CANTON, Ga. — Lisa Tang and Stephen Soong fell in love with the interior of the Milton home they bought six years ago. They knew the back yard would be an expensive fix.
“We’ve always talked about, in the future, when we save up enough money, let’s do a big project, let’s get the slopes fixed, put in some retaining walls, get a brand new deck, patio area,” Tang said. “That’s what we were hoping for out of Ideal Landscape Solutions.”
Instead, the couple paid nearly $60,000 for what they described as bags of dirt and gravel.
“There hasn’t been a single shovel in our backyard,” Tang said. “It’s hard because we had all these dreams… now the dream just seems so far away.”
Tang and Soong are among the families who’ve filed police reports against Ideal Landscape Solutions, alleging they paid thousands for work not completed.
Reports filed in three different jurisdictions show at least a quarter million dollars reported in “theft by deception.”
“As this is currently an active and ongoing investigation, we can’t provide any additional information that may compromise our investigation or jeopardize any potential prosecution,” Milton Police Department Captain Charles Barstow said. “We will be collaborating with the other agencies that have received similar criminal allegations as well as the Fulton County District Attorney’s office to ensure a thorough and timely investigation.”
A business card left from the Cherokee County Sheriff Office after an attempt to serve civil papers is wedged in the door.
Tang and Soong said they heavily researched Ideal Landscape Solutions. At the time, they found glowing reviews.
“We thought we were hiring a respectable, successful company,” Soong said. “But unless you go get a background check on everybody in their company, how am I supposed to know that they’re going to do what I hired them to do.”
The Georgia Corporations Division website shows Heather Hayes formed Ideal Landscape Solutions by herself in 2012.
Credit: Georgia Secretary of State
Records show Heather and Joseph Hayes ran “Grass Masters and Designs, Inc.” beginning in 2006.
Annual registrations filed with the Georgia Secretary of State shows she also served as the chief financial officer and secretary for another company, Grass Masters and Designs Inc., from 2006 to at least 2012, with Joseph Hayes as the chief executive officer.
Tang and Soong said they primarily contacted Joseph Hayes about their project with Ideal Landscape Solutions, aside from their initial salesperson.
“I think we got a call once from one of the other employees,” Soong said. “Everything else we did was with Joey Hayes.”
Federal court records from the Northern District of Georgia show Joseph Hayes filed for bankruptcy in September 2020. He listed three judgement liens against him from 2013 and 2014, where a judge ruled he owed creditors roughly $75,000.
That included $9,455 to Marjorie Brannan, who rented a space to him for roughly a year. She said she took him to court after he missed four months of rent of the space he operated Grass Masters and Designs Inc. from.
“I am just glad he’s out of my life,” she said. “He doesn’t pay his bills and he keeps people out of money.”
Tara Lockridge, who lives in Cobb County, paid Ideal Landscape Solutions roughly $55,000 for her family’s dream backyard. She had no idea about the Hayes’ past.
A Cobb County homeowner filed a police report after she paid $102,050 for an unfinished landscaping project.
“It’s been frustrating… we were so hesitant making a decision on a company because this was a huge investment,” she said. “Now I know that you need to check each individual that stands behind a company.”
She’s filed a police report and a lawsuit against Ideal Landscape Solutions. The latter has been difficult.
“Cobb County has been very on top of everything and very much seem like they want to pursue this,” she said. “Trying to serve the various parties is almost impossible locating them.”
Business records from Florida show Heather Hayes started an Ideal Landscape Solutions LLC in January 2023 with Joseph Hayes as a listed manager.
She removed him from the company paperwork in July 2023, records show. This week, on Aug. 28, she filed paperwork to withdraw Ideal Landscape Solutions’ business license in Florida.
11Alive attempted to reach Joseph and Heather Hayes. The number listed on the company’s website and signage is no longer in order.
No one was working at the Ideal Landscape Solutions building located at 3819 Holly Springs Parkway on Monday or Thursday. A card left by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office after an attempt to serve civil papers has been wedged in the door for several days.
We called a cell phone number listed for Joseph Hayes twice and got a generic Ideal Landscape Solutions Voicemail. We also emailed the address listed for Heather Hayes on business paperwork twice.
As of 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, neither of them have responded to any inquiries from 11Alive.