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5 Tips for Creating Your Outdoor ‘Quiet Place’

Even when you have a fabulous backyard that’s fully loaded with amenities, one outdoor space can still be illusive. Sometimes it’s hard to find a quiet space around your active barbecue and outdoor dining table or near your busy pool.

How then do you carve out your own private place? The good news is that it’s not all that hard to make one.

The next time you are outdoors, take a quick survey of your property and ask: Where would I love some quiet time? 

If you can’t point immediately to a ready-made spot — where you sneak away to read or do yoga, there’s no rule that says, when it calls for it, your getaway can’t serve double-duty as a gathering place when it’s not being used as a place for solitude. 

And, no, that’s not a contradiction. If it is going to serve double-duty, all you need is a “do not disturb” sign that the family respects when it’s hanging in an agreed spot.

 

Now for some tips in carving out that quiet spot for yourself:

 

Attractive Focal Point

Attractive Focal Point

Tip # 1.

Plan an attractive focal point. One of the enjoyments of an outdoor private space is being close to nature, so a water feature, special planting bed, babbling brook, butterfly garden, etc. are ideal options. 

Here these Deck and Patio clients had a glorious wooded yard with some private walks. We added stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in and around an existing bridge just below a comfortable park-style bench.

Robust green ground cover and plants appear as if they were always part of the natural woodland. Talk about a quiet space to get away from it all.

 

A Foundation is Key

A Foundation is Key

Tip # 2

Next, create a foundation. It can be very easy to extend an existing patio or deck, or add an entirely new area that will offer comfort and permanence underfoot.

In this case, we added a small secluded patio adjacent to the pool’s raised spillover custom spa. It’s the perfect spot to get away from it all.

As an escape it includes the gentle sounds of water spilling from the spa into the pool. But you still have a birds-eye view to all the action — when you want to look up from your book!

 

Comfort Is Key

Comfort Is Key

Tip # 3

Also, consider your comfort. A few outdoor features such as comfy seating and shade are important. For seating, you might want a footstool (or a way to put your feet up), and a headrest; if you like movement, you might want a rocker or even a swing. If there isn’t a shade tree, outdoor umbrellas, a pergola, trellis, etc. will do the trick.

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

Such a spot not only serves as a personal retreat, it can also be shared when you want company.

 

Don’t Limit Your Time

Don’t Limit Your Time

Tip # 4 

It’s also key to think both ‘night’ and ‘day.” There’ll be times during the day when you’ll want to sneak away and perhaps read a book, or just listen to birds (and for that you might want to have a bird house or water fountain near your spot); other times you’ll be taking some ‘me’ time after sunset, so a fire pit or campfire will add warmth on cool evenings and offer pleasant lighting when it gets it’s dark.

This ideal waterfall-focal point was created near the edge of an existing patio. With the addition of an attractive wood-burning stove and handsome wicker furniture it does double duty — you can escape there for some quiet, or enjoy it with friends. Just have that “do not disturb” sign at the ready!

 

Flexible Private Escape

Flexible Private Escape

Tip # 5

Flexibility may also be your answer. Having a private-time-basket that’s always at the ready is a great idea, too. It can be stocked with one or two aromatherapy candles, a favorite cushion, a throw rug for a little spontaneous yoga, ingredients (glass/soda) for your favorite drink, including a corkscrew if it happens to be wine.

This works well when you already have a well-laid patio or deck with large trees and shrubs on the periphery, or some other comfortable foundation. Then simple container gardening allows you to create a flexible quiet spot — on the spot. 

If the containers are not too large, they can be moved at a moment’s notice. In this case, our Deck and Patio’s clients also have an easy-to-move barbecue, as well as easy-living, yet elegant, outdoor furniture. An intimate spot away from the pool and main patio, it is also perfect for intimate dining.

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

Feature Photo at top of page: Small Patio For Reading or Writing

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the client’s new water feature. It’s a great spot to read and have some quiet time.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Deck and Patio Now Sells PDC Spas

Clients frequently turn to us to give the new portable spa they’ve purchased a custom installation. “And now, they won’t have to search around to purchase the hot tub separately” says Deck and Patio’s Parker Lippolt. “They can get a new PDC spa directly from us.”

As an authorized dealer of PDC Spas, Deck and Patio can provide the whole gamut of services to our clients — from an at home consultation, the installation, landscaping — and maintenance of the spa.

“A spa can be a great element for truly enjoyable outdoor living,” adds Parker. “And for those who don’t have enough space for a pool, they find they can always fit in a hot tub. Even when they also have a pool, which is only open for part of the year, their separately operating portable hot tub can run 12 months.”

About PDC Spas

PDC Spas are custom-built in the United States and provide exceptional comfort, performance, energy efficiency and longevity.

“They have targeted massage jets that ease stress and soothe aches and pains,” says Parker. “And they are a great way to spend time with family and friends.”

PDC, with three unique collections, provides a 35-year warranty and according to the manufacturer their hot tubs exceed energy standards by 33%. They are ideal installed both indoors and outdoors.

 

Indoor/Outdoor PDC Spas:

Indoor/Outdoor PDC Spas:

Many PDC models are small enough to fit through most doorways and can even be plugged into standard outlets.

 

Custom Installations

While all anyone needs is a patch of firm ground or sturdy inside flooring to hold a hot tub, many Deck and Patio clients appreciate having our expertise in creating a beautiful custom installation, such as in their deck, on their patio.  

Deck and Patio Custom Hot Tub Installation

Deck and Patio Custom Hot Tub Installation

For example, one of our local backyard upgrade projects consisted of a hot tub set alongside a water feature.

The water feature consisted of a “pond-less” waterfall and stream — and, of course, the water feature was positioned strategically so as to be viewed from both the home’s main kitchen window, their new two-level patio, and the hot tub.

The stream and waterfalls flow next to the clients’ spa — adding another layer of relaxation to the spa experience.

 

Deck and Patio

What is so unique about Deck and Patio is that we are not just a hot tub distributor, but a full service design and build firm.  

Hot Tub Patio by Deck and Patio

Hot Tub Patio by Deck and Patio

“We will take on any project, from installing a new spa, adding a landscaped “spa surround”, to incorporating a deck and patio and furnishing the yard with a pergola, outdoor kitchen, accessories, and beautiful landscaping,” says Parker.

“Whatever the job calls for, we can handle it from the ground up. Portable spas are a nice focal point in a yard, and can do so much to enhance the look of an area.”

 

 

Surround Your Pool with the Best in Outdoor Living

Deck and Patio’s design/build team is frequently asked what goes into creating a backyard that is ideal for entertaining, as well as outdoor fun. For many, the perfect outdoor experience begins with a pool, and we frequently advise them to surround their pool with the best in outdoor living.

What better time to think about such upgrades than in advance of Memorial Weekend.

 

Surrounding Patio Areas

Creatively Designed Pool Surrounds

Creatively Designed Pool Surrounds

“When it comes to ‘hardscape,’ we try to create truly functional spaces,” says our own Dave Stockwell. 

“We often see a surrounding patio that is 10’ or 12’ feet wide all around the pool. Instead, we specialize in creating functional spaces of different sizes and shapes. We’ll ask if they have patio furniture and we measure it to ensure that there is ample room for that particular grouping, while allowing for easy circulation.”

Deck and Patio also looks to see how the sun comes across the yard. “The chaise lounging area should face the water feature and the afternoon sun. You and your guests wouldn’t want to sit by your pool and have the sun to your back.”

 

 

Outdoor Bars and Dining Areas

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor Bar/Dining Area

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

Outdoor bar with waterfalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bar/dining area is a great place for guests and family to gather. A bar is often part of an outdoor kitchen and we generally locate outdoor kitchens fairly close to the inside of the house — unless it’s a destination pool.

In the case where all the outdoor living areas are a distance from the house, this requires different planning, including ample storage like Rhonda drawers, and refrigeration, etc. in the outdoor kitchen.

You can even add waterfalls to an outdoor bar. Shown here (above right) are sheet waterfalls, which offer a sleek modern look as well as a very pleasant sound. This helps people de-stress while inviting easy conversation.

 

Fun for Kids and Adults

 

 

Wild-Ride-slide

Wild-Ride-slide

 

Kids love water and action. Pool slides and diving rocks are two favorite pool amenities. 

“When we add a slide, we try build it safe for the kids by setting it in around boulders and plants so if they ever fall, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deck and Patio 38-foot Swim Up Bar

Deck and Patio 38-foot Swim Up Bar

“If these are designed well,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell, “swim-up bars can be also used as a dry bar — that is they can be enjoyed 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 (top left of photo). 

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

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.

“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.”

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

 

 

Tanning Shelves

Tanning Shelf

Tanning Shelf

 

Other kid favorites: swim outs, deep end stairs and tanning shelves.

We’ve found kids love to dive, swim out and dive or slide into the pool again, over and over. A tanning shelf or deep end stairs allow adults and other kids to watch them playing on the slide, etc. These are great places for young and old alike to gather.

 

 

 

 

“To create the best in outdoor living requires a combination of elements — a pool, of course, but also landscaping, a swim-up bar, waterslide, places to mingle such as lounging areas, outdoor bars/dining areas, perhaps a shade structure, and the sound of waterfalls,” says Dave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Along Sloping Property Setting

Not many would disagree that the homeowners who planned this backyard upgrade conceived a wonderful experience for their outdoor living. 

One notices the beauty. But a major part of the design also serves another purpose. The added waterfalls, stream, double steps, moss rock and plantings along the change in grade together create a natural looking retaining wall — a great way to cut costs while increasing the aesthetics of a beautiful graded property

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Their completed project included:

—  a free-form pool and surround renovation

—  new custom pool pavilion

—  refurbished multi-level Techo-Bloc patio

—  new multi-faceted water feature (several sets of waterfalls and stream)

—  new koi pond, and

—  a new hot tub wedged in-between the upper and lower patios.

 

“The totality of these amenities create a beautiful paradise,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “But the homeowners didn’t stop there. They asked that their multi-faceted water feature — whose separate installations can be enjoyed from the house, on the upper patio, and poolside — be extremely eco-friendly. 

For example, Town water is not used to keep the stream and waterfalls supplied.” To ensure no use of Town water, Deck and Patio installed a ‘pondless’ reservoir system below the upper-level waterfall. The spills from the waterfall pass through river rock and gravel and is collected underground. Inside the reservoir, a pump recirculates the filtered water back up through the system.

Also, by letting gravity pull the flowing water downward, the whole system is turned into a complete ‘green’ maintenance-free water source that can enjoy throughout most of the year.

The Pool Area

“We designed the overall look of the refurbished pool area to appear organic so it blends with the property’s beautiful natural surroundings,” says Dave. “The pool construction included a 24-by-42-foot free-form concrete wall.”

Deck and Patio’s toughest challenge was accurately measuring and cutting the vinyl liners needed for the pool itself and its in-pool stairs. However, having done many vinyl-pools over the years, Deck and Patio’s team knew it would just require patience and steady attention to detail.

“All this was done so as to create bodies of water that would be in harmony with the patio area, with its outdoor kitchen, and with the waterfalls, stream and koi pond. Not only is the end result beautiful to look at, but the sounds of moving and spilling water can be appreciated at every section of the outdoor retreat. For sure, these clients pulled out all the stops.”

The following photos highlight many of the project’s elements.

 

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

Backyard Upgrade Showcase Project:

This photo looks up from the custom pool pavilion (not seen) over the newly renovated vinyl pool, Techo-Bloc pool surround, a pair of natural stone steps leading to upper patio that flank the waterfalls, the lower-level waterfalls, and a portable spa set against the upper patio area. Not seen is the upper waterfall that faces the house.

 

Backyard Water Feature:

Backyard Water Feature:

Looking down at the pool and new custom pavilion that grace the lower level, the eye is first captivated by an upper waterfall; its spilling water flows downward forming a stream behind that gravity pulls to the lower level. This part of the water feature was installed to face the house so it can be enjoyed from the upper patio as well as inside the home.

 

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

Waterfall-Fed Koi Pond:

The complete water feature for this project includes a 10-by-15 foot freeform koi pond, which is regularly aerated by waterfalls from the 35-foot backyard meandering stream. Parts of the property is natural woodland, so care was taken to protect the fish. Predators, that might live nearby, are discouraged from going after the fish by installation of a small cave where the fish can hide unseen — as well as remain dormant during winter months.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

Techo-Bloc Patio and Steps:

One reason we love Techo-Bloc products is because they appear natural. They come in kits with varying shapes that allow us to create an attractive design instead of being limited by one-sized bricks etc. The Bullfrog Spa these clients chose fits snugly against the patio which was shaped to embrace it.

 

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

Total Backyard Upgrade Seen at Nighttime

This portable spa was positioned against the patio in a way to appear built-in — or custom. This way the clients have the best of both worlds, a handsome looking spa that is fitted with great massage jets.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

When Do Backyard Upgrades Require Design/Build Expertise?

Fall, and even winter, are great times to do outdoor upgrades. And if your needs are simple ground-level upgrades, they can be done pretty much by anyone.

But if your property’s terrain is challenging, or your outdoor living dreams call for more artistically designed spaces, the advantages of choosing a “design-build” firm is worth consideration.

What Is Design-Build Construction?

Design-build inside contractors provide the architectural design for a project as well as its construction. This is also true for “outdoor living” contractors like Deck and Patio.

“Choosing one firm to do the design as well as the construction doesn’t cause the project’s costs to be more expensive than hiring two groups of experts,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “Nor will clients lose all control either.”

On the contrary, adds Dave. Clients find they develop a closer relationship with their design-build project manager, who knows all that’s going on and can easily accommodate their changing needs/ideas as the project develops.

As you’ll see from the examples of some of our work that we’ve included today, when it comes to outdoor living projects, having a singular vision — which might include plantings, waterscapes, and hardscape — results in beautifully harmonious backyard escapes.

 

Pool Landscaping

 

Multi-level Patio Design

Multi-level Patio Design

For this handsome free-form pool, Deck and Patio designed a surrounding patio using a design kit from Cambridge Pavingstones with AmorTec.

“The kit allowed us to create a very attractive random pattern, with gradations in tones,” says Dave.

“Also, our several in-depth consultations with the clients helped us know their needs and tastes, resulting in its multi-level patio design, with designated spaces for all their priorities — dining, lounging, etc.”

Plus, adding a water feature on one side of the pool, along with a pool slide, not only was alluring, adds Dave, but the moss rock boulder placements and landscaping do double-duty as a natural-looking retaining area for the pool.

 

Backyard Water Features

Natural Looking Water Feature Design

Natural Looking Water Feature Design

 

Designing and building a backyard water feature takes time, especially if you want your man-made feature to appear as if Mother Nature designed it herself. 

This requires ordering and installing perfect-sized rocks and boulders which will cause water to flow in natural spills into either a pond or, in this case, a ‘pondless’ water feature.

 

 

 

Designing/Building for Privacy

Backyard ‘Spool’

Backyard ‘Spool’

Sometimes the need for privacy is an issue when designing for comfortable outdoor living. This property, for example, was open on three sides and in full view of four homes.

“The clients wanted a ‘spool’ — or a cross between a small pool and a spa — but the best spot for it was in a very exposed area,” says Dave.

Deck and Patio’s landscaping design team used Skip Laurels, Leyland Cypress, and Cedars to create an attractive natural privacy screen around the spool. In addition, texture and color were brought in to the buffering divider by incorporating flowering deciduous shrubs.

“We also incorporated creeping evergreen ground covers to cascade and wind over and between the rocks we installed,” says Dave. “Plus a careful selection of plants provides the area with color from April through October. The whole design flows beautifully into the back property.

This project was actually built during winter months. Next week our blog will focus on how that project was designed, built, and completed including dealing with the worst of winter. 

 

Design/Build Decks

Deck Built To Enjoy the Views

Deck Designed/Built To Enjoy the Views

For this project, privacy was not an issue for the clients. In fact, they wanted it as open as possible to take in the property’s wonderful views.

“We designed a 2-level TimberTech XLM PVC deck for them, with one level just for the outdoor dining table, and the other places for deep seating outdoor furniture like chaise lounges and the barbecue,” says Dave.

”We also recommended the black railing for a strong contrasting tone to the decking materials. The design also included 45-degree angles in order to orient the outdoor furniture toward the views.”

 

 

Green Spaces Positively Influence the Mental Development of Children

Many parents hope their child will get into a good college. That motive is frequently behind where parents choose to buy a home. They want the best possible school district for their kids.

Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY

Heckscher Park, Huntington, NY

But as study after study shows, parents might want to also look at how green the district is — or how green their own residential neighborhood will be. For one recently published study suggests that growing up among green surroundings can improve a child’s IQ. 

This study covered in The Guardian earlier this week analyzed what happens to a child’s IQ when the green space is increased. The average IQ score of children in the study went up by 2.6 points in both richer and poor neighborhoods. 

Analyst believe that perhaps this cognitive development came about because green areas lower stress levels, encourage play, and that a quieter environment is conducive to increased social contact.

Other studies, like a Danish one published last year proved, for example, that living near a park or forest may aid a child’s mental health later in life — giving children a 55% lower risk of developing a mental disorder. 

In addition to choosing a town or area with lots of green public spaces, one’s private residential property can be landscaped to ensure sufficient green space for your children. 

“We love being in the business of creating such harmonious landscapes. Of course, not all properties make it easy to design such a space,” says our owner Dave Stockwell. “Sometimes the property’s grades or its size make it a challenge. One of the things we do well at Deck and Patio is manipulate grades within the different levels so the family can get the maximum enjoyment.”

Landscaping for Children (Long Island/NY):

Landscaping for Children (Long Island/NY):

This is a good example (left) of just such careful manipulation.

Deck and Patio worked with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) to design and build a lagoon-style pool on this property which included a swim-up bar, yet we still managed to leave some lawn space where their children could play.

“The homeowners had previously spoken with other pool and landscape companies, who all wanted to put the pool where the lawn is. But Michael Truehart of True Blue felt it was a pity to use up that flat piece of lawn, where the children loved to play,” adds Dave. 

“What was required in order to allow for that was a lot of creative landscaping within the grades, including the pool design. We just had to sculpt the unusual elevated terrain so as to incorporate all that was on their wish list.”

 

Green Space with Water Features

‘Green’ doesn’t mean only an expansive lawn. A natural environment that aids in the reduction of stress in both children and adults includes lush vegetation as well as, perhaps, a pond, or other water feature for that extra dose of tranquility. 

Deck and Patio’s design for this project not only included lots of green space and a waterfall area but an attractive patio for relaxation.

Green/Natural Spaces (Long Island/NY):

Green/Natural Spaces (Long Island/NY):

“We also try to keep as many trees as possible when we design an upgrade to someone’s landscaping,” says Dave Stockwell. “Trees are a precious commodity for our well being in so many ways, not to mention they offer a haven to birds.”

Indeed, one of our blogs a few months ago reported on another study regarding the benefits of birdsongs to humans. It said, “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.” 

Even a small waterfall and/or pond is a perfect place for birds to refresh themselves and have a drink.

 

Ponds, Pool, and Green Space

Keeping Plenty of Green Space (Long Island/NY):

Keeping Plenty of Green Space (Long Island/NY):

This project (left) was actually 3 bodies of water if you include the swimming pool. Our client wanted 2 ponds, one for fish only, and one for water garden plants. 

What happened was surprising. The lower pond was the fish pond (it made sense, because the fish might swim down stream into the lower pond if it were the other way around).

“However we were shocked when the client called and told us that the fish were jumping over the waterfall stone and swimming up stream and into the upper pond. I guess you can’t beat mother nature,” says Dave.

This project shows the opposite of our first example above. This property is not sloped at all, which shows it’s not necessary to have a yard with a slope to plan a beautiful water garden. Not to mention, a flat property allows for lots of green space for play. 

“It’s all about scale and proportion to achieve a serene vista,” says Dave. “And of course, utility. We were able to leave lots of green play space as well. It’s great when you can plan the landscape for both children and adults.”

 

 

Backyard Oasis: These Days, Home Is Where It’s At

You might be missing summer concerts, well-attended barbecues, and other larger-group activities. At least activities that don’t include masks and social distancing. But creating that backyard retreat you’ve always wanted, even if just for family right now, does offer some compensations.

Take, for example, this project we did for clients a little while ago. They wanted a pool, with a waterfall and handsome patio, and they also wanted a “spillover” spa. But in speaking with them we learned something. They also wanted to be able to use their spa all year round. Hot tubs help you relax, and it’s understandable they want that option throughout the seasons.

“Most custom in-ground spas, especially spillovers,” says Dave Stockwell, “are connected to the pool’s functions. This means when the pool is shut down  — usually by late September here on Long Island — the spa gets shut down, too. Our solution was rather than build the usual connecting cement spa, to install a portable hot in a way that looked built in — and with a waterfall just below it.”

The clients agreed that this was an ideal way to give them all they wanted, especially since they would also get the superb hydrotherapy benefits from the massage jets — and have those benefits, whenever.

The neat thing is that from inside the pool and many parts of the patio, this second pool waterfall just below the spa gives the appearance that the water’s coming out from the spa— or that it’s a spillover spa.

 

Completed Oasis-style Pool and Spa

The movement in the pool’s free form shape, surrounded by plant material chosen for color and texture — with a view on how it will grow — ensures their backyard retreat will be a lovely backyard oasis for a long time to come. 

And what about during seasons when the pool is closed? There’s lots of long-blooming plants and green ground cover to brighten the area outside of pool season so the view from the hot tub remains very pleasant.

 

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, spa set in-ground, robust plantings, and handsome patio.

 

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. While it’s actually coming from the pool’s edge, the waterfall appears to be coming from a custom in-ground spa.

 

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.

 

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

In-Ground Pool with Tanning Shelf:

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.

 

Portable Spa Installation:

Portable Spa Installation:

We left one side of the spa exposed to make it easy to get to the plumbing operation of the hot tub. However, when looking at it from the patio or pool area, it appears to be all in-ground.

 

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.

 

So, life may not be back to where we want it, but fortunately, if budget and space permit, there can be some compensations. 

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