By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
When you are fairly certain that frost is no longer a threat and that the weather is truly on the upswing, everyone is anxious to move outdoors and start enjoying the warmth of the sun. It may also be a time when you get ideas for some landscaping improvements and/or additions. Whether it’s curb appeal you would like to enhance or a backyard makeover, you can get expert advice from The Grounds Keeper in Enterprise.
Owner Mike Book has been in business for 32 years and says The Grounds Keeper just about does it all! Whether you’re looking for lawn cutting service or lawn treatment, tree/stump removal, grass planting, mulching and edging, pruning, or even hardscape projects like patio additions, fire pits, decks, gazebos, water features, outdoor kitchens, pool area improvements … The Grounds Keeper is at your service to create a space your family can enjoy.
Mike studied wildlife biology at West Virginia University and later landscape architecture in California.His experience includes designs in southern Florida as well as states up and down the East Coast. Large jobs … small jobs … both residential and commercial … Mike says it is all about the people and addressing what they desire.
“I have years of satisfied customers – and generational clients,” Mike noted. “The size of the job is not the most important thing to me. What I care about most is that the job leaves a client extremely happy when it is completed. That is the top priority. And sometimes people just want some advice but prefer to try to do it themselves. I’m happy to work with them at that level as well and help them try to avoid mistakes.”
He says that many people have really good ideas, but perhaps they have failed to consider variables like sun exposure or the direction of a prevailing breeze. Those things are important too because you want your plants to thrive where you place them and be able to resist the elements. And whether planting flowers, shrubs or trees, Mike likes to remind people not to overdo it.
“I recommend that do-it-yourselfers remember that even a giant sequoia tree starts out as a tiny seed! You have to allow for its full growth. So, for example, dig a four-foot square area and choose a plant that will grow that size. You have to allow for its growth,” he stated.
If you think your project may be more than you can afford, call first for an estimate. Mike says that many projects are more affordable than you might think.
“People may not need as many plants as they think they do,” he continued. “I suggest planting in stages. If someone is considering a landscaping job around their house that may run into thousands of dollars, I encourage them to develop it a little at a time. Landscaping is more of a ‘process’ than an event. Work at it a little at a time until you get the total effect you’re looking for.”
While the front of your home – its curb appeal – may deliver a great first impression, Mike says that the majority of what The Grounds Keeper staff does is in the back yard because that’s where people “live”. He can offer some smart hardscaping solutions that can make the outdoors an extension of your home.
“There are ways to tie in outside structures to continue the living space. We can give you ideas and point you in the right direction that can ultimately save you money,” he continued. “I will walk around with customers and listen to their ideas. I always bring my Ipad and take a lot of pictures. Then I try to create what they want and what is really possible for them to have. With a computer program I have, I can put a plan together and show them what the finished project might look like. Not only does this give me an outlet for my creativity, it is also an asset because homeowners can actually ‘see’ that vision come to life.”
Sometimes an all new look can be achieved with a few plantings and perhaps some landscape lighting. Mike says LED lighting is more economical to operate. Or maybe a water feature can transform your outdoor area into a quiet haven for lounging if that’s what you’re looking to create.
“People find water features addicting!” he said. “That alone can make your patio a quiet spot for relaxation. But if someone is looking to make a patio into an entertaining area, we can offer suggestions for that too. We can build, customize, run electric and natural gas; just about the only thing we contract out is pool construction. And believe it or not, lots of folks call me when they are thinking of building a new home to consult with them about potential drainage issues, etc.”
The Grounds Keeper does have some staple plants they keep in stock. However, if what you want is a little more elaborate, he has outlets to obtain those as well.
“We always try to deliver what the customer wants – unless, that is, they want some palm trees … in which case I would advise them to buy property in Florida,” he joked.
He spoke of this being the year for the 17-year cicadas (locusts) and that this is NOT the year to plant new, young trees, etc. unless you have a way to protect them from being damaged.
“There will be millions of them! And you may have noticed that moles have been increasing in number. That is because they are feeding off the cicadas in the top six feet underground. But in June, the moles will lose their food supply when the cicadas come out. The only good thing you can say about moles is that they aerate the soil and do a great job of it!” he explained.
If you’re in the market for some landscaping or hardscapingimprovements, call The Grounds Keeper at 304-592-1471. They will consult with you, give you advice and suggestions along with a free estimate.
A man with a successful business for 32 years and a long list of satisfied customers, Mike Book still describes himself as “just a country boy” who attended a one-room school in Dola as a child. Now he is doing what he enjoys … personalizing and customizing outdoor spaces for homeowners … and developing cozy, welcoming gathering spots where families and their guests want to linger.