Kick the Socks Out of Your Old Landscape: Add Large Rocks and Boulders for a Defined Yet Natural Look – Wadena Pioneer Journal


OTTERTAIL – While using some of the most advanced landscaping practices in the region, Precision Landscape & Irrigation at Ottertail also uses some of the oldest materials on earth: rocks.

They use these rocks to create some of the most natural and durable features your yard or shoreline will ever need or see. After all, there is no man-made product with the longevity of solid stone. When built correctly, stone structures can last a lifetime and bring great value to your home or property.

You may already have large rocks on your property and you’re thinking, “I can do something with them.” But while a small project might be worth a DIY, larger projects can quickly drive homeowners over their heads, and with less than desirable ends.

Kelly Dorholt works in sales and marketing for Precision and typically works with clients who initially tried to start projects on their own.

They’ll say, “I thought we could do it ourselves,” Dorholt said. “And they put so much time and money and equity into it, and now they’re having us come back, take it out, start over and do it right.”

Getting it right is complicated, often expensive and difficult work. Considering the weight of the rocks put in place in some of these large gardens, the work can be backbreaking. Dorholt referred to the granite steps that Precision frequently installs for those looking for a permanent walkway to the lake: these can weigh around 750 pounds each. They require machinery to be put in place after a solid foundation has been leveled, packed, and a base has been established.

Precision’s owner, Pat Morstad, has been in the landscaping business for 35 years. He said it is his experience creating top-level golf courses that brings his attention to detail and knowledge of the craft to his work in the Ottertail area and beyond.

“It goes with my background in landscaping, installation, my degree in the golf course world, my degree in agronomy… It’s a combination of all of those things,” Morstad said.

Pat Morstad

Contributed / Esther T Photography

He said when you’re dealing with boulders that weigh hundreds of pounds, it doesn’t work with bare hands. He and his crews use machines to make sure the big boulders are in place for good and are positioned to look their most appealing. Rocks naturally look great, he said, but making them look good in a new landscape takes some skill.

“The good Lord above gives you these (stones) and you just have to be able to put them in the right place,” Morstad said.

Attention to detail helped the company win the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association’s Landscape Award in 2021. The award recognizes Precision’s commitment to quality workmanship, which Morstand says stands out in the whole state and country. They have been at their Ottertail location for three years now and have been serving the area for about 15 years.

Morstad said the company is changing and evolving to do things more naturally as the green industry grows. For example, they now use irrigation systems with sensors that shut off the water when the lawn receives rain. And rockeries with drought-tolerant plants provide a natural, low-maintenance, long-lasting outdoor space.

“It’s about trying to bring that natural look; that we are one with nature,” Dorholt said.

outdoor dining area.jpg
Rocks, boulders and sheared boulders come together to create a natural and sustainable outdoor oasis, like this one at Precision Landscape and Irrigation in Ottertail.

Contribution / Landscape and precision irrigation

Precision does rocks well, but it’s known for more than that. Dorholt said riprap repair work on shorelines has increased in recent years, especially as last year’s drought exposed more shorelines than had been seen in years. Outdoor kitchens have also become more popular as the pandemic has forced people out for group gatherings.

They also have retaining walls in place for homeowners who like precise lines in their landscape. Walkways, patios, stairs, and water features are other popular options. Precision’s growing team also offers planting, lawn and garden maintenance, hydro-seeding, irrigation and full-service jobs that make lawns and gardens virtually maintenance-free.

While some choose to let Precision handle all the work, others seek to do some of it themselves.

Things to consider when tackling a project yourself:

  1. Can you do it safely? Some projects involve heavy materials and can take a team of professionals several weeks to complete.
  2. Do I have a workable plan? Put it on a piece of paper: imagine what you’re going to do and make sure you’ve considered every step of the process from start to finish.
  3. Do I fully understand the rules and regulations? When working on a property, and especially near a shoreline, owners should understand all rules and regulations that may apply to their project. Consulting your county ahead of time to determine what is allowed will help you avoid fines or having your work taken out later.

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