To do great work, you have to enjoy the work you do. Rebecca Rose, plant health care specialist and division head at Great Outdoors, knows this and has applied it to her job for nearly 40 years.
Rose got her start in the green industry early on running a landscaping business while she was still in high school. Since its small beginning in 1983, Great Outdoors has now grown to 30 employees today and provides service in lawn care, garden design, installation, design/build, drainage, snow removal and more.
While the company puts its best effort into every project, there is one project that shines brighter than the rest: the Sanitate/Middleton project.
"We have been working on the Sanitate/Middleton home and gardens for more than 20 years," Rose says. "In 2006, we were awarded a Gold Award for our work there from the Michigan Green Industry Association."
The client's company, Ocean Organics, is a seaweed processor that has manufactured sustainable high-performance plant growth and strengthening products for golf courses, landscape and agriculture use for more than 45 years.
Set on more than 3 acres, the property hosts the client's home, offices and a pond.
"Our goal was to create an oasis that would serve our client for many years," Rose says. "This was our first project working with esteemed landscape architect, Allison Arscott. She used a variety of plants, created specialty gardens and designed pathways and plantings that allowed our client to enjoy their stroll to the office as much as their walk around the pond."
The manmade pond was a focal point for the property that featured custom stone work by stone mason Tony Zilli. The pond itself was dug by Peter Stone in the early stages of the project.
The pond came with minor obstacles, though, as critters found the pond to be as ideal as the clients did.
"Challenges over the years are mostly due to the wildlife there," Rose says. "It’s a really beautiful pond, and the neighborhood deer visit every day. So do the raccoons, skunks, muskrats and especially groundhogs."
Even so, the wildlife seemed to only add to overall aesthetic of the landscape.
Rose's favorite part of the project was the stone wall completed in 2017.
"We purchased an old barn foundation and built a beautiful retaining wall with a stone staircase that widens as it leads you to the pond," Rose says.
A permeable Pennsylvania irregular bluestone patio sits above the wall, bordered by lavender. This part of the project included the client in the design process.
"I really enjoyed the collaboration and then just seeing it come to fruition," Rose says. With the addition of annuals and a handful of trees, the scenic spot has been designated for a wedding ceremony in the coming months. In the background, a willow tree and the pond bring the whole design together.
Originally, a John Deere 110 machine with an auger was used to plant most of the trees on the property. However, this time, Rose's team will be using a Bobcat MT85 machine with an auger to plant the extra trees in time for the wedding.
"We installed all of the plantings, including an apothecary garden, scores of evergreens for privacy and hand-selected trees throughout the property," Rose says. "We continue to add to it each year, but I do believe we reached our ultimate goal early on."
Moving forward, Great Outdoors continues to grow its services and expand its customer base.
"Recently, we’ve added plant health care to our list of services," Rose says. "Last year, we were given the opportunity to care for two more estates here in town, which will allow our team to collaborate and really showcase all of the services we offer. I’m really excited to see what our team can do for our new clients."
For Rose, the green industry was and is her passion.
"I’m still in love with my job after 39 years, mostly because of our team here at Great Outdoors," Rose says. "I've joined a peer group that helped me understand so much about our industry, business, leadership and the importance of defining your own success. Plus I love that my work is centered in the 'great outdoors.'”
In her experience, teamwork and hard work are the keys to running a successful business.
"Do good work," Rose says. "There is always work for a good contractor."