backyard upgrades

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Contemporary Landscape Design: Front, Back, and In-Between

In landscaping projects, a contemporary look is frequently achieved through an emphasis on wood and other amenities installed in sleek, non-rigid formations. Such designs are often most successful when they involve improving something already in place.

That was the case with this stylish Deck and Patio complete contemporary makeover. However, initially, when these Long Island homeowners first approached us, they were only looking for an innovative and modern outdoor look for their property’s existing deck.

 

Backyard: New Decking

Deck and Patio replaced the clients’ old pressure-treated deck, positioned close to their home’s geometric pool, with a sleekly-designed multi-level Trex Accents composite deck in “Saddle.”

Trex’s “Saddle” suggested the natural look and hue of wood that was needed to achieve a contemporary design — just without the constant maintenance.

As the new deck was being completed, the homeowners were so happy with the work they asked us to make a complete renovation of the remainder of their backyard as well as the front and side of the home.

 

 

Backyard/Side-Yard: New Retaining Wall

The property’s old-fashioned, straight-lined railroad tie retaining wall was removed.

We replaced it with a tan Allan Block wall, laid out in sweeping curves. The serpentine shape doesn’t only define the space, but also softens the lines of their new relaxation area.

Deck and Patio chose Allan blocks because they look like natural stone; also they combine a rustic and modern aesthetic that result in an attractive contemporary look. In addition, they are also “dry-stacked” so there was no need for footings, mortar or connectors in the building process because the blocks stay in place once they are stacked together — a real boon for cost-savings.

 

 

 

 

In-Between

In-between the deck and retaining wall, we created a lovely water feature area that appeals to the homeowner’s sense of sound as well as sight.

 

 

 

 

Front Driveway/Steps

With the backyard completely finished, the old, crumbling asphalt driveway needed serious attention. The Deck and Patio Company’s design required removing the old driveway and replacing it with durable tan Techo-Bloc pavers.

The asphalt walkway was also extracted and a series of graceful Techo-Bloc stairs and landings were installed.

 

 

 

The beauty of the newly installed front door step and landing were subtly accented by a decorative circle kit giving a charming and aesthetically pleasing finish.

Made of interlocking paving stones, the design offered warmth and charm in a design that perfectly suited the design of their home.

 

 

 

Pool Area

 

 

Where there once stood a moss rock waterfall, Deck and Patio designed and installed a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water.

 

 

 

 

Final Note

On completion of the project, when all the craftsmen packed up, the homeowners were pleased with how their dream and the Deck and Patio’s design vision came to be a reality.

They felt that the finished custom landscape brought their outdated eighties’ exterior landscaping — front, back, and in-between — into the new millennium.

 

 

Backyard Pond and Stream Turns ‘Day at the Pond’ Into ‘Every Day’

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 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.”

The clients’ desire for a natural-scape in the yard helped inspire us at Deck and Patio as well, says owner Dave Stockwell.

“Our design meandered the beautiful 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 (e.g., 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 posited an 11x 16 pond adjacent to their patio.

 

Pondscapes are Beautiful All Year Long:

Pondscapes are 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.

 

By | 2017-08-17T12:13:03+00:00 August 17th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Updating Landscape|Comments Off on Backyard Pond and Stream Turns ‘Day at the Pond’ Into ‘Every Day’

The Top Elements of an Amazing Outdoor Space

 

 

Even though we got hit with a snow storm only two days ago, we know that last week’s 60 degree-weather will soon be a daily experience. So it’s a great time to plan for outdoor living weather.

As you plan, consider the top elements of an amazing outdoor space we designed/built in Manhasset, NY, a while ago. The project not only thrilled the homeowners, but won Deck and Patio a prestigious design award as well (ahem).

Back Story

The clients had a lovely home. It boasted a lush wooded property, which they did not want to completely sacrifice in any upgrade. Plus, their sloping backyard was small for all the outdoor living amenities they hoped for.

Landscaping Plan

“We are used to dealing with sloping properties. Not to mention smaller lots,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “This is Long Island, after all. However, the point isn’t to simply squeeze everything in. But creatively blend the various elements together so that the softscapes and hardscapes are harmonious, with neither overpowering the other.”

In the case of their new swimming pool, opting for a free-form design allowed for a full-sized pool, despite the yard’s available space. And it was accomplished without sacrificing a surround-patio large enough for entertaining.

“By designing the patio in multi-levels, and taking advantage of the various property slopes, we made the space seem larger,” says Dave. “We also designed the patio in a free-form shape; it not only echoes the style of the pool, but the way it meanders along the landscape gives it a more natural look.”

For patio materials, concrete pavers were decided on. “While other landscapers might have gone along with using natural stone, we encouraged them to choose concrete pavers,” adds Dave. “And while there would be occasions where we would recommend bluestone ourselves, natural stone gets very hot in the sun, which wouldn’t be ideal around the pool and spa.”

The custom raised spill-over spa was built above the pool with its own private patio. “We were able to keep much of the existing trees and bushes around it, offering a natural shady area as an option to sun bathing on the lower pool patio.”

Stepping out of the home’s backdoor, a handsome deck expands outward to the top of one of the backyard’s slopes. Stepping stones lead from there to a set of concrete steps. To the right and left of the bottom step is a stacked stone wall that supports the plantings and lawn; it also provides an extended seating area when the clients are entertaining.

“One very special element was choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which gave us lots of flexibility in design,” adds Dave. “We frequently work in gunite when clients want it, but vinyl pools are created through advanced computerization — allowing us to fit a full-sized pool within the constraints of most any property. The liner goes over a base construction that is made the same way as any other pool, so the structure is sound.”

Dave says that vinyl liners also hold up particularly well in the thaw-freeze climate of the northeast.

“We think the homeowners made great choices for this project. Apparently, the Northeast Spa and Pool Association [NESPA] agreed. They lauded the project with a special merit award.”

 

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Top project elements not mentioned above are low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting. Including such well-designed lighting means the exquisite backyard retreat you planned can be appreciated at night as well as during the day. Nighttime swims, for example, will be particularly glorious. In fact, the Manhasset, NY, outdoor lighting elements added a “Wow” factor that are as romantic as they are practical.

 

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

The concrete pavers are a key element in the overall design of this award-winning project. Their hues coordinate nicely with the home and do not retain heat like natural stone would.

 

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

When entertaining, the project’s stacked stone wall provides ample space for people to sit. It is also an attractive way to support the rising grade. By designing the patio free-form like the pool, it allowed for charming recessed areas to enjoy quiet contemplation or intimate conversations.

 

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

The free-form patio meanders along the pool and lawn area in a natural looking way. The pavers were installed on crushed stone — the same way as traditional pavers; polymer sand joints were included to prevent weeds from popping up in between.

 

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

In future, when the time comes to replace the liner in a vinyl pool, this turns out to be a great wallet-friendly-opportunity to give your pool a facelift and a brand new look. Note: vinyl pools have steel reinforced concrete walls underneath that are thicker and stronger than typical unite pools. So, they’re much more than just comfy on your feet.

 

 

Backyard Upgrade: From Very Nice to Sublime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

Backyard Upgrade With Unifying Theme:

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

 

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

Hot Tub Added to Existing Pool:

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

 

Hot Tub Installation:

Hot Tub Installation:

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

 

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

Granite-Topped Outdoor Kitchen:

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

 

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

Waterfalls and Fire Features:

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

 

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

Techo-Bloc Aberdeen Paving Stones:

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

 

 

When To Start Planning a Backyard Retreat

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

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

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

Deck and Patio at work

Deck and Patio at work

Choosing the Right Designer/Builder

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

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

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

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

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

 

Deck and Patio brochure

Deck and Patio brochure

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. “We use surveys and Google Earth, etc. to plan any backyard refurbishment,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

This serenely beautiful vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge. Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge pond design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

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

 

 

Deck Designers/Builders, Long Island, NY: New Deck Surround for Swimming Pool

InsertA few months back, we showcased a deck project we were constructing in Oyster Bay, NY. Working with True Blue Swimming Pools, who did the pool upgrades, we have since completed the pool’s durable Fiberon deck surround, replaced the old lawn with new sod, and brightened it all up with colorful landscaping.

 

Old Deck 

Old Deck

 

The clients’ old pressure treated deck had buckled and nails kept popping up.

“Over the years, these clients got tired of hammering them back in,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “Not to mention that these older decks weren’t framed correctly for today’s codes. You could see the old boards actually sagging.”

When a pool, patio or deck needs refurbishing, it offers a great time to add a dramatic statement or two, says Dave. “In this case, our design included dramatic coping along the far side of the pool that we installed flush with the lawn.”

 

Updated Pool Surround Oyster Bay, NY:

Updated Pool Surround Oyster Bay, NY:

When a pool, patio or deck needs refurbishing, it is a great time to add a special statement or two, says Dave. “In this case, our design included dramatic coping along the far side of the pool that we installed flush with the lawn.”

 

 

Fiberon Decking

Fiberon Decking:

 

Deck and Patio frequently builds decks with “capped composite” materials from a variety of manufacturers — all of whom we highly recommend. And like all these companies, Fiberon offers not only low-maintenance care being stain, mold, insect and splinter resistant, but the materials also keep their beautiful look with little effort on the part of the homeowners. Fiberon, however, also has grooves along the side which allow deck builders to install the boards using hidden fasteners, so there are no nails to worry about. Ever.

“In addition, Fiberon provides something special that others do not,” says Dave Stockwell. They boast a special warranty; not only does the manufacturer give the usual 25-year warranty on its materials, the company offers a five-year warranty on labor as well. This means there is no coast at all to the homeowner should it not live up to its claims during the first five years, and of course, it continues to provide 20 years additional warranty on the materials.”

 

Fiberon Swimming Pool Deck Surround:

Fiberon Swimming Pool Deck Surround:

Once bare feet season is back, these Oyster Bay, NY, clients will enjoy an expansive deck surround that contains no nails. It’s also a comfort that they have a fantastic warranty with their Fiberon low-mainteance decking.

 

Bluestone Stepping Stones:

Bluestone Stepping Stones:

Using irregular bluestone, we installed a group of stepping stones for a hammock just above and to the right of the pool’s edge, where the clients can put their stand-alone hammock during the outdoor season.

 

 

Deck Designers/Builders, Long Island, NY: Two New Fiberon Deck Projects

Deck and Patio frequently designs/builds decks using “capped composite” materials from several quality manufacturers.

For the uninitiated, “capped composite” refers to an improvement made in recent years to regular composite decking through the addition of an extra “cap” or “cover” that adds an extra layer of protection against damage.

In our blog today, we’re highlighting two such Deck and Patio decks. These “works-in-progress” projects are both located in Oyster Bay, NY, and include a pool and handsome landscaping.

“When choosing deck materials, the homeowners looked at all the options and both clients decided on Fiberon decking,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“While most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, Fiberon’s special warranty was also a factor for these clients. Not only will they get the usual 25-year warranty on materials, with Fiberon they also get a five-year warranty on labor.”

This extra warranty means there will be no cost at all to these homeowners should there be any staining or scratching, etc. in the first five years. “And they will continue to have the material warranty for another 20 years,” says Dave.

Another factor for the clients was that Fiberon decking boards are easy to install due to their grooved design. Deck and Patio’s builders can fit them together through hidden fasteners, leaving no nails or screws showing — just a clean, smooth look.

“Both clients also liked the color variations and chose Fiberon’s ProTect  “Chestnut” boards that offer subtle streaking and woodgrain patterns.”

First Work-in-Progress Project

Working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY), Deck and Patio designed, and is in the process of building, a two-level deck (see first three photos below). The completed project will include an outdoor kitchen and dining area on the second level with a pergola providing shade over the outdoor kitchen cabinet. The pergola will also have LED lighting that will shine down on the cabinetry, creating a beautiful evening ambience.

When the lower deck level is complete, it will act as a magnificent above-ground-pool surround, ideal for entertaining/sunbathing. Parts of the deck will have lattice skirting, and because they don’t have a shed, we designed access panels so the family can use under the deck for storage.

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Early in the process, Deck and Patio built framing for a deck that will surround the above-ground pool by True Blue Swimming Pools. The pool is set in the lower level of the two-level deck.

 

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Here we are putting down the Fiberon boards over the frame for this Oyster Bay, NY project.

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Note how the Fiberon boards fit together with no showing nails or screws. This clean look means you can walk barefoot without any concern.

 

Second Work-in-Progress

Again, working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) in Oyster Bay, NY, Deck and Patio is building a new replacement deck around an existing pool that is being upgraded. The clients’ previous pressure-treated deck was 25 years old.

“When pressure treated decks like this one get old, the nails tend to pop,” says Dave Stockwell. “After years of banging them back in, the nails don’t hold anymore. In addition, such older decks weren’t framed correctly for today’s codes. You can see in one of the photos below how the old boards are actually sagging. This creates a real hazard when walking around the pool.”

The far side of their new deck will have handsome coping built flush to the lawn and landscape. Our design also includes custom curves not often seen on decking. “These clients are great fans of perennial gardens, and as part of the overall landscaping design, we’re creating one for them with stepping stones from the deck that will go through the new garden to the lawn area.

The first of four photos below is Deck and Patio’s design rendering of the whole project.

 

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

This project is in Oyster Bay, NY and includes an upgraded swimming pool, large Fiberon capped composite decking and robust landscaping, including a perennial garden. Note the unusual custom curves Deck and Patio designed for several parts of the deck.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

You can see the old deck’s boards are buckling up in different places making walking around the clients’ pool hazardous. The new Fiberon decking will be smooth and clean  — with no exposed nails or screws.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

This is a close up photo of the old pressure treated deck boards that had to be removed.

 

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Here you see that the old deck is gone and we’re on our way to creating the beautiful new deck surround and landscaping (see design rendering above).

 

 

Nature Lovers Find Backyard Escapes An Elixir

Don’t you love all the beautiful landscaping photos available on social media? Certainly, Deck and Patio’s team does. We even post a lot of our own. But while it’s an incredible uplift to catch glimpses of serene images of nature during the workday, photos, alas, can’t substitute for the real thing.

 

Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

 

Nature as Elixir

Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Without question, early Native Americans did just that. Chief Ahanton, of one of New Hampshire’s Eastern Woodlands tribes, for example, named the state’s majestic great Lake: Winnipesaukee, — or the smile of the Great Spirit.

And it’s no different today. Pure flowing water — and all that it nourishes — is still considered by many to be sacred. Such scenes touch something deep within, causing us to pause, rest our minds, and rejuvenate.

 

 

INSERT 2Travel Not Required

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats like Lake Winnipesaukee, the Adirondacks, or the White Mountains, etc., how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our local communities.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? This is because local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be transformed into glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

 

 

Backyard Escape:

Backyard Escape: For this project, Deck and Patio carefully selected boulders and stones, along with bright plantings, to help create a beautiful vista. And as Chief Ahanton would no doubt agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining to a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. For this project we built multi-level patios and carefully delineated how each space was to be used. One area was set up for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also mapped out.

 

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds, to swim upstream into the upper pond. (*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a beautiful wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

Backyard Upgrade Ideas: Don’t Forget the Focal Point

A backyard focal point could be a tree that’s beautiful all year, a butterfly garden that includes late blooming plants, or a garden bench set amid wispy ornamental grasses and trees with bright fall foliage. Or, like in the backyard upgrade we’re highlighting here, what catches your eye (and ear) when you walk outdoors can be an inspiring water feature.

In the end, the focal point is simply what you are emphasizing. You can have more than one if your yard is large enough, but it should be done in a way so that various points do not compete with each other.

When these clients approached us for a full backyard upgrade, they wanted several elements:  a two-level patio, fire pit, hot tub, fresh landscaping, and an outdoor kitchen. They also wanted a special water feature that could be enjoyed wherever you are in the yard — or a main focal point that wasn’t static but a “living landscape.”

Water Feature

The completed water feature consists of a “pond-less” waterfall and stream — and, of course, it was all strategically placed so as to be viewed from both the main kitchen window, the new two-level patio, and the hot tub.

An added benefit is the feature was made with all Aquascape Inc. components, so it is eco-friendly: the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

Patio and Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

To support the water feature’s natural appeal, the two-level patio was made with a Techo-Bloc paver that gives the suggestion of natural wood and the fire pit and outdoor kitchen facade were made of natural stone. Despite the height of the outdoor kitchen, and the impressive patio pattern, the water feature’s size, movement, and drama means it is never outshone.

That does not mean, however, that the other elements aren’t beautiful and significant. Indeed, everything should work together as one harmonious whole.

 

 Backyard Focal Points:

Backyard Focal Points:

Moving water is delightful to listen to as well as watch. This pond-less stream and waterfalls were positioned so as to catch the eye immediately when stepping outside; it can also be enjoyed from the kitchen window.

 

 

Backyard Focal Points:

Backyard Focal Points:

The stream and waterfalls flow next to the clients’ new Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub — adding another layer of relaxation to the spa experience.

 

 

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

By providing the rich look of wood flooring, Techo-Bloc Borealis’ modular 5”-and-10”-wide slabs have been called trompe l’oeil by industry professionals. Offering such a natural wood look, it was the perfect choice for a patio that sits beside a flowing stream with waterfalls.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchen:

Outdoor Kitchen:

The clients’ new outdoor kitchen/eating bar was set on the lower-level of their new patio — just next to the end of the waterfall/stream. An ideal place for gathering for drinks before dinner is made all the better with the sounds and movements of an adjacent water feature.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchens and Fire Pits:

Outdoor Kitchens and Fire Pits:

The mechanics of the fire pit and outdoor kitchen are hidden within stone facades. The outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

Flexible Shade:

Flexible Shade:

When open, embedded umbrellas provide flexible shade opportunities anywhere they are needed. Moved behind the eating bar, the umbrellas are a great substitute for a pergola; they are more flexible than fixed shade amenities because various umbrellas can be open and closed at the same time or moved as the sun does. When all open, you have a perfect area to place a buffet or sit and and relax in full shade.

 

 

 

Property Upgrades: Time To See Under the Snow…to Spring

Attention fellow snow-bound Northerners: Now this may be difficult. But, if you are thinking of any upgrades to your property, it is best — despite all the white stuff  — to look under the snow and see Spring.

“Everyone thinks because there’s so much snow on the ground, they can’t plan or figure out what can be done,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “But, all of a sudden, the snow melts, and our phones ring off the hook.”

Although Deck and Patio has several designers on staff, Renter says that because so many wait until Spring to contact us, it can take weeks for someone to get out to see them.

“What potential clients don’t realize is, we don’t have to see the ground to plan,” says Renter. “If there’s an existing patio or pool, that’s one thing. It’s helpful to see those. But for the most part, we can work through surveys and Google Earth.”

That’s fine you might be thinking. But you don’t want to just begin blind. Well, consider this. Deck and Patio will work up a plan and also provide a 3-D rendering, or video so clients won’t have to rely on their imagination.

 

Landscape Planning

Landscape Planning

Believe it or not, good design/build firms can “see underneath the snow” by using surveys and Google Earth, etc. to come up with a property upgrade plan for spring: be it adding a pool, spa, pond, waterfalls, or just lush plantings.

 

"Pool Studio" 3-D Animations

“Pool Studio” 3-D Animations

Our team worked with this homeowner (see photo above) through the use of a computer software program called “Pool Studio,” which is a 3-D animation program that allows viewers to literally fly over and walk through a project as it is developing.

All aspects of this project’s design  — from the existing house to the proposed patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen, and expanded pond – could be experienced in motion — even the gas campfires. This was particularly helpful, in order to fully appreciate the water-to-water views of the proposed vanishing edge pool.

 

Winter Landscape Planning

Winter Landscape Planning

These clients (photo above) say that when work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked them. “I soon learned everything Bill

[Renter] did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. Because the property was flat, our 3-D renditions showed how different patio levels would make the yard appear bigger — even what the views would look like from various parts of the house.

 

AutoCAD 3-D Animation

AutoCAD 3-D Animation

Again, we used AutoCAD and 3-D animation to show how this multilevel pool area would change. We showed how we would turn what the client described as a problem area into a feature, by enlarging the upper area, where the client liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view. The lower area was expanded for sunning; an outdoor kitchen was added for entertaining.

 

 

Backyard Upgrades

Backyard Upgrades

It’s okay if you look outside and have no idea how to plan for Spring. The key is: design/build experts do know, and those such as The Deck and Patio Company have the ability to show you what to expect during, and after, the work takes place.