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The Year In Review - 2015
As we walk into our 21st year in business, it's always profitable to take a look back at the previous year and analyze our efforts. Our driving passion is to make a difference in somebody's life through our work. Because our jobs tend to be divided between necessity and/or solutions vs. pleasure and/or desire, the outcomes are much different. Waterscaping projects seem to weigh more on the side of pleasure and part of creating a personal backyard "staycation" retreat. Hardscaping projects tend to lean more towards necessity when dealing with retaining walls, walkways, steps, and landings but can also fulfill outdoor dreams when adding a patio, outdoor kitchen, fire pit, fireplace, or even a pizza oven. Landscaping puts the "icing on the cake" so to speak by softening the area and bringing life to every feature. When you combine all three elements--waterscaping, hardscaping, and landscaping--the outcome is WOW!
Here are a Few Project Highlights
Our passion is building ponds. Why? Because water features change lives. How? They bring peace and serenity. Our first water feature for 2015 was in Hagerstown for a husband and daughter wanting to surprise their mom for Mother's Day. How special is that?
In June, we built a "dream" pond and waterfall for a busy doctor in Pennsylvania. This project included a tall 4' waterfall with extra large machine-set boulders, a custom "beach edge" for walking into the pond's edge, as well as a flat viewing rock surrounded by water, underwater LED lighting, and a large 12,000 gph pump. With tears in her eyes, she graciously thanked us for making her dreams come true.
The dense woods near the Potomac River in Sharpsburg was definitely our friend during the heat of July while building an ecosystem pond for an older gentlemen looking to enjoy his retirement relaxing in the outdoors. There's nothing like building a waterfall within an existing natural rock outcropping and hillside; the outcome was incredible. Check it out...
Then, moving into August, we were able to transform an unsightly backyard hill into an entertaining oasis with this double pondless waterfall with bubbling rock fountains.
Located in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, this project was built for an elementary school teacher who longed to have a special place to come home to and unwind after a long day in the classroom. An added bonus was that it gave her two dogs an outdoor water park to play in.
Just as the seasons began to change, we still had two more Aquascape Ecosystem Ponds to build.
The first fall pond was for a local veterinarian. His wife contacted us with the desire to make her husband's dreams come true in their backyard. She told us how much he loved the water features at Sunny Meadows Garden Center where we built several of their displays. She said he would just want to hang out beside the large pond and listen to the water and watch the Koi swimming in the pond, and she wanted him to have that opportunity in the luxury of their backyard. They had some gorgeous rocks of their own around their property, and we found the perfect one for a mystery waterfall, which you can see in this short video clip.
The last pond we built for the season locally was for a husband and wife in a small community on the outskirts of the City of Hagerstown. It's awesome when we can transform a semi-urban setting into a living, breathing, natural ecosystem for frogs, salamanders, dragon flies, butterflies, birds, and more. The homeowner's commented that they wouldn't be spending as much time traveling to their cabin on the Potomac River now that they have a waterfall and pond in their own backyard.
After seeing all of the above projects, you might get the idea that all we did was ponds and no patios, but that's not true.
We started off our paver season in June with a walkway and a set of steps for a secluded home located in the Sharpsburg, Maryland, area. The most exciting part of this job was our customer, renowned local artist and sculptor John Neal Mullican and his wife, Karen. John is also the sculptor/artist for the Trooper 2 Memorial project. To learn more about this Maryland State Police project, you can go to the web page by clicking here. Personally, we found we had so much in common with the fact that our daughter, Moriah, is an artist, and our son, Matt, was flown to Shock Trauma in 2005 in the Trooper 3 helicopter. John insisted on taking a group photo of all of us when we completed his project, and he posted it on the Trooper 2 Memorial Facebook page along with Matt's "Strong Tower" video about his accident in 2005.
When it comes to hardscaping, some projects are for necessity and some are for pleasure.
This next project in Middletown, Maryland, was one of necessity. The homeowners were having issues with water runoff against the foundation of their home. We came up with a solution that combined using a retaining wall to help divert the water and installing a permeable paver patio which would allow excess water to drain through the pavers and down into a multi-layer crushed stone base (#2 stone, #57 stone, #8 stone) with a drainage pipe. This project used EP Henry's "EcoPaver" and Coventry retaining wall block.
Here is an outdoor living space project that we built for an active military family located in the Westfields Community of Hagerstown, Maryland. It features the new EP Henry "Danbury" pavers, and we built our first custom "square" fire pit out of EP Henry Coventry wall block. The homeowner's quickly added their finishing touches with a gazebo, grill, and patio furniture.
Although we prefer to stay a little closer to home with our projects, we did travel to Eldersburg, Maryland, (Carroll County) for this customer who was referred to us by one of our friends. We really appreciate it when our customers and friends share our Facebook posts and business cards with others; and that's just what our friend, Susan, does all of the time. "Word of Mouth" is the best form of advertising for us. And, for that reason, we agreed to travel to Eldersburg where we were able to transform their small backyard space into a compact entertainment center.
The beauty of many backyard projects and hardscaping is that you can add on to an existing project fairly easily. This allows larger projects to be completed in phases, and that's exactly how we approached this project for a family of sisters who live together with their mom in the Woodbridge Community of Hagerstown, Maryland. This project had a total of four phases (so far...). The first phase began in the Spring of 2014 and included re-seeding their lawn and adding fresh sod to a section of the backyard, because this home was new construction, the builder's initial seeding left a lot of bare spots. Next, we installed a retaining wall, paver patio, and pondless waterfall located just off their back deck. While we were there installing the hardscape project, Flohr Pools was also there installing an in-ground swimming pool. After the pool construction was complete, it became necessary to build another retaining wall behind the pool, and the homeowners decided that they wanted to add another paver patio at the end of the pool and connect it with a walkway to the deck patio. This work was all completed in 2014, and here is a video detailing the construction.
In early 2015, they contacted us again, to build an additional patio on the other side of the deck and next to the pool that would be used exclusively for grilling. This patio also eliminated the ongoing maintenance of mowing grass in a small enclosed area.
In addition to paver patios, we also install interlocking concrete paver driveways, and we lay informal flagstone pathways and patios. We traveled to historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to install both on this project. The driveway features EP Henry's "Imperial" collection of Rustic Holland stone in the Chesapeake color.
We laid the pavers in the herringbone pattern, which is the ICPI recommended paver pattern for the strongest interlock in driveway applications. The flagstone that was chosen needed to match their existing flagstone pathways, which was fairly easy to do. We generally purchase our stone products from three local dealers: Sunny Meadows Garden Center, Up The Hill Stone, or Irwin Stone.
In many instances, we are contacted to install beautiful but functional paver walkways. A nice sidewalk leading to your front door is generally the first impression people get of a home, whether you can view the walkway from the street or you experience it first hand as you're walking up to the door.
Concrete walkways will crack at some point and many sooner than later due to the heavy freeze and thaw cycles of this Mid-Atlantic region (and that includes stamped concrete, too). Paver walkways already have the "cracks" built into them and "flex" with the changing temperatures of winter. This homeowner had individual flagstone slabs originally but over time they had moved and were uneven and became a trip hazard. Another consideration is the width of a sidewalk. Typically 2' is a single pathway, 3' is adequate, but 4' wide is the most comfortable for walking. Check out this project in Ijamsville, Maryland (Frederick County). This features EP Henry's Bristol Stone and Old Towne Cobble pavers.
We closed out the year in Martinsburg, West Virginia, building this multi-level outdoor living space featuring EP Henry's Old Towne Cobble pavers as well as their Coventry I double-sided retaining wall blocks and their fire pit kit and pillar pier caps. This was a great way to finish our hardscaping season with this beautiful project.
When we started Kingdom Landscaping in 1995, our main focus was landscaping, grounds maintenance, lawn care, and selling firewood. We have definitely transformed ourselves from a service-oriented business into a premier design and build construction company focusing more on hardscape projects and water features; however, landscaping is still an integral part of what we do, and we try to add some element of landscaping to every project.
This family from Boonsboro, Maryland, needed a "curb appeal" makeover of their front yard. In order to accomplish this, we designed an EP Henry coventry garden wall border with new landscaping accenting their front entrance and porch. Here's a short video of this project.
Community Projects and Outreach
It is our desire to always give back to our community, and there are many different ways we accomplish this.
One way we do this is to offer a Veteran's Discount of 5% on all of our design and build projects. We truly appreciate all of the brave men and women who have fought for our country including several of our own family members and friends.
EP Henry's Heroscaping Program
Another way is through EP Henry's Heroscaping program. In 2011, EP Henry was approached by a group of concerned citizens from Brooklawn, NJ whose goal was to build a monument to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. This project started what would be become the HeroScaping® program by inspiring other citizens and contractors to contribute their expertise and time.
Since then, EP Henry has contributed materials, labor, and monetary donations to over 25 projects throughout their Mid-Atlantic footprint. Ranging in size from the very large, The Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial; to smaller projects, such as beautifying a local VFW post, each project brings together patriotic citizens, local organizations, product suppliers and experienced craftsman to conceive, create and preserve national treasures.
EP Henry President, J.C. Henry spoke about the program’s history at MAHTS in front of an audience of contractors and distributors. “This program, that began as a single request for monument pavers, has become more than any us of could have imagined,” said J.C. Henry during the kick-off event. “The allegiance of the contractors and distributors who have participated in the program over the years has been truly inspiring”.
Kingdom Landscaping is a registered contractor in the Heroscaping program. If you know of a community project that might qualify, please click here and fill out an application.
Bester Community of Hope
In April, we were contacted by Keith Fanjoy of the Sanmar Children's Home in Boonsboro, Maryland. Keith was working with Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown to create an outdoor classroom area in their courtyard. It was their desire to incorporate some type of water feature for the children to enjoy. We partnered with Sunny Meadows Garden Center (who supplied the Aquascape Pond components) and we supplied the design and labor to build a pondless bubbling rock fountain for the kids. This was the first project we videotaped using our Go-Pro camera, and Moriah is in the process of compiling the complete video footage. Value of the donated project was $5,000.
It is important to us to be on the "cutting edge" of new products and procedures in landscaping, hardscaping, and waterscaping. Every year we attend a variety of training events that help us be the very best at what we do. We never want to get "stale" in our line of business; we want to be well-educated in our line of work so we can offer our customers the very best solutions to their challenges and desires. Usually, we spend our winter months--especially January and February--attending contractor showcases and training. However, we missed several events last winter due to snow removal, but we definitely made up it throughout the coming year.
EP Henry's "MAHTS"
"MAHTS" stands for the Mid-Atlantic Hardscaping Trade Show. For many years, we have wanted to get away and attend this show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and finally we were able to make this commitment last February. The entire crew (Tom, Jodi, Matt, Mike, Moriah, and Miranda) signed up for several days worth of training classes including:
- Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavers (PICP)
- The Future of Hardscaping -- Raising the Bar
- Proactive Sales
- Attracting and Retaining Customers
- Basic Business Legal Considerations
- Construction Calculations and Material Estimating
- Solving Tough Site-Specific Problems
- Search Engine Optimization
- The Equipment of Today
- Social Media
- Internet Marketing
- YouTube Your Next Hardscape Project
- Seal 'N Lock System
- Leadership and Management
- Project Management and Logistics
Pondemonium 2015 - Getting Better Together
Pondemonium is Aquascape Inc's annual training conference for hundreds of pond builders and distributors.
Held at the luxurious "Q-Center" resort in St. Charles, Illinois, which is just outside of Chicago, the fellowship and training is outstanding. This year Tom, Matt, and Michael traveled to Chicago for this event. Matt and Michael received hand's-on training on constructing water features and each of them participated on a different team for a waterfall/stream building contest; Tom spent his time networking and learning successful business strategies. Aquascape Inc. is the leader in the water gardening industry, and Greg Wittstock (owner and founder) is not just a phenomenal entrepreneur and mentor, he is also a friend and co-laborer in this industry, as well as being the star of the TV show that aired on NatGeoWild called Pond Stars.
Advanced CAC Training
I consider this an opportunity of a lifetime. Greg Wittstock from Aquascape invited us to participate in this advanced training opportunity open to CACs (Certified Aquascape Contractors) only. This special build project was to be filmed for an episode of his show Aquascape Pond Squad (formerly NatGeo's Pond Stars). How cool is that? Not only was it exciting to be part of the filming for the Pond Squad show, but it the project was taking place at the home of Dr. Pol (Incredible Dr. Pol show airs on NatGeoWild and is in it's 9th season with over 10 million viewers).
For more information on this project, and to view the Pond Squad episode with Kingdom Landscaping, please click here, which will take you to our News Article discussing this project in more detail.
EP Henry 2015 Catalog
In addition, we were featured in EP Henry's 2015 catalog with three of our hardscaping projects from 2013 and 2014 for a total of five pictures.
We had five new projects chosen by EP Henry for inclusion in the 2016 catalog; however, after site visits by the photographer, he made the final decision not to photograph any of the jobs due to the "browning" grass that surrounded the patios... Oh well, EP Henry assured me that they would "republish" our previous photos and hope to include the other jobs in 2017.
The project featured below is not only in their catalog but also on the front page of their website (www.EPHenry.com) This project was installed in Westminster, Maryland.
All in all, I'd say we had a pretty busy and enjoyable 2015 at Kingdom Landscaping, and we couldn't have done it without our wonderful customers.
Right now, Moriah and I are very busy in the office updating the website and working diligently on SEO (search engine optimization) and promotion. One of our business goals is to generate more traffic to our website that will develop into solid job leads. Word of Mouth referrals continue to be best form of advertising, and we want to thank our customers for recommending Kingdom Landscaping to family and friends. We continue to offer $25 gift cards for word of mouth referrals that sign a contract with us.
Matt is using his creativity to produce more project videos for the YouTube Channel. We are living in a very visual generation and videos have really helped us convey our expertise as well as show the possibilities of what we can do in someone else's backyard.
Michael and Miranda are back in the classroom at home (homeschool) for their senior year of high school, and they will both be transitioning to college in the fall.
Tom keeps himself busy during these winter months with snow removal (let it snow, let it snow, let it snow) and updating and maintaining all of his equipment for the upcoming busy season.
Thank you for following along and subscribing to our newsletter and blog posts.
Jodi and the entire Tyler Family