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What Is the Perfect Outdoor Living Plan for Your Family?

As this outdoor living season begins to wind down after Labor Day, it is often a good time to take stock and plan for next year. And it is the job of professionals like Deck and Patio to help you dig deep into what your family most enjoys in order to create the perfect plan. 

Are you avid gardeners, for example? Or will you want plants that survive with little effort? And most of all, how do family members most like to spend their time outdoors?

We also help you consider how best to combine hardscapes (patios, driveways, etc.) with softscapes (trees, plantings and grasses). In addition, we’ll take into consideration how will you use the space, your property’s size — and, of course, budget.

The following special Manhasset, NY, project showcases how getting to know a family helped us bring about the ideal outdoor living spaces for them.

 

Manhasset Project's Pool and Patio

Manhasset Project’s Pool and Patio

After interviewing the Manhasset, Long Island, family, we uncovered and designed a substantial list of amenities that were perfect for them:

— a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool;

— a flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall;

— a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone;

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen;

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

— and a very special amenity: a large sunken fire pit.

 

 

The veneer of the fire pit was also used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa. It’s all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

“They wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says our own Dave Stockwell “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. It was that they were repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them which to us is the very best testimonial.”

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

 

“In designing the large 16’ x 32’ pavilion with fireplace, we also dealt with the fact that our clients wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these are effective in deterring irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather,” says Dave.

For colder weather, the large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside of a new pavilion, but flush to it. This allows for the maximum of space.

 

 

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Deck and Patio captured some drama with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

Enjoy the upcoming Labor Day Weekend. And if there’s anything missing from the family fun — jot it down. And then get in touch. We’re here to help your family create your perfect outdoor living plan.

 

Pool Slides: Enjoying Waterpark Thrills at Home

Imagine no heavy traffic, packed beach bags and lunches to bring the family to a waterpark. When you have your own pool slide, all those thrills can be enjoyed right at home.

Some of these home slides come in names like Cyclone, Vortex and Typhoon. Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? S.R. Smith, for example, makes the Cyclone as well as Turbo Twister, Typhoon etc.) Aquaslide offers Julgle Joe and Jungle Joe II.

“Deck and Patio has been installing these brands on Long Island and the NY Metro area for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “In fact, a while back, one of our dramatic waterfall/slide projects, shown today at the top of this page, drew the attention of the famous group, Pool Kings, who asked us to start working with them.”

Dave adds that although the size and shape of our installed swimming pool slides vary — depending on the client’s budget, property size, and the amount of adrenaline rush they desire — they all provide a summertime thrill for the family and their friends.

“Although we specialize in dramatic and beautiful landscapes surrounding pool slides, clients can always opt for a slide to the simply well-secured to their pool without any of the special landscaping,” says Dave.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you would like a slide designed and configured to fit your property and landscaping plans, Inter-Fab Inc. offers BYOS 1 and BYOS 2 slides that are made to fit your plans and ideas.

“One thing very special about BYOS,” adds Dave, “is they can be funky and fun, or they can be set into a sloped landscape to look almost natural. You decide everything. That’s the neat part of it.” 

 

Side Benefit of a Pool Slide

After slides are installed, we learn from clients that an unexpected benefit from installing a slide is the calming sounds of water spilling from it into their pool. They say it transforms their ‘wild rides’ into a gentle water feature.

So, outdoor living lovers, your pool slide doesn’t have to be just for thrills. On any given day they can help you relax!

 

 

Wild Ride Slide:

Wild Ride Slide:

Next to the Wild Ride water slide with its water falling into the pool, Deck and Patio installed a separate moss rock waterfall that flows with force over extended rock.

 

 

Access to Pool Slide:

Access to Pool Slide:

One thing when installing a pool slide is to provide 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. It is the one we mentioned above that inspired Pool Kings to contact us to participate in their projects and which have aired on HGTV.

 

 

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 Slide:

BYOS Slide:

This slide project 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 Inter-Fab Inc.

 

 

Landscaping Ideas: Pulling Out All the Stops

You love to cook and no ordinary outdoor barbecue will do. Gathering with family and friends in the evening around a fire is also your nirvana. And you want your kids to spend time enjoying a good swim.

The question is how do we as a family want to spend time together in 2022?

To formulate the perfect landscaping plan for your family, first, it is the job of professionals like Deck and Patio to understand each client. Are you avid gardeners, for example? Or will you want plants that survive with little effort?

How a plan combines hardscapes (patios, driveways, etc.) with the softscapes (trees, plantings and grasses) is very important. In addition, how homeowners will use the space, the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.

Deck and Patio Project Showcase

 

Manhasset Project

Manhasset Project

This Manhasset, Long Island, family had a large list of amenities that we designed and built for them:

— a large 25’ x 52’ free-form Gunite pool;

— a flowing stream alongside it to feed the pool’s 4’ x 6’ moss rock waterfall and second waterfall;

— a custom spill-over spa with a veneer of Bucks County Country Ledgestone; 

— a custom pavilion with fireplace and an outdoor kitchen

— patios made with custom inlays of our own design;

— and a very special amenity: a large sunken fire pit. 

The veneer of the fire pit was also used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa. It’s all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

“They wanted us to pull out all the stops,” says our own Dave Stockwell “But that wasn’t what made us so happy to do the job. It was that they were repeat clients — clients who loved our previous work for them which to us is the very best testimonial.”

“The patios are made of Cambridge Pavingstones — from their Sherwood Ledgestone XL series. We laid them in a random pattern from our own design, including inlays with custom cut in borders.”

 

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Pavilion with Outdoor Fireplace:

 

“In designing the large 16’ x 32’ pavilion with fireplace, we also dealt with the fact that our clients wouldn’t be able to screen out bugs by including large ceiling fans. Fans like these are effective in deterring irritating bugs while providing a nice breeze in warm weather,” says Dave.

For colder weather, the large custom fireplace with a mounted television on the mantel was constructed outside of a new pavilion, but flush to it. This allows for the maximum of space.

 

 

 

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Pavilion’s Outdoor Fireplace

Deck and Patio captured some drama with the majestic custom fireplace we set against the large, open-air pavilion. 

“The new fireplace design also includes different ledges capped to match the pillar bases. These are not just architecturally interesting; they will allow them to add pots and lovely plants come spring,” says Dave.

The veneer we used on the fireplace, and on the inside of the sunken fire pit, as well as on the face of the outdoor kitchen and exterior of the custom spa is all Bucks County Country Ledgestone.

 

 

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

This is a “before” photo of the Manhasset property before we began the upgrade.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

This different view of the project is also today’s feature photo (above). It shows the beautiful custom inlays we installed into their Cambridge patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reducing Mosquitos: Take the Bite Out of Outdoor Living

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

 

Pool House with Screened Room

Pool House with Screened Room

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

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

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

 

Frogs Are Beneficial Wildlife

Frogs Are Beneficial Wildlife

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Lavender

Lavender

Lavender

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

 

 

 

Citronella Grass

Citronella Grass

Citronella Grass:

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Feature Photo

Feature Photo

 

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

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

 

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

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.

 

 

Bringing Your Vacation Experience Back Home

This year's cold snap

This year’s cold snap

If during this winter’s record-breaking cold snap you sought haven in some warmer climate, no doubt you came back with more than memories of indoor resort comforts.

For example, when clients of ours a few years ago returned from Costa Rica they didn’t want to loose the happy family times they had experienced. A small country, bordered by two big bodies of water (the Caribbean and the Pacific,) they relished all that the sunny and water-surrounded country offered.

It’s not surprising, then, that our clients wanted to continue some of the happy family outdoor activities back home.

But they feared that creating their very own backyard resort — that would offer similar outdoor amenities they enjoyed on holiday — would be hard to achieve.

First, there were conflicting priorities between the husband and wife. She wanted cool places to relax with friends and he wanted to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.

Then, of course, there was the challenges presented by their property’s 12-ft elevation change in the property.

 

Pergola and multi-level patio

Pergola and multi-level patio

The solutions Deck and Patio recommended were to place their new vinyl-lined pool directly in the sun while at the same time creating an shaded area for congregating in comfort via a swim up/walk up bar with an overhead pergola.

To address the elevation, Deck and Patio’s design called for using the elevation for building a raised patio, with a wrap-around stair leading to the patio/pool and sunken swim up bar patio, plus creating a large pool natural stone waterfall area with plantings to hold back the grade.

 

Natural Retaining Wall

Natural Retaining Wall

“We were able to design the retaining area without having to add rails or fences that might have blocked views of their resort-style free-form pool,” says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio.

“Plus the addition of the natural stone waterfall with water slide didn’t just help act as a retaining wall, it also contributed to re-creating memories of their happy Costa Rican vacation.”

 

 

Custom In-ground Spa

Custom In-ground Spa

 

To complete their backyard resort, on the upper patio, nearer the house, we built a custom in-ground vinyl-lined spa.

Operating separately from the pool and being just steps from their door, they can use this resort amenity all year long.

 

 

The clients were delighted with their new retreat. And for an added bonus, the project won Deck and Patio several gold medal design awards from NSPI (National Spa and Pool Institute) and NESPA (Northeast Spa & Pool Association).

 

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

Deck and Patio Backyard Resort (Long Island/NY):

A Techo-Bloc multi-tiered patio, natural stone steps, lush landscaping almost completely surround a handsome free-form vinyl-lined pool with swim up bar with pergola, in-pool bar stools; a natural retaining wall with waterfalls and slide adds to the resort feeling.

 

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Swimming Pool Amenities (Long Island/NY):

Considered the ultimate in outdoor living, this vinyl-lined pool includes a U-shaped granite-topped swim up bar with submerged bar stools.

 

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

Pool-side Bar (Long Island/NY):

The 32-foot swim-up bar is faced in cultured stone and rock and curves around to be enjoyed from the patio and well as from in the pool. It is a way of bringing everyone together — those who want to be in the pool and those relaxing on the patio.

 

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Spill-over Custom Spa (Long Island/NY):

Even though it’s not near the pool, the custom spa was designed as a “spill-over” in order to provide the delights of a waterfall when sitting on the patio. The sounds are peaceful — truly reminiscent of their Costa Rican vacation.

 

Water Features: Memorial Weekend Kicks Off Outdoor Entertaining Season

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.

Depending on what a budget permits and the size of the property, we usually recommend a water feature — be it a pool, pond, stream with waterfalls, or a simple portable hot tub — as a focal point of its surroundings.

“Any time a client wants a water feature in one of our projects, we know it will help make a home run,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “Water is the one of the essential elements of life, and people are naturally drawn to it — which is what you are looking for when entertaining. So after determining all the needs of the client, we ask ourselves — how can water be part of it all.”

 

 

Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Pools  

Pools, of course, are the most popular water feature. According to Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio, what makes one pool appear awesome over another is usually its surroundings. “Choosing the right harmonizing elements is what makes something breathtaking. It’s how you blend water with its hardscape and landscaped environment.”

Pools vary in shape and complexity and homeowners can also choose between a vinyl pool and gunite, freeform and geometric. When budgets and property sizes are tight, rather than a full-sized regular pool, a smaller “spool” can function as both a small pool and spa.

 

Pool Placement

Pool Placement

The placement of swimming pools and patios is very important. “If you don’t use a landscape designer, you may find that some pool builders simply plop the pool where it’s most convenient for them,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “We tend to push pools off to one side and leave lawn area for the children to play or just to have some “softscape.” That was the case for this award-winning pool (left), where we worked with True Blue Swimming Pools. The yard was small but they still got their pool — and enough lawn left for the kids to enjoy.

 

 

Surrounding Patio Areas   

Pool Surrounds

Pool Surrounds

“When it comes to ‘hardscape,’ we try to create truly functional spaces,” says Renter. “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.”

 

 

Dining Areas and Outdoor Kitchens  

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. “But usually it’s key to be near to the home’s kitchen,” says Renter.

 

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Outdoor Kitchen with Ronda insulated drawers

Extra Tip: One trend we’re seeing in outdoor kitchens are warming/cooling drawers made by companies like Ronda. These insulated drawers are sealed and work without electricity so your drinks stay cool or your food stays warm depending on what you put in its lower drawer.

“They have a magnetic seal, which along with being waterproof will also keep away bugs and dust. Indeed, you can choose a single drawer just for keeping dishes and cutlery completely clean,” says Renter.

 

 

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. You can even add waterfalls. 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.

 

 

 

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Wild-Ride-slide

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, it won’t be far and with a soft landing,” says Renter.

 

 

 

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.

 

Backyard Ponds

 

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Natural Swimming Ponds:

Deck and Patio specializes in building ponds so clear and pristine you can swim in  them (even if you don’t wish to). Remember, all bacteria isn’t bad, some good bacteria kill the bad guys. A healthy natural swimming pond is very possible and is worth all the care you give it. The goal, of course, is that any pond at a minimum be healthy for fish and aquatic plants. This kind of water feature is a joy to sit by, listen to; it’s also the perfect outdoor attraction for entertaining.

 

Pondless Waterfalls

Pondless Waterfalls

 

The simplest pond to have is pondless. It will take much less time to clean up a pond-less waterfall (left) than a pond basin each season and it is a safer environment when children are very young.

 

 

Hot Tubs Make Great Water Features

 

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

This pondless waterfall/stream was installed beside a portable Bullfrog Spas. The stream is a lovely, tranquil sight from the patio as well as the hot tub itself.

 

Keeping it Simple

 

 FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

FirePits and Outdoor Furniture:

Sometimes all you need is need is a fire pit and some comfortable furniture on a handsome deck. It would be easy to add a simple water fountain on such a deck so as to not miss out on its tranquil sounds. The deck shown here is Fiberon. Photo: Courtesy of Fiberon Decking.

 

 

 

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Pool Upgrades: Trends, Tips, and Money-Saving Ideas

Deck and Patio loves doing exciting full-size projects, but many times clients simply want an upgrade to their existing yard. That’s understandable, because when it comes to the outdoors, the best way to add value to your home is to renovate what’s already there: a pool, patio, deck or barbecue area — and frequently, save money in the doing!

 

Upgrading In-ground pools

— pumps

Whether your pool is gunite or vinyl, there is one easy way to upgrade and save big money. Consider changing your current one-speed filter pump to an energy efficient variable speed pump.

“These pumps are so efficient that they can cut your energy costs to 1/6th of what they currently are,” says Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter. “There are several manufactures that offer these pumps including Pentair, Sta-rite and Jandy. They will cost about $1,000-$1,500, but pay back time will be three years or less.

 

change the coping, tile and color of your pool

“For gunite, there are many color options in marbledusts, pebble finishes, and even all-tile pools. This can be done even if the old color isn’t worn. A change in tone or color can enliven a pool area or make an old pool look new.

 

 

Pebble Liner

Pebble Liner

Changing your vinyl pool’s liner can make a dramatic difference. “The choices are almost limitless and it is amazing what a new liner does to an old faded pool,” says Renter. “There are even pebbled colored liners in a tan tone that make them look more like a gunite pool. Naturally, changing the coping at the same time will complete the change.”

 

 

Pool Surrounds

Renovating around a pool is sometimes easier than upgrading the pool itself. It could be something as easy as fixing a settled or damaged patio. Other ideas for renovating around a pool might be upgrading to a new patio material like Techo-Bloc “Inca” pavers. Be sure to compact and install enough base to prevent future settling.

Patio sizes can be reduced and adding stepping stones can be cost effective way of creating a pathway around your pool. Boulders set in the landscape and used for retaining steps are yet another way to reduce the cost of retaining walls and adding beauty.

 

Pool Add-ons

Other pool area renovations have become popular recently because the total cost of the job is significantly reduced due to the existence of a pool: insulating walls, adding stairs, benches, swimouts, water features, slides, campfires, and spillover spas. Another popular upgrade is adding a waterfall. Insist on a rubber liner under the waterfall to ensure that it will be leak free for a long time.

 

 

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Adding Tanning Shelves and Swim-outs:

Some additions are more involved than others such as adding a tanning shelf. These shelves are a cool way to stay cool when you want to lay out in the sun, says Deck and Patio’s owner, Dave Stockwell. “The shelves are set in several inches of water and are wide enough for parents to sun bathe while young children play beside them.”

 

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

Techo-Bloc Inca Pavers:

One way to upgrade around a pool is with a new patio or pool surround, seen here with new Techo-Bloc’s Inca interlocking pavers. Inspired by South American “beauty and mystery” these pavers go well in any style — from Mediterranean to contemporary.

 

Pool Ad-ons:

Pool Ad-ons:

Changing the vinyl liner to your pool is one way to make a dramatic change, as shown in this photo. “In addition natural gas campfires create romantic outdoor mood with the addition of one of these,” says Stockwell. “Adding a slide and/or multiple waterfalls to an existing pool is fun way to make an upgrade.”

 

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones:

Stepping Stones can be a cost-effective way to create a path around or beside your pool (seen here beside an infinity pool). Add colorful and lush plantings and you have a beautiful area not overwhelmed by too much hardscape.

 

 

Pools With Spas:

Pools With Spas:

Didn’t include a spa when you had your pool built? These clients simply added a portable Bullfrog Spa, which we nestled into the slope — close to the existing pool. We also added a new stream/waterfall. When the clients are sitting in the new hot tub, it is so close to the stream, they can almost reach out and touch it.

 

 

 

 

 

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