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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.

 

Closing Down Pools: What It Means to Have You Covered

With temperatures hovering close to 80 during September, summer has lingered here on Long Island. And while most have already closed their pools, a few diehards are squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of them. Most agree, however, that the time has come to close the pool down.

To the uninitiated, closing a pool takes a few steps, says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. To get a full picture of what’s involved, our team spoke with a pool contractor who works with Bill on a regular basis — Michael Truehart, CSB, owner of True Blue Swimming Pools in Deer Park.

“In climates like the Northeast,” says Michael, “the most important reason for closing a pool is pipes and other pool equipment can freeze in cold months. Part of what we do is administer a chlorine shock, or algaecides, or phosphate remover to the pool water. Then the pool/spa equipment is taken apart and cleaned, drained of water, and underground pipes are blown out so no water can freeze in them.”

Because our changing seasons cause a lot of falling twigs and leaves especially in the Fall, a pool cover is imperative, says Michael. “We don’t recommend a plain tarp cover that sags under the weight of rain collected on it. We suggest a mesh-type cover that allows rain to seep through it. This does require another step: lowering the pool water level to about 12-18 inches below the coping. Then, as rain water seeps through the mesh cover, the pool can accommodate it.”

Our own Bill Renter adds that he finds these mesh covers, such as the Loop Loc brand, are also important to help ensure that no one gains access to the pool when it’s unsupervised. The mesh covers are very taught he explains. “A plain tarp type cover that holds water on it will collapse if a pet or child walks on it. But mesh covers, with strong straps to hold them in place, allow for water to drain through into the pool.”

“These covers are so taught, they act almost like a trampoline,” confirms Michael.

 

Measuring for Pool Covers

Measuring for Pool Covers:

Installing and measuring a mesh pool cover that involves freeform shapes, waterfalls, etc., must be exact. A mesh cover is strong because its straps with tension springs are connected to anchors set in the patio. For this pool’s water feature area, stainless steel eyelets were drilled into rocks where a cable secures it.

 

 

 Pool/Spa Covers:


Pool/Spa Covers:

For this job, because of the number of rocks involved, a separate Loop Loc cover for the spillover spa was required. Also: installing a hose and cord under the cover permits pumping water out later should too much rain fill up the partially drained pool.

 

 

Pool Surrounds:

Pool Surrounds:

A bluestone area (with grass pepping through) forms part of this pool’s surround. In such areas where there is no hardscape to secure the necessary tension, little anchors are set into a pipe which, in turn, is set deep into the ground. To secure the pool around the grotto on the left — where the cover wraps inside it — the only way to install that was from in the pool on an inflatable raft.

 

 

Gravel Pool Surrounds

Gravel Pool Surrounds

Without strong patio masonry to grip, the pool cover straps and anchors for this pool are set in a pipe anchored into the gravel. For all these jobs, the pool contractor used “Image Loc,” a special measuring process where taking photos from several views are input into a computer which does the measuring. This system works much like forensic technology.