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Creating a ‘Breathe-Free Refuge’ at Home

With all the challenges today, home has become more and more a refuge. American author, poet and activist Maya Angelou beautifully captured home as our sanctuary in this quote:

 

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

 

Deck and Patio is devoted to making home a refuge and today we are highlighting a few projects that give our clients a peace-evoking scenic escape right in their own yards.

 

Backyard Problems Can Inspire a Refuge

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

 

Sometimes it’s a practical need that inspires a refuge. The photo to the left shows how Deck and Patio designed/built a “natural” retaining wall for our clients.

“Retaining walls can be pretty boring to look at,” says Dave Stockwell. “But they don’t have to be. We designed here a ‘natural’ retaining wall that includes a ‘pondless’ water feature, which is safer when there are young children around. The waterfall flow is captured underground. From there, the water is filtered and recirculated.”

In addition, this retaining area has been installed with a rich assortment of plantings, river rock; natural stone steps along with the water feature create a beautiful nature walk — all while serving the purpose of holding back the grade.

Dave notes that the reserved underground tank water never stagnates because it is continuously circulated up from the underground pond via the waterfall.

 

 

 

Sometimes You Want a Pond

 

Pond Ecosystem:

Pond Ecosystem:

Not having young children like the clients with the natural retaining wall shown earlier, these clients wanted a full pond. Their completed water feature system consists of a stream, waterfalls and pond, and it is the perfect spot for letting the day’s cares melt away. 

Enchanting Echinacea (coneflowers) and magenta Lythrum are just some of the various plants brightening this pondscape.

 

 

Children Love Koi

Children Love Koi

 

Koi ponds, which were once characteristic of mainly Japanese gardens, have been growing in popularity around the world, including Long Island.

For good reason. Listening to the sounds of trickling water, while watching colorful koi swim around throughout several seasons is transforming. 

Whether it’s built near a patio, bridge or deck, this water feature is an attraction to more than adults.

Children love ponds, including feeding koi. It’s truly interactive in that way.

This pond (right) is owned by Brian Helfrich of Aquascape Inc. — the company that makes the water feature systems that Deck and Patio uses.

 

 

 

Sometimes a Garden Is Enough

 

Water features are wonderful but you can create a perfect place to de-stress without one. 

 

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Backyard Garden Bridge (Long Island/NY):

Note how the colorful plantings, moss rocks and deep green ground cover (above) line the steps leading to the clients’ charming wooden bridge. 

 With or without water features, it is a lovely spot to enjoy your backyard oasis. By adding this garden bridge, “It became a favorite spot for the homeowners,” says Dave.

 

Backyard Strolling

Backyard Strolling

This walking/strolling area, like most of our projects, was planned by Deck and Patio to appear as if it were designed by Mother Nature.

Stepping stones lead to larger steps of natural stone which are flanked by colorful plantings including bright red “Wave Petunias” and colorful purple and yellow “Coneflowers.” In addition to being a delight for the eyes, such a spot offers wonderful scents which the family can breathe in. 

“Dealing with the demands of every day life can be exhausting, especially today,” says Dave. “A peaceful surrounding calms you right down as you absorb the beauty and quiet.”

 

Multi-level Patios

Multi-level Patios

 

Feature Photo at Top of Page: Above a natural retaining wall, Deck and Patio carved out a patio area with waterfall where our clients can sit after a stroll and breathe it all in.

 

 

 

 

By |2022-07-14T13:59:20-05:00July 14th, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Creating a ‘Breathe-Free Refuge’ at Home

Backyard Maintenance Before the Leaves Fall

Leaf Tannin Can Cause Staining

Leaf Tannin Can Cause Staining

 

The leaves are changing here on Long Island, which is a sign that some backyard maintenance needs doing before and after they fall.

For one thing, leaf tannin stains decks and driveways so we need to plan for removing the leaves. Also, leaf debris in water features can lead to a messy clean up come spring. Plus, there’s plant pruning, tree trimming and even some planting to do during fall. So let’s get planning.

 

 

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

Pond Netting

As we wrote in detail a few weeks ago, pond netting is key if you own a pond. Pond nets can keep out even the smallest pieces of debris such as falling leaves and pine needles. We recommend netting from Aquascape Inc. (St. Charles, IL) which includes hold-down staples to secure it.

“Netting your pond before fall foliage is important,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But once the leaves have all fallen, you can pull out the netting and get rid of the leaves and have pristine clear water come spring. Water features can be enjoyed all through fall, and even into winter.”

 

Prevent Staining from Leaves

Wet Foliage Can Stain:

Wet Foliage Can Stain:

“Fallen leaves have tannin,” adds Dave. “The tannin can stain concrete, pavers and decks. People often don’t realize that it’s preferable to simply remove the leaves than to seal your deck or patio.”

Sealants, he continues, need to be regularly redone, which is a lot more maintenance than just getting rid of the leaves. (Indeed, some new deck materials such as Trex Transcend, don’t require sealants and it’s a good idea not to use them at all on these types of decks.)

 

Plant Pruning

Fall Maintenance

Fall Maintenance

 

In order to give plants enough time to callous over before the first frost, right now, that is early fall, is the ideal time to prune.

Without callouses, frost can cause them to die back or not bloom come spring. And we don’t want that.

 

 

 

Tree Trimming

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

Photo: Courtesy of Aquascape Inc.

 

Before the leaves start falling off trees in your yard, check them out to see if there are any branches that do not have leaves on them.

“This will tell you which branches might offer potential problems later down the road,” says Dave.

“Come the cold weather, dead limbs snap off due to the weight of ice and snow. This can cause havoc with power lines. Not to mention they can be a source of accidents to cars, people and homes.”

 

 

 

 

Time to Plant

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

Skimmia (Photo Credit: Musical Linguist at the English language Wikipedia)

To give plants a head start before spring, now, through the end of October, is a great time to be planting.

Many of you will, of course, be thinking of planting bulbs for spring beauties like tulips, daffodils etc. But you can get all kinds of perennials in the ground now that will give you buds in spring, and color next fall/winter.

Skimmia — along with other plants that offer color in the colder months. In spring these will give you vibrant white flowers; in fall, crimson red fruits (berries) that last through winter.

 

 

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

 

Today’s Feature Photo (Top of Page): Deck and Patio Pond Project

A bit of effort in early autumn— before the leaves fall — brings big rewards come next outdoor season. Clean pond water, tidy and safe yards, blooming with color.

 

 

By |2021-10-21T16:43:54-05:00October 21st, 2021|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Backyard Maintenance Before the Leaves Fall

Gather ‘Round’: Outdoor Living is Back

 Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

Cooking Yummy Food on the Grill

With Broadway opening again soon and most other restrictions on businesses etc. being loosened, it’s time to think once again about happy times spent outdoors with family and friends. And the heart of any outdoor gathering is the outdoor kitchen.

If not by Memorial Day, it seems definitely by July 4th, a normal sense of the outdoor season will be ours —  and we’ll be cooking up yummy food on the barbecue. 

Deck and Patio has designed/built a outdoor kitchens in a variety of sizes and shapes.

The one we’re highlighting today is an outdoor kitchen that was part of an overall backyard upgrade. 

 

 

Backyard Upgrade with Portable Spa

Backyard Upgrade with Portable Spa

 

The project boasts a two-level Techo-Bloc patio, custom fire pit, dining and seating areas, and a water feature with stream and waterfalls that flow alongside a new portable hot tub. 

Space, however, was an issue when planning this upgrade. So rather than a fixed pergola, the clients chose moveable outdoor umbrellas — or, ‘flexible shade.’

 

 

 

 

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Upper and Lower Patios (Long Island/NY):

Both patio areas were built with Borealis’ modular slabs from Techo-Bloc. Note how the colorful umbrellas behind the outdoor kitchen can be moved as needed in their yard, and offer such nice pops of color wherever they are positioned.

Their new custom fire pit is overlaid in a facade of natural stone that mimics that of their outdoor kitchen.

The outdoor kitchen’s amenities include a built-in stainless steel grill, expansive work area, sink, refrigerator and eating/drinking bar with stools.

 

 

 

Feature photo

Feature photo

Project’s Feature Photo: The outdoor kitchen’s handsome and expansive granite countertop allows for an eating/drinking bar, while leaving plenty of “prep” space for cooking. Ice and cold drinks fit in the fridge immediately below the eating/drinking bar area. 

Note also how the outdoor kitchen is only steps from their hot tub and relaxing water feature. 

A full-sized activity center is the perfect spot for a break anytime. Whether entertaining or not, it’s the heart of outdoor living.

 

By |2021-05-06T14:03:54-05:00May 6th, 2021|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Gather ‘Round’: Outdoor Living is Back

Reducing Mosquitos: Take the Bite Out of Outdoor Living

Almost everyone loves being outdoors in good weather. But as the weather warms, there is one pest that can ruin it all: the mosquito. 

 

Pool House with Screened Room

Pool House with Screened Room

“There are a variety of ways we help our clients avoid these pests,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “From screened in porches, decks, cabanas, pool houses, etc. there are ways to be outdoors but very well protected.”

Shown here (left) is a custom pool house Deck and Patio designed/built with two rooms, one is a 20-by-20 room with screens on two sides where they can enjoy warmer nights by the pool without pesky insects.

Of course, you might want to move about while enjoying the outside, such as at the barbecue or lounge areas.

 

Frogs Are Beneficial Wildlife

Frogs Are Beneficial Wildlife

The addition of a water feature can add more than serenity and beauty. 

In return for your providing them clean pond water, birds and little amphibians like frogs greatly reduce the amount of pesky insects in your backyard — thereby reducing naturally a need for pesticides.

When running waterfalls are part of a water feature, they move the pond water so that mosquito larvae don’t accumulate. 

 

But another helpful way to repel mosquitos is through choosing the right plants.

 

 

Lavender

Lavender

Lavender

Experts say that mosquitos really dislike lavender’s scent which makes it a premier plant in repelling mosquitoes. After you’ve planted it, you can make your own lavender oil to use as a natural ointment on your skin when going outdoors.

 

 

 

Citronella Grass

Citronella Grass

Citronella Grass:

You’ve used the candles, but adding the grass itself adds texture to your yard while discouraging mosquitoes.

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Plants to consider: Marigolds are very good at repelling mosquitos. Also, Rosemary, Basil, Mint, Sage (all great for cooking as well), Catnip, and one of our very favorites, Allium. 

 

If you take a holistic approach — some of this and that — you may find you don’t need a toxic repellent at all.

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

Top of Page Feature Photo: In this Deck and Patio project there are five waterfalls, plus a swim-up bar in the pool that features stunning granite countertops and a shade pergola.

From the highest waterfall, to the lawn below, is an elevation change of twelve feet, all with a different grades. Lush landscaping adds to the mood — and choosing the right plantings help reduce mosquitos. 

 

By |2021-03-25T09:13:11-05:00March 25th, 2021|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Reducing Mosquitos: Take the Bite Out of Outdoor Living

The Deck and Patio Company Awarded Best of Houzz 2021

A few days before we got the good news, we heard from Houzz that our “photos have been saved 377 times on their platform in the last three months!”

Then, within days, we were given the great news that The Deck and Patio Company — that is, our entire team of outdoor living experts — had won a “Best of Houzz” award for Design.” 

About Houzz

As many of our readers know, Houzz is a leading platform for home renovation and design. It is thrilling to know that we were chosen by the millions of homeowners that comprise the Houzz community — and selected from more than 2.5 million active building and design industry professionals who post on their platform.

Houzz’s design awards honor professionals whose work was the most popular among the Houzz community. A “Best of Houzz 2021” badge appears on winners’ page profiles on their site as a sign of a company’s commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

Houzz is available on the web and as a top-rated mobile app. It is headquartered in Palo Alto, California and has international offices abroad.

Our Projects

So! Would you like to see some of the photos that have been downloaded recently on Houzz? Don’t be surprised if you’ve seen some of these photos before. We’ve shared them on our social media pages where they are just as popular. 

We’ve divided them into two categories for this blog post.

 

First. Decks!

Houzz Best in Design: Favorite Deck and Patio Decks

Houzz Best in Design: Favorite Deck and Patio Decks

 

Next. Custom Spools and Spas!

 

Favorite Deck and Patio Spas on Houzz

Favorite Deck and Patio Spas on Houzz

 

The above are only a few of popular Deck and Patio project photos on Houzz. We’ll keep sharing more in the near future!

Watch this space.

Birdsongs Are Actually Good For You

 

 

Note: We highly recommend opening the above video before reading further. That way you can experience the transforming effects of bird songs — while reading about the transforming effects of birds songs and how to entice more birds to your yard!

 

Birdsongs’ Restorative Effects

Birdsongs

City Birdsongs

Because of extensive sheltering-in-place, even city dwellers are hearing natural sounds these days that usually are muted by the normal drone of human activity.

Rebecca Franks wrote on Facebook that she used to think there weren’t really any birds in the city where she was living. She rarely saw them and never heard them. “I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people. All day long now I hear birds singing.”

And what better time to learn that hearing birdsongs is actually good for you. A recent study says that, depending on the particular birdsong and its type and frequency, the sound of birds can actually help one feel better and react more positively to life — offering restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.

 

Attracting Birds to Your Yard

Bird Feeders

Bird Feeders

Before rushing out to put up more bird houses and feeders, remember attracting birds takes some planning.

Deck and Patio has been in the business of creating bird-friendly landscapes for over 25 years. And we’ve learned a thing or two.

For example. Birds aren’t as happy with your perfectly cut and edged expansive lawns as your neighbors might be. And while the odd bird house or feeder will help attract a few birds to a nicely manicured area, birds, prefer a bit of density.

“Songbirds love bushes and trees,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Birds of all sorts drop by for the food, comfort and privacy such lush vegetation gives them. And in turn for access to some clean water and natural munchies, like berries, they’ll give you an opera of stress-reducing songs. Berries, by the way, have been known to tempt even timid birds out of hiding, like woodpeckers.”

Here’s an example of a modest natural sanctuary we designed/built for one of our clients.

 

Attracting Birds:

Attracting Birds:

Although the neighbors of these clients have a natural wooded area, we added bushes, trees and plenty of plantings to their own yard. This means birds and their songs will be closer by and easier to hear. The crepe myrtles, for example, contribute to an extended picture-perfect landscape season — they bloom from August through October, providing a haven for a variety of visiting birds.

 

Some April ‘To Do’s’

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Photo by Sandra Vultaggio

During March and April many birds migrate back up north. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are just one species that make their home in Mexico and Central America during winter, and are already back in our neck of the woods.

So if you want to invite them to your yard, it’s time to fill hummingbird feeders etc. As for blooms, horticulturist Sandra Vultaggio says that these hummingbirds particularly love rhododendrons and azaleas. “They also love Columbine, which they track as they move north.”

Other delightful birds — e.g., the Baltimore Oriole and certain Warblers — also arrive on Long Island and other areas of the Northeast in April.

Oriole migration coincides with that of hummingbirds, says Vultaggio — arriving usually a week ahead of their smaller rapid-flapping friends. For the Orioles, she puts out oranges, which they love.

Like hummingbirds, Orioles winter in Mexico and Central and South America. It’s worth planning for their arrival because they don’t stay around long. They begin migrating south again in August. So get your Oriole-feeders out early.

Some ‘Not To Do’s’

“April is a good time of year to postpone any severe pruning you might want to do,” says Vultaggio. “This time of year is usually mating season, and squirrels and birds are busy building their nests.”

“You don’t want to be cutting down trees while these creatures are nesting. Also, it’s helpful to the birds if you don’t make a thorough clean up of your yard during spring maintenance. Leave behind loose twigs and leaves for them to build their nests.”

During April, gardeners often find it necessary to go after insects and pests that might destroy their garden. This can mean applying fungicide or spraying insecticides.

“Be sure that when you do this, not to spray the blooming trees and shrubs. You don’t want to harm birds, bees and other pollinating insects,” says Dave.

Extra Tips

If you’re not an avian expert and are not sure which bird is which, you’ll appreciate the Audubon Soceity’s app. Not only will it help you identify the birds you see, but you can keep track of them, share photos, etc. There’s a good tutorial on their app’s information page, just click here. 

So make your home’s outdoors as much of bird sanctuary as possible. If you help the birds…they’ll help you right back! In the meantime, if you need a little restorative birdsong uplift, try out  Bird Song Opera. It’s great.  

 

Adding the Wow! to Your Landscape Design

 

Milton Glaser Logo

Milton Glaser Logo

“There are three responses to a piece of design — yes, no, and WOW!

Wow is the one to aim for.”

—Milton Glaser

 

 

Milton Glaser (quoted above) is the graphic designer who not only came up with the iconic “I Love NY” logo, but the DC Comics logo, and the famous Bob Dylan psychedelic poster hanging in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

“We totally agree with Glaser’s philosophy,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “In small and big ways, we have a long tradition of incorporating the Wow factor into our many  projects. We’re highlighting two of them today.”

Wowing During the Day

Deck and Patio worked with Michael Truehart (True Blue Swimming Pools) for a project that the clients feel is a jaw-dropper during the day. The property had a seemingly unusable elevated terrain and it was our job to sculpt the area into the backyard retreat the family wanted. 

Pool with Exposed Wall

Pool with Exposed Wall

“One of the things we do well,” says Dave, “is manipulate grades within different levels as well as design natural retaining walls, which were important for this project.”

“We addressed Town setback code problems by designing the pool on one side with an exposed wall,” adds Michael Truehart. “Boulder coping on the opposite side was expanded by Deck and Patio into a beautiful waterfall feature that also does double-duty as a natural retaining wall.”

Lagoon-style Swimming Pool

Lagoon-style Swimming Pool

In addition to a dramatic waterfall area, a stunning Cambridge paver patio, swim up bar, in-pool stools, water slide, Tiki umbrellas, throughout the retreat smaller groups of boulders were fitted with plantings for natural and attractive retaining areas.

“With True Blue’s beautiful pool, the clients got what they wanted, a full oasis that “wows,” says Dave.

 

 

Wowing at Night

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade

LED Lighting As Part of Backyard Upgrade

“As I said, we are used to dealing with sloping properties. Not to mention smaller lots,” says Dave. “This is Long Island, after all. However, the point isn’t to simply squeeze everything in. But creatively blend the various elements together so that the softscapes and hardscapes are harmonious, with neither overpowering the other.”

By designing the patio in multi-levels, and taking advantage of the various property slopes, Deck and Patio made the space seem larger. “We also created the patio in a free-form shape; it not only echoes the style of the pool, but the way it meanders along the landscape gives it a more natural look.”

A major project element for this project was the low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting. By including such well-designed lighting, an exquisite backyard retreat can be appreciated at night as well as during the day. 

Nighttime swims, for example, are particularly glorious. In fact, the Manhasset, NY, outdoor lighting elements added a “Wow” factor that is are romantic as they are practical.

Here’s this same project seen in daylight. There’s a lot of Wow then, too, isn’t there?

 

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

Award Winning Backyard Upgrade (Manhasset/NY):

The concrete pavers are a key element in the overall design of this award-winning project. Their hues coordinate nicely with the home and do not retain heat like natural stone would.

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By |2020-01-30T14:33:44-05:00January 30th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Adding the Wow! to Your Landscape Design

Landscape Planning Can Make a Great Gift

Whether it’s for the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah, New Year’s, or an upcoming anniversary, birthday, or even Valentine’s Day, landscape planning can make a great gift. 

Through the software available today, the drafting and collaboration design process for landscaping is surprisingly quick — providing an accurate representation of how your outdoor spaces will look.

“People think they can’t begin landscape planning until the spring,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But that’s really not necessary at all. It can be done during any season.”

Working with Google Earth

Working with Google Earth

Even if the ground is covered in snow, 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 any existing patio or pool that’s being upgraded or replaced,” adds Dave. “But much of our planning can be done through surveys and Google Earth.”

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, pool waterfalls, perhaps tiered patios, and, of course, lush landscaping, — all of which could be phased in over several years.

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 Planning as a Gift

Landscape Planning 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. 

Indeed, just this week we posted on Facebook a video of a Deck and Patio vanishing edge pond project we built in Eatons Neck, NY.

The video 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. Here it is again, immediately below. 

 

 

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. 

 

Great Gift Ideas

Great Gift Ideas

 

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! 

 

 

Backyard Retreat: Start Planning for a Summer Spent Outdoors

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Upgrade

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Retreat

The owner of this rather stunning (if we do say so ourselves) Massapequa, NY, backyard retreat says he and his wife smile every time they hear someone say how “large” their yard is.

“Before Deck and Patio did this for us, our backyard looked so cramped, we never used it. In hot weather we just lived indoors.”

The design for this pool-spa combo, and for which Deck and Patio won an award,  includes a deck, vinyl-lined pool, which we  wrapped closely around the corner of the house and deck, an expansive two-level patio, custom spillover spa, two waterfalls, two stepping stone paths and lush plantings.

“When we work with tight yard spaces,” says our own Dave Stockwell, “we take care that areas for the chaise lounge, as well as dining and outdoor entertaining locations are large enough for furniture and the ability to walk around. It’s also key to not over-build or paver the whole space.”

Dave adds that manipulating area grades into multi-level patios are not only attractive and spatially functional, they can make smaller yards appear considerably larger.

The clients’ children love the spa and the homeowners appreciate how it extends the outdoor season. The spa’s water temperature is easily regulated. “It is always clean because water is continually filtered throughout the whole system,” adds Dave.

When work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked the clients, especially within such a cramped space. “I soon learned everything they did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. 

Because the property was flat, Deck and Patio’s 3-D renditions showed the clients how we would make the yard appear bigger — even indicating what the views would look like from various areas inside the house.

Note: True Blue Swimming Pools of Dix Hills, NY, worked with Deck and Patio to build the vinyl pool and spa for our clients. 

 

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Manipulating the grades by adding different levels (upper and lower patios, raised spa. etc.) is one of the things we do to create a larger sense of space. Such gradations are not only attractive and spatially functional, but, when done correctly, they can make smaller yards appear considerably more expansive.

 

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Designing a pool to wrap closely around the corner of the house allowed for a full-size pool as well as spa and waterfalls. Vinyl-lined pools make it easier to implement such a tight design.

 

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

A second stepping stone path leads away from the back step to the diving rock and the deep end of the pool. Stepping stones allow you to leave some softspace (green grass, plantings etc.) so there’s not too much  hardscapes (concrete, pavers, etc.).

 

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

A spillover custom spa and additional pool waterfalls look natural falling over moss rocks chosen to fit the spaces perfectly. Lush colorful plantings add to the beauty of the scene. 

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

This close up shot of one of this pool’s waterfalls shows the details of creating a natural-looking scene: carefully chosen moss rocks for the right “spills,” ground cover, shrubs, river rock, etc.

 

 

Fall Outdoor Season: Color It Autumn

Many of us in the northeast retreat very reluctantly to a winter spent indoors. We make every effort to extend the outdoor season with the addition of fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, hot tubs, some even adding a four-season room.

4-Season Room

4-Season Room

Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So its natural that when we see the first leaf turn from green to crimson high in a backyard tree, we know we’re heading into the last outdoor living sprint. The subject today is: how can we make this precious outdoor living time richly colorful for the maximum enjoyment?

Outdoor Displays

One way to make the outdoors inviting is by displaying some of fall’s bounty: gorgeous plants, fruits, vegetables and even berries — all perfect for decorating yards and front door entries.

“Annuals provide color when certain plants are no longer in bloom,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.  “Great color producers for fall that last well into several frosts before dying back to the ground include kale, cabbage, decorative peppers, mums, cyclamen, etc.”

It’s also important to add compost to these plants so they get plenty of food while they are blooming, says Dave. 

“Cold hardy mums, for example, require water every other day as they have copious flowers and use up a lot of energy and will require additional watering if there’s isn’t sufficient rainfall. But what a cheerful display these fruits and plants offer.”

 

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Outdoor Decorating for Fall:

Believe it or not, the pumpkin is not a vegetable — it’s a fruit, and a berry at that. Along with hardy mums in bright yellow, etc., at Deck and Patio’s design center in Huntington Station we love displaying lots of these fall ‘berries’ for pops of bright orange.

 

Grouping Fall Plants:

Grouping Fall Plants:

 

 

For different texture and color, it’s a good idea to create a grouping of fall plants. This nice grouping includes cabbage, deep red mums, and winter pansies for a bright, bold statement. (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental Peppers

Aren’t these ornamental peppers beauties! Grown for their decorative value (although edible, they are rather lacking in flavor) as are the leaves and flowers of the deep red Celosia Cristata (aka cockscomb) behind them.  (Photo: Hicks Nurseries)

 

Planning Ahead for Fall Color

Fall can be a great time to plant color for future autumn glory. Here’s two great ideas:

 

Rosehips:

Rosehips:

Rosehips come from plants also known as Autumn Wild Rose. They can enhance any autumn landscape. Note: Since they can take three years to grow from seeds, you’ll probably want to transplant a grown bush. This is done during the dormant season — sometime between November through February.

This beautiful plant is a wildflower with bright red fruit hips that ripen in fall — and stay around through winter. The rose hips grow as the petals of the summer flowers drop off. These hips contain the seeds of the rose. Prune the bushes down to the ground in winter and then wait. When the temperature warms again in spring, they begin to regrow. By summer, you have wild roses, and in fall, you get the rose hips again.

 

Sumac:

Sumac:

When we recommend a great plant for fall color, we emphasize ones that are interesting throughout the year. With Sumac shrubs and trees, their displays begin with large flower clusters in spring, gorgeously colored fall foliage (as seen here) with berries that can last into winter. 

Any well-drained soil works for this adaptable plant. It can take full sun or partial shade. Note: for the most dramatic fall colors, the flame leaf or prairie sumac have the best flowers and color when planted in full sun.  

 

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