Backyard Paradise

A southside property loaded with amenities takes al fresco living to the next level.

Inspired by the texture and tranquility of the Colorado Rockies, Brett and Stephanie Mann’s Greenwood property is a treat for the senses. With a cornucopia of color and natural materials, the sprawling utopia is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet evening at home or entertain friends and relatives.

“We have a big family, and we are very close,” Brett says. “Plus, the boys have a lot of friends that like to hang out, so whenever there isn’t a project going on, we usually have people over.”

The Manns didn’t have a grandiose plan in mind when they began their landscape project eight years ago. They knew it would be completed in stages and that they wanted to couple calming water features with smooth stones, big boulders, and eclectic yard art. They turned to Lowell Rolsky, president of Pro Care Horticultural Services, to bring that concept to life.

“It turned out to be 10 times better than I ever thought it would be,” Brett says. “When Lowell gets a vision in his head, it comes out bigger and better than you can possibly imagine.”


The four-acre plot near State Road 37 was not without its existing charms. In addition to the home, there’s a yoga studio, an outdoor kitchen, a pool and a pool house, and a dining shelter, which was built four years ago to accommodate large family gatherings. It was the site of the Thanksgiving feast in 2012 and easily held 30 guests. Brett credits Stephanie for styling the outdoor areas with furnishings from Restoration Hardware. Her experience in interior design helped create a warm and inviting outdoor-living space.

Nestled in a secluded corner of the backyard is the hidden treasure of the property: an 8-foot-by-12-foot log cabin Brett built for his four children when they were younger. The secret clubhouse is its own destination point on the grounds and is all but invisible to the public. It features an arched doorway, a sleeping loft, pint-sized furniture, rustic decor, and plenty of
family memories.

“There are also about 200 nails in it that aren’t supposed to be there, but I guess that’s what happens when you give a kid a hammer and tell them to go for it,” Brett jokes, noting that the artwork inside the cabin was done by family members to infuse the space with items that have
personal meaning.

“We spent many nights camping out there with the kids, and it was a great project to do with them,” Brett says.


For Pro Care’s Rolsky, one of the more interesting aspects of the job was the variety of natural stone used to create the overall aesthetic.

In order to bring the mountains to the Midwest, his first task was to create a waterfall made from Green County sandstone in front of Stephanie’s yoga studio, adding Zen-like serenity to a place of peace and relaxation. A year later, Rolsky installed an additional feature adjacent to the pool-house shelter that includes several large, water-spouting Washington basalt stones of various shapes
and heights.

The following season, Rolsky established a dry riverbed next to the dining space that included a mixture of plants, Sienna sandstone boulders, and copper horsetail fountains.

“It was as if a lightbulb went off,” he says. “We started looking for every opportunity on the property. I don’t think that they originally planned to do everything they ended up doing, but it was one of those jobs that kept evolving. Our goal was to create a number of individual spaces that could stand on their own temporarily and work together as the design progressed.”

For the live material, Rolsky took care to protect the existing trees while choosing a smattering of interesting plants with unique characteristics to accent the hardscape. He looked to a number of dwarf ornamental evergreens and other unusual varieties, as well as azaleas, rhododendrons, and six varieties of Japanese maples to create cozy,
inviting spaces.

“From the beginning, we knew that we wanted something calming, and Lowell really outdid himself,” Brett says. “From the winter to the spring, there’s always something blooming. It’s really neat to look out and see something come out in late fall. I often tell Lowell that my biggest problem in the yard is not knowing which way to look.”

In the front of the home, Rolsky used weathered limestone to blend in with the home’s exterior.

“We really wanted to make a statement, and in order to do so, we looked for unique elements that would offer dimension to the landscape,” Rolsky says.

One of those is a large, sculpted torch that greets visitors as they arrive. Made by a Colorado-based artist, the piece was found by Rolsky who offered to sell it to the Manns at cost, provided Rolsky could use it in the 2013 Indiana Flower & Patio Show. It was the kind of yard art that would not only serve as a conversation piece, but would also accent the limestone and plant material while tying everything together.

“Sometimes you run into unique people who are artisans with whom you can partner, and it can make all the difference in the overall project,” Rolsky says.


Rolsky’s portion of the project might have ended, save for regular maintenance, but Brett still has more work to do. Near the front-yard fire feature is a small section of the property that he’s currently landscaping with the help of his sons. The goal is to balance out the middle island, mimicking the existing plants and stones. And now that his sons are older, Brett can enjoy the experience of working with the boys as adults in the same manner he did building their clubhouse so many years ago.

“It’s just giving us a chance to get our hands in the dirt together as a family,” Brett says. 

Rolsky is ready to offer any help they may need to complete the space.

“In Brett, we had a very enthusiastic customer who likes to work in his yard and takes a tremendous amount of
pride in how it looks,” he says. “He’s a hands-on guy, and I have no doubt that this will be an experience they will always remember.”