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Backyard Upgrades: Winter Is a Great Time to Plan

Landscape Planning in Winter

Landscape Planning in Winter

If you’ve promised yourself that this spring you’ll begin creating the outdoor environment you want, here’s a tip.

There’s no need to wait until the ground is no longer cold.

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

Google Earth App

Google Earth App

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

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

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

 

How Computer Animation Helps

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

For the following homeowners, 3-D renderings helped in a slightly different way. 

After work began, when their yard was full of piles of dirt and stones, they panicked. But the 3-D animation really helped show how their original very flat property would be made to appear larger once different patio levels were created. 

In addition, they could clearly see what their backyard would look like from the deck and various parts of their house. Here is a photo of the completed project:

 

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade

Pre-spring Landscape Planning for Backyard Upgrade

 

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

This especially helped them appreciate the water-to-water views they would experience from the pool and spa.

 

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

Deck and Patio Project Using 3-D Animation

 

Here’s hoping some of the above has started your creative juices flowing. 

 

Designing an Ideal Pond for Your Property’s Size and Shape

Whether your property is large and expansive — or no bigger than a postage stamp — most yards can accommodate some type of pond. 

As you’ll see from examples we’re highlighting, ponds come in many sizes, shapes, and depths, and sometimes these water features may not be classified as ponds at all.

“When it comes to a water feature’s location on a property, we recommend installing it where it can be enjoyed from a patio or deck, bedroom, or kitchen,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.”

Larger Properties

In our first showcased Deck and Patio pond project (below), the clients also wanted a new deck. It was ideal being able to design both the pond and deck together for a truly integrated result.

 

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

Ponds, Decks, and Landscaping

We designed the above deck with a viewing platform. From there, the clients can take in the whole pond. It’s also an inviting spot for dining with family or friends. And the robust landscaping — rich with aquatic and other plantings — adds to the ambience. 

You can also see that we added large stepping stones for walking across the pond to other areas of the water feature.

“That path across provides the clients with what they were hoping for — an escape to a private place for relaxing and meditating. Of course you can always design your pond further away from the house for even more privacy,” says Dave.

 

Perfectly Placed Pond

Perfectly Placed Pond

Deck and Patio located this pond (above) in view of the home’s back patio and pool area, as well as from the house, for maximum enjoyment throughout the day. 

Some of the plantings used are Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters and Coreopsis, providing bright pops of color, along with deep green ground cover and tall grasses.

As you will see from all our ponds, part of what makes these water features so spectacular — and so relaxing — is their landscaping. Landscaping a pond requires knowledge of not just soil and sun but how each planting is affected by water and moisture.

 

Total Backyard Sanctuary

Total Backyard Sanctuary

When constructing this backyard sanctuary, complete with koi pond, we built an Iron Woods Ipe deck (not shown); the bridge that crosses the pond is also made of Ipe — one of the strongest woods in the world; it is painted white to complement the clients’ existing backyard conservatory. 

The whole project earned Deck and Patio both a NESPA and APSP Gold award.

 

Ponds With Additional Waterfalls

 

Additional Pond Waterfall

Additional Pond Waterfall

For this water feature, the homeowners wanted the best of both worlds: an additional waterfall located near the house and a glorious private pond-escape further away on the property. 

Deck and Patio set the extra waterfall (left) at the top of a slope facing the clients’ indoor kitchen.

“From inside their home the family can enjoy the sights and sounds of this waterfall. A stream on its right flows down through five separate cascades into the lower, and more private pond area — a beautiful oasis for stillness and quiet,” says Dave.

 

Main Pond:

Main Pond:

This photo is the main pond of the additional waterfall above which was located near their destination-pool recreation area in another part of their property.

 

When Property Space Is Smaller

 

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

Fitting Ponds Into Tight Spaces

When space is at a premium (and even when it’s not), Deck and Patio can help clients find ways to creatively add a pond. 

The above photo showcases a Trex deck with two handsome “platform” staircases; we installed a beautiful micro pond and waterfall in and around the staircases in what was a former planting bed. 

“Every time they enter or leave the house they enjoy the sounds and sights of a delightful pond,” says Dave. “So space is never an issue at all.”

 

Waterfalls Without The Pond

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Pondless Waterfall/Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

When children are very young, clients often opt for a “pondless” waterfall, in lieu of a pond.

With these water features, river rock allows flowing water from a waterfall to seep down into the ground where a reservoir captures the water and recirculates it.

“Of course, having a pondless waterfall does not mean that it can’t be adorned with robust plantings, especially when you consider that you’ve not had the added expense of any extra labor and materials required in creating a pond,” says Dave.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

A pondless system, as show in this Deck and Patio project, 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.

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.

 

As you can see from these projects above, size and style depends on what meets the needs of each specific client. “Our ponds are never cookie-cutter,” says Dave. “The design and installation location always stems from our meetings with clients and visits to their properties.”

 

The Deck and Patio Company Awarded Best of Houzz 2021

A few days before we got the good news, we heard from Houzz that our “photos have been saved 377 times on their platform in the last three months!”

Then, within days, we were given the great news that The Deck and Patio Company — that is, our entire team of outdoor living experts — had won a “Best of Houzz” award for Design.” 

About Houzz

As many of our readers know, Houzz is a leading platform for home renovation and design. It is thrilling to know that we were chosen by the millions of homeowners that comprise the Houzz community — and selected from more than 2.5 million active building and design industry professionals who post on their platform.

Houzz’s design awards honor professionals whose work was the most popular among the Houzz community. A “Best of Houzz 2021” badge appears on winners’ page profiles on their site as a sign of a company’s commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

Houzz is available on the web and as a top-rated mobile app. It is headquartered in Palo Alto, California and has international offices abroad.

Our Projects

So! Would you like to see some of the photos that have been downloaded recently on Houzz? Don’t be surprised if you’ve seen some of these photos before. We’ve shared them on our social media pages where they are just as popular. 

We’ve divided them into two categories for this blog post.

 

First. Decks!

Houzz Best in Design: Favorite Deck and Patio Decks

Houzz Best in Design: Favorite Deck and Patio Decks

 

Next. Custom Spools and Spas!

 

Favorite Deck and Patio Spas on Houzz

Favorite Deck and Patio Spas on Houzz

 

The above are only a few of popular Deck and Patio project photos on Houzz. We’ll keep sharing more in the near future!

Watch this space.

Swim-Up Bars: Turning Your Backyard Pool Into a Full-Blown Resort

Many hope that very soon we’ll all be able to have a backyard bash, teaming with friends and family. Because of this eagerness, we can’t resist thinking about what amenities we want to share with them — once we get the “all clear.”

Riviera Maya Caribbean Resort

Riviera Maya Caribbean Resort

One popular feature to add to a swimming pool is the swim-up bar. 

This upgrade is reminiscent of Caribbean and South Sea resort vacations (left), and once you add a swim-up bar, all you’ll need to complete the resort experience are those drink-umbrellas for your Mojitos and Piña Coladas. 

Adults really love swim-up bars because they can stay in the pool while having a drink. But it’s also a great spot for swimmers and backyard strollers to meet up and talk, without the swimmers having to get out of the pool.

“If these are designed well,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, “swim-up bars can be also used as a dry bar — that is they can be enjoyed from its other side.”

Deck and Patio 38-Foot Swim Up Bar

Deck and Patio 38-Foot Swim Up Bar

In fact, Deck and Patio specializes in creating bars that do just that — do double duty as a dry bar and swim-up. Take, for example, this stunning bar shown here (top left of photo). 

It’s really enjoyable to swim up to this 38-foot “swim-up bar”with submerged barstools.

“The key is each swim-up bar should be unique, designed and custom-made for each project,” says Dave. “Whether it’s the bar’s counter-top, any necessary retaining walls, masonry work, in-pool stools, electrical and plumbing work, it takes skill and experience to ensure it’s perfectly functional, safe, and beautiful.”

And as you can see from this Deck and Patio swim-up, it’s also a dry bar on the other side.

 

Swim-Up Bars Shade Structures

Shade Structures

Shade Structures

 

While not necessary, a shade structure with the swim-up bar is frequently requested. As a licensed contractor, Deck and Patio is well known across Long Island for award-winning design and custom building.

Some shade structure options are:

 

 

 

— shade pergolas, 

— trellises, 

— gazebos and 

— pavilions. 

 

“A shade structure should blend harmoniously with other elements in your yard and can include everything from an outdoor kitchen, pizza oven, fireplace,” says Dave. “With such additions, your guests can enjoy dining, as well as drinks, from your swim-up bar.” 

The main point, of course, is to have sufficient sun protection in that part of your yard and pool.

 

Lagoon-style Swimming Pool

Lagoon-style Swimming Pool

In addition to a dramatic waterfall area, a stunning Cambridge paver patio and water slide, these clients wanted a swim-up bar with in-pool stools, and Tiki umbrellas. 

Landscaping: Throughout this backyard retreat, smaller groups of boulders were fitted with plantings for natural and attractive retaining areas.

The photo below shows the other side of the swim up bar with examples of the landscaped boulders and plants.

 

True Backyard Retreat

True Backyard Retreat

“With True Blue Swimming Pool’s beautiful pool, the clients got what everything they wanted, a full oasis that “wows,” says Dave.

 

Deck and Patio Swim-Up Bar

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: This is an example of combining many elements — use landscaping, a swim-up bar, pool waterfalls, natural retaining wall, shade structure,  etc. — to create a true enticing backyard resort.

Making the Most of 2021’s Outdoor Living Season

Google Earth

Google Earth

Even though winter isn’t over, many are already wondering how to make the most of the 2021 outdoor living season. Just the possibility of welcoming friends again to our backyards, and not just close family, is thrilling to imagine.

Whether or not a reduced pandemic will allow such outdoor bashes, we know we will be able to bust loose at some point. So as we gaze over our yards, imagining what upgrades we’d like, Deck and Patio has some outdoor living spaces ideas. 

 

When to Plan

 

You might think you should postpone landscape upgrades until spring.

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

Insert A. Landscape Planning Via Google Earth 

Even if the ground is covered in snow, adds Dave, our experts don’t need to see the ground to begin. Plus, with the computer software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process is surprisingly quick — even providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look after the work is done.

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

 

Backyard Upgrade on a Budget

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you will see from the before photo (above left), space is often tight. Even so, this Massapequa couple hankered to enjoy their backyard more.

“Space was definitely at a premium,” says Dave. “So in lieu of what would have been a more expensive pool, the couple decided on a hot tub, installed with a custom look, in-ground, which would also made it easier to get in and out of.”

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they wanted something beautiful to look at while in it. They certainly did not want to be facing their home’s siding, or even just a plain line of healthy evergreens. The idea of a pond, with soothing waterfall, and colorful koi swimming about that they could feed right from the hot tub, was the perfect complement (see right photo), 

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, custom hot tub installation, and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool.

 

Large Pond Under Stone Bridge

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after the owner purchased his property, he contacted us. An entrance he had to drive over each day, on his way to and from work, had not been kept up for many years.

He asked us to accentuate the property’s beautiful 1880 bridge structure with a man-made reflecting pond. Our design allowed the pre-existing bridge’s entire stone gazebo to be reflected in the pond water. 

The water feature we designed and built was more than 240-feet-long and 60-feet-wide, so it also captured the surrounding landscape. Plus, such a wonderful expanse of water made the perfect habitat for koi. 

Our team ensured the pond design included lots of flowing water, with rock overhangs, and plenty of space for pond fish to hide and thrive. Such a design makes it difficult for natural predators to reach the fish.

The stone bridge with turret creates a stunning pond reflection in its crystal clear water, doesn’t it?

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A family in Dix Hills, NY, called on Deck and Patio when they decided to update their 1980”s backyard pool area (see above before/after photos above). Their old wood deck and red brick patios were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. But they couldn’t come up with a complete plan themselves to transform the space.

“We suggested a unique idea to deal with the large wall behind the pool and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.”

Stepping stones in front of the waterfall makes it possible to walk right up to the waterfall — like being on a Caribbean vacation. The teaming waterfall flows into a “pondless” waterfall system, capturing the water under ground, filtering it, and recirculating it.

The plan also called for draining the pool and removing the liner; a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered and we straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl-covered stairs were added to the pool, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

 

New Modern Deck

 

“During Construction”

“During Construction”

“Completed Construction”

“Completed Construction”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Centerport, NY, homeowners were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. Their wish list included: an attractive modern-looking deck from where they could best appreciate their view; a deck/railing that did not in any way obstruct the view; and a conveniently placed portable spa.

It was clear a two-story deck was needed. But we realized that the deck also needed to be large enough to allow designated areas for grilling, dining, lounging and hot tubbing. Plus, the railing would need special consideration.

An important choice for this Trex Deck project was the steel cable railing by Feeney does not obstruct the water views from any place on the deck. Deck and Patio built a custom spa “cradle” as a mount for their new hot tub. This positioned the spa so they could enjoy the views when inside the tub.

 

New Backyard ‘Spool’

 

"Before"

“Before”

“After”

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio built this backyard ‘spool” (a cross between a spa and pool) several years ago. The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provide the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa. Lush plantings and a new patio completed their new backyard retreat.

So even if it snows, or blasts cold, yu can stay warm but still start planning your new backyard upgrade. 

 

Lush Landscapes

Lush Landscapes

 

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: Note how vibrant, lush landscaping enhances any outdoor space — be it patio, pool area, and even around a spa. 

 

Pantone Colors for 2021: Bright Yellow Against Silver Gray

Pantone’s 2021 Color is yellow against gray

Pantone’s 2021 Color is yellow against gray

As part of our landscaping work, Deck and Patio designers frequently receive requests for plants in the latest popular colors. So we won’t be surprised to be asked for plantings in the vein of Pantone’s Color(s) for this year: highlighter-yellow against architectural gray.

Choosing two contrasting colors is an unusual choice for Pantone. So it’s helpful to look at why they did this. 

“In a time when we’ve had to insulate ourselves from the world and curl up in monochrome blankets at home, our gray is a dependable gray,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director at Pantone Color Institute.

And if Pantone’s gray evokes American’s mental state this year, their contrasting “bright, highlighter-yellow color is the light at the end of the tunnel, the sun rising over a dark landscape.”

Our own Dave Stockwell adds, “Light at the end of the tunnel is a great way to describe how some of our clients feel about the coming year. They’re not making landscaping plans just for living under COVID, but also for how they want things to be once they can invite lots of people back to their homes.”

Even if Long Islanders don’t have big plans for property upgrades, says Dave, many may wish to include touches of this year’s Pantone colors in their landscape plans. Dramatic yellow blooms set against gray paving stones, for example, could be one perfect way to bring that color combo into one’s yard. 

Here are just two of many “gray” designs offered by paver manufacturers — in this case,  Techo-Bloc, a popular company chosen by many Deck and Patio clients.

 

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Granitex

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Granitex

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Polished

Techo-Bloc’s Industria Polished

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly, planting some dazzling yellow plants around such gray pavers (above) would be stunning, we believe.

 

Yellow-Gray Plantings

Another way to bring some Pantone hues to your property could be simply to choose plants that boast both of Panatone’s 2021 tones.

 

Silver Leaf Gazania

This low-growing ground cover plant with masses of silver leaves erupts in lots of yellow flowers during the year’s warmer months. It’s a truly hardy plant that can take even harsh conditions. Sometimes referred to as the African daisy, this plant needs little attention. We use this plant in combination with other low growers. They make a nice edge along the grass. Gazania grows to between 6 and 18 inches.

Silver Leaf Gazania

Silver Leaf Gazania

 

 

Santolina chamaecyparissus aka Cotton Lavender

This semi-woody plant, often called Cotton Lavender or gray Santolina, is an aromatic smallish shrub that boasts silvery gray foliate. It grows to 2-feet tall and 3-feet wide and you’ll see masses of yellow flowers in summer. “Householders may love drying the plants flowers for use in potpourris and also use it as a striking accent plant,” says Dave Stockwell. “Its leaves aren’t flat but three dimensional. We also use it as ground cover and is great weaved in between rocks,” says Dave.

 

Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus

Cotton Lavender/Santolina chamaecyparissus

 

Silver King Artemisia (Artemisia ludoviciana ‘Silver King’)

Another option is to choose a silvery ground cover planted next to bright yellow coneflowers, like the Silver King Artemisia. Be warned, it is a very aggressive plant, but with care it can enhance your garden. And its silvery foliage can act as accents in decorative wreaths. Ideal for filling in an area that can use some rapid expansive growth, all you need are some bright happy coneflowers or other yellow buds and you’re beautifully on trend.

 

 

Silver King Artemisia

Silver King Artemisia

 

 

 

Don’t Miss Out on Winter’s Stunning Serenity Escapes

Even if you don’t have a water feature in your backyard, whenever winter chills come calling, Mother Nature draws stunning serenity escapes elsewhere that are worthy of drawing us outdoors.

Nearby public parks, for example, usually have waterscapes, including ponds — all made picturesquel by the deep freeze. 

Taking time to enjoy such scenes in winter has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious peaceful escape. Canadian reports show that being outside in the sun can help “combat the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is especially helpful as we social distance during COVID. 

And if the beauty and sunshine are not enough, these same reports also say that being outside in the cold causes us to expend more energy, thereby burning away “some of those holiday cookie calories.”

 

Enjoying Waterscapes in Winter

Personal Fountainscape

Personal Fountainscape

“As you can see from our photos today, water features aren’t just phenomenal in spring, summer and fall,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “When winter gets her hands on a local water feature, she creates stunning pictures in the icy cold.”

And even a small decorative waterscape located at your home — like this fountain/miniature pond (left) — can be serene in winter months. Note how the small trickle of water becomes a jeweled thread of ice in intense cold. 

 

Commercial Property Fountainscape

Commercial Property Fountainscape

 

 

Plus water fountains are not just for our backyards or public parks. They are a wonderful indulgence at business offices. As you can see from this winter scene (right), they are a year-round uplift for management and staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the temperature drops

Winter photo of D&P project 

Winter photo of D&P project

Same pond in warmer weather

Same pond in warmer weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here on Long Island, winter is more sporadic in its assaults so it’s possible to keep a personal water feature flowing in winter. This allows homeowners to enjoy ice sculptures whenever the cold stays around for a bit.

Take for example, the waterfalls we created a few years back as part of a double-pond, stream and multiple-waterfall feature for an area family (see two photos immediately above).

Months later, when we stopped by during a strong cold snap, we couldn’t resist taking a photo of the sparkling waterfalls as they were partially crystalizing.

Note: Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form.

But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.

 

Pond Fish

Happy Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc.)

Happy Pond Fish in Winter: (Photo/Aquascape Inc.)

 

Speaking of pond fish. You might not be able to see your little fishies all that well when the temperature drops because they’re not as active. But they do just fine during winter.

That said, our own Dave Stockwell does caution to be alert. When ice covers your personal property’s pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen. 

This can be remedied as long as you give them:

 

 

 

•two feet of water to swim in,

•oxygenate the water,

•and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator.

 

 

 

The hole allows the naturally-produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascape Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick, suggests using a pond de-icer.

“This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“

Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.

That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring.

The fish do not need to eat during this time. In fact, they shouldn’t be fed at all.

 

 

Upshot? Don’t miss out on winter’s serenity escapes. They do us more good than meets the eye. Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

Upshot? Don’t miss out on winter’s serenity escapes. They do us more good than meets the eye. Photo: Aquascape, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscaping Upgrades: Let Us Worry About the Weather!

Because this spool has remained a popular download across our social media platforms even today, we thought readers would like to see some of our file photos for this project. 

These capture its various stages — from the first marking of the grass during very cold months, to the finished landscaped custom spool with waterfall. When we started out, it was cold and snow did (temporarily) interrupt the project. . 

Short Summary

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

As you will see from the process of this project, winter was upon us not long after we began. Of course, winter in our neck of the woods does not always mean snowy or even frozen ground and we do a lot of construction during the cold months.  

For this project, fortunately, we had had time to dig out the area before we had a big snow — giving a great head start come spring. We simply covered the hole while we all waited for warmer weather to arrive.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

 

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

 

“During” Spring As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

“During” Waterfall Addition: The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

“During” Waterfall Addition:
The huge boulders required for a natural-looking waterfall can weigh tons and special machinery is needed to put them in place.

 

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

“After” Landscaping: First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

When Do Backyard Upgrades Require Design/Build Expertise?

Fall, and even winter, are great times to do outdoor upgrades. And if your needs are simple ground-level upgrades, they can be done pretty much by anyone.

But if your property’s terrain is challenging, or your outdoor living dreams call for more artistically designed spaces, the advantages of choosing a “design-build” firm is worth consideration.

What Is Design-Build Construction?

Design-build inside contractors provide the architectural design for a project as well as its construction. This is also true for “outdoor living” contractors like Deck and Patio.

“Choosing one firm to do the design as well as the construction doesn’t cause the project’s costs to be more expensive than hiring two groups of experts,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Nor will clients lose all control either.”

On the contrary, adds Dave. Clients find they develop a closer relationship with their design-build project manager, who knows all that’s going on and can easily accommodate their changing needs/ideas as the project develops.

As you’ll see from the examples of some of our work that we’ve included today, when it comes to outdoor living projects, having a singular vision — which might include plantings, waterscapes, and hardscape — results in beautifully harmonious backyard escapes.

 

Pool Landscaping

 

Multi-level Patio Design

Multi-level Patio Design

For this handsome free-form pool, Deck and Patio designed a surrounding patio using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with AmorTec.

“The kit allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern, with gradations in tones,” says Dave.

“Also, our several in-depth consultations with the clients helped us know their needs and tastes, resulting in its multi-level patio design, with designated spaces for all their priorities — dining, lounging, etc.”

Plus, adding a water feature on one side of the pool, along with a pool slide, not only was alluring, adds Dave, but the moss rock boulder placements and landscaping do double-duty as a natural-looking retaining area for the pool.

 

Backyard Water Features

Natural Looking Water Feature Design

Natural Looking Water Feature Design

 

Designing and building a backyard water feature takes time, especially if you want your man-made feature to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. 

This requires ordering and installing perfect-sized rocks and boulders which will cause water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or, in this case, a ‘pondless’ water feature.

 

 

 

Designing/Building for Privacy

Backyard ‘Spool’

Backyard ‘Spool’

Sometimes the need for privacy is an issue when designing for comfortable outdoor living. This property, for example, was open on three sides and in full view of four homes.

“The clients wanted a ‘spool’ — or a cross between a small pool and a spa — but the best spot for it was in a very exposed area,” says Dave.

Deck and Patio’s landscaping design team used Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars to create an attractive natural privacy screen around the spool. In addition, texture and color were brought in to the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

“We also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers to cascade and wind over and between the rocks we installed,” says Dave. “Plus a careful selection of plants provides the area with color from April through October. The whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

This project was actually built during winter months. Next week our blog will focus on how that project was designed, built, and completed including dealing with the worst of winter. 

 

Design/Build Decks

Deck Built To Enjoy the Views

Deck Designed/Built To Enjoy the Views

For this project, privacy was not an issue for the clients. In fact, they wanted it as open as possible to take in the property’s wonderful views.

“We designed a 2-level TimberTech XLM PVC deck for them, with one level just for the outdoor dining table, and the other places for deep seating outdoor furniture like chaise lounges and the barbecue,” says Dave.

”We also recommended the black railing for a strong contrasting tone to the decking materials. The design also included 45-degree angles in order to orient the outdoor furniture toward the views.”

 

 

Turning Landscape Design Problems Into Advantages

Since we’ve been spending so much more time at home these days, lots of Long Islanders are viewing their home properties through a critical lens. Every flaw is becoming enlarged.

And, indeed, some flaws are genuinely problematic —  if they limit what can be done in the yard, and/or the enjoyment of being outside.

We’re happy to offer encouragement today. Because very often, landscaping design issues can become advantages.

Let’s begin with noting the three biggest issues: 

 

1— Noise from nearby traffic can be very annoying when trying to enjoy time outside.

2 —Privacy can be an issue when neighborhood properties flow together with no separation.

3 —Soil erosion along steep grades — often the most challenging —  seem to limit what can be done in the yard.

 

Let’s tackle the most difficult of these first.

 

Soil Erosion/Sloping Grades 

Like with these two Deck and Patio projects, even when there is a steep grade, the addition (or rearrangement of) boulders, rocks and plantings can transform a problem area into a real advantage.

 

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural Retaining Wall for Pool

Natural Stone Path to Slide

Natural Stone Path to Slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the first photo (above left), in order to add a pool, a retaining wall of support was needed to hold back the grade. Instead of an unattractive wooden one, Deck and Patio suggested the addition of boulders etc. as the ideal spot for several waterfalls and a water slide nestled into the slope . This turned the area into a natural vista that enhances, instead of takes away, from the family’s enjoyment of their yard.

The photo (above right) shows how for another Long Island, NY, project, in addition to adding water features, a natural stone path up to the top of the slide can also be as beautiful as helpful. Not only are the steps attractive and in keeping with the rest of the design, but they serve as additional support in retaining the grade.

In both projects, we also added different shaped stones as diving rocks and the overall landscaping plan utilized colorful plantings to aid in soil retention.

 

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

7-ft Waterfall Replaces Old Retaining Wall

 

This is a third example (right) of Deck and Patio’s handling of a soil erosion/retaining grade issue. Here, Deck and Patio replaced an old double 4-foot wooden retaining wall and water slide with a 7-foot-high water feature.

“When we did this project, we actually removed an existing slide that went in to their old pool,” says Dave Stockwell.

“Instead of adding a new slide, we used the space for a ‘pond-less’ waterfall system by Aquascape that filters and collects water flow underground and recirculates it.

We even added a stepping stone path in front of the waterfall so they can stroll right past it — as if they were on vacation in the Caribbean or the like.”

 

 

Blocking Out Traffic Noise 

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Waterfalls Block Out Unwanted Noise

Deck and Patio loves constructing water features for their beauty and peaceful ambience but did you know they are also a way to eliminate traffic and other outdoor noises?

This closeup (left) of a backyard stream with waterfalls was added to the yard of Roslyn, NY, Deck and Patio clients. It is the main waterfall in a series of several that flow down moss rocks in a very natural-looking way.

These clients also did not want a pond, so we used the same Aquascpe Inc. equipment that captures the water underground in an reservoir where it is filtered and recirculated — making it very eco-friendly.

You might be thinking, will a waterfall really drown out traffic noise? The following video of a single Deck and Patio waterfall falling into a custom spa gives you an idea of how effective a waterfall can be to reduce noise.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Privacy

 

Privacy for Backyard ‘Spool’

Privacy for Backyard ‘Spool’

We all want to enjoy the outdoors with some feeling of privacy. That can be especially true when we have a pool or a spa.

For these clients, where space was at a premium, the clients wanted a ‘spool’ (combined pool/spa), but the property had no natural barriers for privacy.

“When making the landscaping design we planned for color from April through late-October,” says Dave. “And in order to ensure they’d have an attractive privacy screen, we added Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars along the periphery. For more texture and color and additional buffering dividers, the plan called for flowering deciduous shrubs.”

The clients not only got privacy but an extended outdoor season, adds Dave. “The waterfall runs warm water in the cooler months and along with a natural gas campfire, they can stay sitting outside whether in or out of their spool.”

 

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