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Getting Away to Your Deck

One of our recent blogs covered what fun it would be to have a family concert or recital on our home deck or patio.

Today, in part one of a two-part blog topic, we asking: have you ever considered ‘deck camping,’ or even ‘glamping,’ on your backyard deck?” 

Since, the first rule of setting up any outdoor camp is to locate it on level ground, you’ve got to admit, a deck is perfect in that regard. 

The Joys of Camping

For the uninitiated, when you go camping, not only do you fall asleep to the sound of crickets, and wake to a symphony of birds, but, camping on your own deck means you don’t have to travel anywhere to do it. 

Deck Railing Planter

Deck Railing Planter

This can be a terrific experience even if you don’t have natural wilderness areas on your property to drink in during the evening outside. It’s easy to naturalize your deck with a few containers of plants.

The deck camp begins with a tent, of course. And if you’re worried that you don’t know how to put it up, we have a video immediately below with an Aussie showing the types of tents you can choose, how to open and close them down, and how to use them. He’s clearly keen on family home camping — if you follow all his ideas, you may need to spread your camp off of your deck into your yard. But that would be part of the fun.

 

Video:

 

Also: plan for some folding chairs. Your night outside won’t be spent only in the tent. String a few lights, get out the citronella candles, and you’re pretty much ready to go.

Lastly, just collect enough sleeping bags (or sheets and blankets, see ‘glamping’ below), an easy-to-put-up crib for any younger children and your kids’ favorite blankets and sleep items.

You don’t have to worry about snacks — your kitchen is just steps away. 

Want to Glamp It Up?

Tips for turning the relatively rustic style of camping into the glorious comfort of “glamping” takes a bit more work than pitching a tent if you want to do this at home. For some creative ideas on what goes into having a luxurious camping experience, we found a lot of ideas at the website of glamping holiday resorts. 

For example, our feature photo at the top of our blog is from Daylesford Holiday Park (Victoria Australia). And their website offers some great comfort amenities to get you thinking about what you could include in and around your tent.

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Closer to home, the Collective Hudson Valley has some very sophisticated ideas for true glamping.

Their retreat at Liberty Farms is inspiring. Their setups may be a bit of work if you plan to only camp out for a night or two. But if you want to have your own summer-long glamp-site, their website is not to be missed for ideas.

 

However, if you want to upgrade a camping experience from just plain sleeping bags to something a bit more refined, Pinterest has a wealth of ideas for easy glamping. Here’s just one helpful post we foundt:

 

“Setting Up Camp ..With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.”

“Setting Up Camp
..With so many options available, finding a pop-up weatherproof tent has never been easier. Choose one that best meets your needs in terms of size and portability. This one from Ikea works well because it has a solid structure, movable drapes and is large enough to fit two cots.”

 

Here’s to summer on your deck, 2018! Next week, see Part II on the subject of getting away to your deck!

 

By |2018-07-12T14:54:58+00:00July 12th, 2018|Backyard Escapes, Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Outdoor Rooms, Trex Decking, Wood Decks|Comments Off on Getting Away to Your Deck

Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert

 

July 4th Celebrations

July 4th Celebrations

 

July 4th is on Wednesday this year. And unless you want to use precious vacation days, it’s not ideal for getaways.

But if you have a deck or patio — as most of our clients do — you won’t have to go anywhere.

 

 

 

Rather than travel, why not use your home’s hardscape as a stage for a July 4th family concert? Even if it’s small in area, young kids would love to put on a dance recital.

Perhaps older members of the family can get out their acoustic guitars, ukuleles, fiddles, or accordions.

All you need is a family that doesn’t mind the spotlight. And, if one or more happen to play in a rock band — you’ve got the potential for one of your neighborhood’s best-ever July 4th parties.

 

Consider Jennifer and Art Vomvas, clients of ours from E. Norwich. They had just such a summer bash last year, that wasn’t even planned.

L-R, Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk)

L-R, Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk)

“My son, Paul, and his friends from the neighborhood formed a rock band, The Skiffs, a while back,” says Jennifer.

“One day last summer, they decided to practice in the backyard. It was a lovely day and a lot of neighbors were outside, so people started just gathering at our place, including Paul’s younger sister, Emily and her friends. It was Emily who took photos of them practicing.”

The music was a natural attraction, and the Vomvas family’s backyard patio ended up becoming the stage for an impromptu neighborhood rock concert.

“It was in full swing when I got home,” continues Jennifer. “It was completely organic. So I didn’t prepare anything for it in advance. But if I were planning to get my son’s band to play here on the 4th, I’d grab a few extra folding chairs for the neighbors. And instead of having them sit around our outdoor dining table, I’d move it aside and have a few buffet-style munchies people could grab and eat.”

Her son, Paul, adds, “We didn’t actually have this practice-concert on July 4th, but if we do one on the holiday, we would just include a few patriotic rock numbers in our sets.” (Ideas on that below).

 

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

Band Note

Paul Vomvas and his band play at The Homestead Restaurant in Oyster Bay on Wednesday nights.

They call themselves a Jam Band. They write their own songs in addition to doing covers of such rock legends as The Grateful Dead, the Talking Heads, and Herbie Hancock.

 

 

The Vomvas Patio

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

“Deck and Patio built our Belgian Block patio several years ago,” says Jennifer.“They designed it in two-tiers, in a curvy amorphous shape with attractive edging.

“The upper level is home to our barbecue and grill and dining table with chairs, and the lower area houses the fire pit with seating. And there are plantings around the perimeter. Last summer, Paul’s band just moved the upper-level chairs to the lower level, leaving the top tier empty for a stage.”

Jennifer adds that this design also adds interest and divides the space into almost two different rooms.

Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell says that another reason for designing a two-level patio is it helps to make smaller spaces appear larger. “This is particularly important in Nassau County, NY, where properties are tightly compacted,” he says.

 

 

 

Hosting a July 4th Home Rock Concert

 

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

If your deck or patio becomes the stage for a home Rock concert this July 4th, there’s several good patriotic anthems you could request if the band is familiar with them:

Who’ll ever forget Jimi Hendrix’s electric version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. There’s also John Mellencamps’ Little Pink Houses (a.k.a. Ain’t That America). Paul  recommends one of his favorites: U.S. Blues by The Grateful Dead.

So! As Jennifer says, why not borrow some folding chairs before the 4th. Have some easy finger food and drinks at the ready. Then plug in the guitars. Have someone agree to take the photos and video. And let your patio or deck be the stage. We’re pretty sure your neighbors will not only gather, but they might bring the beer and soft drinks, too.

Note: Our feature photo at the top of this page is of the E. Norwich band, The Skiffs. Pictured from L-R are:  Keys/Owen Zahradnik, Guitar/Jon Swiss, Drums/Joey McConnell, Bass/Paul Vomvas, and Guitar/Matt Jaronczyk. Vomvas home photos by Emily Vomvas.

 

Now. Here’s a little John Mellencamp to get you in the Rock-concert-planning mood.

 

By |2018-06-21T11:38:36+00:00June 21st, 2018|Backyard Refurbishments, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks|Comments Off on Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert

Backyard Wildlife Havens Stem from Chemical-free Eco-Systems

 

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Deck and Patio created this naturally-sustained eco-system

Once you have your pond installed in an eco-friendly way, it’s a wonderful feeling to kick back and let the aquatic plants, pond fish, rocks, gravel, filtration and circulation systems — and, yes, beneficial algae— do the daily work of keeping it clean and healthy.

True. Ponds and other water features require some spring and fall maintenance.

But on a daily basis, left to their own devices, they’re self-sustaining. And such a water wonderland soon becomes a haven for beneficial wildlife — wildlife that also contributes to the overall health of your eco-system.

Frogs are beneficial for a chemical-free environment

Frogs contribute to a chemical-free environment

And it’s not just song birds that a backyard refuge will attract. Take the humble frog or toad. Enticed by a nice supply of seasonal food found in a pond’s flowering aquatic or nearby plants, along with plenty of water to drink, they will happily make a home there.

In turn for your gifts to them, these little amphibians greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby naturally reducing a need for pesticides. They love munching on grubs, beetles, slugs, not to mention mosquito larvae. Indeed, according to online reports, one frog or toad can eat up to 10,000 pests during one season.

So you can understand why Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL), who manufacture much of our water feature equipment, couldn’t resist posting a video of the delightful tree froggy found at an water feature installation.

The water feature was created by one of Aquascapes Certified Contractors, Jeff of Pinellas Ponds & Waterfalls  As a fellow Aquascape Certified Contractor, we’re happy to share it below:

 

Pinellas Ponds and Waterfalls

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME!Water features attract welcome critters of all sorts – like a cute little tree frog! This week we visit Jeff of Pinellas Ponds & Waterfalls in Florida to view some of the stunning water features he's installed. We'd love to have you come along for the tour!See Full Video Here >> http://bit.ly/Pinellas-Ponds

Posted by Aquascape Inc. on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 

 

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

How to Attract Beneficial Wildlife:

Did you know you don’t have to have a pond to attract such beneficial wildlife. For this Deck and Patio-built stream and waterfall project, the clients opted for a “pond-less” waterfall system. The water needed to keep the feature topped off and refreshed is harvested from the home’s roof rainwater. Plus, any excess harvested rainwater is used to irrigate their property.

 

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds:

Kids and Backyard Ponds: Any child fortunate enough to grow up with the ability to explore nature never loses love for the outdoors and the beauty of Mother Earth. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping:

The tall aquatic plant on the left of this Deck and Patio built pond (a canna lily) thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping:

For this Deck and Patio project, pink petunias add a bright statement away from where the waterfalls spill and seep into the ground. Close to the waterfall area we added grassy plants like Liriope that thrive in moist soil.

 

Backyard Upgrades: 3 ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects

When homeowners want to upgrade their properties, sometimes it can be a challenge to imagine all the changes that will be required.

So today we’re showcasing three sets of before and after photos that showcase how a collaboration with a reputable design/build firm like Deck and Patio can end  up in an award-winning landscaping project.

 

 

  1. Centerport, Long Island, NY

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

"Before" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“Before” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

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

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

“After” of Deck and Patio Project in Centerport

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

 

    2. Dix Hills, Long Island, NY

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area they called on  Deck and Patio. They knew their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

"Before" Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

“Before” Deck and Patio Project in Dix Hills

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

 

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, the next step was pressing the boulders into the surrounding slope to continue the natural presence of large boulders. Then the landscape crew installed natural woodland planting to tie in with the tall oaks adding color and evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

Once the slope was stabilized, it was time for the pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered where we straighten the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were added, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

Cambridge Sahara Chestnut pavers were used to create a dramatic pool/patio area.

 

    3. Brookville, Long Island, NY

When Deck and Patio first met with these clients to discuss a pool and 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.

 

"Before" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“Before” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

The project included a complete revamping of the pool’s pipes, interior, finish and the incorporation of new swim outs at the deep, as well as a new Tech-Bloc patio pool surround.

They also initially wanted wanted a custom in-ground gunite spa added to their existing gunite pool. Instead, they opted for Deck and Patio’s suggestion of a custom installation of a portable hot tub.

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Brookville Project

With the portable spa operating separately from the pool, it could be used when the pool was closed down.

“We installed it in a way that allowed them to get a perfect view of what’s going on in and around the pool when using the hot tub,” says Dave.

And the clients didn’t have to sacrifice any drama. “The complete upgrade included 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.”

The above projects won Deck and Patio awards both domestically and internationally.

 

Fall Is a Great Time to Design/Build a New Deck

Whether you need to replace your old one, or you are starting from scratch, fall is a great time to build that new deck.

Why? Because design and build firms like Deck and Patio have a bit more available time in their hectic schedules. Fall weather is also usually very good, which allows for outdoor construction jobs to get done quickly.

Plus, with the addition of a few special amenities like a custom fire pit, patio cover, and, perhaps space heaters, the outdoor season can be stretched far beyond early fall.

Deck Basics

The structure of a deck is most often attached to the house. It’s usually elevated, that is, designed to suit the “lay of the land.” The land’s topography also helps determine how high and how many levels it should be.

 

Decking Materials on Display at Deck and Patio Design Center

Decking Materials on Display at Deck and Patio Design Center

In addition to choosing the right design/build experts, the most important thing is choosing the deck material you want to use, i.e., natural wood, capped composite and pressure-treated wood.

Here’s some of the most commonly used deck materials:

— cedar       — mahogany,

— Ipe          — TimberTech

— Trex        — Fiberon, etc.

Of course, there are advantages and limitations to each of these.

So, how to decide? To make it easier, Deck and Patio has built at our design center in Huntington Station an outdoor display comprised of a wide variety of these materials. Our experts are happy to explain the benefits of each.

Here, you can walk on these installed boards, touch them, and get an idea of what they look like in sunlight. We believe this is the best way to get the information you need to start your deck project.

Safety Is Extremely Important

All of our decks are built to code, including concrete footings 36″ deep and 12″ diameter. Our decks are designed to be safe and unique. For those clients not wishing to go with the traditional rectangular deck, an angular (octagonal), rounded, or curved deck and rails can be designed to suit their outdoor needs.

Make It Multi-Seasonal and Comfortable

There’s lots of custom options for your deck, including special railings, deck design inlays, custom seating, built-in fire pits. Here’s some of our finished decks  that might help you think though your own project:

 

Deck and Patio "Cedar" Deck

Deck and Patio “Cedar” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Mahogany" deck

Deck and Patio “Mahogany” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Ipe" Deck

Deck and Patio “Ipe” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "TimberTech" Deck

Deck and Patio “TimberTech” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Trex" Deck

Deck and Patio “Trex” Deck

 

Deck and Patio "Fiberon" Deck

Deck and Patio “Fiberon” Deck

 

By |2017-09-21T13:15:39+00:00September 21st, 2017|Ask the Experts, Backyard Refurbishments, Composite Decking, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Fire Pits, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Railings, Trex Decking|Comments Off on Fall Is a Great Time to Design/Build a New Deck

‘Small Backyard’ Upgrade Enhances Outdoor Living

Backyard Project Showcase, Massapequa, NY

 

Long summer days and warm weather begs us to come outdoors. But a small backyard can make you want to turn around and go right back in the house. The good news is: You don’t have to sell the house you love to also experience the best of outdoor living.

Even small yards can be turned into a delightful backyard retreat. Designing a makeover that’s ideally suited to a family’s outdoor living preferences just takes creativity.

For example, Deck and Patio’s regular territory includes Long Island’s Nassau County and neighboring New York City — where properties can be tightly compacted. Sometimes a pond with robust landscaping is all a family desires. But those who want a fuller range of summer fun amenities have had their dreams met, too.

The project we’re showcasing today perfectly illustrates how, with a bit of creativity, Deck and Patio was able to give the clients everything they wanted within a tight area: deck, patio, free-form pool, spill-over spa, two waterfalls and lush landscaping.

 

Maximizing Small Backyard (Massapequa, NY):

Maximizing Small Backyard (Massapequa, NY):

Looking back to the house from the raised-spa patio, you don’t get the feeling that the property is small. The pool’s shape was designed to wrap around and run close into the house. This concept did require variances but it was worth the extra effort as it also allowed room for an expansive two-level patio and left a bit of lawn for the kids to play.

 

 

Small Backyard Makeover (Massapequa, NY):

Small Backyard Makeover (Massapequa, NY):

When work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked the clients, especially within such a cramped space. “I soon learned everything they did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. Because the property was flat, our Deck and Patio 3-D renditions showed how we would make the yard appear bigger — even indicating what the views would look like from various areas inside the house.

 

 

Ways to Make Backyard Seem Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Ways to Make Backyard Seem Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Adding different patio levels by manipulating the grades is one way Deck and Patio can create the sense of a larger space, which is what we did here. Of course, such gradations have to be more than attractive, they must be functional. There needs to be room left for some lawn, plantings, and the patio/deck layouts must be of sufficient size to accommodate chaise lounges, dining tables and chairs, plus an outdoor kitchen if desired.

 

 

Swimming Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa, NY):

Swimming Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa, NY):

Deck and Patio worked with True Blue Swimming Pools to build the vinyl free-form pool, which the whole family loves. We also learned that the clients’ children spend a great deal of time in the spa — particularly after a long time in the pool, when they want to warm up with their friends.

 

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa, NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa, NY):

For the most natural looking waterfalls, Deck and Patio chooses every stone and moss rock boulder for it’s desired purpose. This way, the water is coaxed over them so it flows and spills just like it would if Mother Nature engineered it herself.

 

By |2017-06-22T12:54:30+00:00June 22nd, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Pools & Spas, Spillover/Custom Spas, Vinyl-lined Pools|Comments Off on ‘Small Backyard’ Upgrade Enhances Outdoor Living

Dining Al Fresco by a Pond

Memorial Day weekend (May 26-30) launches the year’s outdoor living season. And that includes lots of outdoor dining: family barbecues, picnics, dinner for the boss and his/her spouse, romantic dates, and  just enjoying the air as we eat our take-out.

“Many in our neck of the woods not only like to dine al fresco during the outdoor season, but they want to do that next to, or near, their own backyard pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

As Certified Contractors of Aquascape Inc. — one of the country’s leading manufacturers of pond and water feature products — Deck and Patio is able to stay informed and trained on all the latest techniques and technologies for ideal waterscapes.

Indeed, on any given day, our teams can be found, in addition to other landscaping services, installing ponds, water gardens and other water features across Long Island and her environs.

“The ponds we design/build can, for example, be completely eco-friendly and include rainwater harvesting; they can be landscaped with gorgeous water plants, stocked with pond fish, and aerated with waterfalls. Each project we do is as unique as the clients themselves,” says Dave.

The one thing our ponds all have in common, adds Dave, is how much a backyard pond adds to each family’s outdoor experience. Having a water feature like a pond with waterfalls — with the sounds of moving water and natural beauty this provides — makes outdoor living and dining an exceptional experience.

 

Photo # 1

Pond-side Living:

Pond-side Living:

This pond project by Deck and Patio included a new deck with a viewing platform where the family can dine and enjoy the pond and its robust landscaping. After dinner they can walk across a set of large stepping stones to view the pond from another vantage point.

 

Dining Al Fresco By a Pond:

Dining Al Fresco By a Pond:

This photo, which is featured at the top of this page, was supplied to us by Aquascape Inc. Here a group of family and friends — and even someone’s favorite pet —- enjoy a meal beside an exquisite pond stocked with koi. Soothing sounds from the waterfall help everyone relax and be at ease.

 

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

These homeowners asked Deck and Patio to create a natural backyard retreat complete with a large deck and pond that comes up to it. The layout detailed different settings and focal points; we planted over 4,000 bulbs, 300 species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens, and perennials, including 150 different varieties of these species. The family can dine on the deck or in their glass conservatory. (Note: Deck and Patio did not build the conservatory but worked with the contractors the family hired to bring this beautiful project together harmoniously.)

 

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Aquascape Inc. provided us with this photo of a charming dining area set on a deck with pond. Note how the wall mural picks up where the real plants leave off, giving a smallish water garden area the sense of natural expanse. The homeowner also chose blue cushions to go with the mural’s water scenes, which helps to tie it all together.

 

Picnicking "In" a Backyard Pond:

Picnicking “In” a Backyard Pond:

Yes, you can picnic “in” a pond. When Deck and Patio built this lovely pond water feature (which comprises two separate ponds next to each other), in the larger pond shown here there was space for a sizable stone island where the homeowners placed two Adirondack chairs. We installed stepping stones out to it adding to the overall Zen-like experience. They can go their island just for quiet contemplation; however, the chairs’ arms offer room for a small plate/box lunch and a cool drink.

 

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Thanks to Aquascape Inc. who supplied us with this photo as well. Imagine getting home from work, taking off your shoes and sipping some cool lemonade before dinner while the kids play by the pond? Yup, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

 

  A big thank you to Aquascape for sharing some of today’s photos with us.

 

10 Ways to Enhance Outdoor Living This Season

Camping trips and the rugged outdoor experiences they provide are fine in short bursts. But a full 5 or 6 month outdoor season spent enjoyed in one’s backyard cries out for comfortable and superbly functional amenities.

Today’s blog, however, will not focus so much on the key foundations of outdoor living — patios, decks, and large water features such as swimming pools — as the delightful amenities that enhance them.

 

Here’s Our 9 Ways!

This first photo from Fiberon Decking, for example, highlights two opposite outdoor living enhancements — an attractive fire table that adds warmth on cool evenings and a shade umbrella that reduces the heat of the day.

In addition, note how an awning provides even more relief from the sun on the upper deck level. And very comfortable outdoor furniture means no sense at all of ‘camping out’ when sitting on this deck. Plus a highly functional outdoor kitchen means no need to limit the dining experience — although marshmallows roasted over the fire table is one camping treat worth bringing home.

 

 

A garden gazebo is another wonderful amenity for providing shade and comfort. As architectural statements, gazebos are beautiful to the eye while providing shade, protection from rain, as well as comfortable seating.

But a gazebo can be used in many more ways: as a meditation center; a spot for exercising; the ideal location for a hot tub; a venue for special celebrations like a wedding ceremony. Indeed, we believe this gazebo, built at the edge of a new deck by Deck and Patio, would be a gorgeous location for a wedding. A reception held on this poolside deck would truly be memorable.

 

 

 

 

Trellises and pergolas also make dramatic architectural statements. They require less materials than a gazebo (or 4-season room) to construct, and provide limited shade with just support beams and rafters.

Taking the time to grow vines on a trellis/pergola, however, will eventually increase the amount of shade. In the meantime, one can always add a canopy overhead — a good idea if the space underneath is used frequently when the sun is high.

 

 

Swim-up bars turn a regular backyard pool into a full-blown resort. Looking at these two Deck and Patio projects, one can almost hear steel drums in the background, can’t you? Whenever a a swim-up bar is added to the pool, all that’s needed to complete a vacation-resort feeling are small drink umbrellas in the Mojitos and Piña Coladas.

Deck and Patio not only designs in-pool submerged bar stools for swim-up bars, but we can design it all so this amenity can also be used as a dry bar, enjoyed on the other side.

 

 

In-pool amenities that make a splash include waterfalls and jet sprays like those shown here. When either of these are added to a pool, their gentle sounds screen out in a delightful way any noise from the pool’s high-tech equipment and even nearby traffic.

This Deck and Patio project also includes another outdoor living enhancement — an outdoor shower (not shown). It is located at the base of a stepping stone path that leads up to the hidden pool equipment.

 

Information about tanning shelves (a.k.a. Baja shelves, tanning ledges) seen above in this blog’s feature photo can be seen here. 

 

 

 

Backyard Heaven: Discovering You Can Have a Pool

It’s true that not every property can accommodate a pool. But sometimes even experts get it wrong. For while expertise is a great thing, creativity is what really solves problems. That was the case for these homeowners.

The husband and wife had given up their dreams for a pool. They had asked several experts who all told them their property wouldn’t accommodate one. However, that was before they contacted Bill Renter — one of Deck and Patio’s best outdoor living experts.

“They asked me to come look over their old natural-wood deck. They wanted us to renovate it using capped composite materials from Trex Decking,” says Bill.

“While we were chatting, they decided to ask one more time about the possibility of a pool. To their delight, I told them I didn’t think it was impossible at all — but that it would take a bit of innovation.”

What had concerned other experts about their property was how it sloped toward the house. They also had to deal with restrictive town setback codes.

“With Bill leading our team, we tackled these issues by setting the pool mid-grade and building risers up to the pool height,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

Dave adds that our design also called for an attractive water feature behind the pool to handle the rising higher grade. The delightful sounds from the water feature also screened out noise from nearby neighbors — all while creating a natural and beautiful vista.

“You might say they finally got their backyard heaven,” says Dave.

 

 

Free-form Vinly Pool: Vinyl-lined pools can be constructed in any shape, curve, or angle, which made it easier to fit a pool in this yard. By taking advantage of the property’s rising grade, Deck and Patio created a natural retaining wall, studded with gorgeous plantings, moss and river rock to hold back the rising soil. Added benefit: the sounds an added waterfall makes their long desired pool experience even better.

Free-form Vinly Pool: Vinyl-lined pools can be constructed in any shape, curve, or angle, which made it easier to fit a pool in this yard. By taking advantage of the property’s rising grade, Deck and Patio created a natural retaining wall, studded with gorgeous plantings, moss and river rock to hold back the rising soil. Added benefit: the sounds an added waterfall makes their long desired pool experience even better.

 

Pool Surround: This pool is surrounded by a patio created from Cambridge’s Round Table pavingstones. The pavers’ dimpled, embossed surfaces gently roll into soft, beveled edges on four straight-sided Cambridge Shapes with ArmorTec. The pavers were laid in a handsome modified herringbone pattern.

Pool Surround: This pool is surrounded by a patio created from Cambridge’s Round Table pavingstones. The pavers’ dimpled, embossed surfaces gently roll into soft, beveled edges on four straight-sided Cambridge Shapes with ArmorTec. The pavers were laid in a handsome modified herringbone pattern.

 

Stepping Stone Paths: Bluestone stepping stones we installed to skim across the backyard sod and connect the pool patio to their new Trex deck and second Cambridge patio located at the house. This area is also home to a new outdoor kitchen area, complete with barbecue and refrigerator. The entire project was finished off with the installation of lush colorful landscaping and low voltage lighting.

Stepping Stone Paths: Bluestone stepping stones we installed to skim across the backyard sod and connect the pool patio to their new Trex deck and second Cambridge patio located at the house. This area is also home to a new outdoor kitchen area, complete with barbecue and refrigerator. The entire project was finished off with the installation of lush colorful landscaping and low voltage lighting.

 

 

Can Beautiful Landscaping Improve My Well-Being?

A few years ago, The Atlantic magazine published a news feature outlining how “natural environments refocus our attention, lessening stress and hastening healing.”

In the article, a study was referenced that was conducted by a researcher at Paoli Memorial hospital (Paoli, PA). After visiting patients recovering from the same type of surgery, she noticed that some had improved at a faster rate. Since most everything else was the same, she wondered if the faster recovery could have been related to the differences in patients’ rooms.

Sure enough. While the rooms were basically identical, some of the hospital rooms on the same recovery floor faced a brick wall, while others looked out onto a small group of deciduous trees.

As the researcher dug further, she noted interesting details in the patients’ recovery charts.

For example, the charts showed how much more work was required by the nursing staff for those facing the brick wall. Their chart comments included:  “needs much encouragement” and “upset and crying.” However, those looking out onto to a natural view had higher spirits and needed fewer pain killers as they progressed than the others.

“Since I was a young man, I’ve always had an sense that beautiful landscapes healed the spirit,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s one of the reasons I do this work. But I was surprised myself to learn that natural beauty can also speed up recovery of the sick.

“I have always been aware of the effect a green landscape has on children, including my own,” continues Dave. “Even when they have had a bad day, like challenges at school, they pick up quickly once they get to play in a pleasant outdoor space.”

Dave also agrees with The Atlantic’s explanation as to why nature revives us.

“When you’re busy dealing with the demands of every day life, it can be exhausting. We are overwhelmed with stimuli. A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you take in the serenity and quiet.”

Deck and Patio has a history of creating beautiful landscaping projects (including many award-winning) where families can revive themselves. Various elements are frequently involved:

  • sounds (moving water, chirping birds, croaking frogs, the rapid flaps of hummingbirds)

  • colors and textures (aquatic plants, seasonal plants, bright and soft colors, rich greenery, leafy shrubs, interesting barks, winter berries, etc.)

  • overall harmony (when things fit together in a beautiful way), including a right balance between hardscapes (patios, decks, pool surrounds, driveways, walkways) and softscapes (gardens, grass, trees, soil gradations).

 

A body of research on how landscaping can affect our well-being continues to grow, says Dave. “Studies from Stanford University, for example, are some of the many ways experts continue to explore this connection.

“It also doesn’t require a large area to create a restful contemplation-scape,” adds Dave. “When you realize that the patients in the Paoli Memorial hospital study improved just by looking at a nice group of trees, imagine the positive effects that a fuller nature-escape provides, when it’s right in your own yard and can be enjoyed every day.”

 

 

Contemporary Style Water Features:

Contemporary Style Water Features:

You can plan/design a contemplation-scape just about anywhere, and in any style you like. Where new sheet-falling waterfalls (right) flow into this backyard pool, there had been a moss rock waterfall. Adding new sleek waterfalls and bright greenery, along with the Asian touches chosen by the homeowners, Deck and Patio turned this backyard escape into a Zen-like atmosphere perfect for their tastes.

 

Serene Walking Spaces:

Serene Walking Spaces:

According to published reports (see above), serene areas are healing areas. Here, Deck and Patio created a special walking area for the homeowners when they move from one space to the next. This also allowed us to hide their pool equipment in a way that offers contemplation moments as they move around their larger backyard retreat. “However, this kind of walking space is ideal on its own,” says Dave Stockwell. “It was part of a larger project, but it doesn’t need to be.”

 

Beautiful Contemplation-Scapes:

Beautiful Contemplation-Scapes:

Deck and Patio not only built a natural pond for these homeowners, but we installed stepping stones out to a stone “island” so they could actually sit out in the middle of their pond. The whole area is surrounded with beautiful colorful plantings at the water’s edge as well as aquatic plants and grasses, not to mention beautiful waterfalls (unseen). “Here, sights, sounds and harmony all come into play,” says Dave Stockwell.

 

The Healing Benefits of a Garden:

The Healing Benefits of a Garden:

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.” said Edward Flaherty, author of landscape stories. We couldn’t agree more! And while this garden photo isn’t of one of our own projects, Deck and Patio designs gardens with the same variations in color and texture, as well as slope gradations whenever possible. The result is a relaxing and healing place for young and old alike.