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Backyard Upgrade in Huntington/NY: How to Cope with a Slope

You might not believe it from the finished results, but this backyard upgrade involved one of the most challenging sites Deck and Patio ever worked on.

“It literally had a seven-foot elevation from one end of their rather small yard to the other,” says Dave Stockwell. “And their hopes for a full outdoor retreat — pool, spa, patio, waterfall, custom fire pit — and on a tight budget — added to the challenges.

“Our biggest problem to solve was how to make everything look like it fit in naturally without it all looking like a giant hill.”

Dave says the way our design/build staff approached the project was to take on the grade in small bites — working out from an existing lower level patio to a new raised patio and then up to a pool. 

Initial Design Plan

Initial Design Plan

 

“We worked with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) to accomplish this. After the plans were initially made, the clients decided they also wanted a spa.

 

 

The best solution was adding a portable hot tub that we could nestle in between the two new patios.”

 

Bullfrog Spa With Custom Installation (Huntington/NY):

Bullfrog Spa With Custom Installation (Huntington/NY):

By surrounding the hot tub with natural stone boulders with colorful plantings, the hot tub has a custom set-in-garden appeal. It was also positioned close to their back door so they can enjoy easy access year-long.

Note: the hot tub is accessible from both the upper and lower patios. We also used rock boulders imported from Pennsylvania to create steps from the patio into the spa.

 

Partial in-Ground Pool (Huntington/NY):

Partial in-Ground Pool (Huntington/NY):

The pool is 16′ x 36’ — a wonderful full-size in such a small backyard. We pulled the pool out of the ground 16″ to create a seat wall, and used large boulders and plants to hold back the grade and soften the hard boulders. 

The job site was so small that we had to partially build the pool, install boulders. slide, and waterfall, and then complete the pool wall construction.

 

Small Yard Pool Construction (Huntington/NY):

Small Yard Pool Construction (Huntington/NY):

Here’s a photo of moss rock boulders being installed on the wall of the pool. Boulders like these were also needed to form the moss rock waterfall.

 

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Here you see the completed moss rock waterfall with the sweet potato vine we added. Landscaping helps bring a setting to life and softens the hardscape.

 

Natural Staircase (Huntington/NY):

Natural Staircase (Huntington/NY):

One way to make use of the slope on a property to to create a stepped pathway. Here we made a stone stairway with natural plantings on either side which coordinates with the hot tub setting and pool/patio design.

 

 

Labor Day Weekend: Summer’s Last Hurrah

Yes, Labor Day is summer’s last hurrah. It’s the final long weekend that punctuates the outdoor living season. To do it up right, you may even now be searching for a large enough tent to accommodate a blow out.

But guess what, Labor Day weekend by no means needs to be the end of outdoor enjoyment here in the northeast. As you plan your this backyard bash, it’s a great time to consider what you can do to ensure you’ll enjoy your yard well beyond summer’s last hurrah.

  1. Pool House

A pool house may sound like a big project — and it can be — but think of its rewards. Not only does it allow you extend 2019’s outdoor season, but it will greatly improve the entirety of next year’s outdoor living season.

For example, with a pool house, no need to call in someone to spray for mosquitos (which you know you hate to do), because you now have a screened in space to enjoy the outdoors. And by going “big” you can opt for such luxury amenities as a pool house with a great room, and say, a sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, fireplace, and even storage closet.  

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

This pool house was part of a destination pool area that included a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, elegant Travertine patio, spillover spa with waterfalls, outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade and an outdoor shower. But pool houses can be designed in far more modest shapes and sizes.

 

2.  Outdoor Fireplaces/Pavilions

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

 

Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic statement. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio (left) was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of a new patio.

 

But fireplaces can also be part of a larger amenity such as a pavilion/gazebo. In the Deck and Patio project pictured immediately below, we included lighted columns on stone pillars to match the stone in the fireplace. Also note how the lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, pavilions offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal.

In addition to the fireplace, because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.

 

 

3.  Fire pits 

Fire pits come already assembled, of course. But there is a large range of ways to customize them to fit your style and location. 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls. 

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit.

The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone to complement the other amenities and provide a handsome natural appeal.

 

Make It a Great One!

Labor Day Fun

Labor Day Fun

Whatever your outdoor plans, we hope you all enjoy the upcoming Labor Day Weekend and the opportunity for outdoor fun with friends and family it presents.

Whether it’s a pool party, or a sing-along inside a gazebo or pavilion, it may be summer’s last hurrah, but the outdoor season is far from over.

 

 

 

 

No Longer a Bystander: Everyone Gathers at Your Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

Do you find yourself asking: What do I want more…a custom outdoor bar or an outdoor kitchen? 

Well consider this. Why not combine these amenities in one handsome outdoor activity center. We’re talking about creating a custom area that is equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot.

Never a Bystander 

A fully equipped custom activity area allows the person doing the cooking to enjoy the company of family and friends in an outdoor setting. With everything needed close at hand, you no longer have to spend a lot of the fun time in a remote kitchen and then transport the meal outside.

Now, that’s outdoor living.

Consider our first example. Deck and Patio created this outdoor kitchen/bar in much that way. 

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

The first step in planning any multi-purpose activity center is to pick a spot where much of the outdoor activities take place. Then you can design it the right size and shape to fit. In this case, it was built on a new patio close to the pool and sun bathing parts of their yard.

The design, which at one end includes a higher raised bar/dining area, incorporated lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, as well as a sink in the kitchen part of the activity center. Being such a fully equipped kitchen, there is less back and forth to the house, so it could be positioned further away from their indoor kitchen. 

Wherever you locate your kitchen, just remember you don’t want to get burned up from intense sun during cooking or dining. A pergola is one answer. But another is to have moveable — yet sturdy — outdoor umbrellas for flexible shade.

 

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

For this project, Deck and Patio constructed a custom activity area on the mid-level of a 3-level deck. Just steps from the top-level’s large seating area, the custom outdoor kitchen/dining area includes a new grill, refrigerator, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. In this case, it’s a truly peaceful spot since we installed a water feature with waterfalls next to their new portable hot tub. It creates a great atmosphere for conversation and enjoying an outdoor meal and drinks. The bar and outdoor kitchen counter was constructed in a curved shape to mimic the patio design. It is granite topped and the base of the activity center is faced in natural stone. The lounging area’s outdoor umbrella is portable, allowing for flexible shade areas, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Deck and Patio again used natural stone for the veneer of this custom bar/barbecue activity center. We also constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall.

This created a unique design contrast between the patio lounge area and the kitchen/bar setting. It also allows for a extra seating space when there’s a crowd.

 

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

For easy dining and before and after cocktail hours, Deck and Patio created this handsome stone-faced outdoor kitchen with a raised bar.

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill. In addition, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry were chosen to last a long time.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

The lower level of this patio is made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

The colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

This Deck and Patio outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with bar stools. The natural stone facade of the activity center harmonizes nicely with the design of their new patio and mimics the facade around the custom fire pit. Again, flexible shade makes the outdoor bar/dining area a natural draw when the sun is strong. 

 

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.

 

 

Backyard Fire Pits: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

 

insert-1 In days of yore, when family members had to travel to hunt for food, etc., candles in the windows and village campfires were welcoming signs that led them home. And it’s no different today. Home fires still beckon family and friends to gather round a warm blaze.

Of course, in this millennium we can get a bit more sophisticated with our home fires than our ancestors. Modern fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings.

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

crespi “The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio.

“Whatever home fire(s) you decide on, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

In the end, style, size and fuel remain very personal choices — as you will see from the variety of Deck and Patio fire feature projects we’re showcasing today.

HOWEVER! There is one thing all fire features have in common: s’mores frequently are involved. Frankly, if the warm glow of fire features aren’t sufficient to beckon friends and family, warm gooey marshmallows with melting chocolate definitely will.

So enjoy some of our Deck and Patio projects with fire features (below). And because we treasure our readers, we follow these with a s’mores recipe from no one other than Long Island’s own Ina Garten — the Hampton’s Barefoot Contessa. YUM!

 

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit. The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone for its handsome natural appeal.

 

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

 

An Invitation to S’mores:

An Invitation to S’mores:

Especially when the properties are small, Deck and Patio tends to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” In this case, such planning allowed the homeowners a nice spot for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

 

This leads us to the promised Ina Garten recipe for S’mores. Enjoy!

 

S'mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:
10 min
Prep:  5 min
Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving
Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients
1 marshmallow
2 Graham crackers
Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions
Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.
2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.