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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.

 

 

Deck Designers/Builders, Long Island, NY: Two New Fiberon Deck Projects

Deck and Patio frequently designs/builds decks using “capped composite” materials from several quality manufacturers.

For the uninitiated, “capped composite” refers to an improvement made in recent years to regular composite decking through the addition of an extra “cap” or “cover” that adds an extra layer of protection against damage.

In our blog today, we’re highlighting two such Deck and Patio decks. These “works-in-progress” projects are both located in Oyster Bay, NY, and include a pool and handsome landscaping.

“When choosing deck materials, the homeowners looked at all the options and both clients decided on Fiberon decking,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“While most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, Fiberon’s special warranty was also a factor for these clients. Not only will they get the usual 25-year warranty on materials, with Fiberon they also get a five-year warranty on labor.”

This extra warranty means there will be no cost at all to these homeowners should there be any staining or scratching, etc. in the first five years. “And they will continue to have the material warranty for another 20 years,” says Dave.

Another factor for the clients was that Fiberon decking boards are easy to install due to their grooved design. Deck and Patio’s builders can fit them together through hidden fasteners, leaving no nails or screws showing — just a clean, smooth look.

“Both clients also liked the color variations and chose Fiberon’s ProTect  “Chestnut” boards that offer subtle streaking and woodgrain patterns.”

First Work-in-Progress Project

Working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY), Deck and Patio designed, and is in the process of building, a two-level deck (see first three photos below). The completed project will include an outdoor kitchen and dining area on the second level with a pergola providing shade over the outdoor kitchen cabinet. The pergola will also have LED lighting that will shine down on the cabinetry, creating a beautiful evening ambience.

When the lower deck level is complete, it will act as a magnificent above-ground-pool surround, ideal for entertaining/sunbathing. Parts of the deck will have lattice skirting, and because they don’t have a shed, we designed access panels so the family can use under the deck for storage.

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Two-Level Deck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Early in the process, Deck and Patio built framing for a deck that will surround the above-ground pool by True Blue Swimming Pools. The pool is set in the lower level of the two-level deck.

 

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Fiberon ProTect Chestnut Decking:

Here we are putting down the Fiberon boards over the frame for this Oyster Bay, NY project.

 

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Fiberon Capped Composite Decking:

Note how the Fiberon boards fit together with no showing nails or screws. This clean look means you can walk barefoot without any concern.

 

Second Work-in-Progress

Again, working with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) in Oyster Bay, NY, Deck and Patio is building a new replacement deck around an existing pool that is being upgraded. The clients’ previous pressure-treated deck was 25 years old.

“When pressure treated decks like this one get old, the nails tend to pop,” says Dave Stockwell. “After years of banging them back in, the nails don’t hold anymore. In addition, such older decks weren’t framed correctly for today’s codes. You can see in one of the photos below how the old boards are actually sagging. This creates a real hazard when walking around the pool.”

The far side of their new deck will have handsome coping built flush to the lawn and landscape. Our design also includes custom curves not often seen on decking. “These clients are great fans of perennial gardens, and as part of the overall landscaping design, we’re creating one for them with stepping stones from the deck that will go through the new garden to the lawn area.

The first of four photos below is Deck and Patio’s design rendering of the whole project.

 

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

Deck and Patio’s Project Design Rendering:

This project is in Oyster Bay, NY and includes an upgraded swimming pool, large Fiberon capped composite decking and robust landscaping, including a perennial garden. Note the unusual custom curves Deck and Patio designed for several parts of the deck.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

You can see the old deck’s boards are buckling up in different places making walking around the clients’ pool hazardous. The new Fiberon decking will be smooth and clean  — with no exposed nails or screws.

 

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

Old Pressure Treated Deck Boards:

This is a close up photo of the old pressure treated deck boards that had to be removed.

 

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Deck Project (Oyster Bay, NY):

Here you see that the old deck is gone and we’re on our way to creating the beautiful new deck surround and landscaping (see design rendering above).

 

 

Closing Swimming Pools: Has the Sun Set on this Year’s Pool Season?

Once Labor Day is behind us and kids are back at school, many feel it’s time to close the pool. But with temperatures occasionally hovering near 90 in the Northeast, maybe the sun hasn’t yet set on this year’s pool season.

Of course, in areas like the Northeast, we know there are good reasons for closing a pool before any frost. As Michael Truehart (True Blue Swimming Pools/Dix Hills, NY) highlighted in a previous Deck and Patio blog:

“In climates like the Northeast, the most important reason for closing a pool is pipes and other pool equipment can freeze in cold months. Part of what we do is administer a chlorine shock, or algaecides, or phosphate remover to the pool water. Then the pool/spa equipment is taken apart and cleaned, drained of water, and underground pipes are blown out so no water can freeze in them.”

Glen Cove, NY Deck and Patio project

Glen Cove, NY Deck and Patio project

 

That said, apparently closing down your pool “too early” can also cause problems. In a blog by Hayward Pools, they state that shutting down the pool while temperatures are still very warm could mean that the chemicals Truehart mentioned might not last until spring.

Michael Truehart also agrees with Hayward that closing a pool when temperatures are still very warm can cause algae blooms and staining in your pool.

 

 

So it seems the sun has not yet set on our swimming pool season. Happy September 2016, and keep cool, everyone, and keep watching the weather reports.

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Retreat:

Backyard Retreat:

Keeping your pool open after Labor Day is not a fashion faux pas like wearing white. So why miss out on the sounds of any, perhaps, waterfalls, orr pool landscaping, and the sense of refuge offered by your swimming pool and its surrounds. Just keep an eye on the weather.

 

Closing a Swimming Pool:

Closing a Swimming Pool:

Installing and measuring a mesh pool cover that involves freeform shapes, waterfalls, etc., must be exact. A mesh cover is strong because its straps with tension springs are connected to anchors set in the patio. For this pool’s water feature area, stainless steel eyelets were drilled into rocks where a cable secures it.

 

Closing Spas for Winter:

Closing Spas for Winter:

These clients decided that having a portable spa, instead of an in-ground one linked to the pool equipment, was an ideal way to let them enjoy the superb hydrotherapy benefits of Bullfrog’s JetPaks massage jets/seats – all year long, even when the pool was closed.

 

 

 

 

Destination Swimming Pool: Deck and Patio Design/Builds Backyard Oasis

 

Have you ever fretted that your property has too many challenges for a backyard oasis? Well, the fact is, few properties have an ideal landscape for this. Some are small, others have severe slope problems, still others are limited by local code setback restrictions, or all of the above.

Cool refreshing lemonade

Cool refreshing lemonade

What frequently delights our clients, however, is discovering how drawbacks can bring out creative answers that turn proverbial lemons into cool, refreshing oasis-lemonade. This Dix Hills, Long Island, project is a perfect example.

The homeowners wanted a pool, and because of  the sloping topography, they knew any pool would have to be a “destination” pool — or a pool area that, because it is a distance from the house, includes convenient amenities such as an outdoor kitchen, bathroom, living room area, changing room, etc.

Before photo of new destination pool oasis

Before photo of new destination pool oasis

On looking over the property, Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter took a glance up the sloping hill from the proposed pool area and immediately realized the hill offered the potential for creating something spectacular. The slope was the perfect terrain for a meandering stream cascading down into a new koi pond beside the pool. This would turn the destination swimming pool area into a destination oasis.

There was, however, one large concern. It would be a real loss if such a delightful feature as a stream and waterfall couldn’t be enjoyed up the hill from the patio near the house. Would they have to be down at the pool to enjoy it?

The solution was to add an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, they could see a waterfall, as well as the beginning of the stream. And just beyond that vantage point, the stream would take an abrupt U-turn, and flow down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond.

 

Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

Because of the topography, the pool was located far from the house, down a steep grade. We added beautiful creeping ground cover and natural boulders, so that even the property’s challenging raised grades were turned into benefits. Also, by installing enough retaining boulders and plant materials, Mother Nature’s own gravity coaxes water naturally over rock etc. into a pond.

 

Destination Pools:

Destination Pools:

The walk from the house down to the pool is part of the oasis experience. Beautiful plantings flank on either side and an additional natural looking waterfall falling over the edge of the swimming pool draws the eye forward. Also note how comfortably large the pool surround is for entertaining as well as family time spent by the pool.

 

Backyard Water Features:

Backyard Water Features:

Our vision was to take advantage of the steep property grade to create a beautiful slope with five cascading waterfalls, moss rock boulders, evergreens, perennials and annuals, plus a series of stairs and landings to bring them down to a new lower pool area.

 

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls:

We ended up creating an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, the family could see a waterfall and the beginning of the stream; slightly beyond that vantage point, the stream takes an abrupt U-turn, and flows down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond.

 

 

 

Are Koi Carp Difficult to Keep in Backyard Ponds?

 

Koi are delightful ornamental versions of the more common fish known as “carp.” Koi were bred for color by the Japanese for their private ponds or water gardens. But, as some of you may already know, these lovely creatures aren’t just for show. Their presence can help balance the entire pond’s ecosystem and even help to reduce pond maintenance.

Why, then, are so many pond owners anxious about keeping them in their ponds?

“People fear they won’t survive. It is true that koi can be tempting to cats, raccoons, herons, etc., but there is much that can be done to reduce such threats,” says Bill Renter from Deck and Patio.

Renter suggests adding koi castles and tunnels at the bottom of the pond to give fish a safe place to hide from many predators.

Rock overhangs look natural

Rock overhangs look natural

Additionally, including rock overhangs around the outside of the pond, which first and foremost will make any pond appear more natural, help discourage cats and raccoons from reaching into the water after the fish.

“Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can also dissuade raccoons and cats further, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner,” says Renter. “Plus deeper water at the edges — more than 18” deep — discourages heron wading.”

Another helpful idea is adding a waterfall feature. Continuous flowing water into the pond isn’t just beautiful and pleasant sounding, but the ongoing movement from the falls will put off many avian predators and even stop mosquitos from breeding.

Other precautions koi pond owners can take is adding scarecrows, such as owl statues. But with ongoing climate change and continued new construction, changes to their habitat are also causing changes in the behavior of local wildlife. “If all else fails, a netting can be installed over the pond,” says Renter.

Tips for Keeping Koi Safe:

— make your pond as large and deep as possible

— try to locate your pond in an area that you can see from inside your home so you can chase away any predator that isn’t deterred by other means

—  try to include a waterfall to aerate the pond and scare away some predators

— lighting with movement sensors near the pond can frighten away an animal at night

— scarecrows (like owls) discourage many predators — herons and kingfishers in particular; some scarecrows also have moving sprinklers which do double duty to dissuade prey

—  don’t put food for the birds you’re trying to attract near the pond — put it as  far away as possible

—  create hiding places for the koi inside the pond such as castles and tunnels

—  if you still have problems, a pond net will do the trick.

 

Here’s a small sampling of our favorite Deck and Patio pond features. And, yes, even if not picked up in the photos, there are koi in each and every one.

 

 

Pond Koi:

Pond Koi:

Contrary to popular belief, pond fish will actually reduce pond maintenance, as they graze on string algae and bottom feed from the pond floor. (Note: Plants in this pond include bullrush, pink canna lilies, horsetail, and a “rose arey” hybrid water lily.)

 

 

Pond Netting:

Pond Netting:

It’s wise to have pond netting even if you don’t need it to keep away predators. In order not to let a collection of debris into your clean pond water, you’ll want to put a net in place before leaves begin falling in autumn. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc. (Photo/Pond Net: Aquascape Inc)

 

Ponds with Waterfalls:

Ponds with Waterfalls:

The continuous movement of the pond water because of  waterfalls not only oxygenate the water to keep it healthy and free of mosquitos, but the spilling water will put off many avian predators

 

 

Pond Ecosystems:

Pond Ecosystems:

Koi is a healthy part of this pond’s natural ecosystem; this pond also offers koi lots of room to hide as well as swim. There are also plenty of rock overhangs to discourage predators.

 

 

Keeping Koi Safe:

Keeping Koi Safe:

Planning a water feature with sufficient water depth can help dissuade raccoons and cats, since neither enjoy swimming to get their dinner. Plus deeper water at the edges — more than 18” deep — discourages heron wading.

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Ending the Summer Entertaining Season with a Splash of Color

While Labor Day weekend (just two weeks away) is not the end of the outdoor season, it is the last of summer’s three big holiday weekends.

This means you’re probably either planning to host or attend one or more family barbecues, pool parties, summer movie parties, or just plain end-of-summer gatherings. There may be corporate shindigs happening as well. Not to mention kids will be begging for a last sprinkler cool-down with friends.

Those hosting such outdoor festivities have probably been looking over their property’s landscaping, with a view of how the yard will look when entertaining.

Sandra Vultaggio

Sandra Vultaggio

We are happy to report that it’s far from too late to add a splash of color and beauty right now that will last well into Fall. In speaking with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, she offered our readers some great landscaping ideas.

“Late in the season is actually a great time to add some perennials,” says Vultaggio. “And you can usually get good deals on them this time of year.”

As for which ones to look out for, she agreed with the beautiful Honorine Jobert Anemone (aka Windflower) that we showcased on Facebook this week as a great choice to add mid-to-late August.  The Windflower will bloom through October and it prefers shade-to-partial sun, and moist, well-drained soil.

Vultaggio offered several more perennial choices, e.g., Chelone, (aka Turtlehead). “This purple/red flowering plant does well in both shade and sun,” she says. “And Asters, as well as Sedums (the “upright” like Autumn Joy) are also great choices. These prefer sun and are available in many different varieties and shades of pink and purple.” For a sunny yellow option, Vultaggio suggests Solidago (aka Goldenrod) which also prefers full sun.

“I suggest getting them in the ground sooner than later,” she continues, “and because of the drought in the Long Island area, it’s important to soak the root systems thoroughly and keep them very well watered and mulched after planting.”

But what about droughts? Shouldn’t we be considerate and fair in how much water we use? As many of you know, Deck and Patio has a division completely devoted to rainwater harvesting  and we are available to give advice on how best to collect rainwater for use in maintaining water features as well as property landscaping.

“In the meantime, there are things we can do immediately to conserve water for our gardens,” says Vultaggio.

“Think about the water we throw away just when making a pot of pasta. Rather than let it go down the sink, simply let it cool and use it in your garden. The fact that pasta was cooked in the water will not harm your plants. I recommend keeping a bucket for water collection. Put your pasta water there and any leftover water in drinking glasses. Just be mindful of all the water we use that can be conserved. In a recent blog, Gardening in a Drought, I highlighted a variety of ways to ensure a healthy garden despite low precipitation.”

“So don’t feel guilty making a splash this Labor Day weekend with bright plantings around your property,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Even if you don’t yet have a rainwater collection system, you can nourish your landscape by not wasting household water as outlined by Ms. Vultaggio.”

Below are photos of some ideal plants to add in time for Labor Day. These should add color and beauty well into Fall. And if you aren’t entertaining at home, these would make great hostess gifts. Happy Labor Day wherever you spend it!

 

Anemone Windflower -- or "Honorine Jobert

Anemone Windflower — or “Honorine Jobert

 

 

Chelone or Turtlehead

Chelone or Turtlehead

 

 

Asters

Asters

 

Sedum or Autumn Joy

Sedum or Autumn Joy

 

 

Solidago or Goldenrod

Solidago or Goldenrod

 

Landscaping Ideas: Inspiration Can Come from Unlikely Places

 

When looking for ideas to update their properties, it’s not unusual for homeowners to turn to such online social networks as Pinterest, Houzz, Google Plus, etc. Certainly, we post our own projects on these sites and find inspiration there, too.

That said, our design staff gets most of its best ideas outside, when taking in vistas that we can hear, smell, and touch. Indeed, when you’re passionate about the outdoors, you find you can’t turn off your inspiration-antenna, even when on vacation.

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida), Author: Lee Bailey from Beverley, UK

Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World Resort, Florida), Author: Lee Bailey from Beverley, UK

That was the case for Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter after he visited Disney World. And what awed him there became the inspiration behind one of our company’s most awarded projects.

“These clients wanted something very special,” says Renter. “When thinking about it, I realized I had been really impressed with how Disney World had been a feast for the senses — that there was always something around the corner, something to draw you to the next space. And that’s what my design was all about for these clients.”

Indeed, the homeowners admit to be in awe of what Deck and Patio Co. accomplished.

“You almost don’t want to stop anywhere,” says the husband. “You can’t wait to see what is coming up next. You climb on huge moss-covered rocks, or stroll around the spa waterfall to get to the water slide, then down a little bluestone walkway, even passing by a stream on the way. It’s spectacular.”

His wife loves how their new backyard “resort” offers the thoughtful comforts of many hotel/resort amenities. For example, four embedded umbrella stands are installed in the main tumbled stone patio.

Landscaping Ideas:

Landscaping Ideas:

“They are positioned perfectly,” she says. “I just open them for parties or when serving food and get 50 percent shading of the patio area. Or for sunbathing, I just close them and the sun will go all the way across.”

Landscaper Renter has also successfully mimicked the background music at hotel resorts – that is heard but is never intrusive.

The landscaper adds that in 2005, this project also won the “International Award of Excellence – Gold Medal” – from the APSP (The Association for Pool and Spa Professionals) in the category of a vinyl pool in excess of 601 square feet.

Yet, a beautiful as the completed project is, the awards were given for more than just what meets the eye. Design and execution challenges for this 46-by-32-foot free-form vinyl pool/spa began with a 13-foot elevation change that runs the length of the pool area.

In addition to a stunning pool, spill over spa, patio area, multiple waterfalls and a swim up bar in the backyard, Renter added a gorgeous pond with waterfalls on the side of the property, just below a rolling green lawn.

“Sometimes you want a break from all the fun and activity of the pool/patio area,” says Renter. “And we gave them that. It’s even beautiful in winter to stop and spend a few moments there.”

 

 

Pool Water Slides:

Pool Water Slides:

Renter adds that, of course, the clients love the built-in water slide, and there are five waterfalls (one reaching 7×10 feet), plus immense moss rocks — some weighing in excess of six thousand pounds.

 

Swim Up Bars:

Swim Up Bars:

Family and friends really enjoy being able to get a cool drink by swimming up to the 38-foot “swim-up bar” that has submerged barstools. He adds that this amenity is very popular with adults, as it is a great spot for swimmers and strollers to meet and talk, without the swimmers having to get out of the water.

 

Swimming Pools:

Swimming Pools:

And for nighttime entertaining, the automated color logic lights, the ten speakers that pick up commercial-free satellite radio, the glorious 7×11 foot vinyl-lined spa, and the romantic gas campfires, make this anyone’s definition of nighttime paradise.

 

Backyard Ponds and Waterfalls

Backyard Ponds and Waterfalls:

Away from all the activity the pool area generates, these clients now have a gorgeous spot for meditation that includes a fish pond. wooden bridge, multiple waterfalls, lush plantings and garden bench.

 

Ponds in Winter:

Ponds in Winter:

Even after the snow falls, these clients find they can’t resist stopping by their pond and enjoy quiet moments alone with nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Features for Pools

There are several enticing styles of water features you can add to your pool. However, in today’s blog, we are focusing on a particular water feature stand-out: stream-fed waterfalls.

While pools, themselves, are the most prevalent water features, the amenities you add to them, in particular water features, can take them from ordinary to sublime.

Reminiscent of Mother Nature’s own ponds and lakes — where water pools are the outcome of streams and rivers feeding oxygenated waterfalls cascading from above — adding water features provide a very special dimension to a backyard pool.

A key element in giving the feature a natural feel is the use of moss rock. Of course, the skill comes in positioning the rocks in such a way so the water spills over them just like you would see on a mountain hike or woodland stroll.

The first project we are highlighting today showcases a majestic high waterfall spilling over natural boulders into a freeform concrete pool and spa. The waterfall doesn’t flow out from the walls of the pool, but like all the ones in today’s blog, it is fed by a meandering man-made stream.

 

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

Water Feature for Freeform Pool:

The spa in this project is private — nestled inside a cove made from moss rock boulders fitted with a structural steel and concrete ceiling. The entire project included a freeform pool with grotto spa, Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and in-pool tanning shelf; it won for Deck and Patio a prestigious Silver medal for design from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

Spa and Pool Waterfalls:

A rushing stream of hot water flows over a large moss rock into a new spa built by Deck and Patio. From there, a spillover waterfall flows out from the spa five feet above the main swimming pool.

 

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Swimming Pool Water Features:

Imagine sitting at a granite-topped swim-up bar on comfortable in-pool stools while enjoying the sounds and beauty of several stream-fed waterfalls. For this project, Deck and Patio was able to turn the biggest challenge of the property — its rising elevation — into a benefit. Gravity alone moves the water down the slope into the waterfalls. This project won us several gold meals; one from NSPI and one from NESPA.

 

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Natural Swimming Pools with Waterfalls:

Although we have successfully built natural swimming pools for clients with waterfalls fed by streams, this project is not one of our own.  We are using it today because it so beautifully showcases how much children love natural swimming pools. It was supplied to us by the company that manufacturers much of our water feature equipment — Aquascape, Inc. (St. Charles, IL). The pool waterfalls are stream-fed into a “natural” swimming pond. Swimming in such pools isn’t any different from taking a swim in an old fashioned swimming hole, or the ocean for that matter. Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape, Inc.

 

 Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The sound of waterfalls cascading over natural rock offers relaxing sounds as well as a beautiful vista when dining al fresco. Here, Deck and Patio also added a sound system in this backyard retreat that pumps music; together with the waterfalls the sounds are wonderful for entertaining or family fun.

 

Pool Water Features:

Pool Water Features:

Sunset is a glorious time to be by the pool, especially when the sounds of multiple waterfalls complete the scene. Here a stream feeds two separate waterfalls on either side of a water slide that makes its own waterfall. This is definitely where you want to be at the end of each workday.

 

 

Nature Lovers Find Backyard Escapes An Elixir

Don’t you love all the beautiful landscaping photos available on social media? Certainly, Deck and Patio’s team does. We even post a lot of our own. But while it’s an incredible uplift to catch glimpses of serene images of nature during the workday, photos, alas, can’t substitute for the real thing.

 

Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee

 

Nature as Elixir

Albert Einstein once said: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Without question, early Native Americans did just that. Chief Ahanton, of one of New Hampshire’s Eastern Woodlands tribes, for example, named the state’s majestic great Lake: Winnipesaukee, — or the smile of the Great Spirit.

And it’s no different today. Pure flowing water — and all that it nourishes — is still considered by many to be sacred. Such scenes touch something deep within, causing us to pause, rest our minds, and rejuvenate.

 

 

INSERT 2 Travel Not Required

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats like Lake Winnipesaukee, the Adirondacks, or the White Mountains, etc., how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our local communities.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? This is because local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be transformed into glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

 

 

Backyard Escape:

Backyard Escape: For this project, Deck and Patio carefully selected boulders and stones, along with bright plantings, to help create a beautiful vista. And as Chief Ahanton would no doubt agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining to a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. For this project we built multi-level patios and carefully delineated how each space was to be used. One area was set up for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also mapped out.

 

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds, to swim upstream into the upper pond. (*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a beautiful wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

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