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Creative Solutions: Designing Pool Wall As Part of Retaining Wall System

Sometimes when designing/building an outdoor retreat, it is essential to preserve the natural environment. However, when site constraints or landform challenges limit what can or cannot be done, this often causes Deck and Patio to be more creative.

For example, unattractive retaining wall systems — often required on Long Island’s rocky sloping properties — are not normally hidden by a body of water such a pool. But, for this award-winning outdoor retreat, that’s just what we did.


“We conceived the freeform concrete wall of a vinyl-lined pool positioned into the hillside,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“This way, the pool wall became part of a retaining wall system.”

Deck and Patio designed a curved-steel, reinforced-concrete wall with the strength to withstand the pressure exerted by the slope — and the sheer weight of 20 tons of boulders sitting on the pool beam itself.



In addition, a stone wall was located at the main patio to not only serve as an aesthetic feature to hide the grade changes to the pool area, but to become a seat wall.

Long Island boulders were used throughout the landscape to support the remaining surrounding grades as well as to give visual impact.

In order to incorporate a client’s wish list into a design, every project — from inception to completion — requires a hands-on approach to better understand a site’s characteristics, architecture, building codes and its impact to the surrounding environment.

That said, many homeowners cannot visualize from a blueprint how such extreme makeovers will look completed. As an aid, our team utilizes design technology to provide clients with a computerized 3-D animation of their project.



This presentation format means clients do not have to guess what the project will look like such as the case for this project. Such presentations also allow construction crews to have a better understanding of what exactly is being constructed.

To design and build a 22’ x 42’ freeform pool and raised spa, with waterfalls nestled into a 20 foot hillside — and incorporate multiple patios at different elevations with landscaping — requires more than just lines on paper if a job is to be successful.



This property’s undulating hillside enabled Deck & Patio to create an “amphitheater-like” environment with two spectacular water features:

–a 6-foot-high waterfall into the pool, –and a 4-foot-high cascading waterfall from the spa into the pool.

These large water features not only present a visual impact from every viewing angle, but the enhanced sound effect of the cascading waters minimizes the noise pollution coming from a nearby heavily trafficked road.


A unique combination of tumbled pavers, Techo-Bloc Quarry Stone walls, natural rock steps, Long Island boulders and retaining wall systems helped create a supple transition from the house and pool and spa patios by capturing the similarities in the earth tones throughout.

For the landscaping, we applied our extensive knowledge of how plants will grow, sequentially bloom, and react to soil conditions, solar exposure, irrigation, etc. With so much rock and pavers built into the design, we understood it was imperative to soften the impact of these massive structures by scalloping the plants into the hillside with a wide variety of colorful perennial, deciduous and evergreen plant material for a year-round impact.

Landscaping Also Key

The landscaping is also very important, because once the pool is closed for the season, it’s nice to see an impact during the winter months as well. But, in the end, all the amenities of this backyard refuge (automated pool, spillover raised spa, waterfalls, natural retaining walls, seating walls, raised patios) hinge on a creative design that made use of the pool in a surprising way: as part of a needed retaining wall.


Forgive us if we brag, but this pool and spa won two NESPA (Northeast Spa and Pool Assoc.) awards:

  • Silver Medal, Second Place, and an Outstanding Achievement in Design and Building award.

And in addition it won:

  • LIPSA- Long Island Pool and Spa Association Inc. – Silver Award, Second Place.



By |2017-08-10T12:32:34-05:00August 10th, 2017|Awards, Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Deck and Patios, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Ponds & Water Features, Pool Surrounds, Pools & Spas, Retaining Walls, Spillover/Custom Spas|Comments Off on Creative Solutions: Designing Pool Wall As Part of Retaining Wall System

Two “Winter Friendly” Construction Products For Your Backyard Retreat

Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert touts two favorite construction materials that stand up well to Northeast winters


Renowned for his talent in creating glorious backyard retreats, Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, has earned many accolades for his expertise in the “hows and whys” of construction materials and landscape design. This enables him to create beautiful retreats that will endure. Considering the weather changes the Northeast faces from season to season, year to year, Bill Renter has come to value construction products for their durability as well as aesthetics. Today our blog is sharing two of these products.

The first is Techo-Bloc pavers. Engineered in Canada where they require extra strength due to the country’s extreme weather changes, these pavers can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast. Our outdoor living expert adds that as long as these pavers are properly installed, the stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years. The joints between the pavers create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert has found that just like concrete and asphalt pavements, Techo-Bloc pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

Another reason Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert loves these paving stones is they look so natural. Instead of one-sized bricks being placed throughout an entire patio, retaining wall, or driveway, a Techo-Bloc kit — with its varying shapes — ensures an attractive design, whether “random” instead of straight lines and flat images or in a “running block” pattern.


Winter-Friendly Techo-Bloc Pavers:

Winter-Friendly Techo-Bloc Pavers:

Using de-icing salt to remove snow and ice will not harm Techo-Bloc pavers, driveways, or retaining walls.


For the following Deck and Patio’s project, just outside the house on the upper level of the property, our outdoor living expert replaced the old decking with a new raised Techol-Bloc patio. In addition to a new outdoor kitchen, he added wide wrap-around stairs, and a portable spa that appears to be built into the patio.

At the pool level, our outdoor living expert used a new Techo-Bloc product called “Inca” — a concrete slab that looks remarkably like natural stone. Of course, it is much less expensive than say, bluestone, and doesn’t retain heat in summer like other natural stone products, making it great for use around a pool.

Five-Level Patio:

Five-Level Patio:

Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert created five different patio levels around this pool — all comprised of winter-friendly Techo-Bloc.


The second “winter-friendly” product our Deck and Patio outdoor living expert loves is “vinyl-lined” pools. In winter, when seasons change and the ground goes through expansion and contraction, in some cases water can get underneath a swimming pool and push the swimming pool up out of the ground and while Deck and Patio certainly designs and builds gunite pools, we find that a vinyl pool resists damage due to such ground movement better than concrete pools.

The base construction of a vinyl pool is the same as any other, however. “Vinyl” simply means the method used to line a pool’s interior. The vinyl-liner pool arrives at the pool site as various components, produced in a factory and assembled onsite. After the pool site is excavated, footings are poured and panel walls are assembled and fastened together supported by the footings.

Once the walls are in place, which are a solid 8″ thick concrete, with double steel reinforcement, a vinyl liner is spread out over the interior and connected to the panel walls. If you consider that all the large buildings and bridges in the United States are built with steel and not just concrete and rebar, you can understand why our outdoor living expert believes so much in the product and process.

Of course it’s not just the durability of the vinyl-liner system that is so attractive. Our outdoor living expert finds that many of our clients prefer the padded, smooth, soft feel of vinyl. Plus, the wide range of liner colors can create breathtaking effects — some suggesting grottos or lagoons. In fact, there are reports that there are now more vinyl pools worldwide than any other combined group.

Vinyl pools’ poured steel reinforced concrete indeed stand up to weather changes. The real challenge is measuring and accurately cutting and welding the various pool liners, particularly if you are including stairs, benches, in-pool bar stools, spas etc. Fortunately, Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert deals with professionals who can handle well such complicated projects.

Pools With Stairs, Bar Stools, Benches, and Spas:

Pools With Stairs, Bar Stools, Benches, and Spas:

The real challenge for vinyl pools is measuring and accurately cutting and welding the various pool liners, particularly when including stairs, benches, in-pool bar stools, spas, etc.


The following vinyl pool was designed with the intent to be “organic” with its natural surroundings. The 24’ x 42’ freeform concrete wall, vinyl lined swimming pool and raised 8’ diameter vinyl-lined spa with spillway captured the very essence of the clients desire to have a body of water that would be harmonious with the residence existing patio, outdoor kitchen area, waterfall, stream and koi pond (below).

Vinyl-Lined Pool:

Vinyl-Lined Pool:


The water feature also included a 5’ high multi-tiered waterfall and 35 feet meandering stream which discharged into a 10’ x 15’ freeform Koi pond. The pond was built with much consideration for the fish as natural predators exist in and around the north shore locale. A small cave was constructed for the fish to hide and to lay dormant during the winter months.

It’s a comfort to know that when the koi are hibernating, your concrete steel reinforced vinyl pool is managing through the winter just as well.

Koi Pond Near Pool

Koi Pond Near Pool




3 Backyard Escapes To Lift Anyone’s Mood

Design/Build Showcases: Three different families – three different dream backyards


Creating Resort Feel in Backyard:

Creating Resort Feel in Backyard:

Our design/build team constructed this resort-style backyard by adding a vinyl pool with sweeping curves, interior stairs and love seat; a white pergola with 10”-round columns adds room-like feel to the patio.


Moss Rock Waterfall:

Moss Rock Waterfall:

This eight-foot-high moss rock waterfall was built to ensure a perpetual resort feeling; a large berm has been planted with lush landscaping to add the right touches of color.

Above 2 photos:

The owners of this Long Island property asked Deck and Patio’s design/build team to give their new pool area a “resort feel.” First, our team, under the leadership of our outdoor living expert Bill Renter, designed a vinyl pool with sweeping curves, interior stairs and a love seat.

In addition, an eight-foot-high moss rock waterfall with two-horsepower pumps, that move 250 gallons of water per minute, were added to ensure a perpetual resort feeling. A large berm, complete with lush landscaping, added the right touches of color.

The client’s new patio made of tumbled pavers gives the look of natural stone while staying cool in the warm months. A white pergola with 10-inch-round columns adds a room-like feel to the patio while adding height to the once flat looking backyard.

The project was finished with landscape lighting which adds a sculpture appearance during the day while providing indirect lighting at night.


Elegant Multi-Level Deck:

Elegant Multi-Level Deck:

Our expert team created an elegant multi-level deck to maximize the view of this new pool area.


Geometric Vinyl Pool:

Geometric Vinyl Pool:

This project’s geometric vinyl pool was created with interior steps, love seats, an acrylic spill over spa, tile walls, and a multi-level patio.

Above 2 photos:

To maximize the view of the new pool area, for this showcase, our outdoor living expert and his team created an elegant multi-level deck which also enhances the traditional look of the sloping property.

In order to match the gray siding on the house, we used a special splinter-free and slip resistant composite decking material in a similar color. Stairs, rails, benches and planters were also made from the same material, which offered the added benefit of not requiring preservation treatments.

The spacious wraparound wide stairs were positioned to maximize the view of the pool area. The geometric vinyl pool includes interior steps, love seats, an acrylic spill over spa, tile walls, and a multi-level patio. An aluminum estate fence winds around the property, blending with colorful evergreen and perennial plantings.

To complete the outdoor experience for these clients, an accessible cedar barbecue cabinet with a built-in stainless steel weber grill was installed close to, but out of the view from, the kitchen doors.

Stellar landscaping was also well planned to enhance the property’s scenic views. Bluestone stepping stones provide a delightful meandering pathway to the pool area.


Gunite Pool Upgrade:

Gunite Pool Upgrade:

For this project, we upgraded an existing 22-year-old gunite pool and replaced uncomfortable grass with a new stone-like patio.


New Retaining Wall, Spa, Moss Rock Waterfall:

New Retaining Wall, Spa, Moss Rock Waterfall:

We replaced a non-functioning waterfall and wood retaining wall, upgraded an uncomfortable existing spa with an acrylic spa and beautified the landscape with bright lush plantings.

Above 2 photos:

We were contacted by local clients who wanted their 22-year-old gunite pool upgraded. They also had a non-functioning waterfall, and were very unhappy with their backyard’s uncomfortable spa; an uncomfortable expanse of grass also badly substituted for a patio.

The first step our design/build team took was to demolish the existing spa, waterfall

wood retaining wall, and rock coping. Next, a new, and very comfortable, acrylic spa was installed. To retain the sloping woodland behind the pool and also to beautify the area, our team added a seven-foot-high moss rock waterfall and boulder coping.

Because of the property’s natural setting around the pool, we gave careful consideration to which patio material should be used. Our designers suggested a tumbled pavingstone and wall system made from Techo-Bloc. The color of the patio, which has the look of natural stone, is a blend of tan and natural gray, which ties in beautifully with the color of the boulders used. The patio remains cool even on hot summer days and has the durability of a paver patio. The new technology behind the paving and matching wall systems ensures a lifetime of easy care for these surfaces.

The final touch was a lush and colorful landscape which was successfully accomplished despite the challenge of a mostly shady woodland setting.



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