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Making Your Landscape A Collaborative Effort: An Interview with Rivertown Landscapes

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a complete, full service residential landscape design /build firm. We specialize in creating custom gardens and environments that are tailored to each individual client.

What is your position at Rivertown Landscapes?

I'm the owner and also a landscape designer.

Please describe why you believe landscape design is a collaborative effort.

Most of the projects we work on are a collaboration between our firm, it's clients and the architects, designers and builders on the home. We work hard on this collaboration so that in the end our clients have the best possible project for the least amount of expense. To do that you have to plan far enough ahead so that things like grading and existing site conditions are taken into account on the design. We also like to use architectural aspects of the home out into the landscape. Many times that involves using retaining walls and hardscapes that reflect the home's interior and exterior. If these things are planned before the home is built, most of the time, the cost and the time line are reduced and the end product is more dramatic and successful.

What aspects of your business do you think have helped lead you to numerous awards and honors?

We think it's a combination of a few things. One is starting from the ground up with a well thought out and artistic design. Form follows function but is not sacrificed. The second one is that most of our clients come from our past clients. If we come recommended by a current or former client we already have an established trust that helps in the process so we can hit the ground running. It's the snowball effect. Because of this we are (many times) able to work on a design early in the process. That enables us to do a better job. A third is our commitment to quality and our attention to detail. We take care of the details and make sure it's done right and on time with minimal work from the client side of things. In the event that there's a problem we'll take care of it and do it in a reasonable time frame. We like to think that we are easy to work with.

What are some ways that shoreline landscaping differs from regular landscaping?

One major difference that I would say exists with Natural Shoreline Landscaping and other forms of landscaping is natives. By that I mean that you have to (or are supposed to) use only native plant materials when doing a shoreline planting. Another difference is that you are required to get a DNRE permit. Most of the permits needed (MP) are minor project permits which involves less paperwork and a shorter approval process than applying for a general permit. There is a process and formula to calculate wind and wave action and how it relates to the lake and surrounding area to evaluate the types of plantings and materials such as bioengineered erosion control to be used with the planting. A well-designed shoreline project keeps and protects the shoreline from erosion enhances the natural beauty of the lake edge and improves the aquatic habitat. Overall the shoreline landscaping is a way for us to change the way we think about shorelines and seawalls. It's a way for us to give back to our inland lakes by using native plantings and natural structures instead of seawall structures along lake edges. A big change in thinking?

What are some of the popular trends right now in the landscape and design world?

We are finding that more and more people are putting a higher value on time spent with family. Creating areas at home or at the cottage where people can gather is one way to enhance the time spent together. Outdoor entertainment areas are very popular right now. Things like expansive patios, pools, water features, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, fireplaces and beach areas have all become very popular. Landscape lighting is usually used to extend the time spent and to accentuate the beauty of these areas.

What makes your landscape designs different than other competitors?

I would have to say the time and effort we spend on the designs and the attention we pay to detail. There is no shortcut for experience and time. The experience and creativity on our design staff sets us apart.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

We can be reached by phone at (616) 866-1700 or by emailing us at info@rivertownlandscapes.com.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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