Trellises

/Trellises

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. 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck Designers/Builders, Long Island, NY: Two New Fiberon Deck Projects

Deck and Patio frequently designs/builds decks using “capped composite” materials from several quality manufacturers.

For the uninitiated, “capped composite” refers to an improvement made in recent years to regular composite decking through the addition of an extra “cap” or “cover” that adds an extra layer of protection against damage.

In our blog today, we’re highlighting two such Deck and Patio decks. These “works-in-progress” projects are both located in Oyster Bay, NY, and include a pool and handsome landscaping.

“When choosing deck materials, the homeowners looked at all the options and both clients decided on Fiberon decking,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“While most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, Fiberon’s special warranty was also a factor for these clients. Not only will they get the usual 25-year warranty on materials, with Fiberon they also get a five-year warranty on labor.”

This extra warranty means there will be no cost at all to these homeowners should there be any staining or scratching, etc. in the first five years. “And they will continue to have the material warranty for another 20 years,” says Dave.

Another factor for the clients was that Fiberon decking boards are easy to install due to their grooved design. Deck and Patio’s builders can fit them together through hidden fasteners, leaving no nails or screws showing — just a clean, smooth look.

“Both clients also liked the color variations and chose Fiberon’s ProTect  “Chestnut” boards that offer subtle streaking and woodgrain patterns.”

First Work-in-Progress Project

Working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY), Deck and Patio designed, and is in the process of building, a two-level deck (see first three photos below). The completed project will include an outdoor kitchen and dining area on the second level with a pergola providing shade over the outdoor kitchen cabinet. The pergola will also have LED lighting that will shine down on the cabinetry, creating a beautiful evening ambience.

When the lower deck level is complete, it will act as a magnificent above-ground-pool surround, ideal for entertaining/sunbathing. Parts of the deck will have lattice skirting, and because they don’t have a shed, we designed access panels so the family can use under the deck for storage.

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Early in the process, Deck and Patio built framing for a deck that will surround the above-ground pool by True Blue Swimming Pools. The pool is set in the lower level of the two-level deck.

 

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Here we are putting down the Fiberon boards over the frame for this Oyster Bay, NY project.

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Note how the Fiberon boards fit together with no showing nails or screws. This clean look means you can walk barefoot without any concern.

 

Second Work-in-Progress

Again, working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) in Oyster Bay, NY, Deck and Patio is building a new replacement deck around an existing pool that is being upgraded. The clients’ previous pressure-treated deck was 25 years old.

“When pressure treated decks like this one get old, the nails tend to pop,” says Dave Stockwell. “After years of banging them back in, the nails don’t hold anymore. In addition, such older decks weren’t framed correctly for today’s codes. You can see in one of the photos below how the old boards are actually sagging. This creates a real hazard when walking around the pool.”

The far side of their new deck will have handsome coping built flush to the lawn and landscape. Our design also includes custom curves not often seen on decking. “These clients are great fans of perennial gardens, and as part of the overall landscaping design, we’re creating one for them with stepping stones from the deck that will go through the new garden to the lawn area.

The first of four photos below is Deck and Patio’s design rendering of the whole project.

 

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

This project is in Oyster Bay, NY and includes an upgraded swimming pool, large Fiberon capped composite decking and robust landscaping, including a perennial garden. Note the unusual custom curves Deck and Patio designed for several parts of the deck.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

You can see the old deck’s boards are buckling up in different places making walking around the clients’ pool hazardous. The new Fiberon decking will be smooth and clean  — with no exposed nails or screws.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

This is a close up photo of the old pressure treated deck boards that had to be removed.

 

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Here you see that the old deck is gone and we’re on our way to creating the beautiful new deck surround and landscaping (see design rendering above).

 

 

Pergolas: When Throwing a Little Shade is a Good Thing

Perhaps it’s our cold winters. Or our great shorelines, rivers and lakes. Whatever the reason, in the northeast we love summer sun. We revel in sunny water sports, sunbathing, barbecues, etc. Yet, while enjoying the outdoors, there are times when we look for an escape from the sun and are grateful for something that will throw us a little shade.

A shade umbrella can often fit the bill. But unless you have a bank of them, or are seated together at a dining table, they are really only good for one person and they don’t offer the architectural beauty of a built structure. Cabanas and pavilions offer substantial and roomy breaks from the sun, but these may require permits and considerable planning to design/build.

It’s not surprising, then, that many find the simplest solution for some shade is the elegant pergola. “Pergolas are considered decorative or ornamental, so they rarely require permits,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And their construction is fairly straightforward, especially when using a prefabricated kit.

“While we do build a lot of pavilions and cabanas, etc., just as frequently, clients opt for the less complicated pergola. Occasionally, those that already have a cabana or pavilion want a little extra shade thrown in another outdoor area.”

unspecifiedDeck and Patio has found that clients also love the pergola’s open design. “Whether it’s made of vinyl, cedar, or fiberglass, etc., the structure allows for refreshing cross currents of air, yet is elegant enough to frame a picture-perfect outdoor sitting/gathering area,” adds Stockwell. “Plus, because of their simple design, you can expand them to fit pretty much any size space.”

What Exactly Defines a Pergola?

A pergola is constructed with open rafters at the top and is supported by posts. It’s usually of simple, durable construction and is free standing.

# 5“We find the two most popular pergola materials are vinyl and cedar,” says Stockwell. “Vinyl is usually white or cream in tone. Both are resistant to weather, rot and insects, although vinyl is completely immune to such deterioration.”

In the end, some clients prefer the handsome look of wood, and find they don’t mind periodic refinishing, which is necessary with natural wood structures (even cedar will require occasional staining and a sealant, otherwise its color will change over time). While others want a maintenance-free structure and choose vinyl.”

According to Stockwell, when deciding where you will place the pergola, consider where you will want shade most often — e.g., over a new outdoor bar, seating area, or barbecue. Then, so as to capture the right amount of shade from the pergola’s rafters, take note how the sun passes over your yard before deciding where to position it all, and at what angle, etc.

 

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

Pergola/Outdoor Bar with Water Feature:

In addition to defining space elegantly, a pergola provides lots of shade if it is positioned well. Here, it crowns a handsome bar with stone facade with openings for two sheer descent waterfalls.

 

Pillared Pergola:

Pillared Pergola:

This pergola was built long and wide to shade a comfortable outdoor sitting area that includes a fire pit. It was positioned adjacent to a dining area shaded by a large umbrella. At the right time of day, the shade cast by the pergola’s rafters looks almost like a carpet — perfect for an outdoor sitting area.

 

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

Outdoor U-Shaped Bar with Pergola:

This dramatic outdoor bar area is also a swim-up bar with in-pool bar stools. Its U shape turns into a patio-bar nestled underneath a handsome pergola. With striking white columns the pergola offers architectural drama as well as sufficient shade amid the day’s bright sunshine.

 

Pergola with Vines:

Pergola with Vines:

While creating a patio using permeable Techo-Bloc pavers that capture rainwater for the yard’s water features and landscape irrigation, the clients also wanted a large pergola. In doing all this, we were careful to protect their property’s 30-year-old-grape vine. The finished patio’s peaceful scene gives no hint of the work involved and the underground systems supporting it all.

The expansive pergola adorned with trailing plantings and vines offers lots of shade for outdoor dining. The new seat wall makes it easy for crowd-entertaining, providing extra sitting room within the pergola’s shade.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

How Many Dream Amenities Can Fit In Your Backyard?

Many Deck and Patio clients are surprised what can fit into their yard. For this project, the homeowners had a nicely sized backyard, rimmed by healthy trees, but they believed it was not expansive enough to hold everything they wanted in a dream backyard.

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, came up with a plan that included it all: a geometric vinyl pool, separate patio areas, gas fire pit, custom stone bar with water feature, dramatic custom wood trellis, several banks of shade umbrellas, quiet lounging areas, and artful landscaping.

Bill’s design also included an automated pool cover. When not in use, the cover coils up at one end of the pool where its powerful motor and mechanisms are artfully hidden under an attractive swath of bluestone.

Because space was at a premium, the usual type of water feature — where waterfalls are fed by streams and ponds — was not practical. Bill came up with the idea of having two “sheer descent” waterfalls flowing out of the stone bar where the water is re-circulated without the usual above-ground presence of a pond.

The addition of a custom wood trellis over the bar area helps create an “outdoor great room” effect through the use of this attractive piece of architecture. It also adds to the private escape feeling so sought after these days. In addition, the shade it provides will increase over the years as any vines added by the homeowners continue to grow.

 

Vinyl Pool:

Vinyl Pool:

Our design included a lovely geometric vinyl pool with seating ledge and swim-out steps. While we design and build gunite pools, many of our clients prefer the padded, smooth feeling of vinyl. Of course, the base construction of a vinyl pool is the same as any other. “Vinyl” simply means the method used to line a pool’s interior.

 

 

Automated Pool Cover:

Automated Pool Cover:

Using a pool cover when the pool is not in use saves money as well as much of the time normally dedicated to keeping the pool free from debris. Made to fit this pool exactly, all the homeowners need do is press a button and the pool cover will automatically cover the entire pool within a minute.

 

 

Cambridge Pavers:

Cambridge Pavers:

The chestnut-hue of the random Cambridge pavers echoes that of the trellis and siding on the house, as well as the facade of the custom stone bar, creating one harmonious whole. These particular pavers have little or no color fade and the random design pattern adds interest.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Bar:

Custom Outdoor Bar:

This custom bar is set across from a slightly raised patio lounge area furnished with circular wicker seating and a shade umbrella. The bar’s stone mimics the lovely patio paving stones; it is topped by a counter made from composite decking material that gives the appearance of wood, but without the cracking, rotting, or splitting.

 

 

Sheer Descent Waterfalls:

Sheer Descent Waterfalls:

A special feature of sheer descent waterfalls is their ability to offer the audio and visual enjoyments of continuous flowing water while using only a minimum of water flow. An underground Aquascape “pondless waterfall” system stores and recirculates the water through an underneath pump, up through a filter.