Top Quality Design, Installation, Maintenance Highlight Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing
WELCOME HOME! “This design has a lot of different plant varieties that will bloom at different times. When designing, we like to use a lot of different textures and color,” explains Chris DeMato, owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing. Shown here is a recent Rock Bottom project, creating an eye-appealing design of contrast and color. “We included texture such as dwarf evergreens to contrast with the soft growth of ornamental grasses, which adds subtlety, and we also featured boulders which contributed texture, giving a natural look to the overall design.”
By Jean Stratton
Your home is your haven, and more and more often that extends to the surrounding landscape. Attractive plantings, handsome patios, and winding walkways all add to the pleasure of a welcoming home environment.
Chris DeMato, owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping & Fencing, knows all about transforming tired landscapes into exciting new looks. For more than 30 years, he has been helping people select just the right landscape, hardscape, or fencing to enhance their property and increase their enjoyment.
“It’s a great feeling when you can transform something that was overgrown or in disrepair, and turn it into something special,” says DeMato. “Old properties can often have overgrown plant material and that are not in good condition. We can put in new plants and trees, and it is very rewarding to see this transformation.”
DeMato’s experience with landscaping began at an early age, when he cut grass and helped with yard work as a boy.
“I got interested seeing the transformation that can result from good landscaping,” notes the Middlesex native. “I went to college, and studied agricultural science, and then worked for different landscape companies in the area. I got really interested in landscape design, and started my own company when I was in my twenties. I also studied landscape design at Rutgers.”
Often asked about the name of his company, “Rock Bottom,” he explains that it was appropriate on different levels, “We often did a lot of digging and removing rocks, and we also tried to offer really reasonable prices. It was just a name that seemed right.”
Headquartered in Belle Mead, the company has evolved over time, and today, it is a full scale landscaping, hardscaping, and fencing operation. It covers everything from landscape and hardscape designs to installation and maintenance, including lawn care, pruning, trimming, spring and fall cleanup, and grass cutting.
Rock Bottom handles projects of all sizes and styles, primarily residential but also some commercial, reports DeMato. Careful attention to customers’ lifestyle and expectations is a priority. Currently, plant design and hardscape design are especially in demand, he adds.
“Each customer has their own individuality and style. The main thing is that they want to enhance their property, both for their private enjoyment and also for entertainment.”
Backyards and Patios
After COVID-19 entered everyone’s lives and mindset, people were not traveling, he points out, so the home environment became even more important.
“They wanted to make their yards and properties as nice as possible,” says DeMato. “They wanted to turn their backyards and patios into an entertainment area, with fire pits, pizza ovens, and outdoor kitchens.”
This was also true for people who had moved into the area from the cities and wanted to create new landscapes and hardscapes.
Landscape lighting has become increasingly popular, adds DeMato, and this is an important part of the business. Illuminating the scene after the sun sets is a very attractive option. Uplighting? Downlighting? There are many possibilities for a natural lighting setting.
“It can certainly add a very nice look,” says DeMato, “and it also offers increased security. Lighting can be placed along walkways, near trees and plantings, and of course, on patios and terraces.”
Styles and Materials
Fencing is also important to many customers today, and this part of Rock Bottom’s business had expanded over the years.
“We added fencing in the late’90s, and it has really grown over the years,” says DeMato. “Many customers want to keep deer away from the property or dogs from getting out. it is also a requirement if they have a swimming pool.”
A variety of styles and materials are available, and wood, metal, and vinyl, also ornamental aluminum and decorative fencing, are among the popular choices.
Patio and poolscape designs and installations keep Rock Bottom crews busy, and many options are available, from simple to sophisticated. Paver patios, brick, and natural stone are all in demand, and are often seen on walkways as well.
“Poolscapes today often have a sleeker, more modern look, with shades of gray and blue,” points out DeMato. “It’s not so much the rustic look as in the past.”
When designing a landscape, many considerations must be addressed. Sun, shade, exposure, location all are important factors, and of course, individual choice and budget are always uppermost.
‘Weather is a factor too,” he notes. “Now we are in a drought, and this can certainly affect the plantings.”
Likes and Dislikes
When he meets with clients, he is eager to learn their likes and dislikes. Often, people are unsure of how to proceed, and he helps guide them into envisioning their hopes for the project.
“I try to find out what they like and don’t like,” he says. “I’ll ask questions about what they may not like about their current landscape and what they are looking forward to seeing — what colors they like, if they want flowers blooming all summer into the fall, etc.”
Other questions come up. Do they want flowering trees, such as cherry, dogwood? Bushes and shrubs, including azalea, hydrangea, rhododendron? Evergreen and shade trees?
Are durability and long-lasting plantings considerations? Do they like perennials that will bloom every year? Are they becoming interested in indigenous plants and also those that will attract bees and butterflies? These are all significant factors in determining the direction of the landscape.
At the top of the list for many customers are deer-resistant plants, and this is an ongoing challenge. There are some choices not attractive to the deer menu, but when they are very hungry, deer will eat almost anything. An assortment of deer and rabbit repellent products, including sprays, are also available.
“There are some plant varieties that can also deter insects, including mosquitoes,” adds DeMato.
With the advances in today’s technology, amazing opportunities are available for customers to see ”before and after” pictures of both landscapes and hardscapes.
“With computer imagery we can show customers what the new landscape or hardscape will look like,” explains DeMato. “This is a great way for them to know what they can expect.”
Depending on its size and scope, a project can take from one day to six or eight weeks or longer, he notes. “Sometimes, a ‘grand plan’ project can be spread out over time, done in increments. This can help in planning and for budget considerations.”
“We have a full-time crew of eight people on staff, and some have been with us for 17 years,” he continues. “They all have their specialties — landscaping, hardscaping, fencing. There will always be two or three guys on a specific job, and I oversee everything. I’m involved in selling, delivery, and design. I’m a hands-on guy, and I work with the clients from the beginning to ensure that we achieve their goal.”
The company’s projects are primarily in Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties, with many in Princeton, he adds, and he is also looking forward to completion of plans for a new division in Manasquan. “There is a big rise in the business there for us, and in fact, this is really true everywhere. It’s been amazing to see how big the industry has grown over the years.”
DeMato is proud of the business he has built, and the reputation he has established. He is especially pleased that his sons are now involved in the operation too.
“We are a company that people can count on,” he says. “We have very high standards, and our crews have extensive experience and skill. We offer personal service in a world that in constantly changing in terms of technology. Talking with someone face-to-face can make all the difference.
“I enjoy the interaction with people, watching the transformation taking place on their property, and then seeing the customers’ excitement when the project is finished. We often exceed their expectations. It means a lot to me that I am helping to make a difference in people’s lives by transforming their landscapes.”
For further information, call (732) 873-6780. Website: rockbottomlandscaping.net.