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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. 

 

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. 

 

Antidote for a ‘Winter’ Polar Vortex? Planning a ‘Summer’ Vortex Slide

Central Park, NY

Central Park, NY

Weather reports say that around the end of this month a ‘displaced’ polar vortex might overtake our area with freezing temperatures and storms. 

Whether or not the weather in our part of the Northeast becomes brutal, the timing — end of January — is ideal for planning a more fun ‘Vortex’ that will thrill your family come summer.

We’re talking about an exciting swimming pool slide.

 

Outdoor Summer Thrills

Vortex Slide

Vortex Slide

As many families know, Vortex, Typhoon, or Cyclone, even, describe exciting rides at waterparks. And like other enjoyable amenities that once required travel, homeowners are bringing those very waterpark thrills to their own backyards. 

 

There are several companies whose frightening-sounding water slides offer such home excitement: e.g., S.R. Smith (Cyclone, Turbo Twister, Typhoon, Vortex.), Aquaslide (Jungle Joe and Jungle Joe II), Inter-Fab (Wild Ride Slides)

 

 

Indeed, Deck and Patio has been involved in installing such slides on Long Island and the New York Metro area for years. Their sizes and shapes have varied, as well as the scope of the project installations — depending on the client’s budget, property size, and the amount of adrenaline rush desired.

Of course, you can have a slide, on its own, well-secured to your pool without any special landscaping. Or you can have a landscaping firm like Deck and Patio design/build a special setting around the slide you choose.

Beyond even that, SR Smith makes a slide that can be custom-built to fit your existing landscape or future landscape plans. BYOS 1 and BYOS 2 slides are configured and designed to fit your plans and ideas.

“One thing very special about BYOS,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell “is they can be can be set into a sloped landscape to look almost natural or just plan funky and fun. You decide everything. That’s the real fun of it.”

 

Wild Ride Slide: Fun for Kids and Adults

Wild Ride Slide: Fun for Kids and Adults

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. “When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall when climbing up its steps, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” adds Dave. “Also note that next to this Wild Ride water slide with its water falling into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over extended rock.

 

Slide’s Side Benefit

No matter if the scope of the project is big or small, after it’s installed, clients discover something often unexpected. When not in use by thrill-seekers, the calming sounds of water spilling from the slide into their pool transforms their Cyclone, Typhoon, Wild Ride etc. into a gentle water feature.

So readers: You learned it here first. Water slides aren’t just for thrills. On any given day, they can also help you relax. And there’ll be nothing more relaxing during any ‘polar vortex’ than planning some warm weather thrills.

 

Access to Pool Slide:

Access to Pool Slide:

It is important to have sufficient room to allow easy access to the slide and any surrounding patio. For this project, in order to cut back on having too much hardscape, we used stepping stones up from the patio to the slide, which are more in keeping with the slide’s natural setting.

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

Talk about thrills! Deck and Patio created this award-winning feature several years ago. It called for installing a large serpentine slide around a huge moss rock water feature.

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

This is the same slide project as pictured immediately above. When we worked on this water feature, we added large natural stones for the climb up to the top of the slide. Also note how an additional waterfall from the hilltop stream falls into the slide itself for an additional thrill.

 

Natural Retaining Walls:

Natural Retaining Walls:

When planning out this project, we suggested using Rocka steps, moss rock boulders, and creeping plant material instead of the usual retaining wall. This more natural setting provided the sloping landscape required for a fun pool slide.

 

BYOS Custom Slide:

BYOS Custom Slide:

This slide is not one of ours. It was custom built by BYOS for Pulliam Pools in Texas. It’s a great example of perfectly fitting a custom-slide into a beautiful landscape plan. Photo: Courtesy of BYOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Design Can Enhance Your Property’s Views

It doesn’t matter what precious views your property offers — a dramatic or minor water view, woodlands, waterfall, pond, garden, stunning swimming pool or simply one majestic tree — your landscaping can and should be planned to enhance it.

 

Waterside Views

Vanishing Edge Pond/Upper of Two Ponds

Vanishing Edge Pond/Upper of Two Ponds

“This first Deck and Patio project (left/top of page) consisted of two man-made ponds,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

“Water features like this one, when correctly designed, positioned, and constructed, can provide a transforming experience in one’s life.” 

The project’s Long Island, NY, homeowners had originally wanted a vanishing edge swimming pool designed to extend their already sumptuous water views right up to their back door.

“Unfortunately, town setback codes would not permit a swimming pool in that spot,” says Dave. “But after more creative discussions by our design team, we learned that a vanishing edge ‘pond’ was acceptable and the homeowners agreed. 

The first of the two ponds serves as a truly captivating infinity edge expanse that melts into the horizon, just like the homeowners wanted; a second lower pond nearer the house was built as a natural swimming pond.” 

For more information on this project, click here.

 

 

Centerport, NY Deck Project

Centerport, NY Deck Project

Outdoor enthusiasts both, for this Centerport, Long Island project (right), the couple wanted a very attractive, modern-looking deck on which to enjoy the outdoors and their beautiful water views, as well as a conveniently placed portable spa.

Of course, the perfect height and positioning of a new deck was essential. Also key was the deck railing we chose. 

“They did not want the deck or spa to block their property’s views in any way,” says Dave.

For this Trex deck project, the least noticeable part was perhaps the most important: the deck’s stainless steel cable railing. Like the deck, it is delightfully maintenance free and elegant.

More to the point, the cable railing does not obstruct the yard’s languid water views from any place on the deck — even when people are sitting.

Cable rails – sometimes called “wire rope” railings – are safety rail infill that substitute horizontal or vertical cables for spindles, and, in this case, they were an ideal choice. 

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.

Note: We used Trex “Lava Rock” Transend decking for this project.

 

 

Custom Multi-Level Deck (Bellmore/NY):

Custom Multi-Level Deck (Bellmore/NY):

After a hurricane, a Bellmore family needed a new deck. They were owners of a waterside property — whose home was located on a bay off the Atlantic.

The backdoor of this home is set high above ground. In order to bring the outdoor space up to the same level as the home, Deck and Patio’s team divided the deck into three levels leading from the door, down to a new freeform vinyl pool and beautiful deck surround.

After visiting the site, Deck and Patio was inspired to design/build a new 3-tier Trex deck and free-form vinyl pool to replace what was lost. And a priority of our deck design was to create viewing spaces set at the right angles and heights to take maximum advantage of the lovely water views available. 

 

 

Pond Viewing

Another majestic pond we built included a stone island. From that island the homeowners can relax on a deck chair. Talk about maximizing views. 

 

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY

 

“Our clients asked us to put smaller stepping stones out to a larger stone island — in the middle of the man-made natural pond we created for them,” says Dave. 

“The addition of two Adirondack chairs present a perfect spot to feed and watch the koi, and listen to the pond’s waterfalls.”

 

 

 

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls Near Beautiful Woodland (Long Island/NY)

Waterfalls Near Beautiful Woodland (Long Island/NY)

What a scene to relax by.

Deck and Patio coaxed a gentle stream over rocks into several waterfalls. Lily pads wait on croaking frogs. Ornamental grasses wave in the breeze, and flowering perennials add color and charm.

“The backdrop of woodlands was, of course, designed and created by Mother Nature. But by carving out a spot for a waterfall and small pond, enhanced by lush landscaping, it is the perfect way to appreciate their property’s natural gifts.”

 

 

 

Backyard Oasis: These Days, Home Is Where It’s At

You might be missing summer concerts, well-attended barbecues, and other larger-group activities. At least activities that don’t include masks and social distancing. But creating that backyard retreat you’ve always wanted, even if just for family right now, does offer some compensations.

Take, for example, this project we did for clients a little while ago. They wanted a pool, with a waterfall and handsome patio, and they also wanted a “spillover” spa. But in speaking with them we learned something. They also wanted to be able to use their spa all year round. Hot tubs help you relax, and it’s understandable they want that option throughout the seasons.

“Most custom in-ground spas, especially spillovers,” says Dave Stockwell, “are connected to the pool’s functions. This means when the pool is shut down  — usually by late September here on Long Island — the spa gets shut down, too. Our solution was rather than build the usual connecting cement spa, to install a portable hot in a way that looked built in — and with a waterfall just below it.”

The clients agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted, especially since they would also get the superb hydrotherapy benefits from the massage jets — and have those benefits, whenever.

The neat thing is that from inside the pool and many parts of the patio, this second pool waterfall just below the spa gives the appearance that the water’s coming out from the spa— or that it’s a spillover spa.

 

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa

The movement in the pool’s free form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow — ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely backyard oasis for a long time to come. 

And what about during seasons when the pool is closed? There’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area outside of pool season so the view from the hot tub remains very pleasant.

 

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

Amenities abound in this backyard retreat: beautiful free-form vinyl pool, moss rock waterfalls, diving rock, tanning shelf, spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio.

 

Spill Over Spa:

Spill Over Spa:

Deck and Patio set the portable spa all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it — and added a moss rock waterfall just beneath that splashes into the pool. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, the waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground spa.

 

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Next to the Wild Ride slide that also spills water into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over an extended rock.

 

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

The free-form vinyl pool was designed with an expansive tanning shelf that boasts room for two large S-shaped recliners. Having no legs, the recliners sit right in the water for a comfortable way to keep cool and sunbathe at the same time.

 

Cambridge Paver Patio:

Cambridge Paver Patio:

The handsome patio/pool surround is made with durable Cambridge Ledgestone XL “Toffee Onyx Light” pavers (Sherwood Collection). These pavers come in 3-piece design kits for a beautiful random design.

 

Portable Spa Installation:

Portable Spa Installation:

We left one side of the spa exposed to make it easy to get to the plumbing operation of the hot tub. However, when looking at it from the patio or pool area, it appears to be all in-ground.

 

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

APSP Bronze Award): To provide the look the clients wanted – a custom spillover spa — along with year-round use, we built the portable hot tub all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it. Bluestone stepping stones allow for more softscape to be seen.

 

So, life may not be back to where we want it, but fortunately, if budget and space permit, there can be some compensations. 

In Times of Stress, Americans Seek Safe Outdoor Spaces

According to the Washington Post this week, one way Americans have been seeking refuge during the pandemic is by visiting botanical gardens. Out in the air, well away from others, they can stroll amid nature’s beauty, and like the iconic image of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat, throw off with joy their uncomfortable protective masks.

While the Post’s main focus was on visiting botanical gardens — which can be a wonderful outing for enjoyable social distancing — some of Deck and Patio’s clients are creating peace-evoking scenic spots right in their own yards.

 

Creating a ‘Breathe-Free Refuge’ at Home

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

Sometimes you can combine a refuge designed for peaceful relaxation with other more practical needs.

This photo (left), for example, shows how Deck and Patio designed/built a “natural” retaining wall for some clients. 

“Retaining walls can be pretty boring to look at,” says Dave Stockwell. “But they don’t have to be. Here a ‘natural’ retaining wall includes a ‘pondless’ water feature. The water from the waterfall is captured underground, in a safe area where very young children can’t access it. From there, the water is filtered and recirculated.”

In addition, this retaining area has been installed with lush plantings, river rock and natural stone steps which together with the water feature create a beautiful nature walk — all while serving the purpose of holding back the grade.

Dave notes that the reserved underground tank water never stagnates because it is continuously circulated up from the underground pond via the waterfall.

 

Sometimes You Want a Pond

 

Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

These clients (above) didn’t have young toddlers and wanted a full pond. Their completed water feature system consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond, and it is the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. 

Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are just some of the various plants brightening this pondscape.

 

Children Love Koi

Children Love Koi

 

Koi ponds were once a characteristic of Japanese gardens, but have been growing in popularity around the world, including Long Island.

And why not. Listening to the sounds of trickling water, while watching colorful koi swim around throughout several seasons is transforming. 

Whether it’s built near a patio, bridge or deck, this water feature is an attraction to more than adults.

Children love ponds, including feeding koi. It’s truly interactive in that way.

This pond (right) is owned by Brian Helfrich of Aquascape Inc. — the company that makes the water feature systems that Deck and Patio uses.

 

 

 

Sometimes a Garden Is Enough

Water features are wonderful but you can create a perfect place to de-stress without one. 

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Note how the colorful plantings, moss rocks and deep green ground cover (above) line the steps leading to the clients’ charming wooden bridge.  

With or without water features, it is a lovely spot to enjoy your backyard oasis. By adding this garden bridge, “It became a favorite spot for the homeowners,” says Dave.

 

 Backyard Strolling

Backyard Strolling (Long Island/NY)

This completed walking/strolling area, like most of our projects, was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it were designed by Mother Nature herself.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” In addition to being a delight for the eyes, such a spot offers wonderful scents which the family can breathe in — mask-free. 

“Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting, especially today,” says Dave. “A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you absorb the beauty and quiet.”

 

Feature Photo at Top of Page: Above a natural retaining wall, Deck and Patio carved out a patio area with waterfall for the clients where they can sit after a stroll and breathe it all in.

 

 

Outdoor Living: How to Block Out Traffic Noise

When you’re trying to enjoy time in your yard, noise from nearby traffic can be very annoying. Such was the case for these Deck and Patio clients. Their home is located in the heart of Queens, a borough of New York City, and is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic and noise. 

In such a city atmosphere, even adding the pool and patio they asked for wouldn’t provide the escape they desired. To create for them a real backyard oasis, we had to block out the noise and oppressive atmosphere.

“We’ve found that one of the best ways to screen out noise is a sizable waterfall,” says Deck and Patio’s own Dave Stockwell. “Our clients agreed and opted for one that would provide pleasant splashing sounds into their backyard’s new vinyl-lined pool.”

 

Backyard Noise Barriers:

Backyard Noise Barriers:

Water cascading over rock into another water pool is a natural sound barrier that is peaceful and soothing to the soul.

 

In addition to the waterfall, the clients also wanted another noise barrier — a 12-foot-high concrete block wall. 

“While a wall like that is truly useful for privacy as well as a noise barrier, it can be oppressive in itself,” says Dave.

So the next challenge for our designers was to soften the wall’s appearance. One thing great about interior and exterior walls is they make an ideal canvas. 

“First, we planted bamboo around its perimeter,” says Dave. “Bamboo can be invasive so we encased the woody grass with concrete blocks to limit its spreading.”

 

Backyard Refuge:

Backyard Refuge:

The sounds of the waterfalls, the colorful landscaping including the bamboo and the dramatic concrete block wall give a sense of refuge in this bustling part of one of America’s five largest cities.

 

Living Walls

Living Walls

 

 

Taking full advantage of the wall, Deck and Patio designed and supervised the layout of a “living wall” that can hold multiple-sized pots for plants.

When completed, the living wall became living art — changing in color and shape almost daily.

The result: the clients may live in a busy part of New York City, but during outdoor living season — every spare moment they can muster— is spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

 

 

 

Pool Waterfalls:

Pool Waterfalls:

The free-form vinyl-liner pool includes boulder coping, and a moss rock waterfall with robust plantings that help beautify the wall.

 

Techo-Bloc Patios:

Techo-Bloc Patios:

The pool’s surrounding patio is made from Techo-Bloc pavers that complement the 12-foot-high wall and smaller concrete encasement for the bamboo.

 

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