by Keith Morris

roundup staff reporter

Why stay indoors when such beauty surrounds you?

That’s the question Dennis and Tonya Willis are asking.

They opened Legion Land Management & Design to help Rim Country residents turn their backyards into an oasis.

“My passion for outdoor living is what I want people to understand,” Dennis Willis said. “I’m talking about sitting on a patio with a glass of wine or hanging out with a buddy watching a sporting event.

“I just love the weather up here and I’d rather be outside than inside. Being outside in a nice space is very peaceful. This is beautiful country with beautiful weather.”

The company is an all-in-one landscape company that specializes in the design and development of beautiful yard landscaping and deluxe outdoor living spaces.

“We design outdoor living spaces then construct them and maintain them,” Dennis said.

They work with clients to create the ideal outdoor environment.

“Some clients are very open to discussion, but others know exactly what they want,” Dennis said. “Design and construction is a big part of my business but landscaping is another part and I can keep that clean and manageable for them.”

Dennis said projects often develop over time.

“A customer moved to town a month ago and has no yard at all,” he said. “I talked to her and got an idea what their idea is. A lot of times it’s done over years. I design that and we work together to build what they’re looking for in stages.”

The couple has been married for 30 years. They have two sons — T.J., 25, who is a sommelier; and Chance, 19, who is studying computer science at Northern Arizona University.

They relocated to Payson from Scottsdale two and a half years ago. They live in a house that’s been in their family since 1972.

This is their first business in Rim Country, although they’ve both either owned businesses or worked in other industries. Dennis has owned a Jet Ski rental business, a jewelry making businesses and has also been involved in real estate.

He also worked as a driver for a company providing security services. “I was driving around celebrities and business people,” he said.

Tonya is a master cosmetologist and was running the largest salon in Arizona with 33 employees, according to Dennis.

But they both quit and spent six years taking care of their grandmother in Scottsdale until she passed away at the age of 99 in 2016.

They decided to make a change.

“We had an epiphany or a midlife crises,” Dennis said. “We just knew we had to do something else.”

They held a business launch party at their home in Payson on July 25. Dennis said about 100 people attended and they raised money for Payson Senior Center.

For more information visit their website at Legionaz.land.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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