A fluffy cat and an elephant stand side by side opposite a terra-cotta warrior who sternly glares at an Asian sea dragon. A scene like this can only exist in Hunter S. Thompson’s dreams or at Cast in Stone, where cast-concrete garden figures arrange to form whimsical, imaginative lawn scenes. The artistic concrete smiths shape and sell each product at their retail facility, creating wondrous, durable works in the shapes of animals, religious icons, and classical figures. Molded benches and planters can make a backyard more welcoming to guests, and fountains and birdbaths can provide an alternative place to bathe when the shower is in use.
A 3.5-acre horticultural haven, Millcreek Gardens gives bloom-seekers a means to realize dreams of colorful, lush outdoor spaces by presenting a wide array of shrubs, trees, and assorted flowerpot inhabitants. Stroll amid verdant rows of plant life, perusing prettified foliage ranging from the serene cerulean hues of a delphinium to the cheerful, bubbly blooms of a hydrangea. Accent a lovely lawn with a classic apple tree ($40+), make the bed for a plot of fragrant flowers ($2–$20), or cover up barren yards with a symphony of shrubbery ($6.50–$50). The one-stop shop also stocks organic plant foods, soil amendments, and fertilizers for keeping growing greenery as strong as a box of oxen.
Standard Wood collects its firewood from dead standing trees and seasons it for up to five years to ensure clean, uniform burning. Bundles of Wyoming mountain pine ($3) join premeasured bins of hardwoods—such as dense, long-burning oak, gray barkless pinion, and fragrant cedar, which fills ears with crackles, pops, and head-rattling sub-bass as it burns—in quarter-, half-, and full-cord increments ($15–$50). Each bundle arrives wrapped in heavy-gauge plastic to ensure that fluctuating temperatures and invasive pests don't sabotage timber’s burning power. Standard Wood delivers kindling to doorsteps throughout the Salt Lake Valley (a $25 fee, eligible with this Groupon).
Shafts of sunlight pierce Tracy Aviary’s dense conifer forest, sending great grey owls into hiding until nightfall, when they emerge to hunt silently above the treetops. The Owl Forest is just one of five diverse ecosystems that dot the aviary’s eight acres. Nearby, at the South American Pavilion, aviary keepers tend to keel-billed toucans as their colorful beaks break through the cereal boxes in which they incubate. And on the Kennecott Wetland, visitors can espy long-billed curlews and American coots roosting in the tall grass.
In addition to providing a diverse habitat in which native and endangered species can thrive, Tracy Aviary’s curators strive to educate visitors about threats to avian species and to encourage stewardship. To that end, the aviary frequently hosts bird encounters, small group talks with avian keepers, and even the opportunity to feed various species.
Winchester Gardens' veteran landscapers and nurserymen stock locally cultivated species of tree, shrub, rose, and ground cover known to thrive in the harsh Utah climate. The shop's ever-changing supply of ornamental grasses focuses on drought-tolerant varieties and dowsing rods for locating underground aquifers. Winchester Gardens' clients may also take advantage of the staff's aesthetic expertise to settle upon the perfect combination of foliage and garden décor such as water features and rocks.
As a plant grows, West Side Nursery's now expansive facility also grew from a small seed. Over its three decades in business, the nursery nourished its modest selection to transform into a now flourishing assortment of specimens that rarely find shelf space at smaller nurseries or big-box stores. As its first claim to fame, West Side Nursery highlights its colorful variety of trees, though more than 120 varieties of shrubs edge in on the spotlight as well. The personable staff members also take the time to talk gardening tips with their customers, from discussing the proper time to water new blossoms to the proper time to take an aging maple for its daily walk.
The techs at Utah Lawn know that a healthy, green yard can sometimes come at the expense of the environment and homeowners’ pocketbooks. To help minimize those expenses, they inject Enviromoist’s polymer-based substance into root systems, which distributes nourishing plant food while creating a semipermeable barrier that prevents water and vital nutrients from leaching away. Not only does the product help to cut water waste by up to 50%, it also helps pare down water bills, and can even help reduce soil compaction and the maintenance required to keep a lawn looking verdant.
Beyond root health, the landscaping specialists offer a wide range of lawn-care services and solutions, such as underground sprinkler systems that covertly distribute water to thirsty grass blades. When not nourishing plots, techs stay busy making them more beautiful by building water fixtures such as ponds, streams, and waterfalls. Instead of packing up for the winter, specialists strap on snow boots and continue to keep yards tidy by removing snow clumps and slick sheets of ice, helping cut down on the number of slips and falls experienced by homeowners, visitors, and any hibernating bears prone to walking in their sleep.