Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 10
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

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Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

SPRINGTIME SPRUCE-UP: “People like a lot of color and texture in their gardens today. Volume and selection of material adds to texture, for example, the serrated edge of an Agave and the feel of plant-soft leaves of Lambsear. We do all sizes and types of projects, including gardens, landscapes, and hardscapes.” Ronni Hock, owner of Ronni Hock Garden & Landscape, is shown in her Lawrenceville studio/workshop.

Full Design, Installation, and Management Highlight Ronni Hock Garden & Landscape

Even — and especially — in the midst of winter, one can look forward to longer, warmer, and sunnier days. As this winter finally winds down, we may still have snow on the ground, but daylight saving and spring are just around the corner.

Now is the perfect time to think about sprucing up the garden and grounds. Perhaps a new patio or pathway, even a pool, are possibilities.

Whatever your inclination, Ronni Hock Garden & Landscape can help turn your outdoor setting into a visual pleasure.

For the past 18 years, her creative garden, landscape, and hardscape designs have established her reputation as one of the most sought-after professionals in the area.

“My passion is gardens,” says Ms. Hock. “I studied at Longwood Gardens, with a focus on design. I also enjoy the hardscaping, and we do a lot of stonework. Bluestone patios are popular, as are boulder steps. And we do a lot of foundation plantings.

“Also, there are properties with beautiful specimen trees that we can work with. I like to regenerate overgrown materials. They may just need pruning to look great.”

Master Gardener

Before she began her own company in 2004, Ms. Hock earned a Master Gardener’s degree from Rutgers, and then worked as buyer and designer with several well-known landscape companies in the region. She went on to design the hardscaping for the 2006 and 2008 Junior League Showhouse & Gardens and is already at work for the 2010 Showhouse in April.

She also designed a fieldstone wall and boulder path to accentuate the gardens of a historic landmark home featured in the 2006 May in Montgomery House & Garden Tour. In addition, Ms. Hock has designed container gardens and seasonal decorations for Princeton University’s Lowrie House, among others. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications.

Many issues must be taken into consideration when planning garden and landscaping designs, she points out. Sun and shade, drainage, maintenance, deer, and pest problems all come into play.

“We are limited because of the deer, and we offer plant perennials with a fuzzy surface that deer don’t like. And a lot of ferns are deer-proof. We also plant herbs like lavender, rosemary, lantana and thyme, which can be deer-resistant. This is something we always keep in mind.

“We also have to take into account drainage in any design,” she continues. “Run-off is so important. You don’t want it going into the sewer. You want run-off from the roof and gutters to go back into the ground.”

Planning for sun and shade are also important considerations, she reports. “We had an interesting project in Hopewell in which the backyard is full sun, and the front has a lot of shade. We created a woodland look for the front, and we put containers at focal points on the patio in the back. We also do water gardens of all sizes, which are very popular.”

Birds, Butterflies, Bees

Integrated pest management is important in today’s gardens, she adds. “We don’t do spraying. We are organic, natural, and green. Our gardens are green. We add a natural component to build up the beds, so the plant material can really grow. Also, we feed the birds, the butterflies, and the bees, but not the deer! We plant materials that attract the former and deter the latter.

“We also do a lot of maintenance on our projects, including essential pruning and fertilizing. I really enjoy going back and seeing the projects over time.”

“Emphasizing organic green material and sustainability runs through our philosophy,” points out general manager Randy Hock, who is Ms. Hock’s husband. “We are always balancing beauty and practicality. And we’re always about issues dealing with the planet, like sustainability.”

When Ms. Hock takes on a project, it is very much a hands-on operation for her. She designs and oversees each job.

“People want personal attention,” says Mr. Hock. “Ronni is the owner, founder, designer, and project manager. She keeps a close eye on the job. She makes sure that the gardens are planted properly. And we are a complete design and installation company for landscapes and hardscapes — we do it all.”

“The property dictates what needs to be done,” adds Ms. Hock. “is there need for a stone wall on the patio, for example, or perhaps a new design for the swimming pool? And landscapes, hardscapes, patios, decks, etc. — these all include plantings. We have our own installation teams and landscape architects who work with us. They are people who are recognized for the quality of their work. Sometimes, we might need an expert mason, and we’ll use landscape architects when it is necessary to get permits.”

Close to Home

Projects take her throughout Mercer County, including many jobs in Princeton, and also Bucks County in Pennsylvania. The Hocks are delighted that their business continues to grow and thrive, even in difficult economic times.

“People are really nesting today,” notes Mr. Hock. “There is a tremendous trend of sticking close to home. People want to fix up their house and grounds so they can enjoy it with family and friends.”

“I really enjoy everything about the work,” says Ms. Hock. “When I started gardening and designing for myself personally, I wondered how to make the transition to have the excitement continue and be there for other projects. It has been wonderful.”

“Ronni gets tremendous enjoyment; first, from seeing her vision come to fruition, which can actually be manifested in two to three years; all projects take time, and second; from putting a smile on the face of the most challenging client,” says Mr. Hock.

Clients may have a particular vision for their project, and if it is extensive, it can be done over time. Some projects may best be divided into phases over one, two, or three years. Generally, projects begin at $8,000 to $10,000 and on up.

“New Jersey is the Garden State,” continues Mr. Hock. “There are many well-known and respected landscapers here. We are proud that our business and reputation continues to grow.”

Ronni Hock can be reached at (609) 844-0066. Website:

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