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Attention fellow snow-bound Northerners: Now this may be difficult. But, if you are thinking of any upgrades to your property, it is best — despite all the white stuff  — to look under the snow and see Spring.

“Everyone thinks because there’s so much snow on the ground, they can’t plan or figure out what can be done,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “But, all of a sudden, the snow melts, and our phones ring off the hook.”

Although Deck and Patio has several designers on staff, Renter says that because so many wait until Spring to contact us, it can take weeks for someone to get out to see them.

“What potential clients don’t realize is, we don’t have to see the ground to plan,” says Renter. “If there’s an existing patio or pool, that’s one thing. It’s helpful to see those. But for the most part, we can work through surveys and Google Earth.”

That’s fine you might be thinking. But you don’t want to just begin blind. Well, consider this. Deck and Patio will work up a plan and also provide a 3-D rendering, or video so clients won’t have to rely on their imagination.



Believe it or not, good design/build firms can “see underneath the snow” by using surveys and Google Earth, etc. to come up with a property upgrade plan for spring: be it adding a pool, spa, pond, waterfalls, or just lush plantings.



Our team worked with this homeowner (see photo above) through the use of a computer software program called “Pool Studio,” which is a 3-D animation program that allows viewers to literally fly over and walk through a project as it is developing.

All aspects of this project’s design  — from the existing house to the proposed patio, pool, waterfalls, outdoor kitchen, and expanded pond – could be experienced in motion — even the gas campfires. This was particularly helpful, in order to fully appreciate the water-to-water views of the proposed vanishing edge pool.



These clients (photo above) say that when work began, the initial piles of dirt and stone panicked them. “I soon learned everything Bill [Renter] did had a purpose and I came to enjoy watching each stage unfold,” said the client. Because the property was flat, our 3-D renditions showed how different patio levels would make the yard appear bigger — even what the views would look like from various parts of the house.


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AutoCAD 3-D Animation (Greater NYC/Long Island Area):

Again, we used AutoCAD and 3-D animation to show how this multilevel pool area would change. We showed how we would turn what the client described as a problem area into a feature, by enlarging the upper area, where the client liked to sit in the shade and enjoy the view. The lower area was expanded for sunning; an outdoor kitchen was added for entertaining.















It’s okay if you look outside and have no idea how to plan for Spring. The key is: design/build experts do know, and those such as The Deck and Patio Company have the ability to show you what to expect during, and after, the work takes place.


Perhaps inspired by the wife’s pet turtles — who are so happy in their individual shells — this family wanted to be happy with their swimming pool’s shell: this meant changing from a vinyl-lined pool to Gunite.

When being interviewed by Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, he learned other things that the family longed for beyond a change in construction materials. They were also unhappy with the pool’s shape and design, which didn’t coordinate well with the architecture of their home. In addition, they wanted a larger pool, despite the limitations presented by a steep grade in their property.

Indeed, expanding the pool size would bring it very extremely close to the property’s sharp hill. In order to retain it properly — without having to get special engineering done — our team’s plan called for boulders and various small retaining walls to hold back the grade. The trick: in order to bring in machinery to place the boulders, we had to put them in place before the new pool was dug out.

“And to create the more unified look they wanted, we designed the pool in a geometric pattern, and searched out the same brick used on their home for its walls,” says Renter. “The client also wanted a more natural pool surround, and we installed beautiful bluestone around it.”

Result? The family members aren’t the only ones ecstatic with their remodeled pool. The wife’s pet turtles love swimming in it. On visiting the project after its completion, the lady of the house let our team put an underwater camera on one of her turtles — and the beautiful creature filed the pool as he swam (see:

So, for all it means, today we’re celebrating a little turtle wisdom: Yes, it’s good to be at ease in your own shell.



Deck and Patio remodeled an existing vinyl pool into a larger, geometric Gunite, with elegant sheet falling waterfalls. The new design handsomely complements the home’s architecture.



Steps faced with the same brick as used around the pool’s retaining wall, lead to a peaceful woodland path where the pool equipment has been hidden out of sight.




The pavers of the previous patio/pool surround had not been compacted properly and were separating. In addition, the family wanted a more natural product. Bluestone was chosen and its hues blend nicely with that of the brick-faced retaining walls; in addition, the rectangular shapes of the stones echo the shape of the pool and house windows.



Descending in a wide stream, the sheet falling waterfalls add a touch of classic elegance while their sound soothes those in the pool or lounging on the patio.



It’s hard to decide which time of day presents the most beautiful picture; but nighttime has to be near the top!


The owners of this relatively small Nassau County (Long Island/NY) property approached Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, for a new deck. They also shared their dismay at having been told by other firms that their backyard terrain would not allow for the construction of a pool.

As Bill discussed plans for renovating their existing natural wood deck into Trex decking, they were delighted by his assurance that a pool would not be impossible at all; it just would take a bit of creative design.

The major issue with their property was that it inclined toward the house. Other  impediments included restrictive Town setbacks. Deck and Patio tackled these issues by setting the pool mid-grade, and building risers up to the pool height.

In addition, we built the attractive water feature behind the pool to deal with the rising higher grade, as well as to screen out the neighbors — all while maintaining a natural and beautiful scene.

And “pool aside,” the beautiful Trex decking and Cambridge patio and pool surround are pretty special, too.



By choosing a vinyl-lined pool, which can be constructed in any shape, curve, or angle, this allowed for great flexibility in design. Plus, the homeowners were not stuck with unattractive white interior stairs that wouldn’t blend with the rest of the pool, nor did they sacrifice a smooth bottom for the swimmers’ feet.



Deck and Patio also surrounded the pool with a patio created from Cambridge’s Round Table pavingstones. The pavers’ dimpled, embossed surfaces gently roll into soft, beveled edges on four straight-sided Cambridge Shapes with ArmorTec. The pavers were laid in a modified herringbone pattern.



Bluestone stepping stones skim across the backyard sod and connect the pool patio to the deck and patio at the house, which is also home to the outer kitchen area, complete with BBQ and refrigerator. The entire project was finished off with the installation of lush colorful landscaping and low voltage lighting.


An undulating backyard landscape, with shrubs and trees at different heights, and berms and pitches causing changes in the property grade, make a great canvas for Mother Nature to paint on in every season.

If budget and room permits, an in-ground free-form pool can suggest a natural South Sea lagoon — which will entice you outdoors from late Spring through Autumn. Planting a few trees chosen for their fall foliage (see: can set your yard ablaze in color come Fall. And when winter arrives, the undulating landscape, dusted with snow, is a wonderland that brings the child out in everyone.

Such vistas on their own are, indeed, lovely. BUT! Now, add in a few very special touches, such as a stream or pond with waterfalls — landscaped with an array of long-blooming plants, including some hardy evergreens — and you have scenery that will truly uplift your spirit any time of year.

At Deck and Patio, we keep our waterfalls running all winter. You need not worry about your koi either (see

Even without much of the above, something that guarantees outdoor winter enjoyment is the addition of a hot tub. Used all year, especially on cool nights, or when you want to warm up after a long swim in the pool, a spa’s bubbling warm waters is especially welcome in winter.



With evergreens offering punches of color against a blanket of white, and grades in the property adding interest, this front yard looks like a fairytale in winter.



This is how the same front yard, pictured above, looks in summer. The stream works its way down a hill through several spills, with a final spill freshening the pond; bridge crosses over the stream for the perfect stroll through it all.




A steamy hot tub, set in this same yard, is so inviting in winter. Plus, it offers an ideal spot to sit outdoors and enjoy your backyard winter wonderland.



Bill and Gina Renter particularly appreciate their hot tub in winter.



This is Deck and Patio’s display pond and waterfall at our Design Center. We run this all winter long.



With an in-ground free-form pool, attractive surround, lush plantings, and waterfalls, you’ll find it hard to ever go back indoors.



This Deck and Patio project included a free-form vinyl liner pool and spillover spa for clients in Manhasset, New York. We tucked it into the back right corner of their backyard and surrounded it with a stacked stone wall and lush plantings.

The pool patios are concrete paver slabs, which we installed the same way as traditional pavers — on a crushed stone base. We also used polymer sand joints to prevent weeds from growing in between the joints.

“I am often asked by new clients if they should have natural stone around their pool,” says our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “However, as a trusted adviser to my clients, we usually recommend against it — mainly because of how hot it gets in the sun.”

Renter adds that on Long Island, however, bluestone is frequently used on many pool projects. “There are some situations where we, too, use bluestone (mainly in part shade areas), and we install it differently than most contractors.

This project won the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) Merit Award in 2008. To see additional award winning photos for this project and others:



If you have a small yard, Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter frequently recommends different patio levels which make the yard appear bigger, such as for this award-winning project showcase; also note how the hue of the concrete pavers was chosen to harmonize with that of the home itself.



Many love free-form pools because they meander along with the landscape to suggest a more natural look; here the patio was designed “freeform” as well. The design also called for a stacked stone wall which adds a dramatic outline to it all as well as offering extra seating when entertaining.



Often known for being the lowest-cost option, vinyl pools and spas are easily customizable; also, replacement cost for the outer liner is modest compared to other pool fixes and because of this can offer a wallet-friendly facelift for a totally new look down the road. Plus, in the Northeast, they perform better because of the freeze/thaw climate, explains Bill Renter.



This stacked stone wall is not just a pretty face; it holds back the lawn and lush plantings; natural stone steps lead up to second patio area to a private spa patio.



Low voltage landscape lighting and LED pool lighting make this pool awesome at night; the different patio areas present enchanting spots for conversation and rests between times in the pool and spa.


Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert uses hard rocks: boulders, stone — and even man made wet-cast concrete — to create soft effects in backyard landscapes


Rocks are a natural part of nature, and when chosen well and positioned perfectly, they can make a man-made waterfall appear as if it’s flowing from a natural mountain stream.

Elsewhere in your landscape, a single, perfectly-sized, durable rock can make a diving board feel like you’re jumping from a small cliff into a Caribbean lagoon. Plus, a group of flat, well placed stepping stones can turn a functional lawn-protecting pathway into a peaceful stroll well worth taking.

An avid outdoor enthusiast, Deck and Patio’s own Bill Renter spends as much time as he can walking the hillsides of NY’s Catskills and studying the landscape. His expertise in how rocks affect streams and waterfalls is well known. Over the years, he has received a multitude of awards for choosing the perfect rocks, and artfully installing them to great effect and function.



Waterfalls cascading over natural rock creates perfect mood for meditation or romantic al fresco dining. Rocks used here include river rock, moss rock, spill rocks, and bluestone stepping stones.



Set against lush landscaping and a beautiful man-made waterfall, this diving rock and paving stone patio feel like they’ve come about organically.



Here rocks have been used to create two stepping stone paths; a natural looking and sturdy set of stairs; a custom raised spa set above the pool, from where a heated waterfall flows; and a retaining wall of natural stones.



Stepping stones can be round, square, or irregularly shaped; place them squarely along your intended path.



Where once stood an outdated moss rock waterfall, now stands a sophisticated and elegant fountain style water feature with three spilling sheets of water.


Most of us hate to be cooped up indoors. However, if it isn’t Mother Nature conspiring to keep us inside (too hot to leave the air conditioning, too cold to brace the frigid temperatures), some struggle with a sense that their property won’t lend itself to being transformed into a natural oasis. Still others wonder if the costs will be prohibitive.

Despite concerns, the new year is a great time to stiffen our resolve and stop neglecting our love of the outdoors. Perhaps all you really need is a modest deck or patio from where to watch the seasons change. Or, if your dreams are larger, maybe you’re hankering for a pond that would draw wildlife to its circulating waters. Or is a pool and/or spa more what you’re hoping for.

Here are some of our favorite projects to help inspire you. What we hope is that the outdoor enthusiast in you finds a backyard place that’s shaded from the intense rays of summer, lighted at night for evening enjoyment, refreshed by spray from either a pool, waterfall, portable hot tub, or fountain, and lushly colorful in every season.

Happy new year from Deck and Patio, and our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter.



Sometimes all you need to enjoy the outdoors is a simple patio. Later, perhaps, you can add a fire pit and/or a seating wall. In another phase, maybe you’ll include a pergola or an outdoor kitchen. Another nice touch is a stepping stone path. The main point is having an inviting space that enticing, day and night.



With so much rock and pavers built into the design, it was imperative to soften the impact by scalloping plants into the hillside (colorful perennial, deciduous and evergreen plant material) for a year-round enjoyment. Once the pool is closed for the season, it’s nice to still see an impact during the winter months.



For this backyard retreat, we created a walk-through private woodland path for quiet moments of contemplation when strolling from one area to another.



This spa / pool is the perfect solution for a backyard that is too small for a pool. This client wanted a pool or a water feature, and a patio as a fun place to entertain. Our idea was to create this spool, which can stay cool during hot summer days and can be heated up on a cool evening. Add a waterfall and a gas fire pit and this place is party central!



These clients wanted the sound of water when sitting outside, to see a pond with small waterfall and to be able to watch pond fish. We proposed a pond and waterfall with a built in Bullfrog Spa next to it, so they could have a ground level view of the pond. Now the fish swim right up to the spa as they feed the fish from the soothing spa waters.



Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, saw the the main drawback to this property was how flat the grade was. Through 3-D renditions, he showed the homeowners how different patio levels would make the yard appear bigger. Expert lighting transforms their backyard into a completely different, yet still beautiful, atmosphere at night.


During this holiday season, The Deck and Patio Company thought we would share one of our favorite projects for everyone to enjoy.

Project Details

The clients wanted a good deal more than an outdoor pool and patio; they wanted a wide range of resort-style amenities to enhance their already existing majestic views of Long Island Sound. One such amenity was a vanishing edge, or “infinity” pool that brings the view of the shoreline right up to their backyard patio. In addition, we included a spectacular custom spa, also perfectly positioned to enjoy the “vanishing edge” from it as well.

Another main request from the clients was that we restore and update the site’s existing pond. We gave it a face-lift and expanded it to include a waterfall, bridge, moss rock cave, a Savio skimmer and Aquascape biofalls.

The entire project includes the vanishing edge pool with five water pumps, 3,000 square feet of tumbled stone patio, two natural gas campfires, and large evergreen trees that flank the left and right side for privacy. In the pool, there are two waterfalls, five bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning.


To enhance an already beautiful view of Long Island Sound, the owners of this waterside home wanted an infinity pool; a spectacular “infinity” spa also became part of the project.




A swim-up U-shaped bar also serves as a patio bar; the pool boasts 5 in-pool stools and swim-out steps.



Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert and his team restored and expanded the existing pond to include a waterfall, bridge, moss rock cave, a Savio skimmer and Aquascape biofalls.



Lighting the pond creates an exquisite scene at night.



The ultimate in resort-style living includes vanishing pool, custom spa, tumbled stone patio, natural gas campfires, evergreen trees for privacy, pool waterfalls, in-pool bar stools, three staircases, and in-floor cleaning.



Happy Holidays: May the joys of the season be with everyone!


Thanks to a revolutionary design from Aquascape Inc., today you can combine a recirculating decorative water feature (humble or grand) with a sub-surface rainwater harvesting collection system. This collected water can be used at your residence and/or business for jobs that don’t require treated water: washing vehicles, watering a lawn, spraying down a deck, or nourishing a garden.

The Deck and Patio Company — through its Rainwater Harvesting Group — specializes in  these Aquascape’s RainXchange systems. Recently, we’ve been at work in Brooklyn, New York, where a very tight city backyard is barely 25’x 12’.

“The clients have a four-story walk-up,” says our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “They wanted to collect all the water that comes off their roof.”

In addition to the obvious “green” aspects, the clients were keen to take advantage of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program. According to the Council, certification may allow property owners to “qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.”

Renter adds that rainwater harvesting also reduces energy and water bills, sometimes by as much as 40%. LEED points can accrue from reducing municipal water requirements, by using locally-sourced materials that reduce transportation costs, and from reusing old bricks or materials, etc.

The following photos and video show The Deck and Patio Company hard at work at this Brooklyn project; we’ve also included two photos that showcase how beautiful a completed water harvesting job can look.



In addition to the the RainXchange system, these clients wanted a small built-in barbecue; they have a vegetable garden and we planted drought-tolerant xeriscape plants across from it.



Water will come off their Brooklyn 4-story roof and collect in a 500-gallon underground rainwater harvesting reservoir. When it’s full, water flows into an overflow regeneration zone where it can perk slowly back into the ground.



Previously, any excess water from rainfalls etc. ran off into the New York City sewer system; now, because rain water and any overflow will be collected, stored, and controlled, the water for plants and vegetables is completely disconnected from the city sewer system.



We had to dig a hole 4’ x 6’ and 3’ deep to install the underground 500-gallon reservoir. This required digging out soil and filling 5-gallon buckets that our team carried one at a time down to the basement, up stairs, and out to a dump truck in front of the house.



We used all Aquascape Inc. products, e.g: an underlayment to absorb roughness and prevent rocks and roots from puncturing equipment; AquaBlox (plastic matrix modular system for water storage and filtration), submersible pump to operate the water feature (bubbling rock) rock, etc.



We drilled a hole through a rock to create a bubbling rock feature; water bubbles up and then goes back down; having a connecting water feature allows the water to be continually aerated, thereby helping to purify the water.



The “pondless” waterfall we installed some time ago for these clients collects the waterfall’s falling water in an underground tank with a pump that circulates and helps keep the water for this feature pure.



This more ambitious water feature by Deck and Patio includes a stream, and multiple waterfalls — all recirculated through the same RainXchange water collection system. City water is not used.






When creating this beautiful backyard retreat, the first challenge facing Deck and Patio Company’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, was meeting the expectations of both the husband and wife: he wanted a place to take full advantage of the sun; she wanted a cool place to relax with friends.

The solution was (1) to position the pool in the sun, in order to gain the most sun exposure during the day and, (2) for congregating in comfort, create a shady pergola, over a granite swim-up/walk-up bar and patio.

The second challenge was ensuring the plan would fit in the 12-foot elevation change from the rear of the home to the back of the property. To alleviate this problem, we built a multi-tiered Techo-Bloc system of patios, including a raised patio, with a wide, wrap-around stair, leading to the pool, lower patio, and a sunken swim-up-bar patio.

We did all this without using rails and fences, which would obstruct views of the natural stone waterfall and vibrant landscaping. By designing wide stairs, multi-level stone walls and generous planting beds, we were able to create a colorful buffer between the upper and lower levels.

Both husband and wife were delighted with the design, and the property’s most difficult challenge — its rising elevation — was turned into a benefit.

This project won several awards, including the prestigious Gold prize from the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI).



Matching steps, walls, coping and moss rock add elegant finishing touches to the Techo-Bloc patios that surround this inviting free-form vinyl pool.




This 32-foot, U-shaped swim-up granite-topped bar, in cultured stone and rock facing, curves around to be enjoyed from patio as well.



Techo-Bloc’s Elena/Sandlewood, with its warm gray and tan earth tones, in random sizes, creates welcoming spacious patios around new free-form vinyl pool.



For the ultimate in outdoor socializing, guests can walk up to, or swim up to, this U-shaped bar and sit on patio or in-pool stools.

March 2015
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