Bloodgood Japanese Maple2sm

Three Hardy Midwest Plants that Create an Eye-Catching Landscape

Three Hardy Midwest Plants that Create an Eye-Catching Landscape

According to the USDA, central Indiana and most of the Midwest are smack in the middle of two hardiness zones. For landscapers and gardeners everywhere, the zone is a guideline to what plants will do best in those regions. Luckily for residents of the central Midwest, there are a lot of plants that thrive well in that area. Here are three plants that are sure to please and add a delightful, eye-catching focal point to your landscape.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple Tree

This is a sturdy plant with brilliant red foliage that is an eye-catching addition to any landscape. Unlike many colored plants and trees, this attractive beauty maintains its color all through the seasons when it has its leaves. In contrast, this stunning tree has a silvery bark that adds to its allure. During the winter, like other leaf bearing trees, it will shed its colorful array, but its quick growth pattern and tall stature of up to 15 feet make it a popular choice in any zone from 5 through 9.

Perfume Shrub Rose

Perfume Shrub Rose


Add beauty and fragrance to any Midwestern garden or lawn with the attractive Perfume Shrub Rose. This elegant plant is a hearty shrub that stands 4-5 feet in height and is up to 3 feet wide and during its bloom is covered by grapefruit sized roses.

The fragrance is strong and citrus scented. It does best in full sun and makes a great border and ornamental plant. The rose colors of this plant are only white and are accompanied by a deep green, glossy foliage for a truly stunning appearance.

Pampas Grass Perennial


Pampas Grass is a colorful perennial that does very well in this climate. It comes in several shades, is very easy to care for and provides a tall, ornate border to any location.

Pampas Grass can reach heights up to thirteen feet and spread out as much as six feet wide. It comes in a variety of colors with plumes ranging from a light tan to bright, neon pink that appear in the late summer. The foliage of the plant stays a deep green year round, and even in snowy winter months can be a beautiful focal point. Plant it in clumps to create a featured spot or in a line for a very high privacy border. One word of caution with Pampas Grass: It is very prolific. Where you plant it, it will not only grow, it will multiply.

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Have an existing swimming pool, but it’s become more work than fun? Maybe it is time for some swimming pool renovations and upgrades.

Then it might be time to update and remodel your swimming pool and turn it into the focal point of your outdoor living area? There are many reasons to start considering swimming pool renovations on an older pool, hot tub or spa. It could be structural, to fix the aging cracked or broken concrete surfaces surrounding an older pool. Swimming pool renovations could also be in order to expand the pool decking to add more living space on a swimming pool that had only minimal decking surfaces poured in when it was originally installed.


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Another primary reason to start a swimming pool renovation could come from a lifestyle change. Many pools are initially installed when families have small children to have a place to cool off during hot Midwestern summers. Many times kids and younger parents were all in the pool together as part of family fun time. But often these swimming pools are installed with minimal pool decks surrounding the pool and with very few other outdoor living amenities. Over time the kids will only want to swim with their friends, and parents hang out nearby. There are more occasions to have more entertaining outside and occasions for parties or get-togethers, but the small exposed pool deck offers very few areas to gather or comfortably entertain. The aging, and minimal sized pool deck will then necessitate some improvements and renovations.



FirePit_Pool_Waterfall_Fountain_PatioThe biggest question asked when considering hot tub, spa or swimming pool renovations? Do we have to start over and remove everything? Almost always, the answer is no, especially when it comes to the structural part of the pool itself. In fact, if the pool equipment and plumbing systems are working well, most of the work can concentrate on upgrading the swimming pool deck itself and adding on outdoor living elements. Cross Points Landscaping has decades of performing creative and inspiring pool renovations and transformations. We are often brought in on these projects to offer more highly creative and innovative design solutions that will incorporate the swimming pool area as a focal point of a much larger outdoor entertainment area.



Some of the different exterior elements we can incorporate into the hot tub, spa or pool renovation include:

To see even more project pictures of our swimming pool renovations click here.

outdoor kitchen and bar grill entertainment space indianapolis


Looking to install a new Outdoor Kitchen and Bar?

You love spending time outdoors with your family and friends, and when entertaining outdoors most of your parties or get-togethers revolve around food and drinks. It’s not much different than entertaining indoors, and this correlation is what has contributed to the current rise in popularity of building outdoor kitchens and bars. In fact, outdoor kitchens are now becoming the focal point of backyard entertaining areas over swimming pools and hot tubs. And what better way to relax after a busy day at work than relaxing outside with family and friends around a few drinks and some freshly grilled BBQ.

So what do I need to consider for planning a new outdoor kitchen and bar?

At Cross Points Landscaping our design staff will use these same planning tools when designing and building out a new outdoor kitchen or bar. And keep in mind just like with any other landscape or home remodeling project, developing plans and designs are key to having a smooth project that meets your needs and fufils your ‘vision’.

1) What is the condition of my current outdoor entertaining space, patio or deck?

outdoor kitchen bar indianapolis entertainment area outdoor lifestyle

An Outdoor Kitchen and Bar under Construction

This is important to keep in mind as you develop the list of outdoor components you want to incorporate into your outdoor kitchen. The current space may not be sufficient in size, location or structural strength to just drop a new outdoor kitchen on top of it or around it. In fact most of the new outdoor kitchens/bars we install also incorporate  building a new outdoor space or patio (or significant rebuilding) that will be needed for adding in this type of structure. Keep in mind most of the structural components need to build out any outdoor elements are bigger and heavier than what is used indoors. Instead of 2×4 studs, drywall, and ‘wood’ based indoor building components, out door building components will consist of concrete (CMU) or landscape blocks, concrete boards, metal/steel frames, etc. The structure of these outdoor building components are what give them the strength and durability to last in an outdoor environment. An existing patio or deck more than likely was not constructed to support just building on top of an existing structure and doing so could cause them to fail if doing so. Also look at the size of your existing patio or deck, there may not be enough space to comfortably add on an outdoor kitchen and still have room for additional outdoor furniture or dining tables.

2) How do I want to utilize an outdoor kitchen and how does it work with the rest of my outdoor spaces?

This is a big part of getting a good design developed for our clients when we build a new outdoor kitchen. Are you just looking to add some addition convenience to your existing grill? Or do you want a fully functional outdoor kitchen that can be used to both prepare and cook an entire meal without the use of any indoor components? Maybe you are an avid grilling and BBQ hobbyist wanting to be able to cook outside 12 months a year. Since there are very few limits to what is possible to design and build in an outdoor kitchen or bar these days this is an important question to answer, and then take those ideas and set them up in priorities. Maybe an outdoor sink is something you would like to have, but can live without if the cost of running water out to it becomes a budget breaker. This also helps if you need to phase parts of a project in over time. Some planning for items that can be added later will be easy to plan for during initial construction and will likely save money down the road if these components can be allocated for in additional phases. Fitting an outdoor kitchen into the overall functionality of the rest of your outdoor living spaces is also a key goal for our designers. Making the outdoor kitchen work with the rest of your backyard living spaces are important so the entire space functions together.

3) What components do I want included in my outdoor kitchen and bar?

outdoor-kitchens-bars-counter-sinkAgain, the different components, outdoor appliances, and features available for outdoor kitchens and bars are limited only by your imagination and budget. Do you want a dedicated outdoor blender for making smoothies? How about an outdoor beer keg cooler and tap? Do I want both a gas grill and charcoal smoker? The list of available components or features is considerably long, and when our designers work with our customers we typically put this list together and then prioritze it based on: 1)Must haves, 2) Would like to have(s), and then 3) Wish items. The primary center point of most outdoor kitchens is a grill and other cooking elements. The availability and functions of grilling and cooking elements is a blog article all in itself, so check out our blog on grilling options here. Other components to consider for an outdoor kitchen and bar include:

  • Smokers and ‘Egg’ Cookers. More info on these great units in our grill selection blog. But these are great for true slow cooked BBQ.
  • External Burners & Griddles. Again more info on these here. For preparing a true outdoor cooked meal, these are extremely helpful. And who wouldn’t want to enjoy Sunday morning pancakes outside!
  • Pizza Ovens. Specific units or hoods for grilling pizzas outdoors. More info available here.
  • Grill Station. This is the simplest form of an outdoor kitchen. Most often used with an existing stand alone grill. This is typically an area built for adding counter space or an additional component where an existing grill is just slid into.
  • Exterior grade refrigerators and beverage coolers. This can range from true refrigerators to beverage chests that just hold ice. Most exterior grade ‘fridges have the evaporator units housed differently and are short units made to be place under a counter to add extra protection from the elements. Cooling drawer units are great for outdoors for storing salads, desserts, etc.
  • outdoor kitchen bar indianapolis outdoor entertainingBar/Beverage Prep Units. These are typically a built in component made to hold ice, fruit, beverage mixes, bar utensils, etc. Great for utilizing an outdoor bar and preparing drinks during a cookout or party.
  • Storage Units, Drawers and Cabinets. Sames as indoor kitchens, needed to keep the outdoor kitchen organized and reduces the need to having to keep bringing items in and out from inside. Mostly constructed in stainless steel with sturdier hinges or rollers than indoor units. There are also built in cabinet structures for holding trash and recyclables.
  • Sinks. Very convenient to have for clean up and food prep. Can be complicated to get a water source extended outside and drained properly in the winter. Never try to hook one up through an existing irrigation system.
  • Wine Center. Wine is becoming more and more popular every year as an entertainment focal point. Naturally there are now ‘Wine Centers’ made for the outdoors. These include specific outdoor wine coolers, glass holders, bottle holders, and bottle racks. We are designing more outdoor bars centered on the ‘Wine’ lifestyle, and what better way than having an outdoor evening of fun with friends by having an Wine party under the stars! And what better way to have that party next to an Outdoor Fireplace or Fire Pit.
  • Access Panels. Important to have built in around areas where access to some of the mechanical hook ups are located for grills, fridges or sinks. Make sure you have access to reach areas that need seasonal service or are around gas hook ups or shut off valves. Often we design these with door panels and use some of the space for storage.
  • Counter Tops. Similar to interior kitchen counter tops, outdoor kitchen counter tops come in many options. At Cross Points Landscaping we use granite quite often, but also use some other natural slab stones such as limestone, bluestone, and travertine. We tend to use thicker slabs that hold together better and all can be custom cut into the final shape similar to working with granite. As with granite sealers are always recommended.

4) What else should I consider when planning an outdoor kitchen and bar?

Once a design starts coming together for a great outdoor kitchen or bar there may be a need for some additional elements to compliment the kitchen area. Some of these items may be needed since there will be an increased amount of time spent outside or that make the area usable for longer periods of time. Here is a list of some additional outdoor elements to consider before starting construction.

  • Electric Access. Not only is this needed to run certain outdoor kitchen components, but consider adding some exterior outlets in convenient locations. If you have a grill with a rotisserie unit, place one near the grill itself, others can be spaced throughout the rest of the area as needed. This can be hard to add on after the fact.
  • Lighting: Again, another feature that is often over looked until after using the outdoor kitchen for awhile. Summer days can get a little hot to grill or cook out during the warmer parts of the day, so often people will use the outdoor kitchen will be used after the sun goes down. Many people find themselves entertaining in the evenings as well so additional lighting is often needed. When Cross Points Landscaping designs lighting into our outdoor kitchens, we often incorporate different lighting zones. A direct lighting zone for cooking and meal preparation and then a zone of softer lighting for entertaining.
  • carpentry_pergola_detail_005Shade Structure. Also often comes up later as the outdoor kitchen area is used more and more often. Again, during the daytime the outdoor kitchen area can become very hot if it is exposed directly to the sun. Adding a shade or roof structure such as a pergola can cool an area down significantly when it is shielded from the direct sun. These structures are also a great place to add lights and fans from, not to mention keeping the rain away while you are finishing grilling up some ribs or burgers. You can see some examples of our outdoor roof and shade structures here.

Lastly, what are some things to consider when constructing an outdoor kitchen or bar?
Again, plan well with a good design so the area is utilized to match your needs and how you want to utilize the space for entertaining. With good design and good construction, an outdoor kitchen can be a great place to spend some wonderful time with family and friends, all while increasing the time spent outdoors. Outdoor kitchens and bars are constructed ‘outdoors’ so keep in mind that both the construction materials and kitchen components need to be able to stand up to the weather and being outside. Using items that aren’t made for these conditions will most likely fail or breakdown, and it will happen quickly. Also, with good planning certain components or elements can be phased in over a few seasons with minimal amounts of rework. This is not uncommon for us here at Cross Points Landscaping as a Design/Build company to phase in projects over time, so let us put your vision into a great design and we will work on a phased process for construction.

Need some outdoor grilling recipes and drink ideas:

Fast & Fresh Summer Drinks .
BBQ & Grilling Recipes .
What Are The Best Grilling Steaks .
Vegetarian Grilling Recipes .




Looking to add an outdoor kitchen to your backyard?

If so, one of the primary components of the outdoor kitchen is the grill or grilling system. This is also one of the most expensive components of an outdoor kitchen and choosing the wrong one can be a costly mistake. At Cross Points Landscaping we are building more and more outdoor kitchens every year, and I have been building them for close to three decades now. When we start a design for an outdoor kitchen we base the layout and flow of the entire area based on the type of grill or grilling systems the customer wants. We will walk through some processes we go through to come up with the best grilling option to center your outdoor kitchen around.

What are the different types of grilling options available?

There are many different grilling units and components to start considering to incorporate into an outdoor kitchen. Here are some of the different components available:

Primary Grill Outdoor Kitchen

Primary Grill Outdoor Kitchen

  • Primary Grill. We will go into this in more detail down below, quite a few options available.
  • Grilling Station. This really is a type of outdoor kitchen in itself. A grilling station is often a smaller counter section that is meant to be built up around an existing stand alone grill. A great simple solution if you currently own a pretty nice grill already. Other outdoor kitchen components such as refrigerators, sinks, or cabinets can be built in to the structure surrounding the grill.
  • Side Burners/Griddle. These are similar burner units that are found on stand along grills. For an outdoor kitchen with all components that will be ‘built-in’, these burners can be bigger and sturdier than found on a stand alone unit. Great for preparing side dishes that cook at different temperatures and times than the primary item being grilled.
  • Pizza Oven. Families love these and are a lot of fun for parties with a lot of children. These can either be stand alone units that are heated with wood or charcoal that are built out of masonry structures or some gas grills have a replaceable hood that lets you slide pizzas in and out. For wood and charcoal units chicken wings are amazing when cooked in these ovens with more of a smokey flavor that you can’t get many other ways.
brick pizza oven outdoor kitchen grill

Chicago Brick Oven

  • Egg Smoker outdoor kitchen

    Egg Cooker/Smoker

    Smokers or Egg Shaped Ceramic Cookers. Do you love making authentic slow cooked BBQ? Smokers and the new ceramic ‘Egg’ shaped cookers are the way to go. Are these the best way to quickly cook up some burgers or thin steaks and chops? Not really, but thicker cut chops, briskets, and ribs are absolutely amazing when using these slow cooking, low heat units. These are typically fueled with the use of charcoal and wood but gas units are also available. We have been using these units paired with a gas grill unit on most of our outdoor kitchens over the last few years. The gas grill gives you the option to cook a lot of food faster for large parties or when you don’t have as much time to grill. Then use the smoker or ‘Egg’ cooker when you have time for a deeper flavored BBQ meal.

  • Warming Drawer. These are typically placed below a built in grill unit. They aren’t used that often but if you are preparing a large amount of food for a party or have a variety of foods that are cooked at different times, these are great to have.
  • Rotisserie. Another grilling element that isn’t used that often, but when it is used for certain cuts of meat, vegetables, or chicken it can make a meal spectacular. Most grills still allow for dropping in a rotisserie, but some need to have the hoods special ordered to allow for one. We typically try to place an electrical outlet near the grill to allow for providing power to these units.

outdoor kitchen grill egg cooker indianapolis

What are some consideration for choosing a primary grill?

There are quite a few factors that we look at with our customers when finding the right type and size of the primary grill. We look through most grills and pick a multi-burner unit that is about 25% bigger than what they may have used in the past. This allows for cooking a large  amount of food for a party or event, but can also be scaled down to just cook up a couple burgers or a few steaks. Especially with a gas grill you can use as much or as little of the grill as you need. As a rule of thumb we don’t like to use anything under a 36″ grill, and we tend to go more often into the 50″+ range. Remember, you are putting in a nice outdoor kitchen so you can grill or entertain more often with more people. Outdoor kitchens are very similar to the baseball diamond in the movie ‘Field of Dreams’ – “If you build it, they will come”. Other considerations we look at for a primary grill:

Built in Gas Grill for an Outdoor Kitchen

  • Gas or Charcoal. Some people are die-hard charcoal and wood cookers, and I love cooking with charcoal and wood. But a gas grill is really convenient and can be ready to grill on within minutes after a few pushes of the igniter. For built ins, these units work great and most of our primary grills are gas units. For cooking large amounts of food for parties gas units are tough to beat. There are some built-in grill units that use charcoal or can be used with both charcoal or gas. The units tend to be more pricey and are special order from almost all suppliers, they have a drawer unit along the bottom of the built ins that spent charcoal is emptied. We haven’t used one in a few years now as we have been building more outdoor kitchens with a primary gas grill along with an ‘Egg’ shaped cooker or smoker.
  • Propane (LP) or Natural Gas. Whenever possible we try to use a natural gas line for our built in grill units. Again, this option is extremely convenient not having to keep filling up and switching out LP tanks. There is some additional upfront cost to run a gas line out from a home to the kitchen area, and care must be given to match the supply line to the size of the grill and the length of the gas line. But if done correctly, the grill will be easy to operate for a long time, and no more worries run low on LP in the middle of a cook out. LP sometimes may be the only option if there isn’t a natural gas supply available or if the location is too far away. When LP is the only source available, we try to allocate enough storage for two tanks to be connected at all times. LP can be difficult to manage and for large grill units working long periods for parties, can easily run through a complete tank.
  • charcoal drop in grill outdoor kitchen

    Charcoal Built In Grill

    Charcoal. I love cooking with charcoal. My father still cooks with charcoal. I loved my kettle Weber, and my first smoker was a charcoal/wood Weber unit that I learned how to deep smoke a brisket and short ribs on. But I don’t always have time to get a charcoal grill prepped up. I tended to have time on weekends for charcoal, but on weekdays I didn’t have as much time to ‘fire’ up the Weber. So, that being said I have a gas grill I use quite a bit during the week and on weekends I ‘fire’ up a charcoal smoker. For parties or a bigger get-together, I will put some nice cuts on the smoker ahead of time for the adults, and during the event I will cook up a bunch of burgers, hot dogs and brats on the gas grill for the kids. It works out great having both units available and we recommend the same set up all the time. If a charcoal or wood burning unit is part of your outdoor kitchen, make sure to allow for additional storage space to store the charcoal and wood in a dry, low moisture area that is easy to access.

  • Infrared Burner. These grill units still need a gas source to run their burners, but then the heat from the flames are focused onto ceramic tiles. The ceramic has thousands of microscopic holes on it that convert the heat into infrared energy, this heat is much higher and more persistent than what a standard grill can produce. Infrared grills can generate even and consistent temperatures of over 700 degrees. These grills can cook extremely fast and perfectly char the outside of a thick cut steak while leaving the middle perfectly pink and juicy in a matter of minutes. It is similar to cooking indoors with a high temperature broiler. These units have dropped in price over the last decade or so, but are still a premium over higher end gas grills.
  • Brands. As with any other product, a good brand name is important if it is also backed up with good performance and dependable service. In the Indianapolis market we try to utilize products that have a good supplier system to support them. On the few times we have had product issues, the products were able to be fixed in the field without have to send a unit back and wait for a replacement. Units bought from web based stores are time consuming and lack any usable technical support. Using a local supply source tends to be worth paying a little more over possibly trying to find support from an internet only company.

    Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

    Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

Our best advice when choosing a grill is to pull together the components that will meet your outdoor living needs plus can be utilized for entertainment events. And when choosing a grill don’t be worried about combining different components to give you a grilling system and not just a single unit that may struggle to meet all your needs.


Cross Points Landscaping Landscape Design


At Cross Points Landscaping we firmly believe that developing a landscape design is critical to ending up with the most impressively appealing & enduring landscape projects. This is why formulating a design is the critical start of our landscape design-build process. A great landscape design will maximize creativity, increase long term project quality, and maximize the value within the given budget. Following our collaborative landscape design build process will also decrease project installation time frames. Projects that are installed without designs (or poor quality ones) typically end with low work quality, over budget, lower levels of creativity, and tend to leave customers with more disappointments and surprises. Keep in mind very few other projects or products where you will be investing thousands of dollars ever get started without some form of a design or plan. Think of building a home, starting a house addition or buying a car or major appliance - all of them started with a design or plan.

Cross Points Landscaping Landscape Design

Does it take longer to get my project started while developing a Landscape Design?

A swimming pool renovation or landscape design/build project is a significant investment that has a minimum investment of thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars. Taking a little longer to develop a design or plan is time well spent in order to end up with a higher quality finished project. Collaborating with a customers during our landscape design build process is the only way we have found to produce a final project that is both high in quality and creativity. A well thought through landscape plan also maximizes the value of the project's budget. When it comes to completing a landscape project, a good design increases the efficiency during the construction process, this will actually DECREASE the duration of time needed to finish a project. In effect, the project may start a little later while developing a collaborative landscape design, but the project will finish far faster than other companies who try to just 'wing it'. In fact, if you are in a rush to just 'get started' on a project Cross Points Landscaping may not be the company for you.

How else does a 'Design' help me on my landscape or swimming pool renovation project?

landscape design build processOur landscape design-build process is 100% collaborative process with the customer. Give us your ideas, visions, or Pinterest picture boards of projects or exterior elements that inspire YOU, our experienced designers will take that information and develop creative 'Designs' that match your tastes, visions and budget. Cross Points Landscaping's designers will often develop a few design alternatives or product options for you to consider during the planning process that helps to complete the final vision of the design. Developing the project 'Design' using this process is the best way to help you visualize your landscape project before construction begins. Making changes during the 'Design' process is far easier, quicker, and far more cost effective than having to make a major change during the construction phase of a project.

At Cross Points Landscaping we also often employ powerful 3-D design software on certain projects that help you to see our 'Design' concepts in the same point of view as when they are built. A final project 'Design' also serve as the actual scaled working plans and blueprints that our production crews use to install your project, this way everyone is on the same page during the construction phase of your project. For more information about our production crews and the 'Build' phase of your project visit our Working With Us page.