Category Archives: COMMERCIAL

Are You a Property Manager for a Parking Lot? Try These Plants to Keep the Cars Happy

Being a property manager is no easy task, especially if it’s a parking lot that you are in charge of. Not only are you responsible for ensuring that the area is clean; it is essential to ensure that car owners are going to be satisfied with leaving their vehicles in your lot for extended periods of time. With shade being one of the main aspects of consideration in most parking lots, it will be essential to plant a few trees. Below are great examples of parking lot friendly trees that can be planted.

 

Various Elm Species

Although Dutch elm disease eradicated thousands of these trees across the country in the 1930s, various disease-resistant cultivars have enabled them to make a fantastic comeback. Many variants of Elm trees are highly suitable for use in vehicle parking lots because they can adapt to several types of soil and they are known for thriving during drought conditions. Another reason why these beautiful trees are ideal for planting in parking areas is because they are salt tolerant.

 

Autumn Blaze Red Maple

These trees are not only extremely eye-catching with their bright red foliage; they are relatively low maintenance as well. Fast growth of between three and five feet per year mean that these trees will not take long to provide a decent amount of parking lot shade. Autumn Blaze Red Maples can adapt to many types of soil and climatic conditions, while also resisting strong winds and damage caused by ice.

 

Superior Hybrid Poplar

If it’s one thing many parking lots are short on, it’s shade. However, when planting Superior Hybrid Poplar trees, you can be assured of enjoying plenty shade just a year or two because they are known for growing up to eight feet in a single year. If planted strategically in parking areas, they are able to provide virtually full shade during the hot summer months.

 

Little-leaved Linden

These trees make excellent additions to busy parking lots because they not only provide excellent shade; they have the ability to withstand the effects of pollution as well. Little-leaved Linden trees can withstand occasional drought and reach heights of between 60 and 70 feet at maturity. Although this tree’s leaves start off as a dark green, they turn a lovely clear yellow during fall. Flowers are pale yellow and quite fragrant.

 

‘Green Vase’ Zelkova

Not only are these trees extremely resistant to wind, pests and diseases; very little maintenance is required to keep them in check as well. ‘Green Vase’ Zelkova trees are adaptable to most types of soil and they are drought tolerant, making them an excellent choice for most parking lots. These trees are also able to resist heavy amounts of city pollution.

If you are a parking lot manager and you are keen to provide as much shade as possible for tenants, the above-mentioned trees will be excellent choices. Contact us today to find out more about obtaining and caring for them.

Spring Is Here! 5 Plants That Will Thrive Through the Summer

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.

Commercial Landscaping Ideas

Winter Landscaping Ideas for Commercial Property Managers

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.

low maintenance landscape

It’s Tax Refund Time: 4 Smart Ways to Invest into Your Landscaping

While the dullness of winter seems to keep going and going, it does bring with it one positive thing… income tax refund time! That check from Uncle Sam can get spent quickly if you forget to plan ahead on how best to invest it.

While some homeowners put these resources towards the inside of the home, investing into the outside can often be just as smart.
Here are four smart ways to invest tax return dollars back into your own backyard:

1. Create an Outdoor Oasis

The ultimate backyard is one which offers a sense of escape. When you combine a beautiful deck with a warming fire pit or even an electric fireplace, it feels like you just added another “room” to the home. A new outdoor oasis can be a great place to entertain with friends and family or just unwind from a long day.

2. Add a Water Feature

Waterfalls and fountains can be wonderful additions to a home’s outdoor space. Not only do these features add a relaxing atmosphere, they also can create visual interest to an otherwise boring backyard.

3. Install Quality Lighting

Installing outdoor lighting can be a great way to invest in your landscaping. Not only does it increase the security and safety of your home’s surroundings, it also can add value to the property itself. Good lighting can highlight unique architectural features of the home, illuminate a path or even be a warning sign of potential criminal activity.

4. Consider a Raised Garden Bed

Want to grow a garden but avoid some of its many common pitfalls? A raised garden bed can be a great way to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables without the constant upkeep. These types of gardens are less likely to become overgrown with weeds and less prone to animal damage. Raised gardens also offer better drainage and soil retention than the typical bed.

Ready to make 2018 the year you invest back into your own backyard? Contact the team at Martin John Company today to start planning your dream outdoor space. We are a full-service landscaping contractor specializing in custom design services as well as lawn care maintenance.

Need more inspiration? Visit our online portfolio.

Lawn Fertilization

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

– 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

– 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!

Snow Removal

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.

Martin John Vernon Hills Landscapping

Ask the Expert: All Your Lawn Care Questions Answered

Lawn care may seem easy but it can be a daunting task for the average homeowner.  In fact, it can be downright intimidating.  There are so many different ways to even the simplest of chores from mowing to planting and even trimming.  It can be tough to know which approach is the right one.

At Martin John Company, we help commercial customers throughout the North Shore area address all of their landscaping needs.  And we often get the same questions time and time again. Want to know what the experts have to say?  Here are the top questions we get and what you need to know!

How do I know when my lawn needs mowing?

During the warmer months, the typical lawn requires mowing weekly. Of course, periods of heavier rainfall may increase the need to trim.  Where you set the blade on your mower is just as important as how often you mow.  Keeping the blade too low can lead to a yellow and dried out lawn. The perfect height is one which only cuts the top 1/3 of your specific type of grass.

When is the best time to plant my flowers and vegetables?

To find the answer to this question, you should reference the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map. The Chicago-area falls into the “5b” zone.  This map will let you know when it’s best to plant hardy flowers, delicate flowers, and different varieties of vegetables.

How often should I water my lawn?

The right watering schedule does not depend as much on how often you do it but more about how you do it.  Most lawns require about 1 to 1 ½ inches of water to keep it lush and healthy.  Watering is best done in the morning between 4 am and 10 am when the air is cooler.  Fewer, deeper soakings are better than more frequent, shorter sessions.

What’s the best way to deal with pesky weeds?

Hands down the best way to handle pesky weeds is by stopping them before they grow.  Applying a pre-emergent herbicide prior to seed germination is a great first step.  A post-emergent herbicide can be used for those already invading your lawn.  As always, an expert landscaper can help you keep even the toughest of unwanted weeds from taking over your lawn.

With a little lawn care know-how and an expert landscaper such as Martin John Company on your side, you are sure to have one of the best lawns in town.  Follow these professional tips to get your landscaping headed in the right direction while the days of summer are still here. Contact our team today to learn more about Martin John Company’s many lawn care services.

Chicago Lawn Maintenance

How to Prune Small Trees & Shrubs

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.

Chicago Lawn Care

How to Prevent Crabgrass from Taking Over Your Lawn

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.

 

Libertyville Lawn Care

4 Tips for Hiring the Right Landscaping Team

You wouldn’t trust your kitchen renovation or roof replacement to just anyone.  You’d want to see their other work and ensure that the contractor is both experienced and professional.  So why would you expect anything less from your landscaping partner?

Not all landscaping companies are created equal.  Some, such as Martin John Company, have a proven track record of success with years of experience in the industry.  They are invested in the communities they live and work in.  Others though are less interested in serving their neighbors and more interested in getting paid.

Who you hire for your landscaping matters.  It can mean the difference between a job that will last for years to come and one that only looks good for the next couple months.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself when searching for the right landscaping team:

  • Do they have a history of performing quality work? A good landscaper should be able to provide past examples of completed work.  References from former clients and a good portfolio offers insight into what you can expect.
  • Are they licensed and insured? What happens if something goes wrong while the landscaper is working on your property?  Are you liable for any injuries or damages?  You want any company you hire to be both licensed and insured.
  • Have they completed projects similar to yours? Not all projects require the same level of expertise.  Those that require drainage installation or hardscape work warrant more expertise.  Check that the landscaping contractor you’re considering has completed projects similar to your own.
  • How long have they been in the landscaping business? Hiring a partner that has years of experience in the field can be a smart move.  They are more likely to complete the work on time and within budget.  And, while there are no guarantees, a seasoned landscaper is more apt to offer the quality and care you expect.

Finding the right landscaping team for your next project shouldn’t be a chore.  Consider Martin John Company for the job!  Our expert crew members are trained to handle any job.  Experienced in both small residential work and large-scale commercial developments, we can take on any size project you have in mind.  Contact us or call 847-634-2184 for more information or to schedule an appointment.