Clarks Does Extreme Makeovers

October 14, 2004
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COMSTOCK PARK — Extreme makeovers aren't just for people anymore.

Clark's Landscaping Services has made a specialty out of extreme makeovers to give existing landscaping a facelift that flatters the home.

It's like reconstructive surgery on the yard. And in some cases it means ripping out a lot of the landscaping and starting over, said Dan Clark, president of the design/build/manage landscaping company.

"If there are plants that are nice, high-quality plants that we can use in the landscape, we'll save all those," he said.

The firm has been landscaping residential and commercial properties in West Michigan since 1959, and Clark says the company prides itself on creative yet practical designs that combine both functionality and eye appeal, he said.

A lot of homes are landscaped with concrete, Clark observed. He said he has nothing against concrete people, but they're not designers.

"They sometimes design from point A to point B without really making it functional and easy to use. They use plain materials that are fine for a freeway, but for a home's entranceway you really want something a little bit nicer."

Clark's typically uses specialized concrete materials, like stamped concrete, exposed aggregate concrete or paving bricks, he said. Sometimes it will replace a porch with a mini-deck.

"We create a whole new entranceway that brings the foyer from inside outdoors to where people actually arrive at. It just sort of changes the whole feeling of the house," Clark explained.

"The entranceway is probably the most important because that's really where your resale values are determined. It sort of like your 'face' to the community, so we really concentrate on that a lot."

A lot of people have small or very poor parking accommodations, Clark said, so that's another area that's often augmented in an extreme makeover. A turn-around driveway, for instance, might be added. Or backup parking areas might be designed at the front to enhance the "foyer feeling" of the house, he said.

"There are two important areas: one is where you greet people at and the other is the outdoor backyard area where you live."

Patios, decks, water features and the like are really "big" in backyard landscaping designs today and can create a garden atmosphere that connects better with the house and serves as a "get-away haven," Clark said.

"Waterfalls, decks and patios are fun. New plantings that are low maintenance and high color make it all work very nicely together."

Clark said the overall result can be highly dramatic, depending on what the homeowner wants and is willing to invest, and the cost of an extreme makeover can vary widely.

"It's like buying a car. You can buy a car for $120,000 or you can buy a car for $1,200 and everything in between. It's the same with landscaping as well as homes, for that matter."

Clark said his company gets quite a few calls for extreme makeovers, typically from middle-aged homeowners in upper level income brackets.

"The kids have moved out, and they're ready to create something nice that they can enjoy," he remarked. "They have the income to do it and they're looking for a fun change."

Clark's Landscaping services include carpentry, masonry, lighting, irrigation, waterfall and pond installation, stonework, hydro-seeding and fencing. The company also offers full lawn and garden maintenance services on a weekly, monthly or seasonal basis.

He said waterfalls have become really popular over the last five years, and that with the new patented systems on the market, they're much lower maintenance than they used to be.

The company recently began installing artificial putting greens, which Clark said is becoming a hot item in backyard landscaping. He noted the costs of those vary, too, depending on available backyard space and the size and configuration a client wants.

Clark's commercial landscaping clients include Lacks Industries, the Gilmore Collection, Benningtons and Alpine Shops. 

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