Landscape Outside the Boundaries

In our case- outside the boundaries of Muskoka, where we also expanded our design to include materials and plants not generally included in our Muskoka projects. Late last year Rockscape took on this project with a special purpose Dog Tales, a horse and rescue shelter-

“an animal sanctuary like no other! The farm is located on an incredible 50 acres of green fields, rolling hills, and wooded areas in King City Ontario, just a short drive from downtown Toronto.  Our picturesque location is the perfect safe haven for lost, abused and neglected animals to heal and be rehabilitated while they wait for forever homes. Our property features three large barns for the horses and an indoor arena which we have transformed into a one of a kind doggie haven, complete with unique animal artwork from all around the world. We rescue dogs and horses from across Canada…”

Traditionally we work on sloped waterfronts with lots of boulders, stonework, large existing trees, and a harsh climate. This King City farm presented its own set of challenges- large flat expanses that had to be a very hard working and durable because of the amount of use it will see.

If you read our last post, you will recognize this as our excavator lifted by a crane over the main driveway.


All of the walkways are made of stamped concrete, they are poured in large areas and stamped to give them the effect of natural stone. They are extremely durable, completely level and very low maintenance. It is also less expensive than natural stone.

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The warmer zone 5b climate, also allowed us to plant with perennials and shrubs that wouldn’t survive in Muskoka- roses, butterfly bush, along with different hydrangea varieties all planted to match the owner’s aesthetic.

Large flat expanses of farm land were sodded, the lawn areas provide a durable low maintenance area to entertain and to let the rescue dogs play.


The idea to convert a traditional drainage swale into large bubbling stream. quickly became a focal point with a natural stone bridge built above. The bridge leads to a cafe where the stone terrace was still being installed by some of our crew.


We wrapped up this project in mid autumn 2014, in preparation for the successful grand opening. For which the Rockscape team completely decked out the exterior with fall displays. Although the last thing we want to think about right now is fall, we can still appreciate the display!


For more information on Dog Tales Rescue Sanctuary please visit:



A look back: 2014 Landscape Season

Having been the shortest season on record- our 2014 landscape season quickly became one of the busiest. Collectively called “the summer that never happened”. The snow was slow to leave, even in late May were still dealing with large snowbanks impeding our progress. Cool temperatures throughout the summer made working outside comfortable- but left vacationers, cottagers, weekenders, and even us longing for hot summer weekends.

Even though we didn’t see the sun and heat that Muskoka is accustom to, we were able to have am extremely busy and rewarding season. We started the season working on a commercial property Crossroads Restaurant, located in Rosseau, Ontario where we transformed a busy restaurant parking lot into a lush and comfortable dining patio.

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These photos were taken immediately after installation- trees, shrubs and perennials were all just planted. Throughout the season we watched either from roadside or while dining, the growth and colour that transformed the new landscape in it’s first season. We’re excited to share that with you in coming posts.

We completed many new installations including this staircase naturally tucked against a bedrock cliff.



On the other side of the staircase, a steep bank naturally planted with sumac, St Johns wort, shasta daisy and geranium. The granite staircase leads you to a flagstone fire pit patio outfitted with red muskoka chairs.

A stand out for us is enjoying this natural park like setting under towering pines. The lawn area provides a place to play horseshoes, while the patio offers a chance to relax in the late afternoon sun.


In 2014 our realm of work expands to include impressive masonry work. With great attention to detail our masons create functional and beautiful fireplaces, walls, barbecues, etc. with ‘wet layed’ stone thats sure to withstand the elements.


Like this pizza oven and barbecue surround.

Here they are just starting the install of a patio with square, uniformed stone.


We continued with the things we know and love, visiting properties installed the year before for maintenance and a quick picture or two. We are always impressed to see how our landscapes mature season to season. This property is just in it’s second year and is already looking lush and green in late May.


To complete all our annual planters usually takes about a month! But because of a late spring we just didn’t have that kind of time to spare. Our crews really pulled through though, completing them all just in time. The efforts are well worth it, this display of potato vine, scaevola, euphorbia and a perennial miscanthus is already overflowing it’s planter mid summer.


Nearing the end of the season we stepped outside our usual boundaries and took on a large project just outside of King City, Ontario. Here’s a quick look at the unusual goings on.


A crane has our excavator suspended high above the landscape. You don’t see that everyday! More on this project in the coming weeks.

Not too long after this installation, we were hit with an early snow that never left, mid-November a foot of snow and cold temperatures abruptly ended the season. Leaving us with many unfinished fall clean-ups (or now more correctly called- spring clean-ups!).

Although it may be considered to some “the summer that never happened”, we at Rockscape Design were able to make the best of it- long hours, committed co-workers and lots of laughs made our 2104 season memorable and rewarding.

Hiring for the 2015 season!

It may still be in the negatives outside but we’re looking forward to the upcoming season. We’re excited to welcome back our existing staff – as well as adding some new people to the Rockscape family!

Come join us and enjoy a beautiful summer in Muskoka! We operate out of our Bracebridge location and service all of Muskoka and Georgian Bay Cottage Country. Whether local or looking to spend a season in Muskoka we’re looking for passionate canidates to join our team.

We are currently looking to fill the following positions:

– Hardscape Crew Leader
– Experienced Hardscape Labourers
– Softscape Crew Leader
– Experienced Softscape Labourers

Applicants are required to…

-Experience an asset

-Have a minimum of 3 years experience (Crew leader

– Work well in a team environment

– Be self-motivated and have strong work ethic

You can expect to work long hours through all the elements that we may face – heat, rain, and busy jobsites.  You can also expect to enjoy the rewarding satisfaction of looking back on a job well done and working with people who prioritize teamwork, and have fun throughout the day!

If you are interested in joining our team for the 2015 season please forward your resume by email to:, or you can fax it to us at: (705) 645-4466.

Thank you for your interest! Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted. We look forward to hearing from you!


Project Nicaragua: #AquaforNicaragua2014

We arrived in Nicaragua a week ago today. After heading up the mountain to El Ocotal, we were able to successfully install 38 water filters by Thursday!

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Here some of the containers are getting their final coat of paint.

On friday, we took a trip to the NCA to work on a second phase of the landscape project, we worked on in previous years, after an expansion of The Nicaragua Christian Academy.

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Today, we are headed back up the mountain to install the last 12 water filters in El Ocotal.

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We can squeeze a lot more bodies in a pickup down here in Nicaragua, something tells us this wouldn’t be acceptable back in Muskoka!

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Something we’re doing differently this year- check out the hashtag #aquafornicaragua on Instagram many of the Team Nicaragua group have been posting their own pictures and stories for a more personal look at the trip.



Project Nicaragua: An update

Departure day is fast approaching, being February 16th! Team Nicaragua has some exciting news, in late fall we were fundraising for the making and installation of biosand filters for the village of El Ocotal, Nicargua. Our goal was to raise the funds to install 50 filters, and we’re beyond thrilled to announce that we collected enough for 64 biosand filters!

Our cup is literally overflowing!


Since then, our local Nicaraguan crew has been busy making these concrete filters in preperation for our arrival.




These are the finished concrete forms, once we arrive we’ll take 50 up to El Ocotal, to be installed into the villager’s homes. The remaining 14 will be installed in villages we’ve visited in previous years. On site we’ll prepare the biosand filters inside these forms, read more about that here.



As the team packs their bags for departure, and prepares to scale a mountain, we look forward to providing you with more updates!

Thankful for another Season

Another season has wrapped up, and as we in Muskoka sit and wait for warmer temperatures (it’s currently -30 Brrr).

Take a look at our very last job of the season.  A 45ft spaded white pine to be planted while the ground is frozen in mid December.

After one small set back- getting caught up in overhead wires,


You can see it’s being lifted by crane into it’s final location!




Planting was a success!

Our annual Team Nicaragua trip is coming up quick! We’ve been keeping our final water filter stats underwraps, lets just say with your help we’ve exceeded our expectations! Check back soon for our final update.

Stay warm!


Water Wednesday: a Different Point of View

Since our first trip to Nicaragua, we’ve had the help of man we call Pete, he oversees the making and installation of all the Biosand filters. It takes approximately 15 hours to make  one filter, so Pete along with a crew he hires make them before we arrive. As a native Nicaraguan he sees the experience differently then we do:

“Hola (Hi in spanish) My name is Pedro Enrique Moreira and I am in charge of the water filter project in Nicaragua.  It has been a Godly experience to learn and to share these wonderful filters with almost 184 families, covering 7 different villages in the Matagalpa Area. But as any normal story, there’s always a beginning.  In our first year in El Quebrachal (first village) I didn’t know what I was getting into.  Each filter is almost 260 pounds( 117 kg) empty not mentioning the 6 litres of gravel plus the 27 litres of washed sand that each filter needs.  We got to the village and all we saw was a really warm welcoming from all the people, you felt Gods love in all these people. It was a nice stormy day, it poured rain the whole day, we had to walk almost 2 hours carrying this filters to their homes.


As you can see in this picture we tied the filters on Bambu sticks to transport them.


And then of course on our shoulders, you need 4 guys to carry them.


The path of the village wasn’t very smooth. But of course nothing stopped us, we knew that it was God’s ministry and he was the one strengthening us the whole time.  The relationships I built in their homes is what keeps me moving and keeps my passion growing and growing. Next year along with the team from Rockscape Design and others friends, brothers and sisters, we want to install 50 more filters. I want to thank you in the name of all the families that are getting filters!”

Craig and Sue Rose (owners of Rockscape Design) with Pete in Nicaragua in February 2012.

Craig and Sue Rose (owners of Rockscape Design) with Pete in Nicaragua in February 2012.

We like to thank Pete also for all the time and effort he puts into this project with us.  And we’re excited to tell him that we’ve raised the funds for 38 Filters so far! We are just 12 away from our goal of 50 Biosand filters for the town of El Ocotal.

We are ecstatic to have surpassed last years total! And we are hoping we can meet our goal this year as well! So, as always- Help fill our cup!


Water Wednesday: Landscape Project

Grateful, doesn’t even begin to describe how we are feeling! In the past three weeks we have raised just over 50% of the funds we need! Thanks to all of our supporters and clients for purchasing 29 Biosand Filters so far!


We are looking to install 50 filters in total, so we still have some fundraising to do. Hopefully you can help us get there!

Two years ago, Rockscape Design was able to help with the excavation for a new school, The Nicaragua Christian Academy.




To date, the first phase of the school has been completed. This house grades 1-8 and a second building is under construction for kindergarten.






And this year along with ambitious the task of installing 50 water filters in the village of El Ocotal, Nicaragua,  We are going to embark on a two day landscape project on the finished school.

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The plan is to mesh what we know as Muskoka landscape contractors with the tropical environment of Nicaragua. This will include rock work and planting to re-naturalize the construction area to surrounding landscape. Like every project Rockscape is involved in, we know this will present its challenges and we will be learning from the experience.

To learn more about NCA, please click here




Water Wednesday: a Different Point of View

Every year in Nicaragua, whether we’re excavating for a new school, visiting the Re-nutrition Centre, or installing Biosand filters- we know it helps to change lives. What may not be as evident, is how greatly it impacts our own.



It was Tom Cheeseman’s third year at Rockscape Design when he took the trip to Central America:

“Heading to Nicaragua was a first for me. I’d never been outside of North America, and I only had the word of others as to what to expect. The Roses’ (Craig, Sue and Kayleigh) had told me all about how beautiful country it was, and Fraser (Gowland) told me a bunch about what to expect.

Being a tropical plant lover, I was excited for the chance to visit a place where the plants I grow as house plants are part of the natural environment. I was also very curious to work towards helping the people (of Nicaragua) have clean water, which is so easy for us to obtain and something I now know we take for granted.

The people in ‘Nica’ are not really any different from those here in Muskoka. They are happy people who are willing to help in any way they can. We took an evening to wander the streets of Matagalpa shopping for souvenirs, and it wasn’t that different from shopping in Toronto on a summer night!

But the biggest difference was being in the village where we installed filters. The homes were very simple, and the people were very grateful for the work we were doing. Many of the children seemed to accept us as a passing curiosity and  great entertainment. But I feel that the adults were very happy to have us there. I have to admit, I’m a hugger. And there was no shortage of hugs from the people of Nicaragua. From the people in the villages to the translators and guides, we were accepted as family.

Thinking ahead to future visits and Mission’s trips, I can only hope to learn as much from the help I give to the help I get in my own life here.”

-Tom Cheeseman





Tom plans on returning again in February, this time to El Ocotal to install water filters. We’ve been able to raise about ten percent of the money we need, with our fundraising efforts so far. We would like to supply 50 Biosand filters to El Ocotal, Nicaragua and we’ve still go a ways to go.




Water Wednesday: Biosand Filters

Clean water is taken for granted more often then not in Canada. We are blessed to have enough water to drink, wash, clean, and of course keep our landscapes looking green and lush. Team Nicaragua and Rockscape Design aim to make clean water available to those who see it as a luxury.

Biosand Filters are an extremely effective way to create clean drinking water. They are affordable, when you consider a donation of $350 will supply one filter to a family and it will produce clean water for 20 years. They are reasonably portable and easy to install. And they do not require the use of electricity.

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Biosand filters are not a new concept, but adapted from a traditional sand water filter that have been used for 0ver 200 years. The biosand filter is smaller (about 1 m tall, 0.3 m wide on each side) and adapted so that it does not flow continuously, making it suitable for use in people’s homes. The filter container can be made of concrete or plastic. It is filled with layers of specially selected and prepared sand and gravel. The sand removes pathogens and suspended solids from contaminated drinking water. A biological community of bacteria and other micro-organisms grows in the top 2 cm of sand. This is called the biolayer. The micro-organisms in the biolayer eat many of the pathogens in the water, improving the water treatment.


The filter containers that are built from the money we raise our made of concrete, they are made by local Biosand technician, Pete Moreira and a team of Nicaraguans that he hires to work alongside him. The containers take approximately 15 mans hours to build over the course of a couple weeks as the concrete must set and go through a curing process. It’s so important that we get the funds early (our trip is from Feb 14-24, 2014).

To create a sense of ownership and feeling of accomplishment, a few strong members of each family, carry their filter to their home from town. After that, members of Nicaragua Team which include many from Rockscape Design, assemble the filter. Including the sands, and gravel.


How Does the Biosand Filter Work?

You can use any kind of water in the biosand filter – well water, borehole water, pond or river water, tap-stand water, or rainwater. This makes it very convenient for people because they can use whichever water source is closest to home, make it safe to drink. The water must not have been chlorinated though, or the chlorine will kill the biolayer. The water should also not contain any dangerous chemicals, because the biosand filter cannot remove most chemicals from water.

Contaminated water is poured into the top of the biosand filter at least once per day (but not continuously). The water poured into the top of the filter slowly drips through the holes in the diffuser, and flows down through the sand and gravel. Treated water flows out of the outlet tube. No power is required – the filter works by gravity. It should take about 1 hour to get 12-18 litres of filtered drinking water.

Pathogens and suspended solids are removed through biological and physical processes that take place in the sand. These processes include: mechanical trapping, predation, adsorption, and natural death.


We are trying to raise the funds to provide all 50 families in El Ocotal, Nicaragua with a Biosand Filter. Along with the filters a medical team is sent into the village to remove existing viruses and parasites, within three months we have a healthy, thriving village.


We are still along way from our goal of 50 filters for the town of El Ocotal, we’d ideally like to raise the money by the beginning of November. We’re aiming high, but we really hope we can do it. If you can, help us fill our cup!

For more information on how to help please see Water Wednesday: Project Nicaragua or feel free to Contact Us.

Information on Biosand Filters can be found at