ELM CREEK — When it comes to patios, decks and landscapes, Kristen and Josh Graczyk not only talk the talk, they walk the walk.

The owners of Graczyk Lawn & Landscape enjoy living on their patio and deck nearly year-round, so when they speak with customers at their multi-faceted business in Kearney, they have the experience to back it up.

“I love having coffee on the deck,” Kristen said about the elevated and roofed east-facing deck on their home on a slope northwest of Elm Creek. The deck offers shady relief on hot summer days and a panoramic view of the patchwork of pastures, cornfields and farm homes in the valley below.

As he slides a pizza into the wood-fired brick oven on the patio below the deck, Josh said he just plain enjoys being outdoors on the Graczyks’ spacious patio.

And he said it feels good when he’s able to help Graczyk Lawn & Landscape customers discover the pleasures and functionality that are possible when they add decks, patios and landscaping to their homes.

“I want them to gush over their patio or deck when they show it to their neighbors,” he said. “I want it to be a space they can use throughout the day and throughout the year.”

Clad in beautiful red stonework, the Graczyks’ home was built in 1979. The house encompasses 4,000 square feet, and to that the couple has added a 1,500-square-foot deck, a 1,500-square-foot patio, and another 1,000 square feet of sheltered entertainment or recreational space on the driveway under the deck.

During the 10 years they’ve lived northwest of Elm Creek, the couple also has added landscaping to complement the south side patio. Flowering plants, bushes and exotic trees surrounding the patio magically transport imaginative guests to a mountainside in Colorado, Josh said, as prairie breeze chattered over the leaves of white-bark aspens and whispered through vanderwolf and bristlecone pines.

“I like authentic,” Josh said, referring to the natural elements adorning the patio and deck. Oklahoma limestone surrounds pinky-sized flames on a 12-foot fire table, while stone counter tops provide a handsome and functional food preparation and serving surface in the patio’s kitchen zone. It’s equipped with the wood-fired brick oven, an oversize propane grill and other amenities that deliver the convenience and functionality of indoor living to the great outdoors.

With 4,000 square feet of deck and patio space at their disposal, the Graczyks like to share the good times by inviting family and friends or their kids’ sports teams to come out and enjoy the setting. Kristen and Josh said not all the entertaining is genteel. Sometimes when the kids’ friends are over they’ll organize bicycle races on the driveway and patio or kick the soccer ball on the south lawn.

While landscaping and stonework on the east deck and south patio are the highlight of Josh and Kristen’s outdoor space, the windbreak on the north side of their place is a sight to behold. It contains some of the 1,500 trees Josh added to the landscape.

Scanning the windbreak, the evergreens, broadleafs and hedges are planted at different distances and heights that pleasantly disguise their role in knocking down the cold north wind.

Speaking of cold and wind, having both an east-facing deck and south-facing patio provides a pair of options when the cold wind blows.

“Cold and wind are your enemies,” Josh said about his ability to shift to the patio or deck that’s best shielded for that day’s breeze.

The Graczyks also equipped the roofs over their deck and patio with propane-burning radiant heaters. High and out of sight, the heaters help extend the outdoor living season, stretching it from early spring to late fall.

Football season, Josh said, is a great time to gather around the television on the patio for a Husker game.

The pleasures and possibilities of deck and patio life aren’t lost on Kristen and Josh’s four children: Case, 8; Charley, 5; Adaline, 3; and Ellis, 9 months.

“It’s easier to be out here,” said Case, who described some high-scoring soccer games with his friends on the lawn.

Charley enjoys the elegant comfort. “The fire table keeps us warm.”

All the kids like pizza from the brick oven.

While Kristen enjoys Saturday morning serenity on the deck, Josh just likes the feeling that comes over him when he arrives home after a long day at work.

“The goal was to create our own resort atmosphere,” he said.

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