retaining walls

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Contemporary Landscape Design: Front, Back, and In-Between

In landscaping projects, a contemporary look is frequently achieved through an emphasis on wood and other amenities installed in sleek, non-rigid formations. Such designs are often most successful when they involve improving something already in place.

That was the case with this stylish Deck and Patio complete contemporary makeover. However, initially, when these Long Island homeowners first approached us, they were only looking for an innovative and modern outdoor look for their property’s existing deck.

 

Backyard: New Decking

Deck and Patio replaced the clients’ old pressure-treated deck, positioned close to their home’s geometric pool, with a sleekly-designed multi-level Trex Accents composite deck in “Saddle.”

Trex’s “Saddle” suggested the natural look and hue of wood that was needed to achieve a contemporary design — just without the constant maintenance.

As the new deck was being completed, the homeowners were so happy with the work they asked us to make a complete renovation of the remainder of their backyard as well as the front and side of the home.

 

 

Backyard/Side-Yard: New Retaining Wall

The property’s old-fashioned, straight-lined railroad tie retaining wall was removed.

We replaced it with a tan Allan Block wall, laid out in sweeping curves. The serpentine shape doesn’t only define the space, but also softens the lines of their new relaxation area.

Deck and Patio chose Allan blocks because they look like natural stone; also they combine a rustic and modern aesthetic that result in an attractive contemporary look. In addition, they are also “dry-stacked” so there was no need for footings, mortar or connectors in the building process because the blocks stay in place once they are stacked together — a real boon for cost-savings.

 

 

 

 

In-Between

In-between the deck and retaining wall, we created a lovely water feature area that appeals to the homeowner’s sense of sound as well as sight.

 

 

 

 

Front Driveway/Steps

With the backyard completely finished, the old, crumbling asphalt driveway needed serious attention. The Deck and Patio Company’s design required removing the old driveway and replacing it with durable tan Techo-Bloc pavers.

The asphalt walkway was also extracted and a series of graceful Techo-Bloc stairs and landings were installed.

 

 

 

The beauty of the newly installed front door step and landing were subtly accented by a decorative circle kit giving a charming and aesthetically pleasing finish.

Made of interlocking paving stones, the design offered warmth and charm in a design that perfectly suited the design of their home.

 

 

 

Pool Area

 

 

Where there once stood a moss rock waterfall, Deck and Patio designed and installed a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water.

 

 

 

 

Final Note

On completion of the project, when all the craftsmen packed up, the homeowners were pleased with how their dream and the Deck and Patio’s design vision came to be a reality.

They felt that the finished custom landscape brought their outdated eighties’ exterior landscaping — front, back, and in-between — into the new millennium.

 

 

Creative Solutions: Designing Pool Wall As Part of Retaining Wall System

Sometimes when designing/building an outdoor retreat, it is essential to preserve the natural environment. However, when site constraints or landform challenges limit what can or cannot be done, this often causes Deck and Patio to be more creative.

For example, unattractive retaining wall systems — often required on Long Island’s rocky sloping properties — are not normally hidden by a body of water such a pool. But, for this award-winning outdoor retreat, that’s just what we did.

 

“We conceived the freeform concrete wall of a vinyl-lined pool positioned into the hillside,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“This way, the pool wall became part of a retaining wall system.”

Deck and Patio designed a curved-steel, reinforced-concrete wall with the strength to withstand the pressure exerted by the slope — and the sheer weight of 20 tons of boulders sitting on the pool beam itself.

 

 

In addition, a stone wall was located at the main patio to not only serve as an aesthetic feature to hide the grade changes to the pool area, but to become a seat wall.

Long Island boulders were used throughout the landscape to support the remaining surrounding grades as well as to give visual impact.

In order to incorporate a client’s wish list into a design, every project — from inception to completion — requires a hands-on approach to better understand a site’s characteristics, architecture, building codes and its impact to the surrounding environment.

That said, many homeowners cannot visualize from a blueprint how such extreme makeovers will look completed. As an aid, our team utilizes design technology to provide clients with a computerized 3-D animation of their project.

 

 

This presentation format means clients do not have to guess what the project will look like such as the case for this project. Such presentations also allow construction crews to have a better understanding of what exactly is being constructed.

To design and build a 22’ x 42’ freeform pool and raised spa, with waterfalls nestled into a 20 foot hillside — and incorporate multiple patios at different elevations with landscaping — requires more than just lines on paper if a job is to be successful.

 

 

This property’s undulating hillside enabled Deck & Patio to create an “amphitheater-like” environment with two spectacular water features:

–a 6-foot-high waterfall into the pool, –and a 4-foot-high cascading waterfall from the spa into the pool.

These large water features not only present a visual impact from every viewing angle, but the enhanced sound effect of the cascading waters minimizes the noise pollution coming from a nearby heavily trafficked road.

 

A unique combination of tumbled pavers, Techo-Bloc Quarry Stone walls, natural rock steps, Long Island boulders and retaining wall systems helped create a supple transition from the house and pool and spa patios by capturing the similarities in the earth tones throughout.

For the landscaping, we applied our extensive knowledge of how plants will grow, sequentially bloom, and react to soil conditions, solar exposure, irrigation, etc. With so much rock and pavers built into the design, we understood it was imperative to soften the impact of these massive structures by scalloping the plants into the hillside with a wide variety of colorful perennial, deciduous and evergreen plant material for a year-round impact.

Landscaping Also Key

The landscaping is also very important, because once the pool is closed for the season, it’s nice to see an impact during the winter months as well. But, in the end, all the amenities of this backyard refuge (automated pool, spillover raised spa, waterfalls, natural retaining walls, seating walls, raised patios) hinge on a creative design that made use of the pool in a surprising way: as part of a needed retaining wall.

Awards

Forgive us if we brag, but this pool and spa won two NESPA (Northeast Spa and Pool Assoc.) awards:

  • Silver Medal, Second Place, and an Outstanding Achievement in Design and Building award.

And in addition it won:

  • LIPSA- Long Island Pool and Spa Association Inc. – Silver Award, Second Place.

 

 

By | 2017-08-10T12:32:34+00:00 August 10th, 2017|Awards, Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Surrounds, Pools & Spas, Retaining Walls, Spillover/Custom Spas|Comments Off on Creative Solutions: Designing Pool Wall As Part of Retaining Wall System

Natural Landscaping Design: Why You Need Moss Rock

Ever notice in old classic movies how distracting fake scenery looks outside, say, a car that actors are supposedly traveling in?

Well, that’s true in landscaping as well. Creating a serene outdoor scene that looks natural — like Mother Nature sculpted it — requires knowing what elements will make it appear genuine.

For example, whenever we design and build a new water feature or landscape wall, moss rock is always part of the design.

“Deck and Patio finds that these sandstone or flagstone rocks, with their red and brown undertones, provide the ‘mountain stream-woodsy appeal’ that is key to any natural looking water feature and surrounding landscaped garden,” says owner Dave Stockwell.

Moss grows well in shady areas, Dave adds. And along with ferns, it helps transform any backyard into a natural cool setting. “Of course, choosing the right size rocks and knowing where to position them is also key to creating a natural-looking scene.

About Moss Rock

Moss rocks are harvested from quarries nationwide; later moss is added. While the moss on the rocks do not flower, the initial planting reproduces through its tiny spores, absorbing water and nutrients through their foliage. The only requirement for healthy growth is the moist conditions derived from water features or other sources.

For our first project showcased below, Deck and Patio added tall grasses and evergreens like Juniper Parsoni, to complete the rich, lush, green backdrop to see. Coneflowers and Spirea Anthony Waterers help bring in the bright bursts of color. During winter months, the moss rock boulders themselves form breathtaking ice sculptures that extend enjoyment of the water feature.

 

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock

Backyard Stream with Moss Rock:

We designed and built this natural looking meandering watery trail and lined it with natural moss rock boulders and river stone gravel. Robust plantings along the stream also add to the natural look of it all.

 

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Spill Rocks for Backyard Streams:

Each spill rock along this second backyard stream was carefully positioned to depict the most natural water movement. The stream flows down and over a 2-foot-by-2-foot-wide moss rock waterfall and cascades into a 10-foot-by-15-foot pond. It looks like it has always been there, part of the natural environment.

 

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock:

Natural Retaining Wall with Moss Rock: One of our outdoor living experts was called in by the pool company to design a pool surround positioned against a steep hill. Our design plan also included a large retaining wall made of natural elements like moss rock, a stream, a beautiful waterfall, and boulder pool coping — instead of constructing a less attractive wooden retaining wall. Overall, it looks like a natural stream created by Mother Nature meandering down a woodsy hill.(See also 2nd photo below)

 

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

Moss Rock Creates Attractive Hot Tub Installation:

In addition (see immediate photo above), moss rock steps leading to a small blue stone patio became part of Deck and Patio’s overall design. Plus, a portable hot tub was installed on a flattened area in front of the patio.

 

When To Start Planning a Backyard Retreat

When landscaping firms such as Deck and Patio recommend planning an outdoor retreat before spring arrives, it isn’t self-serving. It is because, if left too late, it may not be possible for a client’s dream backyard to be completed for the year’s outdoor season.

“It’s best to begin in late winter,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “Beginning early not only allows time to come up with a design plan that isn’t rushed, but it also provides sufficient time to check on local variances and secure permits. Many towns and villages on Long Island, for example, have different codes and requirements, and delays in approval are common.”

Other key parts of the design/bid process, says Dave, include pulling together those needed for every aspect of the project. Starting early ensures each team will be available at the right time to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

Deck and Patio at work

Deck and Patio at work

Choosing the Right Designer/Builder

Choosing the right designer/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

Deck and Patio brochure

Deck and Patio brochure

 

“In fact, there are so many important things to consider early in the process that we have created a booklet, “10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor,” says Dave.

“This brochure spells out in detail a variety of things to be considered before you begin. You can get a copy by stopping by our design center, or just call or email us for one.”

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. “We use surveys and Google Earth, etc. to plan any backyard refurbishment,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

 

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

Planning Landscape Projects in 3-D Animation (Long Island/NY):

As we highlighted in last week’s blog, it is great if your designer/builder can show you through computer animation what your backyard upgrade will look like before you commit to the plan. Everything in this project, including the house (unseen here) patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen and expanded pond were shown clearly in the animation — even the natural gas campfires.

 

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

Home Contractor and Landscaper Cooperation (Long Island/NY):

These homeowners brought Deck and Patio on board early on when they were designing their home. This helped create a seamless integration of the landscape and nature with the home’s architecture — the architect even changed his design of the home’s turret in order ensure views from within would capture the various outdoor vistas. (Note: The town involved had strict setback requirements; we brought our 3-D animated landscaping plan to the town which aided in getting the permit granted quickly.)

 

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

Natural Vanishing Edge Pond (Long Island/NY):

This serenely beautiful vanishing edge pond belies the challenges (town codes/design planning) that were required to bring it all about. Being located on a bluff on a highly regulated area of Long Island’s north shore (Eaton’s Neck), there were lots of regulations regarding building near the cliff’s edge. Deck and Patio came up with a natural vanishing edge pond design instead of a pool which satisfied the code regulations. But it took early planning to not only get permits but to also create the pond’s complex natural biological filtration system that maintains the pond’s crystal clear water.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

 

Swimming Pool Slides: Bringing Waterpark Thrills Home

When you hear the words Cyclone, Vortex and Typhoon you might be tempted to run for cover, unless, of course, you’re at a waterpark where water slides with such names are the very reason for going.

And like so many other amenities that once required travel, homeowners are bringing waterpark thrills into their own backyards. There are several companies who’s frightening-sounding water slides offer just such home excitement: e.g., S.R. Smith (Cyclone, Turbo Twister, Typhoon etc.), Aquaslide (Jungle Joe and Jungle Joe II).

Indeed, Deck and Patio has been involved in installing their slides on Long Island and the New York Metro area for years. Their sizes and shapes have varied, as well as the scope of the projects (amount of landscaping desired) — depending on the client’s budget, property size, and the amount of adrenaline rush they desired.

Of course, you can have a slide, on its own, well-secured to your pool without any special landscaping. Or you can have a landscaping firm design/build a special setting around the slide you choose.

Beyond even that, if you want a slide custom-built to fit your existing landscape or future landscape plans, there is another company — Inter-Fab Inc. — who’s BYOS 1 and BYOS 2 slides are configured and designed to fit your plans and ideas.

“One thing very special about BYOS,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter, “is they can be funky and fun, or they can be set into a sloped landscape to look almost natural. You decide everything. That’s the fun of it.”

Slide’s Side Benefit

No matter if the scope of the project is big or small, after its installed, clients discover something often unanticipated. When not in use by thrill-seekers, the calming sounds of water spilling from the slide into their pool transforms their Cyclone, Typhoon, Wild Ride etc. into a gentle water feature.

So readers: You learned it here first. Water slides aren’t just for thrills. On any given day, they can also help you relax.

 

Wild Ride Slide:

Wild Ride Slide:

Next to the Wild Ride water slide with its water falling into the pool, Deck and Patio installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over extended rock.

 

 

Access to Pool Slide:

Access to Pool Slide:

It is important to have sufficient room to allow easy access to the slide and any surrounding patio. For this project, in order to cut back on having too much hardscape, we used stepping stones up from the patio to the slide, which are more in keeping with the slide’s natural setting.

 

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

Talk about thrills! Deck and Patio created this award-winning feature several years ago. It called for installing a large serpentine slide around a huge moss rock water feature.

 

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

This is the same slide project as pictured immediately above. When we worked on this water feature, we added large natural stones for the climb up to the top of the slide. Also note how an additional waterfall from the hilltop stream falls into the slide itself for an additional thrill.

 

 

Natural Retaining Walls:

Natural Retaining Walls:

When planning out this project, we suggested using Rocka steps, moss rock boulders, and creeping plant material instead of the usual retaining wall. This more natural setting provided the sloping landscape required for a fun pool slide.

 

 

BYOS Slide:

BYOS Slide:

This slide is not one of ours. It was custom built by BYOS for Pulliam Pools in Texas. It’s a great example of perfectly fitting a custom-slide into a beautiful landscape plan. Photo: Courtesy of Inter-Fab Inc.

 

 

Landscaping Should Express Who You Are

Have you ever noticed that just by looking at a property’s landscaping, you can get an idea of who lives there? Are they free spirits? Conversely, do they prefer things carefully controlled and manicured?

You can even learn how much the inhabitants enjoy entertaining, at least outdoors, as opposed to being more private. You can also guess how important color and nature are to them. Or maybe they’re more the hardscape types — those who like something firm and unchanging beneath their feet and that needs little tending.

So, to create the perfect landscaping plan, it is the job of expert professionals to understand each client. If their clients are worried about upkeep, which plants will survive with little effort and how to plant them so they’re easy to maintain?

Naturally, to complete the right picture, how a plan combines hardscapes with the trees, plantings and grasses is  very important. Not only is it crucial to know how homeowners will use the space, but the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.

In the end, the ideal project will express who lives there — and express them beautifully.

 

Hardscapes and Softscapes (Long Island/NY)

Hardscapes and Softscapes (Long Island/NY)

 

The hardscape on a property doesn’t have to be limited to a patio, deck, or pool surround.

Sometimes it’s using carefully selected boulders and stones with bright plantings that creates the perfect vista.

In this case, imported boulders and rocks were combined with a peaceful water feature to make the perfect outdoor escape for nature lovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Container Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Container Gardens (Long Island/NY):

Whatever your mood or lifestyle, planting flowers in containers is an ideal solution for those who want a low maintenance landscape plan. Plus, depending on the size/weight, containers can be moved to wherever the action is happening on any given day. Also note how Deck and Patio created privacy through the use of tall trees and shrubs at the periphery.

 

 

Multi-Level Patios (Long Island/NY):

Multi-Level Patios (Long Island/NY):

Multi-level patios not only make smaller yards look larger, they help delineate how the space is intended to be used. In one area, this patio is ideal for relaxing and taking in the peaceful water feature. Another spot to the side of the feature, and in front of a thicket of tall trees, creates a private patio. Spots for sunning and being near the pool has also been mapped out.

 

 

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY

Outdoor Pavilions and Gazebos (Long Island/NY

Some clients’ taste for outdoor space includes architectural statements such as this lovely gazebo and harmonizing deck. Bright plantings surround the area and a charming stepping stone path adds additional appeal. Notice how there’s little doubt that these inhabitants like to entertain.

 

 

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Softening the Hardscapes (Long Island/NY):

Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.

By | 2017-01-21T16:34:39+00:00 March 5th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Property Upgrades: Time To See Under the Snow…to Spring

Attention fellow snow-bound Northerners: Now this may be difficult. But, if you are thinking of any upgrades to your property, it is best — despite all the white stuff  — to look under the snow and see Spring.

“Everyone thinks because there’s so much snow on the ground, they can’t plan or figure out what can be done,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “But, all of a sudden, the snow melts, and our phones ring off the hook.”

Although Deck and Patio has several designers on staff, Renter says that because so many wait until Spring to contact us, it can take weeks for someone to get out to see them.

“What potential clients don’t realize is, we don’t have to see the ground to plan,” says Renter. “If there’s an existing patio or pool, that’s one thing. It’s helpful to see those. But for the most part, we can work through surveys and Google Earth.”

That’s fine you might be thinking. But you don’t want to just begin blind. Well, consider this. Deck and Patio will work up a plan and also provide a 3-D rendering, or video so clients won’t have to rely on their imagination.

 

Landscape Planning

Landscape Planning

Believe it or not, good design/build firms can “see underneath the snow” by using surveys and Google Earth, etc. to come up with a property upgrade plan for spring: be it adding a pool, spa, pond, waterfalls, or just lush plantings.

 

"Pool Studio" 3-D Animations

“Pool Studio” 3-D Animations

Our team worked with this homeowner (see photo above) through the use of a computer software program called “Pool Studio,” which is a 3-D animation program that allows viewers to literally fly over and walk through a project as it is developing.

All aspects of this project’s design  — from the existing house to the proposed patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen, and expanded pond – could be experienced in motion — even the gas campfires. This was particularly helpful, in order to fully appreciate the water-to-water views of the proposed vanishing edge pool.

 

Winter Landscape Planning

Winter Landscape Planning

These clients (photo above) say that when work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked them. “I soon learned everything Bill

[Renter] did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. Because the property was flat, our 3-D renditions showed how different patio levels would make the yard appear bigger — even what the views would look like from various parts of the house.

 

AutoCAD 3-D Animation

AutoCAD 3-D Animation

Again, we used AutoCAD and 3-D animation to show how this multilevel pool area would change. We showed how we would turn what the client described as a problem area into a feature, by enlarging the upper area, where the client liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view. The lower area was expanded for sunning; an outdoor kitchen was added for entertaining.

 

 

Backyard Upgrades

Backyard Upgrades

It’s okay if you look outside and have no idea how to plan for Spring. The key is: design/build experts do know, and those such as The Deck and Patio Company have the ability to show you what to expect during, and after, the work takes place.

Some Turtle Wisdom: Be At Ease in Your Own Shell — ‘Pool Shell’ That Is!

Perhaps inspired by the wife’s pet turtles — who are so happy in their individual shells — this family wanted to be happy within their own swimming pool’s shell: this meant changing from a vinyl-lined pool to Gunite.

When Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, interviewed them, he learned other things that the family longed for beyond a change in construction materials. They were also unhappy with the pool’s shape and design, which didn’t coordinate well with the architecture of their home. In addition, they wanted a larger pool, despite the limitations presented by a steep grade in their property.

Indeed, expanding the pool size would bring it very extremely close to the property’s sharp hill. In order to retain it properly — without having to get special engineering done — our team’s plan called for boulders and various small retaining walls to hold back the grade. The trick: in order to bring in machinery to place the boulders, we had to put them in place before the new pool was dug out.

“And to create the more unified look they wanted, we designed the pool in a geometric pattern, and searched out the same brick used on their home for its walls,” says Renter. “The client also wanted a more natural pool surround, and we installed beautiful bluestone around it.”

Result? The family members aren’t the only ones ecstatic with their remodeled pool. The wife’s pet turtles love swimming in it. On visiting the project after its completion, the lady of the house let our team put an underwater camera on one of her turtles — and the beautiful creature filmed the pool as he swam.

So, for all it means, today we’re celebrating a little turtle wisdom: Yes, it’s good to be at ease in your own shell.

First, the video!

 

Now…some photos:

 

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Geometric Gunite Pool (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Deck and Patio remodeled an existing vinyl pool into a larger, geometric Gunite, with elegant sheet falling waterfalls. The new design handsomely complements the home’s architecture.

 

 

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps to Woodland Path (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Steps faced with the same brick as used around the pool’s retaining wall, lead to a peaceful woodland path where the pool equipment has been hidden out of sight.

 

 

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Bluestone Patio (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

The pavers of the previous patio/pool surround had not been compacted properly and were separating. In addition, the family wanted a more natural product. Bluestone was chosen and its hues blend nicely with that of the brick-faced retaining walls; in addition, the rectangular shapes of the stones echo the shape of the pool and house windows.

 

 

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY)

Sheet Falling Water Feature (Oyster Bay Cove/NY)

Descending in a wide stream, the sheet falling waterfalls add a touch of classic elegance while their sound soothes those in the pool or lounging on the patio.

 

 

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

Pool Lighting (Oyster Bay Cove/NY):

It’s hard to decide which time of day presents the most beautiful picture; but nighttime has to be near the top!

Can Retaining Walls Be Beautiful — As Well As Functional?

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, has made a career out of avoiding unsightly retaining walls

 

Whether a landscape job is large or small, each one can be an opportunity to create scenes and vistas as they appear in nature. Indeed, Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert has made a career out of avoiding unsightly retaining walls that do not in the least appear natural. Instead, he uses elements such as plants and boulders to hold back soil and to keep back the grade.

In addition, he finds that regular manmade retaining walls often require an engineer’s plan in order to get approval from local municipalities. However, when boulders and plants are used, such approval usually isn’t required — saving time and money.

Project #1: To hold back the soil between new upper and lower patios, natural stone steps, moss rocks and boulders, as well as soil made stronger with beautiful plantings, create a lovely vista while maintaining the grade.

 

Natural Stone Steps:

Natural Stone Steps:

Herbaceous perennials and low-growing procumben juniper peep in and around large boulders on both sides of natural stone steps.

 

 

Project #2: This site dropped off 20-feet, down a steep slope, overgrown with brush. We created a stream beginning at the top that can be seen from the house. Then we meandered it down the entire slope — supported by boulders, rocks and plants — ending  in a tranquil pond stocked with koi.

 

Ideally Situated Pond:

Ideally Situated Pond:

The finished pond is situated next to a new patio; the family can sit on lounge chairs, in between the pond and pool, and enjoy being completely surrounded by water.

 

Project #3:  When taking measurements, our outdoor living expert noticed a delightful and beautifully maintained shade garden, set in a wooded part of the property along a charming path. It was a favorite spot for the wife, a local doctor, who frequently sat there for relaxation.

He created a stream crossing over the path at several points — in fact, a whole series of streams, with waterfalls dropping down the hill, ending in a maintenance-free pondless reservoir.

The reservoir he recommended is a 1,000-gallon tank with pump that pushes the water back up the 40-foot hill to recirculate. Renter also suggested the new walk bridge that now crosses part of a stream close to the sitting area.

 

Pondless Waterfall:

Pondless Waterfall:

Waterfalls and stream flow down into “pondless reservoir” — a 1,000-gallon tank with pump that pushes water back up 40-foot hill to recirculate.

 

Project #4: Our outdoor living expert practices what he preaches. His own front yard looks like a fairytale scene straight from an enchanted forest, with waterfall and stream.

Underneath the sloping grade is a pond with waterfalls. “ It’s a spot I go to every morning before leaving home. It also happens to be situated close to the end of our circular driveway, so it’s also the first thing I see when returning home at night,” he says.

 

 

 

Backyard Stream and Waterfall:

Backyard Stream and Waterfall:

The stream begins at mailbox and works its way down the hill through several spills, with a final spill freshening the pond; bridge crosses over the stream for the perfect stroll through it all.

 

 

Project #5: Waterfall, bright plants, mingling with natural stone boulders, along with new freeform pool, not only suggest natural South Sea lagoon, but together they beautifully support the slope.

 

Beautiful Retaining Wall:

Beautiful Retaining Wall:

Bright huge bursts of colored plantings, moss rock and boulders from Pennsylvania, and pool’s edge hold back slop exquisitely.

 

 

The Best Designed Outdoor Retreats Come From a Passion For the Outdoors

With a special passion for the outdoors, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, designs and builds spectacular award-winning outdoor retreats

 

 

A good deal goes into creating a wonderful outdoor living space. This is true for any artistic endeavor, including something as simple as baking a great loaf of bread. You start with basic ingredients. Then something special is added to make it all rise. For bread, that something special is yeast: in landscape design, it is a passion for the outdoors.

When he’s not working 14 hour days as owner of Deck and Patio in Huntington Station, Bill Renter enjoys spending time at his second home in the mountains of upstate New York. There, he enjoys quiet times hiking the mountainous landscape where streams flow into breathtaking natural waterfalls, wild flowers break out of crags and cover expanses. In this still beauty, he takes time to study how the water, plants, soil, and rocks live together. He says that with each such nature walk some fresh inspiration comes to him on how to design and build a new natural looking outdoor space.

However, Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert also understands that passion on its own isn’t enough. Design/build expertise, and depth of experience, is essential (see tips for choosing qualified design/build firms below). In addition, the particular ingredients for each project must come into play: budget considerations, property size and gradations, and the preferences and tastes of homeowners.

Once you have all of this working for you, you probably will end up with a very nice backyard retreat. However! If your designer/builder also brings a deep passion for the outdoors, this special “yeast” will raise the routine waterfall to the glorious and a conventional pool surround to the acclaimed.

 

Spectacular Backyard Water Features:

Spectacular Backyard Water Features:

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert designed and built this stunning man-made waterfall to appear as if it had been created by Mother Nature herself.

 

Harmonious Pool/Spa and Surround:

Harmonious Pool/Spa and Surround:

This elegant geometric pool and spa, with a linear pattern surround ideal for entertaining and sun bathing, was designed by Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert to be in perfect harmony with each other.

 

An avid skier and hiker, our outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, has said: “Experiencing nature is life to me.” And despite all the awards Deck and Patio has received for grand projects, much of our work at is done in regular backyards, in phases, and within a modest budget. You don’t have to be on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound to inspire Bill Renter to create a thrilling outdoor living space that you will want to be in all the time.

Backyard Retreats Are For Everyone:

Backyard Retreats Are For Everyone:

Bill Renter can create a sublime vanishing edge pond overlooking Long Island Sound; however, most of his work is in creating spectacular outdoor living spaces in regular backyards.

 

Are You Ready To Begin Creating Your Own Paradise?

One of the most important steps in achieving your goals for a pool project is to contact the proper type of contractor, warns Bill Renter. He offers here some helpful hints on what to take into consideration when approaching the bidding and design process.

Note: You can also call or email us for a copy of Deck and Patio’s book: 10 Things You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Contractor.

Landscapers: 10 Things You Should Know:

Landscapers: 10 Things You Should Know:

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert offers a free book on choosing the right design/builder for your backyard retreat.

Bill Renter’s Tips

  1. Starting early is the best way to get all your ducks in a row. This gives you a chance to plan effectively, square away any variances needed, secure permits and finalize plan details.
  1. Another important thing to consider, he adds, is choosing a designer/builder that have insurance and are licensed to work in your area. Ask to see this license and contact your local licensing bureau to make sure it has not been revoked.
  1. Ask any designer/builder how long they have been in business. Remember, you are not being   overly cautious by requesting this information and your contractor should not hesitate to fulfill your request.
  1. Call or meet with three different designers and see how they respond. Unanswered phone calls may indicate poor management or the inability to get someone to respond when an issue arises in the future. Compare bids and pay close attention to details. Many times a cheaper bid is missing many important aspects of the job that when added in will equal the high priced bid. Make sure all specifications, including size, shape, color, brand and quantity are detailed for you.

Insert Photo of Bill w/Client

Caption: Choosing The Right Designer/Builder: Call or meet with at least three different designers to see how they respond; compare bids and pay close attention to details.

  1. Many contractors utilize the services of subcontractors. Ask your design/building contractor for details about the subs. For example: Are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs necessary for the duration of the warranty? Ask who will be responsible to coordinate the subs and get them on site when the time is right. A good design/build firm will take on the responsibility of coordinating the subs. Find out if you will be responsible for the payment of these subcontractors. Many contractors prefer you deal directly with their subcontractors when it comes to payment and they will step in to coordinate the work for you.
  1. Town codes and zoning can be complicated. Make sure your contractor has these guidelines in mind prior to finalizing the design process. Some design/build firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can put you in touch with an expeditor to assist you with the permit process.
  1. Inquire about the company you are intending to sign with before going into contract with them. Check their references and ask them how the contractor performed. Ask about job supervision. Find out how many crews you can expect and how many crew leaders and/or project managers will be on the site. Find out how long their crews have been working for the company.
  1. Review the contract carefully before you sign it. Make sure all your warranty information matches what you were verbally promised. If anything is unclear ask them to be more specific.

These tips, along with our companion book on how to choose the right landscape designer, will help you not make any serious mistakes for choosing a reputable designer. Finding one who also has the “yeast” — or the passion for the outdoors and creating scenes as they appear in nature — is harder. If you can, view some of their previous work, but be sure to compare apples with apples. Someone who creates lovely lawns and flower beds might not know how to make a waterfall appear as it comes from nature or a koi pond look like it was always there.

 

6uQx4urQBlhVnMSxoVhYshPyVPX5yycpUi5vLy0fIZMWith the right designer/builder, you will not need to limit yourselves as to what’s possible. Any backyard, with the right inspiration, can be turned into something spectacular. Indeed, a “regular backyard” (see third photo above), in the hands of Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, became the following South Sea-style paradise, complete with “lagoon” vinyl freeform pool, natural looking bonfire, multi-level waterfalls, slide, and colorful lush plantings. You can almost hear the steel drums.