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posted: 10/6/2012 5:09 AM

Landscape design makes the most of your yard

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  • Hardscaping is the permanent yard features that complete your landscaping.

      Hardscaping is the permanent yard features that complete your landscaping.
    Photos Courtesy of Ryco Landscaping

  • RYCO Landscaping created this small putting green for a client. The company's designers interview clients to propose improvements that fit a homeowner's lifestyle.

      RYCO Landscaping created this small putting green for a client. The company's designers interview clients to propose improvements that fit a homeowner's lifestyle.

  • In addition to fountains, natural stone is being used for patios and walkways, says Colin Taheny of RYCO Landscaping.

      In addition to fountains, natural stone is being used for patios and walkways, says Colin Taheny of RYCO Landscaping.

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

Just like an interior designer looks at all aspects of a home's interior and the way a family might use it before offering possible designs and furniture choices, RYCO Landscaping of Lake in the Hills takes into account all aspects of a home's exterior and the way a family might use it before suggesting landscaping and special features for a home's outdoor environs.

"We are a landscape architecture design/build firm," said Colin Taheny, vice president of sales of the 16-year-old company. "We examine everything from how the home's front sidewalk plays into the landscaping to how the color of the pavers works with the color and texture of the home's roof. All of the colors and textures used on a home's exterior and lot need to flow together.

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"We like to call what we do 'lifescaping' because we are literally creating outdoor living spaces using everything from landscaping to outdoor kitchens and from lighting to fire pits," he said.

In addition to plants and landscaping, the company installs "hardscaping," the industry term for permanent yard features like patios, lighting and fountains.

"We don't look at our work as selling a project," Taheny said. "We look at the whole environment of the home and, for a small fee that can be applied toward the project, we come up with drawings drawn to scale."

Members of the RYCO sales staff sit down with their clients and ask them open-ended questions like: What is it you don't like about your current backyard and how do you like to use your yard? Then they take into account the spatial orientation of the yard, including property lines and when the sun illuminates various portions of the lot, as well as the client's stated budget and their uses for the property (are cooking outdoors and entertaining their passions?), before offering suggestions.

And when they offer those suggestions, they include numerous ways to achieve a similar result at different price points, Taheny said. Homeowners, for instance, may choose to pave with natural stone, poured concrete, pavers that look like natural stone or Holland stone. They can also mix natural stone with pavers in irregular sizes so the client gets a unique, natural look. This method is called "quilting" and it is becoming increasingly popular, he said.

"We also present clients with solutions to their problems like sunken patios and overgrown landscaping and we offer to phase large projects for them because most people today are not being extravagant and taking out lines of credit to do their landscaping, like they may have done in 2004, 2005 and 2006," Taheny said.

"But they are still buying nice things, thanks, in part, to manufacturers and suppliers coming up with better and less expensive ways for us to install things like modular water features and fire pits that can be installed much more quickly and at a lower price," he said.

Homeowners, however, generally understand the intrinsic value of attractive landscaping and exterior spaces, so they are still willing to invest in their outdoors. In fact, Taheny has found a fair amount of pent-up demand for the company's services and is seeing more homeowners contracting for long-term plans installed over time.

RYCO is able to deliver the whole package, tying together sound systems and lighting; installing water features on busy corners in order to deaden traffic noise; adding months to a yard's usability by adding fire pits and heaters; counteracting droughts with irrigation systems; and adding specialized gardens and trellises that appeal to specific tastes.

"We get very creative in order to touch the imaginations of our clients and we help people prioritize and think through their preferences in order to make it affordable over time," Taheny said.

"We realize that our customers work very hard for every dollar they make, so we help them to spend those dollars wisely in order to create an environment they will enjoy."

RYCO works throughout the Chicago area and in southern Wisconsin. It not only designs and installs exterior landscape and hardscape environments but also does both residential and commercial mowing and maintenance; installs and maintains irrigation systems; handles turf and tree care; and installs and maintains outdoor lighting systems.

For more information, call (800) 955-7926 or visit www.rycolandscaping.com.

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