During this holiday season, The Deck and Patio Company thought we would share one of our favorite projects for everyone to enjoy.
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.
“We were originally contracted to do only a deck for these Centerport, Long Island clients,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. But, as is often the case when building one, the homeowners soon after requested a spa.”
It was very important to them that any new deck and railing would embrace, and not block, their lovely backyard water views. Regarding the hot tub, they wanted it to blend well with the deck, and that the complete outdoor area be maintenance-free as well as elegant.
“A key decision was the stainless steel cable railing we chose, which does not obstruct the yard’s water views from any place on the deck, even when they are sitting,” says Renter. “And, indeed, all the materials used for the deck do not require painting or staining.”
Our team also helped them choose a maintenance-free encasement for their new Bullfrog Spa; it coordinates handsomely with the Trex Transcend deck planks.
“Plus we set the hot tub on a matching custom platform to make it easily accessible from anywhere on the two-story deck. It’s just steps out their back door, which ensures these outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy it even during snowy and cold winters — something they especially wanted.”
This project won The Deck and Patio Company a prestigious 2014 Merit award from the Northeast Spa & Pool Association (NESPA).
Trex “Lava Rock” Transend decking and CableRail by Feeney together offer not only the sleek look the homeowners wanted, but the cable infills do not obstruct views from any position.
The rail caps are Trex Deck board chosen to match the decking; the railing infills are CableRail by Feeney and the balusters part of Feeney’s Designer Rail system.
Whether it’s from the hot tub, or the dining and lounge areas, the deck is an ideal spot to appreciate the property and location.
Deck and Patio helped the homeowners choose the right-sized portable spa and integrated it into the new deck, partly by adding a spa encasement of mahogany PVC boards that look like wood, but, like the deck material, will not rot, and which suggest a modern, rich and upscale look.
It was important that when the clients sat on their new deck, the railing infill (here made of stainless steel) did not spoil their exquisite views.
Set high on a platform, the spa is conveniently located just steps out their back door, ensuring they will use the spa even during snowy and cold winters — something these homeowners especially wanted.
“Sometimes we dream of an outdoor space we’d love to have ourselves, — like this four-seasons outdoor room — and without fail, our team comes across a client who wants it, too,” says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter.
That said, the idea for this climate-controlled four-seasons room didn’t come about all it once. It evolved in degrees. Deck and Patio had been contracted to build an entire backyard retreat, in three phases, for these clients. In phase one, we built a sound-barrier fence to block noise from a nearby busy street. Phase two, which eventually included this four seasons room, was for a Trex Transcend deck and railing, an outdoor kitchen, and an opened roof structure for sitting out and enjoying the yard.
“When we were creating the deck and open roof structure, however, after an evening of being pestered by insects, the clients decided they wanted it screened. Soon screens turned into windows for added protection during windy times. And, of course, once it was to be fully closed in, opportunities for special amenities opened up.”
First, to ensure the completed outdoor room would be in keeping with their two-story brick home, Renter consulted with an architect. The completed four seasons room not only harmonizes with their home, it boasts fully operating windows, as well as screens, automated Mitsubishi ductless heating and air conditioning, flat screen television, and enough room for their young child to use his ride-on toys.
In the end, the clients new outdoor room more than matched Deck and Patio’s own dream for such a space. (Note: Phase three, and the final phase of their outdoor retreat, will be a new pool and surround, and a pond.)
The outdoor room’s large Anderson windows offer a 360-degree view. These scenes will be even more enchanting when the pond, swimming pool and surround are completed in phase three. Then the clients will be able to watch children in the pool, and relax in their outdoor room at the same time.
Hydrangeas and long-blooming roses add color and brightness to the landscaping around the new four seasons outdoor room. The room’s white siding of PVC trim board is maintenance free, is paintable, and will never rot. With PVC lattice in deep brown underneath, it all coordinates perfectly with the deck and railing.
The Trex Transcend decking has a picture-frame border where two boards of a different color frame the entire deck. The framing is “vintage lantern” and the body is “tree house.” The flooring inside the outdoor room is also Trex Transcend.
The Trex deck railings have white posts and rails and “vintage lantern” balusters. Trex LED lighting is added on the post caps to shine down on the posts; the stair risers have Trex accent riser lights which shine on the stair treads.
The new outdoor kitchen, with granite top, has a cultured stone facade that goes all the way to the ground; barbecue, refrigerator, double-side burner, and three drawers are made with high quality stainless steel.
It is a common myth that you can’t leave your pond fish outside once the cold sets in. Actually, fish do just fine during winter. That said, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, does caution to be alert. When ice covers the pond, the fish might not be getting enough oxygen.
This can be remedied as long as you give them:
- two feet of water to swim in,
- oxygenate the water,
- and keep a hole in the ice with a heater, bubbler and an aerator. This allows the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice.
If the above efforts fail to keep it from freezing, Aquascapes Inc. designs manager, Gary Gronwick suggests using a pond de-icer. “This will keep a little hole in the ice so gases can escape,” he says. “While some recommend boiling water to create an opening in frozen-over ponds, that should be discouraged. It will only ice up again quickly.“
Gronwick also says to avoid chopping or sawing the ice to open a hole. The noise and vibrations will stress out the hibernating fish to a point they could die.
That done, Mother Nature will do the rest. The fish will spend the entire winter hibernating at the bottom of the pond, or in a cave designed for this, and then will slowly wake up as the water warms in the spring. The fish do not need to eat during this time and, in fact, shouldn’t be fed at all.
Before winter sets in, carefully look over your plant material and remove dying plant material. These materials rot and build up poisonous gases that can’t escape through ice when it forms. Such conditions might mean the koi are no longer simply hibernating, but are in a dangerous state of torpor.
Keeping any waterfalls running during cold months helps move the water so ice doesn’t form. But if ice builds up, pond aerators can put bubbles back in the water to add oxygen for the fish.
This pond has been cleared of excessive plant material and ice does not cover over the pond so that the fish are happily hibernating.
Hardy water lilies (shown here) that float on the water’s surface and have a short blooming period can withstand the cold winter months nicely. Lotuses also can withstand the cold winter months because they bloom in summer and go dormant in winter. Note that frost kills water hyacinths; water lettuce, which fights algae, should be wintered in a warm spot that is well lighted as they will not survive in the pond over winter.
Ask your pond designer/builder to create a small cave, or caves, where the fish can hide and also lay dormant during the winter months. Caves are easily made from the way rocks are positioned in and around the pond.
Fall foliage is beautiful, but then the leaves start to fall. If you do all your own lawn maintenance, taking care of the leaves is one of a variety of chores worth your time right now, says Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter.
Leaf tannin stains pavers, concrete, and decks. It is better to remove the leaves than to, say, seal your decks and patios. Sealers need to be constantly redone, which turns into a lot of maintenance. Note: New pavers, and, specifically, Trex Transcend decking materials, do not require sealants, and it is actually better not to put it on such products.
It’s equally important to keep leaves off the grass. You don’t want your healthy grass to get matted down, because, in winter, it needs sunlight and oxygen.
This is a good time of year to cut any dead tree limbs away, so that coming snow or ice storms won’t cause them to crack and fall. Falling limbs can result in accidents to people, cars, and homes.
Tip: Before all the leaves have fallen, says Renter, look up your trees to see if any branches are completely bare of leaves. This is a good indicator of what needs to be cut off. Also, look to see if any low-hanging branches are near power lines; trim these so the weight of any ice or snow won’t pull them down into the wiring.
To prep your driveway and walkway for winter, it’s helpful to get supplied with fiberglass stakes (sometimes called “plow stakes” or “snow stakes”) for placing along your driveway in advance of the first snow storm.
You position the stakes to indicate where any costly Belgium Block or other edging could be damaged from snow plows. One end of the stake is pointed for easy insertion in the ground. Also, they come in different colors and you can let a particular color indicate, for example, where a fire hydrant is, the regular curb, your driveway entrance, etc.
Plants and Falling Leaves
“If you want to greatly diminish spring pond maintenance,” says Bill Renter, Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, “now is the time to take a few steps to prevent too much debris from accumulating before winter sets in.”
To get some tips on how to protect our ponds, pond expert Dave Kelly at Aquascapes Inc. (St. Charles, IL) offers this advice:
“The best idea is to put up pond netting before the leaves fall,” he says. “But if you didn’t do that in time, you can use a long-handle pond net to scoop down to the bottom and pull out leaves and other debris.”
Ideally, put your net in place before leaves begin falling. Then, simply pull it out when they’ve all dropped. You can tent the net so it doesn’t sag into the pond when it gets weighted with leaves, say experts at Aquascape Inc.
Kelly also suggests trimming back and removing dead foliage from aquatic plants to help remove excessive organic material that would otherwise decompose in the water feature.
Since some debris will make it into your pond no matter how hard you work, Aquascape recommends adding a cold water bacteria treatment, which has concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria that works well below 50 degrees (F). Dave Kelly recommends adding it routinely to help maintain water clarity and quality.
Caring for Pond Fish in Fall
You can — and should — plump up your darlings to survive winter hibernation, by gradually increasing how much you feed them as temperatures start to drop. When pond water gets below 59 degrees, use fish food made for cold water. As the temperature continues to drop, gradually reduce the amount you feed them.
Once temperatures go below 55 degrees, says Dave Kelly, the metabolisms of pond fish slow way down. And when pond water gets down to 50 degrees, do not feed the fish any more. Their systems shut down in the colder water, and food sits inside them and rots. They get very sick and diseased from this.
To get the lowdown on the best trees to plant for fiery Fall color, Deck and Patio spoke with Angelo Puleo, Nursery Division, Bissett Nursery (Holtsville, NY).
“One of the most popular and widespread deciduous trees that produces bright reds in autumn is the beautiful Maple tree,” says Puleo. “In particular, we recommend Sugar Maples, and, of course, Oaks for great Fall red color.”
Puleo also recommends the Cleveland Select Pear for robust color. Like the Oak and Maple, it is also hardy and can withstand most winds and storms, including ice storms —a real plus in our neck of the woods.
“In Spring, the Cleveland Select bursts awake in beautiful white flowers, and in the Fall, its leaves offer up a deep orange-y-red blaze of color,” he says. Another option is the Crape Myrtle tree, which, as Puleo admits, is not quite as brilliant as the other trees, but it does offer an attractive reddish-orange color. When the Crape Myrtle finishes flowering in the Fall, it also pods-up with berries, and attracts such delightful visitors as the Yellow-rumped Warbler, a sweet little visitor who feeds on these berries after insects are gone.
In addition, when it comes to smaller trees, Deck and Patio designers often consider Japanese Maples in landscaping plans; red-leafed versions of this beautiful tree offer degrees of red from Spring through Fall. Planting them in early Fall allows for new root growth in time for Spring.
Note: Be sure to ask experts at an established nursery or landscaping firm which variety of maple, etc. will produce red leaves in the Fall, as some varieties offer up a blazing yellow instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… that’s just for another blog post.