Archive for February, 2013

NJ Swimming Pool Construction – How Long Is The Process?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

NJ Swimming Pool Construction – How Long Is The Process?

What’s Involved and How Long is the Swimming Pool Construction Process? Outlined by NJ Pool Builder Cipriano Landscape Design

Luxury pool construction often takes a backseat to suggestions about pool design ideas and amazing pool features, but knowing what to expect during the  pool building process can be very helpful when it comes to feeling comfortable about your swimming pool investment. In this blog, I would like to outline how our staff here takes our detailed pool designs and makes them a reality. Swimming pools, especially concrete inground pools, involve efficiency, consistency, skill, and precision. Understanding the swimming pool building process can help you make the right decision about whom you will choose to build your pool. Let’s begin:

Mark Out

First, we locate and map out utility lines to avoid damaging them during construction of the swimming pool. Once all of the utilities are flagged, we draw the outline of the pool layout where it will be located in the landscape design. If the pool is near any setbacks, we will have the surveyor install offsets to ensure we are within the building envelope.


Next, it takes about a day to excavate the swimming pool. Our machines and our crew will dig the pool to proper specifications outlined by the design and the engineering layout. While the pool is dug, we have our soils engineer visit the site and inspect the structural integrity of the soil beneath the swimming pool. Meanwhile, the crew sets up the distinct shape with form boards. In the end, the distinct shape and contours of the pool will be created.

Inner Workings

The inner workings of the pool structure, steel, plumbing, and rough electric, come after excavation. Steel rebar will provide strength to the concrete, and plumbing will efficiently recirculate pool water. Expect 3 inspections at this point. The plumbing inspector will review the main drains; the electrical inspector will inspect the light niches and the pool grounding wire; the building inspector will review the steel reinforcement.


The gunite process is crucial for building a solid pool structure. This is where the concrete is pneumatically applied, or shot, to create the actual pool. For more details about gunite, view a recent blog about the advantages of gunite swimming pools or an old swimming pool contractors blog.


Now the electrical work can be completed for the pool equipment. A licensed NJ electrician is required to complete all of the wiring work for an inground pool project. The electrical includes complex lighting features, communications, and any additional components.

Coping & Tile

Waterline tile and coping completes the area between the pool water and the patio. These two elements offer a durable surface that looks great and meets the style of the swimming pool. Experience with masonry and patios will benefit the coping and tile work. Waterline tiles can be glass tile for a long lasting, luxury finish or a more affordable ceramic tile.


Surrounding pool patios are among the finishing touches for inground pools. Pool designs may feature many different types of pool patios. We often install natural stone patios around the swimming pool. Other possible materials include brick, pavers, or decorative stamped concrete. Prior to pouring concrete or installing pavers there will be an inspection for the equipotential bonding.


Finally, you can finish the pool with plasters that will complete the pool structure with a look that lasts anywhere from 5 to 25+ years. They can be smooth or pebbly, and they come in a wide range of colors. A long lasting alternative to plaster is glass tile that looks stunning and lasts up to 50 years if installed and maintained properly. View our glass tile pool designs for a closer look. Expect a light inspection prior to plastering the pool and a final plumbing, building, electrical and fire inspection prior to swimming.

That’s a general outline of the pool building process. Under normal conditions, you can expect a 6 to 12 week construction time, depending on pool complexity and material choices. Pool construction relies heavily on a good design, extensive experience, and solid leadership. Our landscape architecture services, pool and landscaping services, and experienced masons help to ensure each of these elements. For more information about our luxury pool construction process and to learn about some of our more unique and challenging projects, please give us a call!

3 Fire Pit Designs – Backyard Swimming Pool Ideas-Alpine NJ

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

3 Fire Pit Designs For Backyard Swimming Pool Ideas- Alpine NJ

Alpine NJ – Fire pits are one of the most popular backyard features for today’s swimming pool designs. Firewood, gas and gas assisted fire pits extend your outdoor enjoyment.

Fire pits are one of the most popular backyard features for today’s homeowners. The fire pit is attractive for its practical, aesthetic, and social benefits. The feature provides warmth and light, extending your outdoor enjoyment well into the night and deep into the fall season. Now, how do we fit this versatile feature into pool designs? Fire and water go together like…Well, maybe not exactly. Fire and water usually don’t mix, but within the landscape design, their possibilities are endless. Let’s take a look at some of the possibilities as they relate to fire pits and your swimming pool design.

First, let’s consider the fire pit as a distinct feature in the outdoor living space. Fire pits can work for the landscape design by providing a nice getaway within the backyard living space; the feature can be distinguished on its own as a supplement to the swimming pool. One fire pit we designed and built features a gas-assisted, wood-burning fire that fits perfectly, yet distinctly into the back yard. The natural fieldstone structure complements the bluestone patio for a unique look.

Now as we move towards closer integration of the fire pit into swimming pool designs, I can describe another Cipriano fire pit in Alpine, NJ. The Survivor-style, campfire fire pit creates a poolside destination. Set adjacent to the pool patio, this natural, relaxation destination provides a comfortable place to gather and enjoy the sights of the nearby pool and cabana. The rugged fire emerges from the center of natural stone slabs.

For complete integration, let’s take a look at another NJ fire pit, the Volcanic Fire Pit! This pool design fully integrates the light, warmth, and beauty of fire. Set in a small cave beside the rushing waterfalls, the gas-powered flame rises above a bed of sparkling crushed glass. The balance between blazing fire and rushing water adds intrigue to the setting from all across the yard. As an outdoor living destination, the fire pit design actually functions to provide warmth and light for the spa. Overall, in a special way, our Volcanic Fire Pit serves as an attractive focal point and a destination for adventurous souls excited to get a closer look.

All of these fire pits function differently in the outdoor living space. Experience and creativity can dictate the success of the fire pit and swimming pool design according to your priorities and lifestyle. All of the fire pit designs were installed with extra safety features to ensure a fun, functional, and safe back yard. If you have any questions, please give us a call. As a pool builder and landscaping expert who has extensive experience with fire features, I am sure we can answer any questions you may have.

Creative Cabana Ideas from NJ Luxury Swimming Pool Designer

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Creative Cabana Ideas from NJ Luxury Swimming Pool Designer

What’s the difference between a cabana and an outhouse?  12X international swimming pool design winner shares some cabana design ideas to engage your guests.

What’s the difference between a cabana and an outhouse? If you have to go into the cabana through a side door and only have windows looking out into the landscape, there will be no interaction with the outdoor living space. A functional, creative, well thought-out design will make it much more than a box with a bathroom inside. Creative cabana ideas tie the structure into the landscape design, the surrounding architecture of the home, and the lifestyle of the homeowner. Here are some key suggestions we offer to any NY or NJ homeowners looking for the perfect backyard cabana design.

Overhead Structures

Cabanas with overhead structures, known as pavilions, enhance outdoor living in a cool way. First of all, the pavilion is the first step to blending the cabana architecture with your outdoor living. Pavilions offer shade and style, usually with beautiful columns. They provide shady, relaxing spots for dining areas or outdoor living rooms.

Roll-Down Doors

One great feature we commonly utilize for the cabana is the rolling door or shutter. These doors open up large windows to connect with the outdoor living area. Those inside the cabana get to experience fresh air while guests outside can be served food and drinks through the opening. These doors can be conveniently closed during poor weather as well.

Bar Seating

Bar seating is an excellent way to engage guests while in the cabana . It can be incorporated within the structure in a number of ways. To go along nicely with the roll-up doors or shutters, we like to incorporate bar seating. This design allows you to serve friends and family from inside the cabana while they chat along the bar.


You have some flexibility with this option. Obviously a television inside the cabana would be nice; we believe the key is to offer the cabana TV option alongside your outdoor living. For instance, we have utilized roll-up shutters, bar seating, and televisions to provide a “sports bar” feel to the cabana.  Imagine sitting at the cabana bar, looking through the roll-down door, and watched the game on the big-screen mounted to the back wall.

Outdoor Shower

Outdoor showers are probably the most popular cabana feature. They can be tucked away on the side of the cabana, and they will be utilized much more than any indoor shower during the warm-weather months. The convenience and novelty of the outdoor shower will prove very useful. We always like to include these in our cabana designs.

Misting Systems

Underneath cabana pavilions, we have installed convenient misting systems. Shady pavilions are a cool retreat from the hot sun, but the only retreat from hot air is a nice misting system. These systems are installed along the perimeter of pavilions to create cooler patio spaces. They provide exceptional relaxation areas outside the cabana.

Details & Decoration

Now, lastly, let’s get down to details. The design of the cabana structure itself requires integration into its surroundings. We tend to use details from the home, pool, or landscape to tie the structures together. For further detail, we love to utilize amazing chandeliers or exquisite ceiling fans as a centerpiece for pavilions!

Our experience with cabanas shows us that details and functionality make all the difference. If you don’t tie the cabana into the outdoor living space, you may end up with a shed or an outhouse instead of that luxury cabana you’ve been dreaming about. Focus on functionality and the quality of your outdoor living. Use the architecture and style to accentuate the landscaping design with creative ideas. Inground pools, landscapes, and cabanas can transform your back yard. If you have any questions about how to do this, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

2013 Swimming Pool design Ideas –New In NJ Pool Safety Options

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

2013 Pool Safety – What’s New for NJ Pool Safety?

It may not feel like it quite yet, but it’s time to prepare for swimming pool season in the Northeast! In preparation of this year’s swim season, I would like to share some safety measures that we have designed for our 2013 swimming pool projects. The pool safety techniques involve reducing entrapment risks and creating a safer pool.

The new safety measure we’ve implemented in 2013 pool designs revolves around water circulation for inground pools. Our new recirculation system is designed without swimming pool main drains. Main drains are used as an intake to recirculate water in the deep end of swimming pools, and they are the primary cause of entrapment accidents for inground pools. Entrapment normally occurs when a grate is removed from the drain or when main drains are improperly installed; if so, they can pull, trap, and injure swimmers, especially children. Fortunately, main drains are not always necessary for proper pool circulation! In most pools, by excluding the main drains, you can eliminate the primary risk of entrapment and improve your pool safety. Additional skimmers and returns compensate for eliminated main drains and circulate water efficiently.

Another exciting safety feature for 2013 is the automatic chemical injection system, such as Pentair’s Intellichem chemical controller. Chemical controllers have a number of benefits, including safety, convenience, efficiency, durability, and cost-effectiveness. The controllers precisely inject chemicals with automated testing. In doing so, the chemical injection systems reduce unnecessary costs and prevent damage to the plaster and equipment. Too few chemicals for pool sanitization can lead to serious illnesses contracted in the pool. Too many chemicals can lead to a host of harmful side effects as well. With programmable schedules and trackable chemical levels, the systems, most importantly, prevent the pool from operating at unsafe chemical levels. If the water does become unbalanced, the system will alert you. This system does not replace a service professional, but it does allow you to maintain the pool within safer margins between service visits.

The new pool safety measures will create a safer pool for you and your family. The chemical controllers will create safer, trouble-free pool water, and the exclusion of main drains will reduce the risk of entrapment, while making the pool-bottom more aesthetically pleasing. If you are interested in these or any other safety features for your new inground pool, consult with your pool builder about some of these safety options. Experienced pool companies should be able to address all of your safety concerns with a proven history of successful design and construction practices. If you would like to learn more about pool safety or pool construction, please don’t hesitate to call or email us.

Draining Your Swimming Pool Could Destroy Your NJ Backyard

Thursday, February 14th, 2013


Draining Your Inground Swimming Pool Could Destroy NJ Your Backyard

If you’re a do-it-yourself type, before you decide not to hire a professional inground swimming pool renovation company, read about the hazards of draining your pool!

How can one small pool renovation turn into a disastrous repair job? If you’re having pool trouble or doing a renovation, do not be too quick to drain the swimming pool. Imagine draining the pool in order to prepare for a new plaster finish and then facing repairs far greater than you could have imagined. If you decide to take on the project without consulting a pool professional, draining the pool for a renovation requires some precautions about which you need to know. Let’s take a look at the potential hazard of draining your inground pool before you make any crucial mistakes.

What exactly can happen if you drain the swimming pool? Shouldn’t the structure be strong enough to stand without water in it? The answer is yes, it should, but there are some very important concerns regardless of the quality of the pool structure. Groundwater is a serious issue. If proper precautions are not taken when you drain the pool, groundwater can take the structure, which is no longer filled with the weight of water, and lift it right out of the ground. In the industry, this is known as a “pool pop!”

You should always assume the worst-case scenario when draining your pool. Plan for a very high water table and lots of pressure from groundwater. To avoid the groundwater issue, swimming pools are built with pressure relief plugs.  They can be either manual or automatic. Manual plugs should be removed before draining the pool. Automatic plugs are spring-loaded and pop out from groundwater pressure. When the pool is drained, these pressure relief plugs will allow the groundwater into the pool structure and reduce the upward force of the groundwater on the pool shell. If your pool does not have pressure relief plugs, you can accomplish the same task by drilling a hole in the shallow end of the pool.

To be safe, it may be a good idea to drill a hole in the pool shell even if you have pressure relief plugs. If automatic plugs have not opened for years, you may not be able to count on them to open when needed. On very high water tables, even working pressure relief plugs may not be enough to ease the force of groundwater. For persistent groundwater, there should be relief in multiple locations starting in shallow end.

If you decide not to hire a professional inground swimming pool renovation company, draining inground pools can be a risky business. On the other hand, it should not prevent you from making necessary pool renovations. Simply make sure there are pressure relief plugs in working order to take care of any groundwater pushing up on the empty shell. If necessary, drill holes in the pool floor because the cost of patching them up will be far less than the cost of a pool pop! If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call or consult with your local pool professional.

The Best Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas by NJ Backyard Expert

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The Best Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas by NJ Backyard Expert

Design Ideas for Outdoor Kitchens- The Latest Backyard Hotspot! What Makes Them Great? NJ Backyard Expert Shares His Favorite Outdoor Kitchen Features

Would you like to know some of the best options available for a superior backyard amenity? Some of our past blogs have detailed crucial landscape design elements for the outdoor kitchen and the style of outdoor kitchens, but I would also like to take

a moment to note some specific outdoor kitchen options like the best appliances to add and the most unique features to include. Depending upon preference, priority, and lifestyle, some of these options will be more important to you personally than others. The key is to get an idea of all of your options and make that luxury outdoor kitchen decision accordingly.

Here are some of our favorite outdoor kitchen options:

1. Grill

The grill is the first, basic must-have item in the outdoor kitchen. Some crucial considerations for the grill are the size, how often you cook, what you grill, and how much you entertain family and friends. Personally, I grill a lot, 4 nights a week, and I fill my 48” grill 75% of the time. Along with meats and fish, I fill the grill with seasoned squash, corn and eggplant. In all honesty, my next grill will be a 54” unit. I have clients that seldom grill, and they are happy with their 36” unit. Everyone is different but keep this in mind when choosing your grill size.

2. Bar Seating

Bar seating is a great addition to the outdoor kitchen. This option will make the most of the space and really enhance the outdoor entertainment factor. Picture yourself using the grill with three or four friends sitting comfortably at the bar, laughing and enjoying one another’s company. The bar seating really adds to the convivial nature of the outdoor kitchen, creating the perfect place for family and friends to cook, chat, eat, and drink.

3. Fridge

When the weather gets hot and the sun beats down on your outdoor entertaining space, you may look to the outdoor kitchen for some relief. In this case, you’ll find that a refrigerator is a convenience you don’t want to be without. Grab cool refreshments from the fridge or store some food out there for enjoyable outdoor snacking. For big entertainers, we suggest two refrigerators to accommodate all of the food and drinks you will need.

4. Burners

Burners, or side burners, are a nice addition to the outdoor kitchen countertop. They transform the counter into an outdoor stove. If you like to sauté, burners will be invaluable to you. I have a very finicky eater in the family, and it’s so convenient to cook her pasta outside while I’m tending to the grill! The combination of grilling and sautéing will make you look like a master chef behind the BBQ.

5. Sink/Dishwasher

While they add significant cost to the luxury outdoor kitchen, sinks and dishwashers may be of great convenience to you. These amenities are for the ultimate outdoor entertainers who serve many a meal on the back patio. Who wants to bring dishes in and out of the house for cleaning? The sink and dishwasher give you a little more independence and yet another reason to stay outside this summer.

6. Television

A television is a fun way to liven up the space. If you choose to include this fun option, you can watch the game outside while you cook on the grill for a few buddies. It’s a must for true sports fans and has its advantages for anyone looking for the ultimate outdoor entertainment. We are currently installing an outdoor kitchen with a 70-inch, retractable outdoor TV.

7. Backsplash

Another way to increase the function and style of your outdoor kitchen is to include a backsplash. In addition to your fine choice of stone and countertops, the backsplash functions practically as a way to light your counter space and provide a durable surface from which to serve. Aesthetically, I suggest using glass tile to add some detail and sharp color to the structure. It’s a great way to customize your outdoor kitchen!

8. Toe-Kick Heater or Radiant Patio Heating Systems

If you cook in the winter as much as I do, these are 2 very functional options. A toe-kick heater will keep your feet warm while you stand in front of the grill. Radiant heat will keep the patio warm from beneath the stone! I prefer the radiant heating beneath the patio because I don’t have to worry about shoveling or ice build up from the back door all the way to the grill. It’s a great solution for weary “shovelers.”

9. Pergola, Umbrella, or Strategically Placed Shade Tree

One careful consideration for your outdoor kitchen installation is shade protection, such as a pergola, umbrella, or strategically placed shade tree. When you’re grilling on a hot day, the sun and the fire in front of you can make it a bit warm. Using a pergola, umbrella, or tree to provide shade can make the kitchen space much more enjoyable without blocking you off from the outdoor living experience.

10. LED Lighting

Don’t you hate walking outside with a flashlight just to cook on your grill? LED lighting for the outdoor kitchen will make it functional for simple nighttime cooking or large evening gatherings in the back yard. The lighting is functional, safe, and adds to the look of the back yard after dark.

BONUS: Warming Drawer

The warming drawer is the best-kept secret of the outdoor kitchen. This option provides a place to keep food warm until it’s time to get out of the pool and dig in. One of my favorite uses, and certainly the one your kids will love the most, is to put  towels in the warming drawer to warm them up on those cooler evenings when the kids hop out of the pool or spa!

Luxury outdoor kitchens are extremely functional and a great way to enjoy family and friends. I hope we’ve provided you with useful information as far as your outdoor kitchen options are concerned. Remember the combination of gas, electricity, and water in an outdoor structure can be extremely dangerous and, if not built properly, can be deadly. Experience is key to ensure proper construction. Many online contractors advertise outdoor kitchens. When researching and considering a designer or builder, be sure the company has a lot of structures displayed on their website. If you land on a webpage that has advertised outdoor kitchens and they don’t have any displayed, you may want to consider other alternatives. Good luck and enjoy!!!!!!

NJ Landscape Designer – Shelter & Privacy Landscaping

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

NJ Landscape Designer – Shelter & Privacy Landscaping

Shelter and Privacy Landscaping Design Ideas from Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping of Mahwah, NJ

If you think about it, what does every room in your house have in common? Walls and a ceiling, unless of course you have your own observatory, but we can put that notion aside for now. The ceiling, the walls, and the roof provide privacy and shelter for you and your family. One of the most popular trends in the landscape design industry is to create the luxury outdoor room. Shouldn’t these comfortable outdoor rooms offer privacy and shelter found within the house? The best outdoor living spaces feature masonry and landscaping ideas that shield you from nearby neighbors, looming houses, the sweltering sun, and dismal weather conditions.


Do you live in a neighborhood where all the houses are close together? Are you famous? Do you have paparazzi following you around everywhere you go? The privacy of your home can be improved through landscaping and masonry. First you can consider plant life. Mature trees, shrubs, or bamboo can be used for screening purposes. Evergreens are a nice option for year-round privacy from nearby neighbors. Strategically placed trees will offer privacy at a lower cost than masonry walls and structures. Masonry structures, such as fireplaces, walls decorated with fabrics, architectural elements, televisions, or even waterfalls, can offer privacy in unique and beautiful ways.


Shelter, or a ceiling, is another useful component of the luxury outdoor living space. If you provide a roof to the outdoor room, you allow yourself the possibility of enjoying the landscape design rain or shine. On nice days, the structures will shield from the sun as much as they shield from the rain. Shade will help you to relax and take it easy, providing the perfect place to take a load off and gaze upon the surroundings of the backyard landscape. In terms of actual structures, you may choose pergolas, pergolas with retractable awnings, pavilions, custom awnings, and oversized umbrellas. A patio can also be placed under a raised deck area. The deck could utilize a dry-below system, which prevents rain from dripping through any cracks in the decking. These are all very nice and versatile options with different styles. Personal preference and where you are with construction will help you choose the best option for your project.

I hope you can consult with your landscape architecture firm about these two great outdoor living ideas. Privacy, depending upon your home, preference, and celebrity status, could be a priority for you. Shelter can give you a nice balance between outdoor living and protection from the natural elements like sunshine and rain. Rain or shine, you will have a comfortable chance to get outside and reap the benefits of a well thought-out landscape design. The luxury of outdoor rooms might then be completely indistinguishable from the comfort of indoor living inside the home.