Spring Planning: Turnkey Custom Landscaping and Pool Projects

With the spring season being just around the corner, now is the opportune moment to dive into the planning stages of your turnkey custom landscaping and pool projects. With the help of our knowledgeable and specialized teams, we can achieve the backyard oasis you’ve always dreamed of, backed by Group Paramount’s 45 years of hands-on experience. 

Custom landscaping and pool projects often involve a myriad of elements, from intricate garden designs to the installation of luxurious pools. Spring allows our expert teams time to work closely with you to understand your unique vision and preferences, ensuring that every detail is accounted for in the turnkey solutions we provide. By starting the planning process now, you’re setting the stage for a seamless and integrated project for the season ahead.

Here are five reasons to start now:

Seamless Turnkey Solutions: Our commitment to providing turnkey solutions means we take on the responsibility of managing every aspect of your custom landscape and pool projects. From intricate garden designs to the installation of tailored pools, our specialized team collaborates closely with you to understand your unique vision. By initiating the planning process during spring, we ensure a seamlessly integrated project in the months ahead.

Pool Design Expertise and Permits: Crafting a custom pool involves careful planning, compliance with local regulations, and securing necessary permits. Our team starts by diving into the design phase, ensuring your pool harmonizes perfectly with the overall landscaping scheme. We also provide clients with all necessary documents and plans needed to secure the required permits, ensuring we will be ready to break ground on their project when warmer months arrive.

Unleash Creative Design Elements: It’s our goal to explore and integrate unique design elements into your custom landscaping and pool projects. Consider us your creative partners, suggesting innovative hardscape designs, captivating lighting schemes, and artistic plant arrangements that will elevate your outdoor space. Our specialized team ensures your project stands out as a true masterpiece.

Careful Selection Features: Turnkey custom landscape and pool projects mean we handle the meticulous selection of features, from pool elements to outdoor living areas and kitchens, based on our clients’ needs, taste, and budget. Spring offers us the opportunity to explore a plethora of options, securing the finest materials and incorporating the latest innovations in landscape and pool design. Trust us to secure the features that will make your outdoor space truly exceptional, from distinctive plant varieties to cutting-edge pool technologies.

Maximize Enjoyment: By taking advantage of the off-season, we ensure your vision is meticulously planned, designed, and executed with expertise. 

Calming outdoor spaces: The power of nature

The concept of nature and healing outdoor spaces has long been touted by science to relieve stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being. This is as true for forests and beach-fronts as it is public parks, and of course, our own backyards.

“Everyone stands to benefit from green outdoor spaces as a respite from our urban environment,” said Ellen Rasnikoff, veteran landscape architect with Groupe Paramount. “Nature is very important for both our physical and mental health. Fresh air, animals, birds, trees, planting, water, and natural features all impart calm, serenity and well-being.”

All of our senses are engaged by the scent of fragrant flowers, the feeling of a breeze or sun on our skin, and the visual impact of many shades and textures of planting.

“My travels around the world visiting gardens provides endless inspiration for me,” Rasnikoff said. “From the large-scale urban parks, to private courtyards in Charleston, to Japanese temples to study contemplative Zen gardens, to the great gardens of Europe are all inspiration for formal gardens.”

Here in North America during the 19th century, it was recognized that nature and green space had a positive impact on urban dwellers.

“That’s why municipal governments had the foresight to set aside large tracts of land for parks and Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect, was engaged to design Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn and our Mount Royal Park crowning our city,” Rasnikoff said. “Moreover, Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, the largest in North America, has multiple gardens including a sensory garden for the visually impaired, emphasizing texture and smell. Truly, everyone stands to benefit from green outdoor spaces as a respite from our urban environment.”

All of these benefits of nature and large outdoor spaces can extend into a private garden or backyard, where a bespoke design can provide privacy, green space, shade and light, water features, and planting to optimize a clients’ well-being.

“A patio or pool can offer a serene place to unwind or a grassy area for children to play,” Rasnikoff said. “Each project is unique, and it’s important to understand how each client wants to enjoy their outdoor space. Through the design process, we can arrive at their perfect outdoor living space.”

For anyone considering a landscape project for their own property, experts advise taking a slow approach, consulting with knowledgeable professionals, and giving substantial thought to your needs in the short and long term.

Trends in landscape design

With the cold weather upon us, now is a great time of year for homeowners to think about any landscaping upgrades they’d like done to their homes next year. Whether you’re looking to have a complete turnkey backyard renovation, or simply want to give your outdoor space a facelift and add some fun features, next year’s trends offer something for everyone.

As in the past, the most in demand addition for backyard renovations continues to be a pool.

“Pool envy is real, especially in Quebec where we have a deeply engrained pool culture,” said Lee Gregory, project manager at Group Paramount, a family-owned landscape design specialty company. “Pool projects are getting larger, more detailed and more refined in terms of material selections. Our ability to customize pool designs and builds now for just about any space – big or small – means we’re busier than ever with pool projects.”

People are often adding other elements to their backyards as well, both as part of a pool project or on their own. Things like cozy lounge areas, outdoor living spaces, firepits, and privacy planting are very much in demand to allow homeowners to maximize their comfort and enjoyment.

“Homeowners are really using their backyards as an extension of their home’s interior,” Gregory said. “There is an enormous appetite to invest in the home these days.”

Rising home prices and increased hours being spent at home are two factors that are contributing to this growing demand for home renovations and additions.

“Home values increasing give clients the confidence and the equity to invest a larger budget in their backyards,” Gregory said. “Also, more people are spending more time in their homes – working from home a few days per week, or forever, and so the home has definitely become even more the center of the family.”

This trend is being observed among homeowners of all ages, in fact.

“Over the past year clients of all ages have reached out for pools,” Gregory said. “Not only homeowners with young kids, who are often thought of as the typical client, but also empty nesters, work-from-home professionals, and grandparents who wish to have their grandkids over all summer.”

There’s no question that the pandemic has put outdoor space at the top of the “must-haves” list for most buyers. Consider for example the work from home model, which for many has been adopted permanently. It’s quite common now for people to take their laptops outside to work and as a result they want a space that’s comfortable, appealing, and private. Having that option and that flexibility is important to many homeowners and buyers on the market today.

If you’re considering a project for your home, one key thing to take note of is timing. Due to the volume of projects and supply chain issues created by the pandemic, the lead time for landscaping projects is longer than in the past. 

“Start planning early because nothing can be accomplished quickly anymore,” Gregory said. “From architects being over loaded to clients taking more time, in the end the project will turn out better when it has the breathing time to evolve; so don’t rush decisions and start planning sooner rather than later.”

Moreover, during the winter months landscape architects and project managers do not have any active worksites to manage so they are dedicating all of their time to planning. 

“We are typically planning approximately one year in advance for pools at this point,” Gregory said. “So now is definitely the best time to get a leg up on the planning.”


Our most popular designs & features of the year

With the summer finally upon us, our teams are hard at work bringing our clients’ dream backyards to life. From pools, spas and water features to outdoor kitchens, al fresco dining and dens,  clients are looking for spaces that are not only enjoyable but also extend their season, allowing them to maximize their outdoor time and make the most of their properties. Here, our veteran landscape architect Ellen Rasnikoff explores the most requested features and designs of the year, and offers her insight into the design process.

Pools and spas

Quebecers have always loved their pools, in fact there are more pools in this province than any other across Canada! Given the fact that we’ve all been spending so much time at home over the last year, it’s no surprise that pools and spas are even more in demand this year. The good news is that thanks to the latest design technology and materials, we can create a pool for just about any space, featuring classic rectangles or customized shapes, entry steps, sun ledges and beaches, lighting, smart controls, and much more. Small backyard? Urban area? No problem. We can optimally design a custom pool for your home, and one that will suit your needs whether you’re looking for a dipping pool, lap-pool, social pool, or a luxurious spa to help unwind at the end of the day.

Outdoor cooking and dining

Clients are really seeing their backyards as an extension of their home’s interior, and so naturally they want to cook and eat there the same way they would inside. Outdoor kitchens today are incredibly versatile and can include several cooking surfaces as well as fun additions such as pizza ovens, wine storage, and more. These kitchens are appropriately constructed for our climate, meaning they’re incredibly durable, providing the homeowners years of enjoyment without much required maintenance.  As for outdoor dining , we are seeing incredible developments being made for covered spaces. For instance, many brands of pergolas now feature integrated lighting, remote controlled screens, and more elements to maximize clients’ comfort regardless of weather, and annoying mosquitoes.

Design features

Elements like fire tables, wood accents, green walls, and ornamental gardens have always been popular but now we’re really seeing them integrated into the comprehensive design of a space. These features add details that are invaluable to the overall look and feel of the yard. They add beauty, functionality, and really contribute to the comprehensive design of a space, creating layers ,flow, privacy and views, and a unique  look to compliment the property’s architecture, topography and the client’s lifestyle.

The design process

A home project designed by a Landscape Architect ensures that the client’s needs are being met, the environment is being respected, the municipality receives an accredited, stamped design, and there are years of professional education and experience behind the planning process for the client’s benefit.

A Landscape Architect creates a unique design that considers the client’s lifestyle, who will be using the space (people and pets), and which features are desired. There are so many factors that need to be taken into account when creating a design, such as the condition of the property, existing features to enhance or hide,  interior/exterior transitions, municipal by-laws, budget, and more.

The goal of a Landscape Architect’s work is to make this process simple and enjoyable for clients, and ultimately deliver a finished product that they will love and use for years, adding value to their homes, and their lives.

Top five backyard trends for 2021

Top five backyard trends for 2021

After a unique and at times challenging winter, we’re thrilled to be looking forward to the incredible projects we’re planning for next season! Here’s a look at our top five most popular trends for the summer ahead:

  1. Custom pools and spas: with just about everyone spending a substantial amount of time at home over the better part of the last year, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of people are opting to have pools installed. The good news is that thanks to major improvements in design technology and materials, we can create a pool for just about any space, with custom features like shape, entry options, lighting and smart controls, and much more.
  2. Outdoor living spaces: From full living rooms to kitchens and more, people are truly looking to use their outdoor space as an extension of their home’s interior. With climate appropriate building materials and weather resistant furniture, the outdoor season is becoming longer every year, with many people approaching four seasons!
  3. Urban projects: The last few years have seen an uptick in urban projects, from the Plateau to Saint-Henri, and everywhere in between. We absolutely love working on urban projects because the properties’ sizes and orientations require our designers to get creative in finding solutions to ensure clients’ needs and desire are all met. We’re thrilled to see urban home owners embracing pools and backyard designs that were once thought to reside only in suburbia. 
  4. Design features: Backyard elements like fire tables, design walls, and ornamental gardens add character to any property and really help optimize the design of the overall project. In the front yard, practical features like heated walkways and driveways are gaining popularity and add functionality to any home, especially with our climate.
  5. Gardens and greenery: Whether you’re looking to add life to the front, back, or sides of your property, exploring garden options is always essential. Freshly designed green spaces, when crafted as part of a larger landscaping overhaul, truly add life to a home.

Q+A with Ellen Rasnikoff, Senior Landscape Architect

Whether your property is big or small, a new landscaping or pool upgrade can have a major impact on the functionality and value of your home. But the prospect of taking on such a project can often lead homeowners feeling hesitant due to the scope of the work. Thankfully, the process is smoother and simpler than homeowners could have ever imagined. Here, with the help of Groupe Paramount’s veteran landscape architect Ellen Rasnikoff, we demystify the process of designing and building our clients’ custom projects.

How do you begin with a new client?

When a client approaches Groupe Paramount for a landscape design, the first step is to meet at the home so that we may walk around the property together. By asking questions about their lifestyle, how they would like to use the outdoor space, what they enjoy about their property, and who lives in the house (people AND pets), I can prepare a ‘wish list’ as a starting point for the design. 

At what point do you visit their home?

During the initial meeting, I assess the condition of the property and all existing features including trees, planting, lawn, driveway, pathways and steps, circulation around the property, drainage, walls, perimeter fences and hedges, as well as privacy and views, and exposure to the sun.  Interior/exterior transitions are very important to note both for views and access. The architectural style of the house will help determine a complementary landscape design.

How do you develop a project’s design?

The next step is to prepare a preliminary landscape plan. This is presented as a coloured, scaled plan (or plans) based upon a precise certificate of location and existing features.  Along with the information I have amassed, I apply the city bylaws appropriate to the project. Each municipality imposes their particular construction setbacks, percentage green space coverage and allowable materials. The client can view the entire design along with photos to explain certain details and materials, and an itemized budget.  With this information, we can modify the plans as needed and then I prepare the final construction and submission package for the municipality to be approved for permit.

How do clients explore material and colour options?

We visit a showroom to choose materials and samples and view them all together on site in the natural light. I prepare a planting list for all the new planting that we can actually see at the nursery. Our project manager and I  co-ordinate consultants as needed for lighting and irrigation, railings, etc. Once the construction begins, I visit the site to ensure that everything is being built according to plan, and maintain constant communication with the client.

What are the advantages of working with a seasoned expert?

A home designed by a Landscape Architect ensures that the client’s needs are being met, the environment is being respected, the municipality receives an accredited, stamped design, and there are years of professional education and experience behind the planning process for the client’s benefit.

What do you love most about your work?

I’ve been with Groupe Paramount for over 20 years and I have to say it’s an absolute pleasure to work in this profession. I enjoy travelling the world visiting gardens for inspiration; I’m even going to Japan early this year.  Each client and their project is unique and it’s a challenge to bring together the client’s desires, the municipal regulations, and the particular site conditions using the latest materials and features to create a special landscape.  Our Groupe Paramount team can offer professional planning as well as the entire project construction, simplifying the process for the client.

Freshen your home’s façade

If you’re looking to upgrade your home’s curb appeal this season, now’s the time to get going. The best options to consider of course depend on your taste and budget. But few things have as much of an impact as a fresh paver stone driveway, walkway, and entrance.

Because of their linear appearance, paver stones are ideal for revitalization projects because of the clean, modern look they achieve. What’s more, the customization that’s possible with paver stones is just about endless, meaning you can work with a knowledgeable landscape architect to select the stones that match your vision for your property.

This type of project can have a direct impact on the value of your home, meaning an upgrade to your driveway and walkway is often an investment in the long run.

If you’re thinking on a smaller scale, simply updating your garden beds, front lighting, mailbox, railings, as well as your front and garage door colour can have a substantial impact on the overall look of your property. 

No matter how you choose to proceed, working with a landscaping expert can help ensure your objectives are in line with what’s possible for your property in order to achieve the best result! Thinking of a project for your home? Call us today to get started!

Backyard fall fun!

The weather may be chilly these days, but that’s no reason to head indoors! There are so many ways to enjoy your backyard well into the fall and even early winter. Here we explore the top five ways to make the most of your property in the autumn:

  1. Fire tables: Ever miss the nostalgia of sitting by the fire as a child sipping hot chocolate? Well now you can recreate the whole experience in your own backyard. The best part? There’s no wood to chop! Fire tables use gas to create all the magic and warmth of a backyard fire without any of the work, and are the perfect addition to any property. Starting at a reasonable price point, they also make great Christmas gifts for loved ones.
  2. Spas: There’s nothing like soaking in your very own spa. From the therapeutic benefits, to the relaxation factor, adding a spa to your backyard is a sure-fire way to maximize use of your outdoor space year-round. With a range of styles and features available, today there’s a spa suitable to any taste and budget.
  3. Al fresco dining: you don’t need the summer heat to enjoy a meal outdoors. Even having a simple coffee and croissant can be made so enjoyable by sitting in the cool autumn air. And if you’re hoping to extend your outdoor eating season even further, you can always invest in an outdoor heating unit appropriate for your space.
  4. Fall gardens: Even after the first frost there are many plants and flowers that will continue to beautify your space. Chrysanthemums are perhaps the most recognizable fall flowers, but there are a number of grasses and shrubs that will thrive in a fall garden as well. Moreover, autumn is a great time to plant new grass, so if you’ve been thinking about a new lawn now’s the time!
  5. Cooking: Did you know that today’s barbecues allows you to grill in four seasons? Advances in technology and the advent of outdoor kitchens have made grilling in the middle of winter totally doable… if you can handle the cold while cooking that is.
Top five pool accessories to maximize your summer

Top five pool accessories to maximize your summer

  1. Lighting – Many pool owners haven’t even considered lighting as an option for their pools in the past, but today the range of products available on the market is astounding. By adding a lighting scheme, you can illuminate your entire pool area, in and around the water and change the entire mood of your outdoor space.
  2. Music – Ever been to a pool party and not been able to tell where the music was coming from? Chances are there are hidden speakers. Today speakers can be hidden out of sight, discreetly located in a strategic spot, or in plain sight disguised as something like a garden rock. No matter which style you choose, adding a source of music to your pool area can help set the tone for parties and outdoor entertaining, as well as relaxing evenings and quiet swims.
  3. There’s an app for that – thanks to changes in technology, today it’s possible to control all elements of your pool through an application on your smart phone. From adjusting the filtration settings and schedule, to monitoring water quality and temperature, your pool is now at your fingertips. This tech is particularly appreciated by homeowners when they’re travelling!
  4. Beach entry – One of the best parts of visiting the ocean is being able to lounge in the shallow slope of the beach, taking sun while remaining cool in the water. Now, thanks to creative designers, you can mimic this feeling in your very own home by choosing a pool with a sloping beach entry. Not only is this design lovely for adults, the shallow water is also a great safety feature for small children.
  5. Pool furniture – Gone are the days of rickety lounge chairs. Today you can create a total outdoor living room, dining space, and lounging area. Nothing beats relaxing poolside, especially with the right furniture. By filling your space with stylish and functional pieces, you can make the most of your outdoor space for the whole family. In fact, because outdoor furniture now mimics indoor furniture, you can use your patio as an extension of your home’s interior design.

Top 5 ways to make the most of your patio

Whether you have a pool or not, your backyard patio can be used in a number of ways to maximize outdoor fun for your whole family. Here, we explore the top five ways to make the most of your patio:

  1. Outdoor living room: The range of furniture available for backyards today is astounding! From sectional sofas to coffee and end tables, entire living room setups are easily achievable and offer many of the same comforts as your indoor space. Moreover, weather-resistant materials mean you won’t need to stress about your beautiful patio sets getting wet.
  2. Al fresco dining: If you love eating outdoors or frequently entertain guests, your backyard is not complete without a lovely dining area. Patio tables have come a long way from basic glass tops and metal frames. Today the possibilists are endless for consumers seeking outdoor dining room sets that are as stylish as they are practical. The ability to customize sets depending on the serving and seating capacity you need is another big plus.
  3. Fire features: Fire pits, fire tables, and outdoor heaters are hugely important in the Quebec market. Not only are they a tasteful accent to any backyard space, but they’re extremely practical as well. Thanks to the heat they throw, fire features can extend the use of your backyard space for well into the colder months of the year. A hot chocolate by the fire in your own backyard? Yes please!  
  4. Outdoor kitchens: Since backyard dining has been a favourite past time for many years, it’s only natural that the popularity of outdoor kitchens has increased hugely. With customizable, affordable options, backyard kitchens are popping up all over Montreal. Whether you’re interested in an elaborate barbeque set up, a full kitchen, or fun features like a wood burning pizza oven, the sky’s the limit!
  5. Pools and spas: When it comes to backyard features, it truly is hard to top the enjoyment brought about by pools and spas. Having a pool is a blast for the whole family, and being able to slip into a spa after a long day is a treat like no other. Adding these features to your home can also increase its value, making it an investment that’s both incredibly enjoyable, and beneficial in the long run when it comes time to sell your property.