Chesterfield Valley Nursery

A recent project by Chesterfield Valley Nursery includes a pergola for shade and a fire pit for the family to gather around.

Homeowners have long focused on their property’s ‘curb appeal,’ trying to create beautiful gardens in the front yard that will welcome visitors; and one day, entice potential buyers. But more and more people are seeing the value of sprucing up their backyards, as well, since that’s where families spend a lot of time in the warmer months, notes Jim Graeler, president of Chesterfield Valley Nursery.

“More people are trying to personalize their backyards, creating spaces to do the things that they really like, whether that’s getting outside and grilling, or just someplace that they can go at the end of the day to create their own oasis,” Graeler says. The scope of a backyard project can be as simple as expanding a patio, or complex enough to create separate spaces for each family member’s activities. “We have a lot of people who love to go out every night and grill; they want to have friends over and have big parties, and they want a spectacular area for entertaining,” he says, recalling a client who is having an old, worn out deck removed, to be replaced with a multi-level paver patio with a sunken hot tub, a grill area and outdoor fireplace. “All of these areas are their own little ‘rooms’ so to speak,” he adds.

It’s also important to think of both the day and the evening when designing an outdoor space, Graeler notes. “People want these spaces to be comfortable, so we’re doing more pergolas for people to have that shaded area. Then they personalize it with ceiling fans or other features. Another element is the outdoor landscape lighting.” It doesn’t have to be a big investment, he notes, but subtle uplighting of trees or illumination of walkways can make a big impact when families entertain during the evening.

Another way to take an outdoor space to the next level is to use unique plantings, Graeler notes. “I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, and back when I started, you just had your basics, like the typical yew you see at your grandmother’s house. Now, even with the basics, there’s variety. Instead of just the basic yews that got 5 to 6 feet wide, we have ground-cover yews that grow about a foot off the ground and spread.” He also recommends using less common varieties of Japanese maple, weeping blue spruce, or boxwood. “Find something that’s outside the ordinary; something that’s unique to the space.”

When starting a landscaping project, Graeler warns, never buy anything without a plan. “What a lot of people do is go to the garden center and pick out five or six types of plants that they like, and then they get to their home and try to find a place for it,

he says. “You end up with this unappealing look, with your eye bounding all over the place. There’s no continuity to it. You’re better off creating a plan or getting somebody to help you make a plan. Once you have that, you make a list of plants you’ll need and go to the garden center and buy that.”

Whatever the size of the gardening project you take on this spring, the most important thing is that it reflects your family’s needs and personality. “It’s like designing the inside of your house,” Graeler says. “Some people like the old, worn, weathered look, others like a more formal style. Your garden is the same: It needs to fit your personality and style.”

On the Cover: For 24 years, Chesterfield Valley Nursery has helped homeowners with all of their landscaping needs. For more information, call 636-532-9307 or visit

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