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The Peaceful Harmony of Free-Form Pools

Last week our blog focused on geometric pools and how their traditional styles offer comfort today. But another trend is also upon us. There are those who find appealing a more relaxed, easy-going, natural style, as seen in the recent popularity of tie-die fashion apparel — which has its roots in 1960’s hippie style. For them, free-form pools fit just like a glove. 

“There’s something peaceful about a free-form water feature as it meanders its way along the natural contours of a landscape,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “It offers a calm sense that it belongs there. Like a natural pond or lake might — only with a patio or deck around it.” 

Project # 1

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio Free-Form Pool and Patio

Frequently, Deck and Patio designs the patio around a free-form pool in a similar free-form design. This Manhasset, NY, pool project is a great example of such a complementary patio and pool design.

“We also added a stacked stone wall that not only provides plenty of sitting options when the family entertains, the wall helps accentuate the space while also holding back the lawn and plantings.” 

This project design included a lower and upper patio — with the upper patio for the raised spa. Both pool patios were made from concrete paver slabs, which Deck and Patio installed the same way as traditional pavers — on a crushed stone base. Polymer sand joints were added to prevent weeds from growing in between the joints.

“Their backyard was also on the small side,” says Dave. “By designing different patio levels we were able to make the yard appear bigger; also note how the hue of the concrete pavers harmonize with that of the home itself.”

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Pools (Manhasset/NY):

Many love free-form pools because they meander along with the landscape to suggest a more natural look; here the patio was designed “free-form” as well. The design also called for a stacked stone wall which adds a dramatic outline to it all as well as offering extra seating when entertaining. 

Project # 2

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Seamless Integration of Pool and Patio

Deck and Patio won a prestigious award for this project. The publisher of the awards noted that: “It makes the landscaping appear as though it is yielding to the concrete paver patios, pools and retaining walls and it presents nature as in charge of the design, rather than the concrete.”

The homeowner has also told us: “When everything is blooming in our front yard, the beautiful curb appeal continually causes people to stop – even on what is a fairly busy street. Stopping to enjoy what we did there, they always ask if they can see the whole property. After they see this backyard free-form pool with raised spa retreat, stoppers-by are in awe of its beauty.”

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Free-Form Pool with Raised Spa and Waterfalls

Our design includes an eight-foot-high pondless waterfall which hides pool equipment that local regulations required be put in the middle of the backyard.

The waterfall is powered by a 10,000 GPH pump and is center-lined on the main axis of the house. It creates an enjoyable audio-visual impact which runs virtually year-round.

More than half of the pool and spa beam is supported by over 30 tons of moss rock boulders. The spa and boulder work was specifically carved into the hillside to enhance a sense of enclosure and deal with the severity of the gradient change.

The project’s mature woodland setting has been surrounded by lush plantings in bright colors with long bloom periods. The landscape design also left ample lawn space for the homeowners’ children to play.

Despite a good deal of sophisticated pool technology at work maintaining this beautiful retreat, there’s an easy peaceful feel to it all. Tie-dye swimsuits would feel right at home here — as well as with our first project above.

(Note: To see more Deck and Patio free-form pool projects, simply search free-form pools on the main page of our website.)

 

The Top Elements of an Amazing Outdoor Space

 

 

Even though we got hit with a snow storm only two days ago, we know that last week’s 60 degree-weather will soon be a daily experience. So it’s a great time to plan for outdoor living weather.

As you plan, consider the top elements of an amazing outdoor space we designed/built in Manhasset, NY, a while ago. The project not only thrilled the homeowners, but won Deck and Patio a prestigious design award as well (ahem).

Back Story

The clients had a lovely home. It boasted a lush wooded property, which they did not want to completely sacrifice in any upgrade. Plus, their sloping backyard was small for all the outdoor living amenities they hoped for.

Landscaping Plan

“We are used to dealing with sloping properties. Not to mention smaller lots,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “This is Long Island, after all. However, the point isn’t to simply squeeze everything in. But creatively blend the various elements together so that the softscapes and hardscapes are harmonious, with neither overpowering the other.”

In the case of their new swimming pool, opting for a free-form design allowed for a full-sized pool, despite the yard’s available space. And it was accomplished without sacrificing a surround-patio large enough for entertaining.

“By designing the patio in multi-levels, and taking advantage of the various property slopes, we made the space seem larger,” says Dave. “We also designed the patio in a free-form shape; it not only echoes the style of the pool, but the way it meanders along the landscape gives it a more natural look.”

For patio materials, concrete pavers were decided on. “While other landscapers might have gone along with using natural stone, we encouraged them to choose concrete pavers,” adds Dave. “And while there would be occasions where we would recommend bluestone ourselves, natural stone gets very hot in the sun, which wouldn’t be ideal around the pool and spa.”

The custom raised spill-over spa was built above the pool with its own private patio. “We were able to keep much of the existing trees and bushes around it, offering a natural shady area as an option to sun bathing on the lower pool patio.”

Stepping out of the home’s backdoor, a handsome deck expands outward to the top of one of the backyard’s slopes. Stepping stones lead from there to a set of concrete steps. To the right and left of the bottom step is a stacked stone wall that supports the plantings and lawn; it also provides an extended seating area when the clients are entertaining.

“One very special element was choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which gave us lots of flexibility in design,” adds Dave. “We frequently work in gunite when clients want it, but vinyl pools are created through advanced computerization — allowing us to fit a full-sized pool within the constraints of most any property. The liner goes over a base construction that is made the same way as any other pool, so the structure is sound.”

Dave says that vinyl liners also hold up particularly well in the thaw-freeze climate of the northeast.

“We think the homeowners made great choices for this project. Apparently, the Northeast Spa and Pool Association [NESPA] agreed. They lauded the project with a special merit award.”

 

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Top project elements not mentioned above are low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting. Including such well-designed lighting means the exquisite backyard retreat you planned can be appreciated at night as well as during the day. Nighttime swims, for example, will be particularly glorious. In fact, the Manhasset, NY, outdoor lighting elements added a “Wow” factor that are as romantic as they are practical.

 

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

The concrete pavers are a key element in the overall design of this award-winning project. Their hues coordinate nicely with the home and do not retain heat like natural stone would.

 

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

Stacked Stone Walls Serve Multiple Functions (Manhasset/NY):

When entertaining, the project’s stacked stone wall provides ample space for people to sit. It is also an attractive way to support the rising grade. By designing the patio free-form like the pool, it allowed for charming recessed areas to enjoy quiet contemplation or intimate conversations.

 

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

Free-form Patio Looks Natural (Manhasset/NY):

The free-form patio meanders along the pool and lawn area in a natural looking way. The pavers were installed on crushed stone — the same way as traditional pavers; polymer sand joints were included to prevent weeds from popping up in between.

 

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

Replacing Vinyl Pool Liners (Manhasset/NY):

In future, when the time comes to replace the liner in a vinyl pool, this turns out to be a great wallet-friendly-opportunity to give your pool a facelift and a brand new look. Note: vinyl pools have steel reinforced concrete walls underneath that are thicker and stronger than typical unite pools. So, they’re much more than just comfy on your feet.

 

 

Award-winning Project Showcase: Freeform Vinyl Pool/Spa in Manhasset, NY

This Deck and Patio project included a free-form vinyl liner pool and spillover spa for clients in Manhasset, New York. We tucked it into the back right corner of their backyard and surrounded it with a stacked stone wall and lush plantings.

The pool patios are concrete paver slabs, which we installed the same way as traditional pavers — on a crushed stone base. We also used polymer sand joints to prevent weeds from growing in between the joints.

“I am often asked by new clients if they should have natural stone around their pool,” says our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “However, as a trusted adviser to my clients, we usually recommend against it — mainly because of how hot it gets in the sun.”

Renter adds that on Long Island, however, bluestone is frequently used on many pool projects. “There are some situations where we, too, use bluestone (mainly in part shade areas), and we install it differently than most contractors.

This project won the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) Merit Award in 2008.

 

Creating the Perfect Patio (Long Island/NY):

Creating the Perfect Patio (Long Island/NY):

If you have a small yard, Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter frequently recommends different patio levels which make the yard appear bigger, such as for this award-winning project showcase; also note how the hue of the concrete pavers was chosen to harmonize with that of the home itself.

 

 

Free-form Pools (Long Island/NY):

Free-form Pools (Long Island/NY):

Many love free-form pools because they meander along with the landscape to suggest a more natural look; here the patio was designed “freeform” as well. The design also called for a stacked stone wall which adds a dramatic outline to it all as well as offering extra seating when entertaining.

 

 

Vinyl Lined Pools and Spas (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl Lined Pools and Spas (Long Island/NY):

Often known for being the lowest-cost option, vinyl pools and spas are easily customizable; also, replacement cost for the outer liner is modest compared to other pool fixes and because of this can offer a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look down the road. Plus, in the Northeast, they perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate, explains Bill Renter.

 

 

Stacked Stone Walls (Long Island/NY):

Stacked Stone Walls (Long Island/NY):

This stacked stone wall is not just a pretty face; it holds back the lawn and lush plantings; natural stone steps lead up to second patio area to a private spa patio.

 

 

Backyard Lighting (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Lighting (Long Island/NY):

Low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting make this pool awesome at night; the different patio areas present enchanting spots for conversation and rests between times in the pool and spa.