Category Archives: MULTI-FAMILY

Winter Curb Appeal

Landscaping Mistakes Homeowners Make During the Winter Months

Homeowners have the best intentions when it comes to winter landscaping. In some cases, they just don’t want their lawns to look desolate and bare, but in others, they’re willing to accept a less-than-attractive winter lawn in exchange for bright green and beautiful blooms this spring. Below are five landscaping mistakes that many homeowners make during the winter months and some tips for doing the right thing instead.

Failing to Water the Lawn and Plants

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your plants won’t dehydrate. While they don’t need as much water through the winter months, they do still need at least some. Whenever your area isn’t getting rain or snow, and whenever the temperature is above 40 degrees, make sure that you are giving your lawn and your plants a good soaking water. They will thank you for it come springtime.

Skipping out on Raking

Homeowners think that once all the colors of fall have disappeared, they no longer need to rake. This is simply not the case. Though it may be tedious, and while it may not be your favorite job, it must be done. Mold and fungus can grow rather easily under leftover leaves and other debris, so be sure that you’re raking them up whenever you have the opportunity. Better yet, save them, and you can use them as free mulch! If you don’t feel like raking, you can always hire a professional to do it for you.

Not Checking Mulch Depth

Many plants struggle to tolerate subfreezing temperatures, and once frost hits the base of the stem or the roots, they may never recover. Building up mulch around these plants to a depth of about 3” is ideal. Though, between winter storms and wind, and thanks to your neighbors’ pets, you need to check your mulch throughout the winter, to make certain the depth is still correct. If it isn’t, just add more – or use some of the leaves you raked up! If you have a professional landscaper, this is something he or she should check for you regularly, too.

Forgetting About Pests

Homeowners mistakenly believe that when the cold air sets in, pests are a thing of the past. This isn’t the case, especially for rodents like mice, who rely on your lawn and, ultimately, your home to stay alive when it’s freezing outside. Keeping your grass cut short (1” to 2” – or a maximum of 3” for certain varieties) can prevent mice from nesting in your lawn. It will also keep them off your property altogether, so they are less likely to make their way inside.

In short, failing to water your lawn, skipping out on the raking, skimping on your mulch, or forgetting all about the existence of pests like mice can really wreak havoc on your landscaping. The best way to avoid these issues is to call a professional landscaping service who can handle these tedious tasks on your behalf and provide you with the peace of mind you need and deserve.

Don’t Wait for a Snowstorm to Worry About Your Multifamily Unit – Find a Solution Now

Do you own or manage a multifamily residential unit, like an apartment building? If so, winter probably presents some very specific challenges for you- especially snow and ice. Waiting until that snow and ice are already on the ground to figure out a removal solution is not beneficial in any way. Finding a solution now – long before the first snow hits – truly is.

Reduce Slip-and-Fall Injuries

Every single year across the US, there are a staggering 12,000 deaths due to slips and falls caused by ice and snow. Many of these are among older adults. Fortunately, there are things everyone can do to reduce it. When Mother Nature decides to come, in full force, at your multifamily complex or building, make sure you have a plan in place to keep things under control. Preventing slips and falls before they happen is always better than reacting to them after the fact, and your tenants will undoubtedly thank you for it.

Reduce Auto Accidents

If your apartment building or multifamily complex is served by a parking lot for residents, then this presents a brand new set of challenges. Parking lots are notorious for wintertime accidents, especially with snow and ice on the ground. All too often, property managers fail to prepare their parking lots for the incoming snow and ice. Ideally, you should keep a close watch on the weather, anticipate wintry precipitation, and prevent accumulating ice whenever you can. For large snowfall events, hire a professional snow removal company to keep things clear.

What Professionals Can Do for Your Multifamily Buildings

Whether you own just one apartment building or several buildings spread across the city; there are numerous advantages in hiring a professional right now to help you when the snow starts to fall. Some of the services they provide include:

  • Salt Application: Apply salt to parking lots, walkways, and sidewalks in anticipation of a winter weather event. Your tenants will be more comfortable, and safer without the accumulation of salt and ice. Your employees will also be grateful.
  • Plowing: Removing snow from parking lots and curbsides can be time-consuming. Yet hiring a company once the snow is on the ground can put you in a long, long queue. This means your tenants will likely be waiting a while before they can go anywhere. The earlier you find a solution, the better off you will be in this case. Did we mention your tenants will be happier, too?
  • Snow Removal: Sometimes there simply isn’t enough room on your property for the piles of snow that result from a professional’s plowing efforts. Make sure that the company you choose also offers complete snow removal.

Hiring a company that will salt, plow, and remove snow from your multifamily property this winter is a good idea. But you should not wait until Mother Nature unleashes frozen fury. In fact, doing it right now will help you ensure that your property is a priority – and that makes your tenants and your employees a priority, too.

September Landscaping and Gardening Tips for Chicago Homeowners

September is upon us, and that means the temperatures will soon start falling, the cool breezes will blow, and homeowners across the Chicagoland area will need to start their early fall landscaping and gardening. Below is some information that can help you prepare your lawn and garden for fall to ensure its health and beauty all year round.

Lawn Care

Early September is the best time of year to seed your lawn with an appropriate mix of grass seed. You may choose to fill in any bare or thin spots, but you might also want to seed your entire lawn depending on your unique needs. If your lawn is brown and lifts off the ground easily, this is a sign that you may have grubs, which look like white larvae in the shape of the letter “C”. Be sure to check for these and use the appropriate treatment early in September or wait until the middle of June to use a pesticide called imidacloprid. Application during the fall will prove ineffective since the cool forces the grubs down into the ground and out of reach of any chemicals you might apply.

Caring for Plants in General

If you’ve been thinking of starting a compost pile but haven’t yet gotten around to it, there is no time like September. Things like dead leaves raked from your lawn and grass clippings make a great start, but be sure to add some soil, fertilizer, and water to get things moving along. September is also the perfect time of year to have your soil tested. Remember that you shouldn’t add anything to your soil until you know exactly what it needs; otherwise this can negatively affect the plants during the winter months and prevent growth come spring. 

Trees and Shrubs

If you want to plant or relocate trees to improve or change your landscaping, it is important that you wait for them to change colors or drop their leaves completely. This means they have gone dormant and they will not experience the same level of shock during the transplant process, which helps to ensure their health. You should remember to water all of your larger trees and shrubs until the ground freezes completely, and this is especially true for evergreen trees and shrubs prone to winter burn due to lack of moisture.

Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs

Late summer is one of the most abundant times of the year for your herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Keep close watch over your garden and check it every single day for ripened produce that needs harvesting. If crops like tomatoes or peppers are still ripening when the first frost threatens, you can prevent damage by covering them with light blankets until the frost has passed. Wait until after the first frost to harvest your leafy green vegetables like kale and Brussels sprouts for a better overall flavor and harvest your second crop of cool-weather produce like peas, spinach, and radishes that you planted last month. Finally, continue to snip herbs, but don’t harvest any that have gone to flower or seed.

Fall landscaping is important not only for improving your home’s aesthetic appeal during the fall months, but also for ensuring a healthy spring season filled with color. These September landscaping and gardening tips will help you keep your lawn, plants, trees, and shrubs healthy while improving the harvest from your fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

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 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!

Fall Leaves

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.

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.

Martin John Vernon Hills Landscapping

Just Moved? How to Get to Know Your Landscaping

The housing market is moving fast these days. People are buying and selling like crazy in the Chicago area. If you just moved into a new home, it’s never too early to get to know your landscaping. Whether you have a well-manicured property or one that hasn’t been touched in years, there are a few things you can do to help familiarize yourself with the new surroundings.

Start with these four tips to get your new Chicago home’s landscaping off to a healthy start:

Inspect the Property

You should always start by inspecting your new property. Check for dead trees and plants that may cause trouble during heavy storms. You also want to look closely at your hardscapes including driveways, decks and patios. Look for cracks or signs of damage. Determine what needs to be addressed right away and what you can wait on.

Pruning & Weeding

If you are moving during spring, summer or fall, take time to prune the bushes and pull any obvious weeds. This can help create instant curb appeal while taming down any invasive species. It also can breathe new life into overgrown shrubbery and plants.

Notice Sun & Shade Spots

Before choosing new plants, grass, and flowers for your Chicago landscaping, you need to know where your sun and shade spots are. Take a peek outside during various times of the day so you can familiarize yourself on where and when the sun hits your home. This will help to determine not only which plants to buy but also where to place them.

Learn Your Region’s Climate

If you have moved from one regional climate to another, you’ll want to research your new climate. Knowing when the first frost occurs and when the ground begins to thaw is critical to protecting both new and old landscaping. If you plan to garden, you will also want to know when to plant and harvest your vegetables.

Many Chicago homeowners find it helpful to hire a professional landscaper to inspect their newly purchased home. Martin John Company offers landscaping consultation services for homes of all sizes throughout the North Shore area and beyond. We assess both your softscapes and hardscapes to determine the best ways to take care of your new property. Our crew members can advise you on what needs to get addressed right away and what to plan for the future. For those moving in winter, we also provide reliable snow removal services.

Call us today to learn more about our Chicago landscaping services.

Four Unexpected Benefits of Mowing Your Lawn

We all know that a well-manicured lawn looks great. And don’t we all want to make sure we don’t have the longest grass in the neighborhood? There are many obvious reasons why keeping our landscaping in tip-top shape is beneficial.

But are there other reasons to give our lawn some regular attention besides the obvious answers? Here are four unexpected benefits of mowing your lawn:

  • Enjoy Even Growth. There are few things more unappealing than a patchy, uneven lawn. Mowing the lawn keeps the grass at a uniform level. This allows for better distribution of resources from the sun and water.
  • Keep Mosquitoes Away. Mosquitoes thrive in damp environments. When the blades get too long, moisture begins to accumulate making the area ripe for a mosquito infestation. Keep the buzzers away with regular trimmings. But don’t get your lawn too short! This can attract other insects such as grubs.
  • Only the Best Survive. Ever heard the term “survival of the fittest” – “only the strong will survive”? Your grass works in much of the same way. As we mow, we take out the weaker shoots and allow the stronger, more beautiful shoots to flourish.
  • Preventing Costly Fines. Many cities have ordinances regarding the upkeep of residential properties. Fines can actually be issued when a homeowner’s grass is found to be too long. Avoid costly fines by keeping it well-maintained.

What to do When You Can’t Keep Up

Sometimes taking time for regular lawn clippings just isn’t feasible. Maybe you travel for work or keep a busy schedule filled with soccer tournaments and dance recitals. Whatever the reason, taking care of the lawn doesn’t have to be neglected. Hiring a professional lawn care team to help you maintain a well-manicured property can be a great alternative.

If you are searching for the right landscaping team to help keep your lawn looking great, consider the best the Chicago Area has to offer – Martin John Company. We have been the chosen partner for homeowners throughout the Libertyville area and beyond. From weekly trimmings to snow plowing and more, our team provides clients the services they need for all of the Midwest’s many seasons. Contact us today to learn more.

New Sappling

How Landscaping Services Help Sell Chicago Homes

The real estate market is booming right now.  It seems like every day there is a new home for sale and another one exchanging hands.  It is a great time to be seller especially for those living in the Libertyville and surrounding areas.

But as the house market continues to heat up so will the number of homes for sale.  Buyers will have more options and sellers will need to make sure their Chicago home stands out from the competition. This is where the little details like great landscaping can make all the difference.  Want to sell your home faster?  Consider hiring a professional landscaping company for help!

Here are some ways a professional landscaping team such at Martin John Company can help get your home sold:

  • Add some color… in the right spots. Landscapers are experts at what they do and, if they are like Martin John Company, have years of experience under their belt.  They know how to add beautiful, colorful flowers in just the right spots.  You are sure to have blooms that not only look great but also have the right amount of sunlight and shade to flourish.
  • Refresh the mulch. Bald spots in landscaping bedding and faded mulch is unappealing.  Landscapers can quickly and cost-effectively lay new layers of fresh mulch to all of the property’s beds.
  • Trim unruly bushes & trees. Are you a little intimidated by the thought of trimming your bushes and trees?  Many homeowners are terrified of taking too much off and damaging the plant.  But an unruly shrub can make your home look more like a haunted house than an appealing property.  Let the experts give your bushes and trees the cut they need.
  • Create a polished look. Do you still have remnants of last year’s growing season?  Branches on the ground, leaf piles in the corners and clumps of dead grass?  These all remind potential homebuyers of all the work they need to do once they move in.  Have a professional landscaping team give your Chicago lawn the much-needed attention it deserves for a polished look.

One of the biggest risks you can take is not dealing with poor landscaping before you put your home on the market.  When the appraisers come to value homes, they take this important feature into account.  Your property can appraise higher or lower depending on its curb appeal.  Potential homebuyers also take note of how well the lawn is kept.  It can be a differentiator between you and the house down the street.                                                                       

When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, there are few things that can improve your chances of selling your home more than professional landscaping.  For those in the Libertyville area and beyond, there is no better partner for your landscaping job than Martin John Company.  Our team can help you create that great outdoor appeal so your Chicago property can stand out from the rest.  Whether you need a quick spruce up or a more extensive overhaul, Martin John Company is ready for your call.  Contact us today to schedule your consultation.