design and build experts

Staycations: Small Backyard Landscaping Ideas

The weather is going to be pretty cold over the next few days. A good time to stay indoors and plan for warm weather staycations

That said, there are many of you with small backyards who find themselves living inside even during the warm outdoor season. You may want to be outside, but like the following clients, you may not enjoy your less-than-special backyard. As for upgrading, you may fear the practicality and costs of to create anything of quality. 

Budget-Friendly Decks

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking: Lattice not only makes an attractive base, its gaps provide ventilation, thereby inhibiting mold growth underneath the deck.

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking: Lattice not only makes an attractive base, its gaps provide ventilation, thereby inhibiting mold growth underneath the deck.

“Not all decks need be elaborate and expensive,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “For example, this budget-friendly deck we built for clients is modestly sized, yet large enough for a dining table, loungers and barbecue. It was designed to be just two steps above grade so a railing was not required either — another cost saver.” 

Quality: The material Deck and Patio used is from Fiberon. We liked this composite decking for its beautiful wood-like multi-chromatic grain pattern, says Dave, which belies how highly functional it is. 

As a composite cellular material of durable polymer, it is moisture resistant. Plus, no organic material is involved, so no mold will grow on it. Low maintenance, lovely to look at, sufficiently ample in size, yet it was very budget-friendly.

Small Backyard Landscaping Tip: “When working with tighter places,” adds Dave, “allow enough room for a chaise lounge, dining, barbecue, and sufficient space to walk around. At the same time, do not overbuild the whole available space.”

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking:

Fiberon Protect Advantage Cedar Capped Composite Decking:

This is the project described above. Another small backyard landscaping tip: Planters are a budget-friendly way to add bursts of color around the deck. You can even grow vegetables in planters such as a “summer salad” container for tomatoes and cucumbers, says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. You can be sure these clients use their backyard a good deal now — for sun bathing, dining, and entertaining.

 

Small Backyards with Hot Tubs

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We’re frequently asked about how to make a pretty setting for a hot tub in a small backyard,” says Dave.

As you will see from the before photo (above left), space for these clients was tight. Even so, this Massapequa couple longed to enjoy their backyard more.

“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,” says Dave.

However, even though these Deck and Patio clients 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) 

 

"After"

“After”

Upshot? The pond with waterfalls, custom hot tub installation, and landscaping were still considerably less expensive than a pool. “A small backyard is an ideal place for a hot tub,” adds Dave. Note: Deck and Patio has portable CAL Spas in stock at our design center.

 

Fountainscapes Are Perfect in Small Spaces

Fountainscapes:

Fountainscapes:

 

Even a simple fountain will provide the delightful sound of moving water and a picturesque setting. Such sounds upgrade a routine garden into a spot that makes you want to stay home and just relax.

Certainly this Deck and Patio landscaping project included just the right touch to take it from pretty to sublime. There’s nothing quite like the sound of water to make us relax.

Although Deck and Patio installed this “stacked stone urn” fountain for the clients, they are easy DIY projects.

The kits come pretty well fabricated with a catch basin, pump, piping, and in different sizes. The one we used is the smallest (32” tall) — a perfect scale for this garden.

 

Swim-Up Bars Bring Vacation Experience Back Home

 

Updated 3-28-28

Published reports  abound on the best resort swim-up bars one can enjoy when traveling the world — be it by Conde Nash Traveler, HGTV, TripAdvisor, Men’s Journal, etc. As for a more home grown, consider Michigan’s First Swim Up Bar opening to the public this fall.

But do we really have to travel overseas or even to Michigan? How about one in our own backyard?

 

What Is a Swim-up Bar?

Swim-Up Bar

Swim-Up Bar

For the uninitiated, a traditional swim-up bar is a regular bar with a “wet side” and “dry side” which allows guests to swim-up and ask for a drink without having to leave the pool.

Standard swim-up bars consist of (1) a regular bar with countertop along the edge of your pool, (2) submerged and fixed bar stools in a more shallow part of the pool, (3) and a custom workstation on the swim-up bar’s “dry side.” 

 

 

Why does this pool amenity remain so popular?

Riviera Maya Caribbean Resort

Riviera Maya Caribbean Resort

 

“Swim up bars remind people of their Caribbean and other exotic vacations where they could stay in the pool or on the beach, order and enjoy their piña coladas,” says Dave Stockwell.

“They are also great spots for swimmers and sunbathers to meet up and talk, without the swimmers having to get out of the pool or the backyard strollers to get wet.”

 

 

Doing Double-Duty

Deck and Patio Swim-up Bar

Deck and Patio Swim-up Bar

“If swim-up bars are designed well,” adds Dave, “they can also be used as a dry bar — that is they can be enjoyed solely from its other side.”

In fact, Deck and Patio specializes in creating bars that do just that — do double duty as a dry bar and swim-up. Take, for example, this stunning bar shown here. 

It’s really enjoyable to swim up to this 38-foot “swim-up bar”with submerged barstools.

“The key is each swim-up bar should be unique, designed and custom-made for each project,” says Dave. “Whether it’s the bar’s counter-top, any necessary retaining walls, masonry work, in-pool stools, electrical and plumbing work, it takes skill and experience to ensure it’s perfectly functional, safe, and beautiful.”

Note: As you can see from this Deck and Patio swim-up, it’s also a dry bar on the other side.

 

Swim-Up Bars Shade Structures

While not necessary, a shade structure with the swim-up bar is frequently requested. As a licensed contractor, Deck and Patio is well known across Long Island for award-winning design and custom building.

Some shade structure options are:

 

Shade Structures

Shade Structures

 

— shade pergolas, 

— trellises, 

— gazebos and 

— pavilions. 

 

 

 

A shade structure should blend harmoniously with other elements in your yard and can include everything from an outdoor kitchen, pizza oven, fireplace,” says Dave. “With such additions, your guests can enjoy dining, as well as drinks, from your swim-up bar.” 

The main point, of course, is to have sufficient sun protection in that part of your yard and pool.

 

Lagoon-style Swimming Pools:

Lagoon-style Swimming Pools:

In addition to a dramatic waterfall area, a stunning Cambridge paver patio and water slide, these clients wanted a swim-up bar with in-pool stools, and Tiki umbrellas. 

Landscaping: Throughout this backyard retreat, smaller groups of boulders were fitted with plantings for natural and attractive retaining areas.

The photo below shows the other side of the swim up bar with examples of the landscaped boulders and plants.

 

True Backyard Retreat

True Backyard Retreat

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

 

Deck and Patio Swim-Up Bar

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: This is an example of combining many elements — use landscaping, a swim-up bar, pool waterfalls, natural retaining wall, shade structure,  etc. — to create a true enticing backyard resort.

 

 

 

 

When Should I Begin Planning My Backyard Upgrade?

While it’s not too cold now, you might be thinking that the weather could change abruptly at any moment. This is New York, after all. So you might be considering waiting until spring to plan and begin any major backyard upgrades.

“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.”

Google Earth Map

Google Earth Map

 

“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. 

“Even if the ground is covered in snow, our experts don’t need to see the ground to begin,” adds Dave. “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.”

 

 

 

How Computer Animation Helps

 

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Backyard 3-D Animation Plan

Completed Backyard Upgrade

Completed Backyard Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3-D animation (top left) not only shows what the yard will look like — including from different perspectives — tweaking and changes can easily be changed as the project goes along.

For this completed Long Island, NY, project (top right), the property had existing patios and a pool. The key was to decide what to keep and what to remove. 

One part of the design expanded the original confining upper and lower patios into both shady and sunny expansive areas. This also helped open up the space to allow unobstructed views of Long Island Sound.

 

Full Deck and Patio Backyard Retreat

When you’re hoping for a major upgrade that includes lots of special outdoor amenities — and especially if your property presents challenges to adding them — it is really a good idea to get started very early.

“In the following case, the clients’ hopes for a full outdoor retreat — pool, spa, patio, waterfall, custom fire pit — all on a tight budget and created in a tighter space — added to the challenges of dealing with their yard’s slope.”

Full Outdoor Retreat on Sloped Property

Full Outdoor Retreat on Sloped Property

“Our biggest problem to solve was how to make everything appear like it fit in naturally without it all looking like a giant hill.”

Our design/build staff approached the project by taking on the grade in small bites — working out from an existing lower level patio to a new raised patio and then up to a pool. 

Note: By surrounding the hot tub with natural stone boulders with colorful plantings, the hot tub has a custom set-in-garden appeal. It was also positioned close to their back door so they can enjoy easy access year-long. (Note: You can ask our team about the portable CAL Spas we sell.)

 

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

 

 

Here you see a closeup of the completed moss rock waterfall with the sweet potato vine we added. Landscaping helps bring a setting to life and softens the hardscape.

For more details about this project, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Lush Landscapes

Lush Landscapes

 

Today’s Feature Photo at Top of Page: Vibrant, lush landscaping as well as a new patio, pool area with water slide, and custom spa with waterfalls takes planning. It’s wise to start, yes, even in January. 

Mini Pools Make the Most of Small Yards and Budgets

Whether you call it a mini pool, spool, plunge pool, wading pool or cocktail pool, small pools are growing in popularity. Not requiring as much space or cost as a regular pool, often face fewer building restrictions, and are ideal for small families, properties and budgets.

On Pinterest, for example, posts showcase a wide range of mini pool shapes and amenities. Indeed, Deck and Patio has posted our own projects there. For we’ve been creating a version of these mini pools for some time. 

The ones we’ve most often designed/built we’ve termed “spools” or a combination of pool and spa. But they are a type of mini pool.

And if you think that this is an odd time of year to be thinking about pools, mini or not, you might be surprised to learn that we begin building one of our popular spools on Pinterest in fall, completing it in spring. 

Here’s that Deck and Patio spool story.

 

Spool: Before, After, and In-Between

The homeowners decided on a ‘spool” for their yard  because they didn’t have room for a full-sized pool.

A spool would also allow them to enjoy it year-round. They could opt to run cool water in the spool during warm months, and hot water during cold months and cool evenings.

In addition, the mechanics of a spa provides the benefits of hydrotherapy massage — not to mention the amazing experience of sitting under flowing water from an added waterfall.

 

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

‘Before:’ Deck and Patio used orange paint to mark the areas for the new spool, waterfall, patio and landscaping.

 

 

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

“During.” Winter was upon us not long after we began the project. We did have time to dig out the area for the spa. Then we covered the hole while we all waited for spring to continue.

 

 

“During” Spring As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

“During” Spring
As soon as spring came, we began building the concrete shell. As you can see the ground was still hard but the hole was already dug allowing us to proceed early.

 

 

‘During’ Testing of Waterfall: This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

‘During’ Testing of Waterfall:
This is day we tested the waterfall. The completed spool is 8’ x 10’ and is vinyl-lined. Note the patio was complete also. The patio was built using Techo-Bloc paving stones (Elena in Sandlewood) which are durable and will withstand a lot of activity and weather changes.

 

 

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

‘Before’ Landscaping: Here a member of our team is marking out the landscaping areas for behind the waterfall up to the garage. You can see (on the right) the spool and waterfall are already complete. You can also see a small segment of the new patio.

 

 

“After” Landscaping: First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

“After” Landscaping:
First photo angle of “after” job complete. A new fence was added for contrast and a bit of drama; a rushing stream flows through the large moss rock boulders to become a waterfall flowing into the spa.

 

 

“After” Landscaping Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

“After” Landscaping
Second angle of “after” job complete. Here you can see the garage, fence, patio and spool; you can almost feel the warmth from their natural gas campfire. The end result is a beautiful backyard oasis tucked nicely into a corner of their new backyard upgrade.

 

 

 

Celebrating Labor Day at Home: Just Add Water and Some Color

Getaways, by car or air, can be costly. Not to mention the crowds.

 

Labor Day Fun

Labor Day Fun

 

One way to not break the bank over the long Labor Day weekend is to simply enjoy it at home. Plant some colorful fall flowers, fire up the grill, string a few lights and set out the comfortable lounge furniture and chairs.

 

 

 

 

But a long weekend isn’t just one big bash. There’s plenty of time to relax outdoors and just enjoy the promised good weather we’re expecting.  And to give this experience just a little more zen — consider adding a bit of flowing water to your backyard scene.

For example, there’s one easy garden complement that makes any landscaped area transformative in how it delights the soul. Even small gardens become something wonderful when the sights and sounds of flowing water are added.

Those who know Deck and Patio for our larger pond/water feature installations (we’ve done over 300 on Long Island alone) may be surprised that we also specialize in smaller water features such as fountains.

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

Stacked Stone Urn fountain

This photo is one such garden fountain that we added for clients who had recently moved to a new home. (This fountain is also seen above as our feature photo) 

When working at their property, one of our team members mentioned that it felt like the garden was missing something — a feature that would offer both the sound and relaxing sight of water movement. 

The clients agreed that a garden fountain would be an ideal finishing touch in such limited space.

 

And here’s a 5-second video for you to hear the water music of that installation: 

 

 

DIY Fountain Projects

Deck and Patio can install a fountain for you. However, if you’d like to add one of these fountains on your own, all you need is a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a level. 

Then, adding a bag of decorative gravel and mulch, you have a picture-perfect-and-sound-perfect-fountain that not only you will enjoy but so will many of nature’s lovable wildlife.

 

 

Add Some Color

Add Some Color

 

 

So dress up your deck and comfortable seating areas with some flowers and the sounds of flowing water. Grill up something tasty — and avoid the crowds — and the costs. 

 

 

 

 

By |2022-08-18T12:41:25-05:00August 18th, 2022|Family Fun, Gardening, Landscape Planning, Landscaping, Outdoor Living|Comments Off on Celebrating Labor Day at Home: Just Add Water and Some Color

Extend Your Outdoor Season in Comfort

Whether you want a spot that’s bug-free or offers the presence of a fan providing a breeze, or has readily available entertainment like a TV, there is a way to extend your outdoor season with just such comforts.

Including a pool house when adding a pool is one popular way Long Islanders extend the outdoor season well into fall. And when the owners of a very large property on Long Island’s North Shore contacted us, Deck and Patio helped them plan a new destination-pool area that included a comfortable space for family and entertainment activities.

In addition to designing/building a new 50-foot-long and 26-foot-wide pool, with an elegant Travertine patio, spillover spa and waterfalls, because the pool area was to be a distance from their main house, they also wanted the ability to cook by the pool.

 

 

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

 

And to enjoy all these amenities at night, in a place that was ‘bug-free,’ for the pool house design, our team consulted with an architect familiar to us.

The collaborative effort inspired a building that is in keeping with their main home’s overall elegance. In fact, it was their home which inspired the pool house’s reverse gable. 

 

 

 

 

Special pool house amenities included:

  • 800-square-foot pool house with a 20-by-20 screened room and bathroom;

  • one great room with sofa

  • flat screen television

  • washer/dryer

  • refrigerator

  • second storage closet

  • outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade, and an

  • outdoor shower

 

 

Even those evenings when it’s too chilly to go in the pool, it’s wonderful to be outdoors in the comfort of a pool house with television. One of the two rooms has screens on two sides where they can enjoy warm or cool nights without pesky insects.

The completed project won an International Silver Pool Award from the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP) the very next year after winning a 2009 Bronze Pool Award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA).

 

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Ceiling (Long Island/NY):

An expanse of cedar planks allows for drama and a clean natural look inside the pool house.

 

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

Vinyl Pool (Long Island/NY):

With concrete wall and a vinyl liner, the approximately 50’-long-and-26’-wide pool offers a spillover spa, tanning shelf, volleyball court, diving rock and moss rock waterfall. The free-form pool is surrounded by an elegant Travertine patio.

 

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

Pool House Outdoor Kitchen (Long Island/NY):

The pool house’s outdoor kitchen (and indoor bathroom) required a second septic system to support such amenities as a kitchen sink, built-in barbecue, storage, and small refrigerator. A real stone veneer adds natural elegance.

 

Destination Pool and Pool House (Long Island/NY):

Destination Pool and Pool House (Long Island/NY):

At night, the destination pool area is as romantic as it is serene. It is an idyllic spot for parties that begin in the day and continue long into the night.

 

The Benefits of Exposure to Nature

When surfing social media, the posts that get most attention are beautiful landscaping photos. If catching a quick glimpse of nature online seems to refresh the spirit, imagine what time spent outdoors in a natural setting does.

The University of Washington wrote a piece on this very subject not too long ago. And after two years of study, while they remain baffled as to “how” nature heals more than the soul, they do know that exposure to a beautiful landscape is beneficial to one’s overall well being.

The study also indicated that some doctors in their areas were already suggesting “doses of nature to their adult patients to treat conditions ranging from heart disease to depression.” 

The researchers also discovered that spending time in nature can be a challenge, depending on one’s neighborhood, etc. But providing specific spots to “safely enjoy nature” is worth the effort both at home and in the local community.

We thought we’d share today some examples of Long Island homeowners who have employed Deck and Patio to create mini-natural havens in their own yards.

 

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Creating Beautiful Backyard Escapes

Deck and Patio carefully selected the boulders and stones, along with bright plantings to create this beautiful vista. And as many would agree, it would not have been an ideal outdoor refuge without some sort of water feature. A stream with waterfalls flowing under a charming wooden bridge, combined with the imported boulders and rocks we chose, created a natural walking trail like one would find in the mountains.

 

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

Mixing Softscapes with Hardscapes:

There’s no need to sacrifice a patio with spaces for entertaining for a natural vista that will nourish your soul. You can have both. Here we built multi-level patios and carefully spaced how each area was to be used. 

We set up one area for relaxing and taking in a section of the yard’s multi-faceted water feature. Another spot off to the side — in front of a thicket of trees — was designed as a private patio. Sections for sunning and being near their pool were also planned out.

 

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

Award-Winning Backyard Twin Ponds:

This project is a great example of building a nature lover’s escape on a property that did not have a lot of slope. It is actually three bodies of water: twin ponds and a swimming pool. 

The lower pond was intended to be the fish pond, with the upper pond for aquatic plants. However, Mother Nature is always boss. For not long after this award-winning* project was complete, the pond fish began jumping over the waterfall stone that separated the ponds to swim upstream into the upper pond. 

(*This project won an international silver medal for water features from the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP).

 

Backyard Nature Walk:

Backyard Nature Walk:

Because these clients had a lovely wooded yard, Deck and Patio had a beautiful backdrop to work our magic. We weaved stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an around the property’s existing bridge and nature walks — all just below a park-style bench. We also lavished it all with robust plantings and green ground cover. To just about any eye, the completed nature walk appears as if Mother Nature put it all together herself.

 

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Natural Stepping Stone Bridge:

Taking a walk in this backyard is as much meditation as exercise. In homage to Japanese Garden styles, Deck and Patio fitted large natural stones with smooth walking surfaces across a newly completed backyard pond. When doing the landscaping, we anchored each side of the pond with beautiful deep colors midst the lush green ground cover.

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

Feature Photo (Top of Page):

Since we can’t travel daily to natural habitats, how can we pause daily to rest our minds? The answer may be found right in our own backyard.

Did you know that since Deck and Patio began designing/building ponds and pondscapes, we have created over 300 such peaceful water features here on Long Island alone? Local nature lovers have found that their backyards don’t have to be just a patch of green with some flower beds. They can be glorious escapes that act as the perfect elixir.

How Can I Improve My Pool Area?

Long frustrated by a dated backyard pool area, this Dix Hills family was particularly focused on the old wood deck and red brick patios around their pool which were to small for parties and entertaining.

Another issue was an old retaining wall which spoiled the look of the pool area.

Deck and Patio’s creative team inspired these clients with this suggestion: re-grade the slope area and replace it with a “natural” retaining wall with a dramatic waterfall, stream, and woodland garden.

Rather than create a pond to capture the water from the planned seven-foot-high “sheet” waterfall, a pondless waterfall system from Aquascape was recommended. 

 

 

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

Old Unattractive Retaining Wall.

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

New Natural Looking Retaining Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We particularly value Aquascape’s waterfall systems because they focus, like we do, on an ecosystem approach to water features,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “For this project, the pondless system relies on a natural balance of circulation, filtration, plants, rocks and gravel to ensure sustainability.”

 

 

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

Deck and Patio creates natural looking waterfalls

 

To achieve a natural looking waterfall, the design/build team needs to understand how water flows over and releases from rock in nature in order to re-create the feeling you’re hiking or strolling along some natural pathway. 

We avoid a man-made water feature appearance by designing it so the water changes directions in the waterfalls and streams.

Once this project’s stream and waterfall was complete, we pressed boulders into the surrounding slope. After that, we addressed the landscaping. Our crew installed natural woodland plantings to tie in with the tall oaks that exist on the property’s perimeter and added evergreen shrubs to ensure year-round color.

 

 

Refurbished Pool and Patio

Refurbished Pool and Patio

With the slope stabilized, our team addressed pool renovation. After draining the pool and removing the original liner, a poorly built concrete block wall was uncovered.

We straightened the wall and filled the block in with concrete and steel rebars for strength. New vinyl covered stairs were then added, as well as new pipes, returns, skimmers, pump, filter and new liner was installed.

After this, the pool was carefully backfilled and tamped. We compacted the soil back around the pool in three-inch lifts to allow for the immediate installation of new pavers around the pool.

 

 

Note: This compacting process is not done by many contractors. The idea is that using compacted soil the base will not settle, so you don’t have to wait to install a patio around a new pool. Many contractors still install concrete slabs under their patio. In our experience we find this does not work well. Settling still occurs under the slab allowing the patio to crack or settle. 

 

After the base materials were finished, we installed chestnut-hued durable pavers from Cambridge (Sahara). These particular pavers have little or no color fade and the random design pattern adds interest to the patio. The pavers’ protective coating means these clients will have a clean-lined modern look. Even after being subjected to snow plowing, de-icing salts and normal wear, they will keep their color and beautiful appearance.

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Environmentally-Friendly Travertine Pavers

 

Updated 7-11-24

Compared to synthetic materials, natural stone like Travertine is an attractive environmentally-friendly building material. For one thing, it is a renewable resource that experts say is harvested sustainably and the process for this boasts a low environmental impact. Not to mention, Travertine is resistant to environmental changes such as heat or freezing, which is ideal in the freeze-thaw-summer-heat weather of the Northeast. Its non-slip surface is also ideal around a pool.

“Natural stone like Travertine continues to be a popular option both indoors and outdoors,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “One reason for this continued popularity is an ever-rising desire to use natural, environmentally-friendly materials.”

Indeed, natural stone, like Travertine, is a beautiful material that holds its beauty and integrity for years.

“One particular outdoor living trend,” adds Dave, “involves pool deck installations in handsome travertine — a soft stone that in the past usually graced only a home’s interior.”

 

Two Deck and Patio Travertine Pool Decks

Pool with Travertine Pavers

Pool with Travertine Pavers

In this first Deck and Patio project (left and above), we surrounded a new 50-foot-long, 26-foot-wide (approximate) pool with an elegant pool deck made of Travertine.

The project also boasts a tanning shelf, spillover spa, moss rock waterfalls, volleyball court, and diving rock.

The pool was constructed with a concrete wall and vinyl liner. 

“These homeowners also had us build a pool house and an outdoor kitchen (see below), so they really wanted to bring all the comforts and the elegance of their home’s interior pool-side,” says Dave.

 

 

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

For the pool house, Deck and Patio consulted with a good friend and architect, James DeLuca. Our collaborative effort inspired a building and extended pool deck that is in keeping with their home’s overall elegance.

 

About Travertine

Travertine natural stone has been in existence for thousand of years. It comes in many different colors, ranging from reddish orange, beige, to white, and is sometimes mistaken for marble.

Italian Travertine, revered for its hardness and porosity, is what the Coliseum in Rome was constructed of, so the durability of Italian Travertine is not in question, although it can be expensive.

However, Travertine is quarried from around the globe. The three most common locations where Travertine comes from are: Italy, Turkey, and Mexico. Mexico’s Travertine is a much softer and much more porous and does not hold up well in our frost zone.

Turkish Travertine, is very common and, in most instances, is less expensive than the Italian. It does hold up quite well in our Northeast’s freeze/thaw climate.

Be aware, however, that some companies offer very inexpensive Travertine for use outdoors and may seem to be a great deal. However, they may be using stone quarried in, say, China, where the qualities of such stone differ considerably and will not stand up to certain climates. Just because a stone is called “Travertine,” don’t assume it’s all the same. It’s not.

 

Both projects we’re showcasing today (above and below) were built from Turkish Travertine. The following pool deck used well over 2,500 square feet of Travertine and over 180 linear feet of fullness coping for the pool.

 

Travertine’s Appeal:

Travertine’s Appeal:

The look of Travertine is exquisite. It has a smooth surface with small pores and dimples that give it an “old world finish.”

 

In our area of the Northeast (Long Island, NY), the summer sun gets intense. However, Travertine does not absorb the heat like brick or bluestone, and is similar to light-colored concrete pavers where heat is not retained in the paver. This makes it ideal as a pool surround, where being barefoot is unavoidable.

 

 

Using Travertine Outdoors:

Using Travertine Outdoors:

The Travertine stone we used for this project enhanced the geometric shape of the pool and it was decided to elevate the diving area for added interest. This raised area offers a quiet escape for relaxing; bright plantings add to the pleasure of it all.

 

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Under the Umbrella Sun:

Travertine doesn’t absorb heat like other materials and offers an elegant contrast to robust lawns and plantings.

 

 

 

 

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