In 1976, as our nation celebrated its bicentennial year, Scott and Peg Bormann decided to couple their shared passion for plants and the outdoors with a used pickup truck and some hand tools to start Creative Landscaping, Inc. Now, as they mark four decades of enhancing the natural beauty of southwest Michigan, the company boasts 14 employees and is one of the premier landscape design and installation companies in the region.
Scott and Peg, who both received their formal plant and landscape education at Purdue University and are Michigan Certified Nurserymen, operate their business in Berrien Springs. The company specializes in hardscape and softscape projects that create extensions of a home’s living spaces and solve site problems including drainage, circulation, erosion, and noise pollution. And while their mission has always been to get people outdoors, Peg and Scott have seen significant changes over the years in how landscaping helps make that happen.
“When we started, it was all about plants, trees, lawns, and the occasional retaining wall. Nobody asked to have a pond installed back in the ‘70s,” Peg recounts. “Now, outdoor space is viewed as another “room” of the house that expands the home’s living space with patios, outdoor kitchens, and pergolas.”
As a high school senior, Peg aspired to be a teacher but after a visit to Fernwood in Niles, she fell in love with gardens and began working in the greenhouse at the popular botanical garden and nature preserve. That experience turned her educational focus to horticulture and landscape design.
Scott, too, worked at Fernwood during and after college. While interviewing for a job with a landscaping company outside of southwest Michigan, the owner commented that with his background and education in landscape and nursery management, Scott should start his own landscaping company. He took that advice to heart, discussed it with Peg, and together the husband and wife team established what is now one of the longest operating landscape design and installation firms in Berrien County.
“Back then, no one knew how much the landscaping industry would grow or in what direction,” stated Scott. “We’ve learned and grown with the advances, and have been able to blend new ideas with the experience we’ve gained along the way.”
Since the 1970s, there has been an explosion in the variety of plants and building materials available for developing and constructing a design. Advances in hybridization have produced more flowering plants, a large selection of dwarf varieties, and new long-blooming variations. New materials not available 20 or 30 years ago, including architectural tiles, fabricated blocks and stone, composite decking, and LED lighting, have introduced new levels of durability and design adaptability to the landscaping process.
“We have so much more flexibility when developing design solutions for our clients than we ever had in the past,” stated Peg. “We use to have maybe a dozen shrubs available for creating a design plan. Now, there are easily 200 or more choices for our southwest Michigan climate. Where we basically had brick and poured concrete as options for patios, we now have books upon books of products to choose from. The options make it fun for us and our clients,” Peg stated.
Some of the biggest trends the Creative Landscaping team is seeing now are requests for fire pits to be built into patios, the inclusion of water features, the integration of lighting solutions, and clients showing more interest in incorporating native plants into their plans.
Technology has had a large influence on how the Creative Landscaping team serves clients. Hand-drawn designs have been replaced by computerized design and conceptualized imagery using photos of the client’s property overlaid with images of plants and hardscape features for a realistic view of what the end product will look like.
“It is a great way to make sure the design we are developing is on target with what the client’s expectations. It also helps them understand what the finished project will look like before we ever turn a shovel full of dirt,” Scott added.
Scott and Peg are joined by Gary Krokker who serves as the company’s operations manager, and Shannon Godby who joined the company’s design team. Ten skilled crew members implement the design plans.