Making this smoking area was a bit little like putting extra springs in the back end of a Chevy for rum running.  That was part of the fun.  The other amazing aspect about this commission was that it was a perfect opportunity to help bring people into nature; whether they were smokers or not.  

It may not look like much, it is a bit scraggy even as it needs a trimming, but it does fulfill everything asked of it.  In fact I call it a commission as it makes it sound more like a work of art I feel it is.  Proposal and quote do not reflect the same thing.

I show you here pictures of the finished product.  It has taken some years for the space and the atmosphere to mature to what it is today.  When doing art work with plants the canvas takes some time to dry and for the mood to set.

In the attached pictures there are some things to note that were designed into this project.

  • it is not square.  It was designed to fit the space
  • the cedar windbreaks work against the prevailing winds (except opinions)
  • the simplicity of the design lasted and has aged well.
  • It does not smell of smoke like some tin shed or bus shelter.
  • the spaciousness of it
  • the shade
  • the hiding spots

Note the hidden bench and the “Buttercup” Ashtrays.  It does need some pruning but the “long drapes” made it cool and private.


On this visit to the project I ventured in. I parted the Mulberry and found the sweetest world you can imagine.  It is a gem and it is a pity non smokers have not discovered it and scheduled themselves for a quiet time in this sanctuary instead of having to sit in full sun on concrete.

The cedar shrubs are almost ready for their first pruning. As they age they will cover the back completely.

You should note the easy to maintain “buttercup” ash trays we installed.  A smoker can remove it and have it beside them while they imbibe.  (yes we still have some in stock)

Please note.  The commission was to make a smoking area to fit this space.  It would be the same if we designed a reading area or a “let’s discuss this outside” board room.  

Please note.  Budget was important.  

Please note the bike parking area that got thrown in for no charge.

Please note.  I am bragging.  Sometimes I am that good.  


How many jars of jams do you eat in a year? Not knowing seems silly. I say this for two reasons; to remind you where jams come from and to encourage people to budget.

Jams are one of those tiny joys for so many people and yet they have no idea just how few they really need to have enough. Take the time to budget not so that you can save money but so you can know. Start by budgeting jams. In our case we have 10 jars of jams prepared for the year. Looking at our consumption we will have two left over by next canning season. We neither conserve nor splurge; knowing this information just brings us peace.

I am a gardener though and do not intend to teach budgeting and forecasting so take from the latter what you will. Oddly enough this post is not about the need to prune properly or garden intensely either. Sure I think it is worth reading but it’s intent is only to give an inkling and to spurn an idea in the reader. There is morals to my tale but no curriculum will come of it.

For years I stewed about the neighbour’s crab apple tree destroying my pond and littering my lawn. I filled in my pond, pruned my side and gave him back what apples I could without breaking his windows. There were no mumbled comments made to him and I did not become that guy who grumbled to his wife (not too much but you should see if she agrees.) Frankly I handled myself quite well.

In the back of all this was Crab Apple Jam. Every year I was going to make a jam and not waste the resources. Well this year my granddaughter and I did it. There is nothing like showing off to her that brings out the best in me. Oh the talking that took place as we picked, chopped and prepared. In the end there were ten little jars of jam which were shared; canned translucent Rubies are valuable. We also made translucent Amethyst grapes and pondered what fruit will make translucent gold so our shelves would be complete.

Just because many people reading will forget what to get from this I will point you in the right direction.

In business and life there are granddaughters and waste. Both are as important as the bottom line. Be wise.

There are existing resources all around to draw from that you are likely not accounting for. Maybe next year?

There are abilities and a sense in you that you can draw from. Maybe next year?

Follow the easiest recipes. There are too many made up by pedantic people that forget simple.

Do not get carried away. It only took about two quart baskets to get more than enough. When you start picking apples it is very easy to try to think you can do the whole tree. That is likely 20 bushel baskets. Think calluses, a bored granddaughter and the smell of rotten apples.


Before going into the bragging section of this project it is necessary to admit to a few things. Though in the end this was a success it also was the worst one Schepers Property Maintenance did. Why? Simply because I was personally involved in the design AND the implementation and the latter took more time than any other projects. Why? Well, because I am no longer in charge of the quote and scheduling process. I should not have been in charge of this one either. If you have not heard Jami is our Operations Manager and she has batted 900 all year. By my being involved wrong with this project it was not finished on time….sorry.


This first picture is the original back yard. The story behind the original design, creation and care of this garden is a better one than I am now sharing. It is not mine to tell. I tell you this for one reason; this is not a bad design or a lousy garden in need of my rescue. In fact far from it. Things change though and this garden was due for some changes. There were several main goals. To get rid of the lawn, to eliminate unnecessary pathways and to make it more open. We also were to use only existing plants and materials.

Stephanie 1

Remember. Other than the recycled edging concrete and the screening all products were from the garden


Please note and take the time to see around you.  The edging details are not as important in a garden such as this.  The whole design will not only last but, when complete, will have the edges properly graced with plants.  Note the Hosta part way down the path.  The placement of the plantings is critical to a successful job.



As many of you may know Mike started this business nearly 27 years ago with just a shovel and the need to provide for his family. It has grown into much more than just a need to provide but rather a passion of his. “His Baby” as he may refer to it. We came across some old pictures showing the process and the different ideas that Mike has had over the years and thought that it may be fun to share.

The old Dodge

The First Truck

Mike also created a bike and in the summers would pedel around with a lawn mower or other tools on the front so he was able to complete his task and not have to rely on a vehicle. It was a great form of advertising too, everyone knew him from his strange looking bike. Sometime the bike would be used for leisure of course!


Master Servant Bike

The Master Servant Bike


Master Servant Bike

Master Servant Bike on Vacation


Schepers Property Maintenance moved up in the world and purchased their second truck. This one was a real looker compared to the first. Although the looks didnt matter, they both did the same job and were driven until they were no longer able to drive.

Schepers Property Maintenance The Begining

Schepers Property Maintenance Truck 2


Although he has this new truck the bike was still on the road and was at least doing a good job of keeping the kids happy

The Bike

The Bike


Then came the vans. I remember this van picking me up from school when Mike first bought it, I was very excited about it! Looking back, it was not the most glamorous of machines but it was a car that Mike could use for his work and still had room for the family.

Schepers Property Maintenance Van

Schepers Property Maintenance Van

We now have a variety of trucks and Mike is doing snow plowing as well as sidewalk maintenance. He is still doing lawns and sometimes will bring out the bike and trailer to do some of our residential lawns. More often than not though you will see him driving around in his big dodge truck, covered in dents and missing a back hatch. Schepers Property Maintenance has been very diverse in its modes of transportation over the years and never has all the fancy toys and shiny trucks but we have always prided ourselves in customer service.


Rock gardening, schepers property maintenance, Mike


Hope you enjoyed a look at our history!