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Landscaping Ideas: Pulling Out All the Stops

You love to cook and no ordinary outdoor barbecue will do. Gathering with family and friends in the evening around a fire is also your nirvana. And you want your kids to spend time enjoying a good swim.

The question is how do we as a family want to spend time together in 2022?

To formulate the perfect landscaping plan for your family, first, it is the job of professionals like Deck and Patio to understand each client. Are you avid gardeners, for example? Or will you want plants that survive with little effort?

How a plan combines hardscapes (patios, driveways, etc.) with the softscapes (trees, plantings and grasses) is very important. In addition, how homeowners will use the space, the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

 

Manhasset Project

Manhasset Project

This Manhasset, Long Island, family had a large list of amenities that we designed and built for them:

— a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool;

— a flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall;

— a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone; 

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

— and a very special amenity: a large sunken fire pit. 

The veneer of the fire pit was also used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa. It’s all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

“They wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says our own Dave Stockwell “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. It was that they were repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them which to us is the very best testimonial.”

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

 

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

 

“In designing the large 16’ x 32’ pavilion with fireplace, we also dealt with the fact that our clients wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these are effective in deterring irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather,” says Dave.

For colder weather, the large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside of a new pavilion, but flush to it. This allows for the maximum of space.

 

 

 

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Deck and Patio captured some drama with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

 

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Maintenance Before the Leaves Fall

Leaf Tannin Can Cause Staining

Leaf Tannin Can Cause Staining

 

The leaves are changing here on Long Island, which is a sign that some backyard maintenance needs doing before and after they fall.

For one thing, leaf tannin stains decks and driveways so we need to plan for removing the leaves. Also, leaf debris in water features can lead to a messy clean up come spring. Plus, there’s plant pruning, tree trimming and even some planting to do during fall. So let’s get planning.

 

 

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

As we wrote in detail a few weeks ago, pond netting is key if you own a pond. Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

 

Prevent Staining from Leaves

Wet Foliage Can Stain:

Wet Foliage Can Stain:

“Fallen leaves have tannin,” adds Dave. “The tannin can stain concrete, pavers and decks. People often don’t realize that it’s preferable to simply remove the leaves than to seal your deck or patio.”

Sealants, he continues, need to be regularly redone, which is a lot more maintenance than just getting rid of the leaves. (Indeed, some new deck materials such as Trex Transcend, don’t require sealants and it’s a good idea not to use them at all on these types of decks.)

 

Plant Pruning

Fall Maintenance

Fall Maintenance

 

In order to give plants enough time to callous over before the first frost, right now, that is early fall, is the ideal time to prune.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.

 

 

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”

 

 

 

 

Time to Plant

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.

 

 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

 

Today’s Feature Photo (Top of Page): Deck and Patio Pond Project

A bit of effort in early autumn— before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.

 

 

By |2021-10-21T16:43:54-05:00October 21st, 2021|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Backyard Maintenance Before the Leaves Fall

Backyard Upgrade: Adding the Drama of a Waterfall

Just this week, the New York Daily News ran a story “The most incredible waterfall hikes in the world.” Traveling to these worldwide locations might, indeed, be wonderful. 

 

But did you know you can add a dramatic waterfall in your own yard that provides some of that same awe?

 

“There is a wide choice of design options for your own backyard water feature,” says Dave Stockwell.

In addition to its majesty, another reason for adding a waterfall, adds Dave, is its ability to block out noise. This is a great help if you live in a heavily trafficked neighborhood.

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

 

Backyard High Waterfall Drama

“The next project came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The completed job boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto behind a majestic high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.  The waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool.

 

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

 

 

7'-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

7′-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

 

Another good example of waterfalls offering more than majesty is this project where the waterfall area was conceived to fix a soil erosion/retaining grade issue. (See also our feature photo at top of page.)

Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave.

“Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow from the waterfalls underground and recirculates it.”

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfalls so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

 

Here’s another project where stepping stones bring you past a stunning group of waterfalls.

Not far from the right edge of the project’s pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“Like other projects we’ve done, this waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

 

So! Travel the world and see some of earth’s waterfall majesty by all means. But you can also have some of that awe right in your own yard.

 

 

Beautiful Plantings: Dressing Your Pond ‘to the Nines’

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. 

“The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

 

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. 

As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately before this one, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. 

Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

Note: Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorful plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile.

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

 

Create Ideal Environment With Landscaping Upgrade

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create an ideal environment for enjoying the outdoor season,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Pondless Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings (Long Island/NY):

Lush Plantings (Long Island/NY):

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Using Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio (Long Island/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patio (Long Island/NY):

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Water Feature Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

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

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Blending the Old with the New

Property upgrades often require an artful blending of the old with the new. For this upgrade, the property’s existing pool had pool equipment that was 20 years old.

Getting to the pool plumbing would have been a challenge, but the homeowners were also seeking improvement to what they felt was a very “confining upper patio area.” 

The limited upper patio happened to be where the family enjoyed sitting in the shade and taking in the home’s stunning water views. 

“Since any upgrade plan to extend that patio would call for tearing out all the existing patio areas, this presented the perfect opportunity to gain access to the pool’s dated equipment,” says Dave Stockwell.

Deck and Patio’s design/build team carefully worked out a detailed plan of what to keep, and what to improve or restore in the backyard: 

 

  1. upgrade the existing pool and spa;
  2. expand the property’s confining upper and lower patios,. (This would open up the space, and better show off the property’s spectacular views of Long Island Sound);
  3. And add new colorful plants and flowers to enhance the opened up water views.

 

The result? A remodeled backyard that looks like an entirely new property — with upgrades and equipment that will last for many years to come.

 

Upgraded Pool:

Upgraded Pool:

Deck and Patio refinished the inside of the pool, changing it from white to dark gray. This new color reacts with the water to give the more desirable “natural lagoon” effect. Swim-out steps were added; new stepping stone path beside the pool provides a swath of natural charm within the expansive patio areas.

 

Spa Upgrades:

Spa Upgrades:

The spa circulates pool water, constantly fills up with pool water, then water falls via the spillover channel back into their pool. When expanding the patio near the master bedroom, Deck and Patio took the opportunity to upgrade the spa by adding boulders, and turning the spillover into a larger waterfall to create a more beautiful pool scene.

 

Patio Upgrades:

Patio Upgrades:

The upper patio — where the clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture. In addition, an equally confining lower patio was enlarged for sunning; an outdoor kitchen (at the side of the house) was added for easy entertaining.

 

Landscaping Upgrades:

Landscaping Upgrades:

New plantings were included to screen out unwanted views; the addition of colorful plants and flowers enhance the breathtaking water views. The result of the overall transformation is the homeowners enjoy stunning vistas, and a feeling of space from all areas of their yard.

 

 

 

 

Swim-Up Bars: Turning Your Backyard Pool Into a Full-Blown Resort

Many hope that very soon we’ll all be able to have a backyard bash, teaming with friends and family. Because of this eagerness, we can’t resist thinking about what amenities we want to share with them — once we get the “all clear.”

Riviera Maya Caribbean Resort

Riviera Maya Caribbean Resort

One popular feature to add to a swimming pool is the swim-up bar. 

This upgrade is reminiscent of Caribbean and South Sea resort vacations (left), and once you add a swim-up bar, all you’ll need to complete the resort experience are those drink-umbrellas for your Mojitos and Piña Coladas. 

Adults really love swim-up bars because they can stay in the pool while having a drink. But it’s also a great spot for swimmers and backyard strollers to meet up and talk, without the swimmers having to get out of the pool.

“If these are designed well,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, “swim-up bars can be also used as a dry bar — that is they can be enjoyed from its other side.”

Deck and Patio 38-Foot Swim Up Bar

Deck and Patio 38-Foot Swim Up Bar

In fact, Deck and Patio specializes in creating bars that do just that — do double duty as a dry bar and swim-up. Take, for example, this stunning bar shown here (top left of photo). 

It’s really enjoyable to swim up to this 38-foot “swim-up bar”with submerged barstools.

“The key is each swim-up bar should be unique, designed and custom-made for each project,” says Dave. “Whether it’s the bar’s counter-top, any necessary retaining walls, masonry work, in-pool stools, electrical and plumbing work, it takes skill and experience to ensure it’s perfectly functional, safe, and beautiful.”

And as you can see from this Deck and Patio swim-up, it’s also a dry bar on the other side.

 

Swim-Up Bars Shade Structures

Shade Structures

Shade Structures

 

While not necessary, a shade structure with the swim-up bar is frequently requested. As a licensed contractor, Deck and Patio is well known across Long Island for award-winning design and custom building.

Some shade structure options are:

 

 

 

— shade pergolas, 

— trellises, 

— gazebos and 

— pavilions. 

 

“A shade structure should blend harmoniously with other elements in your yard and can include everything from an outdoor kitchen, pizza oven, fireplace,” says Dave. “With such additions, your guests can enjoy dining, as well as drinks, from your swim-up bar.” 

The main point, of course, is to have sufficient sun protection in that part of your yard and pool.

 

Lagoon-style Swimming Pool

Lagoon-style Swimming Pool

In addition to a dramatic waterfall area, a stunning Cambridge paver patio and water slide, these clients wanted a swim-up bar with in-pool stools, and Tiki umbrellas. 

Landscaping: Throughout this backyard retreat, smaller groups of boulders were fitted with plantings for natural and attractive retaining areas.

The photo below shows the other side of the swim up bar with examples of the landscaped boulders and plants.

 

True Backyard Retreat

True Backyard Retreat

“With True Blue Swimming Pool’s beautiful pool, the clients got what everything they wanted, a full oasis that “wows,” says Dave.

 

Deck and Patio Swim-Up Bar

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: This is an example of combining many elements — use landscaping, a swim-up bar, pool waterfalls, natural retaining wall, shade structure,  etc. — to create a true enticing backyard resort.

Making the Most of 2021’s Outdoor Living Season

Google Earth

Google Earth

Even though winter isn’t over, many are already wondering how to make the most of the 2021 outdoor living season. Just the possibility of welcoming friends again to our backyards, and not just close family, is thrilling to imagine.

Whether or not a reduced pandemic will allow such outdoor bashes, we know we will be able to bust loose at some point. So as we gaze over our yards, imagining what upgrades we’d like, Deck and Patio has some outdoor living spaces ideas. 

 

When to Plan

 

You might think you should postpone landscape upgrades until spring.

“People think they can’t begin planning until it’s warm,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “But that’s really not necessary at all. It can be done during any season, including winter.”

Insert A. Landscape Planning Via Google Earth 

Even if the ground is covered in snow, adds Dave, our experts don’t need to see the ground to begin. Plus, with the computer software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process is surprisingly quick — even providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look after the work is done.

“Granted, it is helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced,” says Dave. “But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.”

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you will see from the before photo (above left), space is often tight. Even so, this Massapequa couple hankered to enjoy their backyard more.

“Space was definitely at a premium,” says Dave. “So in lieu of what would have been a more expensive pool, the couple decided on a hot tub, installed with a custom look, in-ground, which would also made it easier to get in and out of.”

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. The idea of a pond, with soothing waterfall, and colorful koi swimming about that they could feed right from the hot tub, was the perfect complement (see right photo), 

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, custom hot tub installation, and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

 

Large Pond Under Stone Bridge

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after the owner purchased his property, he contacted us. An entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

He asked us to accentuate the property’s beautiful 1880 bridge structure with a man-made reflecting pond. Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. 

The water feature we designed and built was more than 240-feet-long and 60-feet-wide, so it also captured the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful expanse of water made the perfect habitat for koi. 

Our team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water, doesn’t it?

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A family in Dix Hills, NY, called on Deck and Patio when they decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area (see above before/after photos above). Their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

“We suggested a unique idea to deal with the large wall behind the pool and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”

Stepping stones in front of the waterfall makes it possible to walk right up to the waterfall — like being on a Caribbean vacation. The teaming waterfall flows into a “pondless” waterfall system, capturing the water under ground, filtering it, and recirculating it.

The plan also called for draining the pool and removing the liner; a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered and we straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl-covered stairs were added to the pool, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

 

New Modern Deck

 

“During Construction”

“During Construction”

“Completed Construction”

“Completed Construction”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Centerport, NY, homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub.

 

New Backyard ‘Spool’

 

"Before"

“Before”

“After”

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio built this backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago. 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 provide the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall. 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. Lush plantings and a new patio completed their new backyard retreat.

So even if it snows, or blasts cold, yu can stay warm but still start planning your new backyard upgrade. 

 

Lush Landscapes

Lush Landscapes

 

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: Note how vibrant, lush landscaping enhances any outdoor space — be it patio, pool area, and even around a spa. 

 

Need a Landscaping Idea for Your Backyard Slope?

A few years ago, Deck and Patio had clients whose property had an unused backyard hill area that sloped toward their house. And they asked us to think about how to best make use of it.

“At the top of the slope was a pool,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Our idea was to take advantage of the slope by designing a stream beginning near the pool to run downward toward the house, ending in waterfalls and a koi pond. We also suggested a new patio and stepping stones as finishing touches.”

Stream Ending in Pond

Stream Ending in Pond

This Deck and Patio free-form pond and stream turned out to be a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family.

“Everyone loves feeding and watching the koi as they swim about. Because of good outdoor lighting, we even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the mother. “Plus, we can see it from inside our home and offices, too.”

The homeowners add they are particularly enchanted by the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity everyone feels watching the fish swim. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

Frankly, the clients’ desire for a natural-scape in the yard helped inspire us at Deck and Patio,” owner Dave.

“Our design meandered the serene watery trail along their property’s formerly unused slope. Gravity is all that’s needed to move the water, so it’s also very energy-efficient.

The 35-foot-stream includes natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones positioned along its banks; the stream ends where it tumbles over moss rock waterfalls into a 10’-by-15’ fish pond.

“The adjacent landscape is dotted with tall grasses like Miscanthus and evergreens such as Juniper Parsoni, giving a lush backdrop to it all,” adds Dave.

A natural setting such as this backyard project naturally attracts wildlife, which the homeowners particularly hoped would happen.

“The whole pond and stream areas attract so much delightful wildlife — like frogs and birds,” say the homeowners. “That really is one of our favorite things about having a pond.”

The Deck and Patio Company earned a Silver Award from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) for this project.

 

Free-form Pond and Stream:

Free-form Pond and Stream:

Deck and Patio used a flexible pond liner to create a free-form pond that would blend into the natural landscape. We planted Purple Cone flowers, Coreopsis and Spirea Anthony Waters, as well as tall grasses, and deep green ground cover. Together, the bursts of bright plant color and the sounds of moving water are soothing whether the clients are lounging by their pool, back patio or even in the house.

 

Creating Natural-looking Pondscapes:

Creating Natural-looking Pondscapes:

Having gone to “pond college” at Aquascape, Inc’s Pondemonium, Deck and Patio’s team has learned to look at a property from various viewing points — from wherever the clients will be looking at the water feature, including the house. Here we positioned an 11x 16 pond adjacent to their patio.

 

Pondscapes-Beautiful All Year Long:

Pondscapes-Beautiful All Year Long:

“Our clients found that in winter the moss rock boulders become sparkling ice sculptures so they enjoy their water feature all year-long” says Dave Stockwell. “Their backyard hill area sloped toward the house and a pool at the top of the hill. Our design allowed for the stream to begin near the pool and run toward the pond, patio, and house.”

 

Backyard Pondscape and Stream:

Backyard Pondscape and Stream:

Deck and Patio’s design called for an extended patio with bluestone stepping stones leading to the stream, natural stones to walk across it, and more bluestone on the other side up to the pool area.

 

 

 

The Backyard Sanctuary You Always Wanted

 

 

Wish Lists Are Key

Wish Lists Are Key

 

Have you been wanting a backyard sanctuary but don’t know what to do first? Sometimes, the best way to begin is to create a wish list.

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This is what they wanted for their outdoor sanctuary:

 

 

 

Wish List Come to Life

Wish List Come to Life

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This was their list for an outdoor sanctuary:

— an in-ground vinyl-lined pool

— large patio area,

— outdoor kitchen,

— outdoor shower,

— fire pit,

— serene streams and waterfalls, and

— high-tech/energy-efficient pool components that are undetectable in the landscape.

 

“We were happy to assure them that we could bring together all the expertise necessary and design and organize it all,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In fact, incorporating outdoor technology with all the mechanics well hidden in beautiful settings fit right into our wheelhouse. It’s one of our trademarks.”

 

Energy-Efficient Pool

Insulation

Energy-Efficiency

Energy-Efficiency

 

The water in a pool is often around 85 or 90 degrees, while the surrounding soil is considerably cooler. Adding insulation around the outside of the pool wall, as we did for this project, creates a thermal break between the warm water and the soil that really saves energy by helping the pool water to retain its warmth.

 

 

Heaters/Pumps

We worked with the owners to find energy-efficient solutions for the whole project. There are many ways to increase efficiency:

To heat the pool, we added a hybrid system that uses both a gas heater and an electric heat pump. The heat pump acts like a reverse air conditioner, pulling in warmth from the air and transferring it into the pool. This design not only adds heat taken from the air — and not from electricity — but the gas heater can act as back up when the air temperature is very low or when creating heat more quickly is required.

The “variable speed pump” is an extremely efficient pump that allows low energy use by slowing down the motor dramatically. It decreases the amount of energy the pump uses. It can run twenty-four-seven much more efficiently than others pumps that are used only a few hours a day.

Automation

Raising and lowering the speed of the pump is programmed by computer and they can control when it turns on and off. The computer will also monitor the chemical levels in the pool and decrease or increase them as required.

 

 

Hiding the Automation Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Deck and Patio hid the pool equipment away, up a delightful pathway, behind the waterfalls.

We designed and built the streams and waterfalls to flow through berm with moss rock. The gentle sounds of two streams leading to two separate waterfalls, as well as the splash of jet sprays, screen out any sounds from high-tech pool equipment.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy efficient components supporting it all. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to backyard retreat. 

An outdoor shower stands at base of stepping stone pathway (right) that leads up to pool equipment.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls.

Note: Updating Your Pool

With vinyl pools you can also change a staircase, add a bench or swim-out, change the coping, and of course change your old liner.

Liner color choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool as seen in this photo. There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Their sanctuary’s outdoor kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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