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Backyard Oasis: These Days, Home Is Where It’s At

You might be missing summer concerts, well-attended barbecues, and other larger-group activities. At least activities that don’t include masks and social distancing. But creating that backyard retreat you’ve always wanted, even if just for family right now, does offer some compensations.

Take, for example, this project we did for clients a little while ago. They wanted a pool, with a waterfall and handsome patio, and they also wanted a “spillover” spa. But in speaking with them we learned something. They also wanted to be able to use their spa all year round. Hot tubs help you relax, and it’s understandable they want that option throughout the seasons.

“Most custom in-ground spas, especially spillovers,” says Dave Stockwell, “are connected to the pool’s functions. This means when the pool is shut down  — usually by late September here on Long Island — the spa gets shut down, too. Our solution was rather than build the usual connecting cement spa, to install a portable hot in a way that looked built in — and with a waterfall just below it.”

The clients agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted, especially since they would also get the superb hydrotherapy benefits from the massage jets — and have those benefits, whenever.

The neat thing is that from inside the pool and many parts of the patio, this second pool waterfall just below the spa gives the appearance that the water’s coming out from the spa— or that it’s a spillover spa.

 

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa

The movement in the pool’s free form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow — ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely backyard oasis for a long time to come. 

And what about during seasons when the pool is closed? There’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area outside of pool season so the view from the hot tub remains very pleasant.

 

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio.

 

Spill Over Spa:

Spill Over Spa:

Deck and Patio set the portable spa all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it — and added a moss rock waterfall just beneath that splashes into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, the waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground spa.

 

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Next to the Wild Ride slide that also spills water into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over an extended rock.

 

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

The free-form vinyl pool was designed with an expansive tanning shelf that boasts room for two large S-shaped recliners. Having no legs, the recliners sit right in the water for a comfortable way to keep cool and sunbathe at the same time.

 

Cambridge Paver Patio:

Cambridge Paver Patio:

The handsome patio/pool surround is made with durable Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection). These pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design.

 

Portable Spa Installation:

Portable Spa Installation:

We left one side of the spa exposed to make it easy to get to the plumbing operation of the hot tub. However, when looking at it from the patio or pool area, it appears to be all in-ground.

 

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

APSP Bronze Award): To provide the look the clients wanted – a custom spillover spa — along with year-round use, we built the portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it. Bluestone stepping stones allow for more softscape to be seen.

 

So, life may not be back to where we want it, but fortunately, if budget and space permit, there can be some compensations. 

In Times of Stress, Americans Seek Safe Outdoor Spaces

According to the Washington Post this week, one way Americans have been seeking refuge during the pandemic is by visiting botanical gardens. Out in the air, well away from others, they can stroll amid nature’s beauty, and like the iconic image of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat, throw off with joy their uncomfortable protective masks.

While the Post’s main focus was on visiting botanical gardens — which can be a wonderful outing for enjoyable social distancing — some of Deck and Patio’s clients are creating peace-evoking scenic spots right in their own yards.

 

Creating a ‘Breathe-Free Refuge’ at Home

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

Sometimes you can combine a refuge designed for peaceful relaxation with other more practical needs.

This photo (left), for example, shows how Deck and Patio designed/built a “natural” retaining wall for some clients. 

“Retaining walls can be pretty boring to look at,” says Dave Stockwell. “But they don’t have to be. Here a ‘natural’ retaining wall includes a ‘pondless’ water feature. The water from the waterfall is captured underground, in a safe area where very young children can’t access it. From there, the water is filtered and recirculated.”

In addition, this retaining area has been installed with lush plantings, river rock and natural stone steps which together with the water feature create a beautiful nature walk — all while serving the purpose of holding back the grade.

Dave notes that the reserved underground tank water never stagnates because it is continuously circulated up from the underground pond via the waterfall.

 

Sometimes You Want a Pond

 

Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

These clients (above) didn’t have young toddlers and wanted a full pond. Their completed water feature system consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond, and it is the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. 

Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are just some of the various plants brightening this pondscape.

 

Children Love Koi

Children Love Koi

 

Koi ponds were once a characteristic of Japanese gardens, but have been growing in popularity around the world, including Long Island.

And why not. Listening to the sounds of trickling water, while watching colorful koi swim around throughout several seasons is transforming. 

Whether it’s built near a patio, bridge or deck, this water feature is an attraction to more than adults.

Children love ponds, including feeding koi. It’s truly interactive in that way.

This pond (right) is owned by Brian Helfrich of Aquascape Inc. — the company that makes the water feature systems that Deck and Patio uses.

 

 

 

Sometimes a Garden Is Enough

Water features are wonderful but you can create a perfect place to de-stress without one. 

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Note how the colorful plantings, moss rocks and deep green ground cover (above) line the steps leading to the clients’ charming wooden bridge.  

With or without water features, it is a lovely spot to enjoy your backyard oasis. By adding this garden bridge, “It became a favorite spot for the homeowners,” says Dave.

 

 Backyard Strolling

Backyard Strolling (Long Island/NY)

This completed walking/strolling area, like most of our projects, was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it were designed by Mother Nature herself.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” In addition to being a delight for the eyes, such a spot offers wonderful scents which the family can breathe in — mask-free. 

“Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting, especially today,” says Dave. “A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you absorb the beauty and quiet.”

 

Feature Photo at Top of Page: Above a natural retaining wall, Deck and Patio carved out a patio area with waterfall for the clients where they can sit after a stroll and breathe it all in.

 

 

How to Protect Your Pond Fish From Attack

If you’ve been spending more time at home like so many in our area of New York, we bet some of that’s been outdoors. And those with a pond are probably noticing that your pond fish are coming out of hibernation. Ahh. Spring.

One thing we hope you haven’t noticed, however, is any of your precious koi suddenly disappearing!

Now if that’s the case, we feel your pain. Not only do we enjoy watching and feeding these jeweled treasures, koi help balance the entire ecosystem of a pond. So we get it that you want to protect them. 

 

Safety Begins with Good Pond Design

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

Herons Don’t Like Deep Water

If your koi pond was designed and built well, it was designed and built deep.

A water feature with sufficient water depth, for example, will dissuade raccoons and cats from going after your fish, since neither species enjoys swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages the most challenging predator, the heron, from wading into your pond. Herons enjoy walking around in slightly shallow water.

Deep water really puts them off.

So a pond designed with high rock ledges and no easy wading entrance discourages a heron from hunting your fish.

 

 

Pond Water Features:

Pond Water Features:

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of bubble rocks, waterfalls, or even water from nearby sprinklers, will put off many predators. Also, unlike still water which offers a glass-like surface, bubbling water from a waterfall etc. disturbs that serene surface, making it harder for predators to see the fish underneath. 

“In addition, when we construct a pond, we frequently include underwater koi castles,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “When the koi sense danger, they can hid in there until the creature has given up.”

 

 

Other Tips for Protecting Koi

  1. Statues: Some swear by scarecrows like owl statues. Others recommend a decoy-heron. Indeed, being territorial, herons will usually avoid conflict with what they perceive as another heron. Be sure the decoy is large enough to appear as a reasonable threat, however. And it is also important to move the decoy every few days. Herons are clever and will soon figure out a decoy that never moves isn’t a danger.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers 2. Another effective deterrent is installing a motion-activated sprinkler. We found, for example, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, who says that after testing just about every animal repellent conceivable: “…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

The motion-activated sprinkler is just one of several deterrents that should be used, adds Dave. “It can be effective, but works best in combination with some of the other suggestions we’ve given here today.”

3. Pond Netting/Fish Wire: “The most effective guarantee for safeguarding pond fish is pond netting,” says Dave. “But, because they spoil the look of the pond, most people prefer to use netting only during fall foliage. However, another suggestion which you’ll see in the following video seems a better alternative. Fish wire can be strung around pond areas where predators can get close enough to grab your fish.

 

 

The following YouTube video is by Foisy Aquatics who has a YouTube channel devoted just to fish.

 

 

Today’s Feature Photo (at Top of Page):  Koi are a healthy part of this Deck and Patio pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of high rock overhangs to discourage predators. A motion-activated sprinkler and a koi castle offer the final bits of security.

 

By |2020-04-23T14:29:27-05:00April 23rd, 2020|Aquascape Biofalls, Backyard Escapes, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Koi Ponds, Landscaping, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Ponds & Water Features|Comments Off on How to Protect Your Pond Fish From Attack

Key Elements of a Healthy, Low-Maintenance Pond

A low-maintenance pond is one with an ecosystem that works naturally with Mother Nature to keep the pond clean and clear. It is a paradise for families to relax by and study throughout all seasons. It also offers a healthy place for desirable wildlife, such as pond fish, birds, etc. 

Such a delightful backyard feature has several elements that contribute to its overall harmony. As certified Aquascape Inc. contractors, Deck and Patio keeps regularly up-to-date with the latest in pond design, construction and maintenance.

Proper Water Circulation

It is essential that any water pump be adequate to the size of your pond and waterfalls. This ensures the amount of water will be aerated sufficiently and will not stagnate or develop excessive bacteria. Instead, the pond receives adequate oxygenation to remain healthy. 

Biological Filters and Skimmers

Ponds should also include a natural filtration system using the right biological filter and mechanical skimmer. Adding rocks and gravel over pond liners will also allow beneficial bacteria to grow for fish to graze on. 

Pond Fish

Koi, in all their jeweled colors, are not just beautiful to look at. They eat algae, and their own waste turns into fertilizer for pond plants. It’s key, though, not to overstock your pond so the balance of fish waste, verses what is being used up, remains in proper balance.

Aquatic Plants

And you thought plants, too, were just pretty faces. No, they also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “In the heat of summer, for example, it’s ideal that approximately 40% of your pond’s surface be covered with plants. Not only do they take care of the algae they also provide shade for the fish when it’s hot,” says Dave Stockwell of Deck and Patio.

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

Backyard Pond Is a Paradise

“A backyard pond should be a paradise for relaxation as well as a home for desirable wildlife,” adds Dave Stockwell. “I’m referring to wildlife such as birds, frogs, etc. who eat insects as they enjoy the shelter you’ve created for them. In addition, aquatic plants and pond fish are essential elements in the overall ecosystem.” 

Sometimes, Deck and Patio clients want to go even further when creating a natural healthy pond ecosystem. “That’s the rainwater harvesting comes into play,” says Dave. “This involves capturing rainwater, filtering it, and trapping it below ground to be recirculated to maintain the pond’s water level because of evaporation. Aquascape Inc. of St. Charles, IL, has superb systems that capture and circulate rainwater.” 

This captured water never stagnates, says Brian Helfrich, construction manager at Aquascape, because the water is continuously circulated in the pond via a waterfall, or stream, or pond fountain.

“Rainfall shortages will never be a problem,” says Helfrich. “Plus, with such a system, town or city water is never being used. Those with an underground storage tank — stocked with water they may have collected a month ago, even during a drought, will not only keep their water feature fresh and moving, but excess water reserves can maintain a lawn, and/or a vegetable garden.” 

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

Easy to Maintain Pond Ecosystem:

This beautiful award-winning water feature (silver medal from LIPSA) consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond; it’s the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are some of the plants brightening this pondscape.

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Healthy Pond Ecosystems with Wildlife:

Water is the basis of all successful ecosystems. The second you put in a water feature you attract all kinds of wildlife — birds who want to bathe, frogs, salamanders, and insects that the birds feed on.

Low Maintenance Ponds with Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. Plants shown here include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a rose arey hybrid water lily. 

“A healthy pond does require some spring and fall maintenance,” says Dave Stockwell. “However, if you build your pond correctly, Mother Nature will do the rest. Not only will you love it in every season, but frogs, birds and butterflies will thank you for it.”

 

Water Features for Public Spaces, Parks, and Town Centers

In ancient days, water fountains were a source of drinking and wash water for local citizens. Today, cities and towns across the globe add water features to parks and town centers mainly for the beauty and tranquility they bring.

However. Whether the water feature is a fountain, water wall, waterfall, stream, or pond, it is widely accepted today that any such feature be ‘green.’

Such was the case when Deck and Patio, in collaboration with the Town of Huntington, designed/built a self-sustaining or green waterfall/water garden at one of the busiest spots in the area: the Huntington Train Station.

As background: For some time Deck and Patio has operated a sustainable division, our Rainwater Harvesting Group. 

“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Dave Stockwell. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater which can be used at private residences as well as in pubic spaces.”

At one’s home, adds Dave, captured rainwater is used for tasks that don’t require treated water such as washing a deck, lawn watering, washing vehicles, and refreshing one’s garden.”

In public spaces, it can be a source for sustaining not only the beautiful relaxing water feature itself, but there, too, the surrounding garden spots and plantings can be watered as well. 

How did the train station project come about?

Huntington Train Station Project

Huntington Train Station Project

The train station is just a few blocks from Deck and Patio’s design center at 189 Broadway.

One day a member of our team was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women planting flowers near the station.

As a local landscaper, we offered to help by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.

 

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

Station Area As Deck and Patio Began Work

“A problem became immediately apparent,” says Dave. “There wasn’t any water source for maintaining the plants. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain them.

“In addition, there was no walkway in this space, beyond a small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was also not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”

After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, we approached the Town of Huntington. “They were completely on board,” says Dave. “Huntington Township takes great care to beautify our public spaces, including healthy and cheerful pole planters, etc.”

With the Town’s cooperation, Deck and Patio installed the self-sustaining water feature with an underground reservoir to store captured rainwater. To help accumulate the most rainfall, as well as add a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot, we constructed a walk area made of permeable paves.

“We used Techo-Bloc permeable pavers and installed them over gravel and a rubber liner.,” says Dave. “These pavers allow the rainwater to seep into the ground and into the reservoir where it can be recirculated.

“The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent, using gravity alone, to the reservoir,” adds Dave. The system we used was known then Aquascape RainXchange Harvesting System which is now called “Aquascape’s Rainwater Harvesting System.”

“There is enough captured water to not only sustain the water feature, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Dave. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps falling non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”

 

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY)

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

 

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY)

Rainwater Harvesting System (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The Aquascape Rainwater Harvesting System includes an auxiliary pump connected to the irrigation system. This ensures that the water used isn’t city water, but harvested entirely from rainwater. The below ground Aquascape Aqua Blox Reservoir holds 500 gallons of rainwater.

 

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington Train Station/NY):

The water feature at the train station (which is, alas, as of this writing buried under snow and ice!) is in total keeping with the Town’s program of beautification of public spaces.

 

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Rainwater Harvesting at Huntington Station NY

Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

 

 

How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

First, Pond Fish Are A Good Thing!

When a pond water feature is well-designed-and-built, koi will naturally help balance the entire pond ecosystem.

However, many pond owners fear that the fish will be harmed or will not survive.

Keeping Koi Safe

Keeping Koi Safe

 

 

And while it is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, and herons, etc., there are precautions that will mitigate their attempts to reach your pond fish.

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Rock Overhangs

Adding Rock Overhangs

 

Adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond will give fish a safe place to hide from many predators.

Include rock overhangs around the outside of the pond. This will, first and foremost, make any pond appear more natural while discouraging cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

 

 

 

 

Pond Water Depth is Key

Pond Water Depth is Key

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner.

Plus deeper water at the edges (more than 18” deep) discourages heron wading.

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. The continuous movement of its water, or even water from nearby sprinklers, will put off many avian predators.

 

 

Herons do not like deep water

Herons, for example, do not like deep water.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Photo Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is installing scarecrows, such as owl statues. A net will also work, but most pond owners prefer to limit net use to fall foliage season.

However, one particularly effective deterrent Deck and Patio has found is installing a motion-activated sprinkler.

Indeed, one gardening expert, the Laidback Gardener, agrees. After testing just about every animal repellent conceivable, he wrote in his blog last year:

“…the only simple deterrent that keeps most animals away in the long run is the motion-activated sprinkler.”

—Larry Hodgson, the Laidback Gardener

 

 

Art Courtesy: the Laidback Gardener

Art is Courtesy of the Laidback Gardener

“At Deck and Patio, we believe that if you build your pond well, and install a motion-activated sprinkler, there really is no reason not to add koi to your pond,” says Dave Stockwell.

“And when using a motion-activated sprinkler, you might find it will drive unwanted animals away from your garden as well.”

 

 

 

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; they have lots of room to hide as well as swim. The pond is sufficiently deep, including around the edges. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators. Add a motion-activated sprinkler for the final bit of security, and you and there’s no reason to fear for your koi.

 

The feature photo at the top of today’s blog is artwork courtesy of the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson.

 

 

 

 

 

By |2018-05-31T13:30:00-05:00May 31st, 2018|Gardening, Koi Ponds, Living Landscapes, Moss Rock and Stones, Outdoor Living, Plantings/Pondscapes, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Waterfalls|Comments Off on How To Keep Pond Fish Safe from Other Creatures

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 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.

 

Natural Landscaping Design: Why You Need Moss Rock

Ever notice in old classic movies how distracting fake scenery looks outside, say, a car that actors are supposedly traveling in?

Well, that’s true in landscaping as well. Creating a serene outdoor scene that looks natural — like Mother Nature sculpted it — requires knowing what elements will make it appear genuine.

For example, whenever we design and build a new water feature or landscape wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

“Deck and Patio finds that these sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

Moss grows well in shady areas, Dave adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting. “Of course, choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is also key to creating a natural-looking scene.

About Moss Rock

Moss rocks are harvested from quarries nationwide; later moss is added. While the moss on the rocks do not flower, the initial planting reproduces through its tiny spores, absorbing water and nutrients through their foliage. The only requirement for healthy growth is the moist conditions derived from water features or other sources.

For our first project showcased below, Deck and Patio added tall grasses and evergreens like Juniper Parsoni, to complete the rich, lush, green backdrop to see. Coneflowers and Spirea Anthony Waterers help bring in the bright bursts of color. During winter months, the moss rock boulders themselves form breathtaking ice sculptures that extend enjoyment of the water feature.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock:

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock: One of our outdoor living experts was called in by the pool company to design a pool surround positioned against a steep hill. Our design plan also included a large retaining wall made of natural elements like moss rock, a stream, a beautiful waterfall, and boulder pool coping — instead of constructing a less attractive wooden retaining wall. Overall, it looks like a natural stream created by Mother Nature meandering down a woodsy hill.(See also 2nd photo below)

 

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

In addition (see immediate photo above), moss rock steps leading to a small blue stone patio became part of Deck and Patio’s overall design. Plus, a portable hot tub was installed on a flattened area in front of the patio.

 

Making the Most of a Backyard Slope

We’ve written about this before. Clients with a wish list for a backyard oasis, but they have an unstable hill that forms part of their property. And they’re finding it hard to imagine what is possible.

Fortunately, experienced landscaping firms like Deck and Patio have no problem with the vision thing. In this case, our clients’ hopes for a water feature, pool, patios for socializing, room for sunbathing, and even the ability to enjoy their yard twelve months a year, were not out of reach at all.

Despite problems with the terrain, our team got to work designing/building a truly enviable backyard resort. The vinyl-lined free-form pool we suggested allowed us to shape the pool within sturdy terrain.

The pool boasts deep-end stairs, and is surrounded by a two-level Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec patio, including a lounging area with embedded umbrellas.

“Instead of installing an ugly wooden retaining wall to hold back the grade from the pool, we turned the slope into a delightful natural space. Using boulder coping on the pool and additional moss rocks and plantings all along the slope, we made it very beautiful as well as secure,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “We took further advantage of the slope, and gravity’s pull, and incorporated a meandering stream along this planted hillside, ending as waterfalls into the pool.”

 

 

The final challenge was making the oasis usable all year long.

“We helped them choose a portable spa that could run separately from the pool. We fitted it into the transformed slope beside the stream and built a separate small bluestone patio behind the spa; they can enjoy the water feature when inside the hot tub or sitting or lounging on the secluded patio,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Free-Form Pool Patio/Surround:

Using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern for the patio, with gradations of tones. Designing the patio in multi-levels allowed us to designate spaces for certain activities — dining, lounging, etc.

 

Deep End and Shallow End Stairs:

Deep End and Shallow End Pool Stairs:

Deep end — or swim out — stairs as well as stairs at the shallow end offer easy access to the patio’s lounging area with embedded umbrellas. A natural gas campfire is great for cool evenings and adds a bit of romance in the evenings.