The Indiana State Fair is here, kids are going back to school, and the Colts are at training camp – summer in Indiana is winding down. As we move toward fall, you’re probably thinking about spending time with family, gathering to watch the Colts game with friends, and enjoying the beauty of the [...]
25 years! Amazing to realize that 25 quick / eventful / blessed / incredible years ago, I had the great fortune of turning my passion, into my profession. I am so fortunate that it still is my passion.
We could easily write an MBA thesis on how the industry has transpired in those 2 ½ [...]
I am constantly reminded from clients and friends that we see around town, how a properly planned outdoor living space can dramatically impact how you live and entertain. And the examples are wide, diverse, rich and fun.
A client last fall asked for an outdoor bar counter with an overhead [...]
Did you know a general rule-of-thumb is to spend 10% of your home’s value on your landscaping budget? Well what about patio projects and creating that ultimate outdoor living oasis? What is the average patio project cost?
As a trusted Carmel Indiana based outdoor living expert, we are often [...]
An observation that the bloom cycle and all things spring flowering are running considerably behind schedule this year in Indiana. Our April has been filled with frigid days and SNOW, more than sunny spring days.
You’ve likely noticed since returning from your spring break vacations that the [...]
We get this a lot... "How does this process work? Do you come out and discuss our thoughts and we go from there?”
Ideally the launching spot comes from your hopes and ideas for your new outdoor living space. It’s wonderful to have a handful of Houzz or Pinterest pictures that you’ve tagged [...]
What exactly does Generation NEXT mean? It's a program spearheaded by This Old House proudly supporting the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and working to close the skills gap by encouraging young people to master the vocational trades that built this country.
Our very own Randy Sorrell got to [...]
This morning at 9 a.m. the mayor of Fishers, Scott Fadness, Ikea U.S. president Lars Petersson and store manager Holly Davidson will not hold a traditional ribbon-cutting... instead they'll have a Scandinavian log-sawing to open the doors of the new Swedish store in Fishers, Indiana! Under Swedish [...]
For years, Randy Sorrell and the talented Bill Bernard have been imagining ways to connect their efforts professionally, and we are thrilled to announce…THEY HAVE!
The entire Surroundings team is elated to have Bill's outstanding architectural design talent on board. It's the perfect addition [...]
Shade, shade, shade coupled with privacy, privacy, privacy and a bit of LOW MAINTENANCE mixed in, and that accurately describes how most of our outdoor living conversations begin.
Sure, patio surfaces prevail and the introduction of new materials is very compelling, but nothing compares to [...]
Indiana Design Center Summer Successes
This is how design centers are meant to function. Come along for a look into our summer so far.
A group of Ball State University design students just toured the Indiana Design Center (IDC), where our showroom is located, with such awe and inspiration, I was[...]
Global warming is a very interesting topic indeed, but definitely not getting much attention in regards to how it affects our outdoor living space and landscaping plants.
I often ponder:
Why are oakleaf hydrangeas & juddi viburnums, that were specified and planted a decade ago to be [...]
When to Water in Summer Months
So there's no rain in sight Central Indiana friends. Can you believe it? A few weeks back all we wanted was a bit of sunshine and a little less of the downpours for days. Yes, it's hard to imagine, but here we are with no rain in sight and super hot temperatures in [...]
Did you see Randy's article this week in Current in Carmel? He's talking easy tips for rejuvenating your outdoor living space just in time for spring.
If you missed the article here it is:
Outdoor living spaces and landscapes tend to look a little tired after winter. Lack of sun, ice melt, [...]
Carmel’s Surroundings by Natureworks+ Adds Landscape Architect Craig Donlan
Carmel-based Surroundings by Natureworks+, a premier Central Indiana landscape architecture and design/build firm with a focus on innovative interior and exterior living spaces, has expanded its core team with the hire of[...]
I know you're thinking... Hey, what are a few of Randy's favorite things?
Well, since you asked...
It does seem at the holidays we pause a little more often to reflect what matters most to us. THINGS most often top the list, until we go a little deeper.
Of course we would all love to have lush [...]
Surroundings by Natureworks Grand Opening
Drumroll.... We can't wait for you to see our newly designed and installed showcase space at the Indiana Design Center. From stunning interior remodeling to incredible outdoor living spaces, the new showroom offers stylish vignettes and a materials/photo [...]
“Wow…I love my master bathroom! I feel like I’m on vacation at a beautiful resort!” a client recently squealed!!
We love beautifully designed and installed bathrooms too.
So what are the components of a bathroom that prompt thrilled clients and homeowners to say this?
Here are 9 [...]
It’s always a great time to install a patio, but fall may be the best. Here are a handful of reasons why:
The weather is nicely predictable and the crazy rains of spring aren’t complicating schedules.
Often times the patio can be designed and constructed so that a family can still [...]
So we know you've been hearing about how much we love our new digs at the Indiana Design Center! Well as much as we love our new space, we adore our new neighbors, who just happen to be experts in their fields. Periodically, we will be highlighting a few of our awesome Indiana Design Center [...]
I love hosting and I love attending summer backyard parties. Oh who are we kidding? I just love any excuse to be outdoors, especially in summer. Check out my five best tips for those hosting summer 4th of July parties and those attending.
If you are hosting the party:
Be a boy scout and be [...]
It’s been 3 speedy months since our move to the famous Indiana Design Center. Oh, you didn’t know that it’s famous? Our presence has put it on the map. Ha! Actually, the fact that Indiana has a design center that somewhat competes with the mart in Chicago and NYC is pretty fabulous.
INDY 500 BACKYARD PARTY
I can’t wait! How about you? The annual frenzy has started over the gigabyte of backyard parties centered around the BIG race…the greatest spectacle in racing…The Indianapolis 500.
It looks like it’s going to be a fantastic race with the local boy story of Connor [...]
LOW MAINTENANCE. Those certainly are the 2 most repeated words in our design appointments the last few years and 2016 seems to have elevated that mantra to a historic level. Low maintenance everything. We want plants that survive, decks that don’t require annual staining, weed free patios, [...]
Did you know that we build more pergolas for reasons other than shade, than we do for shade? Yep. So…what else does a pergola do?
Shade is an obvious reason to bring a pergola into your outdoor living space. Here are 4 more:
1. Sexy Privacy. That’s right, privacy. Imagine a neighboring home [...]
Perhaps you’ve heard by now.
Our new office is located at the Indiana Design Center, 200 South Rangeline Road, suite 219 in Carmel. If you have never been here before, stop in. Treat yourself to a fun tour. You will be amazed at the facility. It’s elegant, beautiful, packed [...]
In celebration of our valued clients and staying home and being moved, in 2015 we launched a fun on-going social campaign where customers can share pictures from their gorgeous and relaxing luxury outdoor living spaces featuring our super cool flat Randy and Eric characters. Monthly we pick a [...]
Have a case of the winter blues? Dreaming of relaxing in warmth in your own backyard oasis? Us too.
We feel like Indiana is teasing us a bit of late. One day it feels like spring is around corner and the next there is freezing rain, sleet and snow. While we all wait for spring to come and stay for [...]
We are often asked what sets us apart from our competition.
I like to think we are being asked because clients sense that there is something special about who we are and how we do business. We certainly think so.
It’s taken several years to pinpoinint exactly what that something special is, [...]
Fresh from an extended vacation that ended in Cabo, the creative juices are flowing rampant, and I am recalling of the incredible service we experienced at the Cabo resort. Simply amazing and beyond anything previously experienced.
It prompted me to wonder how we make that happen in our [...]
El Nino is a weather phenomenon that occurs irregularly every two to seven years. Trade winds that usually blow from east to west weaken and sea surface temperatures start rising, setting off a chain of atmospheric impacts and temporarily disrupting weather patterns around the world.
The 2015/2016 [...]
Naturally our thoughts turn towards squeezing every ounce of outdoor living that we can into our busy worlds before winter 100% invades.
For my family, that means LOTS of fall dinners on the patio often followed by a few minutes around the gas fire feature that serves to warm our bodies and our [...]
As the last leaves fall, temperatures grow colder and daylight shorter, many homeowners start to think about winterizing and protecting their homes and yards for the coldest months of the year.
We know life can be fast-paced this time of year. Busy schedules can leave little time for extra tasks [...]
Did you know our happiest spring customers are often the ones that kick-off patio projects in the fall?
Right now there is a perfect window of 5-6 weeks when patio, deck, pergola and outdoor living space projects can be easily tackled and have you sitting pretty and enjoying the first amazing [...]
There’s been a sudden burst in handyman requests for bathroom renovations.
Some are pretty simple, yet make a quick and dramatic difference. These often include changing out the vanity handles, updating the fixtures (shower head, faucets) and a fresh coat of paint. Occasionally we sand and paint [...]
Have a drab outdated bathroom dragging you down, but not quite ready for a full bathroom remodel? We have just the ticket!
Five simple luxury living tips to spruce up your current bathroom and make a statement.
Lush towels are an easy addition for immediate texture and added luxury for a stale [...]
Wow. Project of the Decade. Now that’s a strong commitment. But that’s how we feel about Steve and Courtenay Wagner’s 2014 incredible outdoor living space project.
Sure, it took us 3 months to install, and they were likely ready for us to disappear when we finished. A project of this scope [...]
Next time you receive a colorful outdoor living catalog, check out the patio surfaces underneath the luxury patio furniture. I think you will find it peculiar the variety of surfaces. Not every patio has to be brick.
In fact, close to half of the patios in a recent Frontgate catalog were something [...]
The number of google hits that “Luxury Outdoor Living Spaces” pops up is not surprising, although a very large number. It frankly reflects our nations hunger for outdoor living. Obviously there are plenty of definitions of luxury and likely yours is different than mine. And that is [...]
Click here to see the "Project of the Decade" video!
Announcing The Wagner Family as Project and Customer of the Decade
From a drab sea of blue stone and under used space to 7 fabulously designed outdoor living spaces, our team transformed this Northside home’s backyard living area in four short[...]
Confession? I am a veggie junkie. Fruits too. My girls call me a health freak, among other less than glamorous names.
We are imagining more veggie gardens installed as the luxury outdoor living lifestyle takes shape. Mostly small and manageable 3’x6’ gardens and even more container [...]
Certainly these don’t have a place in an elegant back yard living space, do they? Think again, and let me challenge your material pallet.
Those materials thrive in micros space and those that need to have an element of natural in them. They are remarkable in mid-century modern settings and [...]
Fortunately that is NOT how most of our designs and installed projects are described. And we are incredibly grateful for that.
How we manage that is a curious process. It takes inspiration and extreme dedication to be unique and classic. Conversely, it’s very easy (lazy seems like such a [...]
Now is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of your landscape and take a critical eye for winter interest. If you are like me, it almost doesn’t matter because I avoid the cold/dreary outside as much as possible … unless it’s sunny. But, it’s important as we drive through the neighborhood[...]
It’s already happening. Perennially it does. The questions regarding the HOT trends for the year come from the media wondering the new twist, clients hoping to
Outdoor gathering spaces turn busy spouses and families into funsters.
be on the leading edge and simply casual cocktail [...]
“Design? Who needs a silly design? Let me pencil something and you can go from there.”
That used to be such a common conversation. Not anymore. I believe HGTV has been a powerful contributor to the appreciation for a correct, thoughtful and professional design.
No longer are we forced [...]
I firmly believe that most of us have some degree of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which essentially states that winter doldrums are a real thing and prompted by reduced sun intake from shorter and generally overcast days
Our family deals with SAD as a serious manner and recognizes that we [...]
WIMP? Not me. I grill out 12 months a year. It’s a personal badge of honor and fortitude … probably a merit badge for the Boy Scouts too.
The colder and more snow the better. It forces activity and creates wonderful winter meals with all sorts of tasty root veggies on the grill. My [...]
Boring economic stuff but very compelling when contemplating your next home project and its ROI.
Homes with excellent landscaping can generate a sale price about 6-7% higher than comparable house with good landscaping, according to a Clemson University study.
A single urban tree can provide up to[...]
My disaster story is really ALL my fault. Although I don’t really care for the word fault. Lets use “responsibility” instead.
If only I had followed my own advice and disconnected the hoses from the spigots, emptied and brought in our ceramic and clay pots and properly cleared the path [...]
Interest in FORMAL OUTDOOR FIREPLACES is off-the-charts crazy.
Homeowners love the idea of an outdoor fireplace, and can’t wait to have a custom designed fireplace installed in their luxury outdoor living space. That is, until they see the entry price of $15,000. Yes, $15,000— and the most [...]
Luxury outdoor living spaces often require modern, upscale patio furniture that sometimes costs more than we would prefer. Yet, we take the plunge or purchase appropriately nice furniture from one of the big box retailers…I’m guilty. When spending this kind of bread on outdoor furniture, [...]
The 2013/14 winter was brutal on plant life and we anticipated a record volume of damage and replacements.
In fact, the opposite has been true. Sure, there was a prolific amount of damage, but the incredibly mild temperatures and frequent rain has served to heal most plants. We are relieved and [...]
Shade continues to dominate our design / build conversations and our creative juices are creating several compelling solutions. While traditional methods are still valid and planting shade trees is still one of the most effective long-term solutions, we sure love employing a few modern ideas.
I’m with you. You just spent several thousand dollars on a beautiful hot tub … but, the problem is the hot tub ain't quite beautiful.
So you give us a call to “soften” the appearance.
Fortunately there are several ways to accomplish that. We build decks around them. We build deck [...]
No worries. Frankly most men aren’t handy either. We just buy tools and more tools, and start twisting bolts and gluing stuff. Next thing we know… the disposal works again!
Duck tape and wire are really your 2 best friends when it comes to most home repairs. That was my father’s mode [...]
Evergreens are nice, but don’t we really devour the gorgeous flowering trees and shrubs? Here are my absolute favorites (subject to change immediately after the release of this blog):
Let’s group serviceberries, dogwoods and redbuds into onA. These guys are all stellar performers that bloom [...]
Are you familiar with the “Legend of the Dogwood?" As a person of faith, you will especially appreciate it.
Legend has it that Christ was crucified on the wood sacrificed from a dogwood tree. Pre- crucifixion, dogwood trees were massive and grew on straight and very strong trunks. Post [...]
Mulch prompts more emotional and diverse response than any other topic regarding outdoor living. Sure, we can debate the merits of pavers versus natural stone and the real value of a pergola … but if you want to get emotional, lets talk mulch.
Here are seven myths and truths you need to know [...]
I agree, the design process can be a little intimidating, especially if you have never done it before. Fortunately we have a simple solution that is quick, easy and incredibly effective. We call it "on-site design." Here’s why it may work for you:
When urgency prevails, this on-site sketch [...]
Not everyone needs a concrete paver patio in their backyard. In fact, we believe there are several alternatives, including:
Who said decks were out of style? Not us. If fact, built correctly with the right materials, it could be the best solution for you. Don’t get caught up with what [...]
Hard to imagine that global economics and geopolitical issues actually have an impact on our simple design, build, landscape business here in Carmel, Indiana.
Here are a few curious examples …
When the U.S. decided to slap a tariff on certain products from Turkey, the price of travertine -- [...]
Businesses everywhere are feeling the pain of winter. The extreme temperatures, wind and icy snow have a habit of keeping generous consumers in their homes and out of the restaurants. The shopping malls, particularly the open-air variety, have predominantly experienced frigid January traffic. [...]
Certainly this has been a drastic winter, both from a human and a from a landscape perspective. The abnormally low temperature
coupled with increased snowfall and ice will likely cause damage to trees, shrubs and perennials planted in 2013. Even mature holly and boxwood will likely see damage [...]
Establishing stunning curb appeal is always a relevant topic and is often established with a number of creative strategies. Our favorites include updated hardware on freshly painted doors, tasteful coach lamps and oversized urns filled with bright annuals or evergreens for the winter, smothered in [...]
This naturally modern outdoor living space is packed with customized features and unique materials. You will NOT see anything like this in your favorite paver brochure or your neighbor’s back yard … which was precisely the client’s hope and our vision.
Although very recently completed, it [...]
“I’m more interested in movements…things that begin with integrity and that are going to be with us for a long time," proclaimed Thomas Keller of the highly fashionable restaurant, French Laundry. The legendary chef was illustrating his disdain for following the latest trend of what’s [...]
This bright micro-space reminds me of old world courtyards that you may have explored in southern historic downtowns like New Orleans and Savannah. Tight spaces have such an incredible opportunity to draw people in and provide a sense of romance or intrigue.
Previous to the early spring 2013 [...]
For many reasons, concrete patios and decks seem to have the unfortunate reputation of
being outdated. It’s time to expand our biased vision. We love using all sorts of materials and often let the budget, style of the home and neighborhood vibe encourage the material selection. Done [...]
We love phased projects. It allows us to get to know the appreciative homeowners deeper, create lasting friendships and learn living patterns which often prompts us to tweak future phases. (Visit our YouTube Channel to learn more about Phased Landscape Projects.)
The original phase of this [...]
Generating privacy is a frequent objective when creating an incredible backyard living space. And while most of us love our neighbors, a little intimacy is appreciated when grilling, entertaining or squeezing in a little relaxation time.
Strategies for creating privacy are fueled by tastes, space[...]
What happens when you decide to conduct a majority of your business from home, but you own your office building … a block from the high-profile Carmel Arts and Design District?
If you are Randy Sorrell -- owner of Surroundings by Natureworks -- your bungalow-office on Rangeline Road morphs into [...]
The vision for this Geist home courtyard was realized almost immediately and encouraged by the generous spirit and admiration for the family. Lot’s of kids and festive entertaining required an expansion of the already roomy concrete pool decking. But the space did not quite speak to the 2 rear [...]
What’s your personal strategy for rejuvenation? Often, our backyard living space plays an important role in recovery, but occasionally it’s our patio or front entry that’s in need of its own rescue. Employ these smart game changers and you will likely benefit as well.
ELEGANT FRONT DOOR[...]
It’s time to live a little.
Awareness grows of the wellness benefits associated with an active outdoor lifestyle. Prompted by our self-medicating lifestyles (guilty), Americans are being reminded that relaxing on your patio, hiking in the park and working in your yard are necessary components [...]
A Rotary / Chamber / Community buddy wondered recently how to energize her overgrown and tired landscape without completing starting over. Even when the right trees and right shrubs are planted in the right place, it can occasionally get too large for the intended purpose or just not feel right. [...]
REJUVENATE. What does that mean to you? How does it feel, look and taste?
It seems most of us have developed our personal tools to detoxify and reclaim sanity. Our vices to do so are many … exercise, faith, a trip to the day spa, alcohol, did I say exercise, escaping with a good book or [...]
When the sun has decided to make an appearance after months of hibernation, moods lift, smiles are more frequent, lawns green up …and landscape beds are looking pretty sorry.
Yep, it’s time for the annual spring clean ritual which includes fueling our sorry addiction to mulch. While we are [...]
How do you enhance your livability quotient? Think "retrofit."
As a general rule, whenever deck or porch spindles and rail systems can be eliminated and/ or replaced with welcoming steps and usable benches, pull a Nike and Just Do It! These small changes create an enticing element in your [...]
Anticipation grows. Not just for spring, but for all things fueled by outdoor living. And, not just for any outdoor living…but luxury outdoor living!
What are you anticipating this year as daylight grows and when a walk in the park or a celebration on the patio is a visitor again?
A critical element in landscape design is creating winter interest, typically accomplished with evergreens. Fortunately, stimulating alternatives are available.
Most homes have a sufficient supply of yew, juniper and boxwood, but my preferred evergreen for cold weather intrigue has to be the [...]
Yes, I admit it. On a few hysterical occasions, I too have hired a starving buddy to try to save a few bucks on something. My caffeinated memory bank reminds me that I have appreciated that lesson 3 painful times. After each, I regretfully take a fresh oath not to collapse to my inherited [...]
What do you think are the ingredients for an incredible outdoor living space -- an energizing space that moves ordinary events to the extraordinary and compels neighbors to randomly visit. We believe there are four critical elements for such an escape, and it starts with open communication and [...]