By Liz Johnson

Summer vacation may look a little different this year. Instead of trips to the shore or mountain escapes, our best respite may be our own back yard. A little sprucing up may make staying home seem more like paradise than we realize. Here are a few easy steps (featuring Happening List experts that can help!) to get you started:

Step 1: Surround yourself with lush foliage

Decide if you want to plant pretty flowers and shrubbery or healthy (and tasty!) fruits and veggies, or do both! Then get planting. These local garden stores are offering safe options for online and in-store shopping, and the staff can help with all of your gardening questions.

J&J Landscaping and Garden Center

143 Route 31, Flemington

The Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Best Garden Center will get you started with easy to grow plants if you’re just beginning to dabble in the garden. If you want more of a flare, they can build you an outdoor kitchen or fireplace, transform a dirt lot into a beautiful hardscaped patio or build you a cabana.

Rutgers Landscape and Nursery

1051 Route 202, Ringoes

Offering 12 acres of plants and trees to explore, this Hunterdon Happening Garden Center Finalist offers design services and hosts various events from Ladies Nights and Ice Cream Socials to landscape design ideas or classes on composting. While none are currently scheduled due to COVID19, check back under the events tab on the nursery’s Website:

Step 2: Swim in azure waters

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool already, you’re probably going to be using it more than ever this summer! So you’ll want to make sure everything is clean and running properly.

Central Jersey Pool Management


With more than 38 years of pool upkeep experience, this Hunterdon Happening Winner for Best Pool Service will keep your pool waters crystal clear throughout the summer. In addition, they offer Red Cross certification to keep the nonswimmers in your family safe.

Dun Rite Pool

1483 Route 179, Lambertville

In addition to pool cleaning services and supplies, this Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Pool Service also sells and maintains spas and offers a selection of high quality grills and smokers and patio furniture. Summer lovin’ just got a whole lot easier. They’re currently offering curbside pickup for pool chemicals and supplies.

Water Wizard Pools, Inc.

76 Reaville Ave., Flemington

If your pool is in need of a makeover, this Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Pool Service has a host of ways to give it new life, from retiling to replacing vinyl liners to plastering or even landscaping. They’ll even build you a koi pond for a relaxing night under the stars.

Step 3: Spruce up your landscaping

To fully enjoy your yard, you’re going to want it to look its best. Lush green grass, fresh mulch and beautiful plants do wonders for creating your little haven. Whether you need to completely revamp your landscaping or just need someone to come for regular maintenance, there are local experts that can help.

William LaRue Services


Owned and operated by William LaRue, this Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Best Landscaper specializes in tree care and lawn maintenance. His customers rave that he’s easy to work with, reliable and leaves every project clean.

Hill Landscaping


This Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Landscaping Company prides itself on creating “Paradise at Home.” Using locally grown, mature plants and trees and employing artisan technique they’ll make it so you’ll never want to leave your own back yard. Plus, they offer a 1-year guarantee on their work.

Neighborhood Maintenance Services, LLC


Hiring this Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Landscaping Company is like having that friendly, talented neighbor stop over to give you a hand.Their employees are all locals who have a combined 50 years of experience in outdoor work. They also offer free estimates on their Website:

Stony Brook Helpers

Whitehouse Station

If you’re looking for strong arms and legs to clean up debris, get rid of old appliances as well as cut your grass or care for your trees, check out this Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Landscaping coming. Customers say Stony Brook Helpers really bring their yards to life.

Step 4: Maintain a clear view

Once you’ve created that backyard oasis, you’re going to want to view it from all angles, including your kitchen window. There’s nothing like clean windows to give you that sense of pride you’ve earned.

Atlantic Window Cleaning

6 4th Street, Frenchtown

Check out this Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Window Cleaner  which also does soft home siding or roof cleaning, concrete power washing, residential trash can cleaning and commercial air duct cleaning.

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