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Landscape Design Is Not Just Flowers and Shrubs

Movie: Greenfingers

Movie: Greenfingers

If anyone has seen the movie Greenfingers (the British way of saying Green Thumb), you may have wished that you had some of the same natural talent its star character, played by Clive Owen, discovered he had for making things bloom. 

And its okay to wish you had a green thumb. But beautiful landscaping can go far beyond flowers and shrubs. Water features, proper use of moss rock boulders, outdoor structures like pavilions or gazebos, can add a great deal to an outdoor oasis.

But, we agree that one of the key elements of any outdoor escape includes beautiful, lush, plantings.

 

Lets Consider The Plantings

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

Deck and Patio Plants in an Eye-Catching Way

There’s no doubt the right plants are key to a beautiful landscape. And the landscape design professionals at The Deck and Patio Company go beyond filling your yard with plant material. We use our extensive knowledge of flora to carefully select the right greenery that suits each client’s style and goals. 

For example, it’s key to place tall and smaller plants in an eye-catching display. Colorful flowering plants are incorporated into our designs in a way that accent and compliment your home’s exterior and the sites around it. 

The beauty of any planned landscape also depends on the survival of your plant material. Deck and Patio experts choose plantings using our extensive experience and knowledge of zones, sun exposure and soil conditions.

“Whether it is creating shade gardens for the shade loving plants, digging the perfect depth for the root balls, ensuring healthy, well-fed soil, our landscapes flourish long after we’ve finished our work,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

But Deck and Patio’s creativity really comes to the fore when plants are gorgeous accents to other landscaping elements: water features, including swimming pools, ponds, streams, etc. Also, plants brighten structures such as pavilions, gazebos, outdoor benches, patios and entranceways.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance were provided here through the use of many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — all planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris.

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

 

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Pavilion/Patio with Water Feature (Stoneham/NY):

Even strong architectural structures are enhanced by landscaping. With the sounds of a flowing stream and rushing waterfalls nearby, inside this Deck and Patio pavilion, with the fireplace blazing or not, is the perfect area for entertaining. The handsome Cambridge patio we added, with custom inlays/border, is also edged with plants and generous amounts of river rock. .

 

 

Spring 2019 Vacation: Plan a Kid-Friendly Oasis While School’s Out

Spring Vacation

For Long Island and NY Metro area families, spring vacation is upon us. If you haven’t made plans to travel, or at least planned to be home some of the time, why not involve the kids in helping plan a backyard oasis?

Of course, a backyard oasis that includes, say, a pool or spa etc. will get most kids pretty excited. But should you want to go in a different direction — planning an oasis with their interests in mind — could offer a whole other experience.

Consider this backyard playground we built in Brooklyn awhile ago. The heart of the project is a natural swimming pond instead of a pool. This eco-friendly water feature was constructed initially as a very shallow pond (just 8 inches deep) because at the time the children were young.

This allowed the youngsters to swim and play in safety. However, the pond was also designed/built to grow with them. By installing boulders covered with fabric and gravel at its base, once  they got older, we could simply remove these materials, revealing a full-sized pond that could be stocked with koi.

 “As children mature,” says Dave Stockwell, “they want different experiences. This plan took that into consideration. Of course, it would still remain a natural swimming pond, but with more aquatic life to study, as well as being able to experience under-water swimming and snorkeling, etc.”

Beach-Style Entry

Beach-Style Entry

The overall appearance of the pond was that of a secret cove on a desert island.

“We gave it a beach-stye entry,” says Dave. “Plus there’s a rock climbing wall, a pirate-ship-style tree house, rope bridge, swings, exercise rings/bar, and three bubble-rock water features. 

Plan It Eco-Friendly!

These Brooklyn parents wanted any project on their property to be earth-friendly. They asked us to capture rainwater for irrigation which we were able to do through our Rainwater Harvesting Division. 

Permeable Pavers

Permeable Pavers

“They chose to go two routes,” adds Dave.

“First, rainwater is captured via Techo-Bloc permeable pavers installed in their new patio area. Voids between the pavers were filled with crushed stone permitting rain to pass through the joint spaces. This permits the water to flow down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and crushed stone to be filtered.”

Deck and Patio also installed on their home four downspouts to collect nearly three-quarters of their roof runoff.

Downspouts

Downspouts

“This captured rainwater also gets filtered,” says Dave. “Filtered containers screen out twigs and small debris before it is captured in the same underground Aquascape reservoir that holds the rainwater collected by the pavers. Then it’s all recycled for use in irrigation and to top off the backyard pond and waterfalls after any evaporation.”

Notes on Rainwater Harvesting

Using Aquascape products, today’s rainwater harvesting systems capture sufficient rainwater to also wash your car and/or hose down the deck and patio. And when you consider that local Long Island and City water companies frequently charge an incremental rate, based on the amount of water used, capturing all the non-ingestive water you need from rainfall, the lower your rate will be.

Bubbling Rocks

Bubbling Rocks

Aquascape’s systems are, in fact, a revolutionary design that combines a recirculating decorative water feature — like the bubbling rocks we installed here — with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system.

The clients just enjoy it as a water feature, while the system filters and aerates the stored water to prevent stagnation. An automatic valve we installed kicks in when the water gets low in the pond, waterfalls or streams to replenish them.

This project also included a patio dining area and lounge area where the parents and friends can enjoy the backyard water features as well. But there’s no doubt, the heart of the project was fun for the kids.

So! Consider making this spring vacation an opportunity to plan the perfect oasis for your kids — and maybe even teach them the value of water conservation while you’re at it. Not that kids today need much teaching. They’re the ones often asking us to ‘go green!”

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images, or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video:

 

 

 

Is Travertine Right for My New Patio?

Understanding what Travertine is, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it reacts in different areas, is something members of our team have discussed with stone experts from around the world.

We have also studied existing Travertine projects over a period of years to see what actually holds up — and what doesn’t — in our climate.

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Coliseum, Rome, Italy

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years.

It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

Italian Travertine, revered for its hardness and porosity, is what the Coliseum in Rome was constructed of, so the durability of Italian Travertine is not in question, although it can be expensive.

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe and is widely used beyond Italy —  mostly in tropical locations for patios, walks, terraces, etc. Although it is typically used indoors in colder climates, there has been an increase in its usage outdoors, in and around pools and homes.

But can all Travertine stone be used this way?

The answer is no, or at least it shouldn’t for best results. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

Turkish Travertine, is very common and, in most instances, is less expensive than the Italian. It does hold up quite well in our Northeast’s freeze/thaw climate.

Be aware, however, that some companies offer very inexpensive Travertine for use outdoors and may seem to be a great deal. However, they may be using stone quarried in, say, China, where the qualities of such stone differ considerably and will not stand up to certain climates. Just because a stone is called “Travertine,” don’t assume it’s all the same. It’s not.

Below, we are highlighting an example of a Travertine (from Turkey) patio we built for clients.

 

Travertine Patio

Travertine Patio

For this expansive Travertine patio, Deck and Patio installed Travertine from Turkey — for its beauty, density and porosity — which we could guarantee would withstand our area’s severe climate changes and maintain its elegance.

 

Travertine’s Appeal

Travertine’s Appeal

The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.” This particular project used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine, and over 180 linear feet of fullnose coping for the pool and spa.

In our area of the Northeast (Long Island, NY), the summer sun gets intense. However, Travertine does not absorb the heat like brick or bluestone, and is similar to light-colored concrete pavers where heat is not retained in the paver. This makes it ideal as a pool surround, where being barefoot is unavoidable.

 

Outdoor Kitchens:

Outdoor Kitchens:

Deck and Patio used a natural stone for the veneer of the bar/barbecue and constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall. This created a unique contrast between the patio, bar area and the extensive back veneer used for the house.

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool and it was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offers a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Travertine doesn’t absorb heat like other materials and offers an elegant contrast to robust lawns and plantings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Landscape Planning Even When It Snows

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Good grief. Just as you begin planning a garden or backyard upgrade, another snow storm pounds Long Island. What’s an outdoor, deck, patio, waterscape, or barbecue-loving enthusiast to do?

If you promised yourself that this spring you’d create the outdoor environment you want, no need to be put off by the snow.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the ground is perfect,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But if you wait until the snow melts and the weather is finally warm, you could find yourself behind a big queue for a landscaper’s attention.”

 

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

Believe it or not, experts like those at Deck and Patio, don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project. Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced. But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.

Sure, you may be thinking. Deck and Patio can see under the snow to the possibilities of a backyard refurbishment, but how does a non-expert grasp what it all will look like?

“It’s understandable that a homeowner would not want to proceed blind,” adds Dave. “And they don’t need to. Through computer animation, we’re able to work up a plan in 3-D that gives a good approximation of what the finished job will look like. There’s no need to rely on one’s imagination.”

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Every aspect of this backyard paradise — infinity (vanishing edge) pool, custom in-ground spa, swim up-walk up bar, pond/waterfalls upgrade, extensive patio, and outdoor kitchen was first done on a 3-D animation program that allowed our clients to literally fly over and walk around this project —even their gas campfires. This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

For these homeowners, the 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house.

 

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left) not only helps show what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

In the case of this Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

 

Baseball Season

Baseball Season

So, no worries about snow when it comes to landscape planning — even if you can’t see the ground.

You don’t want to risk getting in too long a line of those wanting landscaping work.

Of course, if towards the end of the month, the weather messes with the Yankees’ and Mets’ openers — that’s another story! If that happens, we’ll be shaking our fists at the weather right along with you.

 

Thanks to Fiberon Decking and Railing for use of the feature photo at the top of the page.

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!

 

Quality Upgrade Ideas for Your Outdoor Barbecue

 

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

Quality.

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

 

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

Some Deck and Patio Barbecue Projects to Inspire You

 

For easy dining and before and after cocktail hours, Deck and Patio created this handsome stone-faced outdoor kitchen with a raised bar.

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill.

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Outdoor Living Trends: Soothing Colors Go Yard Wide

According to online landscaping gurus — “LoveYourLandscape.org” — one of the latest trends in outdoor living is to incorporate soothing hues throughout your outdoor space. This can come in the colors of the plantings you choose, and even how you cover your outdoor furniture.

Pantone-Color-of-theYear-2016

Pantone-Color-of-theYear-2016

Indeed, the 2016 Pantone Color of the Year (left) blended two of these soft colors — Rose Quartz and Serenity (or blushes of pink and blue). In seeing the new color, Deck and Patio recognized that there is a much wider way one can infuse a yard’s space with these tones — by using the blend in your hardscapes!

Now one does not immediately think of pool surrounds, driveways, and patios (a.k.a. hardscapes) as soothing, but, indeed, the right patio, etc., hues can greatly add to the serenity of the outdoor experience. After all, these areas frequently take up quite a bit of any property.

One paving stone company is very much on trend — Cambridge Pavers Inc. — which has come out with a special line of pavers this year: their South Beach Collection offers lovely pinks and blues as part of their brand new pastel shade pallet. With names like “Pink Sands” and “Sky Blue” you can easily imagine these tones bringing a beach-y feeling to any backyard pool area or water view — or, indeed, around any outdoor space you want to be soothing.

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

Another company — who’s paving stones Deck and Patio also uses a great deal — is Techo-Bloc. Their popular “Monticello” pavers (seen here) have been providing these pastel hues for a while.

The Monticello outdoor slabs can be purchased in multiple colors. Two of our favorites this year are the Chocolate Brown with its slight rose hue and the Azzurro color with a blue underlining hue; which beautifully hint at the Pantone colors of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue. Also, Techo-Bloc’s Mini-Creta collection, in Sandlewood, offers echoes of rose and blue from the gray.

How to Choose the Right Soothing Pavers

Sometimes the exact color (particularly it’s name) will not reflect how it will appear in sunlight, or shade, or at night once installed. Depending on these lighting factors, a sandy “earth tone” may appear pinkish depending on the conditions.

Now if you find comparing the colors of the many different landscaping materials daunting — viewing online photos can distort color and texture — Deck and Patio has addressed this by creating an outdoor display at our design center. Here, visitors can see many of the available materials close-up.

“When visiting our outdoor display, they 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,” says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it bluestone, brick, concrete pavers, permeable pavers, Travertine, etc.”

So we confidently say: go yard-wide with soothing colors this year. Restful outdoor spaces are always in style.

 Pool/Spa Surround in Techo-Bloc “Monticello”:

Pool/Spa Surround in Techo-Bloc “Monticello”:

Deck and Patio gave this refurbished pool a very soothing “surround” hardscape by using Techo-Bloc’s Monticello pavers. Just as an aside: along with the hot tub installation, the pool/patio project won us a prestigious award…just saying.

 

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

 

“For use in patios, terraces and walkways, Monticello is available in multiple-size outdoor slabs. “Like the sun-warmed limestone of southern Tuscany, without the high cost of installation demanded by natural stone, Monticello’s rich colors are rendered still more dramatic by its distinctive, undulating surface texture,” says a Techo-Bloc spokesperson. Indeed, Monticelo’s deeply chiseled edges speak of strength and endurance, underscoring the timeless grandeur of these impressive slabs.

 

 

Entryway in Soft Hues

Entryway in Soft Hues

Light, together with materials, can change how you see color. So you decide if you see pinks and blues in this attractive entry (above) installed by Deck and Patio. (Hint: we do!)

 

 

Patios and Other Hardscape Designs: Paving the Way to Harmony

New patios, driveways and pool surrounds often come about when refurbishment is needed, e.g., when age has deteriorated an existing hardscape, or after a storm, and when some new outdoor amenity such as a pool, pond, or entertaining space demands it.

Done properly, outdoor hardscapes are more than serviceable — they can be an essential element in ensuring that the residence and property remain one harmonious whole.

To accomplish this requires choosing the new hardscape’s ideal hue, texture and pattern so it complements the exterior of your residence and other outdoor spaces, designed in a way perfect for the amount of property space involved and the use it will have. For a truly welcoming entrance, for example, driveways constructed in the right paving stones can offer inviting warmth and distinction. In backyards, the right patio material can feel like an extension of its surroundings.

 

 

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, they 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 bluestone, brick, concrete pavers, permeable pavers, Travertine, etc.

 

 

 

Paving Stone Driveway:

Paving Stone Driveway:

Deck and Patio’s design team was brought in during the early stages of planning and construction of this home and its many hardscapes. Working with the architect and homeowners, in front, our design team created a driveway in earth-tone concrete tumbled pavers that appear as an extension of the geometric patters and hues of the home’s Glen Gary brick.

 

 

Backyard Oasis:

Backyard Oasis:

For the back of the same residence (photo above), we used a 3-D animation program to help the clients see how their backyard oasis would appear. Techo-Bloc pavers (Elena) in a multi-level terracing design were chosen to perfectly harmonize with the back of the home’s architecture, help the space appear larger, and offer elegant surroundings to the freeform pool, the cascading waterfall, meandering stream with its own sheet-falling waterfall and spillway from the spa into the pool.

 

 

Permeable Pavers:

Permeable Pavers:

Because these Brooklyn clients wanted to collect rainwater for irrigation, they opted for permeable pavers. Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water.

 

 

Cambridge Paving Stones:

Cambridge Paving Stones:

We surrounded this vinyl-lined pool and spill-over spa in handsome Cambridge Pavingstones, with artful cut-outs for plantings. The beautiful hue of the pool water caused by its vinyl liner, set against the pavers, with a huge backdrop of lush green grass create a very special setting. In addition, the hardscape was designed to be in perfect harmony with the shape of the pool.

 

 

Pool Surrounds:

Pool Surrounds:

Handsome Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection) were chosen as a patio/pool surround for this yard. The pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design. The color of the pavers nicely pick up both the pool water while simultaneously suggesting beach sand for a beautiful natural appearance.

 

 

Freeform Hardscapes:

Freeform Hardscapes:

Freeform pools are popular because they meander along with the landscape in a natural way; here we designed the Techo-Bloc patio in “freeform” design as well, and added a stacked stone wall for dramatic outline and extra seating when entertaining.

 

 

ravertine Patios:

Travertine Patios:

Travertine is a gorgeous natural stone that can make a beautiful patio. Here the Travertine surrounds a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, an outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade, and an outdoor shower. Note: Although Travertine has traditionally been used indoors in colder climates, more and more it is being used outdoors. Be careful, however, from where the stone is quarried. You want Travertine from Italy, Mexico or Turkey, not China, which doesn’t hold up in the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast.

 

 

 

Outdoor Living: 5 Tips for Creating Your ‘Quiet Place’

 

As youngsters, we had our bedroom. There, we could hide away from the dictates of too much family togetherness. As adults, we still need a little space we can call our own or, at least, use on our own. Having that quiet nook, and having it outdoors, is perhaps the best escape of all.

However, even when we have a fabulous backyard, fully loaded with amenities, such an escape can still be illusive. It’s hard to find quiet around an always active barbecue and outdoor dining table, or even near a pool that’s frequently being used.

How then do you carve out your own private place?

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, perhaps — it’s not all that hard to make one.

First, there’s no rule that says, when it calls for it, your getaway can’t serve double-duty as a gathering place when it’s not being used as a place for solitude. And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed spot.

Now for some tips:

Tip # 1

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. These amenities will not only serve your new personal retreat, they can also be shared. A waterfall, or pretty flower bed, by definition can’t help but be enjoyed from a variety of locations in the yard.

Tip # 2

Create a foundation. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

Tip # 3

Consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

Tip # 4

Think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

Tip # 5

Ready-to-Go Basket: Having a private-time-basket that’s always at the ready is a great idea, too. It can be stocked with one or two aromatherapy candles, a favorite cushion, a throw rug for a little spontaneous yoga, ingredients (glass/soda) for your favorite drink, including a corkscrew if it happens to be wine.

 

Here’s some examples of retreat-areas we’ve created for clients:

 

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this ideal waterfall-focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends.

For the landscaping – a layering effect was used; in the background, several Norway Spruce provide privacy; a colorful Japanese Maple holds court behind the upper waterfall with the complementing perennial ornamental grass (Japanese Blood Grass) standing tall nearby;  the pre-existing foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown).

 

 

Flexible Private Escape:

Flexible Private Escape:

If you have the basics already in place, such as an attractive, well-laid patio or deck with large trees and shrubs on the periphery, simple container gardening allows you to create a flexible quiet spot — on the spot. If the containers are not too large, they can be moved at a moment’s notice. In this case, Deck and Patio’s clients also have an easy-to-move barbecue, and easy-living, yet elegant, outdoor furniture. An intimate spot away from the pool and main patio, it is also perfect for intimate dining.

 

 

Your Own Private Space:

Your Own Private Space:

If you are planning a whole new patio, this is a great opportunity to plan ahead for that private space. Choosing a multi-level patio design, it made delineating a private get-away space easy. For it, there’s a charming water feature flowing over moss rock covered in lush green ground cover; tall trees create privacy in the background; it’s snug and well away from other patio areas designed for sunning or sitting near the pool.

 

 

Quiet Walking Spaces:

Quiet Walking Spaces:

Sometimes all you need are a few quiet moments in the yard. For these clients, we took advantage of the need to create a place to hide their pool equipment, and made a walkthrough private woodland path. The clients can enjoy quiet moments of contemplation when strolling from one area of the backyard retreat to another.

 

 

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the water feature. It’s a great spot to read, while sitting next to a trickling stream and the sounds of waterfalls. Note: The Techo-Bloc patio pavers were engineered in Canada, and they can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.