backyard sanctuary

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Designing an Ideal Pond for Your Property’s Size and Shape

Whether your property is large and expansive — or no bigger than a postage stamp — most yards can accommodate some type of pond. 

As you’ll see from examples we’re highlighting, ponds come in many sizes, shapes, and depths, and sometimes these water features may not be classified as ponds at all.

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

Larger Properties

In our first showcased Deck and Patio pond project (below), the clients also wanted a new deck. It was ideal being able to design both the pond and deck together for a truly integrated result.

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

We designed the above deck with a viewing platform. From there, the clients can take in the whole pond. It’s also an inviting spot for dining with family or friends. And the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings — adds to the ambience. 

You can also see that we added large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“That path across provides the clients with what they were hoping for — an escape to a private place for relaxing and meditating. Of course you can always design your pond further away from the house for even more privacy,” says Dave.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond (above) in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house, for maximum enjoyment throughout the day. 

Some of the plantings used are Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis, providing bright pops of color, along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

As you will see from all our ponds, part of what makes these water features so spectacular — and so relaxing — is their landscaping. Landscaping a pond requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture.

 

Total Backyard Sanctuary

Total Backyard Sanctuary

When constructing this backyard sanctuary, complete with koi pond, we built an Iron Woods Ipe deck (not shown); the bridge that crosses the pond is also made of Ipe — one of the strongest woods in the world; it is painted white to complement the clients’ existing backyard conservatory. 

The whole project earned Deck and Patio both a NESPA and APSP Gold award.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

 

Additional Pond Waterfall

Additional Pond Waterfall

For this water feature, the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: an additional waterfall located near the house and a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property. 

Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall (left) at the top of a slope facing the clients’ indoor kitchen.

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

 

Main Pond:

Main Pond:

This photo is the main pond of the additional waterfall above which was located near their destination-pool recreation area in another part of their property.

 

When Property Space Is Smaller

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

When space is at a premium (and even when it’s not), Deck and Patio can help clients find ways to creatively add a pond. 

The above photo showcases a Trex deck with two handsome “platform” staircases; we installed a beautiful micro pond and waterfall in and around the staircases in what was a former planting bed. 

“Every time they enter or leave the house they enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond,” says Dave. “So space is never an issue at all.”

 

Waterfalls Without The Pond

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Pondless Waterfall/Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

When children are very young, clients often opt for a “pondless” waterfall, in lieu of a pond.

With these water features, river rock allows flowing water from a waterfall to seep down into the ground where a reservoir captures the water and recirculates it.

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

A pondless system, as show in this Deck and Patio project, 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.

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.

 

As you can see from these projects above, size and style depends on what meets the needs of each specific client. “Our ponds are never cookie-cutter,” says Dave. “The design and installation location always stems from our meetings with clients and visits to their properties.”

 

Vinyl-Lined Pools Allow Flexibility in Pool Design

Although Deck and Patio builds concrete (gunite) pools, many of our clients prefer the feel of vinyl and especially the flexibility that vinyl offers in designing a pool.

“Sometimes stringent local setback codes affect pool design, other times the backyard space is small or the terrain challenging. Whatever the difficulties, with today’s advanced computerization of liner fabrications used in vinyl-lined pools, we can construct a swimming pool in any shape, curve, or angle, so there’s freedom in giving clients exactly what they want,” says Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter.

With such flexibility in pool design, homeowners are also not stuck with what some believe to be unattractive white interior stairs. “The liner is fabricated to include the stairs and any other in-pool amenities. This is helpful because white stairs do not blend with the rest of the pool,” says Renter, “and, of course, there’s no sacrificing a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.”

Of course, the base construction of a vinyl pool is much the same as any other. Vinyl simply refers to the method used to line a pool’s interior. These liners come in a large variety of colors, which can react with the water to create a romantic “grotto” or “lagoon’ effect, so popular today. Plus, the concrete walls of vinyl-lined pools have a lifetime guarantee.

“Often known for being the lowest-cost option, vinyl pools and spas are easily customizable,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In addition, replacement cost for the outer liner is modest compared to other pool fixes. Because of this, we can offer a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look down the road. Plus, in the Northeast, vinyl-lined pools perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate.”

The first project we’re highlighting today (see first photo below) is unique with an interesting twist on the typical vinyl liner. It’s a swimming pool that looks like a pond – i.e., made entirely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel – but filtered and treated chemically like a normal pool. Its liner isn’t “vinyl.” Instead, because of the very unique pool design the clients wanted, the best choice was a rubber pond liner. It’s as comfortable as vinyl and was a necessary choice for the job.

 

Adirondack-style Pool:

Adirondack-style Pool:

Despite looking like it’s a natural pond set within rocks, on the bottom of the pool there are no boulders. We installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pool water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool and is comfortable to swim in. We used a blend of pool and pond materials — a black liner, which reacts with the water to create a stunning pond-like appearance (a 45-mil EPDM pond liner) and Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

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

 

 

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

This entire Manhasset, NY project included a free-form, vinyl-lined pool that meanders along the landscape, along with a spillover spa. We tucked it into the back right corner of the clients’ backyard and surrounded it with a stacked stone wall and lush plantings. If you have a small yard — as was the case here — Deck and Patio frequently recommends designing different patio levels which help make the yard appear bigger.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, portable spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio. The movement in the pool’s free-form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture – with a view on how it will grow – ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely oasis for a long time to come.

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

These clients wanted a good deal more than an outdoor pool and patio; they wanted a wide range of resort-style amenities to enhance their already existing majestic views of Long Island Sound. One such amenity was a vinyl-lined vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool that brings the view of the shoreline right up to their backyard patio. In addition, we included a spectacular custom spa, also perfectly positioned to enjoy the “vanishing edge” views. (Sunset photo of this project follows.)

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

This resort-style outdoor living oasis includes vanishing (vinyl lined) pool, custom spa, tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning. A swim-up U-shaped bar also serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

 

 

Outdoor Benches: Getting Up Close and Personal

Like backyard bridges, garden benches need not be just for decorative purposes, although they undoubtedly grace any property. Rather, they are treasured rest-spots, where one can be still and take in pretty views — up close and personal….and really stop and smell the roses.

Depending on individual taste, there are a wide variety of bench materials and designs available:

—  wrought iron

—  various woods: eucalyptus, reclaimed wood, acacia, cedar, redwood, etc. (just choose a durable/weather-resistant wood)

—  cast aluminum

—  a bamboo bench (great for Asian-inspired gardens)

—  a backless bench, perhaps with hidden storage

—  a swinging or glider bench

—  farmhouse and park style bench

—  or how about dual chairs such as Adirondacks instead of one piece of outdoor furniture

—  or a natural stone slab

…or a myriad of other materials, sizes, shapes. You can even personalize your bench, with some sort of family commemoration, coat of arms, or motto.

Remember, to enjoy a bench, all you really need is some sort of pretty focal point, or view, (maybe under your favorite tree) and a bit of open space.

Bonus: If you planted particular flowers or shrubs, your may attract butterflies or hummingbirds near your bench. Even if not, some species of birds will be chirping nearby and the sky will be blue — all with no effort on your part.

In sum, the garden bench offers that special up close and personal opportunity to enjoy the outdoors — an enjoyment you might miss from further away in the kitchen, or on the patio or deck.

 

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY):

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY):

How’s this for up-close and personal. These Deck and Patio clients asked us to put smaller stepping stones out to a larger stone island — in the middle of the man-made natural pond we created for them. The addition of two Adirondack chairs present a perfect spot to feed and watch the koi, and listen to the pond’s waterfalls.

 

Garden Bench and Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Garden Bench and Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Talk about peaceful…you can imagine these homeowners sometimes praying for rain…so they can finally get indoor chores done. The beautiful scene that opens up in front of the wood bench includes a koi pond, waterfalls, rolling grass slope, aquatic plants and a bridge crossing the stream that feeds the waterfalls.

 

Rock Sofa and Rock Seats (Long Island/NY):

Rock Sofa and Rock Seats (Long Island/NY):

Talk about up close. From the rock sofa and flanking rock-seats, sitters can stretch back and run their fingers in the waterfalls behind them.

 

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls (Long Island/NY)

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls (Long Island/NY)

What a scene to relax by. A gentle stream is coaxed over rocks into several waterfalls. Lily pads wait on croaking frogs. Ornamental grasses wave in the breeze, and flowering perennials add color and charm.

Backyard Sanctuary Offers No Hint of Hi Tech Underpinnings

Incorporating the latest outdoor living technology, beautifully hidden in natural surroundings, is one of my passions,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter.

That passion is vividly expressed in this backyard sanctuary comprised of a new in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls.

Its first, and most challenging, major hi tech component is an automatic pool cover attached to the vinyl free-form pool. These covers are difficult to attach to the free-form pool style and shape. In fact, previously, the homeowners were told it wasn’t possible to do so.

“We were glad to assure them that we could bring together all the expertise necessary to design and build it all,” adds Renter. “And when not in use, the cover retracts out of sight.”

Other technology: 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” Deck and Patio used 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.

 

Backyard Sanctuary:

Backyard Sanctuary:

This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy-efficient components supporting it all. Our biggest challenge was creating a four-inch ledge around pool which secures closed pool cover.

 

 

 

Hi Tech Pools:

Hi Tech Pools:

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

 

 

Hiding Pool Equipment:

Hiding Pool Equipment:

High-tech pool equipment is well hidden behind berm, at end of the stepping stone path.

 

 

 

Automatic Pool Cover:

Automatic Pool Cover:

Automatic pool cover, when closed, supports clients’ young children should they walk on it unsupervised. This particular ‘rigid slated plastic’ pool cover, however, had never been fitted to this type of pool in this part of the world before.

 

 

 

Automatic Pool Cover:

Automatic Pool Cover:

Pool covers reduce evaporation of water — thereby reducing the chemical usage required. Because automated pool cover is so easy to use, it is more likely to be closed when not in use — increasing energy-efficiency as well as safety.

 

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen:

Outdoor Kitchen:

The mechanics of this outdoor kitchen’s amenities are hidden handsomely within a work station with stone facade; outdoor kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

 

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