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Mini Pools Make the Most of Small Yards and Budgets

Whether you call it a mini pool, spool, plunge pool, wading pool or cocktail pool, small pools are growing in popularity. Not requiring as much space or cost as a regular pool, often face fewer building restrictions, and are ideal for small families, properties and budgets.

On Pinterest, for example, posts showcase a wide range of mini pool shapes and amenities. Indeed, Deck and Patio has posted our own projects there. For we’ve been creating a version of these mini pools for some time. 

The ones we’ve most often designed/built we’ve termed “spools” or a combination of pool and spa. But they are a type of mini pool.

And if you think that this is an odd time of year to be thinking about pools, mini or not, you might be surprised to learn that we begin building one of our popular spools on Pinterest in fall, completing it in spring. 

Here’s that Deck and Patio spool story.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

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.

 

‘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. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

 

 

“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’ 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.

‘During’ 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.

 

 

‘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.

 

 

“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.

 

 

 

Five ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Deck and Patio Backyard Upgrades

You are probably aware that fall is a great time to plan for a backyard upgrade. But did you know, it’s also the perfect time to begin the work?

The weather is still inviting enough to be outdoors. So as you spend time in your yard, why not assess what you’d like to improve or add? And to help you with this, we’re including 5 ‘before’ and ‘after’ projects below. 

 

Large Properties

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

“Before” photo of Manhasset property

Manhasset Project (After)

Manhasset Project (After)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Let’s start with today’s feature project. These Deck and Patio Manhasset, NY, clients really wanted to pull out all the stops. And they had a nice size property to design a complete oasis.

Indeed, this family had a large list of amenities that we designed and built for them:

— a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool;

— a flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall;

— a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone; 

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

— and a very special amenity: a large sunken fire pit. 

Lovely upgrade, yes?

 

Before (left) & After (right)

Before (left) & After (right)

2. This homeowner purchased the above property that had an entrance he had to drive over each day. The area had not been kept up for many years. How could Deck and Patio accentuate its beautiful 1880 bridge structure? The idea of a reflecting pond — where the bridge could be seen in its still water — came to us.

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 is more than 240-feet-long and 60-feet-wide, so it also captures 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?

 

Small Properties

 

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. “The above project was for a Massapequa couple,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, “who longed to enjoy their backyard more  — which was tidy but not enticing as well as being on the small side.”

So instead of opting for a more expensive pool, the couple decided on a quality hot tub, with a custom in-ground installation.

“An in-ground installation makes a portable hot tub appear like it’s a custom-made spa,” says Dave.  “Plus it would make it easier for them to get in and out of the spa.

However, even though they knew they’d love spending time outdoors in their new hot tub, they also 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. They decided on koi pond with waterfalls next to the hot tub.

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, hot tub installation and landscaping were still less expensive than a pool. And they love going outdoors now.

 

Properties With Challenges

 

"After" of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

“After” of Deck and Patio Dix Hills Project

"Before"

“Before”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Once the slope was stabilized, it was time for the pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered where we straighten the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steal rebar for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were added, plus new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and a new liner.

 

 

“Before” (left) “After" (right)

“Before” (left) “After” (right)

5. For these homeowners, it was clear a two-story deck was needed. They were both outdoor enthusiasts with a property that had a nice water view. And their 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.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.

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.

 

So, enjoy this lovely fall weather. But consider making your wish list. We can get started on it well in advance of next spring!

 

What Is the Perfect Outdoor Living Plan for Your Family?

As this outdoor living season begins to wind down after Labor Day, it is often a good time to take stock and plan for next year. And it is the job of professionals like Deck and Patio to help you dig deep into what your family most enjoys in order to create the perfect plan. 

Are you avid gardeners, for example? Or will you want plants that survive with little effort? And most of all, how do family members most like to spend their time outdoors?

We also help you consider how best to combine hardscapes (patios, driveways, etc.) with softscapes (trees, plantings and grasses). In addition, we’ll take into consideration how will you use the space, your property’s size — and, of course, budget.

The following special Manhasset, NY, project showcases how getting to know a family helped us bring about the ideal outdoor living spaces for them.

 

Manhasset Project's Pool and Patio

Manhasset Project’s Pool and Patio

After interviewing the Manhasset, Long Island, family, we uncovered and designed a substantial list of amenities that were perfect for them:

— a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool;

— a flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall;

— a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone;

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen;

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

— and a very special amenity: a large sunken fire pit.

 

 

The veneer of the fire pit was also used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa. It’s all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

“They wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says our own Dave Stockwell “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. It was that they were repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them which to us is the very best testimonial.”

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

 

“In designing the large 16’ x 32’ pavilion with fireplace, we also dealt with the fact that our clients wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these are effective in deterring irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather,” says Dave.

For colder weather, the large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside of a new pavilion, but flush to it. This allows for the maximum of space.

 

 

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Deck and Patio captured some drama with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

Enjoy the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. And if there’s anything missing from the family fun — jot it down. And then get in touch. We’re here to help your family create your perfect outdoor living plan.

 

Extend Your Outdoor Season in Comfort

Whether you want a spot that’s bug-free or offers the presence of a fan providing a breeze, or has readily available entertainment like a TV, there is a way to extend your outdoor season with just such comforts.

Including a pool house when adding a pool is one popular way Long Islanders extend the outdoor season well into fall. And when the owners of a very large property on Long Island’s North Shore contacted us, Deck and Patio helped them plan a new destination-pool area that included a comfortable space for family and entertainment activities.

In addition to designing/building a new 50-foot-long and 26-foot-wide pool, with an elegant Travertine patio, spillover spa and waterfalls, because the pool area was to be a distance from their main house, they also wanted the ability to cook by the pool.

 

 

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

 

And to enjoy all these amenities at night, in a place that was ‘bug-free,’ for the pool house design, our team consulted with an architect familiar to us.

The collaborative effort inspired a building that is in keeping with their main home’s overall elegance. In fact, it was their home which inspired the pool house’s reverse gable. 

 

 

 

 

Special pool house amenities included:

  • 800-square-foot pool house with a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom;

  • one great room with sofa

  • flat screen television

  • washer/dryer

  • refrigerator

  • second storage closet

  • outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade, and an

  • outdoor shower

 

 

Even those evenings when it’s too chilly to go in the pool, it’s wonderful to be outdoors in the comfort of a pool house with television. One of the two rooms has screens on two sides where they can enjoy warm or cool nights without pesky insects.

The completed project won an International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a 2009 Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

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

 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

With concrete wall and a vinyl liner, the approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool offers a spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall. The free-form pool is surrounded by an elegant Travertine patio.

 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

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

 

Destination Pool and Pool House (Long Island/NY):

Destination Pool and Pool House (Long Island/NY):

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

 

Backyard Upgrades: Now Is the Time to Spring Into Action

Plan Now for This Summer

Plan Now for This Summer

Don’t wait for the clocks to change. When it comes to planning backyard upgrades, now is the time to spring forward.

“Early February is a really good time to plan,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Once robins are singing and trees are budding, the phones at Deck and Patio have been ringing for weeks with requests for projects.”

One reason, Dave explains, is there are so many different local codes and variances required for upgrades across Long Island. “And in order to secure permits, we need to get to that early.”

Special projects also require pulling together the right people for every aspect of the design plan. Again, starting early ensures each team will be available to work in a way that doesn’t slow the job down.

 

How to begin

 

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio at work with HGTV’s Pool Kings

The “A” Team: Deck and Patio at work with HGTV’s Pool Kings

 

Choosing the right design/builder is perhaps the most important decision you have to make when planning your outdoor retreat. Here are just a few of the questions you should consider:

—  Will your design/build firm be using subcontractors and if so, are they licensed and insured? Who will be responsible for any repairs during the warranty?

—  Will your design/builder obtain town codes and zoning information or will you be doing this? Some firms such as The Deck and Patio Company can introduce you to an expeditor to help in the permit process, if required.

—  Take the time necessary to verify the references of your designer/builder and how many workers will be on the site at any given time. Will there be a supervisor there, for example.

—  Review any contracts carefully before signing on. Ensure you have all the warranty information that was promised.

 

 

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Landscape Planning Should Begin in Winter (Long Island/NY):

Even if there’s snow on the ground, a good design/build firm is able to see underneath it to plan an outdoor retreat. In fact, we built these dual ponds (immediately above) for a client during winter. 

“The ground was getting hard and it was brutally cold,” says Dave. “But, in one way, it was a good time of year for such a project because we had more time in our schedule than we usually do in spring. So it was cold, but stress-free.”

This water feature was designed as an ecosystem pond with a natural-looking moss rock waterfall. It includes a stone bridge. And the stream we added just behind the pond feeds the pond area and boasts an additional waterfall.

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Planning glorious backyard water features takes time, especially if you want a man-made feature like this to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. This requires ordering and installing the perfect-sized rocks and boulders that urge the water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or pondless-reservoir.

 

Deck Design/Building:

Deck Design/Building:

The structure of a deck is most often attached to the house. It’s usually elevated, that is, designed to suit the “lay of the land.” The land’s topography also helps determine how high and how many levels it should be.

In addition to choosing the right design/build experts, the most important thing is choosing the deck material you want to use, i.e., natural wood, capped composite and pressure-treated wood.

You want to have all the materials you need when you are ready to start construction. Planning ahead is key.

 

 

New In-ground Pool: Bringing That Vacation Feeling Back Home

Vacation Blues with Icicles

Vacation Blues with Icicles

 

Sometimes we get the blues after we return home from a vacation. And with this weekend’s big snowstorm expected for Long Island, those blues will have icicles dripping off them. 

So how about some sunnier thoughts? Like the story of Deck and Patio clients who did something about those pesky post-vacation blues. 

 

 

The couple loved spending time in their vacation home in New York’s Adirondacks. They loved swimming in lakes, nature walks, etc. So when they bought a new home in Merrick, Long Island, they renovated the house and property in a way that captured the soul of their upstate second home.

The Backyard

“For the backyard, they wanted something special,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Their idea was for a swimming pool that looked like a pond, or a pool made completely of rocks and not the usual concrete or steel. But they did, want the pool to still be filtered and treated chemically like a regular pool.”

Deck and Patio engineers verified the technical aspects throughout the designing and building of the pool. “Creating such an all-rock pool was like fitting puzzle pieces together,” adds Dave. “Only, instead of using pre-made shapes, we had to deal with 4-5 truckloads of randomly-sized Pennsylvania moss rock boulders.

Our team had to look over and measure each rock before it was fitted in place. After that, so as to ensure the soil pressure wouldn’t push them over or knock them down, we leaned each stone into the grade, tapered upward.

The bottom of the pool was a different story. Here we installed a one-piece black rubber liner to contain the pond (pool) water, which feels to the feet much like a vinyl pool.

Continuing the natural appearance, Deck and Patio used boulders to create the four steps leading into the pool as well as into their custom spa.

 

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

Unique Swimming Pools & Spas:

We positioned the pool to reflect their newly renovated shingled-style home in its water. Deck and Patio added bright colorful plants in between the boulders, in such a way that they cascade into the pool, like they would in nature. This contributed to a beautiful all-rock pool, filtered and treated chemically, but which looks like a natural pond.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using a blend of pool and pond material, we created a unique pool and spa. The black liner, which reacts with the water created a stunning pond-like appearance. It is a 45-mil EPDM pond liner; we used Aquascape Inc.’s wide-mouth skimmers and bulkhead fittings to penetrate the liner.

 

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

Using Pool and Pond Equipment Together:

While all you see is a beautiful pond-like pool, there is a good deal of technology involved. For pool equipment, we used vinyl pool returns, main drains, SAVI color-changing LED lights, all Jandy equipment (energy efficient pump and gas heater), DE filter, salt chlorine generator and iAqualink automation.

 

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

Harmony Between House and Landscaping:

The exposed stones around the pool  complement the stone base of the home’s columns and stone foundation, suggesting one harmonious whole.

 

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Picture-Perfect Swimming Pool:

Deck and Patio’s design gives the vacation-style Adirondack feeling they wanted; they just step outside to a natural swimming pond where they can hang out with friends and use the hot tub when a chill comes on the evening.

 

So stay warm this weekend — and dream of warmer times.

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