High Format Products

Thoms Bros. has been using products from Rosetta Hardscapes for several years with great satisfaction from our installers and our clients.  Their products are well made, look very natural, and make installation much easier and less time consuming compared to natural products……which keep cost down for our clients.  We have used their walls, slabs, steps, fire features and outcropping products for projects such as raised patios, seawalls, and outdoor living spaces. We have gotten to know the Rosetta team very well through trade shows, training programs and jobsite visits.

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In the Fall of 2018, my wife and I were invited to attend “Rosetta of Michigan Champions Tour” in Charleviox, Michigan.  This tour was by invite only and included about a dozen contractors scattered from different areas of the Midwest.  We were able to see the plant that the products were made in; see a few local jobsites; learn some more about the family, company and products; and most importantly learn about some new products that were going to be offered for the upcoming 2019 season.

Rosetta Of Michigan Champions Tour 2018


Innovation is in Rosetta’s DNA.  From their humble Northern Michigan beginnings, they have always strived to serve the landscape industry by providing products that are better looking, easier to work with, and more durable than the alternatives. They’re continually driven by the challenge of finding the better way: better aesthetics, better design, and better strength.

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Rosetta has stayed ahead of the curve with outdoor living products that married the industry’s most realistic textures and colors with materials of unparalleled strength and durability. Beginning with Outcropping, the first life-sized wetcast wall for your backyard, and continuing through their entire line of wall, patio, and fire products, they’ve never stopped chasing a better way.

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Rosetta has stayed ahead of the curve with outdoor living products that married the industry’s most realistic textures and colors with materials of unparalleled strength and durability. Beginning with Outcropping, the first life-sized wetcast wall for your backyard, and continuing through their entire line of wall, patio, and fire products, they’ve never stopped chasing a better way.



At that Fall 2018 meeting, I learned of their new products through their new sister company, HIGH FORMAT™ would be offering.  This company was developing and producing new large-format, ultra-thin and super-durable TEKTRAMAT® products.  TEKTRAMAT® is our proprietary material based around ultra-high-performance concrete technology (UHPC).  And they’ve expanded their offerings to include access to some of the most beautiful and durable natural stone slabs available anywhere.


In the Spring of 2019, we used their Mid-Century slabs on a patio project in Royal Oak.  The massive surface area and ultra-detailed surface textures of Midcentury patio slabs by High Format make for a stunning solution for patio projects. Midcentury paver stones are made in three different dimensions to create sleek geometric patterns, allowing us to leverage clean lines for a modern design.  On this project we used the bluestone color slabs.  It looks just like honed finished bluestone, except for much easier installation (exact same thickness), plus much more durable than natural stone including a salt proof surface.  They also offer Gauge Select.  This is a large format irregular shaped flagstone with a natural cleft surface.  As with the Mid-Century, the colors include Bluestone, Summit (brownish tones), Dune (buff color) and Charcoal.

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In the Fall of 2019, we were honored to use their new natural product MARMIRO STONES® TRAVERTINE for a front walkway in Bloomfield, Michigan.   This is a high-quality natural travertine paver provided in a blended French pattern with rustic color tones ranging from light to dark browns, and tans.  This project also included Rosetta’s dimensional steps, natural fond du lac stone on the pillars, and custom Indian Limestone pillar caps.

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Please consider asking for one or many of these great quality products for your next landscape project.


Steven D. Thoms, CGIP, FAPLD, LIC-M

Vice President/Chief Designer

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Authorized Unilock Conctractor Status


Unilock Michigan

12591 Emerson Drive

Brighton, MI  48116

(248) 437-7037



For Immediate Release

For more information contact:

Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc

Phone: (586) 749-9332

Toll Free: (866)

Email: info@thomsbros.com




Macomb, MI (October 2, 2019) – Unilock of Michigan, a manufacturer of high-quality, industry innovating hardscape material including interlocking concrete pavers and segmental retaining wall systems, announces Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc. of Macomb, MI as one of its latest Authorized Contractors.



Unilock developed their Authorized Contractor program to help homeowners connect with professional contractors who can be trusted to do the job right. Unilock Authorized Contractors are part of an elite group whose work and business practices have met demanding standards. We conduct on-site inspections of the contractors’ work and client satisfaction reference checks before a contractor is considered for the program, and these inspections continue annually*. All Unilock Authorized Contractors offer a minimum two-year guarantee on their workmanship.


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Steven D. Thoms, CGIP, FAPLD, LIC, Vice President and Chief Designer at Thoms Bros., had to say this about their new announcement.  “Our team has worked very hard over the years to make sure our quality of installation is at the utmost best.  That is why we are confident in offering a lifetime warranty on our installations.  We also have several Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) Certified Installers on staff, which we believe has helped us earn this acknowledgement.  We also work very diligently to bring our clients top notch customer service.”

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Thoms Bros.’ staff attended their first Authorized Contractor (AC) awards program in Detroit, Michigan in November and plans on attending an AC only educational program the first of year.

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To learn more about the Authorized Contractor Program, please visit https://unilock.com/about/contractors-you-can-trust/.


To learn more about ICPI’s Certified Installers program, please visit https://www.icpi.org/certification/CertifiedCPI

Thoms Bros. earns Gold Award in the Environmental Improvement Awards by the Michigan Green Industry Association.

For Immediate Release


Thoms Bros. earns Gold Award in the Environmental Improvement Awards by the Michigan Green Industry Association. 

Bingham Farms, Michigan (October 17, 2019) – [Thoms Bros. Landscaping, Inc.],  an award winning landscape design, build, and management firm servicing the greater southeast Michigan area today announce that they have received an Gold Award in the Environmental Improvements Awards program by the Michigan Green Industry Association (MGIA) for its “Palm Residence” landscape in Sterling Heights, MI.  This “Residential Landscape Reconstruction $25,000-$50,000” project was completed in 2017.  This “gardener’s dream” job included new concrete driveway and front walkway, new interlocking concrete paver & segmental retaining wall (SRW) rear patios and walkways, and extensive new plantings and relocation of existing.


Steven D. Thoms, CGIP, FAPLD, LIC-M, Vice President and Chief Designer of Thoms Bros, worked closely with the homeowner for several months designing the landscape.  The homeowner is an avid gardener and the property already had some desirable plant material, so Thoms Bros. was called in to provide expert design to provide maximum enjoyment of this smaller size suburban lot.  Several 3D renderings were used to help the client visualize the different spaces.


A large diseased evergreen, blocking the view of front yard neighbor’s garbage cans was removed and replaced with an arborvitae hedge.  Another Emerald Green Arborvitae hedge was also used in the backyard to provide privacy on the upper and lower paver patios.  Extensive use of flowering shrubs and perennials were used throughout the property to provide color throughout the different seasons.   Fendt Products out of Ann Arbor, Michigan was chosen to be the manufacturer of the hardscape materials for this project.  Fendt’s Old World Stonegate wall in their Elite Color Seashell was used for the walls and Country Manor in Camel was used for the coping in the raised patio walls and steps.  Their Old World Vintage pavers in Seashell in a random pattern was used as the pavers with a Walnut color for the borders.

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The aim of the Michigan Green Industry Association Environmental Improvement Awards Program is as follows:

1. To increase public awareness and reflect MGIA’s commitment to environmental improvement 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.


To be eligible, the landscape projects for which the entrant is responsible for the major portion of the work may be entered for judging in the following categories listed below. All entries must have had the largest portion of the work completed within the last three years to be eligible. In addition, projects which have previously received an award in a particular category cannot be re-entered in the same category.  Projects will be judged by a group of green industry experts basing their cumulative decision on what they SEE.


The Michigan Green Industry Association (MGIA) is a statewide professional trade association serving the green industry for over 50 years. MGIA promotes education and certification to its members and has set high standards of professionalism and business integrity for Michigan’s green industry contractors. MGIA provides more than 800 members with the latest information on new methods, treatments and technologies that help the landscape thrive. Their members range in size and include franchise operations.


Thoms Bros. will be presented with the award at a Program Banquet and Holiday Celebration on December 5, 2019 at The Westin Southfield.  This is Thoms Bros’. 11th MGIA Award and 18th overall industry award.

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Mulch Installation

Spring is finally here! And you are looking to mulch your planting beds.  Do you do it yourself?  Do you hire the kid down the street?  Or, do you hire a reputable, horticulturally minded landscape firm?  When applied properly, mulch can help maintain soil temperature and conserve water. Additionally, it can help prevent root compaction and reduce lawn mower and string trimmer damage. Organic mulches can also help improve the soil’s physical structure and fertility as it breaks down over time.

But hiring the cheapest company to install could lead to multiple issues.  Besides possibly lacking the best appearance, the biggest problem with incorrect mulch installation is volcanoes around tree rings.  Mulch volcanos are unsightly and the excessive mulch on the trunk causes moisture to build up, creating ideal conditions for insect pests, diseases and decay.  If more than four inches of mulch is used, it can end up repelling water and thick layers of mulch can also prevent air from reaching the roots, suffocating the plant. The decline tends to happen slowly over time, but it is inevitable. The proper way to mulch around a tree appears more like a doughnut with mulch 3 to 6 inches away from the trunk. The depth of the ring should be two to four inches max.

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Also too much mulch can be used if a landscaping crew is not measuring the current amount of mulch in a bed before applying more. It is natural for customers to want to have a fresh look and beds can lose some of their color in the sun.  “Those that decompose faster must be replenished more often,” says Martha Smith, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. “Here lies the problem, some mulches, such as cypress mulch, remain intact for years but they turn a grey-tan color. People prefer the ‘fresh’ look of new mulch and top dress annually, not considering the existing mulch depth.”

At Thoms Bros, we believe our highly trained staff jobs separate us from most companies in the following ways:

1. Bed Edging – next to existing, permanent edging such as steel, aluminum and plastic edging, Thoms Bros. pulls away old mulch and dirt so we can install new fresh mulch up to the edging without it running over.  We do the same thing along hard surfaces such as concrete and brick pavers. With a natural edge, Thoms Bros. uses a 5” deep edger blade with its bed edger to give a deep cut.  Then we fine rake just enough mulch into the trench to prevent weeds but still give the defined look.


2. Prepping – Thoms Bros. cleans out debris out of beds and makes sure existing weeds are eradicated.  This would either be completed by physically removing and or using a post-emergent herbicide.


3. Distribution – Thoms Bros. makes sure the correct depth of mulch is installed.  On average a four-inch depth is recommended in most situations.  Depending on frequency and types of mulch used, could mean a one to four-inch installation of mulch.  The team member using a hard rake makes sure depth is correct and guides other team members in locating piles.


4. Tree Rings – Mulch depth and distribution is extremely important as mentioned earlier in this article.  If necessary, Thoms Bros. will remove existing mulch as to prevent depth to be at the desired level.  Mulch is distributed in away as not to go above the tree crown.

5. Fine Tuning – Following the team member responsible for distribution, another team member will use a metal tine leaf rake to make sure mulch is spread nicely leaving no humps.  They will also make sure bed edges to finished to perfection.  They will also hand rake around perennials and other sensitive plant material.  Hand distribution will take place around ground cover that is not established..

6. Clean-up – Thoms Bros. removes mulch from turf areas and makes sure any pavement is clear of mulch and debris residue.  If we are using a colored mulch, we will try to avoid using driveway surfaces, but if not possible, the driveway will be pressure washed.

Mulch Choice

Speaking of organic mulch, another challenge can be choosing the proper mulch material for the job. There are many materials to choose from when it comes to organics including hardwood chips, shredded bark, shredded leaves and pine straw. Organic mulch tends to be preferred over inorganic mulches as they do break down over time and add organic matter to the soil.

Inorganic material such as lava rock, pebbles or rubber mulch are all options and don’t break down over time so they don’t have to be replaced but they also don’t provide any nutrients to the soil.

Finely textured organic mulches tend to decompose more quickly than coarse material. Long-term use of the same type of mulch can change surface soil pH levels. Mulches like pine straw can cause the soil surface to increase in acidity while hardwood bark mulch can cause surface soil to become too alkaline. Inorganic mulches like limestone gravel can also change the pH and can kill acid-loving plants.

Some of the most common types of organic mulches are:

1. Double Processed Hardwood Mulch – is the best for those plants. It decomposes into a rich, sweet-smelling black dirt, and it looks ever so tidy while doing it. Plus, hardwood bark mulch is the best for amending your soil.  This is our most common used mulch as it is very economical, natural looking and gives the best results.  It is dark in color and fine in texture.


2. Cedar Mulch – Cedar oil is a natural insect repellant. That same fragrant aroma that keeps moths and pests out of your cedar chest or closet, works to keep pests away from your plants when you mulch with cedar. In areas where termites are a problem, that particular characteristic makes it worth paying the higher cost for cedar mulch. However, this type of mulch does have its downsides. It decomposes very slowly, adding only trace amounts of nutrients back to your soil. On the other hand, this does mean that cedar mulch is quite long lasting.


3. Cypress Mulch – like cedar, is a natural insect repellent. It’s a good pest repellent, but it’s more expensive than other mulches perhaps due to its attractive blonde color. In addition, the process of harvesting cypress trees can cause untold environmental damage.

4. Pine Bark Mulch is a fine ground of Pine Tree bark. It is known to be a great soil conditioner and does a great job at retarding weed growth. The aroma of Pine Bark Mulch will immediately make you think that you have escaped to Northern Michigan!

5. Colored Enhanced Mulch (black, brown, gold & other selections) gives a cleaner, more uniform look to extensive mulching. Colored mulch comes in red and black and some specialty colors. It’s more expensive than non-colored mulch and the dyes fade in the sun, or fade unevenly, eventually ruining the appearance. The dye is environmentally safe and non-toxic, but can transfer to your hands when you spread the mulch.


6. The Certified Playground Mulch / Engineered Wood Fiber that has been certified for safe use on playgrounds and under and around playscapes.  The mulch has passed impaction, compaction, and wheelchair accessibility tests, meeting or exceeding the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).


MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE: Choosing A Landscape Contractor

You have made the decision to get help with your yard.  So how do you decide who to hire?  There are so many landscapers, gardeners, designers, lawn cutters, full service companies, etc. out there.  First, you need to determine your needs before even looking for or considering anybody.  Are you looking for somebody to maintain what you already have, somebody to guide you in what to do, or somebody to completely install something new or renovate what you currently have?  In these good times, many contractors will claim to do everything and anything just to sell work.  But not all aspects of landscapes are the same and, therefore require different skill levels, knowledge and expertise.

To manage what you already have will require the services of a maintenance contractor.  This can be as simple as a neighborhood kid to pull weeds, cut the grass and rake leaves or as involved as retaining the services of a full service maintenance contractor.  Services could include ornamental bed maintenance, turf, tree and shrub chemical applications, water feature care, irrigation work, etc.  If you enjoy cutting grass but dislike cutting back perennials and pulling weeds you might want to hire a professional gardener.  The best match for you all depends on your level of services desired.

If you want your existing landscape reworked, completely renovated, or have a new home construction, you will need the services of a landscape designer.  This can either be from an independent designer or a designer associated with an installation company.  A professional designer will incorporate your visions and priorities in conjunction with your property’s strengths and weaknesses into a creative plan that can be implemented in full or over a period of time.  This plan can either be installed by you as the homeowner or hired out to a professional landscape construction company.

Now that you have determined your needs and what type of landscaper you are looking for, how do you select the right person or firm?  There are many deciding factors in determining who will meet your needs and give you the best value, and one of the biggest factors is certification. There are many certifications available to green industry professionals and here is a list:

  • Certified Green Industry Professional (CGIP) – This program is offered by the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA).  CGIP certification is earned by individuals taking a very in-depth four hour exam on horticulture and other related information geared towards specialties including:  landscape contractor, designer, and manager.  Learn more at http://www.plantmichigangreen.com/mcn.


  • APLD Certified Landscape Designer –This program is offered by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD).  The certification is earned by submitting work which is then evaluated by professional peers.  Learn more at http://www.apld.org/consumers/certification.asp.

APLD certified

  • ISA Certified Arborist  – This program is offered by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This certification was developed for professional arborists in order to provide the public and those in government with a means to identify those professionals who have demonstrated, through a professionally developed exam and education program, that they have a thorough knowledge of tree care practices. Learn more at   http://www.isa-arbor.com/certification/exams.aspx
  • ICPI Certified Concrete Paver Installer.  This program is offered by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI).  There are currently two levels of certification with the first level incorporating classroom hours and an exam for basic brick paver installation knowledge and the second level aimed at more advanced brick paver knowledge.  Learn more at www.icpi.org.


  • Certified SRW Installer (CSRWI) – This program is offered by the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA).  There are currently two levels of this certification on how to install segmental retaining walls; a basic course with an exam and an advanced course with an exam.   Learn more at http://www.ncma.org/development/certifications/Pages/default.aspx
  • Landscape Industry Certified (LIC) – This program is offered by PLANET, an international landscape organization.  Learn more at http://www.landcarenetwork.org/cms/certification/categories.html.  PLANET has several subcategories of the LIC:
    • Certified Landscape Professional (CLP) – The exam is a 4-hour multiple choice test covering business management topics.
    • Certified Landscape Technician (CLT) – The exam is a written and hands-on test. Candidates choose to test in Hardscape Installation, Softscape Installation, Turf Maintenance, Ornamental Maintenance or Irrigation.
    • Certified Horticultural Technician (COLP) – This course emphasizes tree and shrub maintenance procedures. Candidates concentrate on landscape trees and ornamental woody plant physiology, health care management, and establishment.
    • Certified Lawn Care Manager (CTP) – This study material covers the essential knowledge needed by an effective turf grass manager in northern growing zones. The study leads to a mastery of weed, insect and disease identification/control, as well as diagnosis of common turf grass problems. The material supports Integrated Pest Management concepts, pesticide safety and customer relations in northern climates.


Landscape individuals and companies can sometimes be required by the state to have a license depending on the work being completed.  All individuals and companies must have a license to apply pesticides for hire.  Pesticides are used to control weeds, insects, and diseases in lawns, in planting beds, and on trees and shrubs.  Make sure when hiring a company to complete this type of work that both the company and the technician are licensed by the State of Michigan.  Although the state and most municipalities do not require a builder’s license for most work that landscape contractors do, please check with your local building inspector to find out requirements.  At the current time, there are no statewide license requirements of landscape and irrigation contractors other than what is listed above.

Although certifications and licenses are important to look for when hiring a green industry professional, they are definitely not the only thing.  Years of business experience can sometimes be helpful in making a decision to hire a company, but references from people you know are much more beneficial.  Sometimes a company might have a 30 year history but might have been recently taken over by a descendant or new owner.  If a friend, neighbor or co-worker can verify the quality of work and customer service this will be much more helpful in your decision making.  Also, actually look at the work that they performed.  Is this the type of work that you are looking for?  Does it meet your expectations?  People have varying degrees of quality requirements.  Your neighbor might have enjoyed working with a particular company and can overlook that lines are not quite straight, or the quality of plant materials is questionable, or the grades are wrong.  If these issues are important to you, continue looking for someone that will meet your specifications.  Another great idea is to evaluate the landscapes at various stages, particularly those that have been installed for a number of years.  Has the landscape held up?  Does the contractor offer warranties for plant material, hardscaping construction, etc?  If the contractor does offer a warranty, how long is the warranty for?  Do they have a history in honoring their warranties?

Another major factor in determining who to choose for your garden needs is getting to know the salesperson or owner of the company.  Having a good relationship is key.  If you are not comfortable or do not trust this person, then it is apparent that you should move on.  For smaller jobs deciding who to use can be relatively uncomplicated.  If you have a costly job, are concerned about the health of a 100 year old oak tree, or are planning for a landscape that will be with you for many  years, you should be very cautious who you hire.

In summary, once you have determined what level of service you are looking for consider the following factors in making the right choice for hiring a landscape contractor:  certifications, licenses, referrals, quality of work, and relationship.  These factors will help ensure that your landscape expectations are met.

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.


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.”


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.


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


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


2. Double Play Big Bang Spirea x


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


3. Lemony Lace Elderberry Sambucus racemosa


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


4. Sugar Shack Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis


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.


5. Spilled Wine Weigela florida


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


6. Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutzia x


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


7. Tiny Wine Ninebark Physocarpus opulifolius


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.


8. Kodiak Black Diervilla rivularis


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


9. Show Off Forsythia x intermedia


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.


10. Little Lime Panicle Hydrangea paniculata


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.


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.

Cert 2019

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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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. 


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.)


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.



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


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.


By Steven D. Thoms, CGIP, APLD, CLP