5 Plants that Can Survive a Chicago Winter

Although the weather is turning colder, it doesn’t mean that homeowners in Chicago are going to abandon their gardens during winter. Quite the opposite in fact – more property owners than ever before are learning about the different types and varieties of plants that will be able to not only survive, but also even thrive, during winter. Below are just five examples of plants that are suitable for this part of the country when the weather turns cold.

Echinacea (Coneflower)

Although these flowers do not keep their stunning coloring during the coldest parts of winter, it will easily recover when spring arrives – provided that they are correctly cared for. These flowers enjoy some direct sunlight, meaning that they should always be planted where they will be exposed directly to it. Once these flowers have gone dormant, it is recommended that dead stems be trimmed and stabilized with one to two inches of mulch for some added protection.

Blue Spruce

These trees are an ideal option if you are looking to add a little picturesque appeal to your Chicago yard during winter. Keep in mind that these trees also enjoy full sunshine and they can act as an excellent barrier for sound, wind and visual disturbances. These trees are sensitive to insecticide products in that they have been known to remove the coating on the needles that gives them their unique color.


These tiny flowers have quite a shallow root system, meaning that, while they will survive a cold winter, they will require a little mulch for added protection. These flowers prefer to be exposed to areas where there will be light shade for them, so they should not be planted in direct sunlight.


When these little plants start popping up during the late winter months, they are indicating that spring will soon be on its way. An added advantage of snowdrops is that they tend to require little to no costly or time-consuming maintenance. They also have the ability to spread quickly, especially if their bulbs are lifted and divided right after they have bloomed.

Evergreen Holly

The red berries and dark green leaves on these plants bring a bright and cheery feel to virtually any garden during winter. Evergreen holly plants are not only attractive; they are extremely hardy, meaning that if enough of them are planted, they will be able to provide you with a lovely natural privacy barrier. It is important to keep in mind that if you would like these plants to sprout berries, a male and female plant will be required.

Choosing the right plants to survive a Chicago winter will not only help improve your home’s overall curb appeal; it will ensure that you don’t have to deal with dying shrubs, flowers or bushes during the coldest time of the year. If you would like to find out more about choosing the right plants for your winter garden, speak with one of our experts today.

5 Ways to Make your Home Stand Out in the Fall

Now that summer is over, several property owners are starting to focus on getting their homes ready for the coming days that will be shorter and cooler. If you have been looking for inspiration with regards to getting your home ready for this cozy time of year, the tips below are sure to help you on your way.

1. Clean your Yard

This is probably the best way to get your home ready for fall. Start by roping everyone in the family in to help rake leaves, pick up twigs and broken branches and collect any trash that may have accumulated in your yard. Trim bushes and shrubs that have grown out of control during summer and that are looking shabby, and ensure that grass or other plants are not growing over walkways or preventing any natural light from entering your home. After all, with the days being shorter, you will want to take advantage of as much sunlight as possible inside your home.

2. Get those Windows Cleaned

The heat of summer combined with the demise of the many bugs that have flown into them results in your home’s windows looking streaky and grimy. Although you may not notice how dirty your home’s windows are at the moment, you will definitely see a substantial difference after they have been cleaned. Be sure to clean the window screens as well.

3. Add Some Outdoor Decorations

Consider placing a fall-themed wreath on your home’s front door and add a few pumpkins next to your doormat as added decorations. If you would like to preserve the wreath and pumpkins to ensure that they last throughout the season, spray them with good quality lacquer spray before placing them outside.

4. Plant a Range of Fall Flowers

A great way to make your home look attractive during the fall months is to plant a range of fall flowers. These can include mini sunflowers, marigolds, pansies, snapdragons, chrysanthemums, sweet alyssum, Michaemas daisies and goldenrods. Be sure to space the plants out a little so that they don’t overcrowd each other when they start to bloom.

5. Complement your landscaping with Hardscaping

After deciding which bushes, shrubs and flowers to plant, consider adding new stone walkways, rock decorations, stone retainer walls or even water fountains and fishponds to complement them. An added advantage of having one or more water fountains installed is that they can help to block out noise from heavy traffic that may pass by your home. Before purchasing fish, it’s essential to see which varieties will require the least maintenance – koi are usually an excellent option for garden ponds.

If you are unsure about the type of landscaping upgrades or garden changes that will look great on your property, we have experts on hand who will be able to assist you. Get in touch with us today to find out how we will be able to assist you with choosing the best garden and landscaping solutions.

Why You Should Always Use A Professional Landscaper


You have two choices when it comes to setting up and maintaining your lawn: You can either choose to hire a professional landscaper or you can do it yourself. While many people think doing landscaping themselves is a promising idea, the intricacies of the task easily overwhelm those attempting to get any meaningful landscaping work done.

Landscaping consists of a unique combination of science and art. There exists a lot of room for mistakes for the untrained individual, and those mistakes can lead to a number of issues. Unless you possess extensive experience with plants, you should always use a professional landscaper. See the below discussion for just a few of the important benefits you could reap by contracting a professional.

Visual Appeal

The most obvious benefit to hire a professional is visual appeal. A landscaper will ensure your lawn is mowed the right way, so that the grass lays right. Clippings will be taken care of, and areas near sidewalks or buildings will be edged.

A landscaper will also know how to put together an overall design that compliments your home’s exterior. They can match plants which will both look beautiful together and thrive in the same environment.

Reduce Risk of Lawn or Plant Damage

Each different type of grass and unique plant species requires specific care. Failing to plant it where it will get the correct amount of sunlight, watering too much or too little, or mowing it the wrong way can all lead to significant damage.

While the aesthetic problems are obvious, your landscape serves functional purposes, too. With dead or dying grass, for example, your lawn will absorb less rainfall during storms. This could result in a higher flood risk. Trees provide shade which can help to keep cooling costs down if planted where they shelter certain windows from the sun’s direct light.

Benefit from Their Experience

Professional landscapers know what will or won’t work. Among other things, their experience lets them know:

  • Which plant species are native to an area. These, of course, will grow the best and be the easiest to keep healthy.
  • Which plant species, native or not. will grow in your yard.
  • The amount of care required for specific types of plants or grass.
  • Which grass types thrive in your unique climate and situation – such as how often you make use of your lawn and under what circumstances.


Simply said, hiring a landscaper is more convenient than doing it yourself. Not only is creating a beautiful landscape and maintaining it so it can thrive difficultly, but a lot of learning and experience is needed. By the time you consider the hours spent educating yourself and those spent creating the landscape of your dreams, it would often be more economical to hire a professional.

There are many reasons to always use a professional landscaper for your yard set up or maintenance. Not using a professional could result in considerable damage to your yard. Plus, it’s much more convenient, and significantly less stressful, to hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Fall Landscaping Tips to Start Thinking About Now


As is the case with spring, the fall season is a one of change and transition. Whereas in spring the weather turns from cold to warm and all things blossom, fall is the opposite. In fall, all things shed their foliage and prepare to hibernate through the winter.

This being said, fall is as vital for your landscape, just like spring. This season is an opportunity to do three things: clean up your yard before the winter snows begin to fall, protect your landscape in winter, and, believe it or not, prep your yard for the coming spring season.

Below you will see easy tips to help you implement each of these three vital tasks. You should begin thinking about these things even now, as summer ends and autumn may be in the air but is not quite here just yet.

Yard Cleaning Tips

  • Get rid of any dead or dying annuals. These will not sprout again the following year and are an eye-sore throughout winter.
  • Rake all leaves. Though tempting, leaving them until the coming spring could result in mold spores, bug infestations, and slipping hazards throughout winter.

Winter Protection Tips

  • Mulching your flowerbeds in fall is a more promising idea than waiting for spring because it will help to protect your plant’s and/or flower’s roots during frosts.
  • Cover small plants with overturned flower pots.
  • Wrap large shrubs in burlap to protect from ice or heavy snow.
  • Place thick layers of shredded leaves around vulnerable trees. This is not necessary for hardy tree species, however. Alternatively, you can use wood chips or shavings, like mulch. Aim for two to three inches of coverage.
  • If you use an irrigation system, remember to drain it completely. This includes your hose! Any water that is left inside irrigation systems will freeze when the temperature drops low enough. Frozen water expands, thus causing significant damage to systems.

Prep for Spring Tips

  • Early fall is the perfect time to plant small shrubs or trees, as this season is easier on them than the harsh summer. Even better, nurseries will be emptying their shelves, so you could pay a fraction of the cost you would in warmer weather.
  • If you don’t have at least one or two already, now is the perfect time to consider planting an evergreen tree, shrub, or plant species. This allows for just a small splash of color in your yard during the stark winter months.
  • Fertilize your flowerbeds in early fall to allow for healthy roots and seeds come spring.
  • Don’t allow your lawn to get out of hand during fall! This is a common mistake for homeowners. While your lawn may not need weekly mowing like it does in the summer, you should continue mowing your lawn as needed. This may range from once every week to once every month during the fall, depending on the type of grass.

Implementing these tips can help you make the most of your landscape in the winter months. Cleaning up and protecting your landscape against the harsh winter while also preparing for spring can easily be all completed and covered by the end of the fall season.


Three Landscape Designs for Every Size of Backyard

Your landscaping is one of those things you want to be proud of when it comes to your home.  It is the first thing people notice about the property. Homeowners spend thousands of dollars and countless hours creating the perfect backyard. One that can be enjoyed for years to come.

Backyard landscape design can also be tricky, too.  It can be hard to scale the project to your size lawn.  Go too big and things can seem overcrowded. Go too small and you are left with a boring view outside.

Martin John Company has become the Chicago expert at both small backyard landscaping and large-scale projects.  And many of our backyard landscaping ideas often can be perfect for those big and not-so-big properties.

Below are three landscape design ideas ideal for any size backyard.

Water Works – Water is one of the most relaxing features you can add to a backyard space. A koi pond, small fountain or large pool all create that soothing atmosphere only water can provide.  Consider how much upkeep you want to take on and go from there when planning your own water feature.

Covered Spaces – Pergolas, terraces and small pavilions can be a great way to beat the heat while creating an architectural feature in the yard.  A small covered trellis can even be used in tighter spaces to create both height and interest.

Conversational ‘Rooms” – Every backyard needs a place for people to talk and enjoy each other’s company.  Whether it’s a little bench tucked in a nook or a large patio set, creating a conversational space is so important.  

Not sure how to landscape a small or large backyard?  Don’t worry – you don’t have to! The experts at Martin John Company offer our clients backyard landscape design services that meet their exact needs.  We help create warm, welcoming spaces you can enjoy all year around. Find inspiration for your own backyard renovation by visiting our online portfolio.


Landscaping Ideas to Maximize Any Small Front Yard

Just because you have a small yard doesn’t me you need to stay away from a beautiful landscape design.  A tinier space can actually be the perfect setting for creating gorgeous curb appeal. The trick is to maximize what you already have to its fullest potential.

Below are Martin John Company’s best small front yard landscaping ideas:

Making Your Pathway Amazing – It doesn’t matter how short a pathway is, it can be a great asset to any front yard.  But you want to stage it for success. Adding smaller blooms such as miniature roses, small shrubs, and other plants closer to the ground can help set the scene.  Additional gravel or stone in-between can enhance the pathway’s appeal even more!

Use Massive Blooms – Planting large and long rows of hydrangeas or lilacs can be a smart way to utilize that front yard space.  Both add beautiful color and amazing aromas. They can also both create additional privacy for homes close to streets and sidewalks.  Placing a small fence in front of them can provide them with additional support while also keeping them contained.

Consider the Dwarfs – You don’t want to overcrowd your front yard with large, ominous trees. Choosing smaller-sized options is one of the best small yard landscaping ideas.  Dwarf and semi-dwarf species can act as a focal point without overstepping their bounds. You can scale up or down when choosing your size to fit your unique property.

Every lawn deserves to be beautiful and enjoyable.  Our goal at Martin John Company is to help customers with properties of all sizes design an outdoor oasis perfect for their unique needs.  From drafting practical hardscape plans to adding in luscious greeneries, our team is here to help. Let us dream-up the best small front yard landscaping ideas for your home.

To learn more about Martin John Company’s small yard landscaping services, contact us or call 847-634-2184.


Low Maintenance Landscaping Plants and Shrubs for Your Yard

Not everyone has a green thumb.  And other people just simply don’t like spending a lot of time gardening.  For those that don’t have an interest in horticulture, low maintenance landscaping plants can be a great solution.  

Here are just a few low maintenance landscaping plants and shrub ideas:


Want to keep your Chicago property colorful yet carefree?  These plants and shrubs are all great options to incorporate into your landscaping design:

  • Peony
  • Poppy
  • Blanket Flower
  • Daylily
  • Switchgrass
  • Hardy Geranium
  • Hardy Hibiscus
  • Russian Sage
  • Coneflower
  • Hostas

And don’t ever think that low maintenance plants can’t be stunningly beautiful as well!  There are many options that offer massive curb appeal without all the high demands!


There are many low maintenance landscaping shrubs to choose from.  The possibilities are endless and you really can’t go wrong. But you also would be smart to choose one that is not only easy to care for but also enhances your outdoor space.  Consider these self-sufficient yet beautiful shrub options:

  • Gold Spiraea
  • Lilac Bush
  • Dwarf Arborvitae
  • Hydrangea Bush
  • Weigela

When designing your next outdoor project, trust the experienced team at Martin John Company.  We are the leaders in helping Chicago residents choose the best options for their home. Whether you want to incorporate low maintenance landscaping plants or ones that require a little more attention, let us help!  Based in Libertyville, we are proud to serve the North Shore area and beyond!

Contact us or call 847-634-2184 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


Outdoor Pots and Planters Trends to Spruce Up Your Yard

Want to spruce up your outdoor space this year? There are many new trends that are not only gorgeous but also cost-effective and functional.  Adding the fun back into your property, these hot ideas are just what you need to get your summer landscaping started off right!

Here are a few of the hottest trends for outdoor pots and planters in 2018:

Indoor Hanging Plant Pots – Indoor hanging plant pots are back and hugely popular.  Macramé stringing, geometric designs and metal touches are becoming one of the biggest trends of the season.  Indoor hanging pots add an interesting yet practical way to incorporate plants into the home.

Decorative Outdoor Planters Pots – More and more often people are looking to enhance the color and design of their greenery by simply using a decorative and interesting planter pot.  Pots with a dramatic design or shape will be the new standard as well as ones crafted from gold or silver materials. Some gardeners are even opting for a more natural feel with wooden planters.

Outdoor Hanging Plant Pots – Outdoor hanging plant pots have always been popular.  They are gorgeous and a great way to add a BIG impact without a lot of work.  This summer you will see more of a variety in the mix of flowers within each individual pot.  You will also notice a lot of succulents being planted in them too.

Who wants their front yard to look dated and tired?  Start implementing just a few of these pots and planters trends into your landscape design to create a stylish and beautiful yard.  

Need help with creating that dream space?  Trust the job to Chicago’s leading landscaper – Martin John Company.  We specialize in landscape design and maintenance as well as snow removal and more.  We cater to residential and commercial clients throughout the North Shore area. Contact us to help get your lawn looking great!


Impressionable Plants for Your Curb and Front Entrance

The entry of the home is truly “where it’s at” when it comes to the feel and look of your home. When you use only so-so plants out front, your home starts to look pretty boring. But a great front entrance incorporates beautiful curb appeal plants and greenery to make the property really stand out in the neighborhood!

But where do you begin when it comes to your front porch? Here are a few great ideas on the best front entrance plants to make the perfect first impression:

Container Plants

Colorful container plants are perfect for a front door entrance. Begonias, violas, and fuchsias are all gorgeous varieties which are also perfect for the shade. Covered porches will flourish with a combination of any of these wonderful container plants.


At Martin John Company, we love helping customers incorporate interesting topiaries into their design. Topiaries add color and appeal giving front yards a polished look. Today’s customers can choose from thousands of types of topiaries in all different shapes and sizes.

Pavers, Stone & other Hardscape Materials

When you are brainstorming driveway entrance landscaping ideas, don’t forget the importance of hardscapes. Plants are great but adding gravel or wood or even pavers can add style and appeal while also being low maintenance. No trampled flowers or driven-over shrubs!

Creating curb appeal in your front entrance can be one of the best investments you make into your home. Rather than an expensive kitchen update or bathroom renovation, why not spend a few dollars on adding incredible plants to your front door entrance?

Not sure where to start? Reach out to the design team at Martin John Company for help. We have solutions to fit every budget and every style home. Plus we are one of the most trusted full-service landscaping firms in the North Shore area.

Contact us today to learn more.

Low Water Plants That Are Perfect For the Summer

There is something about summer and flowers that go hand-in-hand.  With each warm day, we get to see new buds opening and leaves sprouting and growing.  But there are some parts of summer that can be not-so-nice on your foliage including those scorching heat waves. (more…)

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Contact Info
To contact a landscape company who raises the bar of service and design, you can call Martin John @ 847.634.2184 .

507 East Park Ave.
Libertyville, IL 60048

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