outdoor living

/Tag: outdoor living

Net Your Pond in Fall, If You Can’t Leave It To Beavers

Autumn Ponds

Autumn Ponds

A few leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color. 

Too much debris collecting at the bottom of a water feature will leave sludge on its floor. Over time, the build up can become so thick it can affect the pond’s depth and alter the water quality.

What to do? 

If you’re a naturalist, you might hope Mother Nature and beavers could come to the rescue. Their flat tails, acting as shovels, could have that sludge dug up and turned into a beaver lodge before you can say TIMBER! 

Alas, the rodents disappeared from Long Island long ago. Anyway they would gnaw through those precious deciduous trees that dropped the leaves in the first place. 

Beavers

Beavers

But Deck and Patio suggests a simpler alternative — cute as beaver’s buck teeth may be. Simple pond netting, put up in advance of peak autumn foliage, will capture the leaves and other debris. 

“Of course it’s best to put up the netting before the leaves drop,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “However, if some leaves have already fallen in, a long-handle pond net can be used to scoop out the debris before covering it with the net.” 

Dave adds that if you’ve had some buildup, there are natural pond cleaners that will break down accumulation from previous years.

 

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Fall Backyard Maintenance:

Along with covering your swimming pool at the end of summer, it is helpful in due course to put up pond netting to collect foliage debris; nets also offer an extra layer of safety for your pond fish by protecting them from birds and other animals.

 

Installing Pond Netting:

Installing Pond Netting:

Aquascape’s Dave Kelly suggests tenting the net so it won’t sag into the pond when its full of leaves.  Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

 

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features in Fall (Long Island/NY):

Watching leaves moving along a backyard stream is as peaceful an activity as you can find. If there’s only one or two — just sit back and enjoy the scene! But don’t let too many leaves collect in your backyard water features. Photo: Aquascape Inc.

 

Recipe for a Delightful Garden: Just Add Water!

Just add flowing water, that is!

As garden designers and landscapers, we know flower beds take thought. Color, textures, soil, how much sun or shade, etc. But there’s one easy garden complement that makes any flower bed transformative in how it delights the soul. Even small gardens become something wonderful when the sights and sounds of flowing water are added.

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) may be surprised that we also specialize in smaller water features such as fountains.

Why Are Garden Water Features So Desirable?

First. By bringing the sounds of nature as close as your doorstep, flowing water immediately makes any garden feel more like a part of the natural landscape. 

Second. Not only will you enjoy the sights and sounds of water, but butterflies and birds, and other desirable critters will appreciate your efforts. It feels really good to know you’re supporting such lovable wildlife — and you get to watch them as they take advantage of it. 

Third. A fountain can fit just about anywhere. No need to plan or find room for an elaborate pondscape or another expansive water feature. A fountain (which comes in all sizes) can be added just about anywhere — although we recommend installing it where you can enjoy it from both your patio and inside your home. (More on that below.)

Fourth. A water fountain can run most of the year — including winter. Even when your fall plantings are gone to seed, so to speak, you’ll have something beautiful to look at.

 

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

This photo is one such garden fountain that we added for clients who had recently moved to a new home. (This fountain is also seen above as our feature photo) 

When working at their property, one of our team members mentioned that it felt like the garden was missing something — a feature that would offer both the sound and relaxing sight of water movement. 

The clients agreed that a garden fountain would be an ideal finishing touch in such limited space.

 

And here’s a 5-second video for you to hear the water music of that installation:  

 

 

DIY Fountain Projects

If you’d like to add one of these fountains on your own, all you need is a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a level. 

Then, adding a bag of decorative gravel and mulch, you have a picture-perfect-and-sound-perfect-fountain that not only you will enjoy but so will many of Nature’s lovable wildlife.

Here is a step-by-step DIY video from Aquascape, followed by a link to the various fountains they have available. You can contact them directly — or give us a call to help you make the right choice for your garden, and also install it for you, if you would rather not do it yourself.

 

  

And for a video of the various fountains available from Aquascape or Deck and Patio:

 

 

 

No Longer a Bystander: Everyone Gathers at Your Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

Do you find yourself asking: What do I want more…a custom outdoor bar or an outdoor kitchen? 

Well consider this. Why not combine these amenities in one handsome outdoor activity center. We’re talking about creating a custom area that is equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot.

Never a Bystander 

A fully equipped custom activity area allows the person doing the cooking to enjoy the company of family and friends in an outdoor setting. With everything needed close at hand, you no longer have to spend a lot of the fun time in a remote kitchen and then transport the meal outside.

Now, that’s outdoor living.

Consider our first example. Deck and Patio created this outdoor kitchen/bar in much that way. 

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar

The first step in planning any multi-purpose activity center is to pick a spot where much of the outdoor activities take place. Then you can design it the right size and shape to fit. In this case, it was built on a new patio close to the pool and sun bathing parts of their yard.

The design, which at one end includes a higher raised bar/dining area, incorporated lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, as well as a sink in the kitchen part of the activity center. Being such a fully equipped kitchen, there is less back and forth to the house, so it could be positioned further away from their indoor kitchen. 

Wherever you locate your kitchen, just remember you don’t want to get burned up from intense sun during cooking or dining. A pergola is one answer. But another is to have moveable — yet sturdy — outdoor umbrellas for flexible shade.

 

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

Deck Outdoor Activity Center:

For this project, Deck and Patio constructed a custom activity area on the mid-level of a 3-level deck. Just steps from the top-level’s large seating area, the custom outdoor kitchen/dining area includes a new grill, refrigerator, and even a smoker/cooker — all set within curved custom cabinetry with a raised bar that mimics the decking in style and design.

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area:

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. In this case, it’s a truly peaceful spot since we installed a water feature with waterfalls next to their new portable hot tub. It creates a great atmosphere for conversation and enjoying an outdoor meal and drinks. The bar and outdoor kitchen counter was constructed in a curved shape to mimic the patio design. It is granite topped and the base of the activity center is faced in natural stone. The lounging area’s outdoor umbrella is portable, allowing for flexible shade areas, including at the bar/kitchen.

 

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Stone Veneered Custom Bar/Barbecue Center:

Deck and Patio again used natural stone for the veneer of this custom bar/barbecue activity center. We also constructed a seat wall made of the same veneer, with the same edge-restraint as the capstone for the seat wall.

This created a unique design contrast between the patio lounge area and the kitchen/bar setting. It also allows for a extra seating space when there’s a crowd.

 

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

Custom Outdoor Living Activity Area:

For easy dining and before and after cocktail hours, Deck and Patio created this handsome stone-faced outdoor kitchen with a raised bar.

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill. In addition, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry were chosen to last a long time.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

Techo-Bloc Patio with Custom Kitchen/Bar Center

The lower level of this patio is made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

The colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

Custom Outdoor Kitchen/Bar:

This Deck and Patio outdoor kitchen’s barbecue cabinet has a built-in stainless steel grill, an ample work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with bar stools. The natural stone facade of the activity center harmonizes nicely with the design of their new patio and mimics the facade around the custom fire pit. Again, flexible shade makes the outdoor bar/dining area a natural draw when the sun is strong. 

 

Posh Picnics: Getting Away to Your Deck – Part II

In Part II of ‘getting away to your deck,’ we’re sharing another fun and trendy outdoor activity: hosting a posh picnic. 

This outdoor dining experience is quite different from the sit-on-the-grass type of al fresco meal. Most of the menu will be pre-made like a regular picnic, but it tends to be more gourmet and served à la fancy.

Most importantly, any outdoor dining chairs ensure there will be no sore backsides, or “numb bums” as in the case of picnics on a blanket on the ground.

A posh picnic can be part of a ‘glamping’ weekend (see last week’s blog) or an event all of its own. Of course, it can be held away from home, but it’s a lot easier hosted right in your own yard and deck. It can also be catered. 

 

 

Posh Up Your Deck Decor

Very Posh Picnic

Very Posh Picnic

Even if you have a handsome deck (as all our Deck and Patio projects are of course…ahem), you can still consider some decorative flourishes. 

But before choosing them, you might want to begin with a theme. For example, you could host a ‘garden party picnic’ — where beautiful blooms take center stage.

You could also include on your invitations what your guests should wear. 

For example, you can host a cocktail hour on your patio before the picnic and pass around some finger foods like mini Caprese bites, or strawberry bruschetta or anything that might have come from your garden. For this kind of theme, ladies might be encouraged to wear clothing designed with florals.

Next. Besides a sturdy table, some sort of tablecloth is a must — perhaps white linen but something more colorful might suit you best. Also consider some crystal glasses, and, of course, at least a few pieces of fine china. 

 

Lighting Sets the Right Mood

Lighting Sets the Right Mood

To finish glamming up your deck, add some attractive throw pillows to your picnic table benches or dining chairs, if they do not already have comfy cushions.

And if you think the event will last into the evening, a few strings of lights and music will help keep the mood lively.

 

Picnic Menu’s Are Usually Made Ahead

The basic idea for a posh picnic is: the breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea is primarily made up of pre-packaged or pre-cooked foods — in other words, this isn’t a barbecue. And because it’s on your deck, everything is just steps away in your kitchen. No concerns about transporting delicate foods in the warm summer weather.

 

Posh Picnic Appetizers

Posh Picnic Appetizers

Posh Picnic Appetizers

 

For appetizers, how about some prosciutto, cheese, white wine and aioli along with baskets of crusty bread.

Maybe serve this with some pâté and olives.

 

 

 

Simplified Main Menu

 Posh Fried Chicken

Posh Fried Chicken

A relative once told me she was, “gourmet-impaired,” and some of your friends may also prefer simpler food. So, for an upscale menu that’s more tried and true, there’s nothing like cold fried chicken with coleslaw and potato salad. 

To ‘glamp’ these menu items up, just tie a pretty ribbon around tiered serving plates, or simply use  decorative plates or bowls when serving them. Frankly, we don’t know anyone who’d turn their nose up at crispy fried chicken and a glass of cold white wine.

 

Gourmet Main Menus

Yummy Cold Salmon

Yummy Cold Salmon

 

Grilled Ahi tuna, ready to be grabbed from your kitchen fridge when it’s time to serve, is one sophisticated choice.

Another is cold salmon fillets.

 

Either of these could be served with an idea we saw on Pinterest: roasted aubergine and lentil salad with mint and yoghurt dressing.

Sound pretty yummy?

 

The Yummiest!

Lobster..Yum!

Lobster..Yum!

Of course, you won’t go wrong with warm or cold lobster, served in a buttery broth or with some homemade mayonnaise, a rémoulade, or a béarnaise or hollandaise on the side for dipping.

This crustacean doesn’t require much gilding, but a variety of salads would be nice. For cold lobster, maybe a potato salad of purple or multi-colored baby potatoes. 

 

Desserts, etc.

And for dessert? A summer fruit salad and almond cake could be a crowd pleaser. Or a rich homemade brownie, or perhaps some mini meringues, or different colored French macarons (very different from macaroons).   

If your theme is a posh afternoon tea, the ideas are endless. Scones would be a must for this, with lots of fresh berries and cream — and, of course, some cucumber or poached salmon sandwiches. We believe you can even hire a butler to serve, if you wan to go the full Downton Abbey monty. 

One last suggestion. Don’t forget some filtered water along with the wine and/or champagne.

 

So here’s to summer on your deck, 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

By |2018-07-19T13:34:32+00:00July 19th, 2018|Composite Decking, Deck and Patios, Outdoor Furniture, Outdoor Kitchens, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Trex Decking, Wood Decks|Comments Off on Posh Picnics: Getting Away to Your Deck – Part II

Getting Away to Your Deck

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

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

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

The Joys of Camping

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

Deck Railing Planter

Deck Railing Planter

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

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

 

Video:

 

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

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

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

Want to Glamp It Up?

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

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

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

Hudson Valley Luxury Camping

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

Celebrating July 4th with a Home Concert

 

July 4th Celebrations

July 4th Celebrations

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

“The Skiffs” at The Homestead Restaurant

Band Note

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

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

 

 

The Vomvas Patio

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

Jennifer and Art Vomvas

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Hosting a July 4th Home Rock Concert

 

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

Setting Up Home Rock Concert

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Landscape Upgrade: Before, After and In-Between ‘Spool’ Construction

When we previously highlighted this Deck and Patio backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago, our blog posts showcased only the finished project.

However, because this spool has remained a popular download across our social media platforms even today, we thought readers would like to see some of our file photos (below) for this project. They capture its various stages — from the first marking of the grass, to the finished landscaped custom spool with waterfall.

Short Summary of Project

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

 

'Before:' Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

 

“During Spring” As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug so we could do this.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

“During” Waterfall Addition: The boulders needed for a good-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

“During” Waterfall Addition:
The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

 

'Before' the Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see on the right the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small piece of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

‘During’ Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

 “After” Landscaping: First angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard patio.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

 

 

Creative Landscape Planning Even When It Snows

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Good grief. Just as you begin planning a garden or backyard upgrade, another snow storm pounds Long Island. What’s an outdoor, deck, patio, waterscape, or barbecue-loving enthusiast to do?

If you promised yourself that this spring you’d create the outdoor environment you want, no need to be put off by the snow.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the ground is perfect,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But if you wait until the snow melts and the weather is finally warm, you could find yourself behind a big queue for a landscaper’s attention.”

 

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

Believe it or not, experts like those at Deck and Patio, don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project. Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced. But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.

Sure, you may be thinking. Deck and Patio can see under the snow to the possibilities of a backyard refurbishment, but how does a non-expert grasp what it all will look like?

“It’s understandable that a homeowner would not want to proceed blind,” adds Dave. “And they don’t need to. Through computer animation, we’re able to work up a plan in 3-D that gives a good approximation of what the finished job will look like. There’s no need to rely on one’s imagination.”

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Every aspect of this backyard paradise — infinity (vanishing edge) pool, custom in-ground spa, swim up-walk up bar, pond/waterfalls upgrade, extensive patio, and outdoor kitchen was first done on a 3-D animation program that allowed our clients to literally fly over and walk around this project —even their gas campfires. This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

For these homeowners, the 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house.

 

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left) not only helps show what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

In the case of this Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

 

Baseball Season

Baseball Season

So, no worries about snow when it comes to landscape planning — even if you can’t see the ground.

You don’t want to risk getting in too long a line of those wanting landscaping work.

Of course, if towards the end of the month, the weather messes with the Yankees’ and Mets’ openers — that’s another story! If that happens, we’ll be shaking our fists at the weather right along with you.

 

Thanks to Fiberon Decking and Railing for use of the feature photo at the top of the page.

More Than Beautiful: Self-Sustaining Water Features

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

It’s true: the sounds and sights of moving water turn any property into a restful escape.

But ponds and pond-less water features can also include rainwater harvesting components — offering a great way to save water and aid the local ecology.

Such rainwater harvesting systems support all types and combinations of water features  — fountains, waterfalls, ponds, streams.

The captured rainwater can also replenish a water feature’s surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and it is especially helpful during droughts.

As certified installers of renowned Aquascape Inc. products, the water conservation systems and other water garden products Deck and Patio uses are both technologically and biologically efficient.

 

Project # 1

Koi is a healthy part of this pond's natural ecosystem

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem

 

 

The Aquascape products Deck and Patio used for this project include high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters, and gravel beds.

Note: Koi can also be a truly beneficial part of a pond’s eco-system, including this self-sustaining one.

 

 

Project # 2

 

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Rainwater Harvesting (Long Island/NY):

 

The Aquascape ‘green’ RainExchange process for this Deck and Patio feature combines a decorative water feature with a completely sub-surface collection system — thereby creating a beautiful backyard oasis that is very eco-friendly.

“The collection system is located completely below ground,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “The reservoir is a truly maintenance-free source that keeps topping off the water feature.There is no requirement for City water. It comes completely from rainfall on the roof of the clients’ house — where gravity alone draws it into pipes.”

 

 

 

Project # 3

 

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

Deck and Patio Water Feature (Long Island/NY)

This Deck and Patio water feature includes a beautiful pond, waterfalls and stream with a bridge across it.  Along with the right water plants, everything works together to create a very healthy eco-system — underpinning the peaceful vistas that restore the soul.

Why is this important? Well, such products create a total natural biological system around ponds and waterfalls that can be replenished and maintained entirely through rainfall.

 

Project # 4

 

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Pondless Water Feature (Long Island/NY):

With a “pondless” waterfall, the waterfalls and stream do not drop into a pond, but seep through gravel where it is first filtered and then collected in an underground reservoir and continually recirculated. Because you are continually filtering and recirculating water, such a project is definitely eco-friendly.

However, natural evaporation of the water feature will require, like this Deck and patio one, that the recirculating water be “topped off” and refreshed occasionally. So for those who would prefer to go totally “green” and not use any town water by even occasionally replenishing your stream/waterfall, Aquascape also makes the RainXchange reservoir system we used here.

With RainXchange, runoff rainwater — either from a roof or permeable pavers is collected to maintain the water feature’s system through completely green rainwater harvesting methods. This captured rainwater can also replenish the surrounding landscape, wash a car, rinse down a deck or patio, etc., and is especially helpful during droughts.

 

There are many routes to sustainability. And the beautiful water feature you choose for a restful respite will be truly that…having no tinge of guilt about its impact on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Your Vacation Experience Back Home

This year's cold snap

This year’s cold snap

If during this winter’s record-breaking cold snap you sought haven in some warmer climate, no doubt you came back with more than memories of indoor resort comforts.

For example, when clients of ours a few years ago returned from Costa Rica they didn’t want to loose the happy family times they had experienced. A small country, bordered by two big bodies of water (the Caribbean and the Pacific,) they relished all that the sunny and water-surrounded country offered.

It’s not surprising, then, that our clients wanted to continue some of the happy family outdoor activities back home.

But they feared that creating their very own backyard resort — that would offer similar outdoor amenities they enjoyed on holiday — would be hard to achieve.

First, there were conflicting priorities between the husband and wife. She wanted cool places to relax with friends and he wanted to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.

Then, of course, there was the challenges presented by their property’s 12-ft elevation change in the property.

 

Pergola and multi-level patio

Pergola and multi-level patio

The solutions Deck and Patio recommended were to place their new vinyl-lined pool directly in the sun while at the same time creating an shaded area for congregating in comfort via a swim up/walk up bar with an overhead pergola.

To address the elevation, Deck and Patio’s design called for using the elevation for building a raised patio, with a wrap-around stair leading to the patio/pool and sunken swim up bar patio, plus creating a large pool natural stone waterfall area with plantings to hold back the grade.

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

“We were able to design the retaining area without having to add rails or fences that might have blocked views of their resort-style free-form pool,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Plus the addition of the natural stone waterfall with water slide didn’t just help act as a retaining wall, it also contributed to re-creating memories of their happy Costa Rican vacation.”

 

 

Custom In-ground Spa

Custom In-ground Spa

 

To complete their backyard resort, on the upper patio, nearer the house, we built a custom in-ground vinyl-lined spa.

Operating separately from the pool and being just steps from their door, they can use this resort amenity all year long.

 

 

The clients were delighted with their new retreat. And for an added bonus, the project won Deck and Patio several gold medal design awards from NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) and NESPA (Northeast Spa & Pool Association).

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

A Techo-Bloc multi-tiered patio, natural stone steps, lush landscaping almost completely surround a handsome free-form vinyl-lined pool with swim up bar with pergola, in-pool bar stools; a natural retaining wall with waterfalls and slide adds to the resort feeling.

 

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Considered the ultimate in outdoor living, this vinyl-lined pool includes a U-shaped granite-topped swim up bar with submerged bar stools.

 

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

The 32-foot swim-up bar is faced in cultured stone and rock and curves around to be enjoyed from the patio and well as from in the pool. It is a way of bringing everyone together — those who want to be in the pool and those relaxing on the patio.

 

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Even though it’s not near the pool, the custom spa was designed as a “spill-over” in order to provide the delights of a waterfall when sitting on the patio. The sounds are peaceful — truly reminiscent of their Costa Rican vacation.