An eye for exterior design

When Todd Selin opened his landscaping company 20 years ago things were simple -- he built decks, planted shrubs, and kitchens were still indoors.

Today, many homeowners want to take their living spaces outside. Outdoor kitchens have replaced a gas grill on the deck, and landscapers can offer back-yard ponds and walking paths. They've become outdoor designers.

"It's fun," said Selin, owner and founder of Plandscape Inc. in Elburn. "It's evolved a lot from a simple patio and a few bushes around it."

"I still enjoy it," added Selin, whose company has won various awards from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association. "I like seeing the transformations of sites when we get them to the finished product."

Selin got his introduction to landscape design by a friend who hired him after high school. Selin was hooked and went on to earn degrees in horticulture science from the College of DuPage and Southern Illinois University. After working for a Chicago landscape design firm for eight years, Selin went out on his own and came to the Tri-Cities area to grow his own firm in the growing communities.

His company's success, Selin said, comes from the "attention to detail" he and others at his company give customers.

"We try to keep in touch with our customers and address their needs," Selin said. "We design the setting … we don't just do a cookie-cutter approach. Everything is designed to the property and the customer's needs and wants."

In the last 20 years, that has meant changing with the industry -- taking kitchens outside, using more natural materials, building outdoor living rooms and changing containers to include seasonal plants and flowers.

He said part of the change of taking living spaces outdoors is due to people spending more time in their homes and putting more money into them.

"What we're seeing right now is people are investing more in their house and they're staying put," he said, noting the changes in the industry have been dictated in part by the wide variety of material now available.

Brick pavers, for example, are available in more colors than just the red and brown customers could choose years ago. Homeowners also have a wider variety of plants, from flowers to low-maintenance plants.

Though landscaping keeps Selin and others at his company busy much of the year, he finds other services to provide during the winter.

Like most landscape contractors, Selin offers snow removal services. In 1996, he added holiday decorating services to his winter offerings. His crews will go out to a customer's home and design a layout, provide the decorations and put them up. Once the holidays are over, crews return to take them down and store them at the company's site.

Selin doesn't plan any expansions or changes to his company. Rather he plans to focus on customer service and keep up with the trends in his industry.

In addition to landscape design services, Selin offers landscape maintenance programs and lawn maintenance.

Plandscape is located at 707 E. North St. in Elburn and can be reached by calling (630) 365-2558 or by visiting

Todd Selin, owner and founder of Plandscape Inc. in Elburn, says the landscaping business has changed much over the years. Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer
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