Portable Hot Tubs

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Backyard Upgrades: 3 ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects

When homeowners want to upgrade their properties, sometimes it can be a challenge to imagine all the changes that will be required.

So today we’re showcasing three sets of before and after photos that showcase how a collaboration with a reputable design/build firm like Deck and Patio can end  up in an award-winning landscaping project.

 

 

  1. Centerport, Long Island, NY

These 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.

"Before" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“Before” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

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.

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“After” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

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.

 

    2. Dix Hills, Long Island, NY

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area they called on  Deck and Patio. They knew 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.

"Before" Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

“Before” Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

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

 

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, the next step was pressing the boulders into the surrounding slope to continue the natural presence of large boulders. Then the landscape crew installed natural woodland planting to tie in with the tall oaks adding color and evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

Once the slope was stabilized, it was time for the pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered where we straighten the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were added, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

Cambridge Sahara Chestnut pavers were used to create a dramatic pool/patio area.

 

    3. Brookville, Long Island, NY

When Deck and Patio first met with these clients to discuss a pool and patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

 

"Before" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“Before” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

The project included a complete revamping of the pool’s pipes, interior, finish and the incorporation of new swim outs at the deep, as well as a new Tech-Bloc patio pool surround.

They also initially wanted wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their existing gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion of a custom installation of a portable hot tub.

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it could be used when the pool was closed down.

“We installed it in a way that allowed them to get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool when using the hot tub,” says Dave.

And the clients didn’t have to sacrifice any drama. “The complete upgrade included an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.”

The above projects won Deck and Patio awards both domestically and internationally.

 

Quality Backyard Makeover Pulls Out all the Stops

 

Pulling out all the stops of an organ increases the sound so an audience can hear everything — every grand sound, in all its lovely variations.

You might say that the two Long Island homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade also “pulled out all the stops” to orchestrate a wonderful experience in outdoor living. Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub (Bullfrog Spa) wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature (which they can enjoy on the upper patio, from the house and poolside) be extremely eco-friendly. For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.”

To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the lower-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Bullfrog Spas:

Bullfrog Spas:

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with Bullfrog’s enviable massage jets — their patented JetPaks.

 

One last thought. The Waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property.

 

Backyard Upgrade: From Very Nice to Sublime

The owners of this Brookville, NY, property had a charming backyard that consisted of a large patio separate from an attractive pool area. When Deck and Patio met with them to discuss a patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

“The clients were surprised at our suggestion that, rather than design/build a custom in-ground gunite spa, they opt for a portable spa,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And when they saw how such a hot tub would fit harmoniously within the yard’s new overarching design theme, they were delighted with this idea.”

The complete upgrade included adding an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.

Plus, the new handsome Techo-Bloc pool surround pavers the clients chose were repeated in the lower patio where a new granite-topped L-shaped outdoor kitchen, and fire pit, both faced in matching stone, were added.

The theme tying it all together, of course, is the stone-facing on many of the elements — balanced by soft hues in the plantings and choice of pavers. Whether it’s going up the steps from the patio to the pool where a stone wall accents the elevation change, sitting around the custom fire pit, barbecuing on a granite-topped outdoor kitchen, or taking in the whole scene while soaking in the spa, the various elements work together beautifully.

The soft hues of the Techo-Bloc’s Aberdeen pavers for the pool surround and lower patio were chosen to add a hint of contemporary flair to the traditional style of the stonework. Their subtle pinks, blues and creams, accented with robust landscaping, add a soothing feeling throughout the backyard oasis.

“This upgrade really brought an already attractive backyard into a true oasis,” says Dave. “Day or night, the only word for it is sublime.”

 

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Stone facing of several amenities help tie this oasis together: fire pit, outdoor kitchen, patio wall and steps, as well as the portable spa encasement (not seen), are all faced in matching stone.

 

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

The clients wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion for a custom installation of a portable Bullfrog Spa. With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it can be used when the pool is closed down. Plus they get the therapeutic benefits of Bullfrog’s renowned JetPaks (hydro jets) without sacrificing drama and elegance.

 

Hot Tub Installation:

Hot Tub Installation:

One truly enjoyable aspect of the clients’ new spa is where it was installed. When soaking in it, they get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool as well as all the way to the lower patio area where the outdoor kitchen and fire pit are.

 

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

A beautiful and highly functional outdoor kitchen, topped in granite and faced in stone, was positioned adjacent to the patio’s dining area and new fire pit.

 

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

One of the features of the clients’ new spa is a sheet-falling waterfall that flows out from its encasement into the pool. A privacy wall holds a dramatic fire blow that spills a waterfall into the spa.

 

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

These Techo-Bloc paving stones are packaged separately giving flexibility in design. Here soft hues (blues, creams, pinks) and various sizes placed in random patterns create the perfect pool surround and patio for this backyard upgrade.

 

 

Choosing the Perfect Deck Railing

Other than the specifications required in local building codes, there are few rules or requirements in choosing a railing. So even the humble deck railing can help showcase one’s personality and taste.

First, a deck railing by no means has to match the deck. It just needs to coordinate with it. With all the different options available: baluster and post sizes, shapes, materials, and colors — and the freedom to mix and match — a railing is an easy way to express oneself.

Homeowners might then ask themselves: Are we people who cherish privacy? Or, are we nature enthusiasts who want the maximum views possible? Perhaps, we are traditional in our tastes. Then, again, maybe, we prefer a bit of whimsy and like to let loose a little.

 

CableRail by Feeney

CableRail by Feeney

In this case, lovely outdoor views were of primary concern to clients who are avid outdoor enthusiasts. Acting first as deck builders, Deck and Patio installed a two- story raised deck. And, as is often the case when building a deck, the homeowners also requested a spa. Deck and Patio helped the clients choose the ideal encasement for a new Bullfrog Spa that coordinated nicely with the deck planks and also integrated the spa harmoniously into the deck.

When it came to the deck railing, after all that had been accomplished, it was important that, when the clients sat on their new deck deck or relaxed in the hot tub, the railing infill would not spoil the exquisite views. To accomplish this, infills by “CableRail by Feeney” were chosen because these infills are almost unnoticeable.

 

TimberTech's "Radiance Rail"

TimberTech’s “Radiance Rail”

The Deck and Patio Company helped these clients add sophisticated drama by framing their new deck with TimberTech’s “Radiance Rail” railing.

Radiance Rail provides the ability to mix and match posts and balusters, and also offers a range of post caps. The ideal choice for these clients was a cap fitted with TimberTech’s recessed DeckLites. This extra outdoor deck lighting not only offered more nighttime safety but provided it in an understated style — perfect for these homeowners.

 

Trex Railing

Trex Railing (1 of 2)

 

Trex Railing 2 of 2

Trex Railing 2 of 2

Trex Railing with black metal balusters was chosen by Deck and Patio for this installation because they hold up so well to the elements.

The clients live at a river’s edge, their extraordinary view was so expansive, there was little concern that a railing would obstruct the view. However, these clients, who can step from their deck onto a private dock, functionality and durability were key.

The choice here was handsome Trex Composite Railing with black metal balusters that offered more than waterside security. These railings offer protection from UV rays and will stand against damage from insects, water, or sun.

Note: because the top rail (cap) of a railing is usually selected separately from the infill and posts, the cap presents special opportunity to be creative. You can go wild with color choices, materials and styles, Here’s a tip: Pick a wide top rail if you are a passionate gardener or you love to entertain. With a wider cap, you can easily rest small planters or drinks.

 

Trex Railing

Trex Railing

Here’s another handsome Trex railing and deck. The railing also once again offers contrast through black balusters. Adding a custom seating area isn’t just great in the warmer months; they also enjoy their deck when it gets colder just by having added a fire table.

 

 

Bringing Outdoor Living Ideas to Local Fall Festival (Huntington, NY)

 

insert-1Come October, as the air gets crisp and leaves fall, moms, dads, kids, and grandparents delight in reconnecting outdoors at local fall festivals.

Deck and Patio enjoys participating at these events. In recent years, scheduling problems kept us away from Huntington’s big event. But after learning that festival-goers had been asking organizers if “the company with the fire pits and marshmallows would be there again,” we made sure to return, bringing our outdoor living ideas back to Heckscher Park.

insert-2The Columbus Day weekend Fall Festival was sponsored by the Huntington Chamber of Commerce. Sharing our assigned space with our good friends at Best Hot Tubs, our booth showcased several outdoor living ideas perfect for this time of year: two operating Bullfrog Spas hot tubs, colorful fall plants, fountains for the garden — and, of course, fire tables and lots of marshmallows.

Considering that the weekend weather didn’t totally cooperate, even more than usual our fire pits, steamy hot tubs, and booth tents were very welcome in the chilly and damp air.

Bullfrog Spas

What a great opportunity it was for our friends at Best Hot Tubs to showcase their top-of-the-line portable Bullfrog Spas. The timing was great as well. Best Hot Tubs showrooms (Westbury, Farmingdale, Windham, NY) offer big savings on Bullfrog Spas in October (up until October 23). Boasting $25 a month low energy cost and enough Bullfrog models to fit all budgets, the tubs were certainly a highlight at our booth.

Setting Up at Heckscher Park, Huntington

Setting Up at Heckscher Park, Huntington

Garden Fountains

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) are frequently surprised that we offer attractive garden water fountains that take up hardly any space and are quick and easy to install.

Sometimes when we are designing a small garden for clients, there seems to be something missing even with the beautiful plants and shrubs, etc. Often, it’s the sound and relaxing sight of water movement that completes the picture.

The stacked stone urns we showcased are from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL).  As a certified Aquascape Inc. contractor, Deck and Patio has used their products in many of the ponds and water features we have designed/built across Long Island. As for their fountains, Aquascape offers a nice variety in various styles, sizes and prices.

 

fire-pitsFire Pits/Fire Tables

We brought along a couple of rectangular or “linear” fire pits which are very popular today. They go very well with an outdoor love seat or L-shaped couch.

As for fire pit accessories, remote controls allow the fire pit to be turned on and off like a light switch. “Even though there’s no danger in turning these particular fire pits on, people like the feeling of extra security,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

Another hot accessory for fire pits are glass guards that create the look of “dancing flames” within. The glass guards project flames, providing a reflection, so you get two or three reflections, in addition to the real flame for a more dynamic experience.

insert-5

 

“Even though there were lots of food vendors at this year’s Fall Festival in Huntington, the ability to roast marshmallows over our fire pits was once again a big hit,” adds Bill Renter, owner of Best Hot Tubs. “We’re all glad we were able to participate once again.”

 

Here’s a few second video of our both at Heckscher Park:

 

Garden Fountains:

Garden Fountains:

Sometimes a small-scale fountain like this stacked stone garden urn from Aquascape Inc. is all that’s needed to complete the perfect garden. The one we used for this project is the smallest (32″ tall) – a perfect scale for their garden.

 

 

Backyard Fire Pits: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

 

insert-1In days of yore, when family members had to travel to hunt for food, etc., candles in the windows and village campfires were welcoming signs that led them home. And it’s no different today. Home fires still beckon family and friends to gather round a warm blaze.

Of course, in this millennium we can get a bit more sophisticated with our home fires than our ancestors. Modern fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings.

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

crespi“The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio.

“Whatever home fire(s) you decide on, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

In the end, style, size and fuel remain very personal choices — as you will see from the variety of Deck and Patio fire feature projects we’re showcasing today.

HOWEVER! There is one thing all fire features have in common: s’mores frequently are involved. Frankly, if the warm glow of fire features aren’t sufficient to beckon friends and family, warm gooey marshmallows with melting chocolate definitely will.

So enjoy some of our Deck and Patio projects with fire features (below). And because we treasure our readers, we follow these with a s’mores recipe from no one other than Long Island’s own Ina Garten — the Hampton’s Barefoot Contessa. YUM!

 

 

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 for its handsome natural appeal.

 

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

 

An Invitation to S’mores:

An Invitation to S’mores:

Especially when the properties are small, Deck and Patio tends to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” In this case, such planning allowed the homeowners a nice spot for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

 

This leads us to the promised Ina Garten recipe for S’mores. Enjoy!

 

S'mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:
10 min
Prep:  5 min
Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving
Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients
1 marshmallow
2 Graham crackers
Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions
Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.
2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

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.

 

 

Water Features: Memorial Weekend Kicks Off Outdoor Entertaining Season

Deck and Patio’s design/build team is frequently asked what goes into creating a backyard that is ideal for entertaining, as well as outdoor fun.

Depending on what a budget permits and the size of the property, we usually recommend a water feature — be it a pool, pond, stream with waterfalls, or a simple portable hot tub — as a focal point of its surroundings.

“Any time a client wants a water feature in one of our projects, we know it will help make a home run,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “Water is the one of the essential elements of life, and people are naturally drawn to it — which is what you are looking for when entertaining. So after determining all the needs of the client, we ask ourselves — how can water be part of it all.”

 

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Pools  

Pools, of course, are the most popular water feature. According to Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, what makes one pool appear awesome over another is usually its surroundings. “Choosing the right harmonizing elements is what makes something breathtaking. It’s how you blend water with its hardscape and landscaped environment.”

Pools vary in shape and complexity and homeowners can also choose between a vinyl pool and gunite, freeform and geometric. When budgets and property sizes are tight, rather than a full-sized regular pool, a smaller “spool” can function as both a small pool and spa.

SHINThe placement of swimming pools and patios is very important. “If you don’t use a landscape designer, you may find that some pool builders simply plop the pool where it’s most convenient for them,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “We tend to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” That was the case for this award-winning pool (left), where we worked with True Blue Swimming Pools. The yard was small but they still got their pool — and enough lawn left for the kids to enjoy.

Surrounding Patio Areas   

Patio designed to harmonize with home architecture

“When it comes to ‘hardscape,’ we try to create truly functional spaces,” says Renter. “We often see a surrounding patio that is 10’ or 12’ feet wide all around the pool. Instead, we specialize in creating functional spaces of different sizes and shapes. We’ll ask if they have patio furniture and we measure it to ensure that there is ample room for that particular grouping, while allowing for easy circulation.”

Deck and Patio also looks to see how the sun comes across the yard. “The chaise lounging area should face the water feature and the afternoon sun. You and your guests wouldn’t want to sit by your pool and have the sun to your back.”

Dining Areas and Outdoor Kitchens  

We generally locate outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless it’s a destination pool. In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning. “But usually it’s key to be near to the home’s kitchen,” says Renter.

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Extra Tip: 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 so 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,” says Renter.

 

 

Outdoor Bars and Dining Areas

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. You can even add waterfalls. Shown here (above right) are sheet waterfalls, which offer a sleek modern look as well as a very pleasant sound. This helps people de-stress while inviting easy conversation.

 

 

 

Wild-Ride-slide

Wild-Ride-slide

Fun for Kids and Adults 

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. “When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” says Renter.

 

 

 

Tanning-Shelf

Tanning-Shelf

 

 

Other kid favorites: swim outs, deep end stairs and tanning shelves. We’ve found kids love to dive, swim out and dive or slide into the pool again, over and over. A tanning shelf or deep end stairs allow adults and other kids to watch them playing on the slide, etc. These are great places for young and old alike to gather.

 

Backyard Ponds

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Deck and Patio specializes in building ponds so clear and pristine you can swim in  them (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to; it’s also the perfect outdoor attraction for entertaining.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

 

The simplest pond to have is pondless. It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (left) than a pond basin each season and it is a safer environment when children are very young.

 

 

Hot Tubs Make Great Water Features

 

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

 

Keeping it Simple

 

 FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

Sometimes all you need is need is a fire pit and some comfortable furniture on a handsome deck. It would be easy to add a simple water fountain on such a deck so as to not miss out on its tranquil sounds. The deck shown here is Fiberon. Photo: Courtesy of Fiberon Decking.

 

 

 

 

Pool Upgrades: Trends, Tips, and Money-Saving Ideas

Deck and Patio loves doing exciting full-size projects, but many times clients simply want an upgrade to their existing yard. That’s understandable, because when it comes to the outdoors, the best way to add value to your home is to renovate what’s already there: a pool, patio, deck or barbecue area — and frequently, save money in the doing!

 

Upgrading In-ground pools

— pumps

Whether your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money. Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to 1/6th of what they currently are,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. They will cost about $1,000-$1,500, but pay back time will be three years or less.

 

change the coping, tile and color of your pool

“For gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes, and even all-tile pools. This can be done even if the old color isn’t worn. A change in tone or color can enliven a pool area or make an old pool look new.

 

 

Pebble Liner

Pebble Liner

Changing your vinyl pool’s liner can make a dramatic difference. “The choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool,” says Renter. “There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool. Naturally, changing the coping at the same time will complete the change.”

 

 

Pool Surrounds

Renovating around a pool is sometimes easier than upgrading the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio. Other ideas for renovating around a pool might be upgrading to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Patio sizes can be reduced and adding stepping stones can be cost effective way of creating a pathway around your pool. Boulders set in the landscape and used for retaining steps are yet another way to reduce the cost of retaining walls and adding beauty.

 

Pool Add-ons

Other pool area renovations have become popular recently because the total cost of the job is significantly reduced due to the existence of a pool: insulating walls, adding stairs, benches, swimouts, water features, slides, campfires, and spillover spas. Another popular upgrade is adding a waterfall. Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

 

 

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Some additions are more involved than others such as adding a tanning shelf. These shelves are a cool way to stay cool when you want to lay out in the sun, says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “The shelves are set in several inches of water and are wide enough for parents to sun bathe while young children play beside them.”

 

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

One way to upgrade around a pool is with a new patio or pool surround, seen here with new Techo-Bloc’s Inca interlocking pavers. Inspired by South American “beauty and mystery” these pavers go well in any style — from Mediterranean to contemporary.

 

Pool Ad-ons:

Pool Ad-ons:

Changing the vinyl liner to your pool is one way to make a dramatic change, as shown in this photo. “In addition natural gas campfires create romantic outdoor mood with the addition of one of these,” says Stockwell. “Adding a slide and/or multiple waterfalls to an existing pool is fun way to make an upgrade.”

 

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool (seen here beside an infinity pool). Add colorful and lush plantings and you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Pools With Spas:

Pools With Spas:

Didn’t include a spa when you had your pool built? These clients simply added a portable Bullfrog Spa, which we nestled into the slope — close to the existing pool. We also added a new stream/waterfall. When the clients are sitting in the new hot tub, it is so close to the stream, they can almost reach out and touch it.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

# 6

 

 

 

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:

 

# 7

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