updating landscape

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Time to Update Your Backyard Pool Area?

Design/Build Showcase: Deck and Patio transforms cramped backyard into perfect landscape for parties and entertaining

 

 

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

 New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

When this Dix Hills family decided to update their dated backyard pool area, their main problems were that their old wood deck and red brick patios (above left photo) beside the pool were too small and unusable for parties and entertaining.

In addition, the old retaining wall took away from the attractiveness of the pool area.

Our creative team introduced a unique concept to deal with this area: re-grade the slope, turning it into a “natural” retaining wall (above right photo) including a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden in its place.

For the seven-foot-high “sheet” waterfall and stream, we used Aquascape Inc.’ pondless waterfall system, which allows for a good deal of water volume to create the dramatic effect.

“We particularly value Aquascape’s waterfall systems because they focus, like we do, on an ecosystem approach to water features,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “For this project, the pondless system relies on a natural balance of circulation, filtration, plants, rocks and gravel to ensure sustainability.”

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Another reason our waterfall retaining wall system looks so natural is our waterfall installation team understands how water flows over rock and how it releases from the rock in order to create a natural look and feel.

We avoid the look of steps in the waterfall by making the water change directions in the waterfalls and streams.

Once the stream and waterfall was complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping. Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter and added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

Refurbished Pool and Patio

Refurbished Pool and Patio

With the slope stabilized, our team addressed pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the original liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered.

The solution was to straighten the wall and fill the block in with concrete and steel rebars for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were then added, as well as new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and new liner was installed.

After this, the pool was carefully backfilled and tamped. We compacted the soil back around the pool in three-inch lifts to allow for the immediate installation of new pavers around the pool.

This compacting process is not done by many contractors. The idea is that using compacted soil the base will not settle, so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle.

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers from Cambridge (Sahara). These particular pavers have little or no color fade and the random design pattern adds interest to the patio. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.

 

Close up of Installed Patio

Close up of Installed Patio

The clients chose elegant clean-lined pavers in a random pattern for the new patio areas surrounding the pool.

The clients love their new patio and pondless waterfall. Not only do they find themselves outside more often enjoying nature’s sights and sounds, they have room for parties and entertaining.

In fact, their perfect backyard was there all along — it just needed a vision to bring it out.

 

 

Bringing Your Vacation Experience Back Home

This year's cold snap

This year’s cold snap

If during this winter’s record-breaking cold snap you sought haven in some warmer climate, no doubt you came back with more than memories of indoor resort comforts.

For example, when clients of ours a few years ago returned from Costa Rica they didn’t want to loose the happy family times they had experienced. A small country, bordered by two big bodies of water (the Caribbean and the Pacific,) they relished all that the sunny and water-surrounded country offered.

It’s not surprising, then, that our clients wanted to continue some of the happy family outdoor activities back home.

But they feared that creating their very own backyard resort — that would offer similar outdoor amenities they enjoyed on holiday — would be hard to achieve.

First, there were conflicting priorities between the husband and wife. She wanted cool places to relax with friends and he wanted to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.

Then, of course, there was the challenges presented by their property’s 12-ft elevation change in the property.

 

Pergola and multi-level patio

Pergola and multi-level patio

The solutions Deck and Patio recommended were to place their new vinyl-lined pool directly in the sun while at the same time creating an shaded area for congregating in comfort via a swim up/walk up bar with an overhead pergola.

To address the elevation, Deck and Patio’s design called for using the elevation for building a raised patio, with a wrap-around stair leading to the patio/pool and sunken swim up bar patio, plus creating a large pool natural stone waterfall area with plantings to hold back the grade.

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

“We were able to design the retaining area without having to add rails or fences that might have blocked views of their resort-style free-form pool,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Plus the addition of the natural stone waterfall with water slide didn’t just help act as a retaining wall, it also contributed to re-creating memories of their happy Costa Rican vacation.”

 

 

Custom In-ground Spa

Custom In-ground Spa

 

To complete their backyard resort, on the upper patio, nearer the house, we built a custom in-ground vinyl-lined spa.

Operating separately from the pool and being just steps from their door, they can use this resort amenity all year long.

 

 

The clients were delighted with their new retreat. And for an added bonus, the project won Deck and Patio several gold medal design awards from NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) and NESPA (Northeast Spa & Pool Association).

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

A Techo-Bloc multi-tiered patio, natural stone steps, lush landscaping almost completely surround a handsome free-form vinyl-lined pool with swim up bar with pergola, in-pool bar stools; a natural retaining wall with waterfalls and slide adds to the resort feeling.

 

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Considered the ultimate in outdoor living, this vinyl-lined pool includes a U-shaped granite-topped swim up bar with submerged bar stools.

 

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

The 32-foot swim-up bar is faced in cultured stone and rock and curves around to be enjoyed from the patio and well as from in the pool. It is a way of bringing everyone together — those who want to be in the pool and those relaxing on the patio.

 

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Even though it’s not near the pool, the custom spa was designed as a “spill-over” in order to provide the delights of a waterfall when sitting on the patio. The sounds are peaceful — truly reminiscent of their Costa Rican vacation.

 

Before the Leaves Fall: Some Backyard Maintenance Tips

 

 

 

It’s weeks away. But as sure as leaf tannin stains decks and driveways, fall foliage is coming.

So kick back and give a few thoughts to some backyard maintenance that can be done now — and might make falling leaves less of a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

Pruning

Right now — on the cusp of early fall — is the ideal time to prune. Cutting plants back now will give them enough time to callous over before the first frost.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.

 

 

 

Ponds

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

One area that needs a little care before leaves drop is the backyard pond.

In a previous post, our blog covered in detail the importance of protecting pond water from falling leaves.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

Pond experts at Aquascape Inc., a leading pond supply company, also suggest “tenting” the net so it doesn’t sag into the water when it becomes heavy with leaves and debris.

They also say to trim back aquatic plants to reduce the amount of organic material decomposing in the colder months. A previous blog offers more details on water plants and how to care for pond fish in fall.

 

 

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”

 

 

 

 

 

Plantings

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

In an earlier blog, we discussed — Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Pond Project

Deck and Patio Pond Project

A bit of effort in fall — before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.

 

 

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+00:00August 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

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.

 

 

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.

When It Comes to Long Island (NY) Landscaping: Stones and Boulders Really Rock

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert uses hard rocks: boulders, stone — and even man made wet-cast concrete — to create soft effects in backyard landscapes

 

Rocks are a natural part of nature, and when chosen well and positioned perfectly, they can make a man-made waterfall appear as if it’s flowing from a natural mountain stream.

Elsewhere in your landscape, a single, perfectly-sized, durable rock can make a diving board feel like you’re jumping from a small cliff into a Caribbean lagoon. Plus, a group of flat, well placed stepping stones can turn a functional lawn-protecting pathway into a peaceful stroll well worth taking.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter spends as much time as he can walking the hillsides of NY’s Catskills and studying the landscape. His expertise in how rocks affect streams and waterfalls is well known. Over the years, he has received a multitude of awards for choosing the perfect rocks, and artfully installing them to great effect and function.

 

Man-made Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Man-made Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Waterfalls cascading over natural rock creates perfect mood for meditation or romantic al fresco dining. Rocks used here include river rock, moss rock, spill rocks, and bluestone stepping stones.

 

 

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY):

Set against lush landscaping and a beautiful man-made waterfall, this diving rock and paving stone patio feel like they’ve come about organically.

 

 

Backyard Hardscapes (Long island/NY):

Backyard Hardscapes (Long island/NY):

Here rocks have been used to create two stepping stone paths; a natural looking and sturdy set of stairs; a custom raised spa set above the pool, from where a heated waterfall flows; and a retaining wall of natural stones.

 

 

Stepping Stone Paths (Long Island/NY):

Stepping Stone Paths (Long Island/NY):

Stepping stones can be round, square, or irregularly shaped; place them squarely along your intended path.

 

 

Upgrading Existing Backyard Retreat

Upgrading Existing Backyard Retreat

Where once stood an outdated moss rock waterfall, now stands a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water.

Destination Backyard Retreat Makes a Splash

The owners of a very large property on Long Island’s North Shore asked The Deck and Patio Company to plan a new destination pool large enough for volleyball. Also, because the pool area would be a distance from the house, they wanted the ability to cook by the pool, as well as have a place to relax — bug free.

Deck and Patio’s plan included:

  • 50-foot-long and 26-foot-wide pool (approximate),
  • spillover spa, waterfalls,
  • 800-square-foot pool house with a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom
  • elegant Travertine patio, and
  • outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade
  • outdoor shower.

However, our comprehensive plan came in way over budget for the clients. They declined our bid and sought estimates elsewhere. We were thrilled when they came back to us, because, in the end, they loved our ideas. Their judgment must have been right, since the completed project won a 2010 International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a 2009 Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA).

When designing the pool house, our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, consulted with a good friend and architect, James DeLuca. Their collaborative effort inspired a building that is in keeping with their home’s overall elegance,which inspired the reverse gable.

Bill Renter also worked with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives to create the stunning nighttime scenes.

 

Pool House:

Pool House:

This pool house boasts two 20-by-20-rooms: one great room with sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and storage closet; the other is a 20-by-20 room with screens on two sides where they can enjoy nights by the pool without pesky insects.

 

 

Destination Pool

Destination Pool:

At night, the destination pool area is as romantic as it is serene. It is an idyllic spot for parties that begin in the day and continue long into the night.

 

Pool House

Pool House:

An expanse of cedar planks allows for drama and a clean natural look inside the pool house.

 

Vinyl Pool:

Vinyl Pool:

With concrete wall and a vinyl liner, the approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool offers a spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall.

 

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen:

The outdoor kitchen (and indoor bathroom) required a second septic system to support such amenities as a kitchen sink, built-in barbecue, storage, and small refrigerator. A real stone veneer adds natural elegance.

 

What Time of Day Showcases this Backyard Retreat Best?

Boasting a spectacular view of Long Island Sound, this award winning project is one that Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, is understandably proud of.  Complete with large patio areas, infinity pool, large spillover spa, waterfall, pond with wooden bridge, and spectacular LED lighting, its design took into consideration how it would appear at different times of day.

The vanishing edge pool brings the dramatic view of the shoreline right up to the backyard — creating a variety of changing images depending upon whether it is day, evening, or night. And not only the pool and patio offer these fabulous sights. The custom spa was also positioned to take in these “vanishing edge” vistas.

The same care went into the design of the upgraded and expanded pond area. Its beautiful details are delightful during the day, intoxicating at sunset, and oh so romantic at night.

The entire project comprises: vanishing edge pool with five water pumps, 3,000 square feet of Techo-Bloc tumbled stone patio, an outdoor kitchen with patio bar, two natural gas campfires, and extensive landscaping that includes large evergreen trees that flank the left and right side for privacy. In the pool, there are two waterfalls, five bar stools in front of a swim up bar, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning. (Note: this project garnered several awards, including three gold awards.)

We invite you to look over the photos and tell us what time of day do you think showcases this project best.

 

Vanishing Edge “Infinity” Pools:

Vanishing Edge “Infinity” Pools:

During the day, the view out to Long Island Sound is breathtaking from both the pool and spa. Note: the outdoor kitchen includes two bars: a patio bar with bar stools, and a swim up bar with in-pool seats.

 

 

 

Backyard Ponds:

Backyard Ponds:

Even during the day when all details are clear, the serene pond area, with waterfall, bridge, and moss rock cave, offers no hint of the technology keeping the pond healthy and pristine, e.g., a Savio skimmer traps most debris before it settles at the bottom of the pond, and an Aquascape Biofalls system continually filters the pond naturally by using bacteria to break down any pond waste.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

At sunset, not only unobstructed views of Long Island Sound are brought up to the patio and vanishing edge pool and spa, but the reflection of the setting sun is also; also at sunset, the edge of the infinity pool is exquisitely tinged in pale orange.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

At sunset, in the far distance, evening lights on Connecticut’s shore twinkle under a deep blue sky that is brushed with rose-colored radiance; LED lights and glowing natural gas campfires emphasize different areas of the retreat, providing security, drama and beauty.

 

 

 

Backyard Pond:

Backyard Pond:

Just as sunset is about over, LED lighting creates mystery and romance around the pond. Traces of a pink sky makes a delightful backdrop to the evening pond’s browns and greens.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

Some might say that nighttime offers the ultimate outdoor experience. The lighting, which creates such extraordinary vistas, has been carefully hidden to give wonderful effects, yet go unseen. In fact, all the expertise and technology behind the waterfalls — water pumps, the DE filter, gas heater, LED lights, EOS wireless automation, etc. — go entirely unnoticed.

 

 

 

Turning a Tired Backyard Into Award-Winning Retreat

Like many homeowners, you may already have a landscaped backyard, possibly with a pool that’s been through a number of summers. You’ve probably considered doing something with it, but what? Take a look at this pool renovation project that helped our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, capture the #1 ranking several years ago in patio design.

As the mason contractor on the job, our firm was dealing with a 20-year old pool with similarly-aged coping surrounded by grass where had never been a patio. There was also a concrete spa the family never used because it was uncomfortable.

The fact that the clients really loved the existing pool coping made Bill’s job even more interesting. After visiting several mason suppliers, and finding it impossible to obtain the original coping, he turned to Techo-Bloc to make a match. This coping had tan and grey tones, and Techo-Bloc’s sandalwood paving stones were an extremely good complement.

We also constructed a retaining wall and masonry steps down to the pool patio. The finished design featured a five-level patio all around the swimming pool. Later we added new maintenance-free decking.

So if you’re interested in creating your own backyard paradise, whatever the size of your space, a little creativity goes a long way.

 

 

Cascading Water Features:

Cascading Water Features:

There are five different patio levels around the pool, all comprised of Techo-Bloc. The design features cascading water, a hot water fall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool.

 

 

 

Raised Spillover Spas:

Raised Spillover Spas:

We began by demolishing the old uncomfortable spa and replacing it with a new acrylic one. Using Techo-Bloc “Creta” wall stone, we created the face between the raised acrylic spillover spa and the swimming pool.

 

 

 

Techo-Bloc Patios

Techo-Bloc Patios

The couple didn’t want to deal with much maintenance and our solution was a raised patio design. The challenge was the steep slope that ran away from the house making it necessary to put solid compactable materials underneath to avoid settling issues later on.

 

 

 

Backyard Retreats:

Backyard Retreats:

In total, there are five waterfalls, plus a swim-up bar in the pool that features stunning granite countertops and a shade pergola. From the highest waterfall, to the lawn below, is an elevation change of twelve feet, all with a different grades.