July 5, 2019
We are pleased to announce Bruss Landscaping, as the winner of the 2019 Awards of Excellence Best in Show. This 1,200 square foot backyard makeover in Illinois (2,200 sqft including the pool) stemmed from an existing relationship, Unilock Authorized Contractor Bruss Landscaping worked with the family several years prior on their front landscaping. “We chatted about it when we were doing the front landscaping.” says Mike Kehl of Bruss, who was the project lead, “I planted the seed then, and a couple of years later they decided they were ready to take on the back yard.”
With a job of this scale, Mike knew it was important not to rush things. “Letting them live in the house and know how they wanted to use the space allowed them to really understand what their vision was for the back yard.” Seeing this as their forever home, the young family wanted to future-proof the space by taking into account all the ways they might use it. “We see a lot of this,” said Mike. “Younger families [are] doing more of these elaborate projects than the older generation, as they see themselves living in these spaces for decades.”
The young family already had a back yard that was a Unilock patio, with a firepit they used often, but they felt the existing space no longer fit the style and scale of the house and their growing family’s needs. In addition to reworking the firepit, they also wanted a pool for their young daughters and an outdoor kitchen for entertaining.
The project was designed and managed by Mike at Bruss, a landscape architect and landscape technician who has been with Bruss for nearly a decade. A total of 11 trades contributed to the project: the two biggest were the landscape architect (Bruss) and the pool contractor. Other trades included plumber, gas fitter, audio-visual specialist, electrician, carpenter, irrigation specialist, fence contractor, tree service, and granite specialist for the countertops.
As project manager, it was up to Mike to keep all of the trades and elements coordinated, and ensure that no element looked like an afterthought. The site presented a few design challenges. As a relatively flat site, drainage was a major consideration that required planning to balance the needs of meeting code for step heights while keeping the proper drainage away from the house and pool.
Such a flat site also lacks dramatic elevation, so the team explored opportunities to make the space visually interesting. With so many elements, it was a challenge to balance everything in a flat space and still create the “wow” factor. Mike selected Umbriano® for the patio/pool deck because of its refined surface and long-lasting color, and Rivercrest® for the pillars, firepit and grill island, to add vertical visual interest and natural textures. Town Hall® and Copthorne®, both in Basalt, were used for accents, to add depth to the color scheme.
The family was delighted with the outcome. “It was straight happiness,” says Mike. “The whole reason we do these projects is we want people to use them. They have used the pool every single day since it was opened. I see posts of them on social media using the space and that’s the best, seeing them sharing it with friends, their children – that means we have done our job”.
Look for this project in the 2020 Unilock Design Idea Catalog, as well as on the Unilock website and social media feeds.