Working outdoors has more pros than cons, confirms the Cider Mill Landscapes crew. Being able to be outside certainly helped this team to keep working through the COVID-19 lockdown.
Cider Mill is a custom landscape design build firm whose teams provide a variety of solutions, including planting design, horticultural services, custom masonry, hardscaping, landscape lighting, water features and outdoor living areas.
"We work closely with all of our clients to fulfill their outdoor needs," says owner Bob McCusker. "Our team takes a lot of pride in our work, and guarantees satisfaction. We built our business on customer service and work closely with our clients from the meticulous design process through the finished product."
Precautions taken by the Cider Mill team during the COVID-19 pandemic included following Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, masks, gloves, not sharing tools among themselves, transporting themselves only one or two in the same vehicles to jobs and disinfecting their vehicles frequently.
"Every customer has a different comfort level, so we cater to that. We're doing virtual consultations, and some customers still want to meet us on-site. Sometimes, we're outside talking to them on the phone while they're inside," says Bob.
He adds that they try to address issues before going to customers' properties, and they're using emails and FaceTime quite a bit for communications.
Cider Mill managers also dug into their supplies to pull out some masks to donate to hospitals during the coronavirus supplies shortage, and they bought pizzas to have delivered to health care workers.
As a mostly residential-oriented company, Cider Mill Landscapes was founded by Bob in Garnet Valley during 2007 to provide customized landscape design and construction including stonework, planting, irrigation systems, fencing and walls. With an established customer base in Chester and Delaware counties, the Cider Mill team expanded operations into more neighborhoods along the Philadelphia Main Line -- specifically, Wallingford, Nether Providence, Swarthmore, Media, Berwyn and Villanova.
Cider Mill Landscapes then needed a larger horticultural capacity, so Bob acquired Askey Landscapes, a company that grows plants and shrubbery for landscaping needs in the area of Swarthmore and Wallingford. Askey Landscapes had been in business since 1985, and had a loyal customer following. Bob says they have a reliable, non-retail and self-contained nursery so that customers can actually pick out their trees and plants, if they desire.
This summer, it's all about outdoor living and creating innovative entertainment spaces, exclaims Bob.
He says many people have canceled their traveling vacations, and are opting to improve their pool areas, fix their yards or create fire pits for cozy stay-cations. He adds that several customers recently added fun activities, such as bocce ball setups, to their outdoor spaces.
Hillary Fabe, Cider Mill's head of design and sales, has 20-plus years of design experience. Bob says Hillary adds a keen eye for color, texture and cohesion to the company’s team. "She's passionate about giving homeowners a truly beautiful aesthetic while being fully functional and specific to their needs," he adds.
The Cider Mill team is implementing more decks, outdoor TVs, expanded patios for more seating, and retaining walls, too. They've recently added the ability to transplant larger trees, up to about 20 feet tall.
Bob likes to call it art scaping. "This year, we're installing more privacy screening elements and arbors, and with deer resistant plant varieties. Cryptomeria is a Japanese cedar that grows really well and works well in our area, for example. It's all customized ways to entertain in yards," he adds.