ATLANTIC CITY - Some landscape specialists brought serious curb appeal to their displays at the 14th annual New Jersey Home & Garden Show this weekend, with elaborate outdoor dining areas, fireplaces and stone walkways.
For those such as Peter D'Alessandro, owner of Egg Harbor Township-based Designs by D'Alessandro, his 600-square-foot exhibit of paving stones, plants, and wood-burning outdoor fireplaces was impressive given show takes places inside the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Assembling it for the three-day show, which started Friday and runs through Sunday, meant about six hours of labor for him and two employees.
But the show, and the visual his exhibit provides, is worth the effort, he said.
"It's kind of a breaking point leading into spring," he said. "I think everybody's dying to get outside and a little bit of this is going to help them to get in the mood."
D'Alessandro, of Egg Harbor Township, said he had a busy year last year despite the economy, as work on projects such as homeowners switching outdoor halogen lighting to LEDs picked up.
"I think it's going to be a good year. We're busy, we already have jobs booked - a few patios, a few walkways, our maintenance department is always busy," he said. "What you count on is your hardscaping and landscaping."
Land Sculpture, a Medford-based landscape design and construction business, also had an elaborate display designed to draw eyes toward its work. The outdoor scene even invoked a bicycle and surfboard as props.
Owner Nathan Dort Ihlenfeld, also of Medford, predicted 2014 will be a good year for his business given the recent ups of the stock market.
"The stock market is up, which is one of the biggest reasons we get more work," he said. "Because we're not a necessity, when the economy's bad, we're the first thing to go."
Ihlenfeld said the company got more involved in drainage work in the past to help offset declines in other parts of the business.
"In a bad economy the drainage work has been one of our specialties," he said.
The New Jersey Home & Garden Show offers a variety of vendor categories, from gutter and fence companies to spa businesses to kitchen displays.
Sandy Fischer is the director of sales for Public Adjusters Associates, which has a booth at the show.
Fischer said the business, which has an office in Northfield, has been busy with homeowners with Hurricane Sandy-related issues, but also with those whose pipes frozen during this particularly cold winter.
"This year it's been a great number of homes that have had frozen pipes," he said. "People who left their homes and thought the temperature was at 55 and they lost heat, the pipes went."
The show continues today in Atlantic City from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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