HomeFront spring 2015

HF Hut’s Landscape Service Offers Garden Designs That Inspire Relaxation

Apr 10, 2015

Heaven for Michael Blahut, owner of Hut’s Landscaping Services, is when a customer turns his or her back yard over to him and says, “This is the space – let’s see what you can do.” That’s when he gets out his architectural paper, design markers and pencils and starts to create a vegetated paradise. Depending on the budget, it might include a koi pond or waterfall, stone pavers, outdoor kitchen, or a sleeping bower where an afternoon nap amid lush greenery is just what’s needed after a day in the sun.

The time is ripe for planning that outdoor kitchen or cozy fire pit and creating that special outdoor dining space for entertaining after the beach, he said.

“I do it all, from increasing curb appeal, to planting trees for shade, to building a pond system. It all depends on the size of the project,” said Blahut. Blahut is like a construction contractor for the outdoors, subcontracting swimming pools and paver driveway entrances, finding the plumber for the outdoor kitchen and the electrician for the lighting design.

“I do full landscape design, implementing the best for each space and hiring the guys who can do it. It’s like one-stop shopping.”

Blahut has been working in the Long Beach Island and Manahawkin area since 1997, when he graduated with a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Delaware Valley College in Bucks County, Pa., a four-year degree program. All that education comes in handy when planting in such a wide variety of soils, from Manahawkin muck to the sand dunes of Long Beach Island.

Away from the sea wind he gets to use a wide palette of plants, but when closer to the bay and ocean, he finds salt-tolerant plants such as native bayberries, beach plum, vitex and grasses to put to use.

“What I really enjoy is taking small spaces like the yards on the Island and making them into outdoor living spaces with the use of trees and shrubs.

“I also like to maintain the properties that I install,” he said. “I have a lot of repeat customers, especially in Beach Haven and the middle of the Island.”

His portfolio of satisfied customers’ gardens shows a lively mix of colors and textures. Blahut may put down areas of colored stones alongside hard pavers and soft turf. Banks of flowers include both annuals and perennials such as hardy petunias in a riot of colors, gold Stella d’oro lilies, all shades and types of hydrangeas, blue fescue grasses and easy-to-maintain, knockout roses in reds and pinks. Roses do especially well in full-sun gardens.

He may use wooden fencing to define his gardens, either white pickets or driftwood-colored rails, or create foot-high rock borders or build extensive stone seating areas. Outdoor rooms can also be defined using shrubs and trees. He also likes using deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the fall, for the architectural form they add to the winter landscape.

Thanks to endless hours of HGTV watching, people can be pretty savvy about what they want, and Blahut helps them find the products they have seen – if they are within the budget. “There’s so many choices out there now. Take pavers, for instance. There are a million possibilities across the spectrum; you can go simple or crazy ornate. I like EP Henry products or bluestone. It all depends on how far folks will go for what they want – some homeowners want to be cost effective; for others cost is no problem.”

Besides creating designs and planting the gardens, his Manahawkin-based company offers full landscape services to keep the outdoor areas looking their best. These services start in the spring with inspection of the irrigation systems and their maintenance, cleaning away leaves and garden rubbish, planting annuals for early color, weeding beds by hand and application of weed inhibitor, mulching, pruning and grass cuttings – all the things that go into a top-notch outdoor living space.

Check out some of Blahut’s completed projects on hutslandscaping.com or call 609-698-0585 and set up a consultation. —P.J.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.