Photography by Angela Zion.
Anyone in need of inspiration for creating the ultimate outdoor oasis should spend a day with Jason Harris. The owner of Greenville, South Carolina-based Fifteen Oaks spent 25 years working in the golf course industry before starting his own company to help people transform their backyards into beloved destinations. Recently, we tagged along with Harris for 24 busy hours as he checked in on projects involving everything from pool houses to plantings. Here, he takes us through a day of dreaming up plans, creating schedules, and enjoying time around his own pool and back porch with family.
5:12 a.m.: My favorite time of the day is early morning when the world outside is starting to wake up. There is a sense of peacefulness that you just don’t find any other time of the day. I grab my coffee (which I drink with half and half and a little sugar) and head out to the porch to catch up on the latest soccer games.
6:30 a.m.: I review the schedule for the day; check in with our team to make sure everyone has what they need for today’s projects; and look over emails and coordinate appointments with my wife/business partner, Beth. She joined Fifteen Oaks full-time six weeks ago, and I’m not sure how I did it before without her. We wake up our boys, Hank (11) and Ford (8) and prepare them for the day of summer fun! Summertime as a kid was my favorite time of the year. Riding bikes, swimming with friends, camps, staying up late….
7:45 a.m.: Beth makes us our go-to shake: oat milk, spinach, frozen strawberries, Vital Proteins Collagen, and plant-based protein. We load up Sonnie, our 15-year-old rescue who has gone to work with me just about every day for 13 years, and head out the door to our first client appointment.
9:24 a.m.: I hop in the truck, make notes from a client meeting (pool house with outdoor kitchen, stone fireplace, landscape plan with kids’ area, irrigation, and sod), and return calls and texts I missed during appointment. Then it’s time to leave to check on projects.
10:05 a.m.: We meet with the team at a jobsite, where we post updated permitting for an outdoor structure, mark gas lines for an outdoor kitchen, and draw out lines for the client’s new flower beds, irrigation, and sod.
10:53 a.m.: We head to the next project to ensure all is going smoothly. The client was kind enough to pass along our name to someone in their neighborhood, so we stop at the potential new client’s house to get a scope of project and discuss their vision and fun ideas for the backyard.
12:30 p.m.: We run home for lunch. Beth makes a great chopped salad with chicken (any fresh veggies we have, some type of nut, dried cherries, EVOO, apple cider vinegar, and everything bagel seasoning—don’t tell her I gave out her recipe). I catch up on emails and call in inspections for completed jobs. I also shut my eyes for 25 minutes to recharge myself.
1:46 p.m.: I review plans from a landscape architect for an upcoming installation and update the contract with new changes from project. Next I order stone, outdoor appliances, plants, and sod for upcoming projects and create schedules for the next job installations.
3:33 p.m.: We wrap up the workday and head out to pick up the boys. If we aren’t headed to baseball practice or games, we are throwing in the backyard, riding mountain bikes, or preparing our fishing rods for our next camping trip.
5:28 p.m.: We fire up the Green Egg, our preferred method of making dinner. Tonight, we’re making chicken Tinga tacos, grilled Mexican street corn, cebollitas (grilled onions), and of course, cheese dip.
6:46 p.m.: We talk with the boys as they clean up the kitchen, discussing our day and plans for tomorrow. Then we head outside for some evening swimming. Beth judges the cannonball contest; we play Marco Polo and sharks and minnows.
8:20 p.m.: We tuck the boys in, and I head down to finish new proposals, update contracts, and complete any odd and ends left on the days to-do list.
8:44 p.m.: I pour a sip or two of bourbon, sit on the back porch where I started my day, and watch the sunset and lightning bugs while taking in all the good things that happened that day with Beth.
9:32 p.m.: Brush teeth, wash my face, and hit the sack.