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