5 Shoveling Tips to Prevent Aches and Pains

Once the holidays are over, it often feels like we will be digging our way out of winter forever. Dragging ourselves outside to shovel the sidewalks and driveways is never fun. And what can make this chore even more dreaded is how we feel after we clear the snow.

Shoveling can take a toll on the body. Aches and pains from lifting heavy loads of slush can leave you worn, tired or even immobile for a period of time. For those with pre-existing issues, it can exacerbate an already tough situation making it even worse.

But luckily there are techniques you can start doing today to lighten the load! Here are five expert tips on how to prevent post-shoveling aches and pains:

1. Warm Up

You wouldn’t run a mile without warming up first. And you wouldn’t go golfing without taking a few practice swings to get loose. Approach shoveling the same way. Warm your arm and leg muscles up before you head outside for a better recovery after.

2. Use the Right Tools

If you are still using that old, beat-up shovel… it’s time to say “goodbye”. To do a job quickly and effectively you need the right tool for the job. There are many great ergonomic shovels on the market today that help reduce the strain on your back while efficiently clearing the snow.

3. Lift with Your Legs & Don’t Twist

It’s time to start paying attention to how you pick-up and drop those heavy loads. Always make sure to lift the shovel with your legs rather than heaving using your lower back. And don’t twist the torso to throw the snow off to the side! Lift first, turn your body and then dump the load off the shovel.

4. Brace Your Back

Back pain is the most common injury people experience from shoveling. If you are prone to lower back pain aches wear a brace belt while you shovel. It will help give your back the support it needs so you can finish the job.

5. Know Your Limits

Not everyone can handle the straining task of removing tons and tons of snow. Know your limits! The time might be right to hire a professional to keep your pathways clear for the winter season. They can quickly and easily finish the job before you could even clear a small section.

Winter doesn’t have to wreak havoc on the body. Using the right techniques to shovel your driveway and sidewalks can mean the difference between a pain-free season or one with aches and injuries. Martin John Company is there to help when the load becomes too much. We offer affordable and professional snow removal services and are there right when you need us. Around the clock care is how we give our customers the best service in the Chicago area. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you stay pain-free all the way until spring!



The DOs and DON’Ts of Lawn Fertilization

Most landscaping experts would tell you that one of the best ways to maintain a healthy, lush lawn is with good fertilization.  Being consistent in feeding your plants and grass ensures your vegetation is receiving the nutrients necessary to thrive.

While many of us have fertilized before, we often don’t consider what we can do to increase our chances of success.  In fact, there are many different ways we can either help or hurt our lawns when it comes to fertilization.  How you approach this outdoor chore can mean the difference between a flourishing, beautiful backyard and one that is just so-so.

Here are some of the DOs and DON’Ts for better lawn fertilization:


– DO consider a slow-release fertilizer. This type of formula breaks down nutrients more slowly allowing you to space out applications.

– DO check out your fertilizer package label. Each bag of fertilizer will have three numbers – one represents the percentage of nitrogen, one for phosphate and one for potassium.

– DO follow the directions for watering. Watering is essential for allowing the fertilizer to penetrate the soil.  Make sure to include a good soaking.

– DO overlap your application strips slightly so you have an even application.


– DON’T fertilize too often. If using a regular fertilizer, every four weeks is sufficient.  If using a slow-release formula, you can space it out to 6-8 weeks.

– DON’T go with the cheapest fertilizer you can find. Like most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to your lawn care needs.

– DON’T over or under water your lawn before or after fertilization. The right amount will provide the moisture necessary to break down the granules.

– DON’T miss any areas of the lawn during application. This could result in “dead spots”.

There are few things more important to a healthy lawn than the benefits of a good fertilization.  For help in taking care of your property’s landscaping needs, contact the team at Martin John Company.  We provide both our residential and commercial customers the expert care they are looking for.  Let us help give your grass, garden beds, and flowers the attention they deserve!



2018 Landscaping Design Trends

Can you believe 2017 is almost over?  It seemed like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year.    But as sad as it is to see another year gone by, we can look forward to an exciting twelve months when it comes to landscaping trends and designs.

Here’s what landscaping trends you can expect to see in 2018:


– In the Chicagoland, we often find ourselves stuck indoors for much of the late fall and winter months.  Homeowners will be looking to bring more of the outdoors inside with a trend called Interiorscapes.  Going beyond the typical houseplants, interior courtyards, exquisite container gardens and large greenery wallscapes will be joining us in the interior of the home.

Upgraded Exterior Lighting

– Standard flood and landscape lighting will be replaced this year with a more custom appeal. Homeowners will be looking to create more drama with their lighting incorporating hanging lanterns, up-lighting and more.  LEDs will also continue to become the preferred choice when it comes to our lighting needs.


– Have you ever heard of color-blocking?  Typically found in the fashion industry, color-blocking includes pairing hues on the opposite end of the color wheel together to create interesting designs.  This “look” will now be popular when it comes to flower placement too!

Rustic Chic

– The farmhouse design style will still be a sweeping trend for the coming year.  A more rustic look to your outdoor spaces will represent this design look outdoors.  Think wooden patio furniture, metal accents and lots of greenery.

Don’t wait for the New Year to start thinking about what you’ll be doing next year in your own backyard.  The time to start considering your 2018 landscaping design is now.  And Martin John Landscaping can help! We have been the North Shore area’s preferred partner for lawn maintenance, custom landscape design and more since 2001.  Contact us today to beginning planning your own outdoor (or indoor) oasis.



How to Store Patio Furniture During Winter

At Martin John Company, we see a lot of gorgeous patio furniture while working on our clients’ outdoor spaces.  They are a great addition to any landscape design.  And we all know quality pieces aren’t cheap.  Outdoor sets can cost thousands of dollars.

Many of our customers ask us how best to protect their patio furniture during the winter season.  Snow and ice can not only damage those chairs and tables but also cause quicker wear and tear making them not last as long as they should.

Before winter arrives, get your patio furniture ready.  Below we list our best tips for preparing different types of outdoor sets for the snow and ice.

Wicker Furniture                                                                                                        

  • Wipe down with a bleach-water solution to remove mildew. Rinse and let dry.
  • Apply a moisture resistant spray to legs and feet.
  • Store in dry place preferably on blocks to keep feet off ground.

Metal Furniture                                                                                                                                                                 

  • Wipe down with a water-detergent mix. Rinse and let dry.
  • Check for signs of rust and apply a rust-neutralizing primer as needed.

Wood Furniture                                                                                                                                                                 

  • Wipe down with a bleach-water-detergent solution with a slightly abrasive sponge. Rinse and let dry.
  • Touch-up painted wood as needed.
  • Wood with a natural finish should receive a coat of clear water-repellant sealer.

Cedar & Teak Furniture                                                                                                                                                  

  • Apply bleach solution to surface and allow to penetrate for a day or two to lighten wood and kill mildew.
  • Sand all surfaces with a 120-grit sandpaper and wipe down.
  • Apply Tung oil.
  • Teak & cedar furniture can be left outdoors if treated.

Plastic Resin Furniture

  • Wipe down with a water-detergent mix. Rinse and let dry.
  • Store where temperatures will remain above freezing.

Fabric Cushions

  • If covers are removable, clean in washing machine with detergent and color-safe bleach to kill mildew. Dry and place back on.
  • Spot clean any fabric that is not removable and allow to dry.
  • Umbrellas and other larger pieces can be cleaned with a detergent and brush, rinsed and allowed to dry.
  • Store loosely in a clean, dry space preferably off the ground.


Beyond our professional landscaping services, the team at Martin John Company is here to handle all of your outdoor space questions.  We partner with our clients to be the support system they need to maintain a healthy and enjoyable backyard.  Whether you want to keep your grass in check, need help removing piles of snow or just have a couple questions, our team of lawn care experts are here to help. Contact us to learn why we are Libertyville’s top-rated landscaping partner.



Make Your Commercial Property Ready for Winter

Owning a commercial property comes with a lot of responsibilities including maintaining both its interior and exterior.  Not practicing due diligence can leave you exposed to lawsuits, liability concerns and more.  Before winter is here, make sure to get your commercial property winter-ready.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Get overgrown branches away from the roof and electrical wires. Give them a good trim so that they don’t become iced-over turning into a hazard.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. After making sure they are completely drained, turn off the water supply to hoses, sprinklers and more.  This prevents pipes from bursting when the water freezes and expands.
  • Want a great lawn come spring? Now’s the time to aerate, reseed and apply a winter fertilizer to your green spaces.  This will ensure you have better root growth next year.
  • Clean soil out of planters and move fragile planters inside.
  • Check that all handrails are secure and look for potential hazards around mailbox areas and other common spaces.
  • Create a snow removal plan. Know how you are going to handle the snow and who’s going to handle it.

Fall can be a great time to prepare your commercial property for the upcoming winter.  For assistance in crossing this task off your winter checklist, contact Martin John Company.  As the leading landscaping firm in the Lake Forest area, we help property owners take care of all their outdoor needs.  We offer a comprehensive list of services all designed to help you maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn.  Contact us today to learn more.



Have You Put Together Your Snow Removal Plan Yet?

Whether you are a single residence property owner or manage a sprawling apartment complex, it’s always smart to have a plan for your snow removal needs.  And it’s even smarter to have that plan in place before winter arrives.

Cleaning driveways, melting the icy spots and reducing hazards are all essential components of a good snow removal plan.  You have to consider the when, how, and who when you create your own strategy for controlling the heavy loads of snow we receive in the Midwest.  Doing so helps you prepare for whatever the season brings.

To start crafting your perfect snow removal plan, it’s first important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What worked or didn’t work last year with your snow removal?
  • How much time do you have to dedicate to snow removal?
  • What tools and equipment do you have on hand to tackle the job?

Once you have considered these questions, it’s time to start planning your approach.  You can keep the process simple by addressing each individual aspect of the process.  Begin by devising a plan for these specific areas of snow removal.

When will the snow be removed?

What is your schedule like?  Are you able to run the snow blower before you head to work?  How quickly do you want the area clear?  Are there any community or city guidelines which require you to have the area cleared by a certain time?  Much of this is determined by when the snow actually comes but it can still be helpful to think of when you have time to complete this often lengthy task.

How will the snow be removed?

What type of equipment do you already have at your disposal to clear the snow?  Is that equipment in proper working order?  If you handle a large complex, do you have the manpower to run those machines as long as needed to clear the areas?  Snow removal is never easy but having the right tools for the job can help.

Who will remove the snow?

When time becomes limited or your equipment is less than adequate, you may want to consider hiring a professional team to remove the snow for you.  Partnering with a snow removal company can make creating (and following) your snow removal plan easy.  And it is much more affordable than you may think.

If you are looking for a safe and reliable snow removal team in the Libertyville area and beyond, look no further than Martin John Company.  We offer 24 hour service and a fully-staffed crew ready and waiting to help with whatever winter brings.  Keeping our customers and their properties safe is our top priority.

Contact our team today to begin putting together your own snow removal plan.



Why Autumn is the Perfect Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

While the stores may be setting up their holiday displays, there is still a lot of autumn left! This means there is also plenty of time to continue to work on your landscaping well into November.  Many people think that spring and summer are the only times you can plant trees, shrubs and perennials but that’s not true!  Autumn can be a great season to get your hands dirty in your own backyard.

Cool, crisp days. Gently falling leaves.  Fall is a beautiful season for those living in the Midwest.  It can also be the optimal time to tackle some needed yardwork.  If you were considering adding some new plants to your landscape design in the spring, why wait?  There is still time left this year.  In fact, now is a great time to tackle this chore.

The Benefits of Fall Planting

There are many advantages to planting in autumn. Here are a few of the top benefits:                                                                                     

  • Fall moisture helps plants establish their roots
  • Cooler temperatures support new root growth
  • Plants have less chance of being harmed by extreme heat
  • Species planted in the fall get off to a faster start in the spring
  • There is less rainfall than spring reducing the likelihood of soil that is too wet
  • You can continue to add color to your outdoor living space after the summer peak season
  • Comfortable weather makes it enjoyable to work outdoors

But What Should I Plant?

Not sure what to plant?  While each property has its own unique mix of shade, sunlight and soil, there are some varieties of trees and shrubs that work for most outdoor spaces:

Tree Varieties

  • Alder
  • Ash
  • Buckeye
  • Crabapple
  • Maple
  • Pine
  • Spruces
  • Sycamore

Shrub & Perennial Varieties

  • Spring-blooming bulbs
  • Turf Grass
  • Evergreen shrubs
  • Pansies

For help with your fall landscaping needs, contact the team at Martin John Company.  We can get your Chicago landscaping ready for winter and off to a great start for spring.  To learn more about our autumn landscaping services, visit us here.



Three Different Ways to Kill Your Chicago Landscaping Design

When’s the last time you took a good look at what kind of shape your Chicago landscaping was in? Often homeowners become so accustomed to their homes that they forget what they really look like from the outside. There are many ways we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to creating a welcoming outdoor space.

The design of your home’s landscaping is important. It’s what creates appeal to those who visit and others who may be passing by. And most Chicago homeowners want their home to really shine. They spend time, money and other resources to enhance their curb appeal. But all can be lost if you forget the common mistakes that can kill your efforts.

Here are three different ways to kill your Chicago landscaping design:

Neglecting Basic Upkeep

Are you mowing as often as you should? Are you trimming shrubs and trees when they become outgrown? One of the worst things you can do is neglect the basic needs of your backyard. Taking time to keep it well-manicured will ensure that you can at least keep what you already have in place always looking great.

Overcrowding Your Plants

More is always better, right? Not necessarily, especially when it comes to how many plants you incorporate into your landscape design. Many homeowners will plant them too close together. They forget that eventually those bushes and shrubs will grow and begin overcrowding each other. Always remember to leave some bare spots when planting so that there is plenty of space in a couple years.

Forgetting the Changing Seasons

Those who live in the Midwest must always remember the changing seasons when considering what they plant and where they plant it. What looks great in spring may leave your Chicago home looking barren in autumn. Choosing varieties more able to withstand a wide-range of temperatures is a great way to keep a great-looking lawn all season long.

Are you finding that your Chicago landscaping design is less than stellar? If so, there are steps you can take today to regain its beauty and appeal. A great place to start is by seeking the help of a professional. An experienced Chicago landscaping company such as Martin John Company can help get your outdoor space back on track.

At Martin John Company, we offer many landscaping services from custom design work to lawn care and weed control. We are also here for your year-around needs providing snow removal and more. Contact us today to learn more about how the team at Martin John Company can help revive your Chicago landscaping design.



How to Prepare your Chicago Landscaping for Fall

While we may still have a few warm days left for the season, the cooler days of autumn are just around the corner.  When it comes to your Chicago home, you may already be thinking of the hours of raking you have ahead or even the mounds of snow you’ll soon be shoveling.

But don’t think too far ahead.  Late summer is a great time to begin preparing your lawn for the coming months and even for next year’s spring!  In fact, there are many ways you can enhance your current property leading up to October.

Below are a four of our best tips from the experts at Martin John Company on how to prepare your Chicago landscaping for fall.

Tip 1: Replace Your Annuals

Now is a great time to pull out the summer annuals and replace them with cool weather varieties.  Mums, pot marigolds and many types of greens are all good options.  Adding in these new plants will give your window sills and pots that much-needed color to enhance the beauty of fall.

Tip 2: Divide Overgrown Plants                                                                                                                                                           

Are your hostas getting out of control?  Or maybe you need to divide up those asters?  Breaking them into two is never a good job for a sunny, hot day.  This task is best done on cooler days with rain in the forecast.  Dividing perennials can also help rejuvenate them come spring.

Tip 3: Fill in Soil & Mulch                                                                                                                                                      

Heavy rains and windy days can make your soil and mulch seem to disappear.  You want to amend the soil in areas where there are bare spots or where you have removed annuals.  You also want to fill in mulch where it’s needed and add compost or peat moss to replace nutrients lost over summer.

Tip 4: Plant Evergreens

September is an excellent time to plant evergreens.  In fact, deciduous trees can be planted all the way until November.  If you were considering adding more shade to your yard, now is time to look into planting some larger trees and bushes.                                                                                                                             

Getting your property ready for the changing seasons is the best way to keep a healthy lawn all year around.  If you want an attractive backyard but don’t know when you’ll find the time to work on it, contact the professional landscaping team at the Martin John Company.  We provide expert lawn care services to homeowners throughout the North Shore area and surrounding Chicago suburbs.

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



4 Steps to an Easy Low-Maintenance Landscape Design

Not everyone has the time or desire to spend lots of energy working in their backyard.  They would prefer a low-maintenance landscape design over one that requires a lot of upkeep.  Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to create a minimalist design that still looks great.

Read on to learn four simple steps you can take to create a low-maintenance landscape design.

Step 1: Assess Your Needs                                                                                                                                                            

The best first step in any landscape re-design is to assess your current situation.  Ask yourself what’s working and what isn’t.  What plants need to be taken out?  What structures need to be fixed?  You also want to consider what functions you need your outdoor space to fulfill.  Do you barbecue a lot?  Play outside with the kids?  Or maybe you want a quiet place to read a book or enjoy nature.  Whatever the case make sure to think about how you can create a design that matches your lifestyle.

Step 2: Tally Your Time & Resources                                                                                                                                                           

Next you want to consider how much energy you have to dedicate to lawn care and maintenance.  Do you have time to mow weekly?  If not, you can reduce your turf space or even consider hiring a landscape service.  You also want to think about what tools you have at your disposal.  Do you want to keep and maintain shovels, wheelbarrows and other tools of the trade?  Also ask yourself how knowledgeable you are in the subject.  Maybe your brown thumb requires an easier lawn to care for.

Step 3: Implement Time-Saving Systems                                                                                                                                                       

Implementing systems that save you time is a great way to reduce your landscaping responsibilities.  Installing an irrigation system or more hardscapes are smart steps to reducing your property’s maintenance needs.  You should also consider other people you can enlist to help maintain your design.  Partnering with a landscape professional such as Martin John Company can keep your lawn looking beautiful all season long.

Step 4: Plant the Right Species

Lastly, you want to make sure you choose the right plants for your new low-maintenance design.  Flowers that bloom through many seasons make a great option.  So do perennials which come up year after year.  Flowering shrubs offer more coverage as do ground spreading plants.  Make sure to choose species that will thrive in your unique climate.

Need help getting started on your easy low-maintenance landscape design?  Contact the professional landscaping team at Martin John Company.  We offer expert lawn services to homeowners throughout the Lake Forest area and beyond.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.



Contact Us

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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