Meet Dave and Lisa Burns From Backyard Getaway
Name of Business: Backyard Getaway
Name of Principals: Dave and Lisa Burns
Location: Myakka City, Florida
Planting Zone: 9A
Years Gardening: Gardening since we were both children.
Years In Business: 10+
Tell us about Backyard Getaway:
Backyard Getaway is a family owned and operated pond and outdoor living service business. We like to say our business grew from a hobby into a passion! Over 15 years ago Dave caught the pond “bug” when he purchased his first pond kit. It didn’t take long before he was digging a second pond and helping friends and family create their own backyard retreats. Lisa was hooked, too, growing aquatic plants and creating container water gardens. Before we knew it Backyard Getaway was born. We opened a retail store where people could buy do-it-yourself pond and garden items.
Over the years the business has evolved, after five years the retail location was closed so that we could concentrate on the service aspect, which we love. The service business has grown to include many outdoor living services including: landscape renovations and maintenance, installation of paver or flagstone patios and walkways, fire pits, schoolyard & wildlife habitats, butterfly gardens and more. Our latest addition is our Re-Purposed Backyard projects. We create useful and decorative items for your yard/home using re-purposed or recycled items as well as hand crafted wood items. Dave has created a YouTube channel to share how-to videos on some of these projects.
Entrepreneurship is challenging! What inspired you to start your own business?
When we first became interested in ponds/water gardening there wasn’t a local business where you could purchase everything you needed for a pond (from the liner and equipment to koi and water lilies) so we decided to open a full service retail store. We enjoyed the retail part of the business but we found that we enjoyed creating wonderful getaways for our customers even more.
Walk us through a day in your life as a business owner:
For Dave, he is on location installing outdoor living spaces or ponds. We also have several regular maintenance customers that he cleans ponds for. His routine changes from week to week, job to job. Lisa works from home taking care of making appointments, bidding jobs, marketing and the day to day accounting responsibilities as well as writing articles about gardening and ponds for three local magazines.
What about your business has given you the most pride?
We have won several awards over the years for our customer service and our installations/designs but the thing we are most proud of is our schoolyard habitat projects. Many of these projects we donated our time to create. Dave teaches students at local schools, hands on, how to create a wildlife habitat or water feature. These features are a permanent fixture in the school that the students take pride in maintaining and they become a learning tool for future students.
What about your business has been the biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Learning to change and evolve with the times and economy. We liked the idea of having a retail location as well as the service business but we are also very hands-on. We knew as the service business grew we would either have to hire people to run the store or let that part of the business go. The economy had taken a downturn at about the same time that we were considering the next step for our business. With more people shopping online and not spending on luxury items it made sense to let the retail store go and to add additional outdoor services to our business.
What advice would you give to a new business owner who is just starting out?
Have a good business plan but don’t be afraid to change it. Be willing to adapt to what your customers want/need.
What is it about your products and/or services that make them special, unique, and worth having?
What we create both in our service business and our re-purposed decor are unique. We tailor our landscape, pond, outdoor living space designs to our customers lifestyle as well as their yard. As for our Re-Purposed Backyard items, we both love creating new things, making something new out of something old or used. We have a few quality wood items that we will create the same like our bathouses or birdhouses but many of our projects are one of a kind.
What’s your next project?
Right now Backyard Getaway is working on renovating an existing pond for a customer. Pond renovations have become a specialty for us. This particular one will be completely removed and made longer and deeper with a larger waterfall and shelves for plants. In the Re-Purposed Backyard department we received a bucket full of old horseshoes from a farrier friend. We haven’t decided what we should create with them yet.
And finally, how does your own personal garden and/or gardening enrich your life?
Our garden has changed over the years, too. About 5 years ago we moved from the city to a rural 6-acre farm. Our city gardens filled our front, side and back yard. We had a xeriscape landscape that included wildflower/butterfly gardens, ponds and hardscape areas. At our “new” home we have 2 horses, 3 ponies, and 11 goats that have taken over almost the entire property so our garden areas are smaller here than what we had in the city. Even though the gardens are small we still enjoy them. We have a rose memorial garden planted in memory of my grandfather’s rose garden, a butterfly garden, and edible landscape area, and an Oz-themed garden. Each one has a water feature of course and repurposed art. The gardens are fenced and surrounded with vines like Blue Sky vine which makes them private and relaxing. Our grandchildren love to help in the gardens and take pictures of the plants and insects when the visit. A new addition to our garden is our compost bin. I am looking forward to using my first batch of compost this spring.
BACKYARD GETAWAY LINKS: