Owner - Jon Herlong
As owner of Custom Gardens, Jon has enjoyed serving the community’s landscaping needs and enhancing as well as expanding client relationships. He welcomes phone calls and suggestions from clients. Jon has technical grounds maintenance training, numerous Interlocking Concrete Pavers certifications and twelve years of experience working in the field of landscaping. In 2012, he purchased Custom Gardens, retaining the entire existing staff because of their wealth of knowledge and landscaping experience.
Jon is a Hampton Roads resident, along with his wife, Catherine, and their four children. As a U.S. Navy veteran, Jon had two tours of duty in Iraq as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician. He also worked as a Senior EOD Instructor. E-mail
Member of the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI)
Landscape Designer - Kristi Bruening
Kristi started with Custom Gardens in 2016 as Office Manager. Within 2 years, she transitioned to General Manager to meet the higher client demand. Her current role includes Landscape Designer. She has a Bachelors’ of Science in Business Management. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, she served as an aircraft mechanic. In her free time, she enjoys bodybuilding, road trips, and traveling.
Maintenance Manager - Aaron W. Sydenstricker
Lifelong resident of Virginia, he started landscaping 10 years ago as a laborer and worked his way up. As time went on, so did his passion and knowledge for the industry. He is currently serving as our Maintenance Manager as well as one of our horticulturists on staff. In his down time, he loves to spend time with friends and beautiful family: his wife and their daughter.
Garden Care Foreman & Horticulturist - Wayne George
A Gloucester native, Wayne graduated from Gloucester High School in 2009 and attended J.Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA. He began working for Custom Gardens in April 2015. A year later, his passion for learning about plants led him to become our Virginia Certified Horticulturist. A typical day for him includes answering questions about everything from selective pruning, dividing perennials, hand-weeding, and much more. When he’s not helping clients, he enjoys spending time with friends and tending to his plants.
Hunter Thurmond, Garden Care Foreman
Originally from Newport News, Hunter has always loved working with his hands and being outdoors. He earned a degree in Mathematics from James Madison University, where he also developed a lifelong passion for agriculture and nature. He combines a love for science and hard work to create and maintain beautiful landscapes while putting smiles on his customer’s faces. When he’s not at work, he enjoys photographing nature and spending time outdoors with his wife, Mwazomela.
Hardscape Foreman - Rob Ballard
Born and raised in Yorktown, Rob found himself working at Custom Gardens when he went to introduce himself to his neighbors, Jon and Catherine Herlong. He offered to mow their lawn and they offered him a job. He started out on our maintenance team in February 2016 but within a month his potential as a hardscape foreman showed when he applied his carpentry knowledge to save the display. Since then, he’s trained with Jon and always makes a great impression on customers with his detail and skill level. In his free time he’s teaching his son Riley carpentry and spending time with his wife, Tegan.
Office Manager - (Zo) Mwazomela Mbewe
Zo joined Custom Gardens May 2020. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Math from Mary Baldwin University and spent a semester studying Civil Engineering at University of Virginia. She manages customer service, billing, & social media. In her free time, she loves coming up with new recipes, photography, and trying do-it-yourself (DIY) projects with her husband.
Office Assistant - Hollan Herlong
Hollan has been working with her father (Jon Herlong) since she was a kid. She works in the office, out in the field, and helps with social media. For fun, she likes reading, hiking, playing with dirt, and learning about new plants.