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Backyard Upgrades: Two Different Ways To Cope with a Slope

There’s no denying that, even for design/build experts, sloped properties can be a challenge. In the end, as with much of life’s problems — creativity ends up being the key.

“The creative process begins when as we discover who our clients are and what their hopes are for their yard,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Devoting enough time to the interviewing process is an important first step.”

Today we’re highlighting two very different ways to ‘cope with a slope,’ The first project was for Long Island, NY, clients whose yard had a seven-foot elevation rising up from one end of their yard to the other, says Dave.

 

Project # 1

“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 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.

 

Project # 2

Our second project earned The Deck and Patio Company a Silver Award from the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA). These homeowners are nature lovers. And their property had an unused slope near their patio. 

Our idea was to design/build a 35-foot-stream, with two stepping stone paths on either side, that gently moves along the grade solely with the help of Mother Nature’s gravity. 

We also positioned natural moss rock boulders and plantings, as well as river stones along its banks to make a perfect area for strolling, bird-watching, etc. The water flows down into a lovely free-form pond near the patio.

 

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

Nature-Loving Family (Long Island/NY):

This stunning free-form pond is a huge hit with the clients’ entire nature-loving family. Everyone enjoys feeding and watching the vibrant koi as they swim about in it. “We even get to enjoy it all at night,” says the wife. “And we can see it from our home and offices, too.”

 

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Picture-Perfect Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

It takes expertise and experience to position rocks in such a way as to coax water into waterfalls just like it happens in nature. Members of Deck and Patio’s team enjoy the woods and hillsides of upstate New York — frequently stopping and studying how water flows over rock, how plants crop up alongside of such water trails, etc.

“The whole area attracts so much wildlife — like frogs and birds,” says the homeowner. “This is really one of our favorite things about having a stream and pond.”

The homeowners say they also enjoy the sounds of the waterfalls and the serenity they feel watching the fish swimming in the pond. “It’s something we look forward to at the end of a long day.”

To learn more about this backyard stream and pond, click here.

 

 

Antidote for a ‘Winter’ Polar Vortex? Planning a ‘Summer’ Vortex Slide

Central Park, NY

Central Park, NY

Weather reports say that around the end of this month a ‘displaced’ polar vortex might overtake our area with freezing temperatures and storms. 

Whether or not the weather in our part of the Northeast becomes brutal, the timing — end of January — is ideal for planning a more fun ‘Vortex’ that will thrill your family come summer.

We’re talking about an exciting swimming pool slide.

 

Outdoor Summer Thrills

Vortex Slide

Vortex Slide

As many families know, Vortex, Typhoon, or Cyclone, even, describe exciting rides at waterparks. And like other enjoyable amenities that once required travel, homeowners are bringing those very waterpark thrills to their own backyards. 

 

There are several companies whose frightening-sounding water slides offer such home excitement: e.g., S.R. Smith (Cyclone, Turbo Twister, Typhoon, Vortex.), Aquaslide (Jungle Joe and Jungle Joe II), Inter-Fab (Wild Ride Slides)

 

 

Indeed, Deck and Patio has been involved in installing such slides on Long Island and the New York Metro area for years. Their sizes and shapes have varied, as well as the scope of the project installations — depending on the client’s budget, property size, and the amount of adrenaline rush desired.

Of course, you can have a slide, on its own, well-secured to your pool without any special landscaping. Or you can have a landscaping firm like Deck and Patio design/build a special setting around the slide you choose.

Beyond even that, SR Smith makes a slide that can be custom-built to fit your existing landscape or future landscape plans. BYOS 1 and BYOS 2 slides are configured and designed to fit your plans and ideas.

“One thing very special about BYOS,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell “is they can be can be set into a sloped landscape to look almost natural or just plan funky and fun. You decide everything. That’s the real fun of it.”

 

Wild Ride Slide: Fun for Kids and Adults

Wild Ride Slide: Fun for Kids and Adults

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 when climbing up its steps, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” adds Dave. “Also note that next to this Wild Ride water slide with its water falling into the pool, we installed a moss rock waterfall that flows with force over extended rock.

 

Slide’s Side Benefit

No matter if the scope of the project is big or small, after it’s installed, clients discover something often unexpected. When not in use by thrill-seekers, the calming sounds of water spilling from the slide into their pool transforms their Cyclone, Typhoon, Wild Ride etc. into a gentle water feature.

So readers: You learned it here first. Water slides aren’t just for thrills. On any given day, they can also help you relax. And there’ll be nothing more relaxing during any ‘polar vortex’ than planning some warm weather thrills.

 

Access to Pool Slide:

Access to Pool Slide:

It is important to have sufficient room to allow easy access to the slide and any surrounding patio. For this project, in order to cut back on having too much hardscape, we used stepping stones up from the patio to the slide, which are more in keeping with the slide’s natural setting.

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

Talk about thrills! Deck and Patio created this award-winning feature several years ago. It called for installing a large serpentine slide around a huge moss rock water feature.

 

Serpentine Slide:

Serpentine Slide:

This is the same slide project as pictured immediately above. When we worked on this water feature, we added large natural stones for the climb up to the top of the slide. Also note how an additional waterfall from the hilltop stream falls into the slide itself for an additional thrill.

 

Natural Retaining Walls:

Natural Retaining Walls:

When planning out this project, we suggested using Rocka steps, moss rock boulders, and creeping plant material instead of the usual retaining wall. This more natural setting provided the sloping landscape required for a fun pool slide.

 

BYOS Custom Slide:

BYOS Custom Slide:

This slide is not one of ours. It was custom built by BYOS for Pulliam Pools in Texas. It’s a great example of perfectly fitting a custom-slide into a beautiful landscape plan. Photo: Courtesy of BYOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Upgrade in Huntington/NY: How to Cope with a Slope

You might not believe it from the finished results, but this backyard upgrade involved one of the most challenging sites Deck and Patio ever worked on.

“It literally had a seven-foot elevation from one end of their rather small yard to the other,” says Dave Stockwell. “And their hopes for a full outdoor retreat — pool, spa, patio, waterfall, custom fire pit — and on a tight budget — added to the challenges.

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

Dave says the way our design/build staff approached the project was to take 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. 

Initial Design Plan

Initial Design Plan

 

“We worked with True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills) to accomplish this. After the plans were initially made, the clients decided they also wanted a spa.

 

 

The best solution was adding a portable hot tub that we could nestle in between the two new patios.”

 

Bullfrog Spa With Custom Installation (Huntington/NY):

Bullfrog Spa With Custom Installation (Huntington/NY):

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: the hot tub is accessible from both the upper and lower patios. We also used rock boulders imported from Pennsylvania to create steps from the patio into the spa.

 

Partial in-Ground Pool (Huntington/NY):

Partial in-Ground Pool (Huntington/NY):

The pool is 16′ x 36’ — a wonderful full-size in such a small backyard. We pulled the pool out of the ground 16″ to create a seat wall, and used large boulders and plants to hold back the grade and soften the hard boulders. 

The job site was so small that we had to partially build the pool, install boulders. slide, and waterfall, and then complete the pool wall construction.

 

Small Yard Pool Construction (Huntington/NY):

Small Yard Pool Construction (Huntington/NY):

Here’s a photo of moss rock boulders being installed on the wall of the pool. Boulders like these were also needed to form the moss rock waterfall.

 

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

Pool Moss Rock Waterfalls (Huntington/NY):

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

 

Natural Staircase (Huntington/NY):

Natural Staircase (Huntington/NY):

One way to make use of the slope on a property to to create a stepped pathway. Here we made a stone stairway with natural plantings on either side which coordinates with the hot tub setting and pool/patio design.

 

 

Backyard Retreat: Start Planning for a Summer Spent Outdoors

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Upgrade

Massapequa, NY, Deck and Patio Backyard Retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

Making Backyards Appear Larger (Massapequa, NY):

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

 

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

Fitting Pools in Small Yards (Massapequa/NY):

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

 

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

Stepping Stone Patios (Massapequa/NY):

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

 

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls/Spillover Spa (Massapequa/NY):

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

 

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

Pool Waterfalls (Massapequa/NY):

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

 

 

The Beauty of an Infinity Pool Is Never Ending

If you are so fortunate as to boast a beautiful property view, it’s not surprising you want to emphasize it. And one very popular way to do that is with an infinity pool — also called a vanishing edge, infinite edge, or negative edge pool.

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound

For the uninitiated, an infinity pool is an optical illusion that suggests pool water is vanishing out of the back edge of the pool, and the beautiful property view appears connected with it.

In the two award-winning projects we’re highlighting today, it is views of Long Island Sound and its bays that are “connected” to the pools. However, it’s important to note that any lovely spot on a property can be the focal point of a vanishing edge.

Zoning laws may present roadblocks to infinity pools. In tother cases, the property itself may present a few challenges. That was the case in this first project where its steep — and dangerous — slope or bluff at its edge was challenging.

 

 

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound:

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool Overlooking Long Island Sound:

Property Challenges

 

The homeowner for our first project (shown here and above), however, was savvy.

She knew that a vanishing edge pool would actually make the deep slope of her property an advantage and would become the centerpiece of a beautiful resort-style outdoor living area.

So, in addition to the infinity pool, we included a spectacular custom spa.

And we perfectly positioned the spa for the homeowner so she could enjoy the “vanishing edge” view out to Long Island sound from the spa as well as the pool and patio.

 

 

 

How Infinity Pools Operate

Catch Basin of Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, NY:

Catch Basin of Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, NY:

As you see from this second project in Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, NY, the water doesn’t actually disappear off the edge of the pool, it is captured and recycled.

The water is actually clinging to a recess in the pool wall which then drops into a catching pool below. And while this sounds simple enough, it requires a good deal of mastery to design it correctly. An undersized catch pool can almost never be corrected.

If the catch pool or basin isn’t large enough there won’t be enough water returning to the main pool and the catch pool will run dry. That can trigger huge water bills because it would have to be constantly refilled to compensate for not having enough room to store water. In addition,  during rain falls, the basin could be overwhelmed, leading to it overflowing, or eroding or liquefying the soil behind it.

At the very least, it might cause the pool to shift, rotate or settle and then it’s no longer a vanishing edge, which is why Deck and Patio takes such great care to ensure it is done correctly.

 

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, NY:

Deck and Patio Infinity Pool, Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, NY:

 

Swimming at the Edge of Your World

Again, for this second project, it was the property’s spectacular views of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore that drew these Deck and Patio clients to such a pool.

Depending on where you are in this vanishing edge pool determines which extraordinary vista your eyes are drawn to.

 

 

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool and provide other charming “views” while swimming.

Pool Landscaping (Cove Neck/NY): Landscaping can play a key role in enhancing the experience of an infinity pool and provide other charming “views” while swimming.

 

 

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In both projects highlighted today, in addition to recycled pool water, a custom “spillover” spa was added for additional healthy aeration of the pool water.

Vanishing Edge Pool (Cove Neck/NY): In both projects highlighted today, in addition to recycled pool water, a custom “spillover” spa was added for additional healthy aeration of the pool water.

 

 

By |2017-12-07T15:03:48-05:00December 7th, 2017|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Resorts, Backyard Upgrades, Creative Design, Design and Build Experts, Infinity Pools, Landscaping, Outdoor Living, Pools & Spas, Spillover/Custom Spas|Comments Off on The Beauty of an Infinity Pool Is Never Ending

How to Plan a Landscape Garden

 

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Audrey Hepburn once shared her love of beautiful gardens and landscapes in a television documentary series, “Gardens of The World with Audrey Hepburn.”

The episodes celebrated such delights as tulips and spring bulbs, perennials, flower borders, mixed planting styles, trees,  tropical plants, stroll gardens, etc., and nature in general.

“As landscapers, we draw on the same elements when planning each landscaping project,” says Deck and Patio owner, Dave Stockwell. “It’s just a matter of smaller scale.”

 

 

 

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Deck and Patio Landscape Rendering

The First Step in Designing a Landscape Garden

Whether Deck and Patio is planning the landscape for a water garden, stroll garden, or just landscape borders, we always begin with a detailed plan, says Dave.

“For the initial drawings, we frequently use a property survey and topographical map. From there, we create sketches which eventually turn into a final rendering.”

Dave adds that landscaping plans are often part of a wider project that can include a new patio, deck, swimming pool, pond, spa, or other outdoor living amenities.

 

 

Insert 3 Once we get the fixed areas detailed and sketched (home, sheds, cabanas, etc.), including any new hardscapes like a patio or deck, the needs and preferences of our clients are weaved in.

“For example, will they need deer-resistant plants,” says Dave. “How much entertaining do they expect to do — will they require space for adding tables, etc.? How much will they use their property at night? Are they the type to garden on a regular basis themselves, or do they prefer plantings that are low-maintenance?

Sometimes there are young children to consider, so we might plan for a sand box or other play areas, along with sitting areas, contemplative quiet spaces, etc.”

Dave adds that once all this is known: the fun begins:

— Designing seasonal color, texture, fragrance, even fruits, etc. as part of their landscape gardens. Plants can also serve to delineate spaces  within the property as well as define where it ends.

— Sounds are also important, e.g., where should the sound of any fountain be, or a bird house to attract chirpers?

— Plantings, along with moss rock, etc. can add the strength to a natural and beautiful retaining wall.

— Plus groups of plantings to create focal points to sitting areas.

— What water source will be used to maintain the landscape gardens (town water or will they harvest rainwater)?

“Of course, planning for the passage of time is also key. Plants grow differently; some rapidly, some slowly. You need to know how it’s all going to look in six months and a few years down the line.”

 

 

 

Growing Hydrangeas on Long Island, NY: Hydrangeas can be a garden all on their own. Indeed, some clients want hydrangeas to grow to size without pruning in order to create a dramatic effect. For healthy robust growth, just remove dead-growth stems which should permit new growth without any problems. Winter frost and cold can affect these beauties so we recommend using some type of winter protection for them.

Growing Hydrangeas on Long Island, NY: Hydrangeas can be a garden all on their own. Indeed, some clients want hydrangeas to grow to size without pruning in order to create a dramatic effect. For healthy robust growth, just remove dead-growth stems which should permit new growth without any problems. Winter frost and cold can affect these beauties so we recommend using some type of winter protection for them.

 

 

Landscaping Backyard Ponds: Many of our Deck and Patio clients choose to add a backyard pond. Landscaping a pond requires an understanding of not just soil and sun but how water and moisture will affect your plantings. Here we chose Purple Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters, Coreopsis for bright bursts of color. You also see deep green ground color, tall grasses, along with the sounds of moving water. In developing the plan, we ensured that we located all this within view of the home’s back patio, pool area, in addition from their house.

Landscaping Backyard Ponds: Many of our Deck and Patio clients choose to add a backyard pond. Landscaping a pond requires an understanding of not just soil and sun but how water and moisture will affect your plantings. Here we chose Purple Cone flowers, Spirea Anthony Waters, Coreopsis for bright bursts of color. You also see deep green ground color, tall grasses, along with the sounds of moving water. In developing the plan, we ensured that we located all this within view of the home’s back patio, pool area, in addition from their house.

 

 

Backyard Stroll Garden: If you have the space, a stroll garden, possibly including a refreshing stream with waterfalls, can inspire through all seasons. Ruby red impatiens in the foreground and yellow-orange cone flowers towards the back, shrubs and trees, ground cover like Procumbent Juniper, flowering grasses are all added after careful rock placement. Knowing where to place rocks to create the most natural looking effect is key.

Backyard Stroll Garden: If you have the space, a stroll garden, possibly including a refreshing stream with waterfalls, can inspire through all seasons. Ruby red impatiens in the foreground and yellow-orange cone flowers towards the back, shrubs and trees, ground cover like Procumbent Juniper, flowering grasses are all added after careful rock placement. Knowing where to place rocks to create the most natural looking effect is key.

 

 

Landscaping Infinity Pool Cove Neck, Long Island: When developing any landscaping plan, it is key to mark out carefully where all the hardscapes will be, as well as any water features. Then you can add in flowering grasses, ground cover, bright plantings in harmony with everything else.

Landscaping Infinity Pool Cove Neck, Long Island: When developing any landscaping plan, it is key to mark out carefully where all the hardscapes will be, as well as any water features. Then you can add in flowering grasses, ground cover, bright plantings in harmony with everything else.

 

 

Tulips and Spring Bulbs: One of the episodes on Audrey Hepburn’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. It showcased the wide variety of tulips available as well as the story of how, through the centuries, tulips influenced the history and art of Holland, as well as Turkey. These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode.

Tulips and Spring Bulbs: One of the episodes on Audrey Hepburn’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. It showcased the wide variety of tulips available and the story of how, through the centuries, tulips influenced the history and art of Holland, as well as Turkey. These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode.

 

 

From “Gardens of The World with Audrey Hepburn.”

From “Gardens of The World with Audrey Hepburn.”

 

 

 

 

Ms. Hepburn fell in love with beautiful gardens when living in the English countryside during World War II. She learned that no matter what happens in life, no matter how harsh the winter, spring always comes, and life blooms again.

“At Deck and Patio, we also believe that if you plan your landscape garden well, its ongoing renewal will inspire and uplift all of us, just as it did Ms. Hepburn,” says Dave Stockwell.

 

 

 

 

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