Hardscape and Landscape Design/Installation Are Specialties of Cedar Creek Landscapes
OPEN-AIR ENTHUSIASM: “We believe every detail counts. When we are designing, creating, and installing your patio, outdoor kitchen, walkway, landscape lighting, or a new varied landscape for your yard, our team pays attention to every detail from start to finish. We bring our experience and expertise to every project, and make your dream a reality.” Brian Knisely, center, owner of Cedar Creek Landscapes, is shown with manager Daniel Reed, left, and operations manager Rob Cortina at one of their projects.
By Jean Stratton
From the age of 18, Brian Knisely knew he wanted to have his own company and provide customers with beautiful outdoor living opportunities, whether with handsome hardscapes or lovely landscapes.
That dream came true more than seven years ago when he opened Cedar Creek Landscapes in Pennington, with headquarters on Pennington Titusville Road. It was the culmination of many years in the landscaping business, with time spent mastering the work — from in-the-field training and hands-on application to sales and administration.
“I grew up in Pennington, and worked for landscape companies in the area from the time I was 18,” says Knisely. “We worked across the board, including landscaping, hardscaping, and maintenance. I learned all aspects of the business and got a real overview.”
His background and success in sales was also helpful, giving him an added dimension as he took the big step in opening his own firm. His careful planning and experience set the foundation for a successful business adventure.
Cedar Creek’s projects include patios, walkways, walls, outdoor kitchens, foundations, and grounds landscaping, among others. Client focus is in Princeton, Pennington, and Cranbury, with current Princeton projects on Cleveland Lane, Hodge Road, and Library Place.
“I am very encouraged with the work,” reports Knisely. “The big thing today is outdoor living. People want to be outside, especially during the virus. We have been extremely busy during this time, and we have projects lined up throughout this year, and even into 2021.
“During the virus, people have been leaving the cities in droves and moving to the suburbs. There has been a mass exodus from New York City. When they move, they often want new landscaping, patios, etc. And because they’re staying home more, not traveling or taking vacations, they’re putting the money into their property. Many people are working at home, so the house and property is their office, living area, and outdoor play area.”
Although Cedar Creek provides a full range of landscaping, including design and installation of a large variety of trees and shrubs, its focus is hardscaping. With such an emphasis on outdoor living today, people often want elaborate outdoor kitchens, up-to-date new patios and walkways, and landscape lighting.
“In the 25 years I’ve been in the business, the biggest change is this desire for outside living,” says Knisely. “It has really become an addition to the house.”
Outdoor kitchens, chimneys, and fire pits are very popular as people enjoy spending time outside as much as possible. Having lunch or dinner on the patio is a big part of life for many today, and with the addition of outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, they can spend several months of the year outside.
“The designs can also enhance the appearance of your property,” points out Knisely. “We use a variety of natural stone, limestone, brownstone, and also brick and concrete, and you can count on our products to be long-lasting. It is quality materials and quality workmanship.
“For example, when we design, create, and install your outdoor kitchen, from the architectural design to choosing the perfect stone and countertop, we will provide you with our expert advice and experience. We will also help with the plumbing and electrical services involved in installing an outdoor kitchen.”
Cedar Creek has a staff of 23 stone masons, and Knisely emphasizes that they pay close attention to the clients’ plan for the project and consult with them throughout the work.
“We do the entire site management, and either I or the operations manager will always be at the site. When a client asks for an appointment, we go to the house and discuss their ideas and budget. If it’s a straightforward walkway or wall, we can go ahead with a plan. If it is more complex, then we will bring in a landscape architect for the design.
Test of Time
“If it’s a very big project, people often decide to have the work done in stages. For example: the patio one year, then an outdoor kitchen the next year, or other landscaping. This is an investment over time, and customers know our work will stand the test of time.”
Landscape lighting is another part of Cedar Creek’s work, and this is a very attractive addition to the property. It offers a variety of opportunities for nighttime enhancement and entertaining — from subtle accents to spotlighting and floodlighting. Gardens and trees can be highlighted, guests can be guided down a path to the pool, or illumination for outdoor dining can be featured.
Outdoor lighting not only enhances the property value, it adds security, curb appeal, and is an illuminating aesthetic. It is highly desirable today.
Also, as people are spending more and more time at home, they want to enjoy their grounds, and avoid overgrown trees and shrubs that detract from the outdoor scenery.
“We can add an assortment of plants, shrubs, rock formations, stones, and more,” notes Knisely. “We can give the existing landscape a makeover by adding color and variety with a beautiful landscape design.”
In addition, installing pergolas, gazebos, arbors, trellises, and fencing is not only an enhancement, but offers privacy as well.
Another very important part of Cedar Creek’s work is a drainage and stormwater management plan. As Knisely explains, urban and developed areas and pavement prevent precipitation from naturally soaking into the ground, and then water can rapidly run into storm drains, sewer systems, and drainage ditches, causing flooding, erosion, storm and sewer overflow, and infrastructure damage.
“Detaining stormwater and removing pollutants is the primary purpose of stormwater management. An underground stormwater management system is very important.”
The company’s projects are a year-round operation, he reports, although weather can be a factor.
With the increasing amount of work, he adds that he is very pleased to have Rob Cortina as operations manager. “Rob is a highly talented mason, and he joined us two years ago, after working for 27 years with his father. He and I went to school together, and he is a huge asset to our company. I know I can count on him.
“In addition, Daniel Reed, our manager, is one of my longest-term employees. He is a childhood friend, who came back from Colorado and began working with me the second year of the company. He has been a very involved and important part of the business, and has helped it grow to the size it is today in such a short time.”
Knisely is very proud of the reputation Cedar Creek has developed and the fact that he has many repeat customers. Reviews of the company’s work are consistently excellent. “We have had terrific word-of-mouth, and I also get a great response from yard signs along with other advertising — it all ties together.
“And our reputation is the most important thing, the number one factor. We are set apart by our quality and customer service. We emphasize good work. It’s done right the first time. We are in for the long run, and we stand by our work.”
Cedar Creek handles all size residential projects, which vary in cost and length of completion time. Patios generally start at $25,000, and can take two weeks to complete, while a walkway could be two days. More complex projects might last six months.
“We are a high-end exterior design landscape company that will execute your vision and exceed your expectations,” says Knisely. “And it will be done in a timely and responsive manner. Cedar Creek is your one-stop outdoor designer and installer.
“I love seeing the completed projects, and then seeing the customers happy with their home’s special new look. This is my great satisfaction, and I look forward to new projects coming along, including pool designs and installation. Pools and patios are the big thing now.”