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Adding Landscaping Options to Wedding Registries

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

 

 

As we approach peak wedding season on our side of “the pond,” we can’t help but be inspired by the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday.

Now few local New York newlyweds will enjoy a cottage nestled on grounds as glorious as those at Kensington Palace (London, England).

But they still want their own bit of Eden.

 

 

 

 

Peony Blooms Full of Majesty

Peony Blooms Are Full of Majesty

To achieve that, some engaged couples — who may be purchasing their first home — add landscaping gifts to their bridal registries: e.g., favorite young trees, saplings, shrubs, and plants.

One floral option is Ms. Markle’s favorite flower — the peony. It’s also a favorite of another American celebrity, Martha Stewart, who has a whole peony garden at her Bedford, NY, farm.

Peonies are available in shades that range from pure white (see our feature photo above) to a rich deep red. If you start them from bulbs, in the Northeast they bloom at the perfect time for weddings: early June.

But brides and grooms don’t have to be limited to individual plants and shrub options. At honeyfund.com, where couples crowd-source funding for various wedding expenses, there is a section dedicated to “Home Builder’ that specifies landscaping.

You can also set up a house registry at featherthenest.com and include landscaping costs. According to the site: “The nest gets your home improvement dreams funded, no matter how big or small.”

Below we suggest some large and small dream landscaping projects for newlyweds.

 

 

It All Begins with Curb Appeal

St. George's Chapel, Windsor, England

Royal Wedding at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, England

 

The Town of Windsor in England has just finished resurfacing all the area roads, walkways and pathways around St. George’s Chapel where the royal wedding will take place.

Of course, the right curb appeal is just as important to local newlyweds. Certainly costs for an attractive home entranceway could be part of any crowd-funding plans.

With that in mind, we are including below some Deck and Patio projects that may inspire ideas.

 

 

 

A fountain can make be a beautiful addition to an entranceway garden. If possible, position the water feature where Deck and Patio did here — close to a window. That way the gentle sounds can be enjoyed indoors as well as out. Plus you get to watch birds and butterflies stop by to take a drink.

A fountain can make be a beautiful addition to an entranceway garden. If possible, position the water feature where Deck and Patio did here — close to a window. That way the gentle sounds can be enjoyed indoors as well as out. Plus you get to watch birds and butterflies stop by to take a drink.

 

As newlyweds get used to all the various responsibilities of owning a home, it helps if at least the initial front walkway plants are tough as well as beautiful. The black-eyed Susan (coneflower) is a very hardy favorite of Deck and Patio clients and was certainly used to great curb appeal here.

As newlyweds get used to all the various responsibilities of owning a home, it helps if at least the initial front walkway plants are tough as well as beautiful. The black-eyed Susan (coneflower) is a very hardy favorite of Deck and Patio clients and was certainly used to great curb appeal here.

 

Not all newlyweds purchase new homes. They may be attracted to stately older homes that already have full-grown plants and shrubs. Perhaps these couples might add the costs of landscaping services in order to care for their already existing flora.

Not all newlyweds purchase new homes. They may be attracted to stately older homes that already have full-grown plants and shrubs. Perhaps these couples might add the costs of landscaping services in order to care for their already existing flora.

 

In addition to plants and shrubs, handsome and decorative hardscape can be included in crowd-sourcing wedding registries.

In addition to plants and shrubs, handsome and decorative hardscape can be included in crowd-sourcing wedding registries.

 

Backyard Gardens of Eden

Woodland Themed Weddings

Woodland Themed Weddings

Some reporting has said that Harry and Megan’s wedding breakfast will be decorated with lots of greenery (silver birch, royal fern, and royal oak.)

Such passion for the outdoors has inspired full blown rustic-chic woodland wedding receptions in recent years. Costs of which can be included in crowd-funding registries.

This passion naturally carries through to a strong desire for lush landscaping around the homes of newlyweds.

Note: Those who have, or are expecting to have children soon, might want to consider plantings that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds, etc.

At the same time, it’s key to exclude any flora that could be poisonous to young children (or pets), and avoid ones with thorny stems or leaves.

That said, there are a myriad of landscaping ideas that will bring natural beauty to a home’s landscape that goes far beyond just the entranceway.

 

 

 

Here Deck and Patio created a double pond separated by large moss rock boulders with creeping ground cover and aquatic-friendly ornamental grasses. River rock, and a new patio walkway curve around the lower pond adorned with colorful plantings. Mature trees around the property’s periphery were kept, adding to the natural wonderland feel of this backyard.

Here Deck and Patio created a double pond separated by large moss rock boulders with creeping ground cover and aquatic-friendly ornamental grasses. River rock, and a new patio walkway curve around the lower pond adorned with colorful plantings. Mature trees around the property’s periphery were kept, adding to the natural wonderland feel of this backyard.

 

Not all waterfall projects need to be on a grand scale. Even modest projects such as this is an opportunity for natural color, textures, and pleasant sounds. Waterfalls splashing in a pond aerates it, keeping it healthy and mosquito-free. Add some boulders and bright lush plantings and you have a little bit of paradise.

Not all waterfall projects need to be on a grand scale. Even modest projects such as this is an opportunity for natural color, textures, and pleasant sounds. Waterfalls splashing in a pond aerates it, keeping it healthy and mosquito-free. Add some boulders and bright lush plantings and you have a little bit of paradise.

 

We spied this picture-perfect landscaped yard on Hometalk.com some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners. We thought it a perfect way to end our blog with:

We spied this picture-perfect landscaped yard on Hometalk.com some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners.

 

 

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias

Tip:

If your wedding isn’t as important to your town as Harry and Meghan’s is to Windsor, England, we suggest you don’t resort to Tom Skerritt’s method of scaring away birds in Steel Magnolias.

Rather crowd-fund for some landscaping help.

 

 

 

2018 Landscaping Trends: ‘Forest Bathing’ on Long Island, NY

Those in the know, like HGTV, have spotted a Japanese-inspired landscaping trend that’s expected to remain hot in the U.S. throughout 2018 and beyond.

It’s called: forest bathing.

No, it doesn’t require a bathing suit. Or wild evening romps in the moonlight.

 

Forest bathing

Forest bathing

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

This uplifting experience might also include spiritual moments of divine worship. But the essential key is to just give one’s technology-driven life a break. And no place offers a better space for that than a quiet woodland area.

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

At Deck and Patio we were delighted to learn of this “trend.” But our Huntington Station, NY-based firm — in collaboration with many of our nature-loving clients — has been designing such restful woodland backyard escapes all across Long Island for many years.

There are two ways we accomplish this.

 

  1. If a property already has beautiful woodlands, our goal is, first, to safeguard as much of this precious space as possible when creating nature walks and any other outdoor living areas.

    Plus, we often add man-made environmentally-friendly water features and plantings to make the wooded areas feel complete. The goal is always to enhance the experience of the parklands without doing harm to the surroundings.

  1. A second option — which can be more expensive — is to import new trees, shrubs and flowers to create an entirely new wilderness area where one does not exist.

 

Here’s a few examples of Deck and Patio-landscaped ‘forest bathing’ areas we created for a few of our Long Island, NY clients.

 

Forest Bathing on Long Island, NY:

Forest Bathing on Long Island, NY:

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

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

 

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

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

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

In this case, Deck and Patio added a bridge, water feature, imported boulders and rocks and landscaped it with robust plantings. It feels like you are in upstate New York, in the mountains. Yet, it’s right in our clients’ backyard.

 

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

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

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

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

 

Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

Long Island/NY Backyard Nature Walk:

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

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

Here’s two quotes to leave you with today:

 

“Wilderness is a necessity”     — John Muir, environmental philosopher

“Look deep into nature, and then you will

understand everything better.”     — Albert Einstein

 

Happy forest bathing!

 

Stepping Stones Turn Footpaths into Contemplation Spaces

Stepping stones are most often used as a way of letting some “softscape” such as grass shine through while still providing some “hardscape” in heavily traffic areas.

But is that all that stepping stones do? “We think not,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “While they are very serviceable, they can also contribute to the serenity of a space. They can be a key element of creating ‘contemplation’ spaces.”

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Stones and Ponds

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

The Many Uses of Concrete Paving Stones

Paving stones are extremely flexible and adaptable to a large variety of jobs. Be it a simple stepping stone path, expansive driveway, patio, or spa and pool surround, Deck and Patio often recommends concrete pavers as a cost-effective choice.

3 Main Types of Pavers

There are basically three types of pavers: “interlocking,“ “slab,” and “permeable.” These three can frequently be used interchangeably, except when it comes to (1) driveways, where the durability of interlocking pavers is essential, and (2) where water runoff may be a problem and permeable pavers would be a much better choice.

What makes them so versatile is pavers come in many designs, shapes, and colors and are durable against weather, and traffic, so that they can virtually be used anywhere in a variety of ways.

“Plus they are wonderfully suited to the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast where we work,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “One caveat, however. Finished projects made of interlocking concrete pavers will not look quite as random in shade and shape as natural stone. Paving kits installed by experienced professionals, however, can be laid in attractive random designs even if they will have more similarities than natural stone would.”

 

The following Deck and Patio’s projects highlight these different paving stones.

 

We believe that using pavers will not only provide a beautiful pool deck, but they offer a safer surface that prevents slipping.* Here, we created five different patio levels around this pool using only interlocking concrete pavers and stepping stones (slabs).

Five feet above the main pool, where the backyard retreat renovation features cascading water into a new spa, even there we surrounded the spa with a patio made from concrete pavers.

In addition, we find that pavers maintain a cooler walking area and can handle moisture better than poured concrete surfaces. And because the pavers we recommend are stronger than regular concrete, they are extremely durable for frequent entertaining (high traffic areas).

 

In this design and build project we added a swim up bar in the main pool that features granite countertops, as well as in-pool bar stools, swim out steps, a slide, and pergola.

The durable and resilient interlocking concrete pavers we chose create a handsome pool surround that stands up to lots of foot traffic. The manufacturer in this case produces kits that ensure an attractive random pattern in lieu of straight lines and flat images, or in a running block pattern. The finished look is natural — a good accomplishment for such an expansive area.

 

 

 

 

Here we recommended to our clients they use one manufacturer’s “Rocka” (slab) steps, along with moss rock boulders and creeping plant material.

This combination handsomely stabilized a hill area without the need of a retaining wall.

The “Rocka” steps have a wide-walking slip-resistant surface* — key to any project that is part of a water feature.

 

 

 

We used interlocking concrete pavers for this pool and spa surround as well. The pavers offer an attractive alternative to asphalt and poured concrete.

These pavers are extremely durable and beautiful and won’t show signs of color loss or fading over time and have blemish-free surfaces.

We used Cambridge Ledgestone pavers (“Toffee Onyx” color, in random pattern) to create the natural rustic appearance seen here.

 

 

 

If you ever pass by Huntington Train Station (Long Island/NY) you will see a great example of the use of permeable pavers. Here Deck and Patio worked in cooperation with the Town of Huntington to beautify the landscape around the train station — all while capturing rainwater for irrigation.

In fact, where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, the landscaped water feature and permeable pavers we added allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

Note: Of course, permeable pavers are very useful in private areas such as patios and driveways — wherever controlling or collecting water runoff is a key consideration.

 

If comparing the many different landscaping materials available seems daunting —  indeed, viewing online photos can distort color and texture — Deck and Patio has addressed this by creating an outdoor display at our design center, so visitors can see many of the available materials close-up.

When visiting our outdoor display, those interested can walk-on them, and even touch various patio materials to get a proper sense of how a finished hardscape will look in natural light. Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it concrete pavers, permeable pavers, bluestone, brick, Travertine, etc.

 

*Note: Some pavers claim to surpass the slip resistance standards established by the American Disabilities Act. However, these manufacturers also say that some sealers on the market can decrease the friction coefficient of pavers under wet conditions. Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert therefore recommends speaking with a professional when considering sealing pavers where non-slip resistance is desired.

 

By |2017-07-20T11:35:09+00:00July 20th, 2017|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Driveways, paving stones, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Surrounds, Steps, Swim Up Bars|Comments Off on The Many Uses of Concrete Paving Stones

The Top Elements of an Amazing Outdoor Space

 

 

Even though we got hit with a snow storm only two days ago, we know that last week’s 60 degree-weather will soon be a daily experience. So it’s a great time to plan for outdoor living weather.

As you plan, consider the top elements of an amazing outdoor space we designed/built in Manhasset, NY, a while ago. The project not only thrilled the homeowners, but won Deck and Patio a prestigious design award as well (ahem).

Back Story

The clients had a lovely home. It boasted a lush wooded property, which they did not want to completely sacrifice in any upgrade. Plus, their sloping backyard was small for all the outdoor living amenities they hoped for.

Landscaping Plan

“We are used to dealing with sloping properties. Not to mention smaller lots,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “This is Long Island, after all. However, the point isn’t to simply squeeze everything in. But creatively blend the various elements together so that the softscapes and hardscapes are harmonious, with neither overpowering the other.”

In the case of their new swimming pool, opting for a free-form design allowed for a full-sized pool, despite the yard’s available space. And it was accomplished without sacrificing a surround-patio large enough for entertaining.

“By designing the patio in multi-levels, and taking advantage of the various property slopes, we made the space seem larger,” says Dave. “We also designed the patio in a free-form shape; it not only echoes the style of the pool, but the way it meanders along the landscape gives it a more natural look.”

For patio materials, concrete pavers were decided on. “While other landscapers might have gone along with using natural stone, we encouraged them to choose concrete pavers,” adds Dave. “And while there would be occasions where we would recommend bluestone ourselves, natural stone gets very hot in the sun, which wouldn’t be ideal around the pool and spa.”

The custom raised spill-over spa was built above the pool with its own private patio. “We were able to keep much of the existing trees and bushes around it, offering a natural shady area as an option to sun bathing on the lower pool patio.”

Stepping out of the home’s backdoor, a handsome deck expands outward to the top of one of the backyard’s slopes. Stepping stones lead from there to a set of concrete steps. To the right and left of the bottom step is a stacked stone wall that supports the plantings and lawn; it also provides an extended seating area when the clients are entertaining.

“One very special element was choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which gave us lots of flexibility in design,” adds Dave. “We frequently work in gunite when clients want it, but vinyl pools are created through advanced computerization — allowing us to fit a full-sized pool within the constraints of most any property. The liner goes over a base construction that is made the same way as any other pool, so the structure is sound.”

Dave says that vinyl liners also hold up particularly well in the thaw-freeze climate of the northeast.

“We think the homeowners made great choices for this project. Apparently, the Northeast Spa and Pool Association [NESPA] agreed. They lauded the project with a special merit award.”

 

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Top project elements not mentioned above are low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting. Including such well-designed lighting means the exquisite backyard retreat you planned can be appreciated at night as well as during the day. Nighttime swims, for example, will be particularly glorious. In fact, the Manhasset, NY, outdoor lighting elements added a “Wow” factor that are as romantic as they are practical.

 

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

The concrete pavers are a key element in the overall design of this award-winning project. Their hues coordinate nicely with the home and do not retain heat like natural stone would.

 

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

When entertaining, the project’s stacked stone wall provides ample space for people to sit. It is also an attractive way to support the rising grade. By designing the patio free-form like the pool, it allowed for charming recessed areas to enjoy quiet contemplation or intimate conversations.

 

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

The free-form patio meanders along the pool and lawn area in a natural looking way. The pavers were installed on crushed stone — the same way as traditional pavers; polymer sand joints were included to prevent weeds from popping up in between.

 

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

In future, when the time comes to replace the liner in a vinyl pool, this turns out to be a great wallet-friendly-opportunity to give your pool a facelift and a brand new look. Note: vinyl pools have steel reinforced concrete walls underneath that are thicker and stronger than typical unite pools. So, they’re much more than just comfy on your feet.

 

 

Nature Lovers Find Backyard Escapes An Elixir

Don’t you love all the beautiful landscaping photos available on social media? Certainly, Deck and Patio’s team does. We even post a lot of our own. But while it’s an incredible uplift to catch glimpses of serene images of nature during the workday, photos, alas, can’t substitute for the real thing.

 

Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

 

Nature as Elixir

Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Without question, early Native Americans did just that. Chief Ahanton, of one of New Hampshire’s Eastern Woodlands tribes, for example, named the state’s majestic great Lake: Winnipesaukee, — or the smile of the Great Spirit.

And it’s no different today. Pure flowing water — and all that it nourishes — is still considered by many to be sacred. Such scenes touch something deep within, causing us to pause, rest our minds, and rejuvenate.

 

 

INSERT 2 Travel Not Required

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats like Lake Winnipesaukee, the Adirondacks, or the White Mountains, etc., how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our local communities.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? This is because local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be transformed into glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

 

 

Backyard Escape:

Backyard Escape: For this project, Deck and Patio carefully selected boulders and stones, along with bright plantings, to help create a beautiful vista. And as Chief Ahanton would no doubt agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining to a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. For this project we built multi-level patios and carefully delineated how each space was to be used. One area was set up for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also mapped out.

 

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds, to swim upstream into the upper pond. (*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a beautiful wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

Vinyl-Lined Pools Allow Flexibility in Pool Design

Although Deck and Patio builds concrete (gunite) pools, many of our clients prefer the feel of vinyl and especially the flexibility that vinyl offers in designing a pool.

“Sometimes stringent local setback codes affect pool design, other times the backyard space is small or the terrain challenging. Whatever the difficulties, with today’s advanced computerization of liner fabrications used in vinyl-lined pools, we can construct a swimming pool in any shape, curve, or angle, so there’s freedom in giving clients exactly what they want,” says Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter.

With such flexibility in pool design, homeowners are also not stuck with what some believe to be unattractive white interior stairs. “The liner is fabricated to include the stairs and any other in-pool amenities. This is helpful because white stairs do not blend with the rest of the pool,” says Renter, “and, of course, there’s no sacrificing a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.”

Of course, the base construction of a vinyl pool is much the same as any other. Vinyl simply refers to the method used to line a pool’s interior. These liners come in a large variety of colors, which can react with the water to create a romantic “grotto” or “lagoon’ effect, so popular today. Plus, the concrete walls of vinyl-lined pools have a lifetime guarantee.

“Often known for being the lowest-cost option, vinyl pools and spas are easily customizable,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In addition, replacement cost for the outer liner is modest compared to other pool fixes. Because of this, we can offer a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look down the road. Plus, in the Northeast, vinyl-lined pools perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate.”

The first project we’re highlighting today (see first photo below) is unique with an interesting twist on the typical vinyl liner. It’s a swimming pool that looks like a pond – i.e., made entirely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel – but filtered and treated chemically like a normal pool. Its liner isn’t “vinyl.” Instead, because of the very unique pool design the clients wanted, the best choice was a rubber pond liner. It’s as comfortable as vinyl and was a necessary choice for the job.

 

Adirondack-style Pool:

Adirondack-style Pool:

Despite looking like it’s a natural pond set within rocks, on the bottom of the pool there are no boulders. We installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pool water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool and is comfortable to swim in. We used a blend of pool and pond materials — a black liner, which reacts with the water to create a stunning pond-like appearance (a 45-mil EPDM pond liner) and Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls. Plus, the serenity of it all gives no hint of the high-tech energy efficient components supporting it. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to the backyard retreat.

 

 

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

This entire Manhasset, NY project included a free-form, vinyl-lined pool that meanders along the landscape, along with a spillover spa. We tucked it into the back right corner of the clients’ backyard and surrounded it with a stacked stone wall and lush plantings. If you have a small yard — as was the case here — Deck and Patio frequently recommends designing different patio levels which help make the yard appear bigger.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, portable spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio. The movement in the pool’s free-form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture – with a view on how it will grow – ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely oasis for a long time to come.

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

These clients wanted a good deal more than an outdoor pool and patio; they wanted a wide range of resort-style amenities to enhance their already existing majestic views of Long Island Sound. One such amenity was a vinyl-lined vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool that brings the view of the shoreline right up to their backyard patio. In addition, we included a spectacular custom spa, also perfectly positioned to enjoy the “vanishing edge” views. (Sunset photo of this project follows.)

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

This resort-style outdoor living oasis includes vanishing (vinyl lined) pool, custom spa, tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning. A swim-up U-shaped bar also serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

 

 

Steep Terrain: Creating a Backyard Escape that “Wows!”

The owner of True Blue Swimming Pools, Michael Truehart, was contracted to do the pool for this project. Much of the small backyard was sloping terrain, and the clients expected, as part of a new “natural-looking oasis that wows,’ that True Blue would build the pool on their only available flat piece of land.

“But Michael felt it was a pity to use up the flat piece of lawn where their children loved to play,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “He suggested, instead, that the seemingly unusable elevated terrain be sculpted into the backyard retreat they wanted.”

This project would require a lot of creative landscaping, and Truehart recommended Deck and Patio be brought in help with the project.

“Manipulating grades — that is working within different levels— is one of the things we do very well,” says Bill Renter, who took the lead for Deck and Patio. “Such gradations can be not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive. We are also expert at creating natural retaining walls, which was key for this project.”

Bill adds that when he works within tight spaces, he makes sure the chaise lounge, dining and patio areas are all large enough for furniture, and have room enough to walk around. He also tries not to over-build or paver the whole space.

However, it wasn’t just elevation changes that presented problems.

“In order to fit a full-sized 24’ x 40’ pool, we also had to deal with stringent Town setback codes,” says Michael Truehart. “One way we addressed these problems was designing the pool on one side with an exposed wall. Boulder coping on the opposite side was expanded by Deck and Patio into a beautiful waterfall feature that also does double-duty as a natural retaining wall.”

The finished vinyl-lined pool has a concrete wall; extra rebar was added to the exposed pool wall for strength, and the concrete footing was sunk well below the frost line to prevent heaving and shifting. In addition to the waterfall area, throughout the retreat, smaller groups of boulders fitted with plantings act as natural and attractive retaining areas.

“Along with the finish work on the pool, including the Cambridge ledgestone veneer on the exposed wall, we also designed/built the Cambridge XL paver patio,” says Renter. “Our work, combined with True Blue’s beautiful pool, gave the clients what they wanted: a full oasis that “wows” — with a little unexpected space left over for their children to play.”

 

Note: This project won an international Gold medal from APSP (Association of Pools and Spas Professionals) Bronze medal from LIPSA (Long Island Pool and Spa Association)

 

Backyard Oasis:

Backyard Oasis:

This project’s pool and pool-side amenities include a Wild Ride slide, granite swim-up bar with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stools, diving rock, Tiki (Hula) patio umbrellas, outdoor shower, and lush plantings.

 

Lagoon-style Swimming Pools:

Lagoon-style Swimming Pools:

Along with designing a freeform shape, True Blue Swimming Pools chose a Loop-Loc “Sea Blue” vinyl liner to give the pool an enticing South Seas’ lagoon appeal. Fullnose coping also offers a harmonizing curved form.

 

Pool With Exposed Wall:

Pool With Exposed Wall:

“One way we addressed the problems in using sloping terrain was designing the pool on one side with an exposed wall, which Deck and Patio veneered in Cambridge ledgestone,” says Michael Truehart of True Blue Pools.

 

Elevated Backyard Terrain:

Elevated Backyard Terrain:

The pool’s vertical Cambridge ledgestone veneer adds drama to the lower patio area. Natural boulder steps (left) lead up to the pool surround’s main lounging area. Restful waterfalls running over moss rock (on the Wild Ride slide part of the pool) are not just beautiful to look at, they do double-duty as a retaining wall.

 

Pool Amenities:

Pool Amenities:

An impressive granite swim-up bar — with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stools shaded by Tiki (Hula) patio umbrella — contribute to the “wow factor” the clients were looking for.

 

 

Geometric Swimming Pools: The Shapes of Things to Come

In recent years there has been a growing re-appreciation of swimming pools in a geometric design (straight lines, triangles, circles, or similar regular shapes) and this trend is predicted to continue well beyond 2016.

The reasons for the renewed appreciation could be that “geometrically” shaped pools are sleeker and more contemporary than freeform pools. They also are more traditional and, therefore, suggest permanency — a comforting image in times of rapid change.

Perhaps an even bigger factor is that today’s pool builders can incorporate deluxe features in any pool design, e.g., baja or tanning shelves, waterfalls, beach or sloping entries, swim out steps, in-water ledges and spas, providing extra interest to plain geometric shapes.

In the first two photos below, Deck and Patio’s Marc Wiener worked with Michael Truehart of True Blue Swimming Pools to create a sleek and elegant modern geometric design. Indeed, the completed pool won a Gold medal from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals’ (APSP) International Awards of Excellence Program.

However, despite geometric design’s simplicity, these pools are not simple to build.

“With freeform pools, there really is no right or wrong,” says Truehart. “But with parallel and perpendicular angles, geometric designs have to be exact. Plus, vinyl liners, which are so popular today, these are measured and cut by computer and require that everything be on the money.”

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Deck and Patio’s Marc Wiener’s chose sandy-hued Techo-Bloc pavers to harmonize with the ‘Sand Pebble’ vinyl pool liner by Loop-Loc installed by True Blue Swimming Pools. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

This same salt-water pool includes a generous amount of interesting corners and notch-outs, a “cuddle cove” in between two sheer descent waterfalls, and clean-lined pool steps at each end (swim-outs at the deep end). (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

 

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

True Blue Swimming Pools also built this lovely geometric pool in a Roman Ell shape with a long shallow and full deep end. It is also a vinyl pool with a liner by Loop-Loc; Also note the Wild Ride water slide by Interfab. The pool boasts a Cambridge Ledgestone XL paver surround/patio and sheer descent waterfalls. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

 

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Deck and Patio’s design for this sleek vinyl pool included an in-pool seating ledge and swim-out steps. Vinyl refers to the method used to line the pool’s interior. Its base construction, however, is the same as any other. The pool surround/patio was created in a warm chestnut-hued random pattern using Cambridge pavers.

 

 

In-pool Hot Tubs:

In-pool Hot Tubs:

Another trend in pool design is to make the spa or hot tub disappear within the pool. For these Deck and Patio clients, such an option wasn’t just for beauty. With young children, for safety reasons they wanted an automatic cover that would overlay both bodies of water; special automation also allows them to isolate the spa and heat only the spa water.

 

 

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

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

 

 

 

Infinity Pool Project in Cove Neck, Long Island (NY)

Swimming at the edge of your world

 

Some say the first infinity pool was built at France’s Palace of Versailles, where from, say, one of the palace’s gardens, the eye is enticed across an expansive “infinite” pool of water up to the panoramic King’s palace.

Now perhaps it’s a breathtaking sunset that you want to draw the eye to on your property, or a gorgeous flower garden, or scenic bay. Indeed, in today’s project showcase, it was their property’s spectacular views of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore that drew these Deck and Patio clients to such a pool.

Infinity Pools

Man-made infinity (aka vanishing edge) pools expand the serenity of a backyard pool by drawing the eye to some other exquisite scene, thereby substantially increasing the restful beauty of any backyard retreat.  However, the finished results belie their underpinnings. These pools — no matter which focal point you are drawing the eye to — require experts to design and install it.

“Vanishing edge pools are an optical illusion that suggest the water is vanishing out of the back edge of the pool,” says our outdoor living expert, Bill Renter. “Nothing is, of course, vanishing in a vanishing edge pool. The water is actually clinging to a recess in the pool wall which then drops into a catch pool below. And while this sounds simple enough, it requires a good deal of mastery to design it correctly. An undersized catch pool can almost never be corrected.”

Bill explains that if the catch pool or basin isn’t large enough there won’t be enough water returning to the main pool and can cause serious problems. Insufficient water may also be a real disappointment, since many like the idea of an infinity pool precisely because the water they swim in will never be stagnant, but will be continually recycled through the pool.

The key, then, is to make sure you deal with experts. And what you get for your effort, is — dare we say it — fit for a king.

 

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Additional note on catch basins: If the catch pool or basin isn’t large enough there won’t be enough water returning to the main pool and the catch pool will run dry. That can trigger huge water bills because it would have to be constantly refilled to compensate for not having enough room to store water. In addition,  during rain falls, the basin could be overwhelmed, leading to it overflowing, or eroding or liquefying the soil behind it.

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Infinity Pool (Cove Neck/NY): Depending on where you are in this vanishing edge pool will determine which extraordinary vista your eyes are drawn to.

Infinity Pool (Cove Neck/NY): Depending on where you are in this vanishing edge pool will determine which extraordinary vista your eyes are drawn to.

 

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool.

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool.

 

Infinity Pool Catch Basin (Cove Neck/NY): One reason people love infinity pools is that the water is never stagnant but flows into a catch pool and is recycled.

Infinity Pool Catch Basin (Cove Neck/NY): One reason people love infinity pools is that the water is never stagnant but flows into a catch pool and is recycled.

 

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In addition to the recycled pool water, for this project, a custom “spillover” spa offers healthy aeration to the pool water.

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In addition to the recycled pool water, for this project, a custom “spillover” spa offers healthy aeration to the pool water.

 

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Everywhere you look in this completed backyard project there is a lovely scene worth pausing for.

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Everywhere you look in this completed backyard project there is a lovely scene worth pausing for.

 

Infinity Pool and Spa (Cove Neck/NY): It’s wonderful when you can’t decide which is the best seat in the ‘house’ — the pool or the spa!

Infinity Pool and Spa (Cove Neck/NY):: It’s wonderful when you can’t decide which is the best seat in the ‘house’ — the pool or the spa!

 

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): You don’t have to be a descendant of Louis IV to swim in royal waters.

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): You don’t have to be a descendant of Louis IV to swim in royal waters.