Category Archives: SNOW REMOVAL

Plants for Chicago Winter

How to Keep Your Landscaping Looking Nice Even During the Winter Months

During the spring and summer, landscaping is a big focus for many home and business owners. However, once winter sets in, this seems to change. You might think that making your landscaping look nice during the winter is impossible, but the tips below can do just that.

Don’t Stop Raking

If you stop raking for the season after the first snowfall, you certainly aren’t alone. However, even though there aren’t quite as many leaves on the ground during the cold of winter, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist at all. When snow piles on top of those leaves and dead plant matter, the resulting environment can breed mold and fungus. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to rake your lawn now and then – especially where you can readily see the buildup.

Wrap Trees with Thin Bark

Trees with an especially thin bark are susceptible to damage in the winter. This applies not only to certain species of trees, but also to saplings and very young trees. A phenomenon known as “sun scald” is a very real thing, and it occurs when there are large temperature fluctuations during the late fall and early spring. Use a light-colored wrap – even burlap – to prevent it.

Cover Shrubs to Protect from Salt

If your home or business is close to the road, and if any of your shrubs or plants are in what are known as “high-traffic” areas, it is worth your while to cover them with a tarp or sheet to protect them from road salt. In fact, if you are going to apply salt to a sidewalk or walkway near your plants, be sure to use it sparingly, and avoid using it near tree roots unless there’s no other choice for safety reasons.

Mulch Your Beds (And Check Them Often)

Mulch is much more than just a means to make your flower and plant beds look pretty. In fact, it can go a long way toward preventing frost from reaching plants’ roots. You can choose mulch in any color you prefer, or, if possible, you can even use the leaves you collected during the fall as mulch. Make sure your mulch is at least three inches deep to really protect the plants.

Keep Your Grass Cut Short

If you haven’t already mowed your lawn for the last time this season, now is the perfect time to do it. Just be sure that you lower the blade on your mower so that grass is no more than 2” tall – and ideally 1”. Grass can get frostbite just like your fingers and toes, and this results in dead patches or brown grass in the spring. What’s more, keeping your grass short through winter can also prevent pests like field mice from calling your yard home.

As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your landscaping looks nice all winter long. Though many of these tips aren’t directly aesthetic, they will protect your trees, shrubs, plants, and flowering plants so that when spring rolls around, everything blooms as it should and nothing appears brown or dead.

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 is 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 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 that 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.

snow removal chicago

Why Now is the Time to Think About Your Snow Removal Needs

If there’s one thing that can be said for winters in the Midwest – especially in Chicago and near the Great Lakes – it’s that winters can be incredibly harsh and unpredictable. It is not uncommon for a foot or more of snow to fall overnight, blanketing everything from your front steps to your car in a pile of pure white. It is always beneficial to start thinking about your snow removal needs prior to the first snowfall, and there are plenty of reasons to hire outside help, too. 

You’ll Need to Get In and Out of the House Safely

Snow is definitely beautiful, but for many homeowners all across the Chicagoland area, it can be quite dangerous – especially when it comes to leaving your house. You can use rock salt to help prevent the front steps from freezing, but this only works up to a certain point, and it won’t stop inches of snow from piling up. Unfortunately, numerous injuries occur each year when people attempt to make their way out the front door after a snowstorm. Securing snow removal services now is a great way to prevent this. 

You Have to Keep Your Sidewalk Clear

Plenty of HOAs and areas of the Chicago area (and its suburbs) require you to keep your sidewalk clear of snow for public safety reasons. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to clear the snow on their own within the given timeframe. Snow removal services respond on a first come, first served basis, so the sooner you choose to hire someone, the better off you will be. 

You May Need to Get Your Car Out of the Driveway

When snow really piles up, you might decide to park your car in the garage overnight to spare yourself the cleaning in the morning, but if the snow has built up on your driveway just outside the garage, it may be difficult – if not impossible – for you to even get your car on the road. Snow removal services will clear your driveway from the road or street to your garage, making it much simpler and safer to get to your destination. 

You Don’t Have the Time or Ability to Do it Yourself

Finally, it is important to remember that not everyone has the time or the able body required to remove snow on their own. Elderly homeowners may not have the ability to go outside and hook up a plow or use a snowblower, and people who work long hours simply do not have the time between work and sleep. If either of these scenarios sounds familiar to you, or even if you simply prefer to hire a professional to remove snow, now is the best possible time to make the call and learn more about the services that are available to you. 

Winter is on its way, and that means cold temperatures and wintry precipitation are just around the corner. By securing a snow removal service early on, you can ensure that your driveway, front step, or even sidewalk – or maybe all three – remain clear and safe despite the weather.

snow removal

Why Now is the Time to Find a Commercial Snow Remover for Chicago’s Tough Winter

With summer officially being over, now is the time to start dealing with the snow that is falling around your commercial property. Although it may sound depressing to have to think about snow removal, it is still not too late to secure the services of a reliable commercial snow remover for your business property.

1. You will have More Time to Obtain Snow Removal Estimates

Although it is not recommended that you obtain an estimate from dozens of snow removal contractors, it is a good idea to request a few. Obtain a full property assessment from each of them and inquire about how they will be able to cater to your unique snow and ice removal requirements.

2. Visibility for assessing your Property is Better

If you wait until the snow has become too deep, it will not be that easy for contractors to fully identify all areas of your property that will require removal. It is also far better to inspect the property before too much snow has fallen and it makes it easier for contractors to identify potential safety issues that will need to be addressed when performing snow removal in Chicago.

3. Secure your Spot on the List

Regardless of the size of a snow removal company, their equipment and time are all limited – meaning that there are only so many clients that they will be able to service each day that it is snowing. Reputable companies will normally have client lists that fill up quickly, with repeat clients usually being given priority. As a result, it is recommended that you search for and hire the services of a snow removal contractor before they will actually be needed.

4. Inquire about Securing Salt and Having the Necessary Resources Allocated to your Property

Before signing a contract with a snow removal contractor, it’s recommended that you inquire about the type of equipment that will be used on your commercial property. Also ask whether they will have the crew capacity to service your property as the need arises – after all, you want to ensure that they will be fully prepared to handle your snow removal requirements with ease, especially now that it has started snowing.

It is also essential to have your chosen contractor confirm whether they will be able to secure the supply of sufficient amounts of salt and ice-melting products to suit a property of your size.

In Chicago, it is not a matter of ‘if it is going to snow,’ it’s a matter of ‘when it will snow’ and how much snow will fall. This means that as a commercial property owner or resident, you should start having this service performed right away. If you would like to obtain an estimate from us for snow removal, get in touch with us as soon as possible. You certainly don’t want to wait too long into the snowy season and not be able to secure the services of a contractor.

Winter Curb Appeal

Want to Ensure that your Property Survives the Deep Winter? We Can Help

With winter having arrived, many homeowners will be thinking about cozy evenings by the fireplace or being able to enjoy hearty meals with family and friends. However, this is also the time for them to be preparing their yards and outdoor spaces so that they will be able to withstand the harsh winter weather conditions as best as possible. Below are some aspects that we can assist you with that will help prepare your home to withstand the cold weather.

1. Planning Ahead and Getting an Early Start

The earlier you get started with winterizing your lawn, other plants, trees, shrubs, and irrigation system, the sooner you will be able to have your yard looking good when spring arrives. Your lawn and plants will also be able to absorb more nutrients this way. Waiting until there is snow on the ground to do this could result in your lawn and plants looking less than their best later on, or even dying in some cases.

2. Finding the Right Lawn Winterizer

Your lawn and garden will more than likely not survive the harsh winter months without having the correct winterizing products applied. Although most winterizing products contain similar ingredients to those found in other lawn food products, it is essential to obtain a product containing the correct ingredient ratios for your lawn. Our professionals will be able to advise you regarding which products will be best for your lawn and plants.

3. Removing Plant Debris

When left on your lawn for extended periods of time, leaves and other plant debris will cause dead and dry spots to develop. Allowing our team to assist you regularly with raking everything off your lawn and removing it from your property will help ensure that it remains aesthetically appealing and healthy.

4. Covering Flower Beds

While preparing your lawn to survive the cold winter months, it is recommended that your flowerbeds be covered with burlap sacks or fabric. This will provide your plants with much-needed protection against the cold and if you have not already done this, you should do so right away.

5. Taking Small and Fragile Plants Indoors

Some herbs, smaller pants, and delicate bulbs may not be able to survive to be out in the cold. Our team will be able to help you move these indoors so they can continue growing. However, you will need to act quickly if any are still outdoors at this time.

6. Preparing your Irrigation System

Chicago’s winter temperatures often drop to well below freezing, meaning that any water remaining in pipes, valves and other working parts of your irrigation system can suffer substantial damage if they are not correctly drained. In most cases, they will also need to be blown out with high-pressure air to ensure that no water remains anywhere. We will be able to advise you in this regard or perform this service on your behalf.

Our team is committed to helping you to keep your lawn and garden looking beautiful all year round. If you would like to find out more about the various landscaping and other services we offer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Shoveling Safety

5 Shoveling Tips to Prevent Aches and Pains

Once the holidays are over, it often feels like we will be digging our way out of winter forever. Dragging ourselves outside to shovel the sidewalks and driveways is never fun. And what can make this chore even more dreaded is how we feel after we clear the snow.

Shoveling can take a toll on the body. Aches and pains from lifting heavy loads of slush can leave you worn, tired or even immobile for a period of time. For those with pre-existing issues, it can exacerbate an already tough situation making it even worse.

But luckily there are techniques you can start doing today to lighten the load! Here are five expert tips on how to prevent post-shoveling aches and pains:

1. Warm Up

You wouldn’t run a mile without warming up first. And you wouldn’t go golfing without taking a few practice swings to get loose. Approach shoveling the same way. Warm your arm and leg muscles up before you head outside for a better recovery after.

2. Use the Right Tools

If you are still using that old, beat-up shovel… it’s time to say “goodbye”. To do a job quickly and effectively you need the right tool for the job. There are many great ergonomic shovels on the market today that help reduce the strain on your back while efficiently clearing the snow.

3. Lift with Your Legs & Don’t Twist

It’s time to start paying attention to how you pick-up and drop those heavy loads. Always make sure to lift the shovel with your legs rather than heaving using your lower back. And don’t twist the torso to throw the snow off to the side! Lift first, turn your body and then dump the load off the shovel.

4. Brace Your Back

Back pain is the most common injury people experience from shoveling. If you are prone to lower back pain aches wear a brace belt while you shovel. It will help give your back the support it needs so you can finish the job.

5. Know Your Limits

Not everyone can handle the straining task of removing tons and tons of snow. Know your limits! The time might be right to hire a professional to keep your pathways clear for the winter season. They can quickly and easily finish the job before you could even clear a small section.

Winter doesn’t have to wreak havoc on the body. Using the right techniques to shovel your driveway and sidewalks can mean the difference between a pain-free season or one with aches and injuries. Martin John Company is there to help when the load becomes too much. We offer affordable and professional snow removal services and are there right when you need us. Around the clock care is how we give our customers the best service in the Chicago area. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you stay pain-free all the way until spring!

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.

snow removal

Have You Put Together Your Snow Removal Plan Yet?

Whether you are a single residence property owner or manage a sprawling apartment complex, it’s always smart to have a plan for your snow removal needs.  And it’s even smarter to have that plan in place before winter arrives.

Cleaning driveways, melting the icy spots and reducing hazards are all essential components of a good snow removal plan.  You have to consider the when, how, and who when you create your own strategy for controlling the heavy loads of snow we receive in the Midwest.  Doing so helps you prepare for whatever the season brings.

To start crafting your perfect snow removal plan, it’s first important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What worked or didn’t work last year with your snow removal?
  • How much time do you have to dedicate to snow removal?
  • What tools and equipment do you have on hand to tackle the job?

Once you have considered these questions, it’s time to start planning your approach.  You can keep the process simple by addressing each individual aspect of the process.  Begin by devising a plan for these specific areas of snow removal.

When will the snow be removed?

What is your schedule like?  Are you able to run the snow blower before you head to work?  How quickly do you want the area clear?  Are there any community or city guidelines which require you to have the area cleared by a certain time?  Much of this is determined by when the snow actually comes but it can still be helpful to think of when you have time to complete this often lengthy task.

How will the snow be removed?

What type of equipment do you already have at your disposal to clear the snow?  Is that equipment in proper working order?  If you handle a large complex, do you have the manpower to run those machines as long as needed to clear the areas?  Snow removal is never easy but having the right tools for the job can help.

Who will remove the snow?

When time becomes limited or your equipment is less than adequate, you may want to consider hiring a professional team to remove the snow for you.  Partnering with a snow removal company can make creating (and following) your snow removal plan easy.  And it is much more affordable than you may think.

If you are looking for a safe and reliable snow removal team in the Libertyville area and beyond, look no further than Martin John Company.  We offer 24 hour service and a fully-staffed crew ready and waiting to help with whatever winter brings.  Keeping our customers and their properties safe is our top priority.

Contact our team today to begin putting together your own snow removal plan.

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.