will change over time). While others want a maintenance-free structure and choose vinyl.”

According to Stockwell, when deciding where you will place the pergola, consider where you will want shade most often — e.g., over a new outdoor bar, seating area, or barbecue. Then, so as to capture the right amount of shade from the pergola’s rafters, take note how the sun passes over your yard before deciding where to position it all, and at what angle, etc.

 

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

In addition to defining space elegantly, a pergola provides lots of shade if it is positioned well. Here, it crowns a handsome bar with stone facade with openings for two sheer descent waterfalls.

 

Pillared Pergola:

Pillared Pergola:

This pergola was built long and wide to shade a comfortable outdoor sitting area that includes a fire pit. It was positioned adjacent to a dining area shaded by a large umbrella. At the right time of day, the shade cast by the pergola’s rafters looks almost like a carpet — perfect for an outdoor sitting area.

 

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

This dramatic outdoor bar area is also a swim-up bar with in-pool bar stools. Its U shape turns into a patio-bar nestled underneath a handsome pergola. With striking white columns the pergola offers architectural drama as well as sufficient shade amid the day’s bright sunshine.

 

Pergola with Vines:

Pergola with Vines:

While creating a patio using permeable Techo-Bloc pavers that capture rainwater for the yard’s water features and landscape irrigation, the clients also wanted a large pergola. In doing all this, we were careful to protect their property’s 30-year-old-grape vine. The finished patio’s peaceful scene gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

The expansive pergola adorned with trailing plantings and vines offers lots of shade for outdoor dining. The new seat wall makes it easy for crowd-entertaining, providing extra sitting room within the pergola’s shade.

 

 

 

Enjoying Your Deck in Winter: Expert Tips from Fiberon Decking

“Enjoying my deck in winter?” you might be asking. Actually, yes!

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

# 1Removing Snow from Your Deck

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

“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones. If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface.  Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”

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

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

 

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

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

 

Keeping Warm on Your Deck

Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer. Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

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

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

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

 

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

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

 

Trapping Your Heat

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

 

 Deck Covering:

Deck Covering:

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

 

Now, for the Enjoyment!

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

 

 

Photo # 5

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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She also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. “If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

 

 

Other suggestions:

 

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add color and life on your deck by including flowers such as Pansies, Johnny Jump Ups, Cabbage and Kale, or perennials such ornamental grasses and lavender.

“The point is, even when it snows, you really can enjoy the crisp fresh air right outside your door if you make it comfortable enough,” says Kello.

More: Fiberon Decking

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting: Savings from a Rainy Day

Have you ever considered that one way you can save for a rainy day is by saving water from a rainy day? Depending on the municipality that supplies your water and how much water you need for irrigation, etc., capturing rainwater can significantly reduce water bills.

With over 1/2-acre of wooded gardens, these homeowners had a well that operated a sprinkler system. It maintained their vegetable garden along with their entire property’s landscape. After the well stopped working, they asked us to provide another way to irrigate it all without using city water. In addition, they wanted a playground beside a pond, with waterfalls and stream. They hoped captured rainwater would help maintain these as well.

The Rainwater Harvesting System

The system we installed provides two ways to capture all the necessary rainwater. First, water from the roof is collected and sent to an underground 1,000-gallon reservoir. Because the clients also needed a new patio, this presented the ideal opportunity to use “permeable” pavers that collect water underneath what is now a new 1,000-square-foot patio.

Challenges

The home is located in an historic area in central Brooklyn, so all changes to the property and home had to be approved by the local historical society. Also, the property sloped and we needed a series of perforated pipe and bulkhead fittings to get all of the water to flow the correct way. Lastly, the New York City location made for difficult logistics. Excavated materials going out and truck loads of new material coming in was complicated, and we heard many beeping horns.

Results

With the Aquascape RainXchange rainwater harvesting system, 100% of their irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. At any given time, there is now about 1,000 gallons of water in the reservoir and about an equal amount of water underneath their permeable pavers. In addition, we installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes them.

 

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Systems:

Installing Rainwater Harvesting Systems:

The site was pitched the wrong way which made it difficult to get roof water, and water from the permeable pavement, to the 1,000 gallon reservoir. There was also a large pergola with a 30-year-old-grape vine right next to the reservoir that could not be damaged. The peaceful scene of the patio and its surroundings gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

 

Capturing Roof Rainwater:

Capturing Roof Rainwater:

Four downspouts collects about three quarters of the clients’ roof runoff, which goes through containers with filters to screen out twigs and small debris before sending the rainwater down into the reservoir.

 

Permeable Pavers:

Permeable Pavers:

Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water. Under all that, a liner captures the rainwater, and it is pitched so it pushes water towards the underground reservoir.

 

Rainwater Harvesting Process:

Rainwater Harvesting Process:

Just off the patio, a bubbling rock, which aerates and cleans the water, is connected to the reservoir system and pumps the water through the gravel to clear out impurities. That pump is hooked up to a high-pressure booster pump which operates the irrigation system for the yard.

 

Backyard Waterfalls and Stream:

Backyard Waterfalls and Stream:

When water gets low in the clients’ water feature, harvested rainwater in the irrigation system replenishes them.

 

Aquascape RainXchange™ Harvesting Systems:

Aquascape RainXchange™ Harvesting Systems:

Aquascape’s systems are a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rock we installed here — with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system. The clients just enjoy it as a water feature, while the system filters and aerates the stored water to prevent stagnation.

 

 

 

A Backyard Upgrade With A Unique Garden Fence

This project was an interesting one for us. Our clients’ Long Island, NY, home is part of a beach community where properties are close together, and where shade and privacy is at a premium.

Our planned backyard upgrade included new amenities such as: patio, shade pergola, wood-burning fireplace, fire pit, attractive landscaping — and, a small herb/vegetable garden. The only problem was the homeowners feared the larger of their two dogs would trample any garden created. Some sort of fencing would be required, but would that detract from the limited natural space they had?

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, considered their concerns as work began. And when they were cutting down a large overgrown bush in the yard, a unique idea occurred to him.

“I remembered they also have a ski lodge in the Catskills and it occurred to me that a fence made from the old bush would offer a whimsical piece of Catskill design to the yard.”

The result is the bush clippings didn’t end up at the dump, and, instead, were used to good effect. The custom pergola beautifully provides shaded areas in their backyard, as well as privacy around the sitting areas. Cool evening ocean breezes are eased by the fireplace and fire pit, and the couple has fresh herbs and vegetables already budding — unmolested.

Note: Many will also wish to know that their cherished larger dog hasn’t gotten into any trouble — at least because of any harm to their garden.

 

 

New Patio and Pergola:

New Patio and Pergola:

The project’s new shade pergola and fireplace offer privacy in this compact beach community; the new patio is made from Cambridge Renaissance 6 x 9 Ruby Onyx pavers.

 

 

Vegetable Garden Fencing:

Vegetable Garden Fencing:

Deck and Patio used some unique materials to protect the newly created herb/vegetable garden. A 2.5-foot-high fence with gate was made from brush twigs; it not only protects the garden, but offers an interesting focal point to the yard.

 

 

 

Garden Fence Construction:

Garden Fence Construction:

The garden fence made from cut down brush is completely custom and is a unique part of the backyard upgrade design.

 

 

 

Outdoor Fireplace:

Outdoor Fireplace:

The new wood-burning fireplace in made in cultured stone: Country Ledgestone, in the color “Bucks County.” The fire pit table is “Snowbird” made with a stainless steel burner: its clear fire jewels appear to be bubbling when the flame is lit.

 

 

 

Shade Pergola:

Shade Pergola:

The custom shade pergola can be enjoyed for its beautiful architectural interest alone. However, it also offers privacy and shade during the intense heat and light of summer.