Monthly Archives: July 2021


As a property owner, you are ultimately responsible for maintaining your yard and all other areas immediately surrounding your home. However, many homeowners simply don’t have enough time to ‘do it all’ – that is, keep their home looking good, while also ensuring that their yards don’t become overgrown. Times like these are when you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of hiring a residential landscaper.

Boost Your Property’s Aesthetic Appeal

One of the main reasons why so many homeowners are now hiring residential landscapers is so that they can keep the outside of their properties looking attractive all year round.

Professional landscapers have the ability and knowledge to not only place a few plants and shrubs in your garden; these experts will do this in such a way that it will transform your average looking home into one that screams luxury – all year round. They will also know how to keep plants healthy and correctly trimmed to promote optimal growth and longevity.

They will Save you Time

After working at a full-time job, very few homeowners want to go home and still have to deal with cutting the lawn, trimming the trees and raking up leaves – especially over weekends, which is the only free time many people have.

Hiring a professional landscaper will help protect the little precious spare time you have during the evenings and on weekends because they will be able to take care of aspects like these – even when you aren’t at home.

It’s More Cost-effective than you Think

Believe it or not, hiring a residential landscaper to take care of your yard and plants will end up being far more cost-effective than if you attempt to do it all yourself. A qualified and experienced landscaper will know exactly what is needed in your yard throughout the year, and will also possess all the correct tools and accessories needed to keep your property looking great.

Landscapers can get Quite Creative

A number of different creative aspects will be involved in the landscaping process, which is why you’ll benefit substantially by hiring someone that knows what they’re doing in this regard. A professional landscaper will not only be able to determine which color palettes best match the outside of your home; they will even be able to make an idea you’ve seen online or in a magazine become a reality.

Preserve your Plants

Another reason why professional landscapers are worth their price is because they will only work with high quality plants, lawn and shrubs. This will allow them to last a lot longer than if you had to attempt to trim or maintain them yourself.

Residential landscapers will also know how to weed your lawn and garden correctly and ensure that the quality and pH levels of your soil are correct. If you’re losing the landscaping battle on your property and would like to hand this task over to qualified experts, get in contact with our team today.


Freezing winter and often scorching summer temperatures can wreak havoc on plants, gardens, and landscaping in general in the Chicago area, especially if they haven’t been adequately prepared ahead of time. Below are a few tips that will help ensure that your next landscaping project is a tremendous success.

Choose Plants that are Best Suited to the Chicago Climate

If you intend having your plants blooming and looking good for many years to come, ensure that you choose varieties that are best suited to the specific planting zone you live in. Chicago is usually classified as zone 5, meaning that plants will need to be able to withstand temperatures that run as low as -20°F.

Plants available at most garden centers and hardware stores will carry a label indicating that it will be, “Hardy up to zone x.” Always pay attention to this, as plants that have higher zone numbers on will not usually survive or even grow.

Consider the Amount of Sunlight your Yard Receives

It’s crucial to determine how much sunlight each part of your yard receives every day and how much of it will be required for the plants you’ve chosen to engage in photosynthesis. While some plants won’t require much direct sunlight, others may only thrive upon receiving several hours of it each day.

When searching for plants, be sure to check their labels. They should indicate whether full sun, medium to low sun, partial shade, or even full shade would be required for them to grow and thrive.

Determine your Desired Level of Privacy

Most property owners spend time in their yards as a way of relaxing, decompressing and spending time in nature, and while some individuals want their yards to be as open as possible, others prefer to enjoy a higher level of privacy while outdoors.

You may want to enhance the view of a lovely pond that’s close to your property or even create an outdoor oasis where you, friends and family can enjoy some time outdoors without being spied on by nosy neighbors. If you’re unsure of the type of plants you’ll need to create additional privacy, it may be an idea to enlist the help of a residential landscaper.

Consider your Budget

Although it may seem tedious, it’s essential to determine how much you’ll be able to afford to spend on your upcoming landscaping project. This will help you choose plants, trees, shrubs, and other required items that will fit into your budget.

While you may think it’ll be cheaper to purchase all the plants you need yourself, it can often be more cost-effective to work through a professional landscaping company. In many cases, landscapers will obtain larger discounts because of the amount of plants they are purchasing at a time.

If you’d like to have landscaping performed in your yard, but feel too intimidated by everything that will be needed, our team of professionals will be more than willing to assist you. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.


As a Chicago homeowner, you’ll want to ensure that your plants and garden are as well protected as possible against the harsh winter temperatures. While it makes sense to initially choose plants that are as hardy and resilient as possible, there are a few other steps you can take to ensure that your garden turns lovely and green again when spring finally arrives.

Be Extremely Generous with the Mulch

Although many gardeners don’t give mulch a second thought, the truth is that placing a generous layer of it over the surface of the soil in your garden will help to keep the plants at a consistent temperature throughout winter. This will also keep plants dormant and prevent them from starting to grow prematurely, especially during that time when temperatures fluctuate wildly before spring officially arrives.

Cover Delicate Plants before Dusk and Overnight

Ensuring that delicate plants are properly covered before nightfall will keep as much stored heat around them for as long as possible. Items that can be used to cover plants include cardboard boxes, plastic bottles that are cut in half, plant containers or even old household linens that may no longer be good enough to use indoors.

When covering your plants, ensure that whatever is being used is large enough to cover the soil on all sides of the plant as well. Once the frost has thawed, you can remove the covers.

Don’t Wrap Trees

Although it used to be a common practice to place paper tree wrap around the trunks of small trees, this is no longer recommended because it can cause more harm than good. Wrapping tree trunks can cause excess moisture to become trapped between the bark and paper, which can cause the tree to crack during a freeze cycle. In most cases, frost cracks on tree bark will heal themselves over time.

Protect against Salt Exposure

In many cases, shrubs end up turning brown and dying on the side that faces the sidewalk, driveway or street and this is caused by the salt that is used to melt ice and snow.

One option for protecting your road-facing plants and shrubs during winter is to erect a temporary fence that will help prevent salt spray from reaching them. An effective and affordable way to do this is to plant a few poles in the ground and stretch burlap sacking between them. Keep in mind though, that the plant itself should not be wrapped in the burlap.

Although it can seem tedious and time-consuming to implement the above-mentioned measures so that your plants can be protected against harsh winter weather, your garden will definitely reap the benefits when spring arrives.

If you would like to find out more about ensuring that your plants will be able to survive the upcoming winter or you’d prefer to enlist the help of a professional residential landscaper to assist with this project, contact our team today to set up an appointment.


Although it may still be winter in Chicago, this doesn’t mean that it’s too soon to start making plans to prepare your lawn and garden for the upcoming spring in a month or two. After all, a beautiful garden doesn’t grow by itself – a fair amount of planning and work will be needed to have it looking the way you want. Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Get Started with Cleaning Up

The first thing you’ll need to do before making any specific landscaping plans is get your lawn and garden bed cleaned up. Start by picking up larger branches and twigs and then raking up smaller bits of debris and leaves that have accumulated in garden beds and the rest of your yard during winter.

Debris that isn’t picked up and removed will not only get stuck in your mower; it will prevent fertilizers and other plant foods from being able to be thoroughly absorbed by your lawn and plants.

2. Don’t Dig or Walk on Wet Soil

Soil should never be worked when it’s wet because this will cause it to form extremely hard clumps over time – and this can take several seasons to rectify properly. Even if soil appears to have thawed at the top, chances are that it could still have a hidden layer of ice lower down.

The easiest way to determine if soil is dry enough to work is to take a handful and squeeze it. If it crumbles through your fingers easily, it can be worked safely. However, if it forms a solid lump after being squeezed, you’ll need to wait a few days before doing anything.

3. Sharpen those Mower Blades

Although several avid gardeners diligently service their mowers by changing the oil and sparkplugs annually, many forget to deal with one of the most important parts – the mower blade. A blunt mower blade will not only make cutting your lawn more difficult; it will tear your grass instead of cutting it cleanly. This can cause your lawn to turn brown and also result in the development of fungus over time.

Various hardware stores offer mower blade sharpening services, but it is possible to sharpen it yourself in some cases. If you intend performing this as a DIY project, be sure to remove your mowers sparkplug before taking the blade off.

4. Mulch is your Friend

Once your garden beds have been cleaned, it’s time to apply a layer of mulch. This will not only help protect delicate plant roots; it will help prevent weeds from springing up between your prized plants. If any weeds make an appearance, pull them up gently by hand to prevent any damage from being done to the plants you want to keep.

Getting the basic preparation work done in your yard now will help ensure that you can go ahead with those landscaping plans you’ve been thinking about during winter. If you would like to enlist the help of professional landscapers in the Chicago area, contact us today to schedule an appointment with our team.


Many homeowners think that winter is too challenging of a time to bother with gardening, but the truth is that this is the ideal time to start taking the necessary steps that will help protect your trees and plants against harsh weather and freezing temperatures. Keeping the following tips and advice in mind will help ensure that your plants are as protected as possible during this time of year.

Watering is Still Essential

Despite the fact that Chicago winter temperatures often drop to extremely low figures, it’s still essential for plants to be watered from time to time. To ensure that your plants will be able to use the water as effectively as possible though, you should wait until temperatures have climbed above 40°F. This will ensure that the ground will be warm enough to absorb the water.

Fertilize your Lawn

Providing your lawn with fertilizer will help ensure that it grows as rich and green as possible when spring arrives. It’s recommended that the fertilizer you use is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

During this time, your grass should be cut to a height of between one to two inches shorter than normal. This will not only help prevent the development of frostbite and snow mold; it can even help prevent mice and other smaller critters from digging nests in your grass as the cold weather approaches.

Keep Small Plants Covered

Smaller plants can be extremely vulnerable to frost and cold overnight temperatures. As such, these should be covered with anything that will be able to offer them protection against the cold. Items that can be used to place over them include old flowerpots, plastic bags, plastic bottles that have been cut in half or even that old fruit basket that is no longer looking that great on your kitchen counter. Some gardeners even go as far as using old quilts or blankets to cover fragile plants at night.

Protect Plants from Road Salt Exposure

If you have any trees or small plants that are close to a sidewalk or public road, there’s a strong chance that they will be exposed to road salt – which can cause irreparable damage to them. Be sure to exercise extreme caution when applying road salt near any tree roots or fragile plants – cover these if necessary to protect them.

Observe Climatic Conditions

Consider placing a thermometer and/or barometer at a strategic point in your yard so that you can track weather patterns and potential changes. This will help you to detect exactly when to expect sudden temperature drops or the arrival of rain and/or snow so that you can take the necessary precautions ahead of time to protect your plants.

Ensuring that all of the necessary precautions are taken to provide your garden with the protection it needs in winter can seem like an overwhelming task to tackle alone. If you’d like to learn more about preparing your lawn and garden for the harsh Chicago winters, speak with our team today.


With the warm February we’ve had spring seems closer than ever before.  Before we know it, trees will be budding and bulbs will be popping up from the ground.  Along with the beautiful signs of warmer spring days comes some other not-so-welcome guests including crabgrass.

Crabgrass is one of the most common weeds you’ll find in homes throughout the North Shore area.  It is also one of the most common complaints we get at Martin John Company.  We often hear our customers say “Help! My landscaping is becoming ruined by crabgrass”.  Don’t worry, we are always here to help will all of your lawn care needs.  In the meantime, here are some things you should know about crabgrass and how to keep it from taking over your lawn.

  • The best way to stop crabgrass from taking over the lawn is to prevent it from sprouting in the first place. This variety only needs about 24-48 hours of 55+ degree soil temperature to germinate.
  • When watching your soil for rises in temperature keep in mind that the type of soil and where it’s located matters. Sandy soil heats faster than clay-based and sunny area temperatures will rise quicker than shaded spot ones.
  • Use a pre-emergent herbicide before the first signs of crabgrass. Do not use this type of herbicide though if crabgrass is already present or if you have just installed sod.
  • Post-emergent herbicide can be used when crabgrass has already germinated and is present. Apply the herbicide only to crabgrass as it can kill certain varieties of grass.  In fact, if you begin to notice a browning landscape, you have used too much herbicide.  You will also want to follow-up with a second treatment to kill any crabgrass that has germinated since the initial application.

It is important to be very careful when applying herbicides as they can kill many types of grass as well the crabgrass weed itself.  A professional expert such as Martin John Company can help you better navigate this tricky task.

At Martin John Company, we want to help our clients maintain healthy, beautiful lawns all year long.  Not only are we here to help with basic needs such as weed management and lawn cutting, we can also assist with your more extensive projects.  From poor drainage to hardscape installation, Martin John Company is the preeminent landscaping leader in the Chicago area.

Let us help you tackle that crabgrass and more! Contact us today.


If you are like most homeowners, you are more than a little intimidated by the thought of having to prune your small trees and shrubs each spring. Many are scared of taking too much off and permanently damaging the plant. Others simply don’t know where to begin when it comes to keeping their foliage in tip top shape. These fears often lead to either completing the task incorrectly or not doing it all. Both can lead to disastrous results for your outdoor landscaping.

There are many reasons why you should regularly prune your small trees and shrubs. First, it leads to healthier plants that are more able to withstand the harsh Chicago seasons. Properly pruned shrubs also have thicker foliage and more flowers leading to greater outdoor appeal. Plants which are regularly trimmed will enjoy a more natural form and continue to grow robustly. Lastly, pruning helps renew your small trees and shrubs giving them a fresh start for the new season.

The experienced team at Martin John Company helps countless clients with their many landscaping needs. Here are some of our best tips on how to prune small trees and shrubs:

• Use the right pruners or loppers for the job. Invest in quality tools and maintain them well for optimum performance.

• Remove branches which are weak, wayward or rubbing other branches. You often want to make your cut where the branch meets with another branch.

• Don’t prune on your timeframe; prune when it’s best for the plant. Individual varieties of plants should be trimmed when it’s optimal for their growth.

• Younger shrubs should be pruned gently often removing only the long, unbranched stems.

• Trim back to healthy branches and avoid leaving stubs along the way.

• Young or newly planted trees are best left alone. Only remove dead, broken or damaged branches as needed.

Most small trees and shrubs are best trimmed in early or late spring. There is no better time than now to give your landscaping a good cut. At Martin John Company, we help both residential and commercial clients with all of their lawn care needs. From professional trimmings to weekly grass cuttings, we provide the services you need to maintain a healthy and beautiful lawn. Visit our website to learn more about our expert trimming and pruning services.


Landscaping is just as important for commercial property owners as it is for homeowners. It can make your business more attractive, which helps provide a sense of professionalism and quality to existing and potential clients or customers. If you want to add some interesting landscaping but you aren’t sure where to start, check out the ideas below for some inspiration.

Keep Your Evergreens Trimmed

Whether you have evergreens on your commercial property in the form of shrubs or trees, winter is the perfect time to keep them trimmed back and pruned – especially if you use a professional service rather than doing it yourself. Rates are typically lower in the winter due to the slow season. Trimming and shaping now will lead to a better overall season in the spring. What’s more, if you have existing perennials, most of them will actually fare better if you trim them back in the winter months. This is true for everything from peonies to daisies to hostas and many others.

Add Mulch to Beds

It gets downright cold in Chicago. In fact, it gets so cold that even some hardy plants are at risk when the temperatures plummet and the winds start to blow. Mulch can save these plants – including those that die back into the ground and those that simply lie dormant. For the former, spread a layer of mulch over the entire plant at least two inches thick. This will provide some insulation and prevent frost from permeating the plant’s roots. For dormant plants, do the same thing, but leave a gap of about an inch between the layer of mulch and the plant’s stem. This will help prevent rotting and better protect your plants.

Stock Up on Burlap, Fleece, and Other Protective Materials

Depending on the season, it is not that unusual to see early bloomers like daphne and rhododendron just before another big freeze comes along – especially in late winter. Now is the perfect time to stock up on materials like hemp and jute cloth or even horticultural fleece that you can use to protect these fragile blooms through a cold snap. For especially fragile flowers, use some straw between the plant and the outer covering for extra insulation against the cold and the wind. Be sure to buy some gardening twine, too, to secure the cloth and prevent it from blowing away.

Plan for some Wintertime Color

Though the winter months usually mean bare trees and twigs in the Chicagoland area, there are some plants that can offer some serious color – even in the dead of winter – and truly stand out against the snow and ice. Ornamental varieties of popular vegetables like kale and cabbage can withstand cold temps and give you some gorgeous pops of pink and purple, and some Johnny Jump Up (also known as Viola tricolor) can offer some amazing yellow and deep purple in late fall and sometimes even in winter. Sweet Flag ornamental grass, which is native to Japan, is also ideal for Chicago winters, and it brings some lovely shades of green and chartreuse that are welcomed during the cold months.

A colorful, healthy landscape says a lot about your business. Though cold Chicago winters can strictly limit the plants and blooms that are available to you, there are still several options that can bring some unique architecture or bright pops of color throughout even the coldest winter months.


The arrival of spring brings with it many signs of new life, especially for gardening enthusiasts who want to keep their yards looking attractive. If you have been keen to start working in your garden, but haven’t been sure what to plant, the list below will be a great help in getting you started.

1. Common Foxglove

Although these will require two full growing seasons before flowering, the Common Foxglove’s stunning and vibrant petals will add a flamboyant appearance to what could otherwise be a dull and mundane garden. They will thrive in soil that has a high pH level and require partial shade to bloom at their full potential. Flowers may be yellow, white or purple and they reach heights of between 18 and 60 inches on average.

2. Yellow Sundrops

Sundrops will add a brilliant splash of yellow color to a garden and added bonuses include the fact that they are able to tolerate relatively poor soil and they are quite drought-resistant. However, it is crucial to ensure that the ground they are in can drain well and that they will be planted in an area that provides them with full sun exposure. These flowers grow between 18 and 23 inches in height and they are known to keep deer out of gardens – definitely an advantage in some areas of Chicago!

3. Knock Out Roses

Not only are these lovely and fragrant, they are also fast growing and extremely hardy. Knock Out Roses are also resistant to disease and able to thrive in areas where full sun is experienced. When fully grown, they will be approximately 4 feet tall and there are several different colors to choose from such as purple, pink, peach, yellow and white.

4. Yarrows

These flowers start blooming during late spring and will continue doing so throughout summer and they are known to attract several species of butterflies. A distinct advantage of yarrows is that they can tolerate poor soil and they will also bloom at their best in areas where full sun is experienced.

5. Salvia

This is part of the mint family and it works well in gardens or containers because it only reaches about two feet high and two feet wide when fully grown. Regular pruning will be needed to keep Salvia looking beautiful and it will thrive in areas of full sun. Some of the more common colors of these flowers include scarlet, purple, light pink and lavender.

Planting even a few of these flowers in your Chicago garden will not only provide your yard with a splash of color; you will be able to feel good knowing that butterflies and other insects will make themselves at home among the plants as well. If you would like to find out more about how you can have a summer garden to remember, contact our offices today. We have several team members who will be most willing to assist you with choosing the right plants and caring for them afterwards.