The crew from Parklane Landscapes have eaten lunch at Gary and Andrea’s many times – after all, they were onsite at the Lake Simcoe location for weeks while they completely transformed the property. What was unusual was the whole crew being invited for a barbecue lunch a year later, to share a meal and view their handiwork.
“They were just amazing,” Andrea explains. “We couldn’t have found better people to work with.”
Gary and Andrea bought the seasonal cottage 11 years ago and set about transforming it into a four-season cottage. The bones of the property were excellent, but it needed work. “The driveway was just some ruts in the grass, there were massive cedars all over, so it was really dark, and there was this crumbling old boat slip,” says Gary.
To tackle the landscaping, Gary and Andrea called Parklane Landscapes and met onsite with Sales Manager and Consultant Ally Lauer. Immediately the couple were impressed with the company’s suggestions, vision, and honesty. “We created an unbeatable friendship through the planning process, achieving Gary and Andrea’s vision while being thoughtful to the environment,” says Ally.
Working on the waterfront
One of the biggest challenges was going to be removing the boat slip. Waterfront redevelopment work needs to be undertaken with great care to avoid damaging the delicate environment.
Parklane Landscapes has a long history of working carefully with waterfront properties, a level of experience – and commitment – that has earned them a solid reputation with regulatory bodies like the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority. “We work from a vision of leaving every place better than we found it,” says designer Joanne Mohan.
In this case, that meant removing the old boat slip and filling the hole, being careful to prevent sediment getting into the lake. The team placed granite boulders and native plants along the shoreline to stabilize it. The round boulders will absorb and dissipate the energy of ice sheets and pounding waves. “There’s been no movement of the rocks at all,” Gary says.
Where the boat slip once stood there is now a beautiful stone patio. It occupies the same footprint as the previous stone area, but it feels larger and is much more functional, Andrea says – a perfect place to sit and watch the sunset over the lake.
The patio is topped with granite slabs – a last-minute decision, says Gary. “We went to Parklane’s yard, saw this granite, and knew that was exactly what we wanted.”
It wasn’t just the waterfront that was transformed. The team worked on nearly every part of the property, including an existing cement patio in the yard, paths and walkways in the front yard, and a river rock swale near the road.
Gary acknowledged some nervousness during the process, as the property was torn apart and rebuilt. “They kept saying ‘don’t worry, Gary. It will look amazing,’” he says with a laugh.
He was reassured, partly by the results he saw unfolding, but also by the skill and care the crew worked with. “Drew, the foreperson, was fantastic. He knew just where to put the rocks, how to place everything perfectly.”
And no matter how messy the work was, the property was left in great shape every night. “The last thing they did every day before they left was a thorough clean-up.”
Living the values The cottage owners also registered for Parklane’s Shoreline Greening Project. This program is free to property owners in the watershed who want to enhance and protect their shoreline by planting and maintaining native plants. Homeowners who sign up will receive 10 free plants to enhance the ecological value of their gardens, shoreline, and environment.
The couple were also comfortable reaching out to anyone on the team with questions, from the workers on site to the owner of the company. “We had given them our wish list, but they had the vision for what this property could become. What you see is all them, and I can’t tell you how blown away I am by what they’ve done here,” Gary says.
That is music to the ears of Parklane owner Cassie Zalewski. The company takes enormous pride in hiring people who fit the company’s approach, and then working to instill the core values into every member of the team.
“Performance, Passion, People and Planet – we live and breathe those values every day,” she says. “We have regular celebrations of team members who go above and beyond in expressing our core values – it really is a key part of what we do and who we are. They set the stage for the client experience.”
Gary and Andrea’s experience couldn’t have been better – as evidenced by the barbecue lunch they hosted for the team. The people were amazing, they said, and the work was fantastic. “If you want something beautiful,” says Gary, “get Parklane.”
TEXT A. WAGNER-CHAZALON | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN