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

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

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


Backyard: New Decking

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

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

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



Backyard/Side-Yard: New Retaining Wall

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

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

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






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





Front Driveway/Steps

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

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




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

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




Pool Area



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





Final Note

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

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



The Many Uses of Concrete Paving Stones

Paving stones are extremely flexible and adaptable to a large variety of jobs. Be it a simple stepping stone path, expansive driveway, patio, or spa and pool surround, Deck and Patio often recommends concrete pavers as a cost-effective choice.

3 Main Types of Pavers

There are basically three types of pavers: “interlocking,“ “slab,” and “permeable.” These three can frequently be used interchangeably, except when it comes to (1) driveways, where the durability of interlocking pavers is essential, and (2) where water runoff may be a problem and permeable pavers would be a much better choice.

What makes them so versatile is pavers come in many designs, shapes, and colors and are durable against weather, and traffic, so that they can virtually be used anywhere in a variety of ways.

“Plus they are wonderfully suited to the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast where we work,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “One caveat, however. Finished projects made of interlocking concrete pavers will not look quite as random in shade and shape as natural stone. Paving kits installed by experienced professionals, however, can be laid in attractive random designs even if they will have more similarities than natural stone would.”


The following Deck and Patio’s projects highlight these different paving stones.


We believe that using pavers will not only provide a beautiful pool deck, but they offer a safer surface that prevents slipping.* Here, we created five different patio levels around this pool using only interlocking concrete pavers and stepping stones (slabs).

Five feet above the main pool, where the backyard retreat renovation features cascading water into a new spa, even there we surrounded the spa with a patio made from concrete pavers.

In addition, we find that pavers maintain a cooler walking area and can handle moisture better than poured concrete surfaces. And because the pavers we recommend are stronger than regular concrete, they are extremely durable for frequent entertaining (high traffic areas).


In this design and build project we added a swim up bar in the main pool that features granite countertops, as well as in-pool bar stools, swim out steps, a slide, and pergola.

The durable and resilient interlocking concrete pavers we chose create a handsome pool surround that stands up to lots of foot traffic. The manufacturer in this case produces kits that ensure an attractive random pattern in lieu of straight lines and flat images, or in a running block pattern. The finished look is natural — a good accomplishment for such an expansive area.





Here we recommended to our clients they use one manufacturer’s “Rocka” (slab) steps, along with moss rock boulders and creeping plant material.

This combination handsomely stabilized a hill area without the need of a retaining wall.

The “Rocka” steps have a wide-walking slip-resistant surface* — key to any project that is part of a water feature.




We used interlocking concrete pavers for this pool and spa surround as well. The pavers offer an attractive alternative to asphalt and poured concrete.

These pavers are extremely durable and beautiful and 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.




If you ever pass by Huntington Train Station (Long Island/NY) you will see a great example of the use of permeable pavers. Here Deck and Patio worked in cooperation with the Town of Huntington to beautify the landscape around the train station — all while capturing rainwater for irrigation.

In fact, where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, the landscaped water feature and permeable pavers we added allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

Note: Of course, permeable pavers are very useful in private areas such as patios and driveways — wherever controlling or collecting water runoff is a key consideration.


If comparing the many different landscaping materials available seems daunting —  indeed, viewing online photos can distort color and texture — Deck and Patio has addressed this by creating an outdoor display at our design center, so visitors can see many of the available materials close-up.

When visiting our outdoor display, those interested can walk-on them, and even touch various patio materials to get a proper sense of how a finished hardscape will look in natural light. Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it concrete pavers, permeable pavers, bluestone, brick, Travertine, etc.


*Note: Some pavers claim to surpass the slip resistance standards established by the American Disabilities Act. However, these manufacturers also say that some sealers on the market can decrease the friction coefficient of pavers under wet conditions. Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert therefore recommends speaking with a professional when considering sealing pavers where non-slip resistance is desired.


By | 2017-07-20T11:35:09+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Driveways, paving stones, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Surrounds, Steps, Swim Up Bars|Comments Off on The Many Uses of Concrete Paving Stones

Patios and Other Hardscape Designs: Paving the Way to Harmony

New patios, driveways and pool surrounds often come about when refurbishment is needed, e.g., when age has deteriorated an existing hardscape, or after a storm, and when some new outdoor amenity such as a pool, pond, or entertaining space demands it.

Done properly, outdoor hardscapes are more than serviceable — they can be an essential element in ensuring that the residence and property remain one harmonious whole.

To accomplish this requires choosing the new hardscape’s ideal hue, texture and pattern so it complements the exterior of your residence and other outdoor spaces, designed in a way perfect for the amount of property space involved and the use it will have. For a truly welcoming entrance, for example, driveways constructed in the right paving stones can offer inviting warmth and distinction. In backyards, the right patio material can feel like an extension of its surroundings.



If comparing the many different landscaping materials available seems daunting —  indeed, viewing online photos can distort color and texture — Deck and Patio has addressed this by creating an outdoor display at our design center, so visitors can see many of the available materials close-up.

When visiting our outdoor display, they can walk-on them, and even touch various patio materials to get a proper sense of how a finished hardscape will look in natural light. Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it bluestone, brick, concrete pavers, permeable pavers, Travertine, etc.




Paving Stone Driveway:

Paving Stone Driveway:

Deck and Patio’s design team was brought in during the early stages of planning and construction of this home and its many hardscapes. Working with the architect and homeowners, in front, our design team created a driveway in earth-tone concrete tumbled pavers that appear as an extension of the geometric patters and hues of the home’s Glen Gary brick.



Backyard Oasis:

Backyard Oasis:

For the back of the same residence (photo above), we used a 3-D animation program to help the clients see how their backyard oasis would appear. Techo-Bloc pavers (Elena) in a multi-level terracing design were chosen to perfectly harmonize with the back of the home’s architecture, help the space appear larger, and offer elegant surroundings to the freeform pool, the cascading waterfall, meandering stream with its own sheet-falling waterfall and spillway from the spa into the pool.



Permeable Pavers:

Permeable Pavers:

Because these Brooklyn clients wanted to collect rainwater for irrigation, they opted for permeable pavers. 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.



Cambridge Paving Stones:

Cambridge Paving Stones:

We surrounded this vinyl-lined pool and spill-over spa in handsome Cambridge Pavingstones, with artful cut-outs for plantings. The beautiful hue of the pool water caused by its vinyl liner, set against the pavers, with a huge backdrop of lush green grass create a very special setting. In addition, the hardscape was designed to be in perfect harmony with the shape of the pool.



Pool Surrounds:

Pool Surrounds:

Handsome Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection) were chosen as a patio/pool surround for this yard. The pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design. The color of the pavers nicely pick up both the pool water while simultaneously suggesting beach sand for a beautiful natural appearance.



Freeform Hardscapes:

Freeform Hardscapes:

Freeform pools are popular because they meander along with the landscape in a natural way; here we designed the Techo-Bloc patio in “freeform” design as well, and added a stacked stone wall for dramatic outline and extra seating when entertaining.



ravertine Patios:

Travertine Patios:

Travertine is a gorgeous natural stone that can make a beautiful patio. Here the Travertine surrounds a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, an outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade, and an outdoor shower. Note: Although Travertine has traditionally been used indoors in colder climates, more and more it is being used outdoors. Be careful, however, from where the stone is quarried. You want Travertine from Italy, Mexico or Turkey, not China, which doesn’t hold up in the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast.




Landscaping Should Express Who You Are

Have you ever noticed that just by looking at a property’s landscaping, you can get an idea of who lives there? Are they free spirits? Conversely, do they prefer things carefully controlled and manicured?

You can even learn how much the inhabitants enjoy entertaining, at least outdoors, as opposed to being more private. You can also guess how important color and nature are to them. Or maybe they’re more the hardscape types — those who like something firm and unchanging beneath their feet and that needs little tending.

So, to create the perfect landscaping plan, it is the job of expert professionals to understand each client. If their clients are worried about upkeep, which plants will survive with little effort and how to plant them so they’re easy to maintain?

Naturally, to complete the right picture, how a plan combines hardscapes with the trees, plantings and grasses is  very important. Not only is it crucial to know how homeowners will use the space, but the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.

In the end, the ideal project will express who lives there — and express them beautifully.


Hardscapes and Softscapes (Long Island/NY)

Hardscapes and Softscapes (Long Island/NY)


The hardscape on a property doesn’t have to be limited to a patio, deck, or pool surround.

Sometimes it’s using carefully selected boulders and stones with bright plantings that creates the perfect vista.

In this case, imported boulders and rocks were combined with a peaceful water feature to make the perfect outdoor escape for nature lovers.








Container Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Container Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Whatever your mood or lifestyle, planting flowers in containers is an ideal solution for those who want a low maintenance landscape plan. Plus, depending on the size/weight, containers can be moved to wherever the action is happening on any given day. Also note how Deck and Patio created privacy through the use of tall trees and shrubs at the periphery.



Multi-Level Patios (Long Island/NY):

Multi-Level Patios (Long Island/NY):

Multi-level patios not only make smaller yards look larger, they help delineate how the space is intended to be used. In one area, this patio is ideal for relaxing and taking in the peaceful water feature. Another spot to the side of the feature, and in front of a thicket of tall trees, creates a private patio. Spots for sunning and being near the pool has also been mapped out.



Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY

Some clients’ taste for outdoor space includes architectural statements such as this lovely gazebo and harmonizing deck. Bright plantings surround the area and a charming stepping stone path adds additional appeal. Notice how there’s little doubt that these inhabitants like to entertain.



Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:39+00:00 March 5th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments