Category Archives: MULTI-FAMILY

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.

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.