Changing a Liner Pool to Gunite Is Perfect Time for Backyard Haven

Changing a liner pool to a gunite, (or a gunite to vinyl) is a bit of a job. Since there’s some tearing up going on anyway, this is a great opportunity to create the haven you’ve been desiring.

That is exactly what evolved when these Oyster Bay Cove, NY, clients approached Deck and Patio a while back.

The family wanted a change from their existing vinyl-lined pool to a gunite. But during our consultation, it became clear they wanted more than a change in pool materials. They were also unhappy with the pool’s shape/design which didn’t fit well with the architecture of their house. And despite the steep grade that limited construction in their backyard, they really wanted an overall larger pool.

To expand the size of the pool we knew we would have to extend it extremely close to the property’s sharp hillside. “This would require shoring up the slope with boulders, creating various small retaining walls to hold back the grade,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The trick was to bring in machinery and place the boulders in place before we dug the pool and area out.”

Our design team also helped create a more unified look with their contemporary home by designing the upgraded pool in a geometric pattern. “We also tracked down the same brick used on their home’s exterior,” adds Dave. 

In addition, to give the clients the natural look they wanted, we surrounded the pool with beautiful bluestone. “The shape of these stones also mimic the overall geometric design we were going for.”

Other design elements: 

— steps at the base of the retaining wall lead to a peaceful woodland path — at the end of which we hid all the pool equipment, 

— sheer descent waterfalls along the inside of the pool add extra contemporary elegance,  

—and landscape lighting created a beautiful romantic scene at night.

When the whole transformation was complete, not only was the family ecstatic, but their pet turtles seemed to love the transformation as well. With more room to swim in, they took to the new pool like, well, turtles. 

On visiting the project after its completion, the lady of the house let us put an underwater camera on one of them — and the turtles filmed what it’s like inside the pool as he swam. The pool transformation became a haven for them as well.

Here’s that precious video:


Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Deck and Patio remodeled an existing vinyl pool into a larger, geometric gunite, with elegant sheet falling waterfalls. The new design handsomely complements the home’s architecture.  


Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps faced with the same brick as used around the pool’s retaining wall, lead to a peaceful woodland path where the pool equipment has been hidden out of sight.


Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

The pavers of the previous patio/pool surround had not been compacted properly and were separating. The family also wanted a more natural product. Bluestone was chosen and its hues blended nicely with that of the brick-faced retaining walls; in addition, the rectangular shapes of the stones echo the shape of the pool and house windows.


Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY): 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):


Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

It’s hard to decide which time of day presents the most beautiful picture; but nighttime has to be near the top!  



The Sweet Promise of a Backyard Oasis: Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is a popular location for celebrating Valentine’s Day. It truly is where the heart is…the center of our strongest affections. And while February 14th is usually not a great day for outdoor celebrations, it’s a great time to consider how we’ll spend the outdoor living season with our loved ones.

Making plans to upgrade one’s property, perhaps including an outdoor oasis, isn’t limited to those who have an ideal backyard terrain. Consider what was accomplished for these Dix Hills’ homeowners. Instead of giving up on their dreams, Deck and Patio showed them how we could take advantage of their property’s steep slope.


The homeowners wanted a pool, but with the sloping topography they knew any pool would have to be located a distance from the house.

Stream/Waterfalls Enhance Walkway

Stream/Waterfalls Enhance Walkway

In looking over the property, our team realized that the way to deal with this was to make the to-and-fro — going from the upper patio down to the pool — part of the overall ‘oasis’ experience.

So, in  addition to the pool and pool upper patio areas, we added a beautiful stream with multiple waterfalls, lush plantings, plus a series of stairs and landing areas, to make the waling an experience in itself.

Of course, once the idea of water features was decided on, the homeowners felt it would be a real loss if such a delightful feature couldn’t also be enjoyed up the hill, from the patio near the house. Would they have to be down at the pool to enjoy it all?

Deck and Patio’s solution was to add an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, they could see a waterfall, as well as the beginning of the stream from there. And just beyond that vantage point, the stream would take an abrupt U-turn, and flow down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond. 

The Destination Pool 

In order to make such a destination pool practical, the overall design plans included an outdoor kitchen, bathroom, living room area, and changing rooms etc.  

We added beautiful creeping ground cover and natural boulders. By installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, Mother Nature’s own gravity coaxes water naturally over rock etc. into a pond near the shallow end of the pool.

At the deep end, a raised patio area holds a natural stone diving rock. Near it, another tiered part of the patio gives way to a pool-waterfall that flows over natural stone boulders and green ground cover. 

The result is a Valentine to whole the family. Home truly is where the heart is.


Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

The walk from the house down to the pool is as much a part of the overall backyard oasis as the pool. Beautiful plantings flank on either side of the walk. An additional natural looking waterfall, falling over the edge of the swimming pool, draws the eye forward as you stroll. Also note how comfortably large the pool surround is for family time spent by the pool, as well as for entertaining.


Backyard Water Features:

Backyard Water Features:

Our vision was to take advantage of the steep property grade to create a beautiful slope with five cascading waterfalls, moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals.


Paver Steps Make Perfect Pathway

Paver Steps Make Perfect Pathway

Deck and Patio created a series of stairs and landings to captivate family and friends on their journey down to the new lower pool area. Rich plantings and river rock plus moss boulders line the path.


Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

We ended up creating an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, the family could see a waterfall and the beginning of the stream; slightly beyond that vantage point, the stream takes an abrupt U-turn, and flows down through five separate cascades before ending in the lower area pond.


Outdoor Living Design: Let’s Rock This Place!

Rocks are a natural part of nature. And in landscaping, when boulders and stones are chosen well and positioned perfectly around your home’s landscape, a man-made waterfall or stream can appear as if it’s flowing from a natural stream carved out by Mother Nature herself.

Elsewhere on your property, a single, perfectly-sized, durable rock can become a pool’s diving board that feels like you’re jumping off a small cliff into a Caribbean lagoon. The right choice in patio pavers also add to an outdoor living elegant design.



Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Set against lush plantings and a beautiful man-made waterfall, this diving rock and the sandy-hued paving stone patio feel like they’ve come about organically.

On a smaller scale, a group of flat, well-placed stepping stones (e.g. bluestone) can turn a functional lawn-protecting pathway into a peaceful stroll well worth the taking.


Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

How’s this for a example of the serenity that comes from simply adding bluestone stepping stones in a landscaped area. For this project, the stones make a special walking area for the homeowners as they move around their larger backyard retreat.


Moss Rocks

To create truly natural-looking water features, it is key to know how rocks affect water flow as it occurs in nature. We are happy to say that over the years, Deck and Patio has received a multitude of awards for doing just that — choosing the perfect rocks for water features, and then artfully installing them to great effect.

“Deck and Patio finds that moss rocks, or sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says our own Dave Stockwell.


Backyard Stream with Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.


Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams (Long Island/NY):

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams (Long Island/NY):

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.


Upgrading Your Existing Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Upgrading Your Existing Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Where once stood an outdated waterfall, now stands a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water, and of course the perfect stones and boulders, including smaller and beautiful river rocks. 


Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

“Just about any backyard space has room to ‘rock’ the space. Here is another nice example of where we designed and built a dramatic man-made waterfall that appears as if it had been created by Mother Nature herself.


Using Rocks for Outdoor Living Design (Long Island/NY):

Using Rocks for Outdoor Living Design (Long Island/NY):

Just look at how many ways rocks were used in this Deck and Patio project to create a beautiful backyard landscape…a natural looking retaining wall, attractive pool paver surround, natural looking waterfalls, campfires, stone steps up the grade. We are proud to say that it’s a Deck and Patio award-winning design that truly rocks!


Emerging Landscaping Trends for 2019 (Part II)

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

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

Curb Appeal

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


Landscaping Outdoor Entryways

Landscaping Outdoor Entryways

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

Party Spots

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


Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor Entertaining

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

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

Fountains and Flowers

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

Garden Fountains

Garden Fountains

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

Garden Rooms that Bloom

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

Beautiful Garden Rooms

Beautiful Garden Rooms

For these clients, the “garden” serves several purposes. Planted directly into the slope, supported by massive rock steps, it becomes part of a lovely “natural” retaining wall. 

The upper patio area is surrounded by lush greenery, bright plantings and a tranquil waterfall. Whether one escapes here to read a book, meditate, or just relax and listen to the sounds of flowing water and chirping birds, there’s a reason garden rooms are a popular landscaping trend.

Inviting Landscaping

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

Landscape Havens

Landscape Havens

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



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, 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 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 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 some time ago. It was posted there by Redfin as inspiration to homeowners.



Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias


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 |2017-07-20T11:35:09-05:00July 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.