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Backyard refuge
North Woods inspires landscape plan

Photos by Doug Edmunds

April 2014

Homeowner Rick Swiontek originally considered a pool for his River Hills backyard, opting for a water feature instead.

Rick Swiontek loves the North Woods and frequently travels there to relax and unwind. One day it occurred to him that instead of relying on these trips to de-stress, he could bring the North Woods to his five wooded acres in River Hills. "Before, wed be sitting around in the outdoor kitchen and just saw grass," Swiontek says. "I asked myself where my heart was at and the answer was up north and I thought what was needed to get the North Woods here," Swiontek says.

He designed the retreat and hired landscaping firm LandCrafters to implement his design. The result is an idyllic refuge that includes an outdoor kitchen. A Lannon stone path leads to a waterfall, winding over stones and under a bridge through two more waterfalls and ends in a pond by a fire pit. In keeping with the theme, the fire pit is surrounded by Adirondack chairs where the homeowners and their guests indulge in that quintessential North Woods activity, roasting marshmallows.

"Its almost like walking along a river," Swiontek says. "On one side of the bridge you can stick your toes in the water and face the sunset; on the other side you can stick your toes in and face the sunrise."

It was a two-pronged job for LandCrafters because Swiontek wanted the area to be "deer-proof" as well. Swiontek, who, with heavy irony, calls the four-legged creatures his "deer" friends, asked for all deer-proof plants that also grow naturally in northern Wisconsin, such as paper birch, aster, honeysuckle and ferns.

"Weve never had a deer since," Swiontek says. In fact, the water feature has now become a natural birdbath, full of birds at all times. "All of nature is drawn to it, except deer," Swiontek says. M



This story ran in the April 2014 issue of: