Jay was recently interviewed about his work, his hobbies, his philosophy on the outdoors and why he designs landscapes. The following is the story of his passion and how that has made a difference in the lives of so many of his clients.
Jay Eriv is the owner and master landscape designer behind GROUNDS KEEPER Inc, the company he began in 1973 as a boy doing lawn maintenance for bubblegum money.
Today he delights clients with living gardens that grow and change with the seasons, bringing colors and sound together with fragrance, lighting and wildlife to create naturalistic outdoor living spaces.
If you’ve explored GROUNDS KEEPER’s Matawan showroom or website, you know that the photos of landscapes and hardscapes, pools and ponds, secret gardens and patio entertaining speak for themselves. But what does the mind behind those spaces think as he plans? Why does he do what he does? And how has he managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of so many clients, who go on to recommend him to their friends, family and neighbors?
Today Jay shares a little bit of what makes him tick plus a few little-known personal details that might surprise you!
“The Sum Of The Parts Has An Exponential Effect.”
Jay may be the face of his company but he doesn’t go it alone. He has a team of professionals alongside him, including a master architect in Craig Termotto who has been working side by side with Jay for over 10 years.
When asked why he works with a master architect when he has the skills and talent to execute a project from start to finish, Jay answered:
We’re an award winning company for a reason, and that’s because of the depth of the talent in our organization. We all make each other better. We bring not only poetic creativity but real world experience to help clients achieve their objectives within a budget. It’s a collaboration between Craig, myself and our clients. We all have ideas and they come together to create the whole vision.”
Jay pondered the question a moment longer, then put it in its simplest terms:
The sum of the parts has an exponential effect. We’re better together than separately.”
“Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.”
Jay acknowledges that many people don’t understand what naturalistic design is or how seasons can play a role in creating the perfect outdoor living space. Often people want to see green year-round or they expect the outdoors to be uninhabitable during the winter. Not so, says Jay – you can enjoy your outdoor living space year round!
What people don’t realize, he says, is that:
We build four season gardens – that means you can celebrate the rhythm of the seasons and enjoy the moment while looking forward to the next.
In your outdoor space, hardscapes are the walls of your home and plant materials are like the furniture. The plant materials we choose offer multi seasons of interest. Flowers, herbs, colors, berries for birds, plants that bloom for a long time or that you don’t often see.
Different birds come to feed on different plants during different seasons. Bark can create sensory experiences throughout the seasons.
It’s fun to create a garden that you’re enjoying in any given moment with all your senses, differently season to season.”
And each space is as unique as the people who enjoy it, bringing together their dreams with Jay’s vision and his team’s expert execution.
“It’s So Much More Than A Garden. It’s Outdoor Living.”
When Jay speaks about his work it’s easy to catch the outdoors bug. The way he describes colors, textures, fragrances and the sensory experience of a beautiful space will have even the most diehard city slicker dreaming of bubbling waterfalls and vibrant butterflies.
It all sounds delightfully natural, a perfect communion with Mother Nature at her best. But Jay has a secret up his sleeve. Turns out those natural gardens are not Mother Nature’s creation…
It’s all invented,” says Jay. “It’s all contrived. It seems totally natural but we made it happen. It’s so much fun to do that.”
At this point you can see the kid with the lawnmower in Jay’s eyes, having fun. And it’s clear that it’s more than a garden to him, and even more than an outdoor living space. It’s his passion, and that passion means bringing four seasons of changing, living, breathing joy to each and every one of his clients.
Think about moonlight,” he says, and you can see the glow in his eyes as he speaks. “We put lights high up in trees to create moonlight so you don’t think of it as lighting. You take it for granted that it’s moonlight because it looks just like it but it’s really something we’ve created.”
“If A Client Tells Us What They Want, It’s Our Job To Ask Questions And Look Beyond.”
Jay is all about possibilities. He understands that everyone has dreams but that they also have budget limitations. That’s why he is committed to spending time with each client, exploring what can be done and how he can best help them achieve their vision.
When the ends of dreams and budget don’t meet, Jay helps people come up with alternatives. That can include different plans or plant materials, a phased approach that allows his clients to realize their full dreams over time and even financing.
But budget isn’t the only thing that factors into Jay’s plans – his top priority is helping people explore the possibilities.
Sometimes clients don’t realize the extent of what they can achieve outdoors,” he says. “From swimming pools, to fencing, to plumbing and electrical, to outdoor showers and kitchens, to pergolas and arbors, pathways, boulder tiered walls… we’re up for any challenge.”
One of Jay’s Cranford, New Jersey clients summed up the sentiment perfectly in a recent letter:
“You are so creative and talented. Each time you were at the house it was as if you were watching over your vision coming to life. It is obvious that your work is your passion and the finished garden is very much a personal expression of your artistic ability and considerable knowledge. I am grateful that you kept encouraging me to be bold!”
All of this stems from Jay’s inherent belief that the outdoors is an extension of your living space and can be enjoyed any time, all year long, whether for relaxing, entertaining or anything in between.
In fact, he has a rather unique perspective on how people are using their outdoor spaces these days…
Nowadays it’s more the norm to do a little cocooning and stay home rather than go away, so why not have that feeling of going away every day? We want to create a staycation effect with outdoor music playing, LED moonlight, the sound and movement of water.
Bubbling sculptures and columns, the music, the waterfalls, the lighting, the interactive effect is really powerful. Spending time in that environment creates a staycation feel, that feeling that you’re away but you’re home.”
Imagine having your very own outdoor retreat, a personal vacation spot just beyond your patio door and you’ll understand what Jay wants to create for you.
“One Of My Joys Is Creating Gardens.”
This may seem like a no brainer by now, but Jay’s favorite part of his job is meshing his clients’ desires with their outdoor spaces to give them something they will truly enjoy. And he works with a passion, admittedly sometimes to the exclusion of all else.
But not every job holds an equal place in his heart. Some turn out to be uniquely special.
There’s a common theme to the projects that move me the most. It’s a true emotional tie that the client has to the job. On one project, the client spent many years interviewing landscapers. It was a very personal space, a meditative garden, a place for renewal. The dollars spent were hard earned. To be given the chance amongst all others to achieve the garden of her dreams hit a chord. I liked the challenge and the bar being set high and knowing I had to achieve this emotional connection between the client and the space. I had to hit it out of the park.”
But hitting it out of the park is par for the course with Jay. He is relentless in his pursuit of beautiful, natural outdoor spaces and his focus and passion can be witnessed in every word of praise from clients.
Reported one client from Old Bridge, New Jersey:
“Everyone that enters our back yard is in awe. Our neighbor came back with her daughter and the daughter exclaimed, “Mom, it looks like a resort back here!” Our neighbor on the side by the water feature says she loves to go out in her sunroom and look at it. It’s so nice sitting outside at night with the fire pit on and the lights on the waterfall. It’s quite obvious why you have won so many home and garden awards!”
“My Pets Are Koi And Goldfish.”
Jay acknowledges that many people don’t consider koi or goldfish to be pets, but for him they are the jewels of his natural ecosystem pond.
But Jay isn’t all work, all the time. He enjoys working out, running, biking, spending quiet time, and pausing for dinner out with his significant other, Jamie. The outdoors is a natural canvas for his work and play alike, but Jay has a surprising side, too.
I’ve read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy,” he says. “I currently like legal thrillers like John Grisham and high tech espionage like Tom Clancy.”
Jay pauses a moment and his grin clearly hides a secret he’s on the verge of sharing.
I also like to read books that people might consider love stories, like The Notebook.”
Throw in a walk on the beach during sunset, and you just might have found the perfect man – especially if you’re in the market for the outdoor living space of your dreams.
Want to know how Jay can help create the outdoor living space of your dreams? Contact him for a consultation and he’ll visit your property to share your vision and show you how your dreams can come true.