Small’s Featured in July 2013 Landscape Contractor Magazine

Monday, July 1st, 2013

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Perks and Recreation
Mike Dahl, LC/DBM editor

A growing corporate trend that is more than welcomed by the landscaping industry is an emphasis on creating green spaces, not just for appearances sake but specifically to enhance working conditions, which then helps improve a company’s bottom line.

Studies bear this out. Employees with access to green areas reports more job satisfaction, less job pressure, even fewer headaches and other ailments than workers without green spaces to enjoy. And with this comes increased productivity.

Chicago decking, a steel erection company in Merrillville, Ind., was hoping for these results when they enlisted Smalls Landscaping to create a nature-rich, employee break area. The Valparaiso, Ind., firm was responsible for all aspects of the project: designing and building a fully landscaped area highlighted by a natural-looking waterfall and a fishpond.

The section of land they chose already had an oval pond on it. An excavator, bulldozer and off-road truck were brought in to re-grade the property and reshape the pond – giving it a curving shoreline. The existing soil was then reused to fashion a waterfall, as well as for contouring the site and building berms for increased privacy.

Over 1,000 yards of additional pulverized topsoil peat was added to develop substantial planting beds. The waterfall was created using moss covered limestone boulders from Missouri and cobblestone from Wisconsin. It is 15-feet-wide, over 12-feet-high, and 40-feet-long. It has two sources of water, each with a five-horsepower pump that together provide 10,000 gallons of water an hour, which supply ample aeration for the fish in the pond. To meet the electrical requirements of the pumps, and the decorative lighting, 100 amp service was installed.

As a stream crossing, Small’s built a “hidden walkway” from boulders. They also incorporated a “lily pad walkway” that extends out into the pond and ends with a four-ton boulder.

The landscapers used outcropping stones to create a long set of steps down to the pond. At the pond’s edge, they installed a flagstone patio with a seatwall made from outcropping stone. Tumbled stone was used to build an eight-foot fire pit and grill with a gas starter.

Teak benches and a moss rock bench are spread around the pond to provide various resting areas to take in the waterfall and the landscaping. The client wanted a wide variety of trees and plants so Small’s sourced the plantings from around the country. The plant pallet consisted of hundreds of perennials and grasses for year-round color, as well as for cover and food for birds.

To help screen the area from a busy road, a hornbeam hedge was planted around the back of the bed and evergreens growing throughout the property were relocated to the new berms by the street. Additional trees include a weeping Alaskan cedar, Japanese maples, dwarf conifers, unusual evergreens, sweet gums, and oaks.

Varied perennials were selected, many for their ability to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Ground covers were added throughout the flagstone patio and plantings, providing a layered look. Irrigation was installed with drip irrigation to all the containers placed on the patios.

The owners of Chicago Decking thoroughly enjoy the end results (they have their morning coffee while sitting on the patio watching the sun come up) as do their employees. Smalls Landscaping succeeded in creating a green space that helps them to unwind, and also provides a pleasant view from their office windows and a buffer from the busy road.

The clients weren’t the only ones who were impressed. The project won first place in the Commercial Landscape Design/Build category at a yearly Indiana Nursery and Landscape Association’s Awards of Excellence.

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