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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.

 

The Many Uses of Concrete Paving Stones

Paving stones are extremely flexible and adaptable to a large variety of jobs. Be it a simple stepping stone path, expansive driveway, patio, or spa and pool surround, Deck and Patio often recommends concrete pavers as a cost-effective choice.

3 Main Types of Pavers

There are basically three types of pavers: “interlocking,“ “slab,” and “permeable.” These three can frequently be used interchangeably, except when it comes to (1) driveways, where the durability of interlocking pavers is essential, and (2) where water runoff may be a problem and permeable pavers would be a much better choice.

What makes them so versatile is pavers come in many designs, shapes, and colors and are durable against weather, and traffic, so that they can virtually be used anywhere in a variety of ways.

“Plus they are wonderfully suited to the freeze/thaw conditions of the Northeast where we work,” adds Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “One caveat, however. Finished projects made of interlocking concrete pavers will not look quite as random in shade and shape as natural stone. Paving kits installed by experienced professionals, however, can be laid in attractive random designs even if they will have more similarities than natural stone would.”

 

The following Deck and Patio’s projects highlight these different paving stones.

 

We believe that using pavers will not only provide a beautiful pool deck, but they offer a safer surface that prevents slipping.* Here, we created five different patio levels around this pool using only interlocking concrete pavers and stepping stones (slabs).

Five feet above the main pool, where the backyard retreat renovation features cascading water into a new spa, even there we surrounded the spa with a patio made from concrete pavers.

In addition, we find that pavers maintain a cooler walking area and can handle moisture better than poured concrete surfaces. And because the pavers we recommend are stronger than regular concrete, they are extremely durable for frequent entertaining (high traffic areas).

 

In this design and build project we added a swim up bar in the main pool that features granite countertops, as well as in-pool bar stools, swim out steps, a slide, and pergola.

The durable and resilient interlocking concrete pavers we chose create a handsome pool surround that stands up to lots of foot traffic. The manufacturer in this case produces kits that ensure an attractive random pattern in lieu of straight lines and flat images, or in a running block pattern. The finished look is natural — a good accomplishment for such an expansive area.

 

 

 

 

Here we recommended to our clients they use one manufacturer’s “Rocka” (slab) steps, along with moss rock boulders and creeping plant material.

This combination handsomely stabilized a hill area without the need of a retaining wall.

The “Rocka” steps have a wide-walking slip-resistant surface* — key to any project that is part of a water feature.

 

 

 

We used interlocking concrete pavers for this pool and spa surround as well. The pavers offer an attractive alternative to asphalt and poured concrete.

These pavers are extremely durable and beautiful and won’t show signs of color loss or fading over time and have blemish-free surfaces.

We used Cambridge Ledgestone pavers (“Toffee Onyx” color, in random pattern) to create the natural rustic appearance seen here.

 

 

 

If you ever pass by Huntington Train Station (Long Island/NY) you will see a great example of the use of permeable pavers. Here Deck and Patio worked in cooperation with the Town of Huntington to beautify the landscape around the train station — all while capturing rainwater for irrigation.

In fact, where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, the landscaped water feature and permeable pavers we added allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.

Note: Of course, permeable pavers are very useful in private areas such as patios and driveways — wherever controlling or collecting water runoff is a key consideration.

 

If comparing the many different landscaping materials available seems daunting —  indeed, viewing online photos can distort color and texture — Deck and Patio has addressed this by creating an outdoor display at our design center, so visitors can see many of the available materials close-up.

When visiting our outdoor display, those interested can walk-on them, and even touch various patio materials to get a proper sense of how a finished hardscape will look in natural light. Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it concrete pavers, permeable pavers, bluestone, brick, Travertine, etc.

 

*Note: Some pavers claim to surpass the slip resistance standards established by the American Disabilities Act. However, these manufacturers also say that some sealers on the market can decrease the friction coefficient of pavers under wet conditions. Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert therefore recommends speaking with a professional when considering sealing pavers where non-slip resistance is desired.

 

By | 2017-07-20T11:35:09+00:00 July 20th, 2017|Backyard Refurbishments, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Driveways, paving stones, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Surrounds, Steps, Swim Up Bars|Comments Off on The Many Uses of Concrete Paving Stones

Pool Renovation: No Need to Start from Scratch

Blending the old with the new is frequently possible when it comes to swimming pools and backyard upgrades. Take the project we’re highlighting today. The pool and its equipment was over 20 years old. The homeowners thought it probably wasn’t possible to upgrade it.

But, looking over the project, Deck and Patio came up with ideas that allowed them to keep the existing pool and spa.

“Our initial concern was whether we could get at the pool’s old plumbing,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But we learned the clients also wanted changes to what they felt was a ‘confining upper patio’ area. Since this required tearing out all the patio areas, that would give us the perfect opportunity to get at all the equipment for an upgrade.”

Deciding What to Keep, Upgrade, or Restore

Working closely with the homeowners, an overall plan emerged that called for updating the existing gunite swimming pool and spa, removing and expanding the various patio areas, eliminating obstruction of the property’s fabulous views of Long Island Sound,  and adding new landscaping that would enhance the newly opened up views.

 

 

Pool Upgrade (Long Island/NY):

Pool Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Pool Upgrade

Deck and Patio changed the inside of the pool by refinishing its old white interior to a new dark gray. The gray tone reacts with the water to create the more “natural lagoon” feeling you see here.

“We also added swim-out steps as a modern amenity,” says Dave Stockwell, “and of course modernized the plumbing, etc, which should last for many years to come.”

 

 

 

Spa Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Spa Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Spa Upgrade

The custom spa does double duty because it is continuously being filled with pool water which then spills over into the pool. This means the pool water is recirculated and aerated via the spa.

“When refurbishing the spa, we took the opportunity to upgrade it and enhance the spillover into a larger waterfall to create an even more special scene,” says Dave. “In addition, we added boulders around its spillover area for a more natural look.”

 

 

 

Patio Upgrades (Long Island/NY)

Patio Upgrades (Long Island/NY)

Patio Upgrade

Enlarging the various patio areas completely changed the clients’ outdoor living experience. Using Techo-Bloc pavers, Deck and Patio expanded the upper patio where the clients prefer to sit when they want a cool spot to enjoy views of the pool and the water vistas beyond.

The lower patio had been just as confining for the clients. Now they had an enlarged lower Techo-Bloc patio/pool surround for sun bathing etc. Plus, the upgrade allows plenty of room for a new outdoor kitchen and dining area, an additional seating area — all of which makes entertaining so much easier.

 

 

 

Landscaping Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Landscaping Upgrade (Long Island/NY)

Landscaping Upgrade

Landscaping is not just an opportunity to create beautiful scenes. Groups of colorful or dense plantings can be strategically placed to block out things you don’t want to see. Here, Deck and Patio did all that, allowing the family to enjoy everything their new property upgrade offers.

Their yard boasts a comfortable feeling of expanse now. Different areas are defined for different purposes. Views were opened up and enhanced.

 

 

 

Backyard/Pool Upgrade

Backyard/Pool Upgrade

 

 

 

“This became a happy upgrade for our clients. It completely transformed their outdoor living experience. Best of all, they didn’t have to start from scratch,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Small Backyard’ Upgrade Enhances Outdoor Living

Backyard Project Showcase, Massapequa, NY

 

Long summer days and warm weather begs us to come outdoors. But a small backyard can make you want to turn around and go right back in the house. The good news is: You don’t have to sell the house you love to also experience the best of outdoor living.

Even small yards can be turned into a delightful backyard retreat. Designing a makeover that’s ideally suited to a family’s outdoor living preferences just takes creativity.

For example, Deck and Patio’s regular territory includes Long Island’s Nassau County and neighboring New York City — where properties can be tightly compacted. Sometimes a pond with robust landscaping is all a family desires. But those who want a fuller range of summer fun amenities have had their dreams met, too.

The project we’re showcasing today perfectly illustrates how, with a bit of creativity, Deck and Patio was able to give the clients everything they wanted within a tight area: deck, patio, free-form pool, spill-over spa, two waterfalls and lush landscaping.

 

Maximizing Small Backyard (Massapequa, NY):

Maximizing Small Backyard (Massapequa, NY):

Looking back to the house from the raised-spa patio, you don’t get the feeling that the property is small. The pool’s shape was designed to wrap around and run close into the house. This concept did require variances but it was worth the extra effort as it also allowed room for an expansive two-level patio and left a bit of lawn for the kids to play.

 

 

Small Backyard Makeover (Massapequa, NY):

Small Backyard Makeover (Massapequa, NY):

When work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked the clients, especially within such a cramped space. “I soon learned everything they did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. Because the property was flat, our Deck and Patio 3-D renditions showed how we would make the yard appear bigger — even indicating what the views would look like from various areas inside the house.

 

 

Ways to Make Backyard Seem Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Ways to Make Backyard Seem Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Adding different patio levels by manipulating the grades is one way Deck and Patio can create the sense of a larger space, which is what we did here. Of course, such gradations have to be more than attractive, they must be functional. There needs to be room left for some lawn, plantings, and the patio/deck layouts must be of sufficient size to accommodate chaise lounges, dining tables and chairs, plus an outdoor kitchen if desired.

 

 

Swimming Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa, NY):

Swimming Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa, NY):

Deck and Patio worked with True Blue Swimming Pools to build the vinyl free-form pool, which the whole family loves. We also learned that the clients’ children spend a great deal of time in the spa — particularly after a long time in the pool, when they want to warm up with their friends.

 

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa, NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa, NY):

For the most natural looking waterfalls, Deck and Patio chooses every stone and moss rock boulder for it’s desired purpose. This way, the water is coaxed over them so it flows and spills just like it would if Mother Nature engineered it herself.

 

By | 2017-06-22T12:54:30+00:00 June 22nd, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Design and Build Experts, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Pools & Spas, Spillover/Custom Spas, Vinyl-lined Pools|Comments Off on ‘Small Backyard’ Upgrade Enhances Outdoor Living

Dining Al Fresco by a Pond

Memorial Day weekend (May 26-30) launches the year’s outdoor living season. And that includes lots of outdoor dining: family barbecues, picnics, dinner for the boss and his/her spouse, romantic dates, and  just enjoying the air as we eat our take-out.

“Many in our neck of the woods not only like to dine al fresco during the outdoor season, but they want to do that next to, or near, their own backyard pond,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

As Certified Contractors of Aquascape Inc. — one of the country’s leading manufacturers of pond and water feature products — Deck and Patio is able to stay informed and trained on all the latest techniques and technologies for ideal waterscapes.

Indeed, on any given day, our teams can be found, in addition to other landscaping services, installing ponds, water gardens and other water features across Long Island and her environs.

“The ponds we design/build can, for example, be completely eco-friendly and include rainwater harvesting; they can be landscaped with gorgeous water plants, stocked with pond fish, and aerated with waterfalls. Each project we do is as unique as the clients themselves,” says Dave.

The one thing our ponds all have in common, adds Dave, is how much a backyard pond adds to each family’s outdoor experience. Having a water feature like a pond with waterfalls — with the sounds of moving water and natural beauty this provides — makes outdoor living and dining an exceptional experience.

 

Photo # 1

Pond-side Living:

Pond-side Living:

This pond project by Deck and Patio included a new deck with a viewing platform where the family can dine and enjoy the pond and its robust landscaping. After dinner they can walk across a set of large stepping stones to view the pond from another vantage point.

 

Dining Al Fresco By a Pond:

Dining Al Fresco By a Pond:

This photo, which is featured at the top of this page, was supplied to us by Aquascape Inc. Here a group of family and friends — and even someone’s favorite pet —- enjoy a meal beside an exquisite pond stocked with koi. Soothing sounds from the waterfall help everyone relax and be at ease.

 

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Backyard Sanctuary Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

These homeowners asked Deck and Patio to create a natural backyard retreat complete with a large deck and pond that comes up to it. The layout detailed different settings and focal points; we planted over 4,000 bulbs, 300 species of deciduous woody plants, evergreens, and perennials, including 150 different varieties of these species. The family can dine on the deck or in their glass conservatory. (Note: Deck and Patio did not build the conservatory but worked with the contractors the family hired to bring this beautiful project together harmoniously.)

 

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

“Deck” Pond Perfect for Dining Al Fresco:

Aquascape Inc. provided us with this photo of a charming dining area set on a deck with pond. Note how the wall mural picks up where the real plants leave off, giving a smallish water garden area the sense of natural expanse. The homeowner also chose blue cushions to go with the mural’s water scenes, which helps to tie it all together.

 

Picnicking "In" a Backyard Pond:

Picnicking “In” a Backyard Pond:

Yes, you can picnic “in” a pond. When Deck and Patio built this lovely pond water feature (which comprises two separate ponds next to each other), in the larger pond shown here there was space for a sizable stone island where the homeowners placed two Adirondack chairs. We installed stepping stones out to it adding to the overall Zen-like experience. They can go their island just for quiet contemplation; however, the chairs’ arms offer room for a small plate/box lunch and a cool drink.

 

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Al Fresco Drinks/Dining by a Pond:

Thanks to Aquascape Inc. who supplied us with this photo as well. Imagine getting home from work, taking off your shoes and sipping some cool lemonade before dinner while the kids play by the pond? Yup, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

 

  A big thank you to Aquascape for sharing some of today’s photos with us.

 

Quality Backyard Makeover Pulls Out all the Stops

 

Pulling out all the stops of an organ increases the sound so an audience can hear everything — every grand sound, in all its lovely variations.

You might say that the two Long Island homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade also “pulled out all the stops” to orchestrate a wonderful experience in outdoor living. Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub (Bullfrog Spa) wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature (which they can enjoy on the upper patio, from the house and poolside) be extremely eco-friendly. For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.”

To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the lower-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Bullfrog Spas:

Bullfrog Spas:

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with Bullfrog’s enviable massage jets — their patented JetPaks.

 

One last thought. The Waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property.

 

10 Ways to Enhance Outdoor Living This Season

Camping trips and the rugged outdoor experiences they provide are fine in short bursts. But a full 5 or 6 month outdoor season spent enjoyed in one’s backyard cries out for comfortable and superbly functional amenities.

Today’s blog, however, will not focus so much on the key foundations of outdoor living — patios, decks, and large water features such as swimming pools — as the delightful amenities that enhance them.

 

Here’s Our 9 Ways!

This first photo from Fiberon Decking, for example, highlights two opposite outdoor living enhancements — an attractive fire table that adds warmth on cool evenings and a shade umbrella that reduces the heat of the day.

In addition, note how an awning provides even more relief from the sun on the upper deck level. And very comfortable outdoor furniture means no sense at all of ‘camping out’ when sitting on this deck. Plus a highly functional outdoor kitchen means no need to limit the dining experience — although marshmallows roasted over the fire table is one camping treat worth bringing home.

 

 

A garden gazebo is another wonderful amenity for providing shade and comfort. As architectural statements, gazebos are beautiful to the eye while providing shade, protection from rain, as well as comfortable seating.

But a gazebo can be used in many more ways: as a meditation center; a spot for exercising; the ideal location for a hot tub; a venue for special celebrations like a wedding ceremony. Indeed, we believe this gazebo, built at the edge of a new deck by Deck and Patio, would be a gorgeous location for a wedding. A reception held on this poolside deck would truly be memorable.

 

 

 

 

Trellises and pergolas also make dramatic architectural statements. They require less materials than a gazebo (or 4-season room) to construct, and provide limited shade with just support beams and rafters.

Taking the time to grow vines on a trellis/pergola, however, will eventually increase the amount of shade. In the meantime, one can always add a canopy overhead — a good idea if the space underneath is used frequently when the sun is high.

 

 

Swim-up bars turn a regular backyard pool into a full-blown resort. Looking at these two Deck and Patio projects, one can almost hear steel drums in the background, can’t you? Whenever a a swim-up bar is added to the pool, all that’s needed to complete a vacation-resort feeling are small drink umbrellas in the Mojitos and Piña Coladas.

Deck and Patio not only designs in-pool submerged bar stools for swim-up bars, but we can design it all so this amenity can also be used as a dry bar, enjoyed on the other side.

 

 

In-pool amenities that make a splash include waterfalls and jet sprays like those shown here. When either of these are added to a pool, their gentle sounds screen out in a delightful way any noise from the pool’s high-tech equipment and even nearby traffic.

This Deck and Patio project also includes another outdoor living enhancement — an outdoor shower (not shown). It is located at the base of a stepping stone path that leads up to the hidden pool equipment.

 

Information about tanning shelves (a.k.a. Baja shelves, tanning ledges) seen above in this blog’s feature photo can be seen here. 

 

 

 

Quality Upgrade Ideas for Your Outdoor Barbecue

 

According to trend spotters, the watchword for today’s outdoor upgrades is:

Quality.

Take the humble barbecue. It remains the beating heart of outdoor entertaining. But more and more it has become only a part of a more expansive outdoor kitchen that’s set in attractive custom cabinetry etc. — and made to last.

 

Of course, the first thing any outdoor kitchen will need is outdoor plumbing and electrical outlets to hook up the sinks and appliances. And it is key to locate the kitchen as accessible to your indoor kitchen as possible. That said, design and function will depend on your style and budget.

Some Deck and Patio Barbecue Projects to Inspire You

 

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.

Close to the indoor kitchen, and with no obstructions in the way, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry should last a good long time.

 

 

 

 

This project  combined a new Trex Transcend deck with a full outdoor kitchen. “Trex is one of several composite decking manufacturers whose names are synonymous with ‘quality,’ says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Here, the deck is not only an outdoor gathering area, but it makes an elegant foundation for the barbecue.”

The outdoor kitchen itself boasts a durable and stylish granite top. Its cultured stone facade goes all the way to the ground making a dramatic statement that can be appreciated throughout the yard; kitchen amenities include not just the barbecue, but a refrigerator, double-side burner, as well as three drawers — all made with high quality stainless steel. Note how a large space was not required to design/build a superior barbecue area.

 

 

 

Again, Deck and Patio clients wanted their outdoor kitchen’s mechanics and amenities hidden in a work station with a stone facade for elegance and durability. Boasting a large work area, this kitchen includes a sink, refrigerator, eating bar with bar stools — and, of course, a quality barbecue.

The curved shape of the outdoor kitchen’s station, including one end designed as a circle, hints at the home’s turret. Note: A large shade umbrella over the bar can be moved as needed. Also, when sun is intense, extra umbrellas from the patio’s lounge area can be brought to the bar/cooking area.

 

 

When we think of pergolas, we think of beautiful architectural statements. And they are that for sure. They also beautifully delineate spaces such as for an outdoor kitchen.

But did you also consider that a pergola allows you to cover the top with a tarp that can hang down a bit when it’s pouring outside? After all, a quality barbecue and it’s juicy grilled meats and vegetables shouldn’t be inaccessible just when you want a grilled steak the most.

This L-shaped outdoor kitchen countertop also serves as a bar.

 

 

 

Certainly, the more seating the better when planning your outdoor kitchen. Here, Deck and Patio used natural stone for the veneer of the barbecue/bar and added a seat wall made with the same veneer.

We also added the same edge-restraint as the capstone, creating an interesting tie-in with the extensive brick veneer used for the house. The seat wall is handsome and ample in size, but it is also comfortable and will last a long time.

Once again, the curved design of the kitchen and seat wall complement the home’s turret, while some of the dark stones in the veneer echo the turret’s roof.

“One way you know any upgrade you are planning will be, in fact, one of quality,” says Dave Stockwell, “is how well your build/design firm stands by its work. We always recommend materials that are backed with good warranties from trustworthy manufacturers and are proud of our own reputation for ensuring complete satisfaction in our work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Confident In Backyard Design Plans

Sometimes even having a reputation as a top notch landscape design/build firm isn’t enough. For, while these Deck and Patio clients were enthusiastic about our design ideas, not being able to picture how it all would look when it was finished concerned them.

This was understandable. We weren’t being hired to simply tidy up their yard. They were looking for a backyard retreat that included a pool with spillover spa, dramatic pool surround, pool house and bar area and attractive landscaping — all in a contemporary design that fitted their style.

3D Landscape Design Plan

3D Landscape Design Plan

“However, our design team had an easy solution,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “We completed a 3D digital animation of the entire project using a special computer program. This permitted them to view every part of the retreat from any angle they wished. Once they saw what it all would look like, they were eager to go forward.”

Dave adds that having this computer program allowed us to document changes during the project — thereby giving the clients confidence that any alterations would appear as expected.

“A major part of their retreat was a custom-designed pool house, with all the amenities of a home. The patio was built with Cambridge Ledgestone 3 pavers that are reminiscent of old-time European plazas; but we laid them in a random pattern that complemented the lines of the geometric pool.”

Outside the pool house is a custom 25-foot-wide pergola that enhances their ability to entertain in comfort. Providing shade while sitting at the bar or in lounge chairs, it is also a beautiful architectural piece that adds drama to the space.

The project was recognized by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) with a Gold Award for geometric pool design.

“The award, although given to us, was as much the clients’ as ours,” says Dave. They contributed and participated at every level.”

 

 Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Retreat (Long Island/NY):

The main feature in this award-winning project was a striking geometric pool with a raised spa surrounded by a multi-level patio. Deck and Patio’s carpentry crew and masons worked tirelessly on this project. From the 25-foot-long microlam beam on the pergola to the smallest detail and door stop on the pool house, everything was built from scratch.

 

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

Raised Spa Over Geometric Pool:

The raised spa, topped with the same Cambridge Ledgestone pavers used on the patio, spills over through a rectangular cutout that echoes the pool’s overall geometric design.

 

 

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

Outdoor Bar Under Shade Pergola:

As the clients step out of the pool house, they walk under a 25-foot-wide shade pergola making this space ideal for entertaining; there is also a handsome bar area, fitted with a sink and all the components necessary to keep everyone supplied with fresh beverages.

 

 

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

Pool House with Pergola (Long Island/NY):

A major part of the project was this custom-designed pool house, complete with a bathroom, changing room, and living room with internet access, phone, flat screen TV and a spectacular view overlooking the pool.

 

Can Beautiful Landscaping Improve My Well-Being?

A few years ago, The Atlantic magazine published a news feature outlining how “natural environments refocus our attention, lessening stress and hastening healing.”

In the article, a study was referenced that was conducted by a researcher at Paoli Memorial hospital (Paoli, PA). After visiting patients recovering from the same type of surgery, she noticed that some had improved at a faster rate. Since most everything else was the same, she wondered if the faster recovery could have been related to the differences in patients’ rooms.

Sure enough. While the rooms were basically identical, some of the hospital rooms on the same recovery floor faced a brick wall, while others looked out onto a small group of deciduous trees.

As the researcher dug further, she noted interesting details in the patients’ recovery charts.

For example, the charts showed how much more work was required by the nursing staff for those facing the brick wall. Their chart comments included:  “needs much encouragement” and “upset and crying.” However, those looking out onto to a natural view had higher spirits and needed fewer pain killers as they progressed than the others.

“Since I was a young man, I’ve always had an sense that beautiful landscapes healed the spirit,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It’s one of the reasons I do this work. But I was surprised myself to learn that natural beauty can also speed up recovery of the sick.

“I have always been aware of the effect a green landscape has on children, including my own,” continues Dave. “Even when they have had a bad day, like challenges at school, they pick up quickly once they get to play in a pleasant outdoor space.”

Dave also agrees with The Atlantic’s explanation as to why nature revives us.

“When you’re busy dealing with the demands of every day life, it can be exhausting. We are overwhelmed with stimuli. A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you take in the serenity and quiet.”

Deck and Patio has a history of creating beautiful landscaping projects (including many award-winning) where families can revive themselves. Various elements are frequently involved:

  • sounds (moving water, chirping birds, croaking frogs, the rapid flaps of hummingbirds)

  • colors and textures (aquatic plants, seasonal plants, bright and soft colors, rich greenery, leafy shrubs, interesting barks, winter berries, etc.)

  • overall harmony (when things fit together in a beautiful way), including a right balance between hardscapes (patios, decks, pool surrounds, driveways, walkways) and softscapes (gardens, grass, trees, soil gradations).

 

A body of research on how landscaping can affect our well-being continues to grow, says Dave. “Studies from Stanford University, for example, are some of the many ways experts continue to explore this connection.

“It also doesn’t require a large area to create a restful contemplation-scape,” adds Dave. “When you realize that the patients in the Paoli Memorial hospital study improved just by looking at a nice group of trees, imagine the positive effects that a fuller nature-escape provides, when it’s right in your own yard and can be enjoyed every day.”

 

 

Contemporary Style Water Features:

Contemporary Style Water Features:

You can plan/design a contemplation-scape just about anywhere, and in any style you like. Where new sheet-falling waterfalls (right) flow into this backyard pool, there had been a moss rock waterfall. Adding new sleek waterfalls and bright greenery, along with the Asian touches chosen by the homeowners, Deck and Patio turned this backyard escape into a Zen-like atmosphere perfect for their tastes.

 

Serene Walking Spaces:

Serene Walking Spaces:

According to published reports (see above), serene areas are healing areas. Here, Deck and Patio created a special walking area for the homeowners when they move from one space to the next. This also allowed us to hide their pool equipment in a way that offers contemplation moments as they move around their larger backyard retreat. “However, this kind of walking space is ideal on its own,” says Dave Stockwell. “It was part of a larger project, but it doesn’t need to be.”

 

Beautiful Contemplation-Scapes:

Beautiful Contemplation-Scapes:

Deck and Patio not only built a natural pond for these homeowners, but we installed stepping stones out to a stone “island” so they could actually sit out in the middle of their pond. The whole area is surrounded with beautiful colorful plantings at the water’s edge as well as aquatic plants and grasses, not to mention beautiful waterfalls (unseen). “Here, sights, sounds and harmony all come into play,” says Dave Stockwell.

 

The Healing Benefits of a Garden:

The Healing Benefits of a Garden:

“Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.” said Edward Flaherty, author of landscape stories. We couldn’t agree more! And while this garden photo isn’t of one of our own projects, Deck and Patio designs gardens with the same variations in color and texture, as well as slope gradations whenever possible. The result is a relaxing and healing place for young and old alike.