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Backyard Upgrades: Now Is the Time to Spring Into Action

Plan Now for This Summer

Plan Now for This Summer

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

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

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

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

 

How to begin

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Water Features (Long Island/NY):

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

 

Deck Design/Building:

Deck Design/Building:

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

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

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

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Pulling Out All the Stops

You love to cook and no ordinary outdoor barbecue will do. Gathering with family and friends in the evening around a fire is also your nirvana. And you want your kids to spend time enjoying a good swim.

The question is how do we as a family want to spend time together in 2022?

To formulate the perfect landscaping plan for your family, first, it is the job of professionals like Deck and Patio to understand each client. Are you avid gardeners, for example? Or will you want plants that survive with little effort?

How a plan combines hardscapes (patios, driveways, etc.) with the softscapes (trees, plantings and grasses) is very important. In addition, how homeowners will use the space, the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

 

Manhasset Project

Manhasset Project

This Manhasset, Long Island, family had a large list of amenities that we designed and built for them:

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

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

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

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

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

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

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

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

 

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

 

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

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

 

 

 

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradise: An Oasis-style Pool with Portable Spa

 ‼️ Note:  We’ve got CalSpas in stock here at our Deck and Patio design center in Greenlawn. ‼️

 

Pools and hot tubs may both be water features but they are not interchangeable.  One is for relaxing and letting tensions drain away and the other is for lively activity. Both are wonderful elements in any backyard oasis.

The project we’re highlighting today was for a family who originally contacted us for a pool with waterfall, quality patio and a “spillover spa.” 

Portable Spa (Left) with Waterfall Below

Portable Spa (Left) with Waterfall Below

“Custom in-ground spas, especially spillovers,” says Dave Stockwell, “are usually connected to the pool’s functions. So when the pool is shut down  — usually by late September here on Long Island — the spa gets shut down, too.

“Our idea was rather than build the usual pool-connecting cement spa, to install a portable hot in a way that looked built in — and with a waterfall just below it.”

After the clients realized that with the portable spa they’d also get superb hydrotherapy benefits, they agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted.

Plus, while in the pool — and from many parts of the patio — this additional waterfall appears as if the water’s coming out from the spa — or that it’s a spillover hot tub.

 

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa Project

The completed backyard retreat includes a free-form pool that is surrounded by plant material that was chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow. 

“We wanted to ensure that their backyard will be a lovely oasis for a long time to come,” says Dave.

 

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

In-Ground Vinyl Pool Retreat:

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

“Even during seasons when the pool is closed, there’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area so the view from the hot tub remains very pleasant for most of the year.”

 

Spill Over Spa:

Spill Over Spa:

Deck and Patio set the portable spa all the way into the ground with boulders and plantings around it — and added a moss rock waterfall just beneath that splashes into the pool.

 

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

Next to the Wild Ride slide that also spills water into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over an extended rock. The free-form vinyl pool was designed with an expansive tanning shelf that boasts room for two large S-shaped recliners. Having no legs, the recliners sit right in the water for a comfortable way to keep cool and sunbathe at the same time.

 

Cambridge Paver Patio:

Cambridge Paver Patio:

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

 

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

Deck and Patio Award’s Photo

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

 

 

Designing and Building a Water Feature During the Colder Months

“You would be quite surprised what can be built during these colder months,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Depending on the water feature you want, even if it’s not fully built until spring, now is a great time to start. 

Backyard ponds can become rinks in winter

Backyard ponds can become rinks in winter

“Ponds and other water features can also be stunning in winter,” says Dave. “Many people love to be outdoors in winter and a pond helps create the perfect winter wonderland in their own yards.

Indeed, a popular trend these days is creating a winter walk “event” by strolling by lighted trees, a fully-operating water feature with waterfalls, and also enjoying an ice rink for skating.

Even if begun today, however, a backyard pond won’t be ready in time for Santa to skate on it this Christmas. But it’s possible, depending on the weather, that it will be ready in time for some family ice skating later this winter.  (See below for some tips on turning a pond into a skating rink.)

 

Landscape Design/Build During Winter

While the following project isn’t a pond — it is a ‘spool’ (or a cross between a spa and pool — it is a good example of designing and building backyard upgrades in winter. 

 

‘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 snow was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spool which would give us a head start come spring. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for it to arrive.

“During.” Winter snow was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spool 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.

 

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 Sandalwood) 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 Sandalwood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

Enjoying water features all year long:

 

Ponds in Autumn

Ponds in Autumn

 

Ponds in Winter/Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Ponds in Winter/Photo courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

A few autumn leaves falling into a backyard pond is not a problem. Some leaves actually add to the health of a pond’s ecosystem.

However. If your pond is surrounded by deciduous trees, autumn’s storm of foliage are leaves of a different color.  Learn more here.

 

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

Creating Your Own Ice Rink

 

It takes some prep work and lots of caution and care to make a rink, but according to naturally-recognized “The Pond Guy” you can, indeed, turn your pond into a rink for skating.

The Pond Guy has several blogs on this topic covering how to create good ice, what red flags to look for, how to check the ice, and how to create a glassy smooth surface. For two of his blogs, click here and here. 

 

 

 

Holiday Gifts: Surprise the Family with a New Landscaping Plan

Your spouse has been begging for a hot tub. The kids have been relentless in asking for a pool. And for some time, you’ve felt your patio or deck are in great need of an upgrade. 

Computerized Landscaping Plan as a Gift

Computerized Landscaping Plan as a Gift

While you probably couldn’t get a full backyard upgrade wish list constructed in time for the holidays (unless all you want is, say, a portable hot tub), you do have time to surprise the family with a computerized Deck and Patio landscaping plan that you can wrap

With today’s software, the drafting and collaboration landscape design process is surprisingly quick and will provide an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

 

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

 

“The anticipated weather for this December seems very promising in our neck of the woods. It should be easy to walk around your property to measure it, etc.,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And while it’s very helpful to see close up any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced, etc., much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth should weather require that.

 

 

Letting the Design Be the Gift

Since most property upgrades begin with a landscape design, the plan itself can be a gift. And you could go all out in this stage of the process — planning a beautiful pond, or other water feature, for example, or a pool with swim-up bar and wild ride slide, a custom spa or portable one integrated into the overall design, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years. 

You can even get landscaping plans for a full upgrade that is done in phases — over, say, a few years — and have printouts out how it will look after each phase. 

The whole project can also be planned out financially, so the different phases can be worked into your yearly budgets. In addition, since landscape plans are computerized, it is no problem if the gift receiver has ideas of their own to add later or changes they want made.

 

Landscape Plan as a Gift

Landscape Plan as a Gift

 

The gift of a landscaping plan is definitely something memorable. And what a joy it will be seeing the plans come to life. 

We’re sharing the following video as inspiration. It begins with one of Deck and Patio’s computerized plans and ends with the finished project showing the wonderful experience of having such a pond. This vanishing edge pond project was built by us in Eatons Neck, NY.

 

 

 

Another Example

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a backyard 3-D animation (left above) not only helps show what the yard will look like in advance — including from different perspectives. Such a gift also allows for tweaking and changes as the project goes along, as well as changes from the gift receiver.

In the case of the immediately above Long Island, NY, project, 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. 

Insert E  Great Easy Gift

And you’ve got to admit that a computer plan downloaded on a small drive (or even printed out) is easy to wrap!

In every way, a landscaping plan makes a great gift! 

 

 

Landscape Planning: ‘Before’ and ‘After’ Projects (Part II)

As we promised in last week’s blog, today we’re sharing additional ‘Before’ and ‘After’ design/build projects. We hope they inspire your own backyard upgrade.

 

Pool and Retaining Wall Upgrade

“Before” (left) “After" (right)

“Before” (left) “After” (right)

These Dix Hills homeowners called on Deck and Patio when they decided to update their backyard pool area. Their old wood deck and red brick patios (above left) were small and unusable for parties and entertaining. They were looking for a complete plan to transform the space.

“We suggested a special idea to deal with the large wall behind the pool and small patio spaces,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “The plan was to remove the wood retaining wall, re-grade the slope, and create a large natural waterfall, stream, and woodland garden (above right).”

Our design/build 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

“Before” (left) “After" (right)

“Before/During Construction” (left) “After” (right)

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” (left) “After" (right)

“Before” (left) “After” (right)

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 it 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. 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 let it blast cold — or even snow. With a backyard ‘spool’ you can stay indoors or even go out and still be warm.

 

 

Pool, Spa, Pond & Stream In Keeping with Natural Surroundings

Along with a concrete vinyl-lined pool with waterfalls, for this backyard oasis we added a raised spillover spa with an additional waterfall, a stream with waterfalls, plus a koi pond.

 

Protecting Mature Trees

Protecting Mature Trees

“We had a lot to consider when we designed this,” says Dave Stockwell. “First, of course, the property’s trees — mature maples, oaks and pines — had to be preserved. 

“But we also considered the topography, the soil, solar exposure, the overall size of the property, where we could place active and passive use areas, not to mention the home’s architecture.”

Dave adds that each feature had to fit with nature and this particular landscape.

Besides Deck and Patio’s technical knowledge, such an accomplishment requires a true passion for nature in order to balance the relationship between architecture with its natural surroundings.

“Needless to say we were thrilled to have been recognized for what accomplished in the design and installation of the pool, spa and water features,” says Dave. “We won two prestigious awards from NESPA and APSP for the upgrade.”

The key to our design was locating various water features within a limited space so as not to disturb the environment. Despite building restrictions, the finished project was rich in amenities: Here’s some more details for this project:

 

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

Pool With Raised Spillover Spa:

This concrete pool has a vinyl liner. We positioned it into the natural surrounding landscape considering carefully any existing trees and mature shrub root systems. Although it’s not seen in this photo, the clients can enjoy the nearby koi pond and waterfalls while relaxing in their spa. The spa also has its own overhead heated waterfall, which can be adjusted to cool in warmer weather.

 

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

Multiple Waterfall/Stream:

This 5’ high multi-level waterfall and 35’ meandering stream discharge into 10’ x 15’ freeform Koi pond (below). 

 

Koi Pond and Stream:

Koi Pond and Stream:

Pond was built to protect the fish against natural predators. Pond’s small cave, for example, provides a hiding place where koi can lay dormant during winter months and hide when necessary.

 

Pool and Spa Design:

Pool and Spa Design:

The design of this pool and spa appears “organic” with its natural surroundings; they perfectly fit with the clients’ desire for harmonious bodies of water in keeping with their natural looking residence, patio, outdoor kitchen.

 

Pool Landscaping:

Pool Landscaping:

Vibration flowers and fragrance is provided by many varieties of perennials, evergreen and deciduous plantings — planned for successional color throughout pool season.

 

 

Backyard Upgrades: Blending the Old with the New

Property upgrades often require an artful blending of the old with the new. For this upgrade, the property’s existing pool had pool equipment that was 20 years old.

Getting to the pool plumbing would have been a challenge, but the homeowners were also seeking improvement to what they felt was a very “confining upper patio area.” 

The limited upper patio happened to be where the family enjoyed sitting in the shade and taking in the home’s stunning water views. 

“Since any upgrade plan to extend that patio would call for tearing out all the existing patio areas, this presented the perfect opportunity to gain access to the pool’s dated equipment,” says Dave Stockwell.

Deck and Patio’s design/build team carefully worked out a detailed plan of what to keep, and what to improve or restore in the backyard: 

 

  1. upgrade the existing pool and spa;
  2. expand the property’s confining upper and lower patios,. (This would open up the space, and better show off the property’s spectacular views of Long Island Sound);
  3. And add new colorful plants and flowers to enhance the opened up water views.

 

The result? A remodeled backyard that looks like an entirely new property — with upgrades and equipment that will last for many years to come.

 

Upgraded Pool:

Upgraded Pool:

Deck and Patio refinished the inside of the pool, changing it from white to dark gray. This new color reacts with the water to give the more desirable “natural lagoon” effect. Swim-out steps were added; new stepping stone path beside the pool provides a swath of natural charm within the expansive patio areas.

 

Spa Upgrades:

Spa Upgrades:

The spa circulates pool water, constantly fills up with pool water, then water falls via the spillover channel back into their pool. When expanding the patio near the master bedroom, Deck and Patio took the opportunity to upgrade the spa by adding boulders, and turning the spillover into a larger waterfall to create a more beautiful pool scene.

 

Patio Upgrades:

Patio Upgrades:

The upper patio — where the clients liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view — was extended to allow room for lots of comfortable outdoor furniture. In addition, an equally confining lower patio was enlarged for sunning; an outdoor kitchen (at the side of the house) was added for easy entertaining.

 

Landscaping Upgrades:

Landscaping Upgrades:

New plantings were included to screen out unwanted views; the addition of colorful plants and flowers enhance the breathtaking water views. The result of the overall transformation is the homeowners enjoy stunning vistas, and a feeling of space from all areas of their yard.

 

 

 

 

Landscaping: How to Create ‘Soft’ Space Using ‘Hard’ Rocks

It may seem like a contradiction, but Deck and Patio landscape designers are known for creating soft effects in backyard landscapes through our expertise in using hard rocks — boulders, stone, and even man made wet-cast concrete.

If you think about it, rocks being a natural part of nature, if chosen well and positioned perfectly, they can make a man-made waterfall, for example, appear as if it’s flowing from a natural mountain stream.

Such natural-looking water features have won for Deck and Patio many local, national and international awards for our Long Island water features.

 

Completed Pool, Spa, and Water Feature for Pool Kings on DIY Network

Completed Pool, Spa, and Water Feature for Pool Kings on DIY Network

In fact, one of our dramatic pool water features drew the attention of Peek Pools several years ago, when they were developing a special project for the DIY Network.

After seeing our work, they got in touch and invited us down to Tennessee to do the first of two water features (left) for a pool in that state and, later, one in Kentucky — all of which have aired on television.

In the first example of our work below, you’ll see that rocks, in all sizes, textures and shapes can be far more than an aesthetic choice. 

 

 

Backyard Water Garden

Backyard Water Garden

The above Deck and Patio man-made pond with waterfalls and stream not only looks natural and beautiful but enjoys a healthy ecosystem. Note: It is essential to choose the right stones and gravel for your pond to provide the correct ph value for the fish and plants and also reduce algae.

The whole design includes a handsome paver patio that ends next to river rock and a lush pond landscape with stream, plantings, and natural paths.

 

On a smaller scale, we created a waterfall to offer a bit of pizzazz to what could have been a boring retaining wall area.

 

Waterfall Softens Retaining Wall

Waterfall Softens Retaining Wall

Installing the above pondless water feature — yes, pondless — means that the water is underground and in a safe area where children can’t access it.

We built this waterfall, incorporating moss rocks and Mexican beach pebbles, when we were renovating their backyard pool area. The waterfall includes procumbent junipers and dwarf cypress along the edges to soften the hardness of the boulders and retaining wall.

 

When You Can Go Big

For the following project, we were building an 800-square-foot pool house for the clients.

 

Pool House with Pool and Waterfalls

Pool House with Pool and Waterfalls

Along with a lovely 50-foot-long and 26-foot-wide pool, we added a spillover spa, separate waterfalls, surrounded by an elegant Travertine patio. 

Again, in this project there is a lot of stone. But set around a huge water feature — a pool — with waterfalls and a separate spillover spa with colorful plantings creates a softscape.

 

Lush Landscaping Needs Rocks!

For our last example today, you can see how colorful plantings and waterfalls are enhanced by stone and rocks.

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY)

Diving/Jump Rocks (Long Island/NY)

Set against lush landscaping and a beautiful man-made waterfall, a dramatic diving rock and paving stone patio feel like they’ve come about organically. 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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