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Backyard Upgrade: Adding the Drama of a Waterfall

Just this week, the New York Daily News ran a story “The most incredible waterfall hikes in the world.” Traveling to these worldwide locations might, indeed, be wonderful. 

 

But did you know you can add a dramatic waterfall in your own yard that provides some of that same awe?

 

“There is a wide choice of design options for your own backyard water feature,” says Dave Stockwell.

In addition to its majesty, another reason for adding a waterfall, adds Dave, is its ability to block out noise. This is a great help if you live in a heavily trafficked neighborhood.

Consider the following watery trail we created for Long Island clients. It meanders along a formerly unused slope in the clients’ backyard.

“Gravity is a very energy-efficient way to make the water move forward,” says Dave. “And during winter, the moss rock boulders become stunning ice sculptures that beautifully extend the seasonal enjoyment of it all.”

 

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

Backyard Stream and Pond (Long Island/NY) by Deck and Patio

 

Backyard High Waterfall Drama

“The next project came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The completed job boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto behind a majestic high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.  The waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool.

 

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

The high waterfall spills into the pool — just outside from a grotto-spa where you can escape from the heat of the sun.

 

 

7'-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

7′-High Waterfall Makes Beautiful Retaining Wall

 

Another good example of waterfalls offering more than majesty is this project where the waterfall area was conceived to fix a soil erosion/retaining grade issue. (See also our feature photo at top of page.)

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.

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

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

 

 

 

Here’s another project where stepping stones bring you past a stunning group of waterfalls.

Not far from the right edge of the project’s pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“Like other projects we’ve done, this waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier

 

So! Travel the world and see some of earth’s waterfall majesty by all means. But you can also have some of that awe right in your own yard.

 

 

How Can I Add Privacy to my Backyard?

Backyard upgrades can create a wonderful escape — a place to relax and forget about everything. But a lot of homes in our New York Metro and Long Island areas are situated in tightly packed neighborhoods. 

So often we hear the question: how can I add some privacy to my backyard?

1. Adding a Wall or Fence

Here’s a great example of living in a cramped neighborhood. The home of these Deck and Patio clients is in the heart of Queens, a borough of New York City. Their property is tightly surrounded by apartment buildings, traffic, and noise. 

In such a city atmosphere, even adding the pool and patio they wanted couldn’t offer all the escape they desired. For a real backyard oasis, we had to shut out noise and the oppressive atmosphere.

Backyard Refuge

Backyard Refuge

In addition to a lovely waterfall to help with the noise, we designed/built 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 overwhelming in itself,” says Dave.

So the next challenge 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 spreading.”

Living Wall

Living Wall

 

 

We also 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 is spent in blissful leisure right in their own backyard.

 

 

 

Fence Landscaping

Fence Landscaping

For a second example of dressing up a fence or a wall, for these homeowners color and texture were really important.

Although their neighbors had a natural wooded area they got to enjoy, by adding their own bushes, trees and plenty of plantings, birds and their songs came closer to them and easier to watch and hear. 

The crepe myrtles Deck and Patio planted, for example, are lovely in summer and contribute to an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October, providing a haven for a variety of visiting birds and creating charming focal points in front of the fencing.

 

2. Pavilions

Pavilions

Pavilions

Sometimes, a fence and even bushes aren’t enough when, as you can see from this photo, neighboring homes are multi-storied. This is when a pavilion or a gazebo gives that extra bit of privacy. 

Open to breezes and the scents of blooming flowers, but shut to the sky’s burning rays or drizzling rain, pavilions offer both shelter and aesthetic appeal, in addition to privacy.

Even though we added a fireplace, with modern technology, Deck and Patio was able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior so they can enjoy a truly extended outdoor season.

 

Can I get Privacy without a Fence?

Natural Privacy Barriers

Natural Privacy Barriers

Yes, and we have a great example. This property was open on three sides, in full view of four homes. “And 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.

Most clients want privacy when in a spa or pool but not all want structures changing the feeling of a space. For a truly natural appeal, 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.

 

Privacy through Container Gardening

Privacy through Container Gardening

 

 

Another simple way is to just add large bushes or trees in containers and place them close together.

Privacy in possible for most backyards. It sometimes a little creative thinking, but at Deck and Patio we believe it’s almost always doable.

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

The Backyard Sanctuary You Always Wanted

 

 

Wish Lists Are Key

Wish Lists Are Key

 

Have you been wanting a backyard sanctuary but don’t know what to do first? Sometimes, the best way to begin is to create a wish list.

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This is what they wanted for their outdoor sanctuary:

 

 

 

Wish List Come to Life

Wish List Come to Life

That’s what these Deck and Patio clients did. This was their list for an outdoor sanctuary:

— an in-ground vinyl-lined pool

— large patio area,

— outdoor kitchen,

— outdoor shower,

— fire pit,

— serene streams and waterfalls, and

— high-tech/energy-efficient pool components that are undetectable in the landscape.

 

“We were happy to assure them that we could bring together all the expertise necessary and design and organize it all,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In fact, incorporating outdoor technology with all the mechanics well hidden in beautiful settings fit right into our wheelhouse. It’s one of our trademarks.”

 

Energy-Efficient Pool

Insulation

Energy-Efficiency

Energy-Efficiency

 

The water in a pool is often around 85 or 90 degrees, while the surrounding soil is considerably cooler. Adding insulation around the outside of the pool wall, as we did for this project, creates a thermal break between the warm water and the soil that really saves energy by helping the pool water to retain its warmth.

 

 

Heaters/Pumps

We worked with the owners to find energy-efficient solutions for the whole project. There are many ways to increase efficiency:

To heat the pool, we added a hybrid system that uses both a gas heater and an electric heat pump. The heat pump acts like a reverse air conditioner, pulling in warmth from the air and transferring it into the pool. This design not only adds heat taken from the air — and not from electricity — but the gas heater can act as back up when the air temperature is very low or when creating heat more quickly is required.

The “variable speed pump” is an extremely efficient pump that allows low energy use by slowing down the motor dramatically. It decreases the amount of energy the pump uses. It can run twenty-four-seven much more efficiently than others pumps that are used only a few hours a day.

Automation

Raising and lowering the speed of the pump is programmed by computer and they can control when it turns on and off. The computer will also monitor the chemical levels in the pool and decrease or increase them as required.

 

 

Hiding the Automation Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Hiding Pool Equipment

Deck and Patio hid the pool equipment away, up a delightful pathway, behind the waterfalls.

We designed and built the streams and waterfalls to flow through berm with moss rock. The gentle sounds of two streams leading to two separate waterfalls, as well as the splash of jet sprays, screen out any sounds from high-tech pool equipment.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

This serene backyard sanctuary gives no hint of high-tech energy efficient components supporting it all. The sounds of waterfalls, streams and sprays add tranquility to backyard retreat. 

An outdoor shower stands at base of stepping stone pathway (right) that leads up to pool equipment.

 

 

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl-lined Pool Sanctuary (Long Island/NY):

Sometimes clients want more than a pool. This newly created backyard sanctuary comprises an in-ground vinyl-lined pool, large patio area, outdoor kitchen, outdoor shower, fire pit, two streams and two waterfalls.

Note: Updating Your Pool

With vinyl pools you can also change a staircase, add a bench or swim-out, change the coping, and of course change your old liner.

Liner color choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool as seen in this photo. There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool.

 

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Outdoor Bar/Kitchen

Their sanctuary’s outdoor kitchen includes ample work area, barbecue, sink, refrigerator and eating bar with bar stools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Waterfalls Make the Right Noises

There are some noises we want when enjoying our backyard escapes — the open-air symphony of birds, flapping butterflies and croaking frogs. And the laughter of children and friends.

Of course, there are noises we don’t want. Cars wizzing by on a high-trafficked street, beeping horns, etc.

But what’s a homeowner to do, if their cherished home is in a busy area?

“Many parts of Long Island is fairly built-up,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell. “In Nassau County, for example, the homes can be quite close together. But even in Suffolk, it’s hard to get completely away from traffic.”

In the case of the following Deck and Patio project, the homeowners had longed for a restful backyard, but their property was located close to a busy four-lane road. How could they enjoy a pool and spa amid disturbing noise?

“We were happy to reassure them that they could have an undisturbed backyard oasis,” says Dave. “The key was including in the landscaping design a substantial rushing waterfall near the pool. It would not only be beautiful to look at, but its relaxing sounds would mask   unpleasant street sounds.”  (A short video that captures the sounds of their waterfall can be found below after our first two photos.)

 

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Natural Moss Rock Backyard Noise Barrier:

Not far from the right edge of the pool, Deck and Patio built a 19-foot natural moss rock barrier with a “pondless” waterfall. A small upper patio sits between this attractively landscaped barrier and the project’s spillover spa with its own waterfall.

“The waterfall also gives the impression one is vacationing on some south sea isle — away from everyday life,” says Dave.

 

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

Backyard Waterfall Blocks Out Traffic Noise:

This is a close up of the Rosyln, NY main waterfall. Water flows down moss rocks in a natural-looking way, and seeps through river rock, where it is captured in an underground reservoir. The water is filtered and recirculated, making it very eco-friendly.

 

The following video lets you hear the delightful sounds of rushing water at this Rosyln, Long Island, NY, project.

 

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Backyard Paradise That is Noise Free:

Pleasant sounds are the very opposite of unpleasant noise. And this backyard Roslyn, NY, paradise retreat is blessed with delightful sounds. These sounds can be enjoyed in the pool, while sunbathing on a wide patio, when relaxing in a quiet upper patio, when rocking back and forth in the outdoor swing — not to mention when relaxing in the spillover spa.

 

Vinyl Freeform Pool Retreat:

Deck and Patio surrounded the backyard retreat’s new freeform vinyl pool and raised spillover spa with handsome Cambridge Ledgestone patios and bright plantings. The raised spa has its own separate overhead waterfall as well as a spillover into the pool. All this adds to an undisturbed backyard experience.

A diving rock and landscaping cutouts add to this pool area’s summer charms. In addition, the Cambridge paving stones are tough when it comes to winter’s cold weather. The pavers seem to withstand abuse better than any poured and stenciled concrete.

 

Poolside Landscaping:

Poolside Landscaping:

Bright plantings with green ground cover, along with river stone gravel and delightful stepping stone path, add to the natural look and serenity of the barrier/pool area.

 

 

 

 

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