Today, our homes’ living areas often extend outdoors, and transforming our backyards into beautiful, relaxing retreats add value to our property and enjoyment to our lives.

Called “hardscaping,” outdoor living spaces feature such elements as patios, walkways and retaining walls. Outdoor kitchens and dining areas, seating areas, fire pits and pool decks add new levels of leisure living.

The creation of these outdoor rooms takes true craftsmanship, an extensive knowledge of area soils and sound construction techniques, and a commitment to perfection.

“Our expertise and passion for perfection are what set us apart,” says Dean Savarino, president and owner of Dean’s Lawn & Landscaping in Schererville. “No one is pickier than I am when it comes to our work. All of our crew leaders are finicky, too. We have foreman who have been with us for 10 or 15 years.”

Selecting the best landscaper and design for your home involves much more than price, says Savarino, who has been in business for 25 years.

Doing your homework before you sign a contract is vital and will save you both money and frustration, he says.

“When you’re putting in a patio or other outdoor space, the construction is so important. You must have a proper base. The compaction rate is critical. We also use Geo-Grid to reinforce the soil under the pavers, and we use only Polymeric Sand. This prevents weed growth, ant hills and erosion. It also won’t stain the pavers,” Savarino says.

The materials used to create these outdoor spaces are also critical to lasting beauty and durability, he says.

“Ask if your contractor is an authorized installer of the product being used,” Savarino says.

Dean’s Landscaping uses only Belgard ® Hardscape products and is an authorized dealer and installer of these top-of-the-line interlocking concrete pavers.

In addition, the company earned certification from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute. Savarino completed the ICPI’s concrete paver institute course to obtain that certification.

Dean’s Landscaping has also won major awards for landscaping work, including hardscaping.

Recently Dean’s competed alongside other landscaping firms from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and won the top award.

“We were named best out of the three states. We beat out firms from Chicago,” Savarino says with pride in his voice.

In 2011, Dean’s Landscaping also earned Belgard’s World Class Award for Best in Class for “Best Design, Laffitt Paver”. The honor was awarded for “superior use of angular shapes and circle pattern to highlight the living area (in an) outdoor space (that) fosters comfort and warmth.”

As part of your research, check to make certain the landscaping contractor is licensed in your municipality, bonded and insured. Ask for references and check them, he advises.

“Pick a company with a reputation in a specific industry,” Savarino adds. “Check what the consumers are saying about the company and the work they perform.”

When the artisans at Dean’s Landscaping complete a project, their commitment to perfection shines through.

And as part of the company’s service, Dean’s Landscaping provides 7-year warranties on patio and bricks, and a 10-year warranty on engineered walls. Belgard also has a lifetime warranty on their products, he says.

All landscaping materials, including trees, shrubs and flowers, also carry a one-year warranty.

“Visit the business’ location and see the quality of the products they offer,” Savarino says.

The way plants are treated at the landscaping firm tells you a great deal about how those plantings will do at your home or place of business, he says.

“We use mushroom composite to amend the soil before we plant. When we plant a tree, we install small pipes to get water to the roots so they grow. We also apply PHC Tree Saver, a type of bacteria that helps create fine hair roots so the tree thrives,” Savarino says.

“It’s an investment in your home.”