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Love Birds and Nature? How About Your Own Natural Retreat!

Ever notice how every few scrolls on Twitter, etc. will show a delightful bird, a funny squirrel, someone saving a desperate animal, a croaking frog, or lovely vistas — all squeezed in between posts of angst and politics?

Well. As helpful as these momentary breaks online are, the best break is enjoying nature close up, away from our phones. As Diane Sawyer’s Report: ‘ScreenTime’ showed a few nights ago, families are challenged today. They’re spending too much time with technology. And most, deep down, hunger for more family-time and time outdoors. 

Ms. Sawyer’s report reminded us of a very special Deck and Patio backyard natural retreat we did several years ago. The wife contacted us saying she always loved birds but hadn’t seen many in her yard in a long time. She was also hungering to see butterflies, etc. Could we come up with a plan to bring nature alive on their property?

It soon became clear they wanted something truly special. They had already contacted other companies to provide them with a backyard conservatory and charming wooden bridge. Our challenge was to ensure we incorporated these into our own landscaping design in a harmonious way.

“The multi-feature natural retreat we proposed and built included a deck to overhang a new backyard pond — in such a way so that it looks like the pond continued under the deck,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In addition to these, our plan called for two 35-foot long babbling brooks, multiple waterfalls and lush multi-seasonal landscaping.”

To make it look as if Mother Nature designed this entire retreat, adds Dave, our team chose, for example, each rock and boulder carefully to create the right “water spills.” Sometimes a rock was chosen because of its crevices allowing for planting perennials within. 

The homeowners were very involved in choosing the plants. In the end, we incorporated about 5,000 bulbs, almost 300 species of wooded plants, as well as evergreens, and about 150 varieties of perennials.

 

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

Creating Different Outdoor Focal Points:

It was important to create a variety of different spaces and focal points, just like you experience in nature when you move about. In one place you sit next to the pond and observe the waterfall. Other times you’re walking through a wooded path. The lush landscape attracts a myriad of birds (and butterflies) so the sights and sounds of nature, along with the rushing water, are as relaxing an experience as is possible outdoors.

 

Waterfalls and Ponds:

Waterfalls and Ponds:

The rocks we used for the four-foot multi-tiered waterfall/pond came from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Some weighed over three tons. Carefully placed, the scenes suggest one is trekking a natural preserve or wilderness. 

 

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Dining Al Fresco at Home:

Whether on their new deck, or in their glass conservatory, the family enjoys dining together al fresco to the sounds of birds and croaking frogs. When lounging outside, they can take a quiet moment to feed their koi. 

 

 

How Do I Create a Private Outdoor Space?

As youngsters, we had our bedroom where could hide away from too much family togetherness. And you know, we still need a little space we can call our own— or, at least, use on our own. And having such a space outdoors is perhaps the best escape of all.

That’s true even if we already have a fabulous backyard. For if it wasn’t designed with a view for private time, it can be hard to find quiet: e.g., around an active barbecue, busy outdoor dining table, and especially near a pool.

First, Assess What You Have

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 create such a spot.

Remember that when it calls for it, your getaway can serve double-duty as a gathering place and a spot 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 location.

Now for some tips and examples:

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.

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this Deck and Patio 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. The pre-existing patio foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown)

 

Tip # 2 

Create a foundation for a getaway. 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.

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.

 

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.

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 like this Deck and Patio project makes delineating a private get-away space easy. Here, 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.

 

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.

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

This is a pleasant example of a space that is great for guests and family as well as for quiet private time. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room to add an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the look of their pool’s waterfalls. It’s perfect in the evenings, too. 

 

 

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.

 

 

Backyard Natural Retreat Is Splendid in all Seasons

Design/Build: Even when snow is falling, a backyard oasis can offer delightful daily escapes

 

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert finds that backyard natural retreats — once championed for their “staycation” potential — are becoming more and more popular for short daily escapes. Indeed, quiet moments listening to the trickle of water as birds sing offer ongoing opportunities to disconnect from technology, so sorely needed in today’s modern life. However, many do not realize that these daily escapes can be equally enjoyable in winter!

While The Koi Hibernate

If you add a backyard koi pond as part of your retreat, it no doubt will include a small cave where the koi can lay dormant during winter months. However, that does not mean you need to hide in your indoor home-cave. By including an in-ground or above-ground spa in your backyard oasis, a bubbling, steaming spa will be waiting every day to warm your cold bones, rejuvenate, and supply the ideal spot to watch and listen to winter birds at their feeders — a true winter wonderland!

 

“Winter Wonderland” Backyard Oasis:

“Winter Wonderland” Backyard Oasis:

By including an in-ground or above-ground spa in your backyard oasis, a bubbling, steaming hot tub will be waiting every day to warm your cold bones, rejuvenate, and supply an ideal spot to hear the winter birds sing from their feeders.

 

Splendid In Winter

Imagine a beautiful outdoor retreat with rushing waterfalls that frequently glistens with ice crystals as the cold months settle in. Also, picture the extraordinary sunsets and starry nights that shine through winter’s crisp, clear air — made all the more splendid by a vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool or pond, bringing vistas right up to your backdoor.

Backyard Retreat That Is Splendid In Winter:

Backyard Retreat That Is Splendid In Winter:

The clear, crisp winter air makes for extraordinary sunsets and starry nights — made all the more splendid with a vanishing edge pool or pond.

Under the stillness of one of our large multi-faceted water features (vanishing edge upper pond and lower pond, waterfalls, and a gentle stream) Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert installed an extremely high tech and a complex natural biological filtration system that continuously maintains the feature’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features/Natural Biological Filtration:

Backyard Water Features/Natural Biological Filtration:

An extremely high tech and complex natural biological filtration system maintains this feature’s crystal clear water.

 

Biological Filtration System

This water feature project includes three bodies of water: two ponds at two levels, and a 3,000-gallon underground storage vault of water – all kept clear and clean with “biological filtration” through the use of beneficial bacteria, plants and other filter media.

The vanishing edge upper pond is raised in front of a bluff. Water spills from it into a delightful connecting meandering stream down to the lower pond located at the side of the house.

Water is pumped from the underground vault to both ponds through variable energy efficient speed pumps. In the upper pond, water enters from its floor. In the lower, it enters through a separate bog – a natural filtering system – and continues through a waterfall into that pond.

Except for what is pumped in from below, everything works through gravity along gradations that our team created in the landscape. Every part of the water feature has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way.

When It’s Easy Being Green

In autumn, leaves from the trees fall into the water and are pushed along the stream where they are caught in a bed of gravel and are easy to remove, like emptying a skimmer basket in a pool. Considering the energy efficient pumps, which only ramp up when the homeowners arrive home, as well as the fact that the system harvests rain water to help sustain its underground water reserve, it’s a project to delight the heart of any green enthusiast.

Multi-Functional Water Feature:

Multi-Functional Water Feature:

Every part of this water feature (summer view) has a reason and purpose and works together in an ecologically friendly way.

 

 

By |2017-01-21T16:34:40-05:00December 12th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Refreshing Moments Enjoying a Deck and Patio Retreat

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert finds that backyard natural retreats — once championed for their “staycation” potential — are becoming more and more popular for short daily escapes. Quiet moments in a hammock or deck chair — listening to the trickle of water as birds sing all around — offer ongoing opportunities to disconnect from technology, so sorely needed in today’s modern life.

One Deck and Patio project perfectly exemplifies the kind of ongoing escape people are seeking. The homeowners of this award-winning installation felt they had neglected their love of nature long enough and wanted a new backyard that was a home for wildlife and lush vegetation, a place to regularly refresh the soul and spirit.

The wife says she always loved birds and nature but hadn’t seen birds in a long time. A fully-blooming landscape was also important they felt, not only to attract birds but lots of butterflies.

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert proposed a multi-feature natural retreat. One special detail in the overall design is the deck actually overhangs a pond so it appears as if the pond is partially underneath the deck and continuing down the property.

 

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The deck designed and built by the Deck and Patio Company overhangs the pond.

Our outdoor living expert’s plans for this retreat also included two 35-foot babbling brooks and a four-foot multi-tiered waterfall to feed into the pond.

 

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Deck and Patio’s natural retreat included two 35-foot babbling brooks.

 

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Deck and Patio’s outdoor retreat contained a four foot multi-tiered waterfall to feed into the pond.

Our outdoor living expert also considered how Deck and Patio’s designs and installations would fit with the additional elements the homeowners had hired other companies to do, such as a conservatory and a small bridge — always taking into account how everything would appear in nature.

The streams and waterfalls look natural because Deck and Patio’s expert understands the way water moves over rock, which is what makes our waterfalls and streams look natural. Movement is determined by the type of rocks we used, thus forcing water to move multiple ways when it comes down over the waterfall.

Plus, the rocks employed in this inspired pond installation – some of which weigh over three tons — were imported from farmers’ fields in New Jersey. Each rock was hand picked for its particular use, sometimes for their ideal crevices in which garden perennials could be planted.

 

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The deck, water features, and landscaping designed and built by Deck and Patio work harmoniously with elements done by other companies.

Every plant in this installation was approved by the homeowners, in addition to being approved by Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert. We planted 4-5,000 bulbs, over 300 species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens, and perennials including 150 different varieties of these species.

The layout of the project detailed different settings and focal points. In some cases you are setting next to a pond observing a waterfall; in other cases you’re walking through a woodland path. The result is a wonderful outdoor experience. First, one is captivated by the sensational color scheme — in this case — pinks, purples, yellows and lavender.

 

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Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert suggests taking some moments not just to smell the roses but also to feed the koi.

The layout of the project detailed different settings and focal points. In some cases you are setting next to a pond observing a waterfall; in other cases you’re walking through a woodland path. The result is a wonderful outdoor experience. First, one is captivated by the sensational color scheme — in this case — pinks, purples, yellows and lavender.

 

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Deck and Patio can create a woodland path as part of an outdoor retreat.

 

 

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert is available to help you plan your own special retreat. Soon you, too, can leave the cell phones, iPads, laptop, and remote controls on the kitchen table for a little while each day. Instead, enjoy heading outside with some food for the koi.