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Green Spaces Positively Influence the Mental Development of Children

Many parents hope their child will get into a good college. That motive is frequently behind where parents choose to buy a home. They want the best possible school district for their kids.

Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY

Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY

But as study after study shows, parents might want to also look at how green the district is — or how green their own residential neighborhood will be. For one recently published study suggests that growing up among green surroundings can improve a child’s IQ. 

This study covered in The Guardian earlier this week analyzed what happens to a child’s IQ when the green space is increased. The average IQ score of children in the study went up by 2.6 points in both richer and poor neighborhoods. 

Analyst believe that perhaps this cognitive development came about because green areas lower stress levels, encourage play, and that a quieter environment is conducive to increased social contact.

Other studies, like a Danish one published last year proved, for example, that living near a park or forest may aid a child’s mental health later in life — giving children a 55% lower risk of developing a mental disorder. 

In addition to choosing a town or area with lots of green public spaces, one’s private residential property can be landscaped to ensure sufficient green space for your children. 

“We love being in the business of creating such harmonious landscapes. Of course, not all properties make it easy to design such a space,” says our owner Dave Stockwell. “Sometimes the property’s grades or its size make it a challenge. One of the things we do well at Deck and Patio is manipulate grades within the different levels so the family can get the maximum enjoyment.”

Landscaping for Children (Long Island/NY):

Landscaping for Children (Long Island/NY):

This is a good example (left) of just such careful manipulation.

Deck and Patio worked with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) to design and build a lagoon-style pool on this property which included a swim-up bar, yet we still managed to leave some lawn space where their children could play.

“The homeowners had previously spoken with other pool and landscape companies, who all wanted to put the pool where the lawn is. But Michael Truehart of True Blue felt it was a pity to use up that flat piece of lawn, where the children loved to play,” adds Dave. 

“What was required in order to allow for that was a lot of creative landscaping within the grades, including the pool design. We just had to sculpt the unusual elevated terrain so as to incorporate all that was on their wish list.”

 

Green Space with Water Features

‘Green’ doesn’t mean only an expansive lawn. A natural environment that aids in the reduction of stress in both children and adults includes lush vegetation as well as, perhaps, a pond, or other water feature for that extra dose of tranquility. 

Deck and Patio’s design for this project not only included lots of green space and a waterfall area but an attractive patio for relaxation.

Green/Natural Spaces (Long Island/NY):

Green/Natural Spaces (Long Island/NY):

“We also try to keep as many trees as possible when we design an upgrade to someone’s landscaping,” says Dave Stockwell. “Trees are a precious commodity for our well being in so many ways, not to mention they offer a haven to birds.”

Indeed, one of our blogs a few months ago reported on another study regarding the benefits of birdsongs to humans. It said, “depending on the particular birdsong and its type and frequency, the sound of birds can actually help one feel better and react more positively to life — offering restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.” 

Even a small waterfall and/or pond is a perfect place for birds to refresh themselves and have a drink.

 

Ponds, Pool, and Green Space

Keeping Plenty of Green Space (Long Island/NY):

Keeping Plenty of Green Space (Long Island/NY):

This project (left) was actually 3 bodies of water if you include the swimming pool. Our client wanted 2 ponds, one for fish only, and one for water garden plants. 

What happened was surprising. The lower pond was the fish pond (it made sense, because the fish might swim down stream into the lower pond if it were the other way around).

“However we were shocked when the client called and told us that the fish were jumping over the waterfall stone and swimming up stream and into the upper pond. I guess you can’t beat mother nature,” says Dave.

This project shows the opposite of our first example above. This property is not sloped at all, which shows it’s not necessary to have a yard with a slope to plan a beautiful water garden. Not to mention, a flat property allows for lots of green space for play. 

“It’s all about scale and proportion to achieve a serene vista,” says Dave. “And of course, utility. We were able to leave lots of green play space as well. It’s great when you can plan the landscape for both children and adults.”

 

 

Water Features: Memorial Weekend Kicks Off Outdoor Entertaining Season

Deck and Patio’s design/build team is frequently asked what goes into creating a backyard that is ideal for entertaining, as well as outdoor fun.

Depending on what a budget permits and the size of the property, we usually recommend a water feature — be it a pool, pond, stream with waterfalls, or a simple portable hot tub — as a focal point of its surroundings.

“Any time a client wants a water feature in one of our projects, we know it will help make a home run,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “Water is the one of the essential elements of life, and people are naturally drawn to it — which is what you are looking for when entertaining. So after determining all the needs of the client, we ask ourselves — how can water be part of it all.”

 

 

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Pools  

Pools, of course, are the most popular water feature. According to Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, what makes one pool appear awesome over another is usually its surroundings. “Choosing the right harmonizing elements is what makes something breathtaking. It’s how you blend water with its hardscape and landscaped environment.”

Pools vary in shape and complexity and homeowners can also choose between a vinyl pool and gunite, freeform and geometric. When budgets and property sizes are tight, rather than a full-sized regular pool, a smaller “spool” can function as both a small pool and spa.

 

Pool Placement

Pool Placement

The placement of swimming pools and patios is very important. “If you don’t use a landscape designer, you may find that some pool builders simply plop the pool where it’s most convenient for them,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “We tend to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” That was the case for this award-winning pool (left), where we worked with True Blue Swimming Pools. The yard was small but they still got their pool — and enough lawn left for the kids to enjoy.

 

 

Surrounding Patio Areas   

Pool Surrounds

Pool Surrounds

“When it comes to ‘hardscape,’ we try to create truly functional spaces,” says Renter. “We often see a surrounding patio that is 10’ or 12’ feet wide all around the pool. Instead, we specialize in creating functional spaces of different sizes and shapes. We’ll ask if they have patio furniture and we measure it to ensure that there is ample room for that particular grouping, while allowing for easy circulation.”

Deck and Patio also looks to see how the sun comes across the yard. “The chaise lounging area should face the water feature and the afternoon sun. You and your guests wouldn’t want to sit by your pool and have the sun to your back.”

 

 

Dining Areas and Outdoor Kitchens  

We generally locate outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless it’s a destination pool. In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning. “But usually it’s key to be near to the home’s kitchen,” says Renter.

 

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Extra Tip: One trend we’re seeing in outdoor kitchens are warming/cooling drawers made by companies like Ronda. These insulated drawers are sealed and work without electricity so your drinks stay cool or your food stays warm depending on what you put in its lower drawer.

“They have a magnetic seal, which along with being waterproof will also keep away bugs and dust. Indeed, you can choose a single drawer just for keeping dishes and cutlery completely clean,” says Renter.

 

 

Outdoor Bars and Dining Areas

 

 

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. You can even add waterfalls. Shown here (above right) are sheet waterfalls, which offer a sleek modern look as well as a very pleasant sound. This helps people de-stress while inviting easy conversation.

 

 

 

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Wild-Ride-slide

Wild-Ride-slide

Fun for Kids and Adults 

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. “When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” says Renter.

 

 

 

Tanning-Shelf

Tanning-Shelf

 

 

Other kid favorites: swim outs, deep end stairs and tanning shelves. We’ve found kids love to dive, swim out and dive or slide into the pool again, over and over. A tanning shelf or deep end stairs allow adults and other kids to watch them playing on the slide, etc. These are great places for young and old alike to gather.

 

Backyard Ponds

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Deck and Patio specializes in building ponds so clear and pristine you can swim in  them (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to; it’s also the perfect outdoor attraction for entertaining.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

 

The simplest pond to have is pondless. It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (left) than a pond basin each season and it is a safer environment when children are very young.

 

 

Hot Tubs Make Great Water Features

 

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

 

Keeping it Simple

 

 FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

Sometimes all you need is need is a fire pit and some comfortable furniture on a handsome deck. It would be easy to add a simple water fountain on such a deck so as to not miss out on its tranquil sounds. The deck shown here is Fiberon. Photo: Courtesy of Fiberon Decking.

 

 

 

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