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  • Writer's pictureTom Cavan


During my 50+ years in the industry, I have witnessed countless transformations and adaptations of the landscape and the significant role it plays in our lives past, present, and future. For decades people would flock to the great northern lakes for their summer holidays, build modest cottages and enjoy the lakes of nature abound. But now faced with annoying lengthy drives, exhausting the weekend on a second place to maintain, and then coming home and doing it all again. Many cottage goers are forgoing the trip and letting go of the double down of exhausting expenses. The one thing that has become the most precious of values is our time with family and friends.

Whether you sell the existing cottage or check out the cost of buying a northern retreat the new preferred reality is to create the experience in your own backyard.

Pool, spa, outdoor cooking, conversation areas.....all just a step out the back door.

Here is one of many examples of our new reality:

Client Requests ( 2hr discussion edited): transform an open fallow field into a staycation retreat. Re-locate two established Horsechestnut trees. Pool contractor schedule, they had already hired, and timeline provided. Surround the pool with ample patio space with resilient sustainable materials. Extend patio space to accommodate future Pool Cabana. No grass on the perimeter of the patio area. Stipulate sustainable low maintenance resolute gardens with a priority for native species. The makeover landscape will unify with the surrounding woodlot, the surrounding woodlot will continue to envelop and the merger will be supportive. Design contract signed and sealed with a handshake to begin the process. Design to be inclusive with the related budget(s) timeline to install and ready for review within two weeks of the initial meeting.

Start with a site survey and the surrounding environs. N.S.E.W.

Measure and record all aspects: area dimensions, elevation changes, existing drainage, physical access, staging to construct site exposure to the elements, etc.

These pictures were taken 1st in the fall and 2nd following winter.

The planning of a landscape begins with answering the questions of how will the space be used? What are your dreams and aspirations for your property? How long will you invest yourself physically and financially in this place of habitation? And yes budget! because that is paramount and has to be pragmatic.

After all the questions were answered and the concept plan was approved the final result checked off all of their requests and more.

Large rectangles of charcoal limestone promenade invite you to the pool.

Wrought Iron fencing to enrich the entrance with an informal garden border.

Chain-link perimeter fencing for cost-effective safety enclosure that does not encroach providing ample space and blends into the environs. Patio extension is in place for the future Cabana. All underground utilities are installed and ready to go.

Artificial turfgrass for clean lines framing the gas fire pit. (no grass adjacent to pool)

Opposite-side ornamental grasses and artificial grass balance the symmetry. Gardens are low maintence with a blend of native species and tried and true hardy plants providing waves of seasonal colour.

Silver coping and patio cool to the skin, charcoal banding set-back to define pool.

Clean, efficient gas fireplace for conversation sitting area.

Perimeter turf stone separates lawn area/patio while providing enhanced drainage.

The paradise vacation is a 30-second commute home at no additional cost.

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