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Landscape Planning: Sheltering In Place Yet Still Moving Forward

Just when you promised yourself that this is the year you’d have the outdoor haven you’ve always wanted, most of New York, for very good reason, went on lock-down. And the local news is very worrying at times. Confined at home, we yearning for some normalcy back.

One thing you can still do, despite sheltering at home, is to keep your dreams for a property upgrade moving forward.

Planning Landscaping Projects While Sheltering in Place

Deck and Patio is well set up to develop landscape plans without meeting clients in person. For example, we do not need to see your property first-hand to begin planning. All we need — via email or phone — is a rough idea of what you are hoping for. 

Google Earth Map

Google Earth Map

Then, through the use of technology such as Google Earth maps, we collect a clear outline of the terrain and size of the property. From that, we make a rough plan which can be emailed to clients, followed by a video-conference or discussions by phone. 

Once we’re all on the same page, the fun begins. A Deck and Patio designer enters design details into our computer software program resulting in a 3-D Animation Plan, which will not only show what the upgraded yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

Will Deck and Patio Need to Visit the Property’s Site?

Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool, for example, that’s being upgraded or replaced. But any necessary on-site inspections can be arranged so as to minimize, or eliminate entirely, any personal meet ups with you. And with ongoing tele-conferencing, we can get your input and discuss any adjustments throughout this process.

 It could very well be that by the time the plans are finalized that either sheltering in place is no longer required or any ongoing restrictions will still permit outdoor landscaping projects to be done — with care and proper procedures.

An Example of Computerized Landscape Planning

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project (also shown at top of this page), the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, we upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

3-D Design

3-D Design

Completed Project

Completed Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, we used 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.

The upper patio — where the clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture. In addition, an equally confining lower patio was enlarged for sunning; an outdoor kitchen (at the side of the house) was added for easy entertaining.

 

Completed Project

Completed Project

 

 

 

Let’s do all we can to stop the contagion, for sure. That said, while sheltering in place, we can still move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape Planning Can Make a Great Gift

Whether it’s for the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah, New Year’s, or an upcoming anniversary, birthday, or even Valentine’s Day, landscape planning can make a great gift. 

Through the software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process for landscaping is surprisingly quick — providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the spring,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But that’s really not necessary at all. It can be done during any season.”

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

Even if the ground is covered in snow, experts like those at Deck and Patio don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project.

“Granted, it is helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced,” adds Dave. “But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.”

Letting the Design Be the Gift

Since most property upgrades begin with a landscape design, the plan itself can be a gift. And you could go all out in this stage of the process — planning, a beautiful pond, or other water feature, for example, or a pool with swim-up bar and wild ride slide, a custom spa, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years.

The whole project can also be planned out financially, so the different phases can be worked into your yearly budgets. In addition, since landscape plans are computerized, it is no problem if the gift receiver has ideas of their own to add later or changes they want made.

Landscape Planning as a Gift

Landscape Planning as a Gift

The gift of a landscaping plan is definitely something memorable. And what a joy it will be seeing the plans come to life. 

Indeed, just this week we posted on Facebook a video of a Deck and Patio vanishing edge pond project we built in Eatons Neck, NY.

The video begins with one of Deck and Patio’s computerized plans and ends with the finished project showing the wonderful experience of having such a pond. Here it is again, immediately below. 

 

 

Another Example

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan.

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan.

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left above) not only helps show what the yard will look like in advance — including from different perspectives. Such a gift also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along, as well as changes from the gift receiver.

In the case of the immediately above Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. 

One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas. 

 

Great Gift Ideas

Great Gift Ideas

 

And you’ve got to admit that a computer plan downloaded on a small drive (or even printed out) is easy to wrap!

In every way, a landscaping plan makes a great gift! 

 

 

Creative Landscape Planning Even When It Snows

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Snowy, Icy Landscape

Good grief. Just as you begin planning a garden or backyard upgrade, another snow storm pounds Long Island. What’s an outdoor, deck, patio, waterscape, or barbecue-loving enthusiast to do?

If you promised yourself that this spring you’d create the outdoor environment you want, no need to be put off by the snow.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the ground is perfect,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But if you wait until the snow melts and the weather is finally warm, you could find yourself behind a big queue for a landscaper’s attention.”

 

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

Believe it or not, experts like those at Deck and Patio, don’t need to see the ground to begin planning a project. Granted. It is helpful to see close up an existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced. But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.

Sure, you may be thinking. Deck and Patio can see under the snow to the possibilities of a backyard refurbishment, but how does a non-expert grasp what it all will look like?

“It’s understandable that a homeowner would not want to proceed blind,” adds Dave. “And they don’t need to. Through computer animation, we’re able to work up a plan in 3-D that gives a good approximation of what the finished job will look like. There’s no need to rely on one’s imagination.”

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Every aspect of this backyard paradise — infinity (vanishing edge) pool, custom in-ground spa, swim up-walk up bar, pond/waterfalls upgrade, extensive patio, and outdoor kitchen was first done on a 3-D animation program that allowed our clients to literally fly over and walk around this project —even their gas campfires. This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade:

For these homeowners, the 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house.

 

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left) not only helps show what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — it also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along.

In the case of this Long Island, NY, project, the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, Deck and Patio upgraded their pool and spa and added colorful plants and flowers to enhance these vistas.

 

Baseball Season

Baseball Season

So, no worries about snow when it comes to landscape planning — even if you can’t see the ground.

You don’t want to risk getting in too long a line of those wanting landscaping work.

Of course, if towards the end of the month, the weather messes with the Yankees’ and Mets’ openers — that’s another story! If that happens, we’ll be shaking our fists at the weather right along with you.

 

Thanks to Fiberon Decking and Railing for use of the feature photo at the top of the page.

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 |2017-07-20T11:35:09-05:00July 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

Creating Backyard Retreats: Size Doesn’t Matter

Feeling like you can’t have a backyard oasis because you don’t have enough room? Here’s some good news. The Deck and Patio Company works a good deal in parts of Long Island, NY, where backyards are often small. And one thing our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, enjoys most is surprising homeowners with what can be accomplished.

Some yards are seemingly so cramped that families rarely use them. In hot weather, some live indoors. Discovering much more was possible than they originally thought, the wife for this project worked closely with Bill Renter and the pool builder to design their new pool’s shape, which wraps around close to the house, almost into its corner. The design required variances, but it allowed Deck and Patio to fit in an expansive two-level patio, a raised spa, two waterfalls, a stepping stone path, and beautiful lush plantings — in other words: a true oasis.

When working with tighter spaces, our team ensures the chaise lounge, dining and outdoor kitchen patio areas are all large enough for furniture, and have room enough to walk around, sufficient even when entertaining. We also try not to over-build or paver the whole space. It is also important to leave room for plantings and lawn, add landscape-lighting, and make sure the overall project looks interesting, by designing curvy or geometric patterns.

There’s no need to feel because you don’t have a large yard, you can’t have your own bit of paradise. It just takes a little creativity.

 

Patio Design:

Patio Design:

Instead of one-sized brick being placed throughout an entire patio or retaining wall, we recommend attractive designs: this project’s random pattern is in lieu of straight lines, flat images, or a running block pattern. Also, manufacturers often offer a wide list of product materials, so matching stones are readily available for complementary retaining walls, steps, risers, pool coping, etc.

 

 

 

Limited Backyard Space:

Limited Backyard Space:

Manipulating the grades by adding different levels (upper and lower patios, raised spa. etc.) is one of the things we do to create a larger sense of space. Such gradations are not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive.

 

 

 

Family Spa:

Family Spa:

True Blue Swimming Pools worked with Deck and Patio to build this vinyl pool and spa for our clients. The clients’ children use the spa all the time; after enjoying the pool, if they get a chill, they go to the spa with their friends. In fact we’re told everyone retreats to the spa after swimming. Go into there w/friends. On chilly days, even though the pool is heated, they say in the spa on.

 

 

 

Pool Lighting:

Pool Lighting:

In the ‘gloaming,’ as a poet described ‘twilight,’ is a beautiful time of day to enjoy a new pool. Outdoor lighting glows warmly — like the sun’s final rays as it drops below the horizon. Artful lighting generates the first tranquil water reflections of the evening and continues to sketch nightfall with romantic hues.

 

 

 

Waterfalls:

Waterfalls:

Every stone and moss rock boulder was chosen carefully to create the most natural looking waterfall possible. The water spills are coaxed over them causing flows of water just like in nature.

 

 

Different Level Patios, Flower Beds and Raised Waterfall Make Backyard Appear Larger

The homeowners of this property had an existing small koi pond. They dreamed of also having a pool, with landscaping and a waterfall, but felt they didn’t have the space for it all.

When viewing the property, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, saw the the main drawback was how flat the grade was. Through 3-D renditions, he showed the homeowners how different patio levels would make the yard appear bigger.

Bill designed the new pool, waterfall, patios and plant beds to fit perfectly with their pond. The new landscaping boasts hydrangeas, roses, ornamental grasses, and flowering perennials.

The homeowners children were about 9 or 10. After the project was finished, the clients say they no longer had to go to family and friends to enjoy the outdoors, but their children could love growing up in their own home.

Our clients added that bringing in a special lighting scheme allows them to enjoy the backyard retreat from the day on into night. The lighting transforms their backyard into a completely different, yet still beautiful, atmosphere.

 

 

Gorgeous Patio Areas:

Gorgeous Patio Areas:

Beautiful plantings, punctuated by accent boulders and moss rocks, paint a natural setting around the multi-tiered tumbled stone patio. Adding crepe myrtles to the landscaping offers an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October.

 

 

 

Backyard Al Fresco Dining:

Backyard Al Fresco Dining:

Waterfalls cascading over natural rock creates the perfect mood for meditation or romantic al fresco dining. A sound system was added that pumps music, and with waterfall running, together is perfect for entertaining or more intimate family fun.

 

 

 

Landscape Design:

Landscape Design:

By creating the multi level patio, waterfall and different levels and colors of plant beds, new dimensions were added. For example, the new bold apricot-pink roses attract attention, causing the landscape to recede behind them, making the overall area appear larger.

 

 

 

Stepping Stone Paths:

Stepping Stone Paths:

The homeowners wanted a path to the tool shed. But with extensive multi-level pavers being used, in such a small back yard, it was natural the homeowners didn’t want more swaths of brick. The stepping stone path offers a more natural feel and sofens the landscape.

 

 

 

When to Use Paving Stones

Whether it is for a patio, stepping stone path, driveway, or spa and pool surround, there we often recommend concrete pavers. In many cases, these are not only cost-effective, but because they come in so many designs, shapes, and colors, they are extremely flexible and adaptable to a large variety of jobs.

Also, we love them because they look so natural. Instead of one-sized brick being placed throughout an entire patio or retaining wall, some manufacturers’ kits — which include varying shapes — ensure an attractive design, for example, a random pattern in lieu of straight lines and flat images, or in a running block pattern. It also means that because of manufacturers often offer a wide list of product materials, matching stones are readily available for complementary retaining walls, steps, risers, coping, etc. The following is one example of an attractive random pattern.

 

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For this project, we helped our clients choose an attractive random pattern for their patio.

For another design and build project (below 2 photos), our outdoor living expert created five different patio levels around a pool and integrated moss rock stone with the pavers.

In addition to the patios, this overall project features cascading water, a hot water fall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool. In total there are five waterfalls. From the highest waterfall to the lawn below is an elevation change of twelve feet — all with different grades.

 

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We created five different patio levels around the pool, all comprised of concrete pavers.

Five feet above the main pool, this backyard retreat renovation features cascading water into a new spa surrounded by spa patio made from concrete pavers.

We also believe that using pavers will not only provide a beautiful pool deck, but they offer a safer surface that prevents slipping.* In addition, they maintain a cooler walking area and can handle moisture better than concrete surfaces. And because the pavers we recommend to our clients are stronger than regular concrete, they are extremely durable for regular entertaining.

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

 

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Durable and resilient, certain concrete pavers can create a pool surround that stands up to lots of foot traffic.

In addition to using our favorite paving stones for the following patio project, we recommended using one manufacturer’s “Rocka” steps, along with moss rock boulders and creeping plant material. This combination handsomely stabilized a hill area without the need of a retaining wall.

 

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

*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.