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The Taylor Family Mini-Farm Project

Battered by the “weeds of life,” his widow and
children are happy to see his dreams again take root.

If stress, suffering and grief grew like noxious weeds, Jennie Taylor said her unkempt little farm in North Ogden could be a picture of 2020. That overgrown lot has also reminded her daily that her husband, former North Ogden Mayor Brent Russell Taylor, is gone, killed in 2018 while on Army National Guard duty in Afghanistan. Those 5-foot weeds showed somehow that she and her seven children, ages 3 to 15, were unable to keep up, too overwhelmed since his death to nurture one of Taylor’s dreams – that the small farm might teach the value of quiet hard work with an eye on posterity. Now it has become emblematic of the coronavirus pandemic, too.

“I thought my life turned upside down in 2018, when my husband was killed and now the entire world is upside down,” she said this week. “It’s been so eye opening. But weeds are what life is full of sometimes, right? You try so hard to plant and cultivate, and then you turn around and some kind of pest has taken over.”

Thursday began a transformation as donors, led by one of the region’s largest landscaping firms, Stratton & Brätt Landscapes, launched a three-day overhaul of the farm to bring it back to working life and make it easier to maintain. The “major’s mini-farm,” as the family calls it, was his love. However his day had gone at City Hall, Brent Taylor liked to come home and dive into farm work with his kids, his widow said. She calls the place a metaphor for the family’s life without him.

Volunteers Help Fulfill Dream Of Former North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor

Prior to his death in 2018, then-North Ogden Mayor and Utah National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor wanted to use his “mini-farm” to help teach his children lessons about life.

Two years after he was killed in Afghanistan, preserving the space has proven to be trying for his widow, Jennie Taylor.

“It’s been really overwhelming in the three seasons that he’s been gone to try to keep up on it and water it and weed it,” Taylor said. “Getting little kids to work in the farm is a lot of work.”

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Lasting Memories Start in Utah’s Own Backyards

by Zack Stratton, CEO, Stratton and Brätt

Your Endless Backyard Vacation Awaits

Spring was spent doing online school, summer was full of canceled vacations and family gatherings, and the fall season brought distanced Trick-or-Treating and empty football stadiums.

The pandemic presents an opportunity for us to focus on our families and the sanctuary that a home can be. A landscape that is both stunning and practical gives homeowners the chance to create a little slice of paradise among the chaos.

Our family firm, Stratton and Brätt, is the largest and longest serving privately owned landscaping company in the region, specializing in bringing landscapes to life. Our work includes the masterful scenery at several LDS temples around the world, stunning artscapes at Thanksgiving Point, the grounds for the new Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy, and many high-end residential homes along the Wasatch Front.

After the pandemic hit, all of us found out there were little options to family recreational activities; you can only hike your favorite trail only so many times. Aaron Brinkerhoff, our residential landscape manager at Stratton and Brätt, found his job incredibly busy.

Trampolines weren’t the only things sold out. “When families found out this last summer that they couldn’t rely on public pools for fun, we had a huge increase in pool installation requests,” he said. “And really, why not? With a pool or pickleball court in your own backyard, you can swim and play safely anytime of the year, avoid crowded courts and rec centers, and create those memories with your children or grandchildren.”

A backyard pool or splash pad can do just that. Families interested in installing a stunning aquatic feature should consider a few key things before signing a contract. Safety, quality and maintenance are important factors to research. Here’s the gist:


When most people think of a backyard pool, they picture a gorgeous oasis with laughing groups of family or friends. Or maybe a peaceful setting where they can relax with their favorite drink. Or both. A pool can definitely be those things, but it also needs to be safe. Every pool built in Utah must be fenced-in, either within the entire yard or just the pool itself. As an added layer of security where children and pets are involved, most customers opt for a sturdy cover. An alarm system is another great way to keep everyone safe and out of the pool without supervision.


A pool is a big investment, so it needs to be beautiful, functional, and long-lasting. No one wants to regret a lifechanging purchase like that. Look beyond just the initial price tag because reliable filtration systems, superior materials and installation practices are worth it in the long run. Unique features like a cleaning robot, a mobile app for heating and lighting control, a hot tub, a waterslide, fountains and even fire pits, make the pool owning experience practical and enjoyable for everyone.


Aquatic maintenance may sound overwhelming, but once a system is in place it really doesn’t have to be. Depending on budget and interest, there are several approaches to keeping a pool pristine and pleasant to swim in.

“Our pools come with several months of maintenance built in to the contract to help get you going, and that can be extended indefinitely to make it really simple for the owners,” Brinkerhoff says. Alternatively, do-it-yourself solutions are possible, although they take another precious resource: time. If neither of those plans is the right fit, Brinkerhoff says, “You can always install automation and a robot that will do a lot of that work for you!”

With features like full pool automation, controlled lighting for ambience, a splash deck for younger children or for lounging, and jetted options, your Stratton and Brätt pool is the envy of the neighborhood. Our company can even help design environmentally-friendly options that use salt water and clean energy to reduce the impact of the pool on the planet.

If you’re dreaming of swimming in your own backyard pool next summer, you’ll want to jump in now. Because of the high demand, pool installations are a few months out. Imagine your family’s smiles, on Christmas morning, when they see how much better summer 2021 is going to be, with their own endless swimming vacation.

Ready for your Endless Summer Vacation? Contact us and let’s get started!

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Beyond Gravel and Succulents: Four Ways to Incorporate Xeriscaping Without Giving up a Beautiful Landscape

By Perry Brätt
Featured in Utah Construction & Design - November 2020 Issue 

For the past several decades, xeriscaping— or creating an outdoor space that doesn’t require a lot of irrigation—has been a popular way to create a beautiful landscape without relying on an abundant water supply. Clean, safe water is a limited resource that animals, plants and humans alike need in order to grow and thrive, so it makes sense to limit its use in dryer areas like in large portions of Utah. Despite its many advantages, xeriscaping can be a hard sell to people and corporations who love the look of a lush, green lawn.

Xeriscaping is often thought of as a sparse landscape with few to zero plants— but xeriscaping is about so much more than sparse planting and an overabundance of rocks. There is no official water use threshold that defines when a landscape becomes a true xeriscape project. The spirit of this kind of landscape design is to limit the impact of an outdoor space on its surrounding environment.

Here are four things to consider when incorporating xeriscaping into a residence or corporate environment, each allowing for less water without sacrificing plant options:

  1. Water recycling
    For some projects, large trees or lush vegetation are a necessity. Whether
    for privacy, oxygenation, shade or for structures like treehouses, larger
    plants can add a lot of value to the space they’re in. However, they often
    use a lot of water. Recycling is one way to offset the high impact on the
    environment. Rain can be collected and used in irrigation systems.
    Innovative water features can even use pumps to recycle rainwater or
    runoff. Additionally, features like rain gardens and permeable pavers help absorb water and return it to the soil.
  2. Local plants
    A basic principle of xeriscaping is that plants should be acclimated
    to the local climate. The reason local plants use less water is that
    they’re already adapted to the soil and hydrology of the region. Native
    plants have evolved to survive in the area without human intervention,
    so they can continue to thrive with natural rainfall and weather
    patterns. Not only do local plants generally require less water, they
    usually need less maintenance and fertilizer as well, so planting
    them can save money and reduce the amount of chemicals that seep
    into the ground. Native plants are naturally great for native species like
    birds and pollinators, too.
  1. Redefining turf
    There’s no need to give up a manicured greenspace in pursuit
    of an environmentally-friendly landscape design. Project managers
    and clients just need to adjust their conception of what grass looks
    and feels like. There are a variety of grasses available that will add that
    soft, green feel to an outdoor design without draining the local water
    reservoir. A promising specimen is the turf-type tall fescue. New
    cultivations have a strong green color with deeper roots and a higher
    drought tolerance. Turf-type tall fescue uses up to 30-percent less
    water than traditional bluegrass, so it’s a great option for xeriscaping
    when used in moderation.
  2. Unconventional choices
    A well-balanced landscape is about more than just plants. Play spaces,
    synthetic turf, lounge areas, fire pits, hammocks, sandboxes, paths,
    swinging benches and large outdoor games are all alternatives to water-using plants. Creative solutions like these add usable, beautiful touches to a planned landscape project without using more water. By reframing the ideas and philosophy of what landscape design has to be, landscaping can both look green and be green at the same time. The EPA estimates
    that 30-percent of the water the average American family uses is devoted to outdoor application. Utah is not only one of the driest states in the nation, it’s one of the fastest-growing. Wise water management is a key strategy to help keep the Utah economy strong.

Perry Brätt is a founder of Stratton and Brätt. For more than five decades, the Brätt brothers have been creating beautiful landscapes to spec and on budget. Brätt holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and general contractor and engineer licenses.

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New Pool Safety Device Prevents Potentially Fatal Chemical Leaks

Developed by Stratton & Brätt, the secondary safety device meets new state code requiring them.

The change in code comes after a number of instances where certain pool’s primary safety systems malfunctioned, causing chlorine and hydrochloric acid to mix together.

The chlorine and hydrochloric acid that are normally used to maintain pH levels and disinfect the pool were both fed into the circulation line that was not moving during daily maintenance to the system. When the power was turned back on, the system pushed the chemicals out into the pool where people were swimming, which created mustard gas.

Two of those instances occurred in Utah County, sending patrons to the hospital. Both were attributed to mechanical failure within the pool’s system.

We created a solution

No matter what type of pool system is in use, the secondary safety system can be installed to the electrical side of things.

With over 3,000 public use pools that will have to be in compliance with the state code, Stratton and Brätt hopes to be the main supplier.

Parker added the system he helped to develop is the only one that he knows of. Stratton and Brätt officials felt as if they had a duty to the public to maintain their safety as well as a duty to the aquatic industry to help keep pools open.

Additional News Coverage

The story begins at 18:00.

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