Outdoor Oasis

Wes Novelli and Hardscapes, Inc. created the backyard retreat the Collins family had always dreamt of enjoying

Story by Jonathan Westman  |  Photography by Grant L. Gursky

Chris and Tami Collins work extremely hard. The owners of Brasure’s Pest Control, along with their high-school-age son, Caleb, wanted to create a space of fun and relaxation and had shared ideas about transforming their backyard into an outdoor retreat. In fact, they had discussed the concept of an in-ground swimming pool ever since they built their home in southern Delaware in 2006. They interviewed a few contractors, but none connected with the family. That changed when they met Wes Novelli, the owner of Hardscapes, Inc.

“Once we met Wes, we knew instantly who we were going to go with,” Tami said. “Everything just clicked, and we feed off each other’s many ideas.”

“Chris, Tami and Caleb wanted the wow factor, to be able to step outside and into paradise — and that’s exactly what it is, paradise,” said Wes, who will celebrate 20 years in business in 2022. “There was nothing but green grass in this space when we started the project, so it was nice to be able to design freely and collaborate with them.”

The foundation of Wes’ design was an expansive 3,000-square-foot footprint of Marmiro travertine in Terra. The beautiful stone provides a classic aesthetic that Wes said will never go out of style.

“Travertine is a timeless medium that always looks great,” said Wes, who acquires hardscaping materials for his projects exclusively from Salisbury Brick. “It will look like new 20 to 30 years from now, and you can’t say the same for other types of pavers.” 

Next, it was time for the pièce de résistance.

“The most important element we incorporated into our design was the outdoor fireplace,” Tami said. “We wanted to be able to see and enjoy it from no matter where we were in the backyard, whether it be in the pool, hot tub, lounging or from the elevated deck.”

Every Hardscapes, Inc. fireplace is completely custom, and Wes’ design for the Collins family did not disappoint. This handsome focal point features a sprawling footprint and is accented by a stone inlay centered toward its top, which is illuminated at night. 

“For Wes to design this fireplace just for our family, it makes it even more special when investing in such a special backyard oasis.” 

The fireplace, which is anchored by wood boxes on each side, also served as the point from which the result of the project was built. Wes next designed a spectacular swimming pool that offers the Collins family excitement, refreshment and rejuvenation through its many amenities, such as zero-entry accessibility, a sun shelf and an elevated hot tub with a spillway water feature — one of three waterfall features of the pool built by Trond’s Pool Construction.

Chris and Tami also wanted a deep-water area but did not want a diving board. Wes’ answer was a trip to How Sweet It Is in Eden to discover the perfect diving rock. 

“Once we saw it,” said Tami, “we knew it was the perfect showpiece. It is not only a focal point in our landscaping, but also serves as a functioning part of our pool.”

The entire setting majestically transforms with the setting sun, thanks to a strategically positioned FX Luminaire exterior lighting package, beaming underwater lights from the swimming pool and, of course, a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Wes’ landscape design included semi-rounded pockets of synthetic turf in select locations around the travertine perimeter to provide unique and colorful aspects of contrast. His handpicked plantings incorporated a variety of trees, perennials, palms and shrubs. 

“He wrote all his ideas out and had us meet him again at How Sweet It Is to show us all of his ideas,” Tami said. “We liked everything he selected and trusted his judgment. His knowledge of the plants and trees was so impressive. He would pick a tree or a shrub and tell us how tall and wide it would get, the benefits of having it and where it would grow best.”

Although they had to contend with gathering restrictions during their first summer with an incredible backyard, the Collins family is eagerly looking forward to warm temperatures and the end of the school, so they can welcome and entertain family and friends — and encourage others considering a backyard makeover to call Hardscapes, Inc.

“We absolutely loved Wes’ positive attitude, dedication to his customers and work ethic,” Tami said. “If Wes told you something was going to happen at a certain day and time, it always happened.”

“We are completely satisfied with every aspect of our backyard project,” said Chris. “The Hardscapes crew was extremely dedicated, friendly and able to make Wes’ and our vision come to life with their exceptional craftsmanship.”