Zen Garden

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Zen Garden

Zen Buddhist priests began creating their iconic Zen gardens for meditation and appreciation of beauty in the late 14th century. At first glance, the Zen garden is very simple. Yet, as one studies the space, the complexity unfolds.
Elements of an Asian garden, the feeling of water with rock, and the raking of gravel to create the ripple-like appearance of flowing water. The role of stone cannot be over emphasized as it is the structural basis of the hardscape design. Other elements such as bamboo panels, fences, and gates are both functional and visual. Water can be added in the form of a trickling fountain or pond. Other common elements include pagoda lighting and Buddha figures of many forms and materials.

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Marshall Residence

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

This month we have a new case study for our readers. Many people want to know what Nancy’s house looks likes. Well, here it is. This property won the 2012 Indiana Nursery and Landscape Association’s Award of Excellence in Residential Landscape Design/Build category.


Where do we begin with this one? From the day ground was broken for the house over Twelve years ago this property was designed to be a landscaping marvel. The house is situated among hundred year old oak trees. During construction Nancy & Roger were adamant about large equipment encroaching upon the roots of the trees. The construction site was cordoned off to within 15′ of the house. This insured that there would be no construction equipment/traffic over the roots of the existing old growing trees. All but one survives to this day. In the shade of the large old growth trees live dozens of Hosta varieties. There are multiple flagstone paths leading from garden to garden as well as strips of green grass that form their own pathways around the acres of gardens. Nancy & Roger are both very passionate about plants and either one of them could discuss for hours the various intricacies from species to species and subspecies to subspecies.

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Let’s Get Stoned

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013


When it comes to hardscaping and stone work there are many steps that go into a successful design and installation. This is a step by step look at an award winning project in Chesterton, IN. This project won the Indiana Nursery & Landscape Association (INLA) 2012 Award of Excellence, Hardscape Installation category.

Wow Small’s Landscaping. How did you do that?

Well, let me tell you.

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Bigger Is Better! Right?

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013


When you are talking about the size of your backyard patio bigger can be better, but not always. There are many variables to consider when figuring out how large you want your patio to be. Do you entertain often? If so, how many people typically come over? You might want a large area for people to mingle. On the other hand, if the patio is smaller the party will be more intimate and likely to bring people together.

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Turning An Ugly Duckling Into A Beautiful Swan

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

ugly-duckling-beautiful-swan-01The not so twisted tale of Larry & Dot

Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know thousands of wonderful people. While we are on the cutting edge of design, plant materials, and technique there eventually becomes a time when things need to be freshened up. A client that I have worked with since 1987 called for just such an update. They removed the deck in their yard and were looking to relandscape the area.

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The Drive-By

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Have you ever slowed down to drive by a beautiful home or landscaping? Do people do the drive-by in front of your house or do they go by so fast you don’t know if they were driving a Ford or Ferrari? Your driveway entrance is an invitation to your guests to enter your space.


A driveway entrance is often one of those areas in our yard that get neglected. We see a few straggled survivors or leftover plants by the road. Sometimes the beds are neglected and overgrown. No matter the shape or size, a well-planned and planted driveway entrance creates a visual journey with promises of what awaits your guests upon their arrival.

What does your driveway entrance say to passersby? What does it say about you? Is it drive-by worthy or just another unremarkable blip along the road. Do drivers want to slow down just to imagine what they might find if they turned in and ventured to see you?

Largura Residence

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

largura-residence-01The challenges of this project were grading from front to back without any steps and a need for shade and enclosure. This particular project was developed over a period of one year. A huge commitment for a landscaper and client, but having designed other areas of this property over several previous years we had developed a wonderful working relationship with the client.

Weathered boulders and outcropping were incorporated into the landscaping to create raised planting beds. Mature conifers and specimen trees were installed for privacy and to enclose the yard. A Select flagstone path from the front yard down a gentle slope was installed with a teak bench seating area incorporated midway for the client to rest on and enjoy the view on their way to the lower patio.

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Small’s Featured in Landscape Contractor Magazine

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Open Space Becomes Hardscape Retreat
By Gregory Harris, LC/DBM

When the owners of Chicago Decking, Inc. wanted to provide their employees with a relaxing open space, they were fortunate to have a blank canvas to work with.

Nancy Marshall of Small’s Landscaping and her team turned the open space into a private retreat complete with a waterfall, fire pit and extensive trees and colorful plantings.

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