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Green Spaces Positively Influence the Mental Development of Children

Many parents hope their child will get into a good college. That motive is frequently behind where parents choose to buy a home. They want the best possible school district for their kids.

Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY

Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY

But as study after study shows, parents might want to also look at how green the district is — or how green their own residential neighborhood will be. For one recently published study suggests that growing up among green surroundings can improve a child’s IQ. 

This study covered in The Guardian earlier this week analyzed what happens to a child’s IQ when the green space is increased. The average IQ score of children in the study went up by 2.6 points in both richer and poor neighborhoods. 

Analyst believe that perhaps this cognitive development came about because green areas lower stress levels, encourage play, and that a quieter environment is conducive to increased social contact.

Other studies, like a Danish one published last year proved, for example, that living near a park or forest may aid a child’s mental health later in life — giving children a 55% lower risk of developing a mental disorder. 

In addition to choosing a town or area with lots of green public spaces, one’s private residential property can be landscaped to ensure sufficient green space for your children. 

“We love being in the business of creating such harmonious landscapes. Of course, not all properties make it easy to design such a space,” says our owner Dave Stockwell. “Sometimes the property’s grades or its size make it a challenge. One of the things we do well at Deck and Patio is manipulate grades within the different levels so the family can get the maximum enjoyment.”

Landscaping for Children (Long Island/NY):

Landscaping for Children (Long Island/NY):

This is a good example (left) of just such careful manipulation.

Deck and Patio worked with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) to design and build a lagoon-style pool on this property which included a swim-up bar, yet we still managed to leave some lawn space where their children could play.

“The homeowners had previously spoken with other pool and landscape companies, who all wanted to put the pool where the lawn is. But Michael Truehart of True Blue felt it was a pity to use up that flat piece of lawn, where the children loved to play,” adds Dave. 

“What was required in order to allow for that was a lot of creative landscaping within the grades, including the pool design. We just had to sculpt the unusual elevated terrain so as to incorporate all that was on their wish list.”

 

Green Space with Water Features

‘Green’ doesn’t mean only an expansive lawn. A natural environment that aids in the reduction of stress in both children and adults includes lush vegetation as well as, perhaps, a pond, or other water feature for that extra dose of tranquility. 

Deck and Patio’s design for this project not only included lots of green space and a waterfall area but an attractive patio for relaxation.

Green/Natural Spaces (Long Island/NY):

Green/Natural Spaces (Long Island/NY):

“We also try to keep as many trees as possible when we design an upgrade to someone’s landscaping,” says Dave Stockwell. “Trees are a precious commodity for our well being in so many ways, not to mention they offer a haven to birds.”

Indeed, one of our blogs a few months ago reported on another study regarding the benefits of birdsongs to humans. It said, “depending on the particular birdsong and its type and frequency, the sound of birds can actually help one feel better and react more positively to life — offering restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.” 

Even a small waterfall and/or pond is a perfect place for birds to refresh themselves and have a drink.

 

Ponds, Pool, and Green Space

Keeping Plenty of Green Space (Long Island/NY):

Keeping Plenty of Green Space (Long Island/NY):

This project (left) was actually 3 bodies of water if you include the swimming pool. Our client wanted 2 ponds, one for fish only, and one for water garden plants. 

What happened was surprising. The lower pond was the fish pond (it made sense, because the fish might swim down stream into the lower pond if it were the other way around).

“However we were shocked when the client called and told us that the fish were jumping over the waterfall stone and swimming up stream and into the upper pond. I guess you can’t beat mother nature,” says Dave.

This project shows the opposite of our first example above. This property is not sloped at all, which shows it’s not necessary to have a yard with a slope to plan a beautiful water garden. Not to mention, a flat property allows for lots of green space for play. 

“It’s all about scale and proportion to achieve a serene vista,” says Dave. “And of course, utility. We were able to leave lots of green play space as well. It’s great when you can plan the landscape for both children and adults.”

 

 

Landscaping with Pantone’s Color for 2020: ‘Classic Blue’ Is Elegant and Reassuring

At Deck and Patio, we frequently get requests for plants in the latest popular colors, including Pantone’s color of the year. This year Pantone has chosen ‘Classic Blue.’ According to their announcement, in making this decision, they considered the following: 

 

Pantone's Statement

 

“Classic Blue’ certainly is a reassuring color,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “We have available lovely blue plants that can bring that sense of reassurance, that anchoring, to any landscape or garden.”

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

Balkan Anemone

One spring bloomer that Dave recommends in the ‘Balkan Anemone’ (left) which is hardy and blooms again and again each year.

Its star-like petals are also stunning in the evening and at night as they sparkle amid landscape lighting and moonlight. 

Tall and lace-y, this flower is also known as ‘Grecian Windflower.’ If you are planting them yourself, it’s best to do it in autumn, in moist soil with partial shade. For an Anemone planting guide, click here.

 

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

Then, of course, there is a Long Island, NY, favorite — the stunning hydrangea. One lovely example is the Nikko Blue. 

However, achieving a true blue hue to this plant requires a certain type of soil, or you won’t get the blue color.  For more on growing blue hydrangeas, click here.

Note: Blue hydrangeas make such gorgeous bouquets, which means the interior of your home can be as filled with Pantone’s color for 2020 as your garden.

Cornflower

Cornflower

Cornflower

Of course, don’t forget the traditional blue ‘cornflower.’ This plant is hardy and can withstand draught and are delightful interspersed around a garden. They can be grown as a perennial or annual. 

By the way, cornflowers fit particularly well with Pantone’s intention in bringing classic blue to the forefront for 2020 because they are symbols of very old traditions. One website described them as reminding us of “the cultural ebb and flow of mankind throughout the centuries.” Now that’s an anchor.

Another note on cornflowers, they grow easily from seed — which makes them effortless to disperse in the garden — and they last quite a while as a cut flower and keep their color when dried. 

Availability

“As most gardeners know, blue isn’t the most prevalent color in plants. That said, our buyers do have a range of blue plants available,” adds Dave, “And of course, we have many sources.”

One mid-western U.S. florist company, Dreisbach Wholesale Florists, got the jump on Pantone back in June when this blue color was their choice for a Floral Friday focus. Although they admitted on their website, that: “…blue can be a challenge for [floral arrangements] since there are a limited number of naturally occurring blue blooms. Don’t let that stop you!”  

And Deck and Patio adds, when it comes to gardens, don’t let that stop you! As you’ll see from the flowers we listed above — as well as in the feature shot at the top of this page, there are enough blue flowers to incorporate Pantone’s reassuring color throughout your landscape. (Note: *Feature art at the top of our page today is courtesy of Dreisbach Wholesale Florists.)

 

Outdoor Color Is More Than Flowers

In choosing Classic Blue, Pantone said they also wanted to evoke “the vast and infinite evening sky,” which, Deck and Patio believes, can be achieved in many ways in the landscape. “You can change your pool and spa’s vinyl liner or Gunite finish to bring about this soaring feeling, for example,” says Dave. “Like this dramatic custom pool and spa project we did a while ago.”

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

Deck and Patio Custom Infinity Pool/Spa

To enhance an already beautiful view of Long Island Sound, the owners of the waterside home wanted an infinity pool; a spectacular “infinity” spa also became part of the project. A swim-up U-shaped bar serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

The ultimate in resort-style living includes a tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning.

You might say this project is awash in glorious Classic Blue. 

So readers. How will you bring Pantone’s elegant and reassuring Classic Blue into your yard this year? 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Time to Spring Into Action

“If there’s one thing we dislike in our work,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “it’s disappointing a potential client’s request for a special backyard upgrade in time for the upcoming outdoor season.”

Mid February, he adds, may sound to some very early to plan. But once robins are singing and trees are budding, the phones at Deck and Patio have been ringing for many weeks with requests for projects. 

“So it’s best to begin the process in late winter,” Dave adds. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and to secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements; delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process include pulling the right people together for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

The "A" Team: Deck and Patio Works with HGTV's Pool Kings

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio Has worked with HGTV’s Pool Kings

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

 

 Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. In fact, we built these dual ponds (immediately above) for a client during winter. 

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

It is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

This serenely unique vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge.

Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge “pond” design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

 

Bringing Your Vacation Experience Back Home

This year's cold snap

This year’s cold snap

If during this winter’s record-breaking cold snap you sought haven in some warmer climate, no doubt you came back with more than memories of indoor resort comforts.

For example, when clients of ours a few years ago returned from Costa Rica they didn’t want to loose the happy family times they had experienced. A small country, bordered by two big bodies of water (the Caribbean and the Pacific,) they relished all that the sunny and water-surrounded country offered.

It’s not surprising, then, that our clients wanted to continue some of the happy family outdoor activities back home.

But they feared that creating their very own backyard resort — that would offer similar outdoor amenities they enjoyed on holiday — would be hard to achieve.

First, there were conflicting priorities between the husband and wife. She wanted cool places to relax with friends and he wanted to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.

Then, of course, there was the challenges presented by their property’s 12-ft elevation change in the property.

 

Pergola and multi-level patio

Pergola and multi-level patio

The solutions Deck and Patio recommended were to place their new vinyl-lined pool directly in the sun while at the same time creating an shaded area for congregating in comfort via a swim up/walk up bar with an overhead pergola.

To address the elevation, Deck and Patio’s design called for using the elevation for building a raised patio, with a wrap-around stair leading to the patio/pool and sunken swim up bar patio, plus creating a large pool natural stone waterfall area with plantings to hold back the grade.

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

“We were able to design the retaining area without having to add rails or fences that might have blocked views of their resort-style free-form pool,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Plus the addition of the natural stone waterfall with water slide didn’t just help act as a retaining wall, it also contributed to re-creating memories of their happy Costa Rican vacation.”

 

 

Custom In-ground Spa

Custom In-ground Spa

 

To complete their backyard resort, on the upper patio, nearer the house, we built a custom in-ground vinyl-lined spa.

Operating separately from the pool and being just steps from their door, they can use this resort amenity all year long.

 

 

The clients were delighted with their new retreat. And for an added bonus, the project won Deck and Patio several gold medal design awards from NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) and NESPA (Northeast Spa & Pool Association).

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

A Techo-Bloc multi-tiered patio, natural stone steps, lush landscaping almost completely surround a handsome free-form vinyl-lined pool with swim up bar with pergola, in-pool bar stools; a natural retaining wall with waterfalls and slide adds to the resort feeling.

 

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Considered the ultimate in outdoor living, this vinyl-lined pool includes a U-shaped granite-topped swim up bar with submerged bar stools.

 

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

The 32-foot swim-up bar is faced in cultured stone and rock and curves around to be enjoyed from the patio and well as from in the pool. It is a way of bringing everyone together — those who want to be in the pool and those relaxing on the patio.

 

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Even though it’s not near the pool, the custom spa was designed as a “spill-over” in order to provide the delights of a waterfall when sitting on the patio. The sounds are peaceful — truly reminiscent of their Costa Rican vacation.

 

Small Sloped Yard: Fitting a Pool and Other Outdoor Living Amenities

Deck and Patio and True Blue Swimming Pools Create Natural-Looking Oasis that Wows!

 

When the owners of this Long Island, NY, small sloped property first contacted the president of True Blue Swimming Pools, Michael Truehart, they expected that, since most of their small backyard had a sloping terrain, the pool company would design/build a pool on the only small patch of flat land available.

“But Michael felt it was a pity to use up that flat piece of lawn, where their children loved to play,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. In addition, the clients had revealed they hoped for more than a pool. There were several other outdoor living amenities they wanted.

Michael explained they were all possible, but it would require a lot of creative landscaping. A quality design/build landscaping firm could sculpt the seemingly unusable elevated terrain.

Needless to say, we were delighted that Michael recommended Deck and Patio as the landscaping firm to help them achieve their dream: a “natural-looking oasis that wows.”

“It can be daunting to create a backyard paradise in a small yard with a sloping terrain,” adds Michael. “To fit the size of pool they wanted, we also had to deal with stringent Town setback codes.”

True Blue and Deck and Patio worked closely to design and build all the following amenities:

— full-sized 24’ x 40’ vinyl swimming pool

— Wild Ride slide

— granite swim-up bar with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stills

— diving rock

— Cambridge XL paver patio

— pool waterfall feature

— Tiki (Hula) patio umbrellas

— Outdoor shower

— lush plantings.

“Michael and his team, along with everyone at Deck and patio, were thrilled when this project won a local Bronze Medal as well as an international Gold medal from APSP (Association of Pool and Spa Professionals),” says Dave. “Working with companies of great integrity and ability — like True Blue Swimming Pools — makes all the difference.”

 

Small Sloping Backyard Fits Beautiful Oasis:

Small Sloping Backyard Fits Beautiful Oasis:

Despite the small and challenging terrain, this backyard upgrade included a pool and a Wild Ride slide, granite swim-up bar with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stools, pool waterfalls (that help form part of a natural-looking retaining wall), diving rock, Tiki (Hula) patio umbrellas, outdoor shower, and lush plantings.

 

Room for Lagoon-style Swimming Pool In Small Sloping Yard:

Room for Lagoon-style Swimming Pool In Small Sloping Yard:

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. Deck and Patio’s fullnose coping also offers a harmonizing curved form.

 

Pool Built in Sloping Terrain:

Pool Built in Sloping Terrain:

This pool was designed one one side with an exposed wall in order to address the problems of the sloping terrain. Deck and Patio veneered the wall in Cambridge Ledgestone.

 

Elevated Backyard Terrain/Swimming Pool:

Elevated Backyard Terrain/Swimming Pool:

One way the teams added drama to the lower patio area was to veneer the pool’s exposed side in Cambridge Ledgestone. It’s the backyard’s main lounging area and the perfect spot to relax while listening to the gentle sounds of the waterfalls running over moss rock.

 

Small Yard Goes Big with Amenities:

Small Yard Goes Big with Amenities:

An impressive granite swim-up bar with 3 vinyl-covered in-pool stools, all shaded by Tiki patio umbrellas are just some of the wonderful amenities contributing to the “wow” factor these clients were looking for. Also note the charming stone step area leading to the diving rock — still leaving intact the lawn space where the children to play.

 

 

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

10 Ways to Enhance Outdoor Living This Season

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

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

 

Here’s Our 9 Ways!

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

3 Key Reasons to Choose the Right Pool Patios

“People love their pool patios,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In fact, they probably use their pool surrounds for sunbathing, dining and just lounging a lot more than they use the pool.”

Whether clients choose to surround their pool with landscaped grass, wood (or decking composite materials), stone (e.g., Travertine), poured concrete, or pavers, there are 5 key things to consider.

Oops. Sandal Tan Lines

Oops. Sandal Tan Lines

1. Okay for Bare Feet

No one wants to wear shoes or sandals beside a pool — and not just because they cause tan lines!

But, ouch, pool surrounds can retain a lot of heat in the Northeast, where summer heat can be very intense. So choosing a material that does not trap heat is an important consideration to save you from blisters.

“Unless you have a lot of shade around your pool, you want to stay away from brick or bluestone,” says Dave. “Yet, you can still have the elegance of natural stone. Travertine, for example, is a good choice because as it does not absorb heat like other stone materials.”

Deck and Patio Project Using Trex Transcend Decking

Deck and Patio Project Using Trex Transcend Decking

 

For those who prefer the look of wood, composite decking can be a good choice because you can be sure there will be no splinters that might occur with plain natural wood.

Deck and Patio has done beautiful pool decks using Trex Transcend decking, as well as Fiberon and TimberTech. Note: Because of Fiberon’s grooved design, the board fasteners are hidden, which means there are no nails to ever injure bare feet either.

“As for certain pavers, they are also a good choice, especially lighter-hued tones which will naturally hold less heat,” says Dave.

 

                                                           2. Staying Cool

Deck and Patio Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Swim Up/Outdoor Bar

Deck and Patio Swim Up/Outdoor Bar

“You don’t want to get overheated when sunbathing,” says Dave. “This is one reason tanning shelves have become so popular. Part pool amenity and part extension of your pool patio, these shelves (a.k.a. ledges, Baja ledge, doggie deck) — allow sun bathers to sit in shallow pool water where they can splash water around themselves whenever they want.

Another way to stay cool and extend your patio into your pool, is a swim up bar. These bars can be enjoyed from the patio itself or from in the pool. Add an umbrella, and you won’t know if you are home or on vacation in the Caribbean.

 

 

Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Surround

3. Need for Durability

While in many areas of the country, pool use is seasonal, outdoor living lasts at least from spring through fall. Even if the pool isn’t open, the pool area is used a good deal for just relaxing or regular entertaining.

“Composite decking materials are very durable and low maintenance,” says Dave. “They are also rot, insect, moisture, fade resistant. Regular wood does need to be treated on a regular basis, but if you choose a wood like Brazilian Walnut hardwood (Ipe), it has the strength, hardness and durability to resist splintering, termites, wear, etc.”

The right pavers, e.g., Techo-Bloc which are engineered in Canada, stand up extremely well to the freeze/thaw that occurs in our part of the Northeast.

Travertine is also very durable — just be sure it isn’t coming from say, China, where the Travertine they quarry is not nearly as durable as more costly Mexican, Italian and Turkish Travertine. If you get your stone through a reputable company, it should hold up to the weather changes that occur the Northeast.

“So make sure your pool patio doesn’t absorb too much heat, is slip resistant, and won’t cause you splinters or any feet tearing. Stay cool when sunbathing, and choose a pool surround material that is durable,” says Dave. “There’s a wide range of good choices available. Speak with an expert and share what your style and preferences are. Experienced patio landscapers will help you find the perfect surround for your pool, and design the outdoor space to maximize your enjoyment.”

Note: Re the featured photo at the top of the page: the reconfigured upper patio — where our clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture, thereby allowing several people to be out of the sun at the same time.

 

 

Water Features for Pools

There are several enticing styles of water features you can add to your pool. However, in today’s blog, we are focusing on a particular water feature stand-out: stream-fed waterfalls.

While pools, themselves, are the most prevalent water features, the amenities you add to them, in particular water features, can take them from ordinary to sublime.

Reminiscent of Mother Nature’s own ponds and lakes — where water pools are the outcome of streams and rivers feeding oxygenated waterfalls cascading from above — adding water features provide a very special dimension to a backyard pool.

A key element in giving the feature a natural feel is the use of moss rock. Of course, the skill comes in positioning the rocks in such a way so the water spills over them just like you would see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

The first project we are highlighting today showcases a majestic high waterfall spilling over natural boulders into a freeform concrete pool and spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but like all the ones in today’s blog, it is fed by a meandering man-made stream.

 

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

The spa in this project is private — nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders fitted with a structural steel and concrete ceiling. The entire project included a freeform pool with grotto spa, Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and in-pool tanning shelf; it won for Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver medal for design from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

A rushing stream of hot water flows over a large moss rock into a new spa built by Deck and Patio. From there, a spillover waterfall flows out from the spa five feet above the main swimming pool.

 

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Imagine sitting at a granite-topped swim-up bar on comfortable in-pool stools while enjoying the sounds and beauty of several stream-fed waterfalls. For this project, Deck and Patio was able to turn the biggest challenge of the property — its rising elevation — into a benefit. Gravity alone moves the water down the slope into the waterfalls. This project won us several gold meals; one from NSPI and one from NESPA.

 

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Although we have successfully built natural swimming pools for clients with waterfalls fed by streams, this project is not one of our own.  We are using it today because it so beautifully showcases how much children love natural swimming pools. It was supplied to us by the company that manufacturers much of our water feature equipment — Aquascape, Inc. (St. Charles, IL). The pool waterfalls are stream-fed into a “natural” swimming pond. Swimming in such pools isn’t any different from taking a swim in an old fashioned swimming hole, or the ocean for that matter. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.

 

 Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The sound of waterfalls cascading over natural rock offers relaxing sounds as well as a beautiful vista when dining al fresco. Here, Deck and Patio also added a sound system in this backyard retreat that pumps music; together with the waterfalls the sounds are wonderful for entertaining or family fun.

 

Pool Water Features:

Pool Water Features:

Sunset is a glorious time to be by the pool, especially when the sounds of multiple waterfalls complete the scene. Here a stream feeds two separate waterfalls on either side of a water slide that makes its own waterfall. This is definitely where you want to be at the end of each workday.

 

 

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.