History

Lake Forest Gardens is a family-owned, third generation tree farm and nursery tucked away in the rolling hills of Fombell, PA. While specializing in the production of arborvitae, juniper, hemlock, spruce, pine, and ornamental shade trees, Lake Forest Gardens also offers an extensive selection of premium shrubs, perennials, and other landscape material.

While Lake Forest Gardens is currently owned by Kevin Dambach, the company finds its roots three generations prior with its founder, Woodrow W. Dambach. Although not originally tree farmers, Woodrow and his wife, Eleanor, both came from agricultural backgrounds. Woody's family grew vegetables and produce on 12 acres of farmland, while Eleanor's family owned three large dairy farms, all in Fombell. After marriage, the Dambachs began selling flowers, and propagating spruce trees to provide to the Pittsburgh market. During the time it took to grow a marketable sized tree, Woody worked in a local steel mill, and served as a cemetery superintendent. Soon his hard work and persistence would pay off.

After many years of patience and dedication, Lake Forest Gardens was established in 1939. Eleanor was the originator of the unique name: Lake, for the man-made irrigation pond, Forest, for the countless trees being grown on the property, and Gardens, for the flowers and nursery grown items. Originally, Woody's passion for Christmas tree production consumed the majority of the acreage on the farm. As the Christmas tree business took off, he and a few other growers in Pennsylvania realized the necessity of regular consultations, and that cooperative communication was vital to the success of their businesses. Soon, Woody and his peers formed the Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association, where Woody served as President and Executive Secretary for many years.

In 1972, Woody's son, Alan, joined the operation after graduating from college and serving four years in the US Air Force. Lake Forest Gardens had grown to 180 acres under Woody's care, and employed five full time employees. The demand for balled and burlap evergreens exploded in the 1970's, causing rapid growth within the company. After grooming Alan into the business for seven years, Woody and Eleanor decided to pursue retirement in 1979 and turned the business over to the younger Dambach, and his wife, Sharyn.

While Lake Forest Gardens was still a leader in Christmas tree production, business trends had shifted with the high demand for balled and burlap trees due to the rapid growth and expansion of the Pittsburgh Metropolis area. Alan and Sharyn purchased more land, and established a re-wholesale and retail outlet for landscapers and homeowners in the northern Pittsburgh region. Lake Forest Gardens now offered an extensive selection of shrubs, shade trees, and perennials, in addition to the expansive inventory of evergreens.

Shortly after the establishment of the re-wholesale yard, Alan and Sharyn's son, Kevin, came into the business as a teenager. Lake Forest Gardens was now a 600 acre production, and business was steadily growing. Families still travelled to the farm to select the perfect Christmas tree while the re-wholesale and retail yard continued to expand. Father and son worked side by side as Alan continued to manage the yard, and Kevin mastered the growing and field production aspect of the business. Together, the Dambach's continued to provide specimen evergreens, as well as premium landscape material.

In 2011, Alan and Sharyn decided to begin their retirement and turned the reins over to Kevin and his team of managers and employees. It is the Dambach's hope that Kevin's three children will eventually form the fourth generation of Dambach's to oversee the success of Lake Forest Gardens.

Lake Forest Gardens will continue to grow and provide high quality plant material to its customers, whether it is by the truck load or that one perfect plant to complete your own personal garden. Our operation is built on and strives to provide superior quality, service, and dedication to our customers.