Category Archives: RESIDENTIAL


5 Features of an Outdoor Living Space that Can be Used All Year

Many homeowners believe that the end of summer also means the final days of being able to enjoy outdoor parties, BBQs and casual get-togethers. However, this need not be the case if you decide to convert your backyard into a cozy outdoor living space. In fact, including these aspects will allow you to make the most of this part of your property all year round. 

Outdoor Heaters

As temperatures start dropping with the approach of fall, outdoor heaters can provide a great solution for friends and family to stay warm while enjoying some time outdoors. These units are available in various sizes, meaning that there will be a few options available to suit your outdoor living area – regardless of its size. Another advantage of these heaters is that they are portable, so it’s easy to store them during the warmer months. 

Patio Roofing

Installing a patio roof is not only a great way to improve privacy in your outdoor entertainment area; it will be an absolute blessing on those days that the weather is unpredictable because you’ll still be able to entertain outdoors without worrying about your guests or food getting wet. Outdoor curtains can be installed on one or more sides if additional shelter or privacy is needed.

Outdoor Kitchens

Many types of food simply taste better when they’ve been grilled, regardless of the season. Installing a fully equipped outdoor kitchen in your backyard living space and under a roof will allow you to continue preparing meals and simply enjoying gathering with friends and family virtually all year round. Setting out weatherproof tables and chairs will provide a little extra comfort as well. 


Having outdoor lighting installed in and around your outdoor living space will not only improve the overall aesthetics of this part of your home; it will make it far safer for you and your guests to spend time outside as it becomes darker in the evenings. Investing in waterproof LED and solar lighting fixtures will help provide the ambiance and lighting you need without having to worry about it having an effect on your electricity bill. 

Fire Features

Whether you choose a fire pit, traditional fireplace, or fire table, adding a fire feature to your outdoor living space can help maximize the amount of time you spend entertaining outdoors. Adding a few little extras such as soft cushions, throws or blankets on a built-in bench around your fire feature will create a cozy feel all year round to this part of your yard area. 

Setting up an outdoor living space in a way that makes it feel inviting and cozy will enable you to enjoy spending time outside entertaining friends and family all year round. If you would like to obtain recommendations for transforming your outdoor living area to maximize your year-round use, get in touch with us today to set up an appointment.


professional landscaping

How a Professional Landscaper Can Increase the Value of Your Home

Landscaping can play a big role in raising your property’s value. Your yard is an extension of your home. Making it beautiful adds to the appeal of your home. Let’s talk about some of the ways hiring a professional landscaper can increase the value of your home. From gorgeous trees to garden pathways, well-designed and properly maintained landscaping adds curb appeal to your property.


A professional landscaper can design a layout for a beautiful herb and flower garden in your yard. They will help you choose plants and shrubs that help garden spaces stay as maintenance-free as possible. Hearty, perennial plants that are native to the climate require less care and maintenance than annuals and ornamental varieties. Peaceful garden spaces with low upkeep add charm and value to your home’s exterior. 


Landscapers can help you create unique, functional pathways throughout your property. The path up to the front of your home is the first thing people see and stand on when they approach. Pathways are a big part of the first impression potential buyers get when they walk up to the front door. Outdoor patios for entertaining and garden pathways can make good selling points as well. 

Proper Lawn Maintenance

Landscapers know the best ways to take care of your property. They know exactly how to keep lawns looking fabulous. Professional landscapers are consistent and do their best to keep the grass in good condition. They ensure your lawn is trimmed properly and can even help you take care of watering and fertilizing the grass. 

Create Structure and Flow

Professional landscapers can help you create the best design for your space. They know how to use landscaping to make a space feel more open. They can also use large rocks, shrubs, or hedges that are gorgeous yet add privacy to the space. These landscaping upgrades add value to your home. 

Ponds and Fountains

A calming water feature makes a relaxing addition to any outdoor sitting area or garden. A clear pool with a little water feature creates serenity and can boost your property value. A professional landscaper can help you create the perfect small pond with a waterfall to bring some life to your outdoor space. Landscapers can install and maintain a water feature that beautifies your backyard. 


Trees are a great way to add value to your property. They are good for the environment and help improve air quality. They create shady areas for comfort outside. They can also help provide privacy. Professional landscapers know how to choose the right kinds of trees for your space. They know how to plant trees properly and can help you decide on the best spots to plant them so they have sufficient space to grow. 

Professional Landscaping Makes a DifferenceThe outside of your home has a lot to do with its value. Professional landscaping can make major improvements. Keeping the yard and property well maintained is important because it is the outward first impression visitors get of your home. Boost your property’s overall value by investing in professional landscaping service. Call Martin John Company now for all your landscaping needs.

hardiness zones

Hardiness Zones Are Important to Understand

When you’re shopping for the perfect plants, hardiness zones are important to understand. The Department of Agriculture assigns one of thirteen specific codes to different regions of the United States based on climate and geography. Hardiness zones are key to finding plants that will thrive in your region. Paying attention to which hardiness zone you live in can save you money, disappointment, and time when choosing plants for your outdoor spaces. 

Weather Patterns and Seasonal Changes Affect Plants

A plant’s hardiness is determined by its ability to withstand extreme heat or cold. Each plant’s hardiness zone is based on its ability to adapt to local temperatures without harming or killing it. All plants thrive differently under different conditions so it’s important to understand which plants do best in your area. Weather patterns and seasonal variations have to be suitable for the plants you choose. Paying attention to the season-to-season changes will help you make the best landscaping choices for your garden.

Winter Temperatures Determine Hardiness Zones

Hardiness zones are determined to help us better understand which plants will best survive winters in that particular area of the country. These zones are based on average winter lows in the region. Perennials, trees, and shrubs can be fragile and die if low temperatures get too cold for them. Hardiness zones tell us how well a plant survives in colder temperatures. You don’t want to line your property with lush shrubs only to realize next spring that winter in your zone was too harsh for them to survive. 

Determine What Zone You’re Actually In

Know and understand the climate you’re working in as well as you can. There is about a ten-degree difference in average temperature between each of the plant hardiness zones. Determining which zone you’re in is important to ensure you’re growing the right types of plants at the right time of year. You can use your hardiness zone information to figure out when it’s safe to start planting for the year. Planting at the right time gives you the best chance for growing success. 

Find Plants That Thrive In Your Zone

Many factors affect the way plants grow, but making sure the climate is suitable for them is probably the most important. Overall climates can have a wide range so hardiness zones are helpful when learning which plants can withstand your local weather. This will help you make the most of your flower beds and maintain rows of gorgeous flowers and shrubs year after year. 

3 Reasons to Pay Attention to Hardiness Zones

  1. Knowing your hardiness zone makes it easier to decide what to buy when you’re looking for new plants. This information helps you determine which varieties will grow the best in your area. This saves time and money wasted on plants that won’t survive.
  2. You can get creative and build a successful, thriving garden over time if you choose plants that do well in your region. When you know the plants you choose are suitable for your climate, you can count on them to return and grow each season. 
  3. Grow healthier plants that have a better chance at survival by giving them the best environment possible. It will be easier to take care of landscaping additions that are suited for the conditions in your zone. 

Take out the guesswork and leave it up to the professionals. Let Martin John Company help you choose the most suitable plants for your landscaping needs. 


5 Plants that can withstand the Chicago Summer Heat

Chicago is a part of the country that is known for its freezing winters and sweltering summers, meaning that just the right plants will be needed if you want your garden to look good during the summer months. Take a look at the following plants that will be able to keep your garden looking awesome – even on the hottest days. 

PowWow Wild Berry Coneflower

This plant produces bright, fade-resistant purple flowers from the beginning of summer right into fall without any need for deadheading. Not only do these flowers put on a spectacular show; the plant itself remains compact and tidy as well. It’s also known for tolerating poor soil, humidity, heat and even drought once fully established. Occasional watering is required, but can be watered more frequently if extreme heat is experienced. 

Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan

Most commonly used as a hassle-free border plant, the Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan also makes a wonderful choice for when cut flowers are required. When blooming, they make a beautiful display of golden yellow flowers with black centers that look fairly similar to daisies. This plant is well known for tolerating humidity and heat and once established, usually only requires occasional watering. 

Lacey Blue Russian Sage

The Lacey Blue Russian Sage is not only known for being extremely tolerant to heat and drought; it produces beautiful lavender-blue flowers that are aromatic and deer-resistant. When established, this plant provides a lot of color in a garden, it’s easy to care for and is commonly used as an accent or garden border. This plant requires occasional watering once established, but can be watered more frequently if temperatures become abnormally hot. 

Kudos Mandarin Dwarf Agastache

If you’re looking for something bright to add color to your summer garden in Chicago, this plant will be a big help. It provides color all summer long and it’s extremely hardy, resistant to disease and tolerates wet soil extremely well too. This plant is a common choice for garden borders, beds and containers, and it will attract several butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard. After it’s established, occasional watering is needed – which can be increased during severe heat.

Geyser White Gaura

This is a full-bodied plant that will flower abundantly until the first frost arrives, producing long-lasting blooms in a silvery white color. It’s known for thriving in containers as well as when it is used as a cut flower. The Geyser White Gaura tolerates summer heat and humidity exceptionally well, and will only require occasional watering after it has been fully established in a garden. 

The above-mentioned plants will not only provide a beautiful show of color for your summer garden; most of them will require little care and overall maintenance once they’ve established themselves. If you would like to find out more about the types of plants that will thrive in your Chicago garden during the hot summers, get in touch with our team today. 



5 Reasons Why Having a Landscape Designer Take Care of Your Property is a Good Idea

Although many property owners are successful at maintaining their yards, several admit that they would rather be spending their time involved in other activities instead. While it’s often thought that it would be “too costly” to hand this work over to a qualified landscape designer, the truth is that there are several benefits associated with doing so.

New Ideas can be Introduced

Are you tired of the overall appearance of your yard and garden, but have no idea how or where to get started with making changes? If so, enlisting the help of a landscape designer will not only take a load of work off your shoulders; a qualified landscape designer will also be able to present you with several new ideas with regards to the layout of your garden and yard, while also knowing which plants will thrive in your specific region. 

Landscape Designers Already Own the Required Equipment

When a property owner attempts to change the layout of a yard and garden, chances are that they will need to go out and purchase equipment to do so – which will most likely never be used again. However, professional landscapers will already have everything on hand that is needed to give your yard and garden the total transformation it deserves. 

Changes can be Implemented Quickly

One of the main concerns voiced by property owners regarding landscaping is that it takes them a long time to make any changes if they attempt to do everything themselves. When a project of this magnitude is handed over to a landscape designer, it will be completed a lot quicker because they have access to all of the resources needed to make the required changes and upgrades. 

You’ll be Able to Remain Within Budget

A landscape designer will be able to provide property owners and managers with various solutions that fit within their planned budgets. In many cases, landscape designers will be able to obtain the required plants and other supplies at far better pricing as well – and these savings can then be passed on to their clients. 

Increase your Home’s Value

Investing in the services of a qualified landscape designer will not only help improve the overall appearance of your property; it will also help increase its value substantially because potential buyers will see a yard and garden area that has already been established with plants, shrubs, and flowers that are native to the area. 

If you’re a property owner or manager and you’ve been considering the option of hiring a professional and experienced landscape designer, our team will be able to assist you. We can assist with small and larger landscape design and maintenance projects and will take your budget into consideration throughout the planning process. 

Get in touch with our team today to discuss the various options we can provide with regard to landscaping design and maintenance. No project is too small or too large for us to consider.


How to Properly Take Care of a Rose Garden

Roses are undoubtedly one of the most popular flower choices in many gardens around the country because of their scent, beauty and sheer ability to multiply substantially under the right growing conditions. If you’ve been considering starting a rose garden, but have been feeling overwhelmed at all of the information out there with regards to their care, this handy guide will provide you with what you need to know about these gorgeous flowers. 

Plant in the Correct Spot

The first step to ensuring that your roses thrive is to plant them in a section of your garden that receives at least six hours of full sunlight each day. Unfortunately, no rose varieties will survive in full shade conditions – but a few will tolerate partial shade. Roses that are grown in areas that are too shady will not flower as much as those that receive a lot of sunshine, and they will also be more prone to suffer from disease and pest problems. 

Choose the Right Varieties

Each rose variety will perform differently, so it’s essential to choose those that will be most suited to the climate in your area. If you live in the South, you’ll need to choose varieties that thrive in hot and humid summer weather, and gardeners in the North will do better choosing those that are hardier than average. 

If you’re unsure of the varieties that will do well in your garden, your local nursery or garden center will be able to assist you. Alternatively, our professional landscapers will be able to provide you with information in this regard as well. 

Use the Correct Soil and Mulch

Roses must be planted in soil that is rich and drains well. When planting them, mix some organic matter such as ground bark or compost into the soil that will be used to fill the hole afterward. 

It’s recommended to add a two- to three-inch layer of organic, coarse mulch around your newly planted roses. This goes a long way in helping to reduce the chances of foliage diseases developing because it prevents a lot of water from splashing directly on to the leaves. 

Water them Correctly

Most rose varieties will do well if they are given approximately one inch of water per week during their growing season. However, if your soil is sandier than average, watering may need to be done a little more frequently. 

Pruning is Important

Roses should be pruned during early spring unless they are a variety that only blooms once a year – these should be pruned right after they have finished blooming. 

Inspect Regularly

Your roses should be checked regularly for signs of insect infestations or disease outbreaks. The sooner problems like these are detected; the easier it will be to bring them under control. 

If you would like to learn more about planting and caring for roses, get in touch with our team today. We can provide you with various landscaping and plant care services to ensure that your garden looks its best all year round. 


Simple Tips to Trim your Hedges

One of the main aspects associated with the American dream is to have a garden and yard that is not only functional, but that also looks as aesthetically appealing as possible. While homeowners and property caretakers may think that hedge trimming is a job that is best left to the professionals, this may not always be necessary. In fact, keeping these tips in mind will help ensure that you’ll be able to trim your hedge to absolute perfection. 

The Right Equipment is Crucial

Before attempting to trim hedges on your property, ensure that you have these items on hand:

  • Thick gloves made from either leather or another extremely sturdy material. You’ll certainly be grateful for these after seeing the number of thorns that some hedges have
  • A large piece of tarp. When laid down around the area that’s going to be cut, it will make cleanup a lot easier because most of the trimmings will land on it
  • Safety glasses or goggles. These will protect your eyes against flying wood chips that could cause serious eye injury
  • Hand clipper. This should have a good grip and feel comfortable in your hand. If it’s too big or too small, it can cause blisters to develop
  • Electric or gas-powered hedge trimmer. This will save a lot of time, especially if you’re trimming a hedge that’s larger than a few feet long. It can also help get into those spots that are difficult to access by hand

Prune before Hot Weather Arrives

In most cases, it’s recommended that you trim hedges in late winter because they will not have produced new buds as yet. If you trim off buds that have formed, it will cause the hedge to take a lot longer to fill out again. If your hedge is of a flowering variety, it’s recommended that you hold off on the pruning until the day after its blooms have started turning brown. 

Trim Narrower at the Top 

After being left unattended for a while, most hedges will become wider at the top than the bottom because they receive the most sunlight on the top. However, this causes them to grow in a “V” formation, which will not only look unsightly; it will also cause the rest of the hedge to produce less foliage and look scraggly. When trimming hedges, ensure that the top is left narrower so that sufficient sunlight can reach the lower sections as well. 

Practice makes Perfect

Although your first few attempts at hedge trimming may not look overly fantastic, bear in mind that you’ll get better at performing this task over time. Patience and persistence are the two main factors to consider when performing this task.

If you’re a homeowner or property manager who isn’t keen on attempting to trim hedges that have grown out of control, we have professionals who can perform this task on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our professional landscapers. 

water garden

Want Something Different on your Lawn? Try a Rain Garden

If you’ve been living in your current property for more than a few years, chances are that you’re becoming tired of seeing the same old garden and lawn year after year when looking out of your windows – but you may also be at a loss as to what else can be done to provide a little extra natural beauty in your yard. One option that can provide a fabulous focal point on your lawn is a rain garden.

What is a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is that which consists of various native perennials, shrubs and flowers that have been planted in a small depression and it is usually formed on a naturally sloping part of a lawn. It’s designed in such a way that it can temporarily hold and soak in rainwater runoff from driveways, roofing, lawns and patio areas.

Rain gardens have the ability to remove up to 90% of chemicals and 80% of sediments from rainwater runoff and when compared to a regular lawn, this enables as much as 30% more water to soak into the ground than before.

Types of Rain Garden

Three types of rain garden can be created in your yard, namely simple, intermediate or advanced.


On the average residential property, a simple rain garden can be something as plain as a depression in the ground where plants and grass grow and help filter any water that accumulates after it has rained. A low-lying area in a yard with lawn that isn’t growing too well can be converted to a rain garden by choosing a few native plants that will thrive in either extremely dry or highly swampy conditions.


Larger rain gardens can often look like detention ponds, with the only difference being that it is effective at absorbing and filtering runoff. Once again, choosing the right combination of plants will help create a rain garden that can also act as a natural habitat.


When a water quality system is incorporated into a rain garden, it allows it to become functional piece of green infrastructure that can be linked to a property’s current storm water system. For instance, it can be constructed with a settling area that has a natural filtration system to capture trash and sediments that would otherwise end up in a city’s drain system. In some cases, these setups can include a collection bag that will need to be emptied out at regular intervals.

Benefits of Rain Gardens

  • They prevent rainwater runoff from going into sewer systems
  • They can filter runoff before it reaches waterways and sewers
  • They can increase the flow of groundwater
  • They can create various natural habitats for wildlife, butterflies, birds and insects
  • They beautify neighborhoods, public parks and yards

There’s no need to think that creating a rain garden is going to take too much time and effort or be too expensive. Simply contact our team of experienced landscapers and an appointment can be set up to discuss the options that will be best suited to your yard.

good insects

Insects that can Actually Help your Landscaping

Believe it or not, not all bugs and creepy crawly critters are harmful to garden plants, shrubs and bushes. Several insects can in fact be highly beneficial to have roaming among your favorite flowers, and a few examples of these will be mentioned below.


Although these are usually quite attractive looking insects and often depicted in children’s storybooks as friendly characters, ladybugs are in fact quite predatory. Before their pretty colors start showing through, they start out as rather ugly larvae and their primary food source is aphids. The average ladybug larva can eat as many as 40 to 50 aphids per hour, making them an excellent visitor among your rose bushes.

Praying Mantises

While praying mantises may not look like the prettiest bugs around, they sure deserve their place in virtually every garden. They are not only able to devour those pesky grasshoppers that destroy your plants; they have been known to make short work of some species of moths, flies and beetles as well.

Keep in mind though, that while praying mantises may eat grasshoppers, they have also sometimes been know to attack butterflies and bees.


These flies may look like miniature yellow jacket wasps, but they are missing the stinger completely. Hoverflies feed on nectar and pollen and as such, are considered to be important for pollinating the plants in your garden. The larvae from these flies are also rather predatory in that they kill caterpillars, aphids and some types of beetles.


Honeybees are by far one of the most beneficial insects to have living in your garden – regardless of the types of plants and flowers you have. These busy little visitors are known for pollinating several of the plants that are responsible for producing the food we eat, so it’s crucial that they be protected in any and every way possible.

Some plants and trees that bees are responsible for pollinating include apples, broccoli, asparagus, cranberries, various types of melons and many other types of fruit. It has been suggested that humans would be without most sources of grown food within as little as four years if honeybees were to die out completely.

If you’re keen to attract bees to your garden, the first step is to provide them with a variety of flowers and plants that they can obtain pollen from. Popular offerings include poppies, clover, oregano, zinnias, marigolds, asters and geraniums.

To ensure that bees become regular visitors in your garden, you’ll need to provide them with a source of fresh drinking water along with the plants. A shallow birdbath with a little fresh water in can provide the ideal rest stop for these visitors while they’re hard at work gathering pollen in your yard.

If you have insects in your garden and you’re unsure whether they are beneficial to your plants or not, it can help to speak with an expert. Contact our experienced landscaping team today to find out more about attracting useful insects to your yard today.

harsh chicago winters

How to Protect Landscaping for the Harsh Chicago Winters

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.