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Water Features for Pools

There are several enticing styles of water features you can add to your pool. However, in today’s blog, we are focusing on a particular water feature stand-out: stream-fed waterfalls.

While pools, themselves, are the most prevalent water features, the amenities you add to them, in particular water features, can take them from ordinary to sublime.

Reminiscent of Mother Nature’s own ponds and lakes — where water pools are the outcome of streams and rivers feeding oxygenated waterfalls cascading from above — adding water features provide a very special dimension to a backyard pool.

A key element in giving the feature a natural feel is the use of moss rock. Of course, the skill comes in positioning the rocks in such a way so the water spills over them just like you would see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

The first project we are highlighting today showcases a majestic high waterfall spilling over natural boulders into a freeform concrete pool and spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but like all the ones in today’s blog, it is fed by a meandering man-made stream.

 

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

The spa in this project is private — nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders fitted with a structural steel and concrete ceiling. The entire project included a freeform pool with grotto spa, Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and in-pool tanning shelf; it won for Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver medal for design from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

A rushing stream of hot water flows over a large moss rock into a new spa built by Deck and Patio. From there, a spillover waterfall flows out from the spa five feet above the main swimming pool.

 

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Imagine sitting at a granite-topped swim-up bar on comfortable in-pool stools while enjoying the sounds and beauty of several stream-fed waterfalls. For this project, Deck and Patio was able to turn the biggest challenge of the property — its rising elevation — into a benefit. Gravity alone moves the water down the slope into the waterfalls. This project won us several gold meals; one from NSPI and one from NESPA.

 

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Although we have successfully built natural swimming pools for clients with waterfalls fed by streams, this project is not one of our own.  We are using it today because it so beautifully showcases how much children love natural swimming pools. It was supplied to us by the company that manufacturers much of our water feature equipment — Aquascape, Inc. (St. Charles, IL). The pool waterfalls are stream-fed into a “natural” swimming pond. Swimming in such pools isn’t any different from taking a swim in an old fashioned swimming hole, or the ocean for that matter. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.

 

 Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The sound of waterfalls cascading over natural rock offers relaxing sounds as well as a beautiful vista when dining al fresco. Here, Deck and Patio also added a sound system in this backyard retreat that pumps music; together with the waterfalls the sounds are wonderful for entertaining or family fun.

 

Pool Water Features:

Pool Water Features:

Sunset is a glorious time to be by the pool, especially when the sounds of multiple waterfalls complete the scene. Here a stream feeds two separate waterfalls on either side of a water slide that makes its own waterfall. This is definitely where you want to be at the end of each workday.

 

 

Vinyl-Lined Pools Allow Flexibility in Pool Design

Although Deck and Patio builds concrete (gunite) pools, many of our clients prefer the feel of vinyl and especially the flexibility that vinyl offers in designing a pool.

“Sometimes stringent local setback codes affect pool design, other times the backyard space is small or the terrain challenging. Whatever the difficulties, with today’s advanced computerization of liner fabrications used in vinyl-lined pools, we can construct a swimming pool in any shape, curve, or angle, so there’s freedom in giving clients exactly what they want,” says Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter.

With such flexibility in pool design, homeowners are also not stuck with what some believe to be unattractive white interior stairs. “The liner is fabricated to include the stairs and any other in-pool amenities. This is helpful because white stairs do not blend with the rest of the pool,” says Renter, “and, of course, there’s no sacrificing a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.”

Of course, the base construction of a vinyl pool is much the same as any other. Vinyl simply refers to the method used to line a pool’s interior. These liners come in a large variety of colors, which can react with the water to create a romantic “grotto” or “lagoon’ effect, so popular today. Plus, the concrete walls of vinyl-lined pools have a lifetime guarantee.

“Often known for being the lowest-cost option, vinyl pools and spas are easily customizable,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In addition, replacement cost for the outer liner is modest compared to other pool fixes. Because of this, we can offer a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look down the road. Plus, in the Northeast, vinyl-lined pools perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate.”

The first project we’re highlighting today (see first photo below) is unique with an interesting twist on the typical vinyl liner. It’s a swimming pool that looks like a pond – i.e., made entirely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel – but filtered and treated chemically like a normal pool. Its liner isn’t “vinyl.” Instead, because of the very unique pool design the clients wanted, the best choice was a rubber pond liner. It’s as comfortable as vinyl and was a necessary choice for the job.

 

Adirondack-style Pool:

Adirondack-style Pool:

Despite looking like it’s a natural pond set within rocks, on the bottom of the pool there are no boulders. We installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pool water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool and is comfortable to swim in. We used a blend of pool and pond materials — a black liner, which reacts with the water to create a stunning pond-like appearance (a 45-mil EPDM pond liner) and Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary:

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls. Plus, the serenity of it all gives no hint of the high-tech energy efficient components supporting it. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to the backyard retreat.

 

 

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

Award-winning Vinyl-Lined Pool:

This entire Manhasset, NY project included a free-form, vinyl-lined pool that meanders along the landscape, along with a spillover spa. We tucked it into the back right corner of the clients’ backyard and surrounded it with a stacked stone wall and lush plantings. If you have a small yard — as was the case here — Deck and Patio frequently recommends designing different patio levels which help make the yard appear bigger.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Vinyl-lined Pool and Backyard Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, portable spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio. 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 oasis for a long time to come.

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

These clients wanted a good deal more than an outdoor pool and patio; they wanted a wide range of resort-style amenities to enhance their already existing majestic views of Long Island Sound. One such amenity was a vinyl-lined vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool that brings the view of the shoreline right up to their backyard patio. In addition, we included a spectacular custom spa, also perfectly positioned to enjoy the “vanishing edge” views. (Sunset photo of this project follows.)

 

 

Outdoor Resort Living:

Outdoor Resort Living:

This resort-style outdoor living oasis includes vanishing (vinyl lined) pool, custom spa, tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning. A swim-up U-shaped bar also serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.

 

 

Trends in Backyard Design: Water Features Are Enjoying a Rippling Effect

 

In a recent online post on what’s new in outdoor design, hgtv.com (House & Garden/TV) set water-feature-loving hearts a pumping. They have found that one of today’s top outdoor trends in backyard design is the backyard water feature.

In our experience at Deck and Patio, there are many reasons for this popularity. In addition to water features providing an attractive focal point all year through — be it a simple easy-to-install single portable fountain, or a gorgeous deep natural swimming pond complete with waterfalls and streams — the sound and sight of moving water is instantly soothing. And when created on a large-enough scale, such a feature can even block out unwanted noise.

Another major factor in their popularity are the many options available. Whatever one’s taste, there’s a feature to match it — from historic rustic to contemporary and sleek.

That brings us to perhaps the biggest reason for the growth in this backyard trend:

                      Any budget can absorb it!

 

Bubbling Fountains

Relatively inexpensive, bubbling rocks, single urns, and multiple rock fountains bring the sounds and sight of moving water to your backyard effortlessly.

 

Garden Fountain (Long Island/NY)

Garden Fountain (Long Island/NY)

When Deck and Patio’s designer was completing this garden, he noticed that “something was missing.” The clients agreed that a modest water fountain would add more life and provide a focal point in the garden. The “stacked stone urn” design they chose is the smallest kit available from Aquascape Inc. (32” tall), which suited their style and was the perfect scale for the garden.

 

 

Bubbling Rock Water Features (Brooklyn/NY):

Bubbling Rock Water Features (Brooklyn/NY):

While this bubbling rock is part of a larger rainwater harvesting/pond project (Brooklyn/NY), it can be installed on its own to provide the sight and sounds of moving water. When sitting out on their patio, the fountain offers the homeowners a serene focal point that also helps irrigate the garden.

 

Sheet Waterfalls

Sheet waterfalls are a popular choice for people who enjoy a sleek modern look. Also called Sheer Descent, these waterfalls provide a particular soothing sound unique to their design.

Outdoor Bar with Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Outdoor Bar with Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Space was at a premium in this yard and the usual type of large water feature (e.g., pond fed by streams with waterfalls etc.) wouldn’t have fit. The Deck and Patio designer suggested adding two sheer descent waterfalls flowing out of the new stone bar we were constructing for them. The flowing water is collected underground and re-circulated, eliminating the usual above-ground presence of a pond.

 

Waterfalls/Ponds and Water Gardens

Cascading water in our backyards offer more than beauty. They can help eliminate noise problems.

Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

These clients had a backyard noise problem. Their home is located close to a very busy street and the solution we came up with is for this lovely pondless waterfall. The noise is completely eliminated by the flowing water cascading over imported moss rock boulders. It’s beautiful to look at whether you are lounging on the patio or taking a swim in the pool — and when outdoors, the family feels like they are far away from the hubbub of daily life.

 

Ponds and Water Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Ponds and Water Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Backyard ponds and water gardens have been growing in popularity for some time; recent trends are for adding aquatic plants. These plants are not just beautiful to look at. Carefully chosen, they absorb nutrients an pollutants and help purify the pond. Along with the water, these plants become a magnet for local birds who come to bathe and rest on or near the plants. In this project, we added ornamental grasses and lily pads inside the pond surrounded by flowering perennials for color and charm.

 

Water Features are for All Seasons

When our clients ask our experts if they should close down their ponds or fountains for the winter, our answer is frequently, No! Most ponds — even stocked with koi — can operate during winter.

Fountainscapes (Long Island/NY):

Fountainscapes (Long Island/NY):

Crafted in delightful old-world charm, this fountainscape is part of a fountain/miniature pond feature that is as peaceful in winter months as it is in summer. Note how the small stream of water becomes a jeweled thread of ice during winter’s icy blasts.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds

Being able to swim in your own backyard pristine natural pond is perhaps the ultimate in backyard water features. The best natural swimming ponds are built big and deep enough to allow for snorkeling and provide ample room to swim.

 

Natural Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Natural Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

It requires expertise to create a natural swimming  environment and be able to enjoy it much like we did swimming holes in years past. It takes, for example, the correct underlayment, liner, Biofalls (Aquascape Inc.), bog filtration, as well as the ideal water plants etc. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Natural Swimming Ponds: Embracing the Pond Life

According to reports, across ‘the pond’ in Europe, natural swimming ponds have grown in appeal for a quarter of a century. Here at home, however, North Americans have not yet joined the craze with equal zeal. While swimming au naturel (chemical free) certainly appeals to health-conscious North Americans, some can’t get over sharing their backyard swimming water with — ewww — bugs, tadpoles, let alone pond fish.

This, however, may be changing. After all, a man-made natural pond is no different from swimming in a lake, swimming hole, or swimming in the ocean. Who hasn’t brushed up against seaweed, or snorkeled to enjoy colorful fish? And, indeed, in recent years, Deck and Patio has been asked to create man-made ponds on Long Island for the pure enjoyment of swimming in them.

In a recent post on Aquascape Inc.’s website entitled: Growing Up Around a Pond, the writer focuses on the ’10 most interesting things’ she has learned from having just such a pond:

          all bacteria is not bad;

          swimming in a pond is more fun than in a pool;

          ponds are wondrous at night;

          ponds are better than TV or video games.

We would have to agree with her. Snorkeling in a regular swimming pool isn’t all that exciting.

Don’t let the bugs bug you:

Unchecked by the chemicals of a regular swimming pool, the odd dragonfly will no doubt flit across your natural pond’s surface. You may spy a salamander at its edge. And frogs (who eat the more undesirable insects around your pond) may parent some tadpoles in any natural pond. And if there’s koi in your pond, you’ll want to keep them healthy and free of disease.

That aside, swimming in a pristine natural pond is very possible and thrilling. Using the right underlayment, liner, Biofalls and skimmers, bog filtration and water plants are part of creating the perfect experience. Detailed information on how to do this can be found on such helpful websites as Aquascape Inc’s, and local pond experts can aid you in keeping your water clean, and your fish healthy.

 

Swimming with the Koi:

Swimming with the Koi:

The homeowner who wrote the Aquascape Inc. blog “Growing Up Around a Pond” included this photo of her son encouraging a friend to join him in the pond. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

 

Natural Swimming Pond:

Natural Swimming Pond:

This pond is one of two ponds these clients had us create in their yard which overlooks Long Island Sound. Now you may think that our beautiful model is avoiding the ‘ewwww’ factor by using a floating device. But as you’ll see from the next photo below, she’s not bothered at all by healthy pond life. Indeed, this pond is pure and clean — a joy to swim in.

 

 

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Pristine Swimming Ponds (Long Island/NY):

A key factor in a good natural swimming pond is to build it big and deep enough so that you can snorkel as well as have room to swim.

 

 

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Koi Ponds (Long Island/NY):

Some ponds, like this one, is intended as a koi pond and not a natural swimming pond. One way to ensure you pond is sufficiently pristine for swimming is not to overload it with koi or other pond fish. This allows the aquatic plants and filtration systems the ability to absorb and “clean” the pond sufficiently for an enjoyable swim.

 

 

Vanishing Edge/Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY):

Vanishing Edge/Infinity Pond (Long Island/NY):

This pond is an infinity pond, one of the first done in North America. The project includes a stream, waterfalls, a second lower pond, and a natural biological filtration system that is continuously maintaining the feature’s crystal-clear water.