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Labor Day Weekend: Summer’s Last Hurrah

Yes, Labor Day is summer’s last hurrah. It’s the final long weekend that punctuates the outdoor living season. To do it up right, you may even now be searching for a large enough tent to accommodate a blow out.

But guess what, Labor Day weekend by no means needs to be the end of outdoor enjoyment here in the northeast. As you plan your this backyard bash, it’s a great time to consider what you can do to ensure you’ll enjoy your yard well beyond summer’s last hurrah.

  1. Pool House

A pool house may sound like a big project — and it can be — but think of its rewards. Not only does it allow you extend 2019’s outdoor season, but it will greatly improve the entirety of next year’s outdoor living season.

For example, with a pool house, no need to call in someone to spray for mosquitos (which you know you hate to do), because you now have a screened in space to enjoy the outdoors. And by going “big” you can opt for such luxury amenities as a pool house with a great room, and say, a sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, fireplace, and even storage closet.  

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

This pool house was part of a destination pool area that included a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, elegant Travertine patio, spillover spa with waterfalls, outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade and an outdoor shower. But pool houses can be designed in far more modest shapes and sizes.

 

2.  Outdoor Fireplaces/Pavilions

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

 

Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic statement. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio (left) was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of a new patio.

 

But fireplaces can also be part of a larger amenity such as a pavilion/gazebo. In the Deck and Patio project pictured immediately below, we included lighted columns on stone pillars to match the stone in the fireplace. Also note how the lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, pavilions offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal.

In addition to the fireplace, because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.

 

 

3.  Fire pits 

Fire pits come already assembled, of course. But there is a large range of ways to customize them to fit your style and location. 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls. 

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit.

The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone to complement the other amenities and provide a handsome natural appeal.

 

Make It a Great One!

Labor Day Fun

Labor Day Fun

Whatever your outdoor plans, we hope you all enjoy the upcoming Labor Day Weekend and the opportunity for outdoor fun with friends and family it presents.

Whether it’s a pool party, or a sing-along inside a gazebo or pavilion, it may be summer’s last hurrah, but the outdoor season is far from over.

 

 

 

 

Geometric Pools: Finding Comfort in the Traditional

Whether it’s because politics has been heating up so much in recent years, or its environmental concerns, or other anxieties, many of us these days find comfort the traditional. 

This could explain one recent trend continuing in 2019 for swimming pools: designing them in the traditional lines of ‘geometric’ pools. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of Deck and Patio’s geometric shaped pool projects. In some cases, we designed the pool; in others, we worked with pool construction companies’ designs.

But, first, just what is a geometric pool? Well a geometric design consists of straight lines, triangles, circles, or similar regular shapes — something that isn’t freeform. However, despite geometric design’s simplicity, these pools are not necessarily simple to build.

One company we’ve worked with on numerous projects is True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY). “With freeform pools, there really is no right or wrong,” says True Blue’s owner Michael Truehart. “With parallel and perpendicular angles, geometric designs have to be exact. Plus, vinyl liners, which are so popular today, are measured and cut by computer and require that everything be on the money.”

That said, perhaps an even bigger factor in this traditional trend is that today’s pool builders can incorporate deluxe features in any pool design, e.g., baja or tanning shelves, waterfalls, beach or sloping entries, swim out steps, in-water ledges and spas, providing extra interest to plain geometric shapes.

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Deck and Patio’s design team chose sandy-hued Techo-Bloc pavers to harmonize with the ‘Sand Pebble’ vinyl pool liner by Loop-Loc installed by True Blue Swimming Pools. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

This same salt-water pool (shown immediately above) includes a generous amount of interesting corners and notch-outs, a “cuddle cove” in between two sheer descent waterfalls, and clean-lined pool steps at each end (swim-outs at the deep end). (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

This photo shown here and as a feature photo at the top of this page shows another True Blue Swimming Pools. They built this lovely geometric pool in a Roman Ell shape with a long shallow and full deep end. It is also a vinyl pool with a liner by Loop-Loc; Also note the Wild Ride water slide by Interfab. The pool boasts a Cambridge Ledgestone XL paver surround/patio and sheer descent waterfalls. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Deck and Patio’s design for this sleek vinyl pool included an in-pool seating ledge (see left bottom edge) and swim-out steps (top of pool). Vinyl refers to the method used to line the pool’s interior. Its base construction, however, is the same as any other. The pool surround/patio was created in a warm chestnut-hued random pattern using Cambridge pavers.

 

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

The steps Deck and Patio installed just above the far end of the pool are part of a natural retaining wall of boulders; they lead to a delightfully landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid. Pool includes sheer descent waterfalls and is surrounded by a patio with complementary random geometric patterns.

 

Natural Settings Elevate Health and Happiness According to Studies

Millions of Americans love being outdoors, reveling in beautiful natural settings. But should you feel guilty about spending so much time outdoors? Shouldn’t you really be at the gym, doing errands or housework?

Well! You can stop that self-criticism right now. 

Being outdoors improves health

Being outdoors improves health

This week, the Washington Post reported  that studies prove: “spending time outdoors” is linked to a “serious boost in well-being, the kind that lasts a lifetime.”     

Not only that, adds the Post, those who weekly spent two to three hours in natural settings are not only more likely to be happy with their lives, but the benefits to physical health were even greater — with 60 percent of such outdoor enthusiasts more likely to be in good health than their “cooped in counterparts.”

 

Washington Post Excerpt:

“People who already spend a lot of time outdoors aren’t likely to find these results surprising: There’s already a substantial body of work linking green spaces to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, mental health problems and overall mortality; and to greater rates of health, happiness, and cognitive development in children.”

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create ideal environments for improving well-being,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings:

Lush Plantings:

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock:

Using Moss Rock:

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. 

 

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images, or in a “running block” pattern.

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video:

 

 

 

How Do I Create a Private Outdoor Space?

As youngsters, we had our bedroom where could hide away from too much family togetherness. And you know, we still need a little space we can call our own— or, at least, use on our own. And having such a space outdoors is perhaps the best escape of all.

That’s true even if we already have a fabulous backyard. For if it wasn’t designed with a view for private time, it can be hard to find quiet: e.g., around an active barbecue, busy outdoor dining table, and especially near a pool.

First, Assess What You Have

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, perhaps — it’s not all that hard to create such a spot.

Remember that when it calls for it, your getaway can serve double-duty as a gathering place and a spot for solitude. And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed location.

Now for some tips and examples:

Tip # 1

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. These amenities will not only serve your new personal retreat, they can also be shared. A waterfall, or pretty flower bed, by definition can’t help but be enjoyed from a variety of locations in the yard.

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this Deck and Patio waterfall focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends. The pre-existing patio foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown)

 

Tip # 2 

Create a foundation for a getaway. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

Small Patio For Reading or Writing: 

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the water feature. It’s a great spot to read, while sitting next to a trickling stream and the sounds of waterfalls. Note: The Techo-Bloc patio pavers were engineered in Canada, and they can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.

 

Tip # 3 

Consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

Your Own Private Space:

Your Own Private Space:

If you are planning a whole new patio, this is a great opportunity to plan ahead for that private space. Choosing a multi-level patio design like this Deck and Patio project makes delineating a private get-away space easy. Here, there’s a charming water feature flowing over moss rock covered in lush green ground cover; tall trees create privacy in the background; it’s snug and well away from other patio areas designed for sunning or sitting near the pool.

 

Tip # 4 

Think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

This is a pleasant example of a space that is great for guests and family as well as for quiet private time. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room to add an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the look of their pool’s waterfalls. It’s perfect in the evenings, too. 

 

 

‘Green’ Water Features Don’t Always Require a Pond

Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, clients want the beauty of a waterfall feature but don’t want it to include a pond.

That was the case for these clients. They were saving for a swimming pool and wanted a water feature to enjoy in the meantime. Also, since their property was a delightful wooded lot, they asked that any feature look natural so it would fit in with the surroundings.

“Their property is also adjacent to a parkland,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. This was the main reason they didn’t want a pond with any waterfall. They feared a pond, with or without koi, would attract too many wild animals.”

The solution Deck and Patio suggested was for a “pondless” system that included a stream with upper and lower waterfalls. At the end of the stream, where usually a pond would capture the spilling water, we installed a “green” pondless-reservoir underground that holds the water and recirculates it.

“With this system, the spilling water seems to disappear into the gravel,” says Dave. “But it’s really being filtered through the river rock and then a filtration system underground. After it’s collected, it is pumped back up into the stream for a continuous flow.”

We were able to make use of the property’s slope and gravity to move the water down to the waterfall. The water feature was fitted in an existing hill without need to change the terrain much at all. This location was also ideal because it meant the family could enjoy it from within the house as well as from the patio.

“Since landscaping was also important to these clients, we added a lot of vibrant plantings in different colors and textures,” says Dave. “The plants were fitted in and around hand-picked moss rocks and other natural stones in the perfect size and shape.”

For our efforts, the Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) awarded us a Silver Medal for the project.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

If you want a water feature (think stream and waterfalls) but don’t want a pond, then “pondless” is the way to go. Here, Deck and Patio used Aquascape Inc.’s pondless system which captures the water underground and recirculates it. Note how the water seems to be disappearing into the gravel where it is collected in the reservoir and redistributed.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

We used evergreens (e.g., Procumbent Juniper) that are dense and green and very low maintenance; they also spread nicely. Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe add punches of color.

 

 Moss Rock Make Natural Looking Water Features:

Moss Rock Make Natural Looking Water Features:

Note how Pennisetum plantings drape around the moss rock and natural stones; we also placed each stone and used gravity to move the water in different directions as it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Deck and Patio had previously built this handsome Techo-Bloc patio for the clients using “Elena” pavers in “Earth Brown.” The pavers come in kits with five differently-sized stones which allowed us to create a stylish random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Along with the plantings mentioned above, Deck and Patio planted Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance; one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. We also included various deciduous shrubs as well as several Norway Spruce. A Japanese Maple was added behind the upper waterfall for a its texture and color.

 

Backyard Fire Pits: Keeping the Home Fires Burning

 

insert-1 In days of yore, when family members had to travel to hunt for food, etc., candles in the windows and village campfires were welcoming signs that led them home. And it’s no different today. Home fires still beckon family and friends to gather round a warm blaze.

Of course, in this millennium we can get a bit more sophisticated with our home fires than our ancestors. Modern fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings.

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

crespi “The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Bill Renter of Deck and Patio.

“Whatever home fire(s) you decide on, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

In the end, style, size and fuel remain very personal choices — as you will see from the variety of Deck and Patio fire feature projects we’re showcasing today.

HOWEVER! There is one thing all fire features have in common: s’mores frequently are involved. Frankly, if the warm glow of fire features aren’t sufficient to beckon friends and family, warm gooey marshmallows with melting chocolate definitely will.

So enjoy some of our Deck and Patio projects with fire features (below). And because we treasure our readers, we follow these with a s’mores recipe from no one other than Long Island’s own Ina Garten — the Hampton’s Barefoot Contessa. YUM!

 

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit. The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone for its handsome natural appeal.

 

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

 

An Invitation to S’mores:

An Invitation to S’mores:

Especially when the properties are small, Deck and Patio tends to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” In this case, such planning allowed the homeowners a nice spot for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

 

This leads us to the promised Ina Garten recipe for S’mores. Enjoy!

 

S'mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:
10 min
Prep:  5 min
Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving
Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients
1 marshmallow
2 Graham crackers
Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions
Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.
2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

Patios That Are Small Wonders

 

When outdoor space is at a premium, small-scale patios may be a necessity. And in a recent post “Living Large on Small Patios,” HGTV online showed how top designers can make  compact patios enticing.

 

Their interesting post inspired us to review some of Deck and Patio’s projects to see how we designed/built such patios to also be small wonders. Here’s a sampling:

 

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

In addition to the two-level patio, for this project our clients opted for a water feature that could be enjoyed from wherever they were in their yard. The stream with waterfalls, running alongside a new hot tub, became an attractive and soothing focal point when sitting on the small upper-patio.

It is easy to see how the Techo-Bloc Borealis’ pavers (modular 5” and 10” wide slabs) were used to great effect in creating such an inviting space. Often called tromp l’oeil by industry professionals, the slabs allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring.

With the addition of some attractive outdoor furniture and fire pit, the clients have a relaxing and beautiful small-scale outdoor room.

 

 Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

Techo-Bloc “Borealis”

The lower level of this patio was made of the same Borealis’ modular slabs as the upper area. Space being also at a premium here, the clients decided against a fixed pergola for shade, opting instead for more flexible outdoor umbrellas.

These colorful umbrellas offer bright pops of color and can be set wherever they are needed, open or closed, depending on how much sun there is.

 

Pergolas and Patios

Pergolas and Patios

Despite having a small area for their new one-level patio, and in addition to a large outdoor umbrella for shade, these clients did opt for a pergola, which can be enjoyed for its architectural interest alone. Of course, the pergola also offers shade during the hot sunshine of summer, as well as privacy. It also harmonizes well with the Cambridge “Renaissance” 6 x 9 Ruby Onyx pavers they chose for the patio.

In addition to a fireplace and fire pit, the clients wanted a fence that would keep their dog out of their garden. After cutting down a large bush in their yard, we used the leftover twigs to create a 2.5-foot fence with a gate. This fence not only protects the garden but provides an interesting focal point in the yard.

Indeed, with a garden adjacent to their dining area, if they want some fresh herbs to dress their salads or spice up their barbecue, they can simply open the gate and snip! Note how we included handsome bluestone stepping stones inside the gate for doing just that.

 

Multi-level Patios

Multi-level Patios

Sometimes limited space isn’t the impetus for creating small wonder patios. The inspiration can stem from the desire for intimacy, quiet, or privacy that only a small-scale design can offer.

Such is the case with this charming space, which is one of 5 levels of a much larger patio. Pictured are moss rock stairs leading to it from one of the lower levels. Beautiful landscaping and a waterfall add to the tranquility of this secluded corner of their backyard, but it is its small size that truly makes it feel like an exquisite private escape.

 

Private Patios

Private Patios

Had you ever thought of building a small patio just for writing or reading? If you had, perhaps it would look something like this delightful space designed and built by Deck and Patio.

It was constructed with Techo-Bloc pavers next to a new water feature we added. Sitting beside the trickling stream, hearing the sounds of gentle waterfalls — far away from any other outdoor activities — provides an idyllic spot to read or just meditate.

 

Changeable Patios

Changeable Patios

We’d like to think that HGTV would have included in their post this small Deck and Patio patio had they known about it. Its landscaping décor would make any decorator’s heart sing. With large trees on the distant periphery, simple container gardening allows the homeowners to move lush colorful plants wherever the activities are taking place. By not making the containers too heavy, this is an easy thing to do.

Note, it also has an easy to move simple barbecue, as well as elegant, but easy-to-lift, outdoor furniture.

 

 

2016 Outdoor Living Trends: Soothing Colors Go Yard Wide

According to online landscaping gurus — “LoveYourLandscape.org” — one of the latest trends in outdoor living is to incorporate soothing hues throughout your outdoor space. This can come in the colors of the plantings you choose, and even how you cover your outdoor furniture.

Pantone-Color-of-theYear-2016

Pantone-Color-of-theYear-2016

Indeed, the 2016 Pantone Color of the Year (left) blended two of these soft colors — Rose Quartz and Serenity (or blushes of pink and blue). In seeing the new color, Deck and Patio recognized that there is a much wider way one can infuse a yard’s space with these tones — by using the blend in your hardscapes!

Now one does not immediately think of pool surrounds, driveways, and patios (a.k.a. hardscapes) as soothing, but, indeed, the right patio, etc., hues can greatly add to the serenity of the outdoor experience. After all, these areas frequently take up quite a bit of any property.

One paving stone company is very much on trend — Cambridge Pavers Inc. — which has come out with a special line of pavers this year: their South Beach Collection offers lovely pinks and blues as part of their brand new pastel shade pallet. With names like “Pink Sands” and “Sky Blue” you can easily imagine these tones bringing a beach-y feeling to any backyard pool area or water view — or, indeed, around any outdoor space you want to be soothing.

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

Another company — who’s paving stones Deck and Patio also uses a great deal — is Techo-Bloc. Their popular “Monticello” pavers (seen here) have been providing these pastel hues for a while.

The Monticello outdoor slabs can be purchased in multiple colors. Two of our favorites this year are the Chocolate Brown with its slight rose hue and the Azzurro color with a blue underlining hue; which beautifully hint at the Pantone colors of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue. Also, Techo-Bloc’s Mini-Creta collection, in Sandlewood, offers echoes of rose and blue from the gray.

How to Choose the Right Soothing Pavers

Sometimes the exact color (particularly it’s name) will not reflect how it will appear in sunlight, or shade, or at night once installed. Depending on these lighting factors, a sandy “earth tone” may appear pinkish depending on the conditions.

Now if you find comparing the colors of the many different landscaping materials daunting — viewing online photos can distort color and texture — Deck and Patio has addressed this by creating an outdoor display at our design center. Here, visitors can see many of the available materials close-up.

“When visiting our outdoor display, they 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,” says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “Plus, if desired, our staff can explain the different benefits of each one — be it bluestone, brick, concrete pavers, permeable pavers, Travertine, etc.”

So we confidently say: go yard-wide with soothing colors this year. Restful outdoor spaces are always in style.

 Pool/Spa Surround in Techo-Bloc “Monticello”:

Pool/Spa Surround in Techo-Bloc “Monticello”:

Deck and Patio gave this refurbished pool a very soothing “surround” hardscape by using Techo-Bloc’s Monticello pavers. Just as an aside: along with the hot tub installation, the pool/patio project won us a prestigious award…just saying.

 

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

Photo Provided by Techo-Bloc

 

“For use in patios, terraces and walkways, Monticello is available in multiple-size outdoor slabs. “Like the sun-warmed limestone of southern Tuscany, without the high cost of installation demanded by natural stone, Monticello’s rich colors are rendered still more dramatic by its distinctive, undulating surface texture,” says a Techo-Bloc spokesperson. Indeed, Monticelo’s deeply chiseled edges speak of strength and endurance, underscoring the timeless grandeur of these impressive slabs.

 

 

Entryway in Soft Hues

Entryway in Soft Hues

Light, together with materials, can change how you see color. So you decide if you see pinks and blues in this attractive entry (above) installed by Deck and Patio. (Hint: we do!)

 

 

Coming ‘Back Down to Earth’ for Earth Day 2016

Earth Day is once again upon us. And isn’t it heartening that so many countries and citizens around the world will be considering the needs of our planet at the same time? One of the special celebrations taking place this year on Earth Day (April 22)  is the signing ceremony for the international Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which many agree is a step in the right direction for safeguarding our shared home.

But Earth Day is also celebrated each and every day  — a ‘coming back down to earth’ so to speak — where individuals and communities regularly act in useful and practical ways to nourish their own corners of Mother Earth. Some are diligent about recycling, others capture rainwater for irrigation, still others install solar panels, or use organic fertilizers.

For Deck and Patio, protecting the earth is a priority as we create beautiful outdoor living spaces. Indeed, we specialize in helping clients design/build outdoor amenities that are as eco-friendly as they are enchanting. In some cases, these not only do no harm to the local environment, but the projects actually help to improve it.

Aquascape RainXchange Reservoirs

As Certified Aquascape Contractors, Deck and Patio strives not to only make serene water features look natural, but also be natural. One way we do this is by using an Aquascape RainXchange reservoir. The reservoir, which stores water underground to be recirculated, can be used as part of a “pond-less” water feature system. Instead of falling into a pond, the flow from waterfalls and streams seemingly disappears into gravel, where it is filtered, and eventually recirculated. (Examples: see first two photos below)

 

Pristine Water Features:

Pristine Water Features:

This “pond-less” waterfall and stream was installed with all Aquascape Inc. components, so it is eco-friendly: the water is kept clean and healthy without the use of any chemicals.

 

Eco-Friendly Water Features:

Eco-Friendly Water Features:

For this “pond-less” waterfall and stream, the water required to keep it topped off and refreshed is harvested from the roof of the clients’ house. “Such a water feature is run entirely without using city water,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “It acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source that operates daily March through December. “And any excess harvested rainwater can be used for irrigation of the property.”

Environmentally-Friendly Backyard Ponds

Backyard ponds with waterfalls and streams can also be created in eco-friendly ways so they not only do no harm, but also help improve the environment. Fish ponds, for example, naturally attract — and provide a haven for — other wildlife that children (as well as adults) love: frogs, salamanders, song birds, etc.

Of course, all these creatures are delightful to watch and listen to. More than that, their presence offer natural ways to a healthier environment. Frogs eat algae in the water which contributes to keeping the water clean; adult toads aid in controlling insects, as do the birds the water attracts; and the koi, which are so much fun to feed, eat any mosquito larva that might develop.

 

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems:

Healthy Pond Eco-Systems:

It is essential to choose the right stones and gravel (which provide the correct ph value for fish and plants), in order to keep a pond healthy in a natural way. For this project, we also planted a beautiful Japanese maple that shades the pondscape’s bridge; bright red geraniums add a strong burst of color (bottom right of photo.)

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Not all sustainable water feature projects are for private use. Deck and Patio created this stream and waterfall spot in cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island) where we installed it with a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot. The pathway is made of permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc, which were put over gravel and a rubber liner, which capture and filter the path’s rainwater runoff before it reaches the underground Aquascape Inc. reservoir installed at the end of the stream.

 

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings around the water feature. Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into beautiful Huntington Bay.

 

 

Day 2016 coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO.

Day 2016 coincides with the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Photo from WMO.

 

This is the second of a two-part series in honor of Earth Day 2016 (April 22nd).