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Creative Solutions: Designing Pool Wall As Part of Retaining Wall System

Sometimes when designing/building an outdoor retreat, it is essential to preserve the natural environment. However, when site constraints or landform challenges limit what can or cannot be done, this often causes Deck and Patio to be more creative.

For example, unattractive retaining wall systems — often required on Long Island’s rocky sloping properties — are not normally hidden by a body of water such a pool. But, for this award-winning outdoor retreat, that’s just what we did.

 

“We conceived the freeform concrete wall of a vinyl-lined pool positioned into the hillside,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“This way, the pool wall became part of a retaining wall system.”

Deck and Patio designed a curved-steel, reinforced-concrete wall with the strength to withstand the pressure exerted by the slope — and the sheer weight of 20 tons of boulders sitting on the pool beam itself.

 

 

In addition, a stone wall was located at the main patio to not only serve as an aesthetic feature to hide the grade changes to the pool area, but to become a seat wall.

Long Island boulders were used throughout the landscape to support the remaining surrounding grades as well as to give visual impact.

In order to incorporate a client’s wish list into a design, every project — from inception to completion — requires a hands-on approach to better understand a site’s characteristics, architecture, building codes and its impact to the surrounding environment.

That said, many homeowners cannot visualize from a blueprint how such extreme makeovers will look completed. As an aid, our team utilizes design technology to provide clients with a computerized 3-D animation of their project.

 

 

This presentation format means clients do not have to guess what the project will look like such as the case for this project. Such presentations also allow construction crews to have a better understanding of what exactly is being constructed.

To design and build a 22’ x 42’ freeform pool and raised spa, with waterfalls nestled into a 20 foot hillside — and incorporate multiple patios at different elevations with landscaping — requires more than just lines on paper if a job is to be successful.

 

 

This property’s undulating hillside enabled Deck & Patio to create an “amphitheater-like” environment with two spectacular water features:

–a 6-foot-high waterfall into the pool, –and a 4-foot-high cascading waterfall from the spa into the pool.

These large water features not only present a visual impact from every viewing angle, but the enhanced sound effect of the cascading waters minimizes the noise pollution coming from a nearby heavily trafficked road.

 

A unique combination of tumbled pavers, Techo-Bloc Quarry Stone walls, natural rock steps, Long Island boulders and retaining wall systems helped create a supple transition from the house and pool and spa patios by capturing the similarities in the earth tones throughout.

For the landscaping, we applied our extensive knowledge of how plants will grow, sequentially bloom, and react to soil conditions, solar exposure, irrigation, etc. With so much rock and pavers built into the design, we understood it was imperative to soften the impact of these massive structures by scalloping the plants into the hillside with a wide variety of colorful perennial, deciduous and evergreen plant material for a year-round impact.

Landscaping Also Key

The landscaping is also very important, because once the pool is closed for the season, it’s nice to see an impact during the winter months as well. But, in the end, all the amenities of this backyard refuge (automated pool, spillover raised spa, waterfalls, natural retaining walls, seating walls, raised patios) hinge on a creative design that made use of the pool in a surprising way: as part of a needed retaining wall.

Awards

Forgive us if we brag, but this pool and spa won two NESPA (Northeast Spa and Pool Assoc.) awards:

  • Silver Medal, Second Place, and an Outstanding Achievement in Design and Building award.

And in addition it won:

  • LIPSA- Long Island Pool and Spa Association Inc. – Silver Award, Second Place.

 

 

By | 2017-08-10T12:32:34+00:00 August 10th, 2017|Awards, Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Surrounds, Pools & Spas, Retaining Walls, Spillover/Custom Spas|Comments Off on Creative Solutions: Designing Pool Wall As Part of Retaining Wall System

Backyard Makeovers: No Need to Break the Bank

Transforming a backyard within clients’ budget

 

Project Showcase: This family wanted an entirely new makeover for their mid-1980s backyard pool and surroundings. They had big dreams for this upgrade but initial estimates from other companies were way beyond their budget. To their delight, we were able to offer creative ways to give them all they wanted for a price they could live with.

The key element to stay within budget was to keep the existing pool but upgrade it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

The addition of accent boulders along the backside of the updated geometric pool contributed to a warm natural pool setting. In addition, because the backyard was very overgrown and the pool couldn’t be seen from the house, the surroundings had become like two separate backyards. That had to be addressed in order to create a unified backyard retreat that was inviting, particularly when entertaining.

 

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

To stay within budget, we kept the existing pool but upgraded it with all new plumbing, main drain, returns and skimmers, new pool equipment, and a new finish on the pool interior.

 

Other than the pool, everything else in the backyard was removed to make room for a new upper patio with a fire pit, hot tub/spa, barbecue, outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new lower patio with custom cabana-pavilion. Connecting it all would be a spectacular multi-faceted backyard water feature.

The homeowners were also delighted that during the construction process we retained and transplanted most of their property’s original mature growth trees. They now have a beautiful pool and wonderful places to entertain, like the cabana, that are set in lush surroundings.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

Our outdoor living expert retained and transplanted most of property’s original mature growth trees to create a lush setting for pool and cabana area. Resort-style mood of backyard retreat is at its romantic best at sunset.

 

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area's patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

Pavilion floor was created by our outdoor living expert as an extension of pool area’s patio pavers, creating one continuous surface.

 

 

Tying the whole project together is the backyard’s spectacular water feature which creates a natural look, in an eco-friendly way, while turning needed retaining areas into exquisite settings.

The original property’s sloping backyard needed retaining in several areas. Our team did something called “cut and fill.” This process cut into the hill and used the cut out fill in lower areas to create the level space needed for entertaining.

Fill was also needed around the backside of the pool because of the grade. However, you can’t take loose soil and put it behind a pool. It has to be compacted properly so things don’t shift and move.

At Deck and Patio, we have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

In this case, we integrated these boulders into the staircases that surround the water feature. A machine puts them in rather than needing a skilled mason. And it creates a very natural look. In addition to retaining the grade level of the sloping property, these natural moss rock boulders create the ideal surroundings for streams and waterfalls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

We have a terrific way of cutting costs and increasing the aesthetic value of graded property by using large moss rock boulders instead of expensive and unattractive retaining walls.

 

 

Indeed, it is this backyard makeover’s water feature, with multiple falls and streams, that is the heart of the transformation. The waterfall offers 360-degree viewing in the backyard, say the homeowners. They love the soothing sounds of all the water areas.

We installed one side of a waterfall to spill toward the house, just outside their backdoor. It can be enjoyed even during the months when the pool is closed down. From there, this upper-level waterfall gets split into two streams that flow downward along the property grade, into two separate waterfalls that can be enjoyed from the swimming pool area.

Collecting the water at the lower level is a pondless reservoir designed to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected. The reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7. City water is not used. The water is harvested from rainfall on the roof of the house and gravity alone collects it into pipes.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

Deck and Patio created the upper-patio source-waterfall to spill away from pool so it can be enjoyed from the house and upper patio including during the months when the pool area is closed down.

 

 

For the new custom pavilion-pool house, the homeowners wanted it to be a gathering area around the pool that was protected and private. The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area where they can watch television or entertain.

Half of the pavilion’s space is for seating and there is an outdoor flat-screen television with a ceiling fan overhead. There is also a two-level bar — one level for sitting at the bar and another set at counter height for cooking and bar-tending.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

The finished pool-pavilion includes a shower, and a sitting area with an outdoor flat-screen television where they can watch television or entertain; a ceiling fan is overhead.

 

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

Bright delicate impatiens, moss rock boulders and large mature trees beautifully naturalize original geometric pool area.

 

‘Green’ Water Features Don’t Always Require a Pond

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, clients want the beauty of a waterfall feature but don’t want it to include a pond.

That was the case for these clients. They were saving for a swimming pool and wanted a water feature to enjoy in the meantime. Also, since their property was a delightful wooded lot, they asked that any feature look natural so it would fit in with the surroundings.

“Their property is also adjacent to a parkland,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. This was the main reason they didn’t want a pond with any waterfall. They feared a pond, with or without koi, would attract too many wild animals.”

The solution Deck and Patio suggested was for a “pondless” system that included a stream with upper and lower waterfalls. At the end of the stream, where usually a pond would capture the spilling water, we installed a “green” pondless-reservoir underground that holds the water and recirculates it.

“With this system, the spilling water seems to disappear into the gravel,” says Dave. “But it’s really being filtered through the river rock and then a filtration system underground. After it’s collected, it is pumped back up into the stream for a continuous flow.”

We were able to make use of the property’s slope and gravity to move the water down to the waterfall. The water feature was fitted in an existing hill without need to change the terrain much at all. This location was also ideal because it meant the family could enjoy it from within the house as well as from the patio.

“Since landscaping was also important to these clients, we added a lot of vibrant plantings in different colors and textures,” says Dave. “The plants were fitted in and around hand-picked moss rocks and other natural stones in the perfect size and shape.”

For our efforts, the Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) awarded us a Silver Medal for the project.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

If you want a water feature (think stream and waterfalls) but don’t want a pond, then “pondless” is the way to go. Here, Deck and Patio used Aquascape Inc.’s pondless system which captures the water underground and recirculates it. Note how the water seems to be disappearing into the gravel where it is collected in the reservoir and redistributed.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

We used evergreens (e.g., Procumbent Juniper) that are dense and green and very low maintenance; they also spread nicely. Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe add punches of color.

 

 Moss Rock Make Natural Looking Water Features:

Moss Rock Make Natural Looking Water Features:

Note how Pennisetum plantings drape around the moss rock and natural stones; we also placed each stone and used gravity to move the water in different directions as it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Deck and Patio had previously built this handsome Techo-Bloc patio for the clients using “Elena” pavers in “Earth Brown.” The pavers come in kits with five differently-sized stones which allowed us to create a stylish random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Along with the plantings mentioned above, Deck and Patio planted Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance; one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. We also included various deciduous shrubs as well as several Norway Spruce. A Japanese Maple was added behind the upper waterfall for a its texture and color.

 

How A Landscaping Plan Solved Backyard Noise Problem

Rendering of Ancient Rome

Rendering of Ancient Rome (320 AD)

Complaints about outdoor noise date back to ancient Rome. And while no one today has to deal with the teaming hoards of Rome’s cart-traffic and congestion, many do live in modern sprawling cities, or perhaps simply near a busy intersection.

In the case of this project showcase, the homeowners’ longed for a restful backyard, but their property was located close to a highly-trafficked four-lane road. How could they enjoy a pool and spa amid disturbing noise?

“We were happy to reassure them that they could have an undisturbed backyard oasis,” says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “The key was including in the landscaping design a substantial rushing waterfall near the pool. It would not only be beautiful to look at, but it’s relaxing sounds would mask the more unpleasant street sounds.” (A short video that captures the sounds of their waterfall is posted below the first two photos.)

The project’s waterfall flows over a 19-foot sound barrier of natural moss rock boulders. “It includes a 4-foot-by-eight-foot ‘pondless’ waterfall between the wall and their new pool,” adds Dave. “The barrier with its rushing waterfall not only blocks out noise, but it also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life.”

Deck and Patio surrounded the backyard retreat’s new freeform vinyl pool and raised spillover spa with handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patios and bright plantings. The raised spa has its own separate overhead waterfall as well as a spillover into the pool. All this adds to an undisturbed backyard experience.

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Not far from the right edge of the 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.

 

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

This is a close up of the Rosyln, NY main waterfall. Water flows down moss rocks in a natural-looking way, and seeps through river rock, where it is captured in an underground reservoir. The water is filtered and recirculated, making it very eco-friendly.

 

The following video lets you hear the delightful sounds of rushing water at this Rosyln, Long Island, NY, project.

 

 

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Pleasant sounds are the very opposite of unpleasant noise. And this backyard Roslyn, NY, paradise retreat is blessed with delightful sounds. These sounds can be enjoyed in the pool, while sunbathing on a wide patio, when relaxing in a quiet upper patio, when rocking back and forth in the outdoor swing — not to mention when relaxing in the spillover spa.

 

 Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

A diving rock and landscaping cutouts add to this pool area’s summer charms. In addition, the Cambridge Ledgestone IV Paving stones are tough when it comes to winter’s cold weather. The pavers seem to withstand abuse better than any poured and stenciled concrete.

 

Poolside Landscaping:

Poolside Landscaping:

Bright plantings with green ground cover, along with river stone gravel and delightful stepping stone path, add to the natural look and serenity of the barrier/pool area.

 

 

How To Choose the Perfect Pond for Your Property

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 today, 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 the pond’s location on the property, we recommend locating it where it can be enjoyed from a patio or deck, bedroom, or kitchen,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.”

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

This deck, for example, was designed with a viewing platform from where the clients can enjoy the pond and the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings. Also note that we  installed large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“However, if the clients are hoping for a more private escape for relaxing and meditating, the ideal spot for a pond may be farther away from the house,” says Dave.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

In this case (above), the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property, and an additional waterfall located near the house. Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

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.

 

 

 

 

Natural Playscape with Pond

Natural Playscape with Pond

In the case of these clients, their children were not toddlers. However, they thought them still young enough that some safety precautions should be taken. So Deck and Patio designed/built their city oasis (above) with a temporary 8” shallow pond.

The pond was constructed to “grow” with them. It is actually a deeper pond with boulders that are covered with fabric and gravel which, when they are older, can be removed, exposing a full-sized pond they can stock with koi — offering an entirely different experience for more mature children.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house. Part of what makes a pond spectacular to look at is its landscaping. This requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture. Here (above) we included Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis for pops of bright color along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

 

“Whatever the size or shape of your yard, there is a perfect pond for your property,” says Dave.

 

 

Destination Swimming Pool: Deck and Patio Design/Builds Backyard Oasis

 

Have you ever fretted that your property has too many challenges for a backyard oasis? Well, the fact is, few properties have an ideal landscape for this. Some are small, others have severe slope problems, still others are limited by local code setback restrictions, or all of the above.

Cool refreshing lemonade

Cool refreshing lemonade

What frequently delights our clients, however, is discovering how drawbacks can bring out creative answers that turn proverbial lemons into cool, refreshing oasis-lemonade. This Dix Hills, Long Island, project is a perfect example.

The homeowners wanted a pool, and because of  the sloping topography, they knew any pool would have to be a “destination” pool — or a pool area that, because it is a distance from the house, includes convenient amenities such as an outdoor kitchen, bathroom, living room area, changing room, etc.

Before photo of new destination pool oasis

Before photo of new destination pool oasis

On looking over the property, Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter took a glance up the sloping hill from the proposed pool area and immediately realized the hill offered the potential for creating something spectacular. The slope was the perfect terrain for a meandering stream cascading down into a new koi pond beside the pool. This would turn the destination swimming pool area into a destination oasis.

There was, however, one large concern. It would be a real loss if such a delightful feature as a stream and waterfall couldn’t be enjoyed up the hill from the patio near the house. Would they have to be down at the pool to enjoy it?

The solution was to add an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, they could see a waterfall, as well as the beginning of the stream. And just beyond that vantage point, the stream would take an abrupt U-turn, and flow down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond.

 

Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

Because of the topography, the pool was located far from the house, down a steep grade. We added beautiful creeping ground cover and natural boulders, so that even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits. Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, Mother Nature’s own gravity coaxes water naturally over rock etc. into a pond.

 

Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

The walk from the house down to the pool is part of the oasis experience. Beautiful plantings flank on either side and an additional natural looking waterfall falling over the edge of the swimming pool draws the eye forward. Also note how comfortably large the pool surround is for entertaining as well as family time spent by the pool.

 

Backyard Water Features:

Backyard Water Features:

Our vision was to take advantage of the steep property grade to create a beautiful slope with five cascading waterfalls, moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals, plus a series of stairs and landings to bring them down to a new lower pool area.

 

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

We ended up creating an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, the family could see a waterfall and the beginning of the stream; slightly beyond that vantage point, the stream takes an abrupt U-turn, and flows down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond.

 

 

 

Quality Pool & Spa Surrounds Provide Best Seats in the House

We love our backyards and spend as much time sitting around the pool or spa as swimming or relaxing in them. Indeed, the atmosphere of a water feature offers an ideal space for entertaining, sunbathing, talking, eating, and pure relaxation.

Therefore, making the right choice for a pool or spa surround will definitely increase the comfort and enjoyment of the outdoor experience.  Below are four examples of quality pool and spa surround options that we have used for a few of our clients. We designed and built these, as we do all our projects, with function, beauty, and durability in mind. The result being that such new outdoor living areas quickly become the best seats in the house.

The following four examples showcase (1) composite decking, (2) all natural hardwood, (3) concrete pavers, and (4) limestone. Pull up a lounge chair and enjoy!

 

Trex Transcend Decking

Trex Transcend Decking

1. For this very special pool and spa (unseen) surround, we chose composite materials manufactured by Trex Transcend Decking. This decking has a wood grain appearance, but is actually made from combined plastic and wood. Note how the eye tricks you into thinking you are looking at solid wood.

With some exceptions, composite decking, with its protective shell, is unrivaled for being fade, stain, scratch and mold resistant. The “Gravel Path” color used here enhances the wood grain appearance with earth tones. Tip: Whenever possible, you want a deck to go all the way around a pool as seen here.

 

 

Brazilian Hardwood Decking

Brazilian Hardwood Decking

2. For this project, we used a durable Brazilian Walnut hardwood. This all-natural wood offers a warm choice for pools and spas due to ease of construction and is a particularly smart choice for an above-ground pool or spa.

When handled properly, it can make a relatively inexpensive above-ground water feature, such as this spa, look like an in-ground pool. This particular natural wood is very strong, hard and durable and resists splintering, termites, wear, rot, fire, chemicals and marine borers — and almost every threat imaginable. And because it is all natural wood, it is recyclable at the end of what is sure to be a long service life.

 

 

Concrete Pavers for Pool Surround

Concrete Pavers for Pool Surround

3. We used concrete pavers for this pool and spa surround. These pavers offer a durable, interlocking alternative to asphalt and poured concrete.

Extremely durable and beautiful, concrete pavers won’t show signs of color loss or fading over time, and have blemish-free surfaces. We used Cambridge Ledgestone pavers (“Toffee Onyx” color, in random pattern) to create the natural rustic appearance seen here.

 

 

Travertine Pool Surround

Travertine Pool Surround

4. We designed and built this lovely natural limestone pool surround using Travertine, which has gone through a “brushing” process to obtain the warm and antique look it enjoys. It comes in tiles with hand-chiseled (chipped) edges with an antiqued and unfilled surface.

Valued for its banded, pitted “distressed” appearance, Travertine adds rich, distinctive character that stems from the way the limestone is formed: being deposited at the mouth of mineral springs and in caves. For this pool surround, we added a stone ledge, which, together with the limestone, suggests a romantic Roman bath.

 

 

Design/Build Landscaping: Owning a Piece of Paradise, One Phase at a Time

A backyard oasis can be a major undertaking. Depending on the scope of the project, it isn’t always possible to bring it about all at once. Depending on when you get started, time constraints can limit what is possible to do in one season. Budget can also be a factor. Even local codes may cause temporary roadblocks.

When any these factors frustrate completing your heart’s desire in one season, the answer, of course, is build it in stages. However, in order to ensure that each stage  is in harmony with earlier work, the project’s design requires an extra measure of care.

Phase I should include enough enjoyable elements so that the family can experience a bit of paradise from the get-go. Certainly that was true for the project showcase we’re highlighting here, which was done in two phases.

In addition to a swimming pool and spa, the clients were passionate about having backyard water features in a natural setting that appeared as if Mother Nature did the work — not a landscaping firm. Our Phase I plan included just such backyard delights: a pond, stream and multiple waterfalls that seemed to have always been there.

“In addition to appearing natural, the clients wanted to enjoy beautiful natural sounds and sights from various points in their yard and residence,” says Bill Renter.

“A key decision we made was not to clear-cut their backyard just to make it easy on us to work,” says Bill Renter. “We kept much of the property’s mature oaks, maples and pines in the overall design. In the initial phase, we were also careful to leave sufficient space and access to where the pool and spa would be constructed the following year, taking care that any future construction would not interfere with anything already in place.”

Not only did the homeowners end up with their heart’s desire — owning a piece of paradise that was theirs alone — but the project won Deck and Patio three prestigious awards: Gold, Silver and Bronze from the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI).

 

Backyard Paradise:

Backyard Paradise:

Before any pool was built, Deck and Patio designed the property’s new stream and multiple waterfalls to transverse the rear property line ending in a koi pond. By using the existing topography, we created spills and changes to water direction so they could be easily heard as well as seen from the rear patio and from inside the residence.

 

 

Swimming Pool with Spillover Spa:

Swimming Pool with Spillover Spa:

After a year of enjoying their water feature, we installed the pool and spa to complete the backyard renovation. The pool was designed to be “organic” with its natural surroundings and to meet the clients’ desire to have a body of water that would be harmonious with the residence’s existing patio, outdoor kitchen area, waterfall, stream and koi pond.

 

 

Spillover Spa:

Spillover Spa:

Built 12 inches above the pool water line, the spa provides a picturesque spillway that intermingles with the surrounding landscape. The clients wanted the spa to be unique and provide some seclusion from the main patio and other viewing angles. A 2-foot-high cascading waterfall into the spa not only offers a gentle massage should you sit under it, but it adds to the overall theme of having pleasant visual and audio effects of moving water.

 

 

Landscaping Backyard Oasis:

Landscaping Backyard Oasis:

The pool was also constructed with a moss rock boulder coping which brings the landscape right up to the beam of the pool in a natural setting. Vibration flowers with fragrance that also offer successional color throughout the pool season include a wide variety of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings.

 

 

Backyard Koi Pond:

Backyard Koi Pond:

The spa was situated by Deck and Patio’s design/build team so the client could view the koi pond and waterfalls while relaxing in the spa.

 

 

 

 

Rainwater Harvesting: Because Open Space Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system -- thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY): The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

Our pond experts at Deck and Patio — and a growing number of new clients — want a pond and waterfall less as a lovely background filler and more for the opportunity it offers to invigorate the surrounding ecosystem.

Indeed, the sound and look of moving water brings any yard or business property a restful escape for rejuvenation, which in and of itself is a great idea. But ponds and pond-less water features also provide an opportunity for rainwater harvesting, thereby saving water and aiding the local ecology.

As certified installers of Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), our water systems and water garden products are both technologically and biologically efficient. Using high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, as well as gravel beds, and water plants, these contribute to creating a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

Such rainwater harvesting systems will support the beautiful water feature you install — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams — by ecologically collecting and reusing rainwater. This captured water can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

Rainwater Harvesting Reservoirs

“Totally below ground, a rainwater harvesting reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “City water is not used. The water is harvested totally from rainfall on the roof of the house or through permeable pavers. Gravity alone collects it into pipes and moves it along.”

 

Pondless Reservoir (Long Island/NY):

Pondless Reservoir (Long Island/NY):

(Above) The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system. Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected. We planted dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe.

 

Beautiful Pondscape (Long Island/NY):

Beautiful Pondscape (Long Island/NY):

Along with waterfalls, stream and pond, for a healthy ecosystem, it is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants). A beautiful Japanese maple shades this pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo).

 

Permeable Pavers for Water Purification and Collection

Permeable pavers over gravel and a rubber liner allow easy walking while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The gravel underneath the pavers filters the collected water runoff before it is sent to any reservoir installed at the end of a stream/water feature.

The system we use for this is a RainXchange Harvesting System, produced by Aquascapes Inc. In addition to using the water collected by the pavers, the system includes an auxiliary pump that can be connected to any irrigation system including a roof runoff system.

In collaboration with the Town of Huntington, we did such a project at our local Train Station:

 

Rainwater Harvesting Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting Water Feature (Huntington Station/NY):

This water feature is not just for aesthetics, but it is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The station area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

100% of this client’s irrigation water comes from what falls from the roof and onto the patio. In this first of 3 photos, you see how rainwater is collected from the roof. At any given time, there is now about 1,000 gallons of water in the reservoir and about an equal amount of water underneath their permeable pavers.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Voids between the pavers are filled with crushed stone; when rain passes through the pavers’ joint spaces, it flows down into an underneath layer of bluestone gravel and about an inch of crushed stone which filters the water. Under all that, a liner captures the rainwater, and it is pitched so it pushes water towards the underground reservoir.

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

For this project, we also installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes it.

 

 

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.