Letters of Commendation


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August 2006

To Outdoor Life, Inc.

When our adventure began back in November, we still were not sure how we were ever going to enjoy “the hill”. It was the only thing about our brand new house that bothered us. How were we going to maximize the space? An 8-10 foot drop into a bank of trees… downhill the whole way. We stood at the lowest corner of the uneven yard, shaking our heads. All we could picture was our son tripping, and rolling uncontrollably down the red clay/grass.

We called several landscapers. Some never returned our calls. Some came and gave us the standard fare. Bunch of shrubs… pine needles for the unusable trees area. When Bill Botkin of Outdoor Life came by one evening, he stayed with us for over an hour. He asked us what we had in mind, and we told him we weren’t sure. We were sure that we needed to extend the patio from the back of the house. As for the rest of the yard… we thought tiers or terraces to level out the long hill would work. But our yard sloped deeper down the left than the right, so terraces meant at least two long rows of retaining walls (an expensive proposition).

Bill had another idea in mind. His years of experience and creativity saw something else in our “hill”. He suggested a waterfall up by the extended patio, winding down a small steam, to a smaller second waterfall, emptying into a pond, with a second patio at the bottom of the hill where guests could view the lower pond. He wanted it to look natural, like you were in the woods, so he also suggested that the waterfall and pond be made out of natural boulders and rocks, with old logs laying about to give it a “natural” look. And then a path… winding down the less steep side of the yard, all the way down to the second patio at the base of the pond below. This path would be a stamped concrete pattern, appearing like cracked stone, fitting in with the natural theme. The subtle curves of the path would make it easy to descend down the yard; even Grandma could easily wind down to see the smaller waterfall at the lower pond.

We were a little hesitant. How much would this cost? And our young children… would the pond be too deep? How much work would be involved in keeping that going? But Bill painted as real a picture as he could. His web site was filled with photos of other waterfalls he had done. He even had us visit other finished projects to visualize the results. The pond would be less than 3 feet deep. He told us about the balanced ecosystem, how the pond, once settled would be almost no maintenance at all.

And one more very important thing… He was excited… you could see it as he described the pond. Bill knew this was the exact thing we needed to maximize our space… add value to our home… something we would be proud of, would want to show off to our neighbors. (And he was absolutely right! Not a day goes by when someone isn’t trying to catch a look at the waterfall! But more about that in a minute!)

The biggest complement I can pay to Bill and his company Outdoor Life is this. He really cares about the project at hand. And he is directly involved with every aspect of it. From the concrete pouring to meticulously laying out the rocks on the falls to get “just the right look” in the water flow. Bill has creative vision and he can see the project evolve… getting the most out of every piece of the puzzle. And his experience shows in the details. He uses quality materials; he doesn’t cut corners and try to squeeze out another buck from you. He is very intelligent and knows all aspects of the project. He truly is an expert on every aspect of the job, from the irrigation system he installed for our lawns, to the choices of plants and flowers to complement the already remarkable waterfall that was unfolding before our eyes.

And another trait… he is very honest. From that very first meeting I knew we had a landscaper that was going to give us his all (and not try to pull a fast one, like some other contractors we’ve seen!). He explained to us how he was going to lay it out, what was going to be costly and what wasn’t. And how he was going to lay out every boulder and every shrub. And the cost? Practically the same as the design we were suggesting to begin with… with one difference. His waterfall plan was going to add tremendous value to our home. We decided to go for it. We trusted that Bill would see it through himself and his past work showed quality workmanship and attention to detail. When the starting date finally arrived, we were nervous, but excited. The Outdoor Life crew was very professional, hard-working, friendly… and they knew what Bill was after even before he suggested it. They were a very together team that did not waste a lot of effort. As the design began to take shape, we knew we had made the right choice! This plan was going to exceed anything we had expected for our yard! The job was completed in a couple of weeks.

Before I sign off here, let me describe what it is like in our new yard. For the first two weeks, my wife was waking up early in the morning, just to grab her tea and wander on down to the soothing sounds of the waterfall, sitting out on the lower patio, just listening and enjoying nature waking. Small beautiful dragonflies over the pond… butterflies floating onto the flowers… fish floating in the clear water, under the lily pads. The occasional sound of a bullfrog… the sun glistening off both waterfalls… and, of course, the neighbors on the distant road behind our house, stopping their cars to catch a glimpse of nature at its best.

Bill and all his experience had delivered… big time. He had turned all our serious concerns into a marvelous highlight for our home. And he had done it efficiently and cost-effectively. In fact, he still comes by weeks later to check on the pond’s progress… checking the irrigation lines… checking to see that the plants are all doing well. You see? He really cares about his work. That’s the kind of customer care he provides. Have you ever heard of a landscaper doing that? I haven’t. Choosing Outdoor Life, Inc. for our landscaping project was one of the best experiences we have ever had.

Well, time to go… got to get out there on the patio you know.. it’s even better at sunset when it’s nice and cool out. C’mon by and check it out, if you like. We’d love to have you!

Lou and JeanAnn

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