Serenity Escapes

Home/Serenity Escapes

Getting Behind a Pool Waterfall in Your Own ‘Sea Cave’

Children love a private escape. The youngest ones hide under a table, behind table cloths or chairs etc. But, even as adults, we love a personal getaway. From man-caves to home gyms, we need moments spent in a quiet space.

Pool Grottos

Pool Grottos

One such escape may be the most delightful of all.

Truly, could there be a better hideaway than one you can swim to — say, behind a waterfall? And, what if behind that waterfall, there’s a hot tub, with hydrotherapy to massage you?

Well. That’s part of what’s possible in a swimming pool grotto design. Grottos are usually constructed as part of an enlarged water feature. And it can be a delightful location for fun with friends and family, as well as a solo retreat.

Another benefit of a pool grotto is the ability to get away from the heat of the sun. And, still be close to all the happenings in the pool. Not to mention, that whether you are in the grotto or outside of it, you get to enjoy the stunning appearance and sounds of cascading water and the cooling mist such a waterfall will occasion.

 

Two Deck and Patio Grotto Showcases

 

Completed TN Pool with Grotto

Completed TN Pool with Grotto

1.  Our first example is of a Deck and Patio-designed grotto/water feature that came about after Peek Pools and Spas invited us to travel to Nashville, TN, and participate in another episode of their popular TV series, Pool Kings on the DIY Network.

While working on-site in Nashville, one major challenge was digging/lifting out of the ground and then positioning an enormous 4,000-pound piece of rock to help form the grotto. Indeed, it was such a task that it caused Pool Kings/HGTV to title that episode: A Rocky Road to Backyard Bliss!

 

 

TN Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls 

TN Project Included 3 Sets of Waterfalls

“A two-ton rock isn’t an easy maneuver,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

“But the result was worth it. We knew it was just what was needed when we saw it, and it became part of this project’s water feature.

The whole feature included the grotto cave, a meandering stream, three sets of waterfalls, flanking fire bowls, and a fire feature for inside the pool.”

 

 

 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved 

Children’s Hand Prints Saved

“Not all of our efforts there were so challenging,” adds Dave.

“In fact, while tearing out the old patio, we found a special piece of concrete. It had the handprints of the homeowner’s children. We knew right away it was a precious piece. While constructing the lotto, we ensured it had a place inside the grotto behind the pool’s waterfalls.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto 

Long Island, NY, Swimming Pool Grotto

2.  The second grotto project we’re highlighting today was built in our own neck of the woods.

“It came to us as a referral,” says Dave. “The finished project boasts a free-form concrete pool, large grotto, water feature and spa. But it’s where the spa is placed that’s a special part of the design. The spa is actually hidden inside the grotto with the high waterfall cascading over it into the pool.

 

 

 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf 

Swimming Pool Tanning Shelf

“We used large moss rock boulders to construct the grotto, supported by structural steel and concrete underneath,” says Dave. “We also added a tanning shelf in the shallow end of the pool that is large enough to accommodate lounge chairs.”

The tanning shelf is directly across from the front of the grotto and waterfall. Not only can lounge chairs fit in the shallow water there, but it’s close enough to enjoy some of the mist occasioned by the falling water. So it’s a great place to keep cool, but still be out in the sun. The pool is surrounded by a handsome Techo-Bloc tumbled paver patio and Deck and Patio landscaping. The entire project won us a prestigious Silver Medal from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA).

 

 

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

Spa Inside Pool Grotto

 

This is the view seen from inside the spa grotto. Note how private the spa is because it is nestled inside a cave made from moss rock boulders. The majestic high waterfall spills into the free-form concrete pool — just outside from where you have escaped from the heat of the sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

The Value of Trees in Your Landscape Plan

“Look deep into nature, and then you will  understand everything better.”

— Albert Einstein

 

Frequently, here on Long island, when we visit the property of a new client to discuss an upgrade, we are welcomed into a lush woodland scene. “So whatever they are looking for to enhance their outdoor living,” says Deck and Patio owner Dave Stockwell, “our first priority is to safeguard those trees. And if there are none, we often recommend planting some as part of the landscaping design plan.”

In our work, we utilize a wide range of landscaping elements such as flowers, shrubs, ground cover, waterfalls, and, of course, trees, in and around useful hardscapes, such as decks, patios and pool surrounds. And while most appreciate trees for their color or shade, their full value to the landscape isn’t always well known.

 

 

Value of Trees

The Value of Trees

The Value of Trees

Trees are truly worth hugging. They filter the air which can be full of pollutants such as dust and impurities.

“Trees can also collect and filter rainfall,” adds Dave, “which is something we are very invested in as a company. Our division, Rainwater Harvesting, focuses on capturing rainwater underground through permeable pavers and roof runoff, etc. We are also mindful of the advantages of trees doing the same work, side-by-side with our man-made systems, preventing pollutants from entering local waterways.”

Trees, of course, are better known for their ability to release pure oxygen back into the air after they have filtered out any pollutants. It has been said that just one large tree can improve the air for four adults. 

“So you can see why we feel trees are so worth either preserving or transplanting in when there are no trees at all,” says Dave.

 

 

Healthy Trees Increase Appraisal Value

Healthy Trees Increase Appraisal Value

 

Some realtors suggest another benefit from trees. Apparently healthy trees add to the value of a property’s appraisal, which helps provide a return for any investment made by transplanting trees into one’s landscape or protecting those that are there.

 

 

 

 

Plant Once, By Doing It Right

Planting Trees Takes Expertise

Planting Trees Takes Expertise

While most people can put a plant or bulb into the soil, a tree can be a bit tricker and requires some expertise.

“Just like it’s important to know how to work around a woodland area so as not to damage any existing precious trees,” says Dave, “it takes some art and experience to plant a tree effectively.”

Some common mistakes our landscapers come across are trees being planted too deep with too much mulch, and or tree roots being strangled in wire baskets, plastic rope or burlap.

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio Projects

 

Pre-existing Wooded Area

Pre-existing Wooded Area

The above photo is a great example of a pre-existing wooded area on a local property where Deck and Patio was brought in for an upgrade. We secured the trees ahead of time so no machinery damaged them in any way. 

Within this already beautiful setting, we added stone steps, streams and waterfalls. The clients already had a bridge so we designed water features and stepping areas to fit around it.

We also added additional plantings and lots of green ground cover. Now they have the perfect space to take in their property’s natural beauty before they start their day and when they return home at day’s end.

 

 

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

The key in creating or updating spaces as they appear in nature is to add only amenities that fit naturally in that environment.

In this case, Deck and Patio added a bridge, water feature, imported boulders and rocks and landscaped it with robust plantings.

It feels like you are in upstate New York, in the mountains.

Yet, it’s right in our clients’ backyard. As you can see, the wooded areas are healthy, blending perfectly with the landscaping plan without interference with their ongoing job: to clean the air and add more oxygen.

 

 

 

 

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

Protecting Woodlands on Long Island/NY:

As you can see from this Deck and Patio-designed backyard refuge, we were careful to safeguard the existing woodland areas.

Extending out from the parkland areas, the new water feature was brought forward to the entertaining areas through the addition of a pondless waterfall. 

The new multi-level patios were carefully designed so that each patio space had a specific use. The complete project was a perfect blend of softscapes with hardscapes.

 

 

Private Woodland Path, Long island, NY

Private Woodland Path, Long island, NY

 

For this space, we took advantage of the family’s desire to hide their pool equipment by creating a private woodland path. We brought in bushes and plantings and fit them among existing old-growth trees. 

Adding bluestone stepping stones that lead to a larger woodland area contributes to an extended nature walk.

Such an uplifting nature walk gives one’s technology-driven life a break, and leaves the barbells behind. No place offers a better space for that than a quiet woodland area.

 

 

 

Trees add value to any landscape

Trees add value to any landscape

 

 

Today’s feature photo at top of page: This Deck and Patio pool/patio/landscaping project was done in collaboration with True Blue Swimming Pools.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

Budget Backyard Upgrade: ‘Hot Tub with a View’

When a Massapequa, NY, couple contacted our office a while back. they were looking for a change to their yard. They felt what they had wasn’t too enticing. 

“Given the size of their property as well as their budget, a pool was out of the question,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “So we suggested that a budget-friendly quality portable hot tub, set in the ground could appear like a stylish custom built spa.”

However, even though the couple knew they’d love spending time outdoors in such a hot tub, they also wanted something special 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. 

Most people enjoy some sort of water feature with moving water. So Deck and Patio suggested a small pond with waterfalls next to the spa.

“When we mentioned it, we learned the husband had longed for a pond for some time,” says Dave. “And by adding one as part of a single overall project with the spa, it would save time and money, and allow the same designer to plan it all in a harmonious way.”

 

Massapequa, NY, Before Photo

Massapequa, NY, Before Photo

Here is the Massapequa, NY backyard before we added a spa and pond. You can see that the yard was on the small side with not too many existing options that could act as focal points for outdoor enjoyment. 

 

The Spa

 

Massapequa Project/Spa Installation:

Massapequa Project/Spa Installation:

By customizing the installation of a portable spa, putting it in-ground, made the hot tub itself appear like it was a custom-made spa.  Plus it’s easy to get in and out of.

“Deck and Patio is a local distributor for portable CAL Spas, which can be installed in-ground like this one,” says Deck and Patio’s Parker Lippolt. 

“Our CAL Spas also offer customizable therapy options with adjustable water jets, which are great benefits. With three different series — each with a selection of models — there’s enough choices, including swim spas, to fit just about anyone’s need.”

 

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

Portable Hot Tubs (Massapequa/NY):

“Portable spas are self-contained units, with all they need to operate included within itself. Which is what helps make them so cost-friendly compared to other water features,” adds Dave.

That said, when installing them in-ground, it must be done in a way that allows water from rain to drain away from the spa. If not, the hot tub’s plumbing could get damaged. 

“In this case, in order to have it completely in-ground, we removed the spa’s plumbing equipment to a protected area above ground where it is accessible for any future repairs.”

 

The Pond

 

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pond and Spa (Massapequa/NY):

When the clients sit outside now they enjoy the sound of water as well as see a lovely pond with waterfalls. And they get to watch the pond fish swim about. Not only do they have this view from their patio, but even better, they can enjoy it all — and even feed the koi — from their in-ground spa. 

 

Pond With Waterfall

Pond With Waterfall

The project’s natural-looking pond with a waterfall feature included surrounding moss rock boulders and lush landscaping. We used Aquascape Inc.’s water systems — high efficiency pumps, skimmers, biological filters etc. 

“The couple told us that their ‘in-tub views’ are spectacular,” says Dave. “Plus the in-ground installation makes it easy to get in and out of the spa. They also said they love the spa’s hydrotherapy for all kinds of relief as well as relaxation. 

“It was definitely the right choice for them.”

 

Go to Top