Upgrades are as important to Deck and Patio’s landscaping business as new projects. Often, these projects require an artful blending of the old with the new. Our outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, recently enjoyed one such special project where the existing pool equipment, for example, was 20 years old.
Getting to the plumbing would have been a challenge, but the homeowners were also seeking improvement to what they felt was a very “confining upper patio area.” That was the area where they enjoyed sitting in the shade and taking in the property’s stunning water views. Since any upgrade plan to extend the patio would call for tearing out all the existing patio areas, this presented the perfect opportunity to gain access to the pool’s dated equipment.
Bill Renter carefully worked out a detailed plan of what to keep, and what to improve or restore: (1) upgrade the existing pool and spa; (2) expand the property’s confining upper and lower patios, which would open up the space, and better show off the property’s spectacular views of Long Island Sound; (3) add new colorful plants and flowers to enhance the opened up water views.
The result? A remodeled backyard that looks like an entirely new property — with upgrades and equipment that will last for many years to come.
When the architect for this project showed the homeowner his sketches, he suggested a change in the size of the kitchen windows. He felt our landscaping plan was so beautiful that the windows should be increased from their original size, in order to fully appreciate what were going to be magnificent views — both day and night.
The architect was right. The project garnered The Deck and Patio Company two prestigious awards: Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) Gold Medal “for freeform pools,” and First Place for “Residential Concrete Pavers of more than 5,000 square feet” from Hardscape North America (HNA).
It was noted by the publisher of the awards, that the backyard design “makes the landscape appear as though it is yielding to the concrete paver patios, pools and retaining walls — presenting nature as in charge of the design, rather than concrete.”
The homeowners say that people are constantly asking if they can come and walk around their property.
“I don’t mind. When I heard of something special, I asked people if I could see their yards. So I don’t mind that people are always wanting to walk around my home. Frankly, it’s something beautiful!”
These clients had five children under age of six, and they were seeking a vision that would suit their large young family. They knew they wanted a pool, but because of the topography, the pool would have to located far away from the house. Therefore, any pool would become a “destination” pool, with an outdoor kitchen, bathroom, living room area, changing room, etc. nearby.
However, as Deck and Patio’s Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter, looked up the hill from the designated pool area, he felt: yes, it was nice, but it was also a great opportunity to create something spectacular. The clients loved his complete vision that included the pool area, plus a meandering stream that would cascade down the slope into a new koi pond.
However, there was one major concern. How could they enjoy the waterfall and stream from the house and upper patio area? It seemed they would have to be down at pool area to enjoy it.
We ended up creating an additional waterfall at the top of the slope that faced the house-kitchen area. That way, they could see a waterfall, and the beginning of the stream; from slightly beyond that vantage point, the stream takes an abrupt U-turn, and flows down through five separate cascades, before ending in the lower area pond.
More photos and information: http://deckandpatio.com/water-features.html and http://deckandpatio.com/pools-spas.html.
We love it when we can make a project look natural — and ‘be’ natural, in the way it cares for the earth. This is one such project.
Collecting the water at the lower level of this lovely water feature (stream and waterfalls) is a pondless reservoir. The Aquascape RainXchange reservoir was designed by Deck and Patio to seemingly disappear into the gravel instead of being collected.
“Totally below ground, this rainwater harvesting reservoir acts as a ‘green’ maintenance-free source for the water feature that can run from March through December, 24-7,” says our Outdoor Living Expert, Bill Renter. “City water is not used. The water is harvested totally from rainfall on the roof of the house. Gravity alone collects it into pipes.”
Our team also believes that any water feature’s rock formations should look like they do in a natural setting. That can be achieved by grouping boulders together and doing plantings around them. The key is grouping boulders so they look like a big piece of stone. This can be done by grouping smaller pieces of stone together tightly. Avoid making such groupings look like a retaining wall – that is, similar sized boulders all in a row.
The Deck and Patio Company wins major awards for this beautiful backyard retreat
This property’s residence was carefully designed and built amongst mature oaks, maples and pines. Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, and his team, also took great care to preserve as much of this as possible when we added the various water features: a concrete, vinyl-lined pool, raised spa, stream, waterfalls, and koi pond.
To accomplish this, many site-related factors had to be considered: topography, solar exposure, soil conditions, existing trees, property size, active and passive use areas, as well as the style of architecture.
We have found, in fact, that recreating water and nature is an art form that takes a trained eye, many years of field experience, extensive knowledge of hydraulics and plant material, a true passion for nature, and, most importantly, an understanding of how to balance the relationship between architecture with its natural surroundings.
In recognition for all we accomplished in the design and installation of the pool, spa and water features, this back yard retreat garnered two prestigious awards from NESPA and APSP in 2007.
Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, has made a career out of avoiding unsightly retaining walls
Whether a landscape job is large or small, each one can be an opportunity to create scenes and vistas as they appear in nature.
Indeed, Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert has made a career out of avoiding unsightly retaining walls that do not in the least appear natural. Instead, he uses elements such as plants and boulders to hold back soil and to keep back the grade.
In addition, he finds that regular manmade retaining walls often require an engineer’s plan in order to get approval from local municipalities. However, when boulders and plants are used, such approval usually isn’t required — saving time and money.
Project #1: To hold back the soil between new upper and lower patios, natural stone steps, moss rocks and boulders, as well as soil made stronger with beautiful plantings, create a lovely vista while maintaining the grade.
Project #2: This site dropped off 20-feet, down a steep slope, overgrown with brush. We created a stream beginning at the top that can be seen from the house. Then we meandered it down the entire slope — supported by boulders, rocks and plants — ending in a tranquil pond stocked with koi.
Project #3: When taking measurements, our outdoor living expert noticed a delightful and beautifully maintained shade garden, set in a wooded part of the property along a charming path. It was a favorite spot for the wife, a local doctor, who frequently sat there for relaxation.
He created a stream crossing over the path at several points — in fact, a whole series of streams, with waterfalls dropping down the hill, ending in a maintenance-free pondless reservoir.
The reservoir he recommended is a 1,000-gallon tank with pump that pushes the water back up the 40-foot hill to recirculate. Renter also suggested the new walk bridge that now crosses part of a stream close to the sitting area.
Project #4: Our outdoor living expert practices what he preaches. His own front yard looks like a fairytale scene straight from an enchanted forest, with waterfall and stream.
Underneath the sloping grade is a pond with waterfalls. “ It’s a spot I go to every morning before leaving home. It also happens to be situated close to the end of our circular driveway, so it’s also the first thing I see when returning home at night,” he says.
Project #5: Waterfall, bright plants, mingling with natural stone boulders, along with new freeform pool, not only suggest natural South Sea lagoon, but together they beautifully support the slope.
After returning from a holiday in Costa Rica, which is bordered on one side by the Pacific, and on the other by the Caribbean, these homeowners wanted to keep enjoying the tropical experience they so enjoyed there.
The first challenge facing Deck and Patio Company’s outdoor living expert, Bill Renter, was to meet 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 developing a plan that would fit in the 12-foot elevation change from the rear of the home to the back of the property. To alleviate this, we built a raised patio, with a wide, wrap-around stair, leading to the pool, patio, and 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. The main thing, is they both feel like they’re back in Costa Rica, every single day.
This project won several GOLD MEDAL awards from the several design awards awards from the NSPI and NESPA. View them here.
Deck and Patio’s outdoor living expert helped these clients choose the perfect railing for their new deck/spa
A prairie farmer once was asked what he thought of the Rocky Mountains, off in the distance.
“Oh, the mountains are all right,” he replied, “but they sure do block the view.”
The farmer’s response may cause a smile, but aren’t we’re all a little like that farmer? Take the homeowners of this smashing deck overlooking a lovely landscape.
Outdoor enthusiasts both, the couple wanted a very attractive, modern-looking deck on which to enjoy the outdoors and their beautiful water views, and a conveniently placed portable spa. And they did not want the deck or spa to block their property’s views in any way.
To accomplish all they wanted, the least noticeable part of the project was perhaps the most important: the deck’s stainless steel cable railing. Like the deck, it is delightfully maintenance free and elegant. More to the point, the cable railing does not obstruct the yard’s languid water views from any place on the deck — even when people are sitting.
Cable rails – sometimes called “wire rope” railings – are safety rail infill that substitute horizontal or vertical cables for spindles, and, in this case, they were an ideal choice.
Special notes: All the materials used for this deck and railing do not require painting or staining; the rail cap was stained to blend perfectly with the overall deck/spa design.
Sometimes trying to solve a problem can be the spark for something magical. This property, for example, is located next to a busy four-lane road and the homeowners longed for a peaceful backyard, with a pool and spa — without all the traffic noise.
In addition to a beautiful freeform vinyl pool and spa, we built for them a 19-foot sound barrier of natural moss rock boulders, and installed a 4-foot x 8-foot pondless waterfall between the wall and their new pool. This stone barrier with rushing waterfall not only blocks noise, but suggests they are vacationing on some south sea isle — far and away from everyday problems.
Their finished multi-faceted outdoor oasis includes a vinyl pool with raised spillover spa, elegant Cambridge Ledgestone patios, a natural rock barrier with high waterfall, and lush plantings.
Deck and Patio designed and built modestly-sized quality deck with room for the whole family and even guests
Many people with small backyards don’t use them. Even in hot weather, they live indoors. Others want to enjoy the outdoors, but fear the costs of adding or upgrading to anything of quality.
However, not all decks need be elaborate and expensive. This budget-friendly deck is modestly sized, yet is large enough for a barbecue, dining table and loungers. Plus, just two steps above grade, a railing was not required — another cost-saver.
Quality: The material we used for this handsome deck is from Fiberon. We liked it for its beautiful wood-like multi-chromatic grain pattern which belies how highly functional it is. As a composite cellular material of durable polymer, it is moisture resistant. Plus, no organic material is involved, so no mold will grow on it. Low maintenance, lovely to look at, sufficiently ample in size, yet it was a very budget-friendly project.
Additional Tips from our outdoor living expert: When working with tighter places, it is key to allow enough room for a chaise lounge, dining, barbecue, and sufficient space to walk around, while at the same time not overbuilding the whole space.