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Total Backyard Upgrade Along Sloping Property Setting

Not many would disagree that the homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade conceived a wonderful experience for their outdoor living. 

One notices the beauty. But a major part of the design also serves another purpose. The added waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

 

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature — whose separate installations can be enjoyed from the house, on the upper patio, and poolside — be extremely eco-friendly. 

For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.” To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the upper-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with great massage jets.

 

 

Eco-Friendly Projects for Earth Day, 2021

One week from today is Earth Day –when people around the world will highlight a variety of ways to help preserve our planet.

Many parents might even want to involve their children in home earth-friendly activities.

 

Involving the Kids

Butterfly Themed Lesson for Kids

Butterfly Themed Lesson for Kids

 

 Pinterest, for example, is full if ideas on how to involve the kids come April 22nd: 

— butterfly themed lessons for preschool (left), 

— creating spring sensory bins, 

— flower planting themed activities, 

— making a worm-friendly mud containers

 

 

 

 

Contemporary Rain Barrel Urn/Gardeners.com

Contemporary Rain Barrel Urn/Gardeners.com

Some parents might even involve their children in setting up a simple rainwater harvesting project — barrel rainwater harvesting.

“Basically all that involves is connecting a pipeline from a roof or terrace to a large barrel,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “You can even set up several barrels for collecting the rain, since we often get a fair amount in our neck of the woods.”

If you don’t want to purchase special rain barrels, you can use a simple trash holder. Plus, getting the kids to help clean the trash clan before setting it up is an easy safe job for them. 

 

 

Rainwater Garden

If you’re storing rainwater and have a garden, you can place a pipe to directly connect with it. “All it needs is an easy tap in order to control the water flow and prevent any overflow into the garden,” says Dave. “Some might even increase the amount of gardening they are doing because of the abundance of water they have at hand.”

It’s helpful to remember that only a small amount of falling rain actually seeps into the ground. Much of it ends up as runoff in our sewers and on into our waterways. So saving it and utilizing it is truly a gift to mother earth for Earth Day 2021.

 

Sustainable Water Features

For those interested in adding a water feature to their yard, business, or public land, but don’t want to waste precious water to keep it running and topped off, can consider more complicated rainwater harvesting products.

“Indeed, we are so very passionate about rainwater harvesting that we have a special division at Deck and Patio devoted to such beneficial water preservation projects,” says Dave.

Here’s an example:

 

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

Rainwater Harvesting (Brooklyn/NY):

For this project, we also installed an automatic valve; when the water gets low in their new pond, waterfalls or stream, water in the irrigation system flows in and replenishes it.

While we’ve done hundreds of green water features at private homes across Long Island, a favorite project we sharing below we did several years ago for the Town of Huntington at the local railroad station. 

And for an example of a public project:

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington, NY):

In cooperation with the Town of Huntington (Long Island), we added this serene water feature and a paver pathway at the area train station parking lot.

Permeable pavers by Techo-Bloc were put over gravel and a rubber liner which filter the rainwater runoff before it reaches the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream.

 

Public Sustainable Water Feature:

Public Sustainable Water Feature (Huntington/NY):

“There is enough captured water at this train station water feature to not only sustain itself, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” says Dave. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”

 

As Earth Day approaches, there’s lots of ways to celebrate Mother Earth. Happy conserving!

There’s More to Aquatic Plants Than Meets the Eye

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

Plants Attract Delightful Creatures

It is true that water gardens — and the plants installed in and around them — are delightful to look at.

And they attract equally delightful creatures: chirping birds, flapping butterflies, and croaking frogs.

But there’s more to it all than what meets the eye. “For an ideal water garden eco-system, the key is maintaining clean, healthy water. 

“Pond filtration systems do a lot, as do waterfalls etc. which aerate and oxygenate the water. But at the end of the day, a huge part of creating a healthy system is the water landscaping you do,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

Aquatic floaters and marginals, says Dave, are perfect for gobbling up the excess nutrients that are produced by any pond fish and excessive plant algae growth. They also help by reducing sunlight in the pond, which helps control the growth of algae. 

Plants such as water lilies and irises feed on the nutrients (algae or small primitive unwanted plant life) in the pond water, and produce oxygen while they provide shade and food for the small creatures attracted to the water garden.

Submerged plants  (e.g., anacharis, parrot’s feather or hornwort) will also release oxygen.

 

Aquatic Plants

 

Deck and Patio Built Pond

Deck and Patio Built Pond

The gurus of all things pond/water garden — Aquascape Inc., in St. Charles, IL — list the basic groups of aquatic plants as:

  •  Water Lilies

  •  Lotus

  •  Marginal Plants

  •  Water Lily-like Plants

  •  Floating Plants Submerged Plants.

 

“An ideal pond mixes plant heights, textures and color from at least three of these groups,” says Dave. “This gives the most natural look. We also don’t install plants in a symmetrical way. A more random placement looks the most natural.”

“Remember, that while nutrients sound like a good thing, too many in your water garden, and your pond water changes dramatically,” says Dave.

“However, despite the fact that aquatic plants eat up unwanted nutrients, too many plants or plant material will also contribute to an over abundance of nutrients. When plants die in the fall, they fall back in the pond, adding to the problem. We recommend cutting them back before this happens in order to have healthy water.”

But don’t fret if your pond water has a slight tint to it. Crystal clear water has no nutrients. You want some algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. because they offer a diverse food source for pond fish, frogs, and plants. It’s all about choosing the right plants and keeping them all in balance.

 

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

Aquatic Plants and Pond Landscaping

The tall aquatic plant on the left of this Deck and Patio pond (a canna lily) thrives in water conditions that are 70-80 degrees F, with a pH of 6.5-7.5. 

They’re also easy to care for, love natural light and are ideally suited near the edges of a pond. The weeping hemlock at the top right in the photo flourishes in moist soil and offers a bit of shade which helps balance the water temperature.

 

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

Landscaping Around Ponds and Water Features

This photo was taken just after we built the pond. Lily pads, and other in-pond aquatic plants, had yet to be added. But we had installed some attractive peripheral landscaping using plants that like moist, but well-draining soil. 

These do well around a pond but not in one. The red/pink flowers in the foreground are roses. To the right of them are variegated hydrangea and to the left are variegated hosta. All of these plants attract birds and butterflies.

 

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic Plants

In addition to the canna lily, this pond boasts water lilies — both tropical and hardy ones. The pinkish coneflowers on the right of this Deck and Patio pond are not aquatic and are not in the water but are perfect edging plants as they attract desirable wildlife — one of the reasons we love our ponds.

 

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

“Pondless” Waterfall Landscaping

Pink petunias add a bright statement away from where the waterfalls spill and seep into the ground. Close to the waterfall area we added grassy plants like Liriope that thrive in moist soil.

 

Why Not Include a Bench with Your Backyard Upgrade

Adding a bench, or other seating, to your backyard provides a treasured rest-spot, where you can be still and take in your property’s pretty views.

All you really need for a view is some sort of focal point, maybe near your favorite tree and a bit of open space, if not something more elaborate like a water feature (see below examples).

Bonus: And if you’ve planted particular flowers or shrubs, your place of contemplation may attract butterflies or hummingbirds near your bench. Even if not, at a minimum, some species of birds will be chirping nearby and the sky will be blue — all with no effort on your part.

Whatever its focal point, the garden bench offers that special up close and personal opportunity to enjoy the outdoors — an enjoyment you might miss from further away in the kitchen, or on the patio or deck.

 

The Bench

Depending on individual taste, there are a wide variety of bench materials and designs available:

—  wrought iron

—  various woods: eucalyptus, reclaimed wood, acacia, cedar, redwood, etc. (just choose a durable/weather-resistant wood)

—  cast aluminum

—  a bamboo bench (great for Asian-inspired gardens)

—  a backless bench, perhaps with hidden storage

—  a swinging or glider bench

—  farmhouse and park style bench

—  or how about dual chairs such as Adirondacks instead of one piece of outdoor furniture

—  or a natural stone slab

 

You can get some idea of how nice it is to have a seating spot through the photos below of Deck and Patio projects.

 

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY):

Pond Viewing (Long Island/NY):

How’s this for up-close and personal. These Deck and Patio 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. In lieu of a bench, the addition of two Adirondack chairs presents a perfect spot to feed and watch the koi, and listen to the pond’s waterfalls.

 

Perfect Spot for Contemplation (Long Island/NY:

Perfect Spot for Contemplation (Long Island/NY:

Within this already beautiful setting, Deck and Patio added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge and bench so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around them. (Green bench is in top left of photo)

 

Rock Sofa and Rock Seats (Long Island/NY):

Rock Sofa and Rock Seats (Long Island/NY):

Talk about up close. From this Deck and Patio installed rock sofa/bench — with flanking rock-seats — sitters can stretch back and run their fingers in the waterfalls behind them.

 

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls with Bench (Long Island/NY)

Backyard Pond and Waterfalls with Bench (Long Island/NY)

What a scene to relax by. A gentle stream is coaxed over rocks into several waterfalls. Lily pads wait on croaking frogs. Ornamental grasses wave in the breeze, and flowering perennials add color and charm.

 

Patio Benches/Seating with Fireplace (Long Island/NY):

Patio Benches/Seating with Fireplace (Long Island/NY):

Whether it’s one bench or seating for a group, these benches and seat are perfectly placed to enjoy a waterfall and custom fireplace. 

 

 

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.”

 

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. 

 

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.”

 

 

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