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By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.
Bret-Mar Landscape is a family owned and operated company that has been in business since 1985. The owners, Kurt and Sharon, are both Registered Landscape Architects with an extensive background in construction and horticulture. Ashley, daughter of Kurt and Sharon, just recently joined the company in 2011 following graduation from South Dakota State University where she studied landscape architecture and business. Bret-Mar Landscape’s primary focus is in residential design/build, but we do take on the occasional commercial project when requested. We work with a customer to design a custom landscape and then help them implement it whether it be all at once or in phases. We design and install all types of landscape features including brick walkways, brick driveways, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, retaining walls, ponds, waterfalls, drainage solutions, brick restoration, and of course gardens and plant material. Bret-Mar is unique in that we have our own nursery where we grow plant material that is solely for the purpose of our projects. This guarantees that we can provide only high quality plant material to our clients.

What is your position at Bret Mar Landscape?
Since we are a small family business we all wear a lot of hats. I am usually the person managing the office, answering the phones, taking care of paperwork, and handling the marketing. I occasionally make it out in the field to meet with customers or set up install projects. When designing we all work together as a team.

What are some ways you make sure you adhere to the five ethical standards described on your website?
Honesty and integrity
As a family company that has been in business for 28 years we take pride and joy in every aspect of the business.
Respect for our employees and their families
We work hard during the week, Monday through Friday. Many companies work 6 or even 7 days a week, but we feel we all work better as a team if we can have a break. This way we can enjoy what we do and our customers see that in our work. The weekends are meant to spend time with family. Safety is our highest priority whether it’s when using power equipment or working with poor weather conditions. Each season our crew members know they have a job with us. As a younger member of the company, I have known many of our crew members since I was a child. We truly have a wonderful group of people at Bret-Mar.
Respect for our customers and others with whom we do business
We listen to our customers and give our honest educated opinions. We don’t try to talk a customer into something they don’t need and we look out for the client’s best interest and what works best for them. We treat people the way we would want to be treated if we were the perspective customer. Overall we want to remain as our customer’s trusted landscape advisor. Having an excellent relationship with our vendors is also important to us. We have worked with some sales representatives for over 20 years.
Excellence in our work
We stand behind all of our work. On a project it is important to us that we take our time and never lose focus of the little details that can make the difference. Most of the plant material used for our projects is grown in our nursery or purchased from only the most reputable growers. Other products such as hardscape and pond materials come only from reputable companies that stand behind their product with the same standards we expect. We want our customer to still be satisfied with our work 20 years down the road and to hire us again in the future when it is time to add or update.
A sense of responsibility to our community and our environment
Through our national organization, Professional Landcare Network, each year we reserve a day to participate in the PLANET day of service. For this event we reach out to our community to donate our time and/or materials. Last year we cleaned up a courtyard garden and donated a tree at Palos East Elementary School. In the past we have participated in our local community’s arbor day/earth day festival teaching children how to grow lettuce indoors. We stay active in our community and the surrounding towns in many ways all year long by: donating a tree every arbor day, enhancing the local elementary school science program by designing and installing an outdoor education space including a pond, supported boy scouts to help them earn their eagle scout ranking, and participated in the I-355 opening celebration and Veterans Day event.

Should I do anything to prepare my garden for the winter season?
In order to prepare you garden for the winter season you must cut down perennials (any perennials that provide food for wildlife and have winter interest can be cut down in spring). Clean out leaves and debris from all planting beds and lawn areas for healthier plants in spring. To prevent winter desiccation, spray broadleaf plants with a wilt proof product. Make sure your perennials are mulched in and plant your spring flowering bulbs. Also, it is important to give evergreen plant material water with a deep and long soaking.

How often should I maintenance my garden? Do you offer maintenance services?
Everyone’s garden may vary because of the plant material used, but usually a minimum of three times per year. A spring clean-up in April, and summer trim in July, and a fall clean-up in October. We do offer what we call Fine Garden Maintenance. It is a customized program for each customer that is based on the specific needs of the plant material, the client’s expectations, and the garden’s design intent.

Can you please provide some tips on how to integrate hardscapes and plants/flowers together in an aesthetically pleasing way?
First we discuss with the client how they will use the hardscape space. This determines the size, shape, and features of the hardscape. A great way to begin is by carefully placing and planting shade/ornamental trees for privacy, shade, and a vertical element. Planting beds can be right against the hardscape or the bed can be set back with an island of grass in between. A berm can be created in a planting bed for a sunken garden feel or for additional privacy. An island within the hardscape can also be created for plant material. Plant material always helps soften the hardscape and makes a difference when transitioning the hardscape to the rest of the yard. It all depends on how someone plans to use the entire space. It is best to work with a landscape professional who can create a plan for this type of project.

What are some of the benefits that come along with new landscape construction for your home?
Some of the benefits that come along with new landscape construction include a larger variety of materials that have been better developed, creating a space that fits YOUR lifestyle, and raising the value of your home. With the new breakthrough in technology, many brick pavers now have superior capabilities that ensure the product will not fade, crack, or wear. Sealer sands for brick joints have been developed to take the place of regular sand. This product minimizes weeds, better seals brick joints for a more stabilized patio, and reduces the yearly maintenance. Installing a new landscape or updating and existing one allows you to make it your own. The space can be used the way you want. For example, the front entry way has a poor circulation pattern, your driveway is too narrow, your brick patio is a plain square and too small for entertaining, the plant material does not fit your style, the landscape requires too much maintenance, or you want to incorporate more color or seasonal interest. Finally, landscaping is an easy investment that will continue to grow and add value to your home, neighborhood, and life.

What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you?
A phone call or e-mail is just fine, whichever is most convenient for the customer. Phone: 708-301-2225 E-mail: info@bretmarlandscape.com