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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:01 PM
Here's a little project we've been working on for little bit. We're not totally done yet. Seating wall blocks are on back order for 1 month. And sports court isn't finished either. But it's 95% done. So here are some photos.

Give me 30 minutes or so to load all the images before y'all start commenting. Enjoy...

We'll start with the designs.....


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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:04 PM
I don't have a digital copy of the front yard design. But I'll start with photos from the front yard project we did.....



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:07 PM
A few more photos from the front yard / driveway area



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:08 PM
Arbor and Rock Steps Going Down to Back Yard.



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:11 PM
Some more angles of those rock slab steps and plantings surrounding them.



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:12 PM
Now some overall shots of the back yard.



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:15 PM
On to my favorite part of the project; the back yard paver patio.



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:17 PM
Y'all want to see some more paver patio photos don'cha???


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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:19 PM
Ok. FINE! I'll post some more paver patio photos...Sheesh!!! :laugh:



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:21 PM
Someone went a little nuts with the photos.... :rolleyes:



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:24 PM
A pathway and a sports court (unfinished).


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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:26 PM
Wanna See some Before/After Shots????


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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:28 PM
What? You want more Before/After photos? You people are sick! You have an insatiable appetite for photos. FINE! Good thing I have more......... :laugh:



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:29 PM
One last photo.



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JimLewis
08-31-2008, 09:30 PM
Don't fault me on the back lawn. It's only 7 days after we seeded it in those photos. I know it doesn't look very thick and full yet.

Anyway, that's all the photos. Go ahead and flame away..... :(

Tyler7692
08-31-2008, 09:48 PM
Looks GREAT. Excellent job.... what's a ballpark # on a job that big?

TurfBusiness
08-31-2008, 10:01 PM
Absolutely Fabulous!

Lawnworks
08-31-2008, 10:01 PM
How long did that take you? and how many guys on the crew? ... it looks incredible!!! Did you design it? How did you buy the boulders? by the pallet or dump truck load?

White Gardens
08-31-2008, 10:03 PM
Wow !!!

:clapping:

Excellent use of color and style throughout the whole project. First thing that drew my eye was the use of plant colors and sticking to a violet-purple-pink scheme.


I like the pavers, did you decide to use an irregular edge on the patios??? just curious, 9 times out of ten you see hardscapers cut curves in the edges.

Also, what kind of paver did you use??? Just curious to know for personal knowledge.

How much did the project come out to??? Looks like a pretty penny.

mcclureandson
08-31-2008, 10:08 PM
Design, plantings and patio all look great (as usual). The only thing I don't care for are the irregular edges on the patio and the lack of a solider course (on both the patio and path to the sport court).

Good work.

kevinpmoody
08-31-2008, 10:14 PM
how long did that take you? By the way very well done.

nobagger
08-31-2008, 10:15 PM
Wow! looks awesome. However I'm not a fan of irregular edges on patio's but thats my opinion only. I'm so tired of seeing rocks after the past two weekends we had. I bet you saw them in your sleep after this job,lol. Looks like it kept you busy for a few days.

Oasis-Outdoor
08-31-2008, 10:15 PM
Holy Cow....I'm worn out from just looking at all the photos!

That is an extraordinary install. Everything looks excellent! Very good use of color in the landscaping. I like the "landscape islands" in the hardscape area....it is a very unique and effective idea. Absolutely awesome job. Keep up the good work!

kootoomootoo
08-31-2008, 11:57 PM
The pics look great .....on my website. :)

I like the ramdomness of the patio.

Fordsuvparts
09-01-2008, 12:31 AM
World class work, wouldn't have expected anything less from you.

h400exinfl
09-01-2008, 07:39 AM
If that was a "little" project you've been working on, you are the pimp daddy, because it looks like the better part of a year and over 1/5 million. The finished product is incredible, it looks like there will be quite a maintenance package needed to keep it up. Great job!

mrusk
09-01-2008, 11:36 AM
Jimbo your work has come a long way. I always though of you of a maintenance company that does some landscape work. You have proved me wrong and really impressed me.

PerfectEarth
09-01-2008, 12:10 PM
Outstanding, Sir. Top-notch.

TXNSLighting
09-01-2008, 12:55 PM
I saw a crooked path light! :) j/k. Looks fantastic as usual! Question tho. Why didnt you light the fountain? Or did you...If so lets see some night pics! I didnt get enough pictures on the first two pages :laugh:

J&R Landscaping
09-01-2008, 01:43 PM
Fantastic job!
Was the house newly constructed or did it have recent renovations that caused the backyard to be in the condition it was in?

NNJLandman
09-01-2008, 03:33 PM
The work looks good you were really able to pull everything together real well. I don't really care much for the hardscape end of the work...the rock steps coming down look a little rough as well as some of the boulder walls around the property....they just look too hodge podge. Some spots have two levels of boulders other don't etc.... And as stated previously the irregular edge on the paver patio is strange as well as the numerous plant beds in the middle of the patio...I could understand the two on either side of the steps...that looks nice, and the one with the water feature but the others.... by the pilliar and the other with the small rock and cheap perennial just seem a bit over doing it. Less is more.

JimLewis
09-02-2008, 01:26 PM
Thanks for all the compliments. It was a fun project.

To answer a few questions...

How much did it cost? In the back yard they spent about $110K for all the excavation, boulders, rock slabs, plants, trees, paver patio, sports court, pathways, soil amendments, new lawn, irrigation, lighting, barkmulch, etc.
We still have to come back and finish the seat wall on one corner of the paver patio and there is another pathway to install as well as some more work on the south side and lighting throughout. But all in all they've spent about $150K with our company so far this year.

How long did it take? The front yard project actually went pretty fast. We had it all done in about 2-3 weeks. The back yard is another story. That took a good 2.5 months. The paver patio alone took a good 3 weeks to do. And I know there are a lot of guys here who will say, "We could have done that in 1 week!" Yah, whatever....

Why didn't I light up the fountain and more of the back? It's wired for it. We have hubs all over that back yard and an 1120w transformer hooked up and already powering the pathway lights near the slab steps. But they decided to do the lighting later (this year or next) just to keep costs down. Our job and the deck that a general contractor built for them together already went way over what they planned to spend this year. So it was just a matter of budget. We'll get to do a lot more lighting there. The front yard is all lit up. Many of the big trees glow, all of the paths are lit, and accent lighting on the specimen trees. We'll get to the back soon enough.


How many guys did it take? It just depends on which part of the job. Our normal install crew is 2 guys and a project manager. So that's 3. But the project manager isn't on site all day. He just manages material flow and keeps the install crew on track. But there were several days (particularly on the paver patio) were we had up to 5 guys there all day. On average, there were probably 3 workers there each day.

Was the house newly constructed or did it have recent renovations that caused the backyard to be in the condition it was in? It actually was built about 4 years ago and came with a complete back yard. But this year they decided to totally redo the crappy wood deck that it came with and do that massive stone and concrete/tile deck instead. It was the construction of that which ruined the back yard. Which was fine with the clients because they wanted to totally redo the back yard anyway.

The random pattern on the paver patio was something our designer came up with. (Well, he came up with the whole concept...) He was trying to be different and show that paver patios don't always have to have your typical soldier course, smooth edge around it. I think it was a good move and the client really loved it. The problem with the patio was that it initially started to look too bid. And the clients almost didn't go for it. It was just TOO much patio. No reason to have that much patio. So our designer refined the design and added the seat walls and little islands inside the patio so that it broke it up and made it so that it didn't feel so massive. The idea was to give it more of a "courtyard" feel than a residential patio feel. As if you were staying at some resort and this was their back courtyard, broken up into smaller sections to be more private. It's not for everyone. But I thought it was really unique and so far the clients and all their guests have really loved it.

The pavers are "Venetian" by PaveStone.

Did I draw the designs? No, I didn't design it. I can't draw designs that nice. Wish I could. We have several freeland designers we use. That guy is probably the best. But he doesn't do much landscape design work anymore. He's moving away from the industry.

J&R Landscaping
09-02-2008, 10:19 PM
Thanks for all the compliments. It was a fun project.

The random pattern on the paver patio was something our designer came up with. (Well, he came up with the whole concept...) He was trying to be different and show that paver patios don't always have to have your typical soldier course, smooth edge around it. I think it was a good move and the client really loved it. So our designer refined the design and added the seat walls and little islands inside the patio so that it broke it up and made it so that it didn't feel so massive. The idea was to give it more of a "courtyard" feel than a residential patio feel. As if you were staying at some resort and this was their back courtyard, broken up into smaller sections to be more private. It's not for everyone. But I thought it was really unique and so far the clients and all their guests have really loved it.


I kinda got that whole hotel courtyard thought going through my head as I looked at the pictures for the first time. Seems to fit the bill great for a resort like feeling! :)

mag360
09-02-2008, 10:51 PM
Little project eh?
Looks great.

syzer
09-02-2008, 11:34 PM
Thats an incredible job! Awesome!

Az Gardener
09-03-2008, 12:47 AM
Thats what I'm talkin about! Now that is a landscape job, beautiful work Jim. What kind of time do you have budgeted for the maintenance?

I used some Belgard pavers 7-8 years ago that looked just like those. I love them for that instant aged look. Sorry to say I liked the front the best, the colors are great, wonderful contrast. I'm a plant guy what can I say.

The fountain and pots look like Menduni's we have a distributor here that goes by the name European Gardens, is that what they are? Again great job. Well boys and girls thats how its done. :weightlifter::weightlifter::weightlifter::weightlifter::weightlifter::weightlifter::weightlifter:

JimLewis
09-03-2008, 03:22 AM
Yah, I hear ya. The front yard does look nice with all the plants in bloom and looking so much fuller. But that part of the job was done almost 4 months ago. So they've had time to fill in and work on bigger blooms. The back yard will look pretty amazing too, in terms of planting. But all the plants were just installed 2 weeks ago. So the photos I take next summer should make the back yard look a lot better and more color too.

forestfireguy
09-03-2008, 03:13 PM
Looks awesome. I really love those slab steps.

bholmer
09-16-2008, 10:45 PM
SWEET!!!!!!! Great job. Man I have a lot to learn.

Surferbum21
11-08-2008, 01:27 AM
how the hell do you bid and catch something like that? I have a hard time selling people on a $2000 install. need to find me some people with $ like that

AWJ Services
11-08-2008, 11:50 AM
On all of the natural stone what did you use to fill in between them?
Curios because of the maint aspect.Here in Ga we have alot of clay so when it rains water tends to really flow and wash stuff.


That was a great idea to break up the patio with the stones in them.


Some of the best pictures I have ever seen here on Lawnsite.:clapping:

JimLewis
11-08-2008, 06:05 PM
how the hell do you bid and catch something like that? I have a hard time selling people on a $2000 install. need to find me some people with $ like that
Repeat customers. That's part of it. We had done smaller projects for them in the past (before they became ** really ** wealthy) and so we already had an established relationship.

It helped that I kept them reminded about our company with a simi-annual newsletter. See this thread;
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=176306&highlight=newsletter

But there were two things that really sold them on us for this job.

1) They already had some big name landscape architect design their front yard. So that was the first part of this big project. That was about $40K. They already had a bid from a major competitor here in town (the biggest landscape company in our state and one of the top 40 landscape companies in the nation). So I had to really work to out impress them. The other company has TONS of credibility. But because of our previous working relationship, they wanted to run the front yard project by me before they decided. Well, I took that as sort of a personal challenge for me to impress the heck out of them and beat out the other company. I went to work on impressing them with my bid first. Bidding is my specialty anyway. My bids are always much more thorough than most all of my competitors. A great bid shows the client you are really thinking everything through and taking some time on them. I also hammered my plant broker for his best prices. There were a LOT of plants I was considering purchasing from him so I made him give me his best possible deal - better than the usual prices he gave me.

We also have something that's unique that the other company (most companies) don't offer as well. That's a 5 year warranty. And that warranty covers plants too. So that was something I could stress that I knew the other company wasn't going to offer.

While I was giving them the bid, I was also looking for clues to what they wanted to hear. Most clients will tell you what's important to them if you are just listening. Even before they received the bid I kept hearing questions like, "By the way, if we did want to go with you guys, how soon could you get started?" That tells me their anxious to get started right away with the project. So knowing the other (huge) company probably couldn't mobilize and get started right away (and knowing I could) I made that an important part of my presentation.

I also changed some of the plans in their front yard. The other company was going to install a brand of outdoor lighting that was a little inferior to the brand I usually use (Unique). Well, even though I knew my brand would end up costing them a lot more, I took the time to educate them on why they would want to spend more. You can tell by the house, these are people who don't do anything cheap. They like the best of everything. And that brand of lighting wasn't the best. So I took them some samples of both brands and upsold them on the nicer lighting. Not only did that get me more money (I could have gone ahead with the other brand that the other company had spec'd. and made a little less money) but it also showed them I know my stuff. The more people are impressed with your knowledge, the more apt they are to hire you. So that really helped me land the job too, I think. And it made the other company look like they were using cheap stuff.

Once we got the job, I came prepared to impress. They were shocked actually the first day we showed up. It was some holiday like Memorial day or Labor day or something (I don't pay attention to summer holidays, I just work when work comes). That day they told me two things when we arrived. 1) They had almost never seen a contractor actually start when he said he would and 2) They couldn't believe we were actually going to start work on a holiday. So we started off on a good note.

During the job, we came in force. Lots of guys and it was all asses and elbows for a few weeks. Hundreds of plants were going in each day, lawn was being completely renovated, dozens of lights going in. Things were rocking and rolling and every day there were huge changes to the landscape.

The day we finished the lighting, I told them I'd come back after dark to adjust the lights. When I actually arrived at almost 9:30 p.m. that night (and stayed until 10:30 fine tuning everything) they were again super impressed. They couldn't believe someone would come in so late to fine tune everything like that.

So all this was building their confidence in our company and helping me prepare for the larger project in the back and side yards. So the first thing we did was just impress them with previous work

2) The next thing that really sold the job was our design. The other company employs full time landscape designers on staff. So their edge is they can draw up nice (free) designs along with every bid they give. Well, I don't have enough revenue to employee full time designers. So I was at a disadvantage. But once I saw the design that company had created, I knew I had this one freelance designer that could blow that design away. And typically, whoever does the design that impresses them most gets the big job. So if I could just impress them with a nicer design, then I knew we'd have a shot at getting the job in the back. So I told them that I don't do free designs. But I also told her that if she'd hire our freelance designer I could get her a design that would blow the socks off that other design they already had. Then I showed her several previous designs this guy had done for us. Once she was impressed with those, she decided to shell out the dough for our designer to get to work on a design.

Once they saw the designs it was pretty much game over. Our concept was just a lot better and more thorough and detailed than the other design they got. And they liked the way ours wasn't so formal. They really appreciated our designer's unique ideas and more natural setting. The house is formal. But the property and surrounding forest is very natural. So they really wanted a landscape that would be a segway from formal to natural. We listened, the other company didn't.

Then it was just a matter of money. They couldn't afford our first bid. But we ended up cutting out some things and downsizing some things in order to bring it within their budget.

Funny thing is, once you get started on projects like this, people start finding all sorts of money they said they didn't have. So as we got started, they threw back in all the things they had us cut out earlier and then added another $40,000 worth us stuff too. So it just grew from there.

It also helps to have at least some projects under your belt that are of some decent size. I had never done a project quite that large before. But we had done all that stuff before and I was able to show them photos of some larger projects we had done in the past.

A good website with impressive photos doesn't hurt too.

But you can't just jump from $2,000 projects to $200,000 projects. Do a bunch of $2000 projects then you'll start getting some $5,000 projects. Over time those will become more common and you'll land a few $10K projects. Over time those will be more normal and you'll land a few $20K projects. Then once in a blue moon you'll do a project that's more like $40K and maybe it grows into a $50K job. After a while maybe you get lucky and land a big one. But all in good time. It doesn't happen over night, believe me.

JimLewis
11-08-2008, 06:09 PM
On all of the natural stone what did you use to fill in between them?
Curios because of the maint aspect.Here in Ga we have alot of clay so when it rains water tends to really flow and wash stuff.


That was a great idea to break up the patio with the stones in them.


Some of the best pictures I have ever seen here on Lawnsite.:clapping:

Thanks.

You'd have to show me which photo you're referring to. But if you're referring to the rock walls, they are just backfilled with the clay soil that's there. It washed out a little. But not much. We lay barkdust (mulch) over the clay to help prevent runoff and stuff.

AWJ Services
11-08-2008, 07:02 PM
The pics with the natural stone that transitions into steps made out of stone.

Mainly in Post #4 and #5.

Once again I will add that it is awesome.

Mike Leary
11-08-2008, 07:03 PM
As usual, nice to-the-point post; that should be page one in the book of how to do it.

JimLewis
11-08-2008, 07:30 PM
The pics with the natural stone that transitions into steps made out of stone.

Mainly in Post #4 and #5.

Once again I will add that it is awesome.

Thanks.

So in those photos there are (1) Boulders, (2) Small Basalt steps stones and (3) large basalt slabs (large steps).

The boulders are just backfilled with the native mostly clay soil. The small basalt steps stones are set on a bed of compacted gravel and we filled the first half of the joints in with gravel and the top of the joints in with barkdust (mulch). The large slabs are just set on the native mostly clay soil.

CALandscapes
11-09-2008, 12:38 AM
But you can't just jump from $2,000 projects to $200,000 projects. Do a bunch of $2000 projects then you'll start getting some $5,000 projects. Over time those will become more common and you'll land a few $10K projects. Over time those will be more normal and you'll land a few $20K projects. Then once in a blue moon you'll do a project that's more like $40K and maybe it grows into a $50K job. After a while maybe you get lucky and land a big one. But all in good time. It doesn't happen over night, believe me.

That's exactly the way it works, Jim.

By the way, I'm very impressed with the quality of your work as well as with the concept that the designer brought forth.

I am on the same page with transitioning the formality of the house into the naturalness of the forest...

Nice job, brother!

JimLewis
11-09-2008, 02:40 AM
Thanks. I hope to get more like that this next year. That designer moved away. But I expect I'll be flying him in for some larger projects like that next year.

We have another designer we use most of the time. Hers don't have as much detail and they work great for most of our clients. But for the really high end jobs it's nice to be able to call on Dane if I need to - even though I'd have to pay for a plane ticket, it would probably be worth it.

White Gardens
11-09-2008, 02:18 PM
Great Post Jim (#42)

That is the best business model I've ever seen in general. Really hits with what I'm trying to do with my Biz, hopefully I can reap the rewards like you have.

White Gardens
11-09-2008, 02:22 PM
Then it was just a matter of money. They couldn't afford our first bid. But we ended up cutting out some things and downsizing some things in order to bring it within their budget.

Funny thing is, once you get started on projects like this, people start finding all sorts of money they said they didn't have. So as we got started, they threw back in all the things they had us cut out earlier and then added another $40,000 worth us stuff too. So it just grew from there.

Ya very funny how that happens, makes you wonder what other things they sacrifice (toys, trips, etc.) in order to come up with the money. It's easy to stretch the budget once they start seeing how amazing it looks just during the process.

VASTscapes Landscaping
11-11-2008, 02:32 PM
That is some beautiful work there. i cant wait till i get outta school soo i can do some amazing work like this...keep it up

JimLewis
11-11-2008, 08:10 PM
Ya very funny how that happens, makes you wonder what other things they sacrifice (toys, trips, etc.) in order to come up with the money. It's easy to stretch the budget once they start seeing how amazing it looks just during the process.

Yah, well they have plenty of money. But I imagine most of it's tied up in high-yield investments. So it's not a matter of money. It's just a matter of how much of it do they want to pull out of investment funds and then possibly pay penalties or service fees to take it out. They appear to still be spending on lots of other stuff though this year, including trips. But you're probably right. Probably did have to put off some other big purchases for this. I am glad they did! :)

Mike33
11-11-2008, 09:03 PM
Jim, anyone being negative on this project i would tell them to get fuc*ked and go kick there as*. That has to be one of the nicest projects i have seen on this and other sites all year. I don't give a crap about something irregular or up side down. Very nice work and thank you for the time you spent in up loading pics and answering questions. This is what this site is about. :clapping:
Mike

JimLewis
11-12-2008, 12:24 AM
Well thank you very much. I just hope it helps us get more jobs like this in the future. This year was a pretty rough year for us. Landscape construction jobs were a lot harder to land this year. If it hadn't have been for this job, our sales would definitely be off for the year. So I am hoping the photos on our website from this job will help us get more like it next year, even if the economy is still rotten.

Spartan Pride
11-12-2008, 04:11 PM
One of the nicest jobs I've ever seen by far...

It's actually really similar to something I will be installing at my parents house in the spring, except a little smaller.

EagleLandscape
11-12-2008, 06:30 PM
Jim that looks awesome. One thing that really stood out was the placement of boulders inside the paver patio in the back. You all did an excellent job on recessing them just the right amount to look like they are coming out of the ground, and not just set there.

Wonderful.

We start a project similar to that (scope and cost wise) this winter, I'm excited.