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‘Green machine’ makes landscapes come alive

Luc d’Aignault drives his Hitachi excavator to move freezer-size boulders on second-growth forest property he owns in Langley. Sole owner of Lively Landscapes, d’Aignault will tackle landscape jobs large and small and uses his own land to show prospective clients what he can do.  - Jeff VanDerford
Luc d’Aignault drives his Hitachi excavator to move freezer-size boulders on second-growth forest property he owns in Langley. Sole owner of Lively Landscapes, d’Aignault will tackle landscape jobs large and small and uses his own land to show prospective clients what he can do.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

LANGLEY — When he was growing up in Connecticut, Luc d’Aignault helped his landscaper dad create solid rock walls.

At 14, he was building wilderness trails for the city of Boulder, Colo.

Now, at 26, he’s developed a business called Lively Landscapes on South Whidbey that specializes in rock walls, trails and a lot more.

With a little help from his Hitachi excavator — complete with rubber tracks, lights for night work plus a thumb and blade for moving rocks — d’Aignault considers himself a land re-modeler.

“When people have a piece of property covered with stumps, blackberries, big rocks and piles of dirt or garbage, my job is to clean it up so the property is ready to build on,” d’Aignault said. “I guess you’d say I give land a fresh look.”

But walls made of rock, now that’s what captures his imagination.

“A rock wall is permanent, it can last hundreds of years and be enjoyed by generations of people,” d’Aignault said. Inspired by what he learned from his father, d’Aignault works hard to keep the rock face straight, cracks tight and seamless. “I’m a rock hound, tree and plant lover — I’ve always loved playing in the dirt.”

Two years ago he was commissioned to build a rock retaining wall for Bob and Cindy Rupp of Langley. It took two months but the payoff led to the purchase of his excavator and he was off and running.

That was his biggest job to date. Most of his commissions have been of a more ordinary nature: burying horses and sheep, clearing brush for walking trails and other chores.

His essential approach is simple; examine and diagnose the land, listen carefully to his client and craft a solution that dovetails with the landowner’s vision.

“I have a very critical eye for design; I spend lots of time in the library getting ideas from landscape architecture and trade journals,” d’Aignault said.

He sees himself as an artist, taking a long look at the land to visualize the best method to accomplish the mission and, hopefully, bringing the land back to a usable condition.

“And at a price that gives my clients the most bang for the buck,” he added. He tries hard to be earth-friendly, going so far as to use biodiesel in his big rig and truck.

After trail blazing in Colorado, d’Aignault studied biology at Willamette University in Portland, Ore. and met his wife Candace, who was born and raised on South Whidbey. They have a 2-year-old daughter, Marina, and plans for more children.

“I wanted to work in a manner that I can build a family; I want to be a dad and my family is the primary reason I started Lively Landscapes,” he said.

His next job is placing oversized obelisks on a piece of private property on the waterfront near Scatchet Head.

But, for d’Aignault, the best news is, there are rocks involved.

Lively Landscapes can be reached at 360-914-6022 or e-mail d’Aignault at frenchluc@gmail.com.

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