Splendor in the Grass

Yesterday’s back yard is today’s personal oasis

It isn’t just a lawn anymore. Our back yards are our spring laboratories, summer living rooms and fall playgrounds. Gone is the talk of bringing the outside in. Now we are taking the inside out and living on every inch of property that we can.

“You’re really trying to create a setting in the back yard,” says Jeff Joutras, vice president of sales and marketing for The Bruce Company in Middleton, which offers a complete range of landscaping design and construction services. “Our architects and landscapers work with clients to determine what their vision is to help them create their ideal outdoor living environment.”

With hardscaping, waterfalls, ponds, plants, trees and more, The Bruce Company offers a complete array of components to incorporate into a landscaping plan. Also, with site visits, interviews and consultations, The Bruce Company can help homeowners develop an overarching, harmonious plan for their entire property. “We want to make sure that all the components are coordinated and that it all flows,” Joutras says.
Adrianne Tritt, a co-owner of Patio Pleasures, says her company uses a consultative approach as well. The spa, sauna and pool retailer makes sure a salesperson spends time with each client reviewing needs, budget, siting options and more to ensure that everyone is satisfied with their purchases.

“We really want to get to know our customer so we can help them choose the model that would suit their needs,” Tritt says. “We also offer free site analysis. We come out to measure and make sure the model they’re looking at is going to fit. We look at the electrical set-up. Sometimes we’ll work hand-in-hand with the landscaper. We do everything we can to make the overall experience seamless and easy for the customer.”

The goal, Joutras says, “is to make the back yard or patio an extension of the home.”

The recession is still factoring into purchases, Tritt says, but adds that it is driving some people to direct more effort and resources into making their homes into personal retreats rather than spending money on travel. Life is also growing more stressful, so many customers are turning to spas to create relaxing and restorative environments just outside their back doors. Quality and value are more important to more spa customers than are models with bells and whistles like built-in flat screen televisions, “but we have those, too,” Tritt adds.
Along with value, sustainability remains important to customers, Joutras says. The Bruce Company offers permeable pavers, locally grown plant stock and recycled-wood mulch, as well as rain-exchange systems that allow homeowners to collect and store rainwater to water plants or fill ponds. Another product offers a more natural alternative to stone or block retaining walls. The “living walls” are essentially mesh socks with a compost, soil, sand and grass seed mixture inside. “We’re able to plant shrubs into the living wall,” Joutras says, “and they root back into the hillside, preventing erosion.”

Whatever kind of project it is—a spa, pond, pool or new flower bed, Joutras says, it is important to put it in context of the entire property.

“The real key,” he says, “is to have a plan.”


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