Chris Kaiser is a Pennsylvanian Vermonter that comes from a large family with three brothers, two sisters and an army of nieces and nephews. Spending all of his time split between the woods and a baseball diamond, Chris is an outdoorsman, that has unknowingly been engaged in a hobby since his first home at the age of 24. After successfully building businesses since the fifth grade, Chris Kaiser now finds himself applying his creative knack and attention to detail to the art of property beautification. This is not landscaping, but rather a “bigger picture” view of your entire living area.
What is your hobby?
Some call it landscaping, but I call it property beautification. Why have three different properties, with three different usages, and pay three sets of taxes?
How did you get started with this hobby? What inspired you?
When I was 24 I bought my first home and became infatuated with creating interesting paths, hang out areas, gardens and usable appeal. Instead of a square lawn with a typical garden, I wanted more substance. A campfire area back near the woods, so it felt like a getaway, a lot of sea grass near the patio so it felt like the beach, an outdoor shower, some trails to walk in my woods.
Tell us what you love about it.
I think I love the creativity and exercise of this hobby the most. The possibilities of things to create are endless, but they take labor. Building a camping lean-to back on your property with some cross-country ski trails, including trail signs is so fun! Utilizing building skills and digging, raking and cutting gives you all the exercise you could possibly want…and its outside. The finished products for me are not just a bunch of plants and bushes neatly placed around your house for visual value, but rather they are usable finished products for good health, sport, and fun.
Have you had to invest in equipment and if so, please share some of the things you’ve bought.
Generally, to do any property work, I need a few basics. A good ax, shovel, pickax, rake, and chainsaw, With those I can pretty much do anything. Of course, as you get into this type of hobby you will find yourself wanting more. A brush mower, fire rake, power screwdriver, hand saw and a hammer will allow you to build anything your heart desires.
Where do you buy most of your supplies?
I could spend hours in a Tractor Supply or hardware store. Some people think its just boring hammers and nails, but I look around and get ideas. Sometimes just seeing a particular bolt or saw gives me like 10 new ideas for an outdoor shower, floating dock for the pond or a new log hut for having coffee on a cold ski afternoon.
Are there any good books for beginners?
I have not really found any. TV shows tend to do things with an army of people and a healthy amount of money. I look at property beautification as using what is there. Simple restructuring or cleaning up areas of your property to use them for something. Like building a cool bench made out of a tree, specifically placed to watch the sunset for an hour. Simple things like that. If you do enough of them, suddenly you have a retreat.
How has this changed your life?
My hobby has allowed for another outlet to my creativity. Fitness and the outdoors has always been the core of my life, but so has creativity. When I look at any property whether its 1 acre or 100 acres, I see a blank canvas. I feel as if the sky is the limit. So doing property beautification not only increases the value of the property but allows for genuine hard work and an outlet.
What advice do you have for others starting out with this hobby?
My advice to others trying to do some things to their property is simply draw a map or write it out first. Sometimes I will draw an entire map of a three year plan, so I am not just spinning my wheels. If its something you want, then its not wrong. Meaning doing it your way, that makes you happy is usually the right way. For things I have never done before, I will research a little on how others have done it, and then mix in my desire. Again, this is not landscaping. To me landscaping is just adding eye candy to parts of the house for color and feel. Property beautification is much much bigger than that. Its usable, functional and situational.