Outdoor living spaces like this are increasingly popular in local backyards. This one features materials from Benson Stone Company.

Give Your Backyard a Complete Makeover

Creating the perfect backyard may not be as difficult as you think. There are many professionals in the Rockford area who can help turn your backyard dreams into reality.

Outdoor living spaces like this are increasingly popular in local backyards. This one features materials from Benson Stone Company.
Outdoor living spaces like this are increasingly popular in local backyards. This one features materials from Benson Stone Company.

It’s easy to personalize an indoor space at home. Add a few pieces of furniture, some light fixtures, new countertops, maybe some houseplants.
What people may not know is that the same things can be done to spruce up a backyard as well.
In good weather, your backyard can become the most important and popular space at your home.
Whether you’re in the mood for a complete overhaul of your backyard or a few modest additions and alterations, there are many professionals in our region who can help. They’re available to offer ideas on how to revive your property and create the yard you’ve always dreamed of.

Finding the Right Design

Mike Sanders, owner of Crimson Valley Landscaping in Rockford, a design, and residential building company, says that sprucing up a backyard is definitely a benefit to a homebuyer, especially since people are spending less time traveling and more time at home.
“A lot of people have put an emphasis on staycations over the past five years,” Sanders says. “People have been committed to staying in their homes and they’re reinventing their outdoor living spaces to make them a destination for family and friends.”
From outdoor living spaces, backyard patios, swimming pools and backyard lighting, Crimson Valley Landscaping, 1541 N. Westmoreland Ave., designs and installs custom outdoor projects that complement a homeowner’s backyard and personality.
They can provide foundation plantings, bricks and pavers, retaining walls, landscape lighting and swimming pool decks, among other improvements, and have been doing so for 15 years.
“People are starting to live in their own backyards,” Sanders says. “Pergolas and gazebos are being used to give people a break from the sun. People have also started to use night lightscape lighting to extend the amount of time they can spend in their outdoor living spaces.”
Crimson Valley can provide homeowners with a backyard design plan to help them understand how a finished project would look.
“We can supply a customized blueprint along with a video image demonstration to see what the house and the yard will look like,” Sanders says. “You can visualize what we will do. We’ll meet with you and discuss your vision.”
Often a backyard needs a boost but not a complete overhaul. Sometimes, plants and some good outdoor lighting do the trick. Trellises, decorative screens, garden sculptures, fountains and furnishings are other ideas for enhancing a backyard haven.
“Some people like plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds,” Sanders says. “Having butterflies and hummingbirds can also attract people and create family time.”

Designing the Perfect Deck

A new deck or patio can be a perfect gathering place or a quiet, relaxing retreat that adds a new dimension to a yard. Finding the right materials to build it while staying in your budget can be a daunting task.
A well-planned, quality deck or patio can be a little slice of Heaven. The wrong deck or patio can become an unsightly and unused dead space.
The folks at Schmeling Building and Supply, 1031 School St., Rockford, won’t let the latter happen. They sell a wide range of decking products, from traditional treated wood and composite materials, to all-plastic decking and deck railings in many styles and colors.
“We carry treated lumber that is kiln dried after treatment, so it can be stained right after your deck is built and it is more stable,” says Mike Rotolo, sales manager at Schmeling Building and Supply.
No matter the type of deck, it will require maintenance. Swelling and warping may happen overtime with some materials, but Rotolo says there are some things that can help to prevent that.
If you have an existing deck that needs maintenance, Schmeling Building Supply carries the Penofin line of deck cleaners and stains.
“The Penofin oil based stains have been very well received. As a plus, they’re made with rosewood oil, which is considered a renewable source,” he says.
Rotolo says Schmeling Building Supply is the last traditional lumberyard to survive in Rockford. It’s been family-owned business since it opened in 1903. Along with lumber, it sells plywood, siding, doors and a variety of domestic and exotic hardwoods.
“We’re still family-owned, not a chain store,” Rotolo says.

Finding the Right Landscaping Project

If you’re looking for a landscaping project, Benson Stone Co. in Rockford offers products and expert advice to help make sure the project is done correctly.
This 86-year-old, fifth-generation family business carries full product lines of landscaping materials at its 1100 Eleventh St. location in Rockford. Whether you’re looking for decorative gravel, mulch, patio materials, composite decking or something else, a visit to this store will generate ideas.
“We do a lot of hardscape products, such as patios, walkways and retaining walls,” says Andy Benson, owner of Benson Stone Co. “We also have outcropping stone and boulders available for a backyard as well.”
The business stocks a range of outdoor kitchen equipment, fireplaces, fire pits, standard barbecue grills and outdoor lighting. These spaces can be updated with additional storage, outdoor refrigerators and granite countertops.
“We don’t do the installation,” Benson says. “We find qualified landscapers and people who want to do that type of work.”
Every order starts with a free consultation. If customers have a specific idea in mind or are considering options, staff designers work with them one-on-one to explore the possibilities. Once an outdoor kitchen is fabricated at the Rockford facility, the staff installs it on the property.
“We’re able to install the outdoor kitchens, but for the rest of the landscaping, we’ll provide a contractor referral,” Benson says.
If homeowners want to complete projects themselves, the company can provide expert installation advice.
“We’re able to work with do-it-yourselfers,” he says. “Some people want to do the work themselves, and we can help them get the job done right the first time.”

Laying the Groundwork

Many homeowners wisely opt to improve the curb appeal of their homes as well as the backyard relaxation areas. Newer driveways, sidewalks and patios are among the most visible of those improvements.
That’s where the experts at UniTrim Cement & Landscaping in Belvidere come in. For more than 30 years, UniTrim has offered premier concrete and landscaping services. Those services include patios, steps, waterproofing, landings and driveways.
UniTrim specializes in stamped concrete projects, which are especially popular for sidewalks and patios. Patterns look like pavers, brick or fieldstone and come in a variety of colors and textures. The look is more permanent than pavers, however, and requires much less maintenance.
UniTrim also serves customers who need concrete slabs poured for home additions.
“We definitely are doing more of that stuff because a lot of people have decided to stay in their homes,” says Gary Hendrickson, president of UniTrim Cement and Landscape.
The extent of your backyard improvements are limited only by your imagination. Your personal vision, coupled with the guidance and support of trained professionals in Rockford, can transform an ordinary backyard from blah to breathtaking.