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Who’s On First?

Abbott & Costello Who’s On First came to mind this week. (A Classic Must Watch!) I thought, is this how confusing it feels when you just want to find the right company to work with when you’re pursuing design and construction for your outdoor space?   

My inspiration on this topic came from a conversation I had this week with a potential client. (Thank you, Brian G.) 

I realized how important it is to understand the who’s who in the professional world of landscaping because the lay of the land (pun intended) can be very confusing. 

So, I have broken it down into 4 categories. There are 

  1. companies that only do design work.
  2. companies that only do the installation.
  3. companies that do both.
  4. companies that do both and then some.

Each company or person has an area(s) of expertise and that is how they will design your experience for you. (Note: these do not include any home builders or architects. These company descriptions specifically focus on landscaping.)

Companies that do the design place a high value and premium on the design they will create for you. (Such as architects that design landscapes, landscape architects, landscape designers – different levels of education and expertise.) You will be buying your design from them. Because you own it, you can then take that design to whomever you want to do the installation. Often times, these companies will offer you their management services as well. You pay them to facilitate the multitude of subcontractors needed to implement your project. These subs may be companies that they have developed relationships with and will choose to use only them. Because they are working for many clients at the same time, these subs will operate on their own timeline, which can cause management headaches and longer timelines.

Companies that do the installation will work with a plan that is provided to them. (These are often the companies subcontracted with by the first category.) Depending on the scope of work needed, there may be need for multiple companies to complete your project, and then you become the project manager. Quality companies that do the installation will not have any issue reading plans to complete the work, but if there are any changes with design or construction, you also take on the responsibility of making these decisions.

Companies that do both the design and the installation are a perfect combination. Not only are the designs of high quality, but they are also implemented by teams under the same roof. These companies know their staffs’ skills and manage their timelines. If there are any issues that come up with design or with construction, the designers are immediately accessible.

Companies that do both the design and the installation and then some are the crème de la crème. At Topiarius, we not only provide high value design (with our in-house landscape architect and designers) and installation (with our general contracting license, our full staff of carpenters, a 5,000 square foot wood shop, and our full staff of landscape construction crews), but we continue our service with fine gardening and seasonal rotations (with our fully staffed maintenance team). So once the project is complete, we will continue to provide care and annual color through all seasons. We stand by our installations and want to help you enjoy them for years to come.

This information will start you off on the right foot.

Always ask questions so you have the clarity you require.

Contact us today. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have for us.

We’d love to get started with our complimentary consultation.

Now You’re Cooking! Find Your Perfect Outdoor Grill

Outdoor Cooking and Dining

Choices and options can be amazing, right? But when you’re trying to make a simple choice and you’re faced with endless options, it can stop you before you begin. Finding the perfect grill is no different. So, rather than getting lost in the possibilities, I had a conversation with Zac Selleck from Chicago Gas Lines to help me sort through all the chatter and make this process easy.

What is it you love cooking?
There are no longer distinctions between what you cook inside and what you cook outside. From being able to boil water, fry an egg, bake a pizza, sear steaks or tuna, smoke ribs, bake potatoes, grill vegetables, rotisserie cook a chicken . . . it is all possible. Because you don’t have to limit your options, what are you truly desiring to cook outdoors? Maybe it’s just a few options or maybe you’re saying yes to all of the above.

If you’re interested in pancakes, a hash, grill cheese, or bacon? Then, skillet cooking is an option. If you’re interested in being able to sear proteins like steaks and tuna then look at infrared grills; they will allow you to cook at a higher temperature in half the time. Or if you prefer the slow cooking process of smoking ribs, pork belly, or roasts because the beautiful smoke ring is the only thing that matters, then smokers are your focus.

What will fuel the grill?
Grills measure their efficiency in BTU’s. British Thermal Units are a “measurement of how much heat a grill generates at its maximum output. If you think of BTUs like your car’s fuel efficiency or MPG (miles per gallon), BTUs measure your grill’s fuel efficiency or OPB (output per burner) as well as all the burners combined.” [1]

While each grill will operate with its optimum BTU, depending on its make and model, all grills operate more efficiently when they are fueled by a direct gas line providing consistent and dependable fuel. When there isn’t a direct gas line, options are propane, charcoal or pellets.

Often exterior gas lines are added after home construction. It is only a recent phenomenon that home construction will include these lines to outdoor spaces. While it is most often feasible to retrofit a line to your grill, it isn’t always possible.

What size are you looking for and where do you want it located?
Grills come in many sizes from 21” – 54” widths, but 36” is the most common. Many companies have other appliances that they offer too, such as side burners and refrigerators. The additional options make it easy to get the exact configuration you want.

If you have an outdoor kitchen design, you will want a built-in grill. If you do not, then you’ll need the additional cart for a free-standing set-up.

[1] https://www.charbroil.com/learn/what-are-btus/

TOP 3 Grills on The Market Right Now

Now that you have answered these 3 questions, here are the TOP grills on the market right now. All of them will make your outdoor cooking and dining amazing experiences.

According to Zac, the best grill on the market right now is LYNX. They were bought by Viking about 2 years ago, so as LYNX they continue to bring the high-end quality they’re known for and are backed by a recognizable brand name of VIKING.

The 36” gas grill from LYNX begins at $5,800 (without stand).

Not only is the Hesten Aspire another excellent grill, you have the added dimension of being able to choose from 9 different color front panels. If you’re looking for a way to reflect your personality in the design of your outdoor space, then Hesten is a great place to start.

The 36” Hesten Aspire begins at $3,500 (without stand).

If you’re looking for a grill that is straight-forward and uncomplicated, then Broilmaster is the option for you.

The 36” Broilmaster begins at $2,200 (without stand).

We’ve designed many outdoor kitchens to include the Green Egg, so it’s worth mentioning here. It is an all-in-one grill that grills, smokes, roasts, and bakes while using natural lump charcoal. But, know it may take you some time to learn how to maximize its power. It is a grill that relies heavily on air intake and when there is a slight 10-15 mile per hour wind, the grilling process can easily become more challenging and make cooking inconsistent.

To see more designs of grills in outdoor spaces, visit our Pinterest board.

Happy grilling and more!

9 Practical Tips to Maximize Your Budget for Rooftops and Gardens

Outdoor Space Guide Topiarius

If you’re thinking about renovating your outdoor space, but aren’t sure where to begin, Topiarius can help. Click on The “No Surprises” Guide below for your free download.

In this article you’ll

  1. Learn how to prioritize spaces.
  2. Identify how you want to live in your outdoor space a MAJORITY of the time.
  3. Determine what views are the best.
  4. Understand the importance of roof construction.
  5. Learn how to incorporate water and gas sources.
  6. Think through your flexibility.
  7. See how your interior esthetic impacts your exterior design.
  8. Figure out your first steps in creating a budget.
  9. Learn how different landscape design companies are organized.

Complimentary Planter Plans

Complimentary Planter Plans

If you’re thinking about having your own vegetable garden this spring, but have no where to plant, Topiarius wants to help.

Why? Because we want you to love, as much as we do, being able to walk out your door and grab a fresh tomato and fragrant basil for pizza toppings. It’s so divine!

Our plans are free to you and free to share. If you have any questions about them, please feel free to contact us.  Enjoy!

Click here to download the plans.

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