Jim Murphy & Sons

Accent on Curbz

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How a chef traded his apron to mix concrete and pour his creativity into hardscape for your landscape

Jeff and Inge Ward know exactly how the huge water feature in their back yard got there. They built it when they realized they needed to prove a point:

Concrete isn’t ugly.

And they’re right.

In the right artisan hands, it can become the centerpiece for a beautiful landscape.

Accent Curbz Installation

Accent Curbz crews sculpted seven cubic yards into a concrete fountain.

They’re counting on it, having moved back to the Billings area to be near family and their favorite outdoor pursuits, they formed Accent Curbz in 2008 when they couldn’t find someone to install a custom seamless continuous concrete landscape border they had in a previous home.

Jeff is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and worked extensively as a chef.

When they sold their Las Vegas golf cart company in 2005, it was time to start over, this time closer to Jeff’s parents, who retired in Clever.

Concrete isn’t the hard part of their company. It’s explaining the concept that a continuously poured landscape "curb" can be beautiful, functional and affordable.

"It can be shaped, molded, colored and textured," says Jeff. "In fact, it can create a warm, inviting environment indoors or out, from an outdoor kitchen to a fire pit. Reinforced with aircraft cable, it is also durable and versatile.

Jeff is not exactly joking when he says, "I’m looking for someone who wants a man cave," Imagine that in your basement.

Accent Curbz Fountain

On a snowy day, Inge Ward wishes it were spring so landscaaping can be added to the completed water.

Meanwhile, the good son has installed a water feature and continuous curbing for his mother, JoAnn.

"I’m more behind the scenes than Jeff," says Inge, a North Carolina native. "I help communicate through our web site (Curbz.biz), social media, printed materials and trade shows." She also translates Jeff’s sketches into computer renderings, schedules consultations and installations, and mothers two kids.

They met and married at Mirage Resorts in Las Vegas 16 years ago./ Devoutly Christian, they relocated when it came time for family. Now they teach culinary arts to 6-12 year olds, including Ryan, 12, and Alyssa, 10.)

Advice comes from Jeff’s father, Mike, whose background is in civil engineering, construction – and concrete. He created an industrial sized engraver to craft the beautiful wooden signage at the Nathanael Greene Park/Close Memorial Gardens.

"I am the fourth generation in the construction field," he says proudly. And we’ll wager he’s the first CIA chef in the concrete business.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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