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Creating a Lush Poolscape with Colorful Plantings

Sleek geometric pools can look just fine without a lot of softening. The addition of, perhaps, sheer descent waterfalls (aka sheet falling), a handsome patio, plus a green backdrop, and the picture is complete.

But pools designed in a more natural look, more free-form such as Mother Nature might create, cry out for a more lush poolscape. In addition, for practical reasons, pools naturally have a lot of surrounding patio hardscapes. So adding the right plants for color and texture, nestled in and around moss or other natural stone rocks and boulders, and some waterfalls, turn your poolscape into an oasis.  

Here’s a few Deck and Patio projects that will give you an idea of what we’re talking about.

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio’s design gave this vacation-style Adirondack pool the exact feeling our clients wanted; they just step outside to a natural swimming pond where they can hang out. 

We added bright colorful plants in between the boulders, in such a way that they cascade into the pool, like they would in nature. This contributes to a beautiful all-rock pool, filtered and treated chemically, but which looks like a natural pond.

 

 

Pool Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Pool Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Here, vibration flowers and fragrance — provided by many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — were planned for successional color throughout the pool season.

 

 

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa (Long Island/NY):

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa (Long Island/NY):

This concrete pool has a vinyl liner. We positioned it into the natural surrounding landscape considering carefully any existing trees and mature shrub root systems. With that lush backdrop, the addition of color plants and ground cover make for a glorious retreat.

 

 

New Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

New Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

Close Up of Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

Close Up of Natural Retaining Wall (Long Island/NY):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And old wooden retaining wall took away from the attractiveness of the pool area.

Our creative team introduced a unique concept to deal with this new poolscape: re-grade the slope, turning it into a “natural” retaining wall (left) including a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden in its place.

Once the stream and waterfall were complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping (see close up at right).

Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter — and along with bright colorful plants, we added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

 

Go Bold with Your Poolscape (Long Island/NY):

Go Bold with Your Poolscape (Long Island/NY):

 

Now, consider this stunning apricot-pink rose that one of our designers added to landscaping around this client’s pool.

Such a dramatic hued plant gets attention, and in smaller spaces like this, it helps the landscape to recede behind it — causing the overall area to seem larger.

 

As for this color: without a doubt “orange” roses have the most attitude in the rose family. These beauties are known for enthusiasm, not to mention passion.

The color also suggests a sense of significance and even urgency — perhaps just the right color to draw your loved ones outside on a warm summer day.

 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

Note: Today’s Feature Photo (top of page) is another example of Deck and Patio’s lush poolscapes. If you’d like to learn more about this project, click here. 

 

 

 

The Peaceful Harmony of Free-Form Pools

Last week our blog focused on geometric pools and how their traditional styles offer comfort today. But another trend is also upon us. There are those who find appealing a more relaxed, easy-going, natural style, as seen in the recent popularity of tie-die fashion apparel — which has its roots in 1960’s hippie style. For them, free-form pools fit just like a glove. 

“There’s something peaceful about a free-form water feature as it meanders its way along the natural contours of a landscape,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “It offers a calm sense that it belongs there. Like a natural pond or lake might — only with a patio or deck around it.” 

Project # 1

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Frequently, Deck and Patio designs the patio around a free-form pool in a similar free-form design. This Manhasset, NY, pool project is a great example of such a complementary patio and pool design.

“We also added a stacked stone wall that not only provides plenty of sitting options when the family entertains, the wall helps accentuate the space while also holding back the lawn and plantings.” 

This project design included a lower and upper patio — with the upper patio for the raised spa. Both pool patios were made from concrete paver slabs, which Deck and Patio installed the same way as traditional pavers — on a crushed stone base. Polymer sand joints were added to prevent weeds from growing in between the joints.

“Their backyard was also on the small side,” says Dave. “By designing different patio levels we were able to make the yard appear bigger; also note how the hue of the concrete pavers harmonize with that of the home itself.”

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Many love free-form pools because they meander along with the landscape to suggest a more natural look; here the patio was designed “free-form” as well. The design also called for a stacked stone wall which adds a dramatic outline to it all as well as offering extra seating when entertaining. 

Project # 2

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio won a prestigious award for this project. The publisher of the awards noted that: “It makes the landscaping appear as though it is yielding to the concrete paver patios, pools and retaining walls and it presents nature as in charge of the design, rather than the concrete.”

The homeowner has also told us: “When everything is blooming in our front yard, the beautiful curb appeal continually causes people to stop – even on what is a fairly busy street. Stopping to enjoy what we did there, they always ask if they can see the whole property. After they see this backyard free-form pool with raised spa retreat, stoppers-by are in awe of its beauty.”

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Our design includes an eight-foot-high pondless waterfall which hides pool equipment that local regulations required be put in the middle of the backyard.

The waterfall is powered by a 10,000 GPH pump and is center-lined on the main axis of the house. It creates an enjoyable audio-visual impact which runs virtually year-round.

More than half of the pool and spa beam is supported by over 30 tons of moss rock boulders. The spa and boulder work was specifically carved into the hillside to enhance a sense of enclosure and deal with the severity of the gradient change.

The project’s mature woodland setting has been surrounded by lush plantings in bright colors with long bloom periods. The landscape design also left ample lawn space for the homeowners’ children to play.

Despite a good deal of sophisticated pool technology at work maintaining this beautiful retreat, there’s an easy peaceful feel to it all. Tie-dye swimsuits would feel right at home here — as well as with our first project above.

(Note: To see more Deck and Patio free-form pool projects, simply search free-form pools on the main page of our website.)

 

Swimming Pool Grotto Designs: Fun ‘Out’ of the Sun

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. However, even as adults, we still love our personal getaways. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space. 

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you? 

Well. That’s the possibility of a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat. 

Imagine. Being outdoors, but away from the heat of the sun. And, still close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

1. Our first example of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network. (See large feature photo at top of this page for the complete project.)

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

Close up of Nashville Project’s Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” laughs our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature. The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls and a fire feature for inside the pool.” 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

 “Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

2. The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods. 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

For this second project, the tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water.

So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun. 

 

Inviting Pool Amenity: Hidden Grotto with Dramatic Waterfall

This backyard upgrade came our way as a referral from someone working with the clients. It went on to win an award, making it all the more special.

The overall project included a free-form concrete pool and spa. But a special part of the design is where the spa was placed — it’s actually hidden inside a large grotto with a high waterfall cascading over it into the pool. 

“We constructed the grotto from large moss rock boulders,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “The ceiling is of structural steel and concrete. We also added a tanning shelf inside the pool in the shallow end large enough so that lounge chairs can rest in the water.”

The pool was then surrounded with a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio finished it all with lush landscaping.

 

Pool Grotto:

Pool Grotto:

A key element in giving the pool grotto a natural feel was the extensive use of moss rock. Placing these rocks requires skill and experience. They need to be positioned in a way so that water spills over them like it would appear in nature — like something you’d see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside the spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but is fed by a meandering man-made stream overhead.

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

Spa Inside Pool Grotto:

This is the view of the pool seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders. 

 

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

Techo-Bloc Pool Patio:

The beautiful design of these paving stones was also inspired by nature as well. The clients chose them for their handsome earth-and sand-tones which we laid out in a random pattern. They offer the perfect contrast to the blue water of the lagoon-style pool.

This project won Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

No Room for a Pool? How About an Award-Winning ‘Spool?’

 

Not everyone has room for, or even wants, a full-sized swimming pool. But what if you still yearn for a water feature that you and your family can enjoy? Well, the answer for these clients was an in-ground “spool” or combination “spa/pool.”

After listening to their needs and preferences, we suggested the idea of spool with a spilling waterfall that keeps the spool cool in the summer, and hot during the evenings or cold winter months. This type of water feature has room for several adults and can be enjoyed year round without having to maintain a full-sized pool.

Because the clients’ 8’x10’ completed custom vinyl-lined spool operates as a spa, it includes massage jets for relaxing hydrotherapy. Above it, a stream of water flows through moss rock boulders and lush plantings into a soothing waterfall that can be enjoyed when soaking anytime of year.

The clients also opted for a handsome patio of Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes. The landscaping was also carefully planned to provide color from April through late October: Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars were used to create an attractive privacy screen. Plus, texture and color were brought into the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

We were very pleased that this custom ‘spool’ not only perfectly suited the clients desires for a backyard refuge that fit well within their yard, but it also won for us two prestigious awards: Gold from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) and Silver from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

Small Backyard Pool/Spa:

Small Backyard Pool/Spa:

Tucked beautifully into a corner of their backyard patio, these clients enjoy year-round their custom in-ground vinyl spa-pool combo — or “spool.”

 

 

Backyard Refuge:

Backyard Refuge:

Deck and Patio also designed/built the clients handsome Techo-Bloc patio (Elena in Sandlewood) in rich earth tones. In cooler months the waterfall runs warm water; a natural gas campfire also helps extend the outdoor season whether the clients are sitting in or out of the spool.

 

 

Spa/Pool Combo:

Spa/Pool Combo:

Rushing stream that flows through large moss rock boulders and lush plantings creates soothing waterfall to be enjoyed while soaking in spa.

 

 

Pool/Spa Combo for Small Backyard:

Pool/Spa Combo for Small Backyard:

These clients wanted a pool or a water feature, and a patio as a fun place to entertain, but their backyard was too small for a pool. Their new spool, which can stay cool during hot summer days and can be heated up on a cool evening or winter’s day, was the perfect solution.