Award-Winning Landscapes

We recently heard some exciting news: Bruss Landscaping won the ILCA Gold Award for Residential Landscape Construction and Best Outdoor Living in the Unilock Awards of Excellence! Naturally, we’re so proud of our hard work and it feels fantastic to be recognized, but you may be wondering why this is such a big deal. What makes up an award-winning landscape? Does it mean anything to homeowners? Should you care?


Unilock Best Outdoor Living Winner 2018

Unilock Awards of Excellence

Since 1994, Unilock has been acknowledging the best in design and installation of their landscape and hardscape products with their Awards of Excellence competition. Unilock receives hundreds of entries in various categories at each of their seven locations, so being recognized in such a competitive market as Chicago is really exciting for Bruss Landscaping. Our award-winning landscape project will be featured in the new Unilock catalog (used nationally and in Canada) and has already been seen in recent Unilock advertising. With categories such as Best Driveway, Best Front Entrance, and Best Project under 1,000 square feet, going home with the Best Outdoor Living award is quite the feather in our cap!

What Makes an Award-Winning Landscape?

Just like all of our projects, an award-winning landscape starts with our designers collaborating with the homeowner. We listen to our clients’ wishes and do our best to incorporate those desires into our landscape design, often doing quite a bit of problem-solving at the same time. This family had an undersized paver patio that was frustrating to use and a fire pit that had been banished to a mosquito-filled corner of the yard. We had originally installed their front yard landscape a few years earlier. Now that they had little kids, they wanted a backyard space they could relax and play in as a family. We created a landscape design that incorporated an outdoor kitchen and dining area shaded by a pergola, a fire pit, hot tub, and pool – all with plenty of access space from all sides (including the home) to accommodate active kids and plenty of guests.

The pool was included in the original design to create a unified, pleasing space

What makes all these elements come together so attractively is the thoughtful use of materials and adhering to the goals of comfort, function, and beauty. The style of the house is traditional and linear, so another kidney-shaped patio and curvy pool would have been too jolting a contrast. Instead, we complemented the architecture of the house by extending its lines to create a rectangular pool and squared off patio. Rather than looking like an afterthought, the new outdoor living space feels like a natural extension of the home’s interior. Clean lines, a muted color palette, and subtle changes in texture and pattern suit this family’s contemporary tastes and casual lifestyle while staying inviting and comfortable.

Building lighting into the design of the firepit and outdoor kitchen extend their use well into evening

Our lengthy, cold winters encourage us to get the most out of our warm, summer weather. Incorporating low-voltage outdoor lighting throughout not only adds an element of safety, but substantially increases the amount of time the family can spend comfortably outside. Bringing the fire pit back from the banished corner of the yard means it can be used all the time. The wide, smooth coping stone that surrounds it offers additional seating when the fire isn’t lit. Soft lighting around the grill highlights the beauty of the stonework and ensures the bar seating is still an inviting spot in the evening hours.

With areas for dining, grilling, relaxing, and lounging pool-side, this backyard feels like a resort

The custom wood pergola is integral to the overall design. While offering a shady, cool respite from the hot afternoon sun, it also helps define the dining area, gives a cozy – yet airy – sense of enclosure and helps transition the scale of the tall two-story house to the ground plane of the landscape. Anchoring the columns in stone pillars helps connect the pergola to the design of the patio elements – a stylistic touch that makes a pulls the landscape design together.

The ILCA Excellence in Landscape Awards

The Illinois Landscape Contractors Association is the state trade organization for growers, garden centers, suppliers, arborists, and landscapers. They foster professional growth for our industry through continuing education opportunities, trade shows, and networking of product manufacturers, educators, and researchers. Each year ILCA accepts entries for their Excellence in Landscape Awards in categories such as Residential Landscape Construction, Residential Landscape Maintenance, Specialty Element, and Ecological Planting. Judges from outside the state evaluate the candidates and choose their Merit, Silver, and Gold Award winners. We couldn’t be happier that this family retreat in Wheaton won gold!

An overview of the 2018 ILCA Gold Award in Landscape ConstructionThe outdoor kitchen offers work and entertaining space without blocking views

This family needed a more functional outdoor living space that would grow with their children and encourage them all to spend more time with each other outside. We took cues from the architecture and materials of the home to determine what stone and color palette to use in the walls and patio of this award-winning landscape. The custom wood arch over the buffet echoes a design element on the house, balances the visual weight of the house on the opposite side of the patio, and keeps the view open from inside the home.

The custom, permanent hammock grove replaced an outgrown playset

The kids had outgrown their playset and were now avid hammock users – everywhere but at home. We created a permanent hammock grove for them using discarded Ash trees. A solid structure that fits in with the landscape, it’s now the favorite backyard hangout for them, their friends, and the family dog.

An elevated fire table creates a cozy seating area and doubles as a table when covered

Since their old dining table didn’t get much use, we opted for a raised fire table – most of the time it’s used as a fire pit, but when the need arises it can be covered and used as a table. To give our clients the hot tub they wanted without blocking the views they loved, we partially sunk the hot tub and camouflaged it with stone walls that create planting spaces and additional seating. The stone’s color palette matches the stone on the home’s exterior, creating a cohesive transition from the home into the landscape.

Softening the sides of the hot tub creates more seating and hides unsightly mechanicals

What Do Our Award-Winning Landscape Projects Mean for You?

Being recognized by the most knowledgeable people in our profession is truly an honor. Why does this matter to our clients? It tells them that we’re meeting the highest standards of quality with the materials we use and the way we install them. It shows how our goal of collaboration with our clients to achieve their dream landscape design combined with superior workmanship generate exceptional results. Most of all, it helps potential clients feel confident when choosing Bruss Landscaping to enhance their home and maximize their biggest investment.

Careful thought created a multi-use space that kept views to the yard open

Know when to hire a professional!

Are you ready to have the landscape of your dreams? Have the designers at Bruss Landscaping transform your yard into beautiful and functional outdoor living space, all while accommodating your busy and evolving lifestyle. To find out more about it, visit us here.

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