One of the special delights of Deck and Patio’s design/build work is when we get to put the icing on the cake of something we’ve created. That is, when it’s time to landscape the project.
Such landscaping can sometimes mean adding a bridge or a bench. While these can be for decorative purposes, mostly they offer ways to enjoy an idyllic backyard scene in a fuller, languid way. Occasionally, before we begin, we discover that the homeowners already have one. In that case, it’s our job to accommodate its vantage point well in our plans.
In the Part I of this two-part blog series, we are focusing on a few of the bridges we feel are good examples of what a very special touch these provided to a few of favorite projects:
In our first photo (below), colorful plantings, moss rocks and deep green ground cover line the steps leading to the charming wooden bridge. Our main projects were creating two very special ponds: one a vanishing edge upper pond and a second lower pond, both with waterfalls. From the bridge, they can look over it all, meditate, or just enjoy the air.
As a spot to enjoy their backyard oasis, this backyard garden bridge, set amidst lush plants, moss rocks and imported boulders, became a favorite spot for the homeowners.
Here we installed a manmade pond with waterfall, stream, aquatic plants, colorful koi, around a deck observation area and handsome old-fashioned bridge.
These clients had a glorious wooded yard with some natural private walks. We added stone steps, streams, and waterfalls in an 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.
What a way to stretch your legs! In true Japanese Garden style, we carefully selected large natural stones that offered an ideal walking surface and appropriate size. Isn’t this a really graceful way to cross over the pond we designed and built?
When creating this backyard sanctuary, complete with koi pond, we built an Iron Woods Ipe deck; the bridge that crosses the pond is also made of Ipe — one of the strongest woods in the world; it is painted white to complement the clients’ existing backyard conservatory. The whole project earned Deck and Patio both a NESPA and APSP Gold award.
Deck and Patio Wins Silver LIPSA award
Clients of ours, who were saving for a pool, wanted some sort of water feature to enjoy immediately. They had a lovely wooded backyard, so it also had to be natural looking.
After deciding on a stream with an upper and lower waterfall, they opted for a “pondless” reservoir system to collect the water. Their property abuts parkland and 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. Plus we designed it to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of looking as if it’s being collected.
Deck and Patio’s Bill Renter 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.
For our efforts, Long Island Pool and Spa Association (LIPSA) lauded us with a Silver Medal!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The sustainable division of The Deck and Patio Company — Rainwater Harvesting Group — recently won a prestigious award for a rainwater harvesting project in Huntington Station (NY).
“Rainwater harvesting is just what it sounds like,” says Deck and Patio owner, Bill Renter. “It’s a green method of capturing rainwater, which can be used at your residence or business for tasks that don’t require treated water: washing vehicles, lawn watering, washing a deck, or maintaining a garden or water feature. In this case, the project was for a public water feature at our local train station.”
It came about one day when Bill was engaged in a casual conversation with a few women who live nearby. They were planting flowers near the station to brighten it up. As the local landscaper for the area, he offered to help them by adding plants, flowers, shrubs and moss rocks.
“However, I learned at that time there was no immediate access to clean water. The women had been lugging five-gallon buckets of water from their condos to maintain the plants they put in. I thought there must be a way to help with that, too.
“First, we added some moisture retention product to the soil so less water was needed. Then I noticed there was no walkway beyond the small brick and cement sidewalk. There was only a dirt path. It was not handicap accessible and it seemed like the spot needed more than just plants and shrubs.”
After consulting with our Rainwater Harvesting Group, and gaining the support of the Town of Huntington, we installed a lovely water feature as well as a paver pathway for direct access from the curb to the parking lot.
We laid Techo-Bloc permeable pavers over gravel and a rubber liner. The gravel and liner filter the water runoff before it is sent to the reservoir we installed at the end of the stream in the water feature. The system we used is a RainXchange Harvesting System, produced by Aquascapes Inc.
“There is enough captured water to not only sustain the water feature, but to also irrigate all the plantings,” adds Bill. “Plus, this eco-friendly system keeps any non-filtered rainwater from going into the Town’s sewer system and on into Huntington Bay.”
This project has ignited interest in creating an entire rainwater harvesting park as part of the Town’s on-going revitalization of Huntington Station. Just recently, our company received a 2014 Bronze Award from Long Island Pool & Spa Association (LIPSA) for the feature.
Where once was only a dirt path from the sidewalk to the train parking lot, permeable pavers allow easy walking (arrow area pavers) while capturing and filtering rainwater for reuse. The pavers used are Techo-Bloc Victorien Permeable Pavers.
The water feature is not just for aesthetics, but it is highly functional. Its waterfall aerates the water — or oxygenates it. The water plants that our Rainwater Harvesting Group planted absorb nutrients and pollutants to help purify the water. All together, the gravel, liner, and plants create a self-sustaining rainwater harvesting garden. The area is now a magnet for local birds who come here to bathe and drink.
The RainXchange Harvesting Systems (produced by Aquascapes Inc.) includes an auxiliary pump connected to the irrigation system. This ensures that the water used isn’t city water, but harvested entirely from rainwater. The below ground Aquascape Aqua Blox Reservoir holds 500 gallons of rainwater.
This project has ignited interest in creating an entire rainwater harvesting park as part of the Town’s revitalization of the area. In such a park, the rainwater would be harvested from different areas and sustain park streams, ponds, as well as irrigate the turf and plantings.
Have you ever noticed that just by looking at a property’s landscaping, you can get an idea of who lives there? Are they free spirits? Conversely, do they prefer things carefully controlled and manicured?
You can even learn how much the inhabitants enjoy entertaining, at least outdoors, as opposed to being more private. You can also guess how important color and nature are to them. Or maybe they’re more the hardscape types — those who like something firm and unchanging beneath their feet and that needs little tending.
So, to create the perfect landscaping plan, it is the job of expert professionals to understand each client. If their clients are worried about upkeep, which plants will survive with little effort and how to plant them so they’re easy to maintain?
Naturally, to complete the right picture, how a plan combines hardscapes with the trees, plantings and grasses is very important. Not only is it crucial to know how homeowners will use the space, but the size of the property — and, of course, budget — will greatly affect decisions.
In the end, the ideal project will express who lives there — and express them beautifully.
The hardscape on a property doesn’t have to be limited to a patio, deck, or pool surround.
Sometimes it’s using carefully selected boulders and stones with bright plantings that creates the perfect vista.
In this case, imported boulders and rocks were combined with a peaceful water feature to make the perfect outdoor escape for nature lovers.
Whatever your mood or lifestyle, planting flowers in containers is an ideal solution for those who want a low maintenance landscape plan. Plus, depending on the size/weight, containers can be moved to wherever the action is happening on any given day. Also note how Deck and Patio created privacy through the use of tall trees and shrubs at the periphery.
Multi-level patios not only make smaller yards look larger, they help delineate how the space is intended to be used. In one area, this patio is ideal for relaxing and taking in the peaceful water feature. Another spot to the side of the feature, and in front of a thicket of tall trees, creates a private patio. Spots for sunning and being near the pool has also been mapped out.
Some clients’ taste for outdoor space includes architectural statements such as this lovely gazebo and harmonizing deck. Bright plantings surround the area and a charming stepping stone path adds additional appeal. Notice how there’s little doubt that these inhabitants like to entertain.
Where extensive hardscaping is desired, it is still important to soften the space. Here hardy plants and shrubs, along with a mature Japanese maple, add a soft allure to the expansive walkway, walls and steps.
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.
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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgRzG-tORYI).
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: http://www.deckandpatio.com/DP_Blog/?p=2881) 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 http://www.deckandpatio.com/DP_Blog/?p=2985).
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: http://www.deckandpatio.com/awards/portfolio.html
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.