Vinyl-lined Pools

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Swimming Pool Grotto Designs: Fun ‘Out’ of the Sun

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. However, even as adults, we still love our personal getaways. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space. 

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you? 

Well. That’s the possibility of a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat. 

Imagine. Being outdoors, but away from the heat of the sun. And, still close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

1. Our first example of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network. (See large feature photo at top of this page for the complete project.)

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

Close up of Nashville Project’s Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” laughs our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature. The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls and a fire feature for inside the pool.” 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

 “Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

2. The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods. 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

For this second project, the tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water.

So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun. 

 

Outdoor Living Perfection: Fun and Comfort for Family and Friends

Long Islanders are not alone in treasuring the outdoor season. Most everyone wants to be outdoors — and for as many months as possible.

This certainly was the case for this North Shore, Long Island, family. Blessed with a large property, their desire was for a new destination pool area with a sizable, well-appointed pool house where they could enjoy the outdoors, bug-free, from early spring through late fall.

The best place to locate their new pool oasis was a distance from their main house. So, in addition, they wanted to cook/entertain by the pool.

While creating all the necessary plans, Deck and Patio consulted with an architect to ensure the building would perfectly suit their needs.

“The pool house design, for example, was in keeping with their main home’s overall elegance,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “In fact, it was their home that suggested the pool house’s reverse gable.”

Destination Pool with Pool House

Destination Pool with Pool House

The destination pool area’s overall design/plans comprised the following:

  50-foot-long, 26-foot-wide pool (approximate),

•  800-square-foot pool house including a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom;

  elegant Travertine patio

  spillover spa, waterfalls,

  outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade,

  outdoor shower

•  outdoor light for nighttime enjoyment

Initially, our comprehensive plan came in considerably over budget for the clients. 

“We completely understood when they declined our bid,” says Dave Stockwell. “You can imagine how thrilled we were, though, when after seeking estimates elsewhere, they came back. In the end, they simply loved our ideas. Our designs provided all the comfortable space they required for family fun and entertaining.”

The Pool House

The pool house was designed/built with two 20-by-20-rooms: 

— one is a great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet — a cozy haven when nights become cooler, comfortably extending the outdoor season;

 — and the other, a 20-by-20 room with screens on two sides for enjoying warmer nights by the pool without pesky insects.

Lighting Design was also Key

Lighting Design was also Key

Award-Winning Project

There’s another reason Deck and Patio was so glad that they came back to build their oasis.

The completed project won for us an International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA)

Note: Deck and Patio also worked with a reputable lighting firm to create the stunning nighttime scenes. Serene and romantic, the family’s completed destination pool area is delightful at night — an idyllic spot for parties that may begin in the day, but continue long into the night.

 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY): 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

The approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool, built with a concrete wall and vinyl liner, includes an expansive spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall. The free-form pool is surrounded by an elegant Travertine patio.

 

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

An expanse of cedar planks allows for drama and a clean natural look inside the pool house.

 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY): 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

The pool house’s outdoor kitchen (and indoor bathroom) required a second septic system to support such amenities as a kitchen sink, built-in barbecue, storage, and small refrigerator. A real stone veneer adds natural elegance to the L-shaped kitchen.

 

Backyard Landscaping Ideas: Preserving Natural Surroundings

When the homeowners of this dramatic backyard swimming pool oasis originally built their home, it was designed with care not to disturb the property’s mature maples, oaks and pines. So when Deck and Patio was later brought in to upgrade their outdoor living experience, we naturally were just as careful.

The key to our design was locating various water features within a limited space so as not to disturb the environment. Despite building restrictions, the finished project was rich in amenities:

 

Pool/Spa

Pool/Spa

 

— a concrete vinyl-lined pool with waterfalls, 

— a raised spillover spa with an additional waterfall,

and, 

 

 

 

Stream

Stream

Koi Pond

Koi Pond

 

— a stream with waterfalls

— plus a koi pond.

 

 

“We had a lot to consider when we designed this,” says Dave Stockwell. “First, of course, the trees had to be preserved. But we also considered the property’s topography, the soil, solar exposure, the overall size of the property, where we could place active and passive use areas, not to mention the home’s architecture.”

Dave adds that the each feature had to fit with nature and this particular landscape. Besides our technical knowledge, such an accomplishment requires a true passion for nature in order to balance the relationship between architecture with its natural surroundings.

“Needless to say we were thrilled to have been recognized for what accomplished in the design and installation of the pool, spa and water features: We won two prestigious awards from NESPA and APSP for the upgrade.

Here’s some more details for this project:

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

This concrete pool has a vinyl liner. We positioned it into the natural surrounding landscape considering carefully any existing trees and mature shrub root systems. Although it’s not seen in this photo, the clients can enjoy the nearby koi pond and waterfalls while relaxing in their spa. The spa also has its own overhead heated waterfall, which can be adjusted to cool in warmer weather.

 

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

This 5’ high multi-level waterfall and 35’ meandering stream discharge into 10’ x 15’ freeform Koi pond (below). 

 

Koi Pond and Stream:

Koi Pond and Stream:

Pond was built to protect the fish against natural predators. Pond’s small cave, for example, provides a hiding place where koi can lay dormant during winter months and hide when necessary.

 

 Pool and Spa Design:

Pool and Spa Design:

The design of this pool and spa appears “organic” with its natural surroundings; they perfectly fit with the clients’ desire for harmonious bodies of water in keeping with their natural looking residence, patio, outdoor kitchen.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance is provided by many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other design elements: 

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s that precious video:

 

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

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

 

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

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

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

 

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

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

 

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

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

 

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

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

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Time to Spring Into Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

Hiring a Landscaping Contractor Booklet

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Eatons Neck/NY):

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

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

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

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

 

 

Outdoor Living Design: Let’s Rock This Place!

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

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

 

 

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

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

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

 

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Escape (Long Island/NY):

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

 

Moss Rocks

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

Spectacular Backyard Water Features(Long Island/NY):

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

 

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

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

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

 

Backyard Retreat: Start Planning for a Summer Spent Outdoors

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Upgrade

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Retreat

The owner of this rather stunning (if we do say so ourselves) Massapequa, NY, backyard retreat says he and his wife smile every time they hear someone say how “large” their yard is.

“Before Deck and Patio did this for us, our backyard looked so cramped, we never used it. In hot weather we just lived indoors.”

The design for this pool-spa combo, and for which Deck and Patio won an award,  includes a deck, vinyl-lined pool, which we  wrapped closely around the corner of the house and deck, an expansive two-level patio, custom spillover spa, two waterfalls, two stepping stone paths and lush plantings.

“When we work with tight yard spaces,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “we take care that areas for the chaise lounge, as well as dining and outdoor entertaining locations are large enough for furniture and the ability to walk around. It’s also key to not over-build or paver the whole space.”

Dave adds that manipulating area grades into multi-level patios are not only attractive and spatially functional, they can make smaller yards appear considerably larger.

The clients’ children love the spa and the homeowners appreciate how it extends the outdoor season. The spa’s water temperature is easily regulated. “It is always clean because water is continually filtered throughout the whole system,” adds Dave.

When work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked the clients, especially within such a cramped space. “I soon learned everything they did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. 

Because the property was flat, Deck and Patio’s 3-D renditions showed the clients how we would make the yard appear bigger — even indicating what the views would look like from various areas inside the house.

Note: True Blue Swimming Pools of Dix Hills, NY, worked with Deck and Patio to build the vinyl pool and spa for our clients. 

 

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Manipulating the grades by adding different levels (upper and lower patios, raised spa. etc.) is one of the things we do to create a larger sense of space. Such gradations are not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive.

 

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Designing a pool to wrap closely around the corner of the house allowed for a full-size pool as well as spa and waterfalls. Vinyl-lined pools make it easier to implement such a tight design.

 

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

A second stepping stone path leads away from the back step to the diving rock and the deep end of the pool. Stepping stones allow you to leave some softspace (green grass, plantings etc.) so there’s not too much  hardscapes (concrete, pavers, etc.).

 

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

A spillover custom spa and additional pool waterfalls look natural falling over moss rocks chosen to fit the spaces perfectly. Lush colorful plantings add to the beauty of the scene. 

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

This close up shot of one of this pool’s waterfalls shows the details of creating a natural-looking scene: carefully chosen moss rocks for the right “spills,” ground cover, shrubs, river rock, etc.

 

 

Even City Life Can Boast a Backyard Refuge

Whether it’s the long Labor Day holiday weekend created for workers, or simply the few scattered hours you squeeze out of a relentless workweek, it’s nice to enjoy some free time in blissful leisure at home.

Location, Location, Location

However, what if your property isn’t located in a pastoral area that allows for inviting quiet time? What if your locality is all hustle-bustle? Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise — in the very heart of Queens, a teaming borough of New York City.

In this atmosphere, even adding a pool and patio wouldn’t provide the escape the homeowners desired. To create for them a real backyard oasis, we had to block out the noise and oppressive atmosphere.

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions

One of the best ways to screen out noise is a sizable waterfall and the clients opted for one to provide splashing sounds into their new pool. In addition, our clients asked us to build a 12-foot-high concrete block wall. While useful as a noise and environs barrier, a wall can be a bit oppressive in itself.

So the next challenge was to soften the wall’s appearance. First, we planted bamboo around its perimeter. Bamboo can be invasive so we encased the woody grass with concrete blocks to limit its spreading.

Special Feature

One thing great about interior and exterior walls is they make an ideal canvas. Taking full advantage of the wall, Deck and Patio designed and supervised the layout of a “living wall” that can hold multiple-sized pots for plants. When completed, the living wall became living art — changing in color and shape almost daily. (For details on living wall – see photos 5, 6, below.)

 The result: the clients may live in a busy part of New York City, but their Labor Days — and every spare moment they can muster— will be spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Backyard Noise Barriers (Queens/NY):

Water cascading over rock into another water pool is a natural sound barrier that is peaceful and soothing to the soul. 

 

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

Backyard Refuge (Queens/NY):

The sounds of the waterfalls, the colorful landscaping and the dramatic concrete block wall together give a sense of refuge in this bustling part of one of America’s five largest cities.

 

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Queens/NY):

The free-form vinyl-liner pool includes boulder coping, and a moss rock waterfall with robust plantings that help beautify the wall. 

 

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patios (Queens/NY):

The pool’s surrounding patio is made from Techo-Bloc pavers that handsomely complement the 12-foot-high wall and smaller concrete encasement for the bamboo.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

“There are many types of Living Walls; interior and exterior, permanent or seasonal walls, and then there is the ‘Plug n Play’ (manufactured and trademarked by Green Living Technologies, International or GLTi) that we used here.

 

'Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

‘Plug n Play’ Living Walls (Queens/NY):

The Plug n Play is very versatile and can be manufactured to accept multiple-sized pots (3” to 12″). Drip irrigation is set up on alternating rows and trickles down to each row below; excess water is either captured or drains. Plants are set on an angle with their holes faced downward so the roots/soil can sap up water via wicking effect. These units can be fastened to any type of wall; using the right type of fastener for each respective wall type.

 

Landscape Upgrade: Before, After and In-Between ‘Spool’ Construction

When we previously highlighted this Deck and Patio backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago, our blog posts showcased only the finished project.

However, because this spool has remained a popular download across our social media platforms even today, we thought readers would like to see some of our file photos (below) for this project. They capture its various stages — from the first marking of the grass, to the finished landscaped custom spool with waterfall.

Short Summary of Project

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

 

'Before:' Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

 

“During Spring” As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug so we could do this.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

“During” Waterfall Addition: The boulders needed for a good-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

“During” Waterfall Addition:
The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

 

'Before' the Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see on the right the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small piece of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

‘During’ Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

 “After” Landscaping: First angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard patio.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Time to Update Your Backyard Pool Area?

Design/Build Showcase: Deck and Patio transforms cramped backyard into perfect landscape for parties and entertaining

 

 

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

 New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their dated backyard pool area, their main problems were that their old wood deck and red brick patios (above left photo) beside the pool were too small and unusable for parties and entertaining.

In addition, the old retaining wall took away from the attractiveness of the pool area.

Our creative team introduced a unique concept to deal with this area: re-grade the slope, turning it into a “natural” retaining wall (above right photo) including a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden in its place.

For the seven-foot-high “sheet” waterfall and stream, we used Aquascape Inc.’ pondless waterfall system, which allows for a good deal of water volume to create the dramatic effect.

“We particularly value Aquascape’s waterfall systems because they focus, like we do, on an ecosystem approach to water features,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “For this project, the pondless system relies on a natural balance of circulation, filtration, plants, rocks and gravel to ensure sustainability.”

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Another reason our waterfall retaining wall system looks so natural is our waterfall installation team understands how water flows over rock and how it releases from the rock in order to create a natural look and feel.

We avoid the look of steps in the waterfall by making the water change directions in the waterfalls and streams.

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping. Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter and added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

Refurbished Pool and Patio

Refurbished Pool and Patio

With the slope stabilized, our team addressed pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the original liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered.

The solution was to straighten the wall and fill the block in with concrete and steel rebars for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were then added, as well as new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and new liner was installed.

After this, the pool was carefully backfilled and tamped. We compacted the soil back around the pool in three-inch lifts to allow for the immediate installation of new pavers around the pool.

This compacting process is not done by many contractors. The idea is that using compacted soil the base will not settle, so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle.

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers from Cambridge (Sahara). These particular pavers have little or no color fade and the random design pattern adds interest to the patio. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.

 

Close up of Installed Patio

Close up of Installed Patio

The clients chose elegant clean-lined pavers in a random pattern for the new patio areas surrounding the pool.

The clients love their new patio and pondless waterfall. Not only do they find themselves outside more often enjoying nature’s sights and sounds, they have room for parties and entertaining.

In fact, their perfect backyard was there all along — it just needed a vision to bring it out.