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Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

 

Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

A beautifully manicured green lawn takes a lot of watering and fertilizing, not to mention mowing. It’s truly not easy being green.

In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, it turns out, this is something very much on her mind, too.

“I’ve been slowly edging out my own lawn in favor of native plants and flowers,” says Vultaggio. “A lawn is a high-input plant that requires a good deal of water and fertilizer to stay green, so it’s a good idea, say on Long Island, to reduce the amount of lawn we preserve.”

Vultaggio suggests, instead, planting more native perennials and shrubs.“Over time, after the planting stage, these will require much less irrigation. Perennials are pretty self-sufficient in searching for water on their own. Plus, their fertilizer requirements are at a minimum.”

Adding native plants is also a great help to local wildlife, who thrive when they can feed, find cover, and raise their young around familiar flora. “In fact, The National Wildlife Federation has a program (see fact sheet) devoted to reducing lawns and introducing pollinators to the garden through native plants,” says Vultaggio.

Mid-Late Summer Blooming Plants

For those who are eager to save some money, time — all while helping local wildlife — Vultaggio suggests the following native plants:

 

Monarda (Bee Balm)

Monarda (Bee Balm)

1. Monarda (Bee Balm):

Native to North America, this beautiful flowering plant is from the mint family. It’s easy to grow, is deer resistant, and attracts pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

It’s tubular flowers come in a variety of colors (pink, white, violet, red) and bloom in high summer through early fall. Bee Balm takes to full sun or light shade, and prefers a well-drained fertile soil. It needs some protection from excess moisture in winter.

 

 

 

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather)

2. Violet-colored Liatris Spicata (Gayfeather):

Gayfeather (tall purple plant on the left) is an extremely easy plant to grow.

It blooms in late summer and grows from corms that sprout in spring. Part of the sunflower family, it, too, is native to North America. It likes full sun, well-drained soils; it attract birds and butterflies, and is an ideal perennial.

Because the Gayfeather often grows to a robust 2-4’ feet tall, it may require staking or some other support.

 

 

 

3.  Nectar and pollen-rich Asclepias tuberosa (Milkweed):

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Milkweed Photo courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milkweed is native to eastern North America and blooms in clusters of orange flowers from mid-late summer. It is drought-tolerant and attracts birds and pollinators. It is a particularly good source of nectar for Monarchs; plus Monarch caterpillars feed off its leaves.

This plant thrives in poor dry soils, likes full sun; it is deer resistant, and is nicely fragrant.  These two photos are of Vultaggio’s own garden and are courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

 

 

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

Kniphofia Photo Courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio

4.  Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker):

This frequently bi-colored flower makes a dramatic statement in the garden and is an ideal plant for those who are new to gardening. In fact, this plant is so easy to grow it has been described as “tough to kill.” It is fairly drought-resistant, plus hummingbirds and butterflies love it. It is best planted in early spring or late fall.

When in bloom, the blossoms appear a bit like a hot poker or torch and for those feeling a bit of sadness saying good-bye to some of their lawn, note that these plants boast very “grass-like” leaves. This photo is of Vultaggio’s own garden and is courtesy of Sandra Vultaggio.

(Note: the dramatic dark blue/black flowers in the foreground are Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ which bloom from late spring to early autumn.)

 

For those unsure on how Ito remove turfgrass, Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, offers the following tips:

 

 


Lawn Reduction: Initial Steps

— Decide where you want to reduce the lawn area

— Use powdered lime, flour, or spray paint to mark the exact section you wish to cut back;

— Water the area ahead of time and then ‘scalp’ the grass (cut it to expose the stems)

— Now you have two options: (1) The physically harder, but quicker, one is: Using a turf cutter or spade, dig out the turf. Add soil and plant right away.  (Note: keep the removed turfgrass. After the sod breaks down, the turf can help make nitrogen-rich soil around the roots of plants).

Or…(2) try an easier, but slower, alternative method: Cover the sod with about 7 layers of newspaper or thin cardboard. Add a minimum of 6 inches of compost or topsoil on top.  The grass underneath will decompose in due course. Planting can then be done without any cultivation of the soil. Of course, if starting this process now, by the time the area is ready, it would be time to put in fall plants. For some ideas on ideal fall plants, visit this earlier blog.

— Dave Stockwell

 

 

By | 2017-07-13T12:26:31+00:00 July 13th, 2017|Ask the Experts, Gardening, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Seasonal Landscapes, Unique Ideas, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Lawn Reduction: Because ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’

Pool Renovation: No Need to Start from Scratch

Blending the old with the new is frequently possible when it comes to swimming pools and backyard upgrades. Take the project we’re highlighting today. The pool and its equipment was over 20 years old. The homeowners thought it probably wasn’t possible to upgrade it.

But, looking over the project, Deck and Patio came up with ideas that allowed them to keep the existing pool and spa.

“Our initial concern was whether we could get at the pool’s old plumbing,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But we learned the clients also wanted changes to what they felt was a ‘confining upper patio’ area. Since this required tearing out all the patio areas, that would give us the perfect opportunity to get at all the equipment for an upgrade.”

Deciding What to Keep, Upgrade, or Restore

Working closely with the homeowners, an overall plan emerged that called for updating the existing gunite swimming pool and spa, removing and expanding the various patio areas, eliminating obstruction of the property’s fabulous views of Long Island Sound,  and adding new landscaping that would enhance the newly opened up views.

 

 

Pool Upgrade (Long Island/NY):

Pool Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Pool Upgrade

Deck and Patio changed the inside of the pool by refinishing its old white interior to a new dark gray. The gray tone reacts with the water to create the more “natural lagoon” feeling you see here.

“We also added swim-out steps as a modern amenity,” says Dave Stockwell, “and of course modernized the plumbing, etc, which should last for many years to come.”

 

 

 

Spa Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Spa Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Spa Upgrade

The custom spa does double duty because it is continuously being filled with pool water which then spills over into the pool. This means the pool water is recirculated and aerated via the spa.

“When refurbishing the spa, we took the opportunity to upgrade it and enhance the spillover into a larger waterfall to create an even more special scene,” says Dave. “In addition, we added boulders around its spillover area for a more natural look.”

 

 

 

Patio Upgrades (Long Island/NY)

Patio Upgrades (Long Island/NY)

Patio Upgrade

Enlarging the various patio areas completely changed the clients’ outdoor living experience. Using Techo-Bloc pavers, Deck and Patio expanded the upper patio where the clients prefer to sit when they want a cool spot to enjoy views of the pool and the water vistas beyond.

The lower patio had been just as confining for the clients. Now they had an enlarged lower Techo-Bloc patio/pool surround for sun bathing etc. Plus, the upgrade allows plenty of room for a new outdoor kitchen and dining area, an additional seating area — all of which makes entertaining so much easier.

 

 

 

Landscaping Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Landscaping Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Landscaping Upgrade

Landscaping is not just an opportunity to create beautiful scenes. Groups of colorful or dense plantings can be strategically placed to block out things you don’t want to see. Here, Deck and Patio did all that, allowing the family to enjoy everything their new property upgrade offers.

Their yard boasts a comfortable feeling of expanse now. Different areas are defined for different purposes. Views were opened up and enhanced.

 

 

 

Backyard/Pool Upgrade

Backyard/Pool Upgrade

 

 

 

“This became a happy upgrade for our clients. It completely transformed their outdoor living experience. Best of all, they didn’t have to start from scratch,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Must-Haves for Today’s Backyards

Already have a terrific backyard? Well, even the best yards can embrace a trendy must-have every now and then.

Let’s kick off our list of backyard must-haves with a focus on pets.

 

 

Photo: SYNLawn

Photo: SYNLawn

I.  ‘Synthetic Turf’ Dog Run

Imagine a backyard dog run where no fleas or ticks lurk in the grass. Well, a dog run made of synthetic turf will not only not house any irritating pests, but the family pooch will not be exposed to natural-grass pesticides and chemicals that might cause pet allergies.

If that’s not enough reason to go synthetic for Fido, imagine no brown spots or holes to fill because of the dog’s activities. Plus, after a rambunctious outing, he’ll be as clean as he was before he went out — no tracking mud and dirt back into the house, even when the weather is bad. We also understand cleaning synthetic turf is quite easy.

Thanks to SYNLawn for sharing this photo of  two best-pups relaxing on a dog run made from their synthetic turf.

 

 

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

Photo: Long Island Builders institute’s (LIBI)

 

 

2.  Upscale Pet Playhouse 

We’re highlighting this pet playhouse today because, although it was built to be a donation, it highlights a growing trend for residential backyards. It was showcased along with other upscale pet playhouses at Long Island Builders Institute’s (LIBI) Annual Home, Trade and Remodeling Expo this past March here on Long Island. The playhouses were built by various LIBI members and were later donated to local town animal shelters.

This handsome playhouse is shaped like a dinosaur, which the team at LIBI describes as welcoming “any little animal who wants to play and rest.” It was donated to the Hempstead animal shelter. Cool, yes?

Thanks to LIBI for sharing it with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Upscale Bird Houses

Granted, wild birds may not exactly be pets. But it’s trendy to treat them like they are. So it’s not surprising that fancy bird houses are growing in popularity. Indeed, there are even awards for the best design in bird houses.

The point is, a bird house can be a reflection of your own style and tastes and certainly can be upscale. And if our avian friends are going to sing for their supper, they might as well be housed as nicely as we are.

 

 

 

 

 

Completed Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Completed Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Deck and Patio/Living Wall

Deck and Patio/Living Wall

4.  Living Walls

Living Walls house nature’s own handiwork to create outdoor art. This particular model is made by ‘Plug n Play.’ Using their vertical garden system, Deck and Patio’s team designed and installed it as a gorgeous accent on a wall built to block street noise and activity. It really spruced the wall up, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Garden systems like these are versatile and can be constructed to hold different sized pots: in this case from 3” to 12”.

How it works: Drip irrigation fitted on alternating rows trickles down to the rows below and any excess water is captured or drained off. These walls are light in weight and do not need heavy anchor bolts. They can be attached to just about any type of wall – just use the appropriate fastener for the wall type.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

Deck and Patio/Customized Fire Pit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Customized Fire Pits

Another on trend backyard amenity is a customized fire pit that coordinates with its surroundings.

The first fire pit shown (above left) was designed by Deck and Patio as part of a backyard makeover that included a meandering stream, bordered with natural stone boulders, and waterfalls that end close to a new Techo-Bloc patio. Note, how we faced the patio fire pit with stone to harmonize with the other design elements.

For the second project (right), we surrounded a propane stainless steel burner campfire with moss rock to give it a customized look that uses similar boulders to the stone steps/rock border just behind it, as well as complementing the veneer on the exposed portion of the pool. Note: The clients added the amusing s’mores sign behind their new campfire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By | 2017-06-15T11:27:24+00:00 June 15th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, outdoor maintenance, Unique Ideas|Comments Off on 5 Must-Haves for Today’s Backyards

Making the Most of a Backyard Slope

We’ve written about this before. Clients with a wish list for a backyard oasis, but they have an unstable hill that forms part of their property. And they’re finding it hard to imagine what is possible.

Fortunately, experienced landscaping firms like Deck and Patio have no problem with the vision thing. In this case, our clients’ hopes for a water feature, pool, patios for socializing, room for sunbathing, and even the ability to enjoy their yard twelve months a year, were not out of reach at all.

Despite problems with the terrain, our team got to work designing/building a truly enviable backyard resort. The vinyl-lined free-form pool we suggested allowed us to shape the pool within sturdy terrain.

The pool boasts deep-end stairs, and is surrounded by a two-level Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec patio, including a lounging area with embedded umbrellas.

“Instead of installing an ugly wooden retaining wall to hold back the grade from the pool, we turned the slope into a delightful natural space. Using boulder coping on the pool and additional moss rocks and plantings all along the slope, we made it very beautiful as well as secure,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We took further advantage of the slope, and gravity’s pull, and incorporated a meandering stream along this planted hillside, ending as waterfalls into the pool.”

 

 

The final challenge was making the oasis usable all year long.

“We helped them choose a portable spa that could run separately from the pool. We fitted it into the transformed slope beside the stream and built a separate small bluestone patio behind the spa; they can enjoy the water feature when inside the hot tub or sitting or lounging on the secluded patio,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern for the patio, with gradations of tones. Designing the patio in multi-levels allowed us to designate spaces for certain activities — dining, lounging, etc.

 

Deep End and Shallow End Stairs:

Deep End and Shallow End Pool Stairs:

Deep end — or swim out — stairs as well as stairs at the shallow end offer easy access to the patio’s lounging area with embedded umbrellas. A natural gas campfire is great for cool evenings and adds a bit of romance in the evenings.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrade: From Very Nice to Sublime

The owners of this Brookville, NY, property had a charming backyard that consisted of a large patio separate from an attractive pool area. When Deck and Patio met with them to discuss a patio upgrade — along with new fire pit and outdoor kitchen — we learned they also hankered for a spa to go with their existing gunite pool.

“The clients were surprised at our suggestion that, rather than design/build a custom in-ground gunite spa, they opt for a portable spa,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “And when they saw how such a hot tub would fit harmoniously within the yard’s new overarching design theme, they were delighted with this idea.”

The complete upgrade included adding an encased portable spa with a waterfall flowing out of it into the existing pool. A privacy wall also faced in stone stands behind it, topped with a fire bowl and second waterfall to create a spectacular setting — day and night.

Plus, the new handsome Techo-Bloc pool surround pavers the clients chose were repeated in the lower patio where a new granite-topped L-shaped outdoor kitchen, and fire pit, both faced in matching stone, were added.

The theme tying it all together, of course, is the stone-facing on many of the elements — balanced by soft hues in the plantings and choice of pavers. Whether it’s going up the steps from the patio to the pool where a stone wall accents the elevation change, sitting around the custom fire pit, barbecuing on a granite-topped outdoor kitchen, or taking in the whole scene while soaking in the spa, the various elements work together beautifully.

The soft hues of the Techo-Bloc’s Aberdeen pavers for the pool surround and lower patio were chosen to add a hint of contemporary flair to the traditional style of the stonework. Their subtle pinks, blues and creams, accented with robust landscaping, add a soothing feeling throughout the backyard oasis.

“This upgrade really brought an already attractive backyard into a true oasis,” says Dave. “Day or night, the only word for it is sublime.”

 

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Stone facing of several amenities help tie this oasis together: fire pit, outdoor kitchen, patio wall and steps, as well as the portable spa encasement (not seen), are all faced in matching stone.

 

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

The clients wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion for a custom installation of a portable Bullfrog Spa. With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it can be used when the pool is closed down. Plus they get the therapeutic benefits of Bullfrog’s renowned JetPaks (hydro jets) without sacrificing drama and elegance.

 

Hot Tub Installation:

Hot Tub Installation:

One truly enjoyable aspect of the clients’ new spa is where it was installed. When soaking in it, they get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool as well as all the way to the lower patio area where the outdoor kitchen and fire pit are.

 

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

A beautiful and highly functional outdoor kitchen, topped in granite and faced in stone, was positioned adjacent to the patio’s dining area and new fire pit.

 

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

One of the features of the clients’ new spa is a sheet-falling waterfall that flows out from its encasement into the pool. A privacy wall holds a dramatic fire blow that spills a waterfall into the spa.

 

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

These Techo-Bloc paving stones are packaged separately giving flexibility in design. Here soft hues (blues, creams, pinks) and various sizes placed in random patterns create the perfect pool surround and patio for this backyard upgrade.

 

 

How To Choose the Perfect Pond for Your Property

Whether your property is large and expansive — or no bigger than a postage stamp — most yards can accommodate some type of pond. As you’ll see from examples we’re highlighting today, ponds come in many sizes, shapes, and depths, and sometimes these water features may not be classified as ponds at all.

“When it comes to the pond’s location on the property, we recommend locating it where it can be enjoyed from a patio or deck, bedroom, or kitchen,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.”

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

This deck, for example, was designed with a viewing platform from where the clients can enjoy the pond and the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings. Also note that we  installed large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“However, if the clients are hoping for a more private escape for relaxing and meditating, the ideal spot for a pond may be farther away from the house,” says Dave.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

In this case (above), the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property, and an additional waterfall located near the house. Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall at the top of a slope facing the clients’ indoor kitchen.

“From inside their home the family can enjoy the sights and sounds of this waterfall. A stream on its right flows down through five separate cascades into the lower, and more private pond area — a beautiful oasis for stillness and quiet,” says Dave.

 

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

When space is at a premium (and even when it’s not), Deck and Patio can help clients find ways  to creatively add a pond. The above photo showcases a Trex deck with two handsome “platform” staircases; we installed a beautiful micro pond and waterfall in and around the staircases in what was a former planting bed. “Every time they enter or leave the house they enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond,” says Dave.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

When children are very young, clients often opt for a “pondless” waterfall, in lieu of a pond. With these water features river rock allows flowing water from a waterfall to seep down into the ground where a reservoir captures the water and recirculates it.

 

 

 

 

Natural Playscape with Pond

Natural Playscape with Pond

In the case of these clients, their children were not toddlers. However, they thought them still young enough that some safety precautions should be taken. So Deck and Patio designed/built their city oasis (above) with a temporary 8” shallow pond.

The pond was constructed to “grow” with them. It is actually a deeper pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they are older, can be removed, exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house. Part of what makes a pond spectacular to look at is its landscaping. This requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture. Here (above) we included Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis for pops of bright color along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

 

“Whatever the size or shape of your yard, there is a perfect pond for your property,” says Dave.

 

 

When To Start Planning a Backyard Retreat

When landscaping firms such as Deck and Patio recommend planning an outdoor retreat before spring arrives, it isn’t self-serving. It is because, if left too late, it may not be possible for a client’s dream backyard to be completed for the year’s outdoor season.

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

Other key parts of the design/bid process, says Dave, include pulling together those needed 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.

Deck and Patio at work

Deck and Patio at work

Choosing the Right Designer/Builder

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.

 

Deck and Patio brochure

Deck and Patio brochure

 

“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. “We use surveys and Google Earth, etc. to plan any backyard refurbishment,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

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

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

As we highlighted in last week’s blog, 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.

 

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

These homeowners brought Deck and Patio on board early on when they were designing their home. This helped create a seamless integration of the landscape and nature with the home’s architecture — the architect even changed his design of the home’s turret in order ensure views from within would capture the various outdoor vistas. (Note: The town involved had strict setback requirements; we brought our 3-D animated landscaping plan to the town which aided in getting the permit granted quickly.)

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

This serenely beautiful 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.

 

 

Pools with Water Features: Deck and Patio Called Back to Tennessee

poolkings-jpgFor a second year in a row, The Deck and Patio Company has been invited to Tennessee to assist Peek Pools and Spas in a spectacular pool project that will be the focus of an upcoming episode of HGTV’s popular television show, Pool Kings.

As water feature specialists, we have been installing the pool’s waterfall/stream and grotto area situated on a large shelf at the back of the pool.

In addition to the waterfall/grotto amenities, two unique fire and water features will add drama to the left and right of the main waterfall.

“This past Tuesday, we worked on setting the rest of the boulders on the shelf and Wednesday we worked on the stream area that feeds the main waterfall,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter.

 

 

 

One of Deck and Patio’s award-winning Long Island swimming pool projects, with a serpentine slide and waterfall, — a project that required installing a lot of large natural stones — came to the attention of Peek Pools and HGTV last year.

 

 

 

Last year’s completed project

Last year’s completed project

“Last year’s project was in Nashville and we  installed the waterfall for a magnificent pool that aired on Pool Kings last season,” says Bill.

This year, we were called back to create a special water feature for a pool being built in Franklin, Tennessee. The following video shows the early stages of Deck and Patio fixing in place three key rocks that will form a grotto area. The rocks positioned on either side of the grotto each weigh 4,000 pounds and the connecting stone, or spill stone, is 6,000 pounds.

“We needed two machines to put these key stones in place,” says Bill. “But it’s all in a day’s work, frankly. We’re used to dealing with heavy rock placement. In fact, choosing and placing the perfect rocks is really the soul of all beautiful water features.”

Here we are on day two of this latest project:

 

 

Waterfall/Grotto Project in Franklin, TN:

Waterfall/Grotto Project in Franklin, TN:

It took two machines to be able to lift in place three key rocks that will form the foundation for the grotto/waterfall area at the back end of a new swimming pool.

 

Waterfall/Grotto Project in Franklin, TN:

Waterfall/Grotto Project in Franklin, TN:

Here you see more stones added. You’ll have to use your imagination to picture the project finished, complete with soil, flowers and ground cover in and around rocks, and water spilling over the grotto with two large fire features on either side.

Happy imagining…that is until the Pool Kings episode for this HGTV project airs. We’ll keep you posted.

 

No Room for a Pool? How About an Award-Winning ‘Spool?’

 

Not everyone has room for, or even wants, a full-sized swimming pool. But what if you still yearn for a water feature that you and your family can enjoy? Well, the answer for these clients was an in-ground “spool” or combination “spa/pool.”

After listening to their needs and preferences, we suggested the idea of spool with a spilling waterfall that keeps the spool cool in the summer, and hot during the evenings or cold winter months. This type of water feature has room for several adults and can be enjoyed year round without having to maintain a full-sized pool.

Because the clients’ 8’x10’ completed custom vinyl-lined spool operates as a spa, it includes massage jets for relaxing hydrotherapy. Above it, a stream of water flows through moss rock boulders and lush plantings into a soothing waterfall that can be enjoyed when soaking anytime of year.

The clients also opted for a handsome patio of Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes. The landscaping was also carefully planned to provide color from April through late October: Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars were used to create an attractive privacy screen. Plus, texture and color were brought into the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

We were very pleased that this custom ‘spool’ not only perfectly suited the clients desires for a backyard refuge that fit well within their yard, but it also won for us two prestigious awards: Gold from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) and Silver from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

Small Backyard Pool/Spa:

Small Backyard Pool/Spa:

Tucked beautifully into a corner of their backyard patio, these clients enjoy year-round their custom in-ground vinyl spa-pool combo — or “spool.”

 

 

Backyard Refuge:

Backyard Refuge:

Deck and Patio also designed/built the clients handsome Techo-Bloc patio (Elena in Sandlewood) in rich earth tones. In cooler months the waterfall runs warm water; a natural gas campfire also helps extend the outdoor season whether the clients are sitting in or out of the spool.

 

 

Spa/Pool Combo:

Spa/Pool Combo:

Rushing stream that flows through large moss rock boulders and lush plantings creates soothing waterfall to be enjoyed while soaking in spa.

 

 

Pool/Spa Combo for Small Backyard:

Pool/Spa Combo for Small Backyard:

These clients wanted a pool or a water feature, and a patio as a fun place to entertain, but their backyard was too small for a pool. Their new spool, which can stay cool during hot summer days and can be heated up on a cool evening or winter’s day, was the perfect solution.