From the April/May 2011 Issue:

Outdoor Living Showcase: Moving Out

    Writer: Ren Miller |

From ponds to pools, partying to relaxing, New Jerseyans are ready to embrace the season


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enlarge | Guests can watch television or gather by the wood-burning fireplace in the outdoor entertaining pavilion.
COOK'S DREAM: An outdoor kitchen and bar serve up multiple entertaining opportunities

The ability to enjoy a wood-burning fireplace on chilly evenings and to watch television outdoors were top priorities for the owner of a new Passaic County home.

The owner engaged Anthony Passanante, owner of Anthony Albert Studios, to create the outdoor haven they envisioned after he designed the indoor kitchen and bathrooms. “He wanted to be able to entertain a lot of guests outdoors in any weather,” says Passanante, a certified kitchen and bath designer and allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers.

The outdoor kitchen and bar are under a roof supported by stone columns that match the exterior of the home. The television and fireplace are located on a stone wall in one corner of the pavilion, with clear sight lines from counter stools along the outer edges.

A stone-faced island on one side of the pavilion houses a 56-inch-wide grill with automatic rotisserie and smoker burner, a side burner, warming drawer, a prep station with cutting board and a pullout trash can with easy access through a hole in the granite countertop.

A similar island facing a swimming pool includes a beer dispenser, ice machine, refrigerator, cocktail station and sink with hot and cold water.

Finishing touches include recessed lighting to set the mood and illuminate work surfaces at night, a ceiling fan that keeps the air moving on muggy days and speakers in the ceiling and throughout the yard for enjoying music. Passanante also surprised the homeowners by having their initial carved into the keystone above the fireplace.


Designer Anthony Passanante took advantage of columns already in place when he designed the pavilion as a central location in the backyard.


The cook can enjoy a view of the wooded area while working at the 56-inch-wide grill in the kitchen portion of the pavilion.


The bartender has everything he needs at his fingertips in the bar portion of the pavilion. The location of the kitchen and bar give the cook and bartender plenty of room to work without bumping into each other.

Sources: design and installation, Anthony Albert Studios in Waldwick; appliances, Perlick refrigeration and Alfresco appliances and stainless steel cabinets, Reno’s Appliance in Fairfield; counter stools from The Grand Terrace Collection by Gensun, Ski Barn in Wayne


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enlarge | A ‘Royal Burgundy’ cherry tree behind the umbrella greets each spring with a cloud of color. Underneath it is lime sweet potato vine and ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, an upright perennial. On the other side of the steps, pink Knock Out® roses and purple-leafed groundcover add interest.
GAINING SPACE: A steep slope gives way to a lush spot to entertain at a Somerset County home

A small patio and steep slope made the backyard nearly unusable for one Far Hills family. They sought solutions from Ron Cording and Beth Pellegrini of Cording Landscape Design, who recommended excavating into the slope to gain space for a larger patio, swimming pool and planting gardens.

Now the family and their guests enjoy a 1,100-square-foot pool and 100-square-foot spa with finished bluestone coping and tumbled bluestone decking laid in a herringbone pattern. The pool is by Barry Marson of Marson Pools Inc.

Stone steps lead from the pool down to the patio, which features lounging and dining areas on opposite sides of a bumpout that houses the home’s breakfast nook.

Planting beds give a visual break between the patio and pool and add an interesting vista behind the boulders that retain the slope behind the pool.


Perennial pink astilbe, salvia and pink hydrangea draw the eye to the planting bed in the right foreground. The slope is planted with ornamental grasses, dwarf evergreens, ‘Ivory Halo’ red-stemmed dogwood, ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple and ‘Dura-Heat’ river birch.


A seating area offers a comfortable spot to view the planting beds.

Sources: design and installation, Cording Landscape Design in Towaco; pool, Marson Pools in Franklin Lakes; engineering, Yannaccone, Villa & Aldrich in Chester; irrigation, Morris & Bergen County Irrigation in Wayne; lighting, Illumi­nations Lighting Concepts in Wayne; tree service, Smith Tree Service in Califon.


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enlarge | Lighting effects add to the enjoyment of this backyard pool in Paramus. Above: Though the yard is narrow, Cipriano Landscape Design carved out space for a pool, spa and planting beds.
CREATIVE SOLUTIONS: Less space doesn’t have to mean fewer amenities

Working with limited space can be an opportunity, as Cipriano Landscape Design demonstrated in a Paramus yard. A steep slope and a drainage problem made much of the yard unusable.

There used to be a swing set and hill for sledding. “But the kids were growing out of the swing set and sledding,” the wife says. So Chris Cipriano proposed a design that not only eliminated the drainage problem but also created a space that’s interesting as well as functional.

A spa on the same level as the home and a dipping pool on a lower level absorb the grade change. A glass-tiled water wall connects the two and wraps the end of the pool, which measures 23 by 11 feet and ranges from 3 1/2 to 4 feet deep.

The pool is filled with saltwater and is an aggregate plaster with a polished finish (feet-friendly when the kids play pool basketball). The coping is bluestone that was profiled on-site, and the patio is Norwegian buff, a quartzite stone that’s comfortable to walk on during the heat of summer because it reflects the sun.

Granite-veneered piers contain irrigation lines that automatically water pots of flowers on top. Low-voltage lighting around the pool and a combination of landscape and low-voltage lighting elsewhere set the mood in the evening.

Cipriano moved mature trees and plants that were in the way of the pool to other parts of the landscape. Meanwhile, ‘Heritage’ river birch trees screen the property from neighbors, while rhododendron, hydrangea and spirea add seasonal color. He chose phlox paniculata, dianthus, Shasta daisies and ornamental grasses for sunny spots, and hosta, vinca and astilbe to add interest in shadier locations.


Though the yard is narrow, Cipriano Landscape Design carved out space for a pool, spa and planting beds.


Water trickles over a glass-tiled wall for a soothing effect.

Sources: pool, spa, landscape and hardscape design and installation, Cipriano Landscape Design in Ramsey; sustainably manufactured glass tile, Oceanside Glasstile in Carlsbad, California.


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enlarge | Aquatic plants create a pond-like effect and aid in keeping the water clean.
NATURAL VIEW: A Princeton family gets back to nature with a new swimming pond

“An evolution in swimmable watershapes” is how James Robyn of Rin Robyn Pools describes a swimming pond he installed at a Princeton home. The 2,200-square-foot pond is part of an overall revamping of the property by landscape architect Brian Meneghin.

The homeowners, avid Disney World fans, wanted a natural look so they felt like they were swimming in a pond. They also wanted a lap lane, depth that allows for a diving board in one section, a spa and planting beds. The farther the planning progressed, the more interested the family became in the “green” possibilities of the project. “It was a heap of ideas from the start, and the clear challenge was to sort everything out and create a setting that aligned with the client’s ‘Disney natural’ vision,” Robyn says.

The swimming pond met the homeowners’ needs and provided additional features, including a beach entry, wood dock extending over the water, stepping stones, benches and a swimout. Meneghin designed a curved wall that starts out in the shallow end of the pond and then reverses, dividing the beach entry from a sun shelf where the homeowners can sit in shallow water and enjoy the view.

Boulders placed inside and next to the pond create a natural look, as do aquatic plants growing in beds with walls that protect the roots from swimmers. That’s in keeping with the principles of swimming pond designs by a partner in the project, Michael Logsdon of LandDesign, a dealer of BioNova Natural Pools. BioNova is the North American licensee for the European originators of swimming ponds that use plants instead of chemicals to clarify and purify the water. The plants include cattails, flowering water lilies, American lotus and pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata). To help the plants, the pool includes an in-floor automatic cleaning system.

Renowned pond expert Anthony Archer-Wills was called in for a water feature called the “source,” where water appears to emanate from stones in the ground and flow like a stream into a spa. Completing the pond area is a rock circle campfire beside the spa with a fire feature for roasting marshmallows on cool evenings.


A curved wall separates a sun shelf from the rest of the swimming pond.

Sources: pool design and installation, Rin Robyn Pools in Bernardsville and Hackettstown; landscape architect, Brian Meneghin in Pennington; pond consultant, Michael?Logsdon of LandDesign in Boerne, Texas; water feature and plant consultant, Anthony Archer-Wills in Copake Falls, New York; custom color Pebble Tec interior finish for the swimming portion, Pebble Technology in Scottsdale, Arizona; cleaning system, Paramount Pool & Spa Systems in Chandler, Arizona; pumps, filters, heaters and control systems, Pentair Water Pool & Spa in Sanford, North Carolina.


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enlarge | A new tree house and renovated playhouse offers lots of opportunities for summer activities.
LAND, HO! Kids enjoy a new tree house complete with crow’s nest

A renovated playhouse and brand-new tree house give the eight children in one family plenty of options at their vacation home in Monmouth County. But that wasn’t always the case.

The playhouse (foreground in the photo) was in disrepair, so Pamela Dabah of Dabah Landscape Designs suggested raising it four feet off the ground, adding a wrap-around porch and replacing the roof to match the one on the main house. Hydrangea, as it grows, will provide a secret play space underneath.

The family, whose kids range from 4 to 20, also wanted to add a tree house that resembles a crow’s nest of a pirate ship. Dabah designed the tree house (upper left) complete with nautical rope spindles on the railing and a rope-and-wood bridge connecting the two structures.

The tree house is joined to the tree with galvanized lag screws (considered non-invasive because they don’t break down or cause internal damage) and multiple washers between the beams and bark to prevent chaffing. A climbing rope in front of the tree house helps the kids to build muscle and coordination while an unattached ladder behind builds strength. Copper post lighting (not visible in photo) creates a magical effect and makes the structures safe to use in the evening.

Source: design and installation, Dabah Landscape Designs in Morristown.