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Lakefront "I Do's"
Creating a Wedding Venue Fit for the Queen of Lakes

DeFranco Landscaping, Inc.

Lakefront

Lakefront

Located in the Adirondacks in New York, Lake George is one of the premier vacation and celebration destinations in the northeastern part of the United States. DeFranco Landscaping has made it even more fit for weddings thanks to a project that transformed a bare, unkempt deck into a scenic stage on which to say, "I do."


Anthony DeFranco is a landscaper and a licensed professional engineer with a consulting practice, and he receives phone calls on a daily basis for projects around Lake George. DeFranco Landscaping, along with DeFranco's consulting engineering business, were recently awarded the 2017 Irving Langmuir Award by The Fund for Lake George, which is given for excellence in development and stewardship, recognizing DeFranco's dedication to protecting Lake George by implementing Low-Impact Development (LID) practices.

He received a call in the summer of 2015 about renovating a heavily used and compacted lawn area into a landscaped outdoor wedding space on the grounds at Blue Water Manor Resort, which consists of six acres of forest area filled with restaurants, cottages, suites and cabins that overlook the lake. Their banquet facility room had been renovated in the winter of 2014, and they were now ready to draw more weddings to the property.

John Kelly, the owner, was looking to create a destination wedding location. He had the view of the lake on the existing lakefront resort property and now needed to renovate it to meet modern wedding event standards. His biggest challenge was that his daughter, Shannon, was going to have the first outdoor wedding on the new grounds in June of 2016. Kelly felt that having an event planned would help him and all parties involved keep to the deadline. He reached out to DeFranco Landscaping, Inc., about a year before his daughter's big day.

The Plan
The project required quite a bit of planning and design as there were many moving parts. A portion of the restaurant was being renovated during the winter, and additional site improvements were being completed simultaneously. Anthony DeFranco and employee/designer Stu Mead were up for the challenge. DeFranco has a degree in civil and environmental engineering from Clarkson University as well as a Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional license (CNLP) with the New York State Nursery & Landscape Association. Stu Mead is a landscape architect who has been working with DeFranco for 3 years.
Much of the design work for the outdoor wedding area took place during the previous winter. The planning process started with determining the maximum seating that would be required for a typical wedding function, while studies of typical wedding ceremony layouts determined the locations of the hardscape features - pathways and a wedding pavilion.

The existing lawn area had signs of overuse and lacked properly coordinated pathways. There were a few chairs to take in the view, a few picnic tables and a pirate ship playground that were the focal point of the area and were screaming for a makeover. Judging from how little grass was left and how heavily compacted it was from foot traffic, the space appeared to get frequent usage from pedestrians.

The proposed concrete paver pathways would help pedestrian's make their way to activities and scenic spots all over the resort without wearing down any grassy patches. The main pathway would also provide golf cart access for all of the neighboring summer residents.



Lakefront

Concrete block retaining walls complement the concrete pavers that form both the elevated stage overlooking the lake as well as the pathways that lead towards other sites at the resort. DeFranco's small crew constructed the stage and laid the pavers for the new walkways in a matter of days, as their deadline was quickly approaching. The new pathways aid in directing pedestrian movement across the lawn area without ruining the turf.


Lakefront

In its previous state, the deck overlooking Lake George had gotten to the point where there was more dirt than grass, with exposed roots everywhere. Due to its proximity to popular sites and activities, the pedestrians had trampled the grass into an unsightly mess.


This flat lawn area was now going to be the focal point of the entire property. The proposed pathways had two functions - to accommodate golf cart traffic as well as serve as the processional aisle for the outdoor wedding area.

Putting It Together
Kelly's nephew constructed the timber wedding pergola and the many unique wooden railings found on the pavilion. DeFranco 's crew of 4 men built the segmental retaining walls and elevated paver patio area, while also renovating the "Grill," another section of the restaurant that would later function as an overflow area for the main restaurant.

With a very tight deadline and John's daughter 's wedding fast approaching, DeFranco's crew constructed the concrete paver walkways, planted all of the landscaped beds and laid fresh sod on the lawn areas.

"It is a tremendous improvement from what was here to what it looks like now," states DeFranco. "I had to pull out old pictures of all the mud in this area to remind our crew of how far we really came with this project."

The Reviews
Numerous iterations were completed during the design phase. "We were even making changes as we started the construction work," recalls DeFranco. "The scope of the work expanded to make sure the rest of the resort was integrated with the outdoor wedding area. Kelly has hit a home run with this. I can't tell you how many people came up the lakeside stairs to visit the restaurant for dinner when we were finishing up and just said 'Wow!,' and we knew that they had seen what it looked like before."

DeFranco's kids were about the only two people that expressed disappointment with the final product. Their first response as they viewed the completed area was: "What did you do with the pirate ship, Dadda? Don't you know that was the best part of coming here?" However, children do not have to worry; the playground will be returning in another location as the work continues in the future.



Filed Under: HARDSCAPE, HARDSCAPES, LC/DBM
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November 20, 2018, 12:30 pm PST

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