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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. 

3 Key Reasons to Choose the Right Pool Patios

“People love their pool patios,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “In fact, they probably use their pool surrounds for sunbathing, dining and just lounging a lot more than they use the pool.”

Whether clients choose to surround their pool with landscaped grass, wood (or decking composite materials), stone (e.g., Travertine), poured concrete, or pavers, there are 5 key things to consider.

Oops. Sandal Tan Lines

Oops. Sandal Tan Lines

1. Okay for Bare Feet

No one wants to wear shoes or sandals beside a pool — and not just because they cause tan lines!

But, ouch, pool surrounds can retain a lot of heat in the Northeast, where summer heat can be very intense. So choosing a material that does not trap heat is an important consideration to save you from blisters.

“Unless you have a lot of shade around your pool, you want to stay away from brick or bluestone,” says Dave. “Yet, you can still have the elegance of natural stone. Travertine, for example, is a good choice because as it does not absorb heat like other stone materials.”

Deck and Patio Project Using Trex Transcend Decking

Deck and Patio Project Using Trex Transcend Decking

 

For those who prefer the look of wood, composite decking can be a good choice because you can be sure there will be no splinters that might occur with plain natural wood.

Deck and Patio has done beautiful pool decks using Trex Transcend decking, as well as Fiberon and TimberTech. Note: Because of Fiberon’s grooved design, the board fasteners are hidden, which means there are no nails to ever injure bare feet either.

“As for certain pavers, they are also a good choice, especially lighter-hued tones which will naturally hold less heat,” says Dave.

 

                                                           2. Staying Cool

Deck and Patio Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Swim Up/Outdoor Bar

Deck and Patio Swim Up/Outdoor Bar

“You don’t want to get overheated when sunbathing,” says Dave. “This is one reason tanning shelves have become so popular. Part pool amenity and part extension of your pool patio, these shelves (a.k.a. ledges, Baja ledge, doggie deck) — allow sun bathers to sit in shallow pool water where they can splash water around themselves whenever they want.

Another way to stay cool and extend your patio into your pool, is a swim up bar. These bars can be enjoyed from the patio itself or from in the pool. Add an umbrella, and you won’t know if you are home or on vacation in the Caribbean.

 

 

Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Surround

Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Surround

3. Need for Durability

While in many areas of the country, pool use is seasonal, outdoor living lasts at least from spring through fall. Even if the pool isn’t open, the pool area is used a good deal for just relaxing or regular entertaining.

“Composite decking materials are very durable and low maintenance,” says Dave. “They are also rot, insect, moisture, fade resistant. Regular wood does need to be treated on a regular basis, but if you choose a wood like Brazilian Walnut hardwood (Ipe), it has the strength, hardness and durability to resist splintering, termites, wear, etc.”

The right pavers, e.g., Techo-Bloc which are engineered in Canada, stand up extremely well to the freeze/thaw that occurs in our part of the Northeast.

Travertine is also very durable — just be sure it isn’t coming from say, China, where the Travertine they quarry is not nearly as durable as more costly Mexican, Italian and Turkish Travertine. If you get your stone through a reputable company, it should hold up to the weather changes that occur the Northeast.

“So make sure your pool patio doesn’t absorb too much heat, is slip resistant, and won’t cause you splinters or any feet tearing. Stay cool when sunbathing, and choose a pool surround material that is durable,” says Dave. “There’s a wide range of good choices available. Speak with an expert and share what your style and preferences are. Experienced patio landscapers will help you find the perfect surround for your pool, and design the outdoor space to maximize your enjoyment.”

Note: Re the featured photo at the top of the page: the reconfigured upper patio — where our clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture, thereby allowing several people to be out of the sun at the same time.

 

 

In-ground Pool with “Spillover” Spa: There’s More Than One Way to Make a Splash

In addition to a destination in-ground pool — with moss rock waterfall and handsome patio surround and bright landscaping — these clients asked Deck and Patio for a “spillover” spa that would give them not only the joys of a soaking in its relaxing waters, but provide an additional waterfall splashing into the pool. They also wanted to use this spa/hot tub all year, even when the pool was closed.

The Challenge

Most custom in-ground spas that “spill over” are connected to the pool’s functions requiring the pool be on when operating the spa. This would be a problem for the months the pool is closed. Our solution was, rather than build the usual connecting cement spa, we install a portable Bullfrog Spas’ hot tub in way that looked built in — with a waterfall just below it that appears to be coming from the spa, but actually coming out of the pool itself.

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 of Bullfrog’s JetPaks massage jets/seats — and have those benefits all year long.

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.

 

 

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 Bullfrog 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.

 

 

Bullfrog Spa Installation:

Bullfrog Spa Installation:

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