Awarded Best of Houzz 2019

Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,

Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

Detroit, Michigan, February 5, 2019Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. of Macomb has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The 28-year old landscape design, build and management firm was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

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The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2018. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2019” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“We are so honored to win this exclusive award once again,” said Scot Thoms, President of Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc.  “We want to thank the amazing customers who made this possible.”

“The Houzz community selected a phenomenal group of Best of Houzz 2019 award winners, so this year’s recipients should be very proud,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “Best of Houzz winners represent some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry, and we are extremely pleased to give them both this recognition and a platform on which to showcase their expertise.”

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Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. is an award winning landscape design, build, and management firm servicing the greater southeast Michigan area.   Since 1991, Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. has grown steadily from a small maintenance company into a completely integrated landscaping firm: design, build, and management.  Thoms Bros. now services clients through all landscape processes; design, coordination of builder and architecture teams, construction implementation, management, and environmental care.  By combining the professional abilities of the owners, Scot F. Thoms and Steven D. Thoms with their highly trained team members, Thoms Bros. can deliver maximum value while meeting individual client needs and expectations.

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About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

Top 10 Landscape Shrubs

1. Incrediball Smooth Hydrangea arborescens

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Super-sized flowers!

Incrediball hydrangea will make you say WOW – it’s an improved version of the garden classic ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, but with strong, sturdy stems that don’t flop over and extra-large blooms to boot. White flowers begin to appear in mid-summer and open to enormous snowballs, nearly the size of basketballs! They then age to a lush jade green, which persists through frost. It’s a super easy, super reliable North American native that grows in chilly USDA zone 3 all the way up to USDA zone 8/9. Plant Incrediball hydrangea in your landscape and find out for yourself just how big, beautiful, and rewarding it can be.

Top reasons to grow Incrediball hydrangea:

- enormous, long-lasting flowers every summer

- Strong, sturdy stems keeps blooms showy and upright

- easy to grow native shrub

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2. Double Play Big Bang Spirea x

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Everything you love about the classic spirea – and more!

Japanese spirea comes by its popularity earnestly: durable, super easy to care for, and perfectly pretty pink flowers in spring. Double Play® Big Bang spirea does the landscape classic one better with the biggest, pinkest flowers of any Japanese spirea. It also offers super colorful new growth, especially when it emerges in early spring. That’s what makes it a perfect Double Play! Like other Japanese spirea, it’s drought tolerant, deer resistant, grows and blooms well in partial shade, and maintains a nice, neat shape without pruning.

Top reasons to grow Double Play Big Bang spirea:

- Extra large pure pink blooms

- Colorful new growth makes the plant interesting even when it’s not in bloom

- Deer resistant

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3. Lemony Lace Elderberry Sambucus racemosa

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A bright and stylish plant with an easy-going nature.

Ever wish our popular Black Lace® elderberry came in a sunny bright yellow? We are happy to oblige: Lemony Lace® offers finely dissected foliage but in a cheery gold color to really light up your landscape. This North American native produces big clusters of white flowers in early spring before the foliage emerges, then bright yellow leaves take over, edged in red. As the foliage ages, it turns an attractive chartreuse. Though it is a large plant, it can be pruned to stay smaller if you’d like. A People’s Choice Award winner at the 2014 Farwest Horticulture Trade Show, Lemony Lace Sambucus also won a Green Thumb Award from the Direct Gardening Association.

Top reasons to grow Lemony Lace elderberry:

  • very colorful from spring through fall
  • little to no maintenance required
  • showy white flowers in spring
  • very deer resistant

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4. Sugar Shack Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

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Great for rain gardens!

Buttonbush has long been prized as a native, but it was way too big for most landscapes. Not anymore! We’ve cut the size in half and added colorful red fruit and glossy foliage. Add in cool looking, fragrant white flowers and you’ve got a delightful plant that shines from spring to fall.

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5. Spilled Wine Weigela florida

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Beautiful and versatile!

Spilled Wine® weigela shares the fabulous deep purple foliage and bright pink flowers of the classic Wine & Roses® weigela but in a smaller size. This useful plant grows wider than tall, making it the perfect choice for edging beds or walkways and for incorporating under windows in your landscaping. Like all weigela, it is deer resistant and very easy to care for.

Top reasons to grow Spilled Wine® weigela:

- Very colorful even when not in bloom

- Dwarf, wider-t

han-tall habit has many uses in the landscape

- Deer resistant

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6. Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutzia x

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The first-ever ‘Nikko’-type deutzia with pink flowers – over ten years in the making!

Perfectly pretty pink flowers on a deutzia. A shower of elegant pink flowers creates a carpet of color. Great for mass plantings because of its neat, mounded habit and burgundy-purple fall color, this tough, adaptable plant makes an excellent groundcover, especially on a sunny slope.

Top three reasons to plant Yuki Cherry Blossom® Deutzia:

  • Pink, bell-like flowers cover the plant in spring
  • Loves sun and resists deer
  • Excellent groundcover, and works especially well on slopes

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7. Tiny Wine Ninebark Physocarpus opulifolius

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A new dwarf ninebark that is smaller than others in the market.

Tiny Wine is extra bushy, with small, refined leaves. The dark bronze-maroon foliage is colorful all season, and contrasts beautifully with the white flowers in late spring. The flower show is exceptional, with dainty flowers blooming up and down the stem in a very showy display. This durable plant may be used in the landscape for season-long color, and is also a great choice for patio containers.

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8. Kodiak Black Diervilla rivularis

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Looking for an adaptable native plant that’s drought-tolerant, deer-resistant and colorful? This is it!

Diervilla just got a lot more colorful: this tough, easy-growing shrub is a standout with its dark burgundy-black foliage. The color is especially intense in spring and autumn. The bright yellow flowers add contrast in early summer. This is a durable native that thrives in sun or shade, and is a very useful landscape plant.

Top three reasons to grow Kodiak® Black Diervilla:

  • One of the best shade-tolerant shrubs (though color is more intense in sun or part shade)
  • Never without clusters of yellow flowers during the summer
  • Dramatic black-purple foliage all season with vivid red tones in autumn

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9. Show Off Forsythia x intermedia

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This little beauty will be a blast of early spring color from the ground up!

Show Off is not your typical forsythia! It is compact and full of blooms from the ground to the end of every stem. Older varieties can become out of control and often become victims of bad pruning; this little beauty will stay small so there is no need to prune. Now you can have a nice tight, compact forsythia hedge without doing any work! A real improvement over older varieties, Show Off is a very showy choice for the early spring garden.

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10. Little Lime Panicle Hydrangea paniculata

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Compared to its famous sibling ‘Limelight’, Little Lime hardy hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) may seem like a pipsqueak. Don’t let this petite shrub fool you. While maintaining its short stature of 3-5’ tall and wide, it really packs a visual punch in the garden. In summer, lime green blooms open on strong stems – no drooping here. As it ages, rich pink coloring emerges to prolong the show through fall.

Little Lime hydrangea is small enough to grow in containers and also stands out as a bold mass planting. Its bright bloom coloration makes it an excellent choice for cut flower gardens and can be used fresh or dried. This reliable performer blooms on new wood, so a quick trim in late winter or early spring will encourage fresh growth and an abundance of buds. Like most hardy hydrangeas, it is hardy to Zone 3 and does best in full sun or part shade.

Summer flowers open soft green and turn pink and burgundy in fall.

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Proven Winner Shrubs

Fellow Status

Our chief designer, Steven D Thoms, CGIP, FAPLD, LIC, a Internationally Certified Landscape Designer has earned is Fellow Status from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

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Steve is the founding member the Michigan Chapter and the immediate past president.  He is currently serving as the Secretary and Sponsorship Chair.  He has been a member of the APLD since 1991 and Certified since 2003.

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The Association of Professional Landscape Designers, founded in 1989, is dedicated to advancing the profession of landscape design and to promoting the recognition of landscape designers as qualified and dedicated professionals. APLD encourages all members to adhere to a code of professional standards, to actively participate in continuing education and to be current with state-of-the-art developments and trends throughout the field. The association also offers its members a certification program based on built projects that provides professional recognition to those designers who can pass a rigorous peer review program. Our certification process is to evaluate the candidates’ submitted work. It is not an educational curriculum. The submission consists of three installed projects and requires drawings, plant list, design intent statement and photographs.  It offers consumers access to trained designers who can help them achieve the landscapes they truly desire.  To learn more about APLD and its certification program, please visit www.apld.org.

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Steve’s other certifications include:

* Certified Green Industry Professional (MNLA)
* Landscape Industry Certified – Manager (NALP)
* Certified Concrete Paver Installer (ICPI)
* Michigan Natural Shoreline Professional (MNSP)
* LiverRoof Certified Installer (Liveroof.com)

Fellow Status

 

Perennial of the Year – Hummelo Bishop’s Wort

The Perennial Plant of the Year® (POY®) program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors. Perennials chosen are suitable for a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, have multiple-season interest, and are relatively pest/disease-free. If you are looking for an excellent perennial for your next landscape project or something reliable for your gardens, make sure to check out the Perennial Plant of the Year® archive list.

Since the Perennial Plant of the Year® was introduced in 1990, the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) has received frequent inquiries about how the Perennial Plant of the Year® is selected. The selection process is quite simple – PPA members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year™ each summer. At that time, in addition to the vote, each member may also nominate up to two plants for future consideration. The Perennial Plant of the Year® committee reviews the nominated perennials (more than 400 different perennials are often nominated each year) and selects 3 or 4 perennials to be placed on the ballot.  Perennial Plant Association is a trade association composed of growers, retailers, landscape designers and contractors, educators, and others that are professionally involved in the herbaceous perennial industry.

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Named the 2019 Perennial Plant of the Year, ‘Hummelo’ is a delightful, dependable selection that attracts pollinators.  With a nod from the PPA as its 2019 Perennial Plant of the Year®, make sure you add Stachys officinalis “Hummelo’ to your gardens.  This stalwart perennial looks stunning in mass and is a trouble-free and dependable as it is eye-catching, according to the PPA.

Tiny, two-lipped, rose-lavendar flowers appear in dense spikes atop mostly leafless flowering stems, rising well above the foliage to 1 ½ to 2 feet tall in summer.

It’s hard to USDA Hardiness Zone 4-8, and foliage may remain evergreen in warmer climates.  In the landscape, it grows best in full sun to part shade.  Use in the perennial border or in combination with ornamental grasses, Echinancea purpurea and Ascelpias tuberosa (the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year).  Its wiry stems make for a great cut flower, as well.  It’s considered deer resistant.

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Selected and introduced by German grower Ernst Pagels in the late 1990s, this perennial gained popularity as it was used by renowed designer and plantsman Piet Oudolf in some of this signature works.  “Hummel” means bumblebee in German, which is appropriate as Pagels observed many pollinators visiting the flowers.  The cultivar name also honored Pagels’ close connection to Piet and his nursery and home at Hummelo, The Netherlands.

‘Hummelo’ was the highest rated Stachys in the Chicago Botanic Garden Evaluation Trials for its strong flower production, vigor, habit, quality and winter hardiness.

“We first planted [Stachys officinalis] in our Scottish garden where is has thrived in part shade,” says Mark Dwyer, direct of horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisc.  He calls it “an entirely underused perennial” this is “really is a tough and durable plant with plenty of visual appeal.”

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Learn more by visiting http://www.perennialplant.org/index.php/education/plant-of-the-year

Our supplier’s info at http://www.grownearthfriendly.com/plant_details.php?id=417ea33fbf9fc00950ac66ec8c57b525

 

 

A few weekends ago, I attended the Association of Professional Landscape Designers’ annual international conference in Toronto, Canada.  It had been several years since my last conference and I was extremely happy I attended.  It is great to spend time with my peers from around the country and world.  There were designers from England and Saudi Arabia in attendance.   This conference is packed with great speakers and amazing gardens from the area.  The annual conference has been held in various locations including Detroit in 2013, Boston in 2017 and next year in Seattle. 

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One of the great talks was by Susan Cohan, APLD of Susan Cohan Gardens in New Jersey.    She is an award winning, nationally certified landscape designer and is well-known in the landscape and design communities for her design work and for her writing about design. Her residential landscapes for private clients and concept gardens are frequently published and have won numerous awards. Susan has been a contributing editor to Garden Design, an American voice on the British Thinkingardens, as well writing about gardens and design since 2007 on her own blog Miss Rumphius’ Rules.

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Susan’s talk was about three overarching styles of gardens: traditional, contemporary and rustic.  Most designers try to be specific when describing a design’s style, but in reality, all landscape design can be easily divided into one of these categories.  Each of the styles has elements that can crossover into another to create a unique hybrid that will ultimately tilt one way or the other. 

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Traditional landscapes tend to be the most common type of landscape, especially here in Michigan.  These type of landscapes would incorporate brick, stone, pavers and wood and look alike material that fits in regionally.  Vintage and antiques could also be possible but not necessary.  The overarching goals of a traditional garden design are to create a well-defined and beautiful outdoor space.  This type of style is very broad and would include many sub categories of gardens (i.e. English Gardens, Mediterranean Gardens, Oriental Gardens, etc.)

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The hardscape manufacturers we use offer products that would fit in each of these styles.  Most of their products could fit in the traditional style.  Some of the great products we enjoy using include Unilock’s Rivercrest Wall for walls, Unilock’s Enduracolor and Enduracolor Plus pavers, Oaks Ortana and Ortana Plus for walls, and Rosetta Dimensional Flagstone for floors & Rosetta Kodah Walls.

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Although different designers have different opinions on what is or isn’t a contemporary design, I believe Susan’s definition is more towards modern design.  Her definition is a simple design.  Simple does not mean easier, but there is a lot of orderly repetition, limited amount of plants used, sleek and lacking ornamental and geometric.  This style is known for its streamlined aesthetic and sleek sophisticated style. Overall the garden will feel controlled and organized. Typically, the focus is heavier on hardscape and structures than it is on plants. Plants used have very little color, mostly green with maybe a little white.  Materials used on a typical contemporary design would include steel, glass and concrete.  You will see unexpected details in the design while incorporating technology to its fullest.  One of the main goals of contemporary design is to create contrast. For example a large massing of ornamental grasses pops out against a grey concrete wall, orange cushions draw your eye when placed on otherwise simple patio furniture and a fire pit filled with colored glass demands attention when set amongst a bed of bluestone. It is important to be selective when creating contrast, too much can be overwhelming and make the space seem disjointed. Pick two or three spots in your yard and focus on one contrasting element for each.

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Hardscape materials would include material such as Unilock’s Artline paver & Porcelain tile; Unilock’s Lineo Dimensional Stone wall; Oaks Eterna, Presidio, & Molina pavers; and, Rosetta’s Miros Patio Slab

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Rustic landscapes are similar to traditional landscape but are not as neat more natural.  Whether you’re in a woodland setting or out on the prairie, rustic landscape design is all about reflecting the natural surroundings. This type of style uses handmade and aged look products.  Relics, shards and artifacts help define this landscape. The rustic style is very eclectic.  Using natural material such as flagstone and boulders is essential for this style.  Natural-looking man-made products could be used such as Rosetta’s  Grand Flagstone and/or Outcropping.

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By Steven D. Thoms, CGIP, APLD, CLP

 

Drought of 2018

During these dog days summer, your lawn needs water now more than ever. Without a sufficient amount of rainfall, these hot weather conditions can be a killer for your lawn and garden. You may find yourself working harder this season to keep your grass lush and green. Keeping your lawn hydrated is very important, so here are a few tips to help you water your lawn and keep it healthy all season long.

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Watering Tip #1 – Water your lawn before the heat kicks in. This way water is less likely to evaporate before it reaches the roots of your grass. It’s not a necessity, but it is recommended to water your grass earlier in the day – ideally before 10:00 am. Another important consideration to make is what time you mow the lawn. Mowing in the morning is better for your grass, but you shouldn’t mow after you water the grass. Wet grass causes clumping and ruts and leaves your lawn vulnerable to certain diseases.

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Watering Tip #2 – When watering, you need to water deeply. Water your lawn every 3 to 5 days, but only enough to wet most of the root area. Allow your lawn to dry out between watering. Frequently watering the grass keeps that root area consistently wet, reducing the amount of soil oxygen that is available to the roots and inviting fungi that can cause lawn diseases.  Different types of sprinklers put down different amounts of water.  Spray heads (which are the smaller heads) that stay in one position put a greater amount of water down.  These zones are usually set for 10-15 minutes.  Oscillating or gear driven heads put down less water since they have to move.  These zones are usually set for 20-25 minutes.

Watering Tip #3 – Look for signs of drought. While you shouldn’t water your lawn too frequently, you shouldn’t go too long without watering it either so look for signs of drought. Sometimes the grass leaf doesn’t have enough water to bounce back after foot traffic and just lies over. Look back on an area that you have walked on. If you still see the footprints, this is an early sign of drought stress, and you need to water your grass.

Also, consider the color of the grass. A purple-blue color often indicates drought stress. Before the grass turns brown from lack of water, it fades to a purple-blue color. If you see these colors, it’s time to water your lawn.

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Watering Tip #4 – Adjust your sprinkler system. Be mindful of the weather – rainfall, hot temperatures, etc. – and adjust your sprinkler system accordingly. Avoid setting it at the beginning of the season and forgetting about it. Another thing to consider is adjusting your sprinkler pressure to water with large droplets, which are less likely to be blown by the wind and more likely to fall and penetrate through the soil.  Most lawns right now need the system running every day.  Zones that are in full sun will obviously need more water than zones in the shade.  At my house, my front yard faces the south.  I need to run the zone along the hot asphalt street more than ever now to keep green.  My backyard, which faces the North has ample shade so it does not need as much.

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Watering Tip #5 – Set a schedule. Choose to water either in the early morning or evening to minimize water lost to evaporation. If your lawn is subject to fungi, water in the early morning to allow excess moisture to evaporate.

The hot, humid weather that comes with the spring and summer seasons is not always kind to our lawns. With consistent care, regular watering and these tips, you’ll be able to keep the lawn cool and healthy.

Many of our clients are frankly just too busy to properly adjust their sprinkler system throughout the season.  Unless we have access and can change ourselves or we communicate it to our clients to adjust themselves it just doesn’t happen.  During droughts like this we get calls from clients asking why their lawn is “dyeing”.  The irrigation contractor turns on the system in the spring and that is where it stays throughout the season.  Many years, sprinklers are not even needed until late June or early July.  We get plentiful of rain in April, May and usually June to keep the lawn and plants healthy.  This year has started early and most of all lawns in the area are stressed out.  Even though turf is very resilient, coming back from the yellow of yellowest looking we want it to face the least amount of stress as possible.  We have been installing smart Wi-Fi irrigation controllers on our new systems as well as encouraging clients to upgrade their older systems to the Hunter Hydrawise System.  This type of irrigation controller saves water during moist conditions and keeps your lawn looking great during these droughts.  You can control it with a smart device from your backyard or couch and you can even allow us to control the system to keep your landscaping looking the best as possible.  Please call us if interested in upgrading.

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Awarded Best of Houzz 2018

Over 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building,

Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

Detroit, Michigan, January 18, 2018Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. of Macomb has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The 27-year old landscape design, build and management firm was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

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The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2017. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2018” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“We are so honored to win this exclusive award once again,” said Scot Thoms, President of Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc.  “We want to thank the amazing customers who made this possible.”

“The Houzz community selected a phenomenal group of Best of Houzz 2018 award winners, so this year’s recipients should be very proud,” said Liza Hausman, Vice President of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “Best of Houzz winners represent some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry, and we are extremely pleased to give them both this recognition and a platform on which to showcase their expertise.”

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Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. is an award winning landscape design, build, and management firm servicing the greater southeast Michigan area.   Since 1991, Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. has grown steadily from a small maintenance company into a completely integrated landscaping firm: design, build, and management.  Thoms Bros. now services clients through all landscape processes; design, coordination of builder and architecture teams, construction implementation, management, and environmental care.  By combining the professional abilities of the owners, Scot F. Thoms and Steven D. Thoms with their highly trained team members, Thoms Bros. can deliver maximum value while meeting individual client needs and expectations.

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About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

 

MGIA Gold Award for the Park Residence

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In the Winter of 2012/2013, we were contacted by a referral client for a new house landscape design and build project.  The client had bought an old, smaller house on a two acre corner lot in Bloomfield Township.  They were tearing the house down and building a new one.  We started working on preliminary designs as the house had begun.

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Changes in slopes and elevations are both a designers dream and nightmare.  A dream as it adds interest to a landscape and the opportunity to install walls and other features that cannot be done on a flat piece of property.  Slopes and changes of elevations can also be very challenging in the design process.  Meeting local ordinances, staying in clients budgets and helping the client visualize the design are all challenges that we designers face.

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It was mutually decided to use a ledgestone boulder instead of a typical round shape boulder such as Michigan Fieldstone Boulders.  Mocha mint limestone was chosen for its consistency in thickness, relative ease of installation, and its buff to brown color.  Since the township had a limit of 4′ high retaining walls, we designed and installed two tiers of four layers (12″ thick pieces of stone) to get us to that four foot maximum height.

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3D renderings were used to help the client visualize how the landscape would look.

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The design and front retaining walls were completed in 2013 with the majority of the job installed in 2014.  The only stipulations we had from the homeowners was to keep it somewhat natural looking to blend in with the landscape and neighborhood.  Otherwise we pretty much had free reign. 

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To keep the design somewhat simple, but give the property color and interest large swaths of landscape roses, perennials and flowering shrubs of the same variety were planted.  Some evergreen hedges and shrubs were also added to give the landscape relevance in the winter.   Free flowing bed lines and hardscape edges were used to add to the natural feeling. 

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Many Proven Winner plants were used in the design including: Incrediball Hydrangea, Little Henry Sweetspire, Vanilla Spice Summersweet, Kodiak Black Honeysuckle, Abracadabra Orb Hydrangea, Quickfire Hydrangea, Fine Line Buckthorn, and All That Glitters Viburnum.

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Landscape roses included Double Pink Knockout and Drift Roses.

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Perennials from Spring Lake’s Hortech include: Walker’s Low Nepeta, Biokovo Karmina Hardy Geranium, and various  others.

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Various sedum, creeping phlox and moss were used planted in the cracks of the limestone walls.

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A large raised brick paved patio with limestone wall was constructed in the backyard leaving room for potential future pool.  The patio was constructed using Oaks Colonnade Pavers.

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Four inch thick limestone stones, called “steppers” were installed flush with the lawn from the rear walkway to the sidewalk limestone steps.  This was to give a very informal pathway connecting the two areas.

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The real issue in designing and installing this job was WATER.  The neighbor’s yard to the East and the entire backyard of the property was engineered to drain along the South side of the house.  This is where the walkout was, adding to the complexity of the situation.  The sump pump discharge at the rear of the house needed to be addressed and there is no storm sewers in the neighborhood.  We ran piping from all downspouts, behind walls, from sump pump discharge and several french drains in a very thought out and intricate design to avoid any flooding and/or erosion issues.  All water was directed to a dry pit in the lowest part of the yard at the ditch by the street. 

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In the Summer of 2017, the job was entered into Michigan Green Industry Association’s (MGIA) Environmental Improvement Awards Program.   The aim of the program is as follows:

  1. To increase public awareness and reflect MGIA’s commitment to environmental through quality landscaping.
  2. To recognize and encourage the landscape professional who executes superior landscaping through the use of quality materials, design and workmanship.
  3. To recognize the consumers.

MGIA Awards Letter copy

Design Award copy

On December 7, 2017, we were awarded both a Gold for Residential Landscaping and a Design Award for the project.  Gerardo (Jose), the project leader received the award on behalf of the whole team involved.

Gerardo Receiving Awards

Steve and Hannah 2017

2018 PPA of the Year

Allium ‘Millenium’ has been selected by the Perennial Plant Association membership as the organization’s 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year.  And yes, the spelling is correct: There is only one “n” in the cultivar name.

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The PPA’s Perennial Plant of the Year program began in 1990 to showcase a perennial that is a standout among its competitors.  In order to qualify for nomination, a plant must exhibit the following characteristics:

  • suitability for a wide range of climatic conditions
  • low maintenance requirements
  • relative pest and disease resistance
  • ready availability in the year of promotion
  • multiple seasons of ornamental interest

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This Allium is amazing! From the Onion Man, Mark McDonough, `Millennium’ is the result of several generations of deliberate hybridizing. A compact grower, it is clothed in glossy green, narrow, upright strap like leaves which, during late summer, are topped with loads of shimmering iridescent pink-purple, 2-inch-wide, balloon like flower heads. Fantastic on a small or large scale, `Millennium’ looks great spread throughout a planting of sedums, or planted in groups as a terrific edger, ground cover, or accent plant. Great companions include Calamintha, Caryopteris, Echinacea, Heuchera, Perovskia, Sedums, Solidago, and ornamental grasses such as Pennisetums, Panicums, dwarf Miscanthus, and Sporobolus.

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Spring Landscape Maintenance Tips

Yah!  Spring has finally arrived here in Southeast Michigan.  The grass is starting to green up, buds are swelling on trees and shrubs and perennials are popping out of the ground.  So how do you prepare your landscape for the upcoming season?  We hope these tips will help you out if you are doing these tasks yourself or looking to hire a landscape contractor.

Planting Beds

  • Blow, rake and/or physically clean out debris from your beds.  With large beds, decorative stone beds and/or beds with groundcovers usually the easiest way to clean out is with a powerful enough blower.  Dirt only beds might need the dirt physically turned over with a shovel or cultivator.  Shredded bark beds also need to be turned over and loosen the hard top surface.  Even if installing new bark if the old bark has crusted surface it needs to be broke.
  • Adding new mulch is a preference thing.  It should be done every or every-other year.  If budget and/or time is a constraint every-other year could be option, but recognizing that controlling weeds could be more difficult on the second season.  Just remember though, mulch depths should be about four inches.  On average, two inches a year decomposes.  So if you are on a bi-yearly schedule you will need to install more mulch.
  • Mulching around trees has become quite an issue over the last several years.  Mulch should NOT be applied above the flare of the trunk.  The root flare is the portion to the tree where the trunk widens at the base as it transitions to the root system. This flare occurs at the natural grade of the soil. It is of critical importance that this level be maintained.  So a mulch volcano should be avoided at all cost!

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  • Pre-emergent weed control can be added to beds to help prevent weed germination.  This will not control any weeds that are already rooted in the bed.  So, if there are still weeds leftover from the previous season, these should be pulled or sprayed with a post-emergent such as round up.  Careful application should be taken to avoid overspray onto desired plants.  One thing to consider is that some weeds will become resistant to pre-emergents if they are added every year to the planting beds.
  • If you do not have something (plastic, steel or aluminum edging or retaining walls) to separate the beds from the turf, a spade (or machine) cut bed edge defines the bed and puts the finishing touch on the landscape.  If adding mulch to the beds, using a spade to push back soil and old mulch from concrete/paver sidewalks and drives will help prevent new mulch from being washed onto the surface.

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  • Except for cold weather annuals (i.e. pansies, etc.), these types of plant material should not be planted until frost is not possible.  The rule of thumb is around Memorial Day (late May).  Alternatively, you can find out when the projected last frost date is in your area by checking with your local county extension office.

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Herbaceous Ornamental Plants (perennials, ornamental grasses and ground covers)

  • If mulch was heavily applied over the root system for the cold season, this should be carefully pulled back.
  • If (non evergreen) perennials and ornamental grasses were not cut back in the fall, they should be done before new growth shows.  For some plant material such as daylilies and hostas, it might just take a hand to pull it from the ground.  Some other  species, such as peony and Black Eye Susan might need pruners to cut the stalks.  For ornamental grass, we use powered or hand hedgers to cut as low as possible.

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  • Most groundcovers will just need a good raking over to pull out any dead branches, leaves and debris.
  • Spring flowering bulbs should be left alone until the leaves are yellow.  Then at that time they can be removed and a bulb fertilizer is usually recommended.
  • Vines (such as clematis) should have dead branches pruned off.
  • New plants can be installed as long as there is no chance for a heavy freeze.  Here in Southeast Michigan we are pretty much in the clear of that danger.

Shrubs

  • If physical winter protection was installed in the fall, this should be removed immediately.
  • Dead branches should be removed in most cases.  Sometimes certain evergreens will have brown leaves from winter damage, do NOT remove these yet.  Many times these branches will produce new leaves/needles.  The smartest way to check is to prune at the tip of a branch in search of green cambium.  If brown, continue cutting back until green or you reach an intersection.
  • All new type landscape roses (Carpet, Knock Out, Oso Easy, etc.) should be cut back six to twelve inches from the ground.  This will promote a thick and healthy plant.
  • Hydrangeas should not be cut back in the Spring as they have produced many if not all of their flower buds in the previous fall.  Arborscens or Smooth (Annabelle, Incrediball, etc) and paniculata or Hardy (Limelight, Quickfire, etc.) Hydrangeas flower on new wood, so you can get by pruning lightly, but to control size major pruning should take place in fall or early winter.  Macrophylla or Bigleaf and quercifolia or Oakleaf Hydrangea  flower on old wood so no pruning should be done unless the branch is dead.  Then pruning back to the next live bud might be necessary because of winter damage.   To control size, major pruning should be done in June or July.

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  • Most shrubs should not need any fertilizer in the Spring.  If needed, this should be done in the late fall.  The one exception could be acid loving plants.  On rhododendrons, azaleas, etc.   Thoms Bros. uses a product out of Westcroft Gardens called Greenleaf Compound.  We apply it to flowering plants in spring before they bloom, right after they bloom and again one more time in the fall.

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Turf

  • Debris (leaves, branches, etc.) should be removed as soon as possible from your lawn.
  • If the lawn was left long in the fall, cutting would be recommended.
  • Any bare spots that were killed by winter or from the previous season, can be raked and seeded.  A seeding mulch is usually recommended.  Pre-emergent (crab grass control) should be avoided in these locations as they will prevent seed from germinating.  Adding some soil to the areas might help as well.
  • A pre-emergent weed control should already have been or quickly applied to prevent crab grass from germinating.  A light fertilizer can also be done at this point but usually is not needed if a heavy late fall fertilizer application was completed the year before.
  • Pink or gray snow mold should also be raked off the lawn and seeded.  A fungicide is not recommended as the disease has already did its damage.
  • Aeration of the lawn is recommended for turf that has heavy soil (clay) and/or heavy traffic.  Grass needs water and air in order to grow. When soil is compacted, water and air do not get to the grass. Aeration involves poking holes in the soil with an aerator, by which water and air can better circulate and stimulate growth.   Aeration should take place in the early Fall as to prevent undesired weed germination but can be done in May when ground is warm enough but drought isn’t a problem.

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  • Overseeding/slit seeding is the practice of spreading grass seed over an existing lawn.  This can either be done by hand/spreader or using a machine that actually slits into the existing turf/soil. The obvious need to overseed is when your grass is thin.  But keeping your lawn young by overseeding every so many years will keep it fresh and thick.  Be aware though, turf can be thin because of too much shade and root competition from trees.  Even though there is some shade “tolerate” turf species, no grass likes deep shade.  Overseeding would only be a temporary fix.  If a lawn is really in rough condition, it can be overseeding in the same time frame as aeration..May.  But the best time of season is late summer/early fall.

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  • Irrigation should not be needed for at least another month.  When we get our first full week of no precipation is when you should consider turning on the sprinkler system.  Please do not let your irrigation contractor start up and program your system and leave it like that for the season.  if you do not have a weather and/or web based irrigation controller, you should adjust the amount of water your system puts done based on the season and weather patterns.