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Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

New Yorkers love being outdoors. So Labor Day or any hints of a chill in the air remind us it’s all coming rapidly to an end. But we can extend the outdoor season to the max with a fire feature. 

 

Extend Outdoor Season

Extend Outdoor Season

 

“Along with adding warmth, today’s fire features are stylish, designed to harmonize with their immediate surroundings,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “They provide a great place to gather and lengthen the outdoor grilling season by providing a warm place for people to gather.”

Choices vary widely: e.g., pre-made fire pit tables, custom fire features that are set-in-stone, easy-to-move portable campfires, cast iron fire pits, and dramatic custom or pre-fabricated fireplaces.

 

 

 

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Cast Iron Fire Pit:

Sometimes clients want to burn wood or coals in their fire pits. This handsome cast iron fire pit warms not only the deck seating area but also those sitting in the hot tub. It fits perfectly with a natural wood deck.

 

Choosing The Right Fire Feature

“The size and complexity of any fire feature depends on how you plan to use it, and the amount of outdoor space that requires warmth to extend the outdoor season,” says Dave.

“As a rule, however, we do recommend that the fuel source be propane or gas, rather than wood-burning. Gas/propane features are smoke-free, and they don’t cause sparks and embers to blow around whenever there is a puff of wind.”

And while personal choices vary — as you will see from the sampling we’re showcasing today, however, there is one thing all fire features have in common: 

S’mores frequently are involved. (A delicious recipe from the Hampton’s own Ina Garten follows follows at the end of our blog — — with the Barefoot Contessa’s permission!

 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For an inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls.

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit. The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone for its handsome natural appeal.

 

Customized Gas Campfires:

Customized Gas Campfires:

Because of the five different patio levels we created around their pool with cascading waterfalls, a hot waterfall into a new spa, then a spillover from the spa five feet above the main pool, plus diving rock, natural stone was featured throughout the yard. Because the various gathering area, warmth was needed in a variety of places. Again, natural stone was used to make natural gas campfires fit their surroundings.

 

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Fireplace:

Sometimes Deck and Patio’s fire pits go a bit larger — and become a whole fireplace. This is because clients occasionally want a stronger architectural statement as well as the fire. Set beside a lovely shingle-roof gazebo/pergola, this fireplace offers warmth in autumn and winter months and creates a perfect ambience.

 

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

Custom Outdoor Wood-burning Fireplace:

At one edge of their patio, a beautiful wood-burning stone fireplace with mantel beautifully harmonizes with the stones surrounding an adjacent pondless waterfall. A blazing fire makes you want to gather round, doesn’t it.

 

Today’s Feature Photo

Today’s Feature Photo

 

In planning their outdoor space, the clients asked us to leave room for a much-desired outdoor campfire. The campfire we added uses propane stainless steel burner with moss rock boulders around it and outdoor fireplace logs. Note the amusing s’more’s sign the homeowners put behind their campfire.

Now, the promised Ina Garten recipe:

 

 

 

 

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

S’mores photo: © Ina Garten

Total Time:

10 min

Prep:  5 min

Cook:  5 min

___________

Yield:  1 serving

Level:  Easy

 

Ingredients

1 marshmallow

2 Graham crackers

Milk chocolate with raisin and nut or dark chocolate with raspberry

Directions

Thread a marshmallow onto a stick or skewer and toast it over an open flame. Sandwich the cooked marshmallow with a piece of chocolate between 2 crackers.

2012, © Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

By |2021-09-16T13:20:55-05:00September 16th, 2021|Backyard Escapes, Backyard Upgrades, Deck and Patios, Fire Pits, Outdoor Fireplaces, Outdoor Living, Patios & Decks, Seasonal Landscapes|Comments Off on Extend the Outdoor Season with a Fire Feature

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.

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

Beautiful Plantings: Dressing Your Pond ‘to the Nines’

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

It’s Plantings That Truly Make a Pond

If it’s clothes that make the man or woman, it’s definitely plants that make a pond. Not that waterfalls and ponds aren’t delights in themselves. But like all creative endeavors, even making up plates of food, they are just more delectable when dressed.

As an inspiring example, we’re highlighting today one of our Long Island pond projects. During its design process, the homeowners encouraged us to not just dress their pond  — but dress it to the nines. 

“Our clients’ sloping property allowed us to create a masterpiece,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell. “Letting gravity do the work of moving the water, we cut a man-made stream down the slope, positioning moss rocks and natural stone boulders, creating just the right waterfall spills along the way — all ending in a koi pond. 

“The rock installations also gave us places to add plants and ground cover so that rich bright colors and textures carpet the whole slope as well as surround the pond.”

 

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

Beautiful Plantings Adorn Water Feature

In the pond, you can see lily pads and water lilies. On the slope, to the left of the tree, a Bluestone perennial, tall Liriope Big Blue (Lily Turf), thrives. Its lilac-purple flowers also produce single-seeded berries on spikes in the fall. Flanking both sides of the pond, robust plants from the Sunflower family — Enchinaecea coneflowers (right) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susans, left) smile in the sunshine.

 

Plants are More Than Pretty Faces

Beautiful plants also play a key role in filtering a pond’s ecosystem. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from the fish waste. “An ideal pond landscape mixes plant heights, textures and color,” adds Dave.

 

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Idyllic Pond Landscaping

Our Deck and Patio clients love sitting by their pond. A favorite pastime is studying the many varieties of plants around it. 

As they listen to falling water they pick out the different ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis Yakujima (bottom left), admire Hydrangea Lace Cap (top right beside boulders), smile at the delicate yellow Coreopsis Moonbeam (in front of tree trunk), and linger over the purple loosestrife or Lythrum in the right of these photos.

 

Landscaping is also for the birds

Landscaping is also for the birds

On the far left of the photo immediately before this one, you can see the bird bath the clients added so all the birds and butterflies the landscaping attracts can take a drink. And if you look closely at the right of this photo, just above a trail of river rock up the slope, you’ll see a bird house for some birds to make a home. 

Standing sentinel over this scene are lovely Canna Lilies in a pinkish-orange. These plants are very low maintenance and easy to grow. Their exotic foliage add a tropical feel to their surroundings. 

Note: Other plants in this project: ground cover, Juniperus h. Procumbent, Juniperus Gold Star; colorful plants, Liriope Big Blue, Leucothoe maxillaries and Phlox s. Emerald Blue. Like all the flowers in this project, these can’t help but make you smile.

 

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

Flowing Water Soothes, But Flowers Make Us Smile

 

Create Ideal Environment With Landscaping Upgrade

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create an ideal environment for enjoying the outdoor season,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

Pondless Waterfalls (Long Island/NY):

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings (Long Island/NY):

Lush Plantings (Long Island/NY):

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Using Moss Rock (Long Island/NY):

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio (Long Island/NY):

Techo-Bloc Patio (Long Island/NY):

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Water Feature Landscaping (Long Island/NY):

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. 

 

 

 

 

Labor Day Weekend: Summer’s Last Hurrah

Yes, Labor Day is summer’s last hurrah. It’s the final long weekend that punctuates the outdoor living season. To do it up right, you may even now be searching for a large enough tent to accommodate a blow out.

But guess what, Labor Day weekend by no means needs to be the end of outdoor enjoyment here in the northeast. As you plan your this backyard bash, it’s a great time to consider what you can do to ensure you’ll enjoy your yard well beyond summer’s last hurrah.

  1. Pool House

A pool house may sound like a big project — and it can be — but think of its rewards. Not only does it allow you extend 2019’s outdoor season, but it will greatly improve the entirety of next year’s outdoor living season.

For example, with a pool house, no need to call in someone to spray for mosquitos (which you know you hate to do), because you now have a screened in space to enjoy the outdoors. And by going “big” you can opt for such luxury amenities as a pool house with a great room, and say, a sofa, flat screen television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, fireplace, and even storage closet.  

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

Pool House with Travertine Patio:

This pool house was part of a destination pool area that included a 50-foot-long pool, 800-square-foot pool house, elegant Travertine patio, spillover spa with waterfalls, outdoor kitchen with natural stone facade and an outdoor shower. But pool houses can be designed in far more modest shapes and sizes.

 

2.  Outdoor Fireplaces/Pavilions

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

Stand-alone fireplace at the edge of a patio

 

Fireplaces can stand on their own and make a dramatic statement. This custom fireplace by Deck and Patio (left) was added next to a relaxing water feature — a pondless waterfall — at the edge of a new patio.

 

But fireplaces can also be part of a larger amenity such as a pavilion/gazebo. In the Deck and Patio project pictured immediately below, we included lighted columns on stone pillars to match the stone in the fireplace. Also note how the lighting on the pillars and inside the roof contribute to a perfect evening ambience.

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

Custom Pavilion with Fireplace

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 the fireplace, because of modern technology, Deck and Patio is able to add built-in heating to the pavilion, that with a flip of a switch, will warm up the interior.

 

 

3.  Fire pits 

Fire pits come already assembled, of course. But there is a large range of ways to customize them to fit your style and location. 

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

Like many of our clients, these family members are true outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room for an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the natural look of their pool’s waterfalls. 

 

Custom Fire Pits:

Custom Fire Pits:

Throughout this enticing outdoor living area, Deck and Patio emphasized earth’s natural elements such as wood, stone, fire and water. A backyard stream with waterfalls, surrounded by moss rock boulders, moves past a portable hot tub set against a two-level patio with fire pit.

The patio was made from Techo-Bloc “Borealis” modular slabs that allowed us to give the patio the rich look of wood flooring. The fire pit was faced with stone to complement the other amenities and provide a handsome natural appeal.

 

Make It a Great One!

Labor Day Fun

Labor Day Fun

Whatever your outdoor plans, we hope you all enjoy the upcoming Labor Day Weekend and the opportunity for outdoor fun with friends and family it presents.

Whether it’s a pool party, or a sing-along inside a gazebo or pavilion, it may be summer’s last hurrah, but the outdoor season is far from over.

 

 

 

 

Geometric Pools: Finding Comfort in the Traditional

Whether it’s because politics has been heating up so much in recent years, or its environmental concerns, or other anxieties, many of us these days find comfort the traditional. 

This could explain one recent trend continuing in 2019 for swimming pools: designing them in the traditional lines of ‘geometric’ pools. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at some of Deck and Patio’s geometric shaped pool projects. In some cases, we designed the pool; in others, we worked with pool construction companies’ designs.

But, first, just what is a geometric pool? Well a geometric design consists of straight lines, triangles, circles, or similar regular shapes — something that isn’t freeform. However, despite geometric design’s simplicity, these pools are not necessarily simple to build.

One company we’ve worked with on numerous projects is True Blue Swimming Pools (Dix Hills, NY). “With freeform pools, there really is no right or wrong,” says True Blue’s owner Michael Truehart. “With parallel and perpendicular angles, geometric designs have to be exact. Plus, vinyl liners, which are so popular today, are measured and cut by computer and require that everything be on the money.”

That said, perhaps an even bigger factor in this traditional trend is that today’s pool builders can incorporate deluxe features in any pool design, e.g., baja or tanning shelves, waterfalls, beach or sloping entries, swim out steps, in-water ledges and spas, providing extra interest to plain geometric shapes.

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Geometric Salt Water Pool and Surround:

Deck and Patio’s design team chose sandy-hued Techo-Bloc pavers to harmonize with the ‘Sand Pebble’ vinyl pool liner by Loop-Loc installed by True Blue Swimming Pools. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

Geometric Salt Water Pool Amenities:

This same salt-water pool (shown immediately above) includes a generous amount of interesting corners and notch-outs, a “cuddle cove” in between two sheer descent waterfalls, and clean-lined pool steps at each end (swim-outs at the deep end). (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

Roman Ell Geometric Pool:

This photo shown here and as a feature photo at the top of this page shows another True Blue Swimming Pools. They built this lovely geometric pool in a Roman Ell shape with a long shallow and full deep end. It is also a vinyl pool with a liner by Loop-Loc; Also note the Wild Ride water slide by Interfab. The pool boasts a Cambridge Ledgestone XL paver surround/patio and sheer descent waterfalls. (Photo: True Blue Pools)

 

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Geometric Pool with Seating Ledge:

Deck and Patio’s design for this sleek vinyl pool included an in-pool seating ledge (see left bottom edge) and swim-out steps (top of pool). Vinyl refers to the method used to line the pool’s interior. Its base construction, however, is the same as any other. The pool surround/patio was created in a warm chestnut-hued random pattern using Cambridge pavers.

 

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

Geometric Pool with Landscaping:

The steps Deck and Patio installed just above the far end of the pool are part of a natural retaining wall of boulders; they lead to a delightfully landscaped wilderness where pool equipment has been artfully hid. Pool includes sheer descent waterfalls and is surrounded by a patio with complementary random geometric patterns.

 

Natural Settings Elevate Health and Happiness According to Studies

Millions of Americans love being outdoors, reveling in beautiful natural settings. But should you feel guilty about spending so much time outdoors? Shouldn’t you really be at the gym, doing errands or housework?

Well! You can stop that self-criticism right now. 

Being outdoors improves health

Being outdoors improves health

This week, the Washington Post reported  that studies prove: “spending time outdoors” is linked to a “serious boost in well-being, the kind that lasts a lifetime.”     

Not only that, adds the Post, those who weekly spent two to three hours in natural settings are not only more likely to be happy with their lives, but the benefits to physical health were even greater — with 60 percent of such outdoor enthusiasts more likely to be in good health than their “cooped in counterparts.”

 

Washington Post Excerpt:

“People who already spend a lot of time outdoors aren’t likely to find these results surprising: There’s already a substantial body of work linking green spaces to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, mental health problems and overall mortality; and to greater rates of health, happiness, and cognitive development in children.”

“There are many properties on Long Island where a few landscaping upgrades can create ideal environments for improving well-being,” says Deck and Patio’s Dave Stockwell.

A great example of just such an upgrade began when our clients, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately, adds Dave. They already had a lovely existing wooded backyard, so adding some inspiring waterscapes was all it needed.

After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water because their wooded property also abuts parkland. They were concerned that the usual above-ground type of fish pond would attract too many wild animals. 

“The “green” pondless reservoir system we installed at the end of the stream captures the water and recirculates it, making it a green system,” says Dave. “Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.

The Deck and Patio design team chose a location for the waterfall feature where it could be seen from inside the house as well as from the patio.

“We took advantage of the property’s slope. By allowing gravity to carry the stream water down to the waterfall, we were able to set the whole feature right into the existing hill with little reshaping of the land.”

Landscaping was also very important to these Huntington homeowners. Deck and Patio designed the project to be exuberant in both color and variety. These plantings are all set around imported moss rocks and other natural stones.

As you’ll see from the following photos, for increased well-being, our clients have lovely natural scenes right in their backyard where they can enjoy nature without having to travel anywhere. And for our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal.

 

Pondless Waterfalls:

Pondless Waterfalls:

The Aquascape Inc. pondless system recirculates the water from the stream and waterfall via an underground reservoir. It’s ideal for those who want to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall without the pond. We wanted it to appear as if the water is disappearing into the gravel. 

 

Lush Plantings:

Lush Plantings:

We used dense and durable evergreens such as Procumbent Juniper that are very low maintenance and spread nicely. For color we used such delights as Begonias, Coleus, and flowering plants like Astilbe. 

 

Using Moss Rock:

Using Moss Rock:

Graceful plants such as Pennisetum drape over and round the moss rock and natural stones that Deck and Patio installed; the rocks were positioned to help move the water in different directions, just like it would appear in nature.

 

Techo-Bloc Patio:

Techo-Bloc Patio:

The existing patio was previously installed by Deck and Patio. It was made from Techo-Bloc’s Elena in “Earth Brown” which offers five differently-sized stones to create a beautiful random pattern.

 

Water Feature Landscaping:

Water Feature Landscaping:

Plantings also included various deciduous shrubs and several Norway Spruce. Behind the upper waterfall is a colorful Japanese Maple. Other plants include Japanese Blood Grass, Sedum Autumn Joy, Hosta Sum and Substance, and one of the water plants is Yellow Flag Iris. 

 

Landscaping Construction Products That Can Withstand Winter

So far on Long Island, we’ve not had many snow events this winter. But if predictions hold true, the worst is yet to come. Such snow and ice events, frequently followed by a warm thaw in our neck of the woods, demands outdoor construction materials that will hold up to these freeze/thaw conditions.

Let’s Begin with Patio Materials

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Block’s “Elena’ in Sandlewood

Techo-Bloc pavers, for example, are engineered in Canada where extra paver strength is essential. 

“As long as these pavers are properly installed, Techo-Bloc stones will remain adaptable, even, and stable for years,” says our own Dave Stockwell.

The joints between the pavers, he explains, create flexibility, which avoids cracking, while still allowing subtle movement. Techo-Bloc pavers are nearly three times stronger than poured concrete, having a minimum compressive strength of 8,000 psi and a maximum of five percent water absorption.

Like concrete and asphalt pavements, these pavers can be plowed and shoveled. Actually, the edges and joints around the pavers assist in melting snow and ice, explains their manufacturer. Using de-icing salt (sodium chloride or calcium chloride) to remove snow and ice will not harm these paving stones they say.

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

“These products are available in pavers, slabs, walls, for facing outdoor features such as fire pits, edging, and include permeable materials,” says Dave.

Now to Capped Composite Decking

 Fiberon Decking

Photo: Fiberon Decking

Capped composite decking boards are made of materials and a cap that resist moisture. Fiberon’s, for example, includes a “cover” that provides added protection against the elements and everyday living.

“Most reputable capped composite manufacturers produce superb products that are stain, insect, mold and splinter resistant, although length of warranties may differ.” adds Dave. 

“Even with capped composite durability, it is important, to remove any existing snow from your deck after a snow/ice event. It’s also best not to use metal shovels to do this. Choose plastic for snow removal.”

The Director of Marketing Communications at Fiberon Decking suggests not using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice, or, again, a plastic shovel. If a de-icer is really necessary, choose rock salt that is labeled as not harmful to asphalt or grass, then sweep the used rock salt into the trash and rinse the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

 

Removing Snow from Your Deck The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

Removing Snow from Your Deck
The most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

 

So! Choose the right materials and remove the snow from your decking, says Dave Stockwell, and you won’t worry if predictions about the polar vortex turn out correct. Indeed, let it snow…let it snow…let it snow. Enjoy this fun video:

 

 

 

How Do I Create a Private Outdoor Space?

As youngsters, we had our bedroom where could hide away from too much family togetherness. And you know, we still need a little space we can call our own— or, at least, use on our own. And having such a space outdoors is perhaps the best escape of all.

That’s true even if we already have a fabulous backyard. For if it wasn’t designed with a view for private time, it can be hard to find quiet: e.g., around an active barbecue, busy outdoor dining table, and especially near a pool.

First, Assess What You Have

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, perhaps — it’s not all that hard to create such a spot.

Remember that when it calls for it, your getaway can serve double-duty as a gathering place and a spot 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 location.

Now for some tips and examples:

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. These amenities will not only serve your new personal retreat, they can also be shared. A waterfall, or pretty flower bed, by definition can’t help but be enjoyed from a variety of locations in the yard.

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Pondless Water Feature Focal Point:

Surrounded by lush landscape, this Deck and Patio 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. The pre-existing patio foundation is handsome Techo-Bloc (Elena in Earth Brown)

 

Tip # 2 

Create a foundation for a getaway. 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.

Small Patio For Reading or Writing: 

Small Patio For Reading or Writing:

Techo-Bloc pavers were used to make this idyllic small patio sitting area next to the water feature. It’s a great spot to read, while sitting next to a trickling stream and the sounds of waterfalls. Note: The Techo-Bloc patio pavers were engineered in Canada, and they can well handle the freeze/thaw that occurs in our corner of the Northeast.

 

Tip # 3 

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.

Your Own Private Space:

Your Own Private Space:

If you are planning a whole new patio, this is a great opportunity to plan ahead for that private space. Choosing a multi-level patio design like this Deck and Patio project makes delineating a private get-away space easy. Here, there’s a charming water feature flowing over moss rock covered in lush green ground cover; tall trees create privacy in the background; it’s snug and well away from other patio areas designed for sunning or sitting near the pool.

 

Tip # 4 

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.

Customized Gas Campfire:

Customized Gas Campfire:

This is a pleasant example of a space that is great for guests and family as well as for quiet private time. In addition to a beautiful pool with spillover spa and natural-looking waterfalls, the homeowners had room to add an expansive patio with several areas designed for different uses. For their inviting seating area, they wanted a gas fire pit surrounded with natural rock that complemented the look of their pool’s waterfalls. It’s perfect in the evenings, too. 

 

 

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