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Martin John Lanscaping

Budget Conscious Landscaping Ideas for the Front of Your House

When it comes to first impressions, the front yard is where it’s at when it comes to your Chicago home’s curb appeal. It can either make your property a stunning masterpiece or one that sticks out like a sore thumb. While creating an attractive landscape design is important, it also shouldn’t break the bank. There are many landscaping ideas for the front of the home that add that outdoor appeal while still being cost-conscious.

Here are some great budget-friendly front yard landscaping design ideas:

  • Go vertical with your design. Creating height with your outdoor design can instantly make it appear more high-end. Add tiered planters or rows of flower boxes to enhance the appeal of your front yard.
  • Fill in with evergreens. Evergreens such as boxwoods keep your home full of color all year long. They can be a great way to add texture and vibrancy without the upkeep of planting flowers annually.
  • Add a pathway using pallets. Reclaimed pallet wood can create a striking pathway between two points of interest. It can also add both function and beauty to the front yard.
  • Invest in landscape lighting. Good lighting isn’t just important for the inside of the home. It can also be an essential design element for the exterior too. Lighting adds security illuminating pathways while also highlighting your front yards existing architectural details.
  • Create landscape art. Landscape art can vary from large, all-encompassing designs to smaller pieces dotted throughout the yard. These features are a fantastic way to add unique features to your home that your guests will notice.

What to Avoid – Keep the landscaping ideas for the front of your home budget-friendly by also knowing what to avoid. First, steer clear of plants that require high maintenance such as frequent watering. This can really rack up the utility bill. Also, most water features are affordable enough to upkeep but you always need to consider replacement cost down the road. Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of believing that a DIY project is always the cheapest route. Hiring a professional to help design or install new landscaping can often save you time and money with many different types of projects.

When crafting a front yard landscaping design, there is always a lot to do. Seek out the help of a local Chicago landscaping contractor such as Martin John. We can lighten the load by creating the perfect plan for any size budget. From landscape design services to basic upkeep and care, our team helps your Chicago property shine all year long. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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!

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.

Russian Sage

Why Smart Property Managers Use Professional Landscaping Teams

Managing a multi-family property is no small job. The list of “to-do’s” never seems to end. To keep things running smoothly, smart property managers hire out many of their maintenance tasks including their landscaping and snow removal needs.

Why partner with a professional landscaper? There are many benefits to using a contracting team for this important job. Here are some of the top reasons for property managers in the Libertyville and surrounding communities:

Hiring a landscaping team means the property always looks great. Curb appeal is everything even for multi-family properties. A great looking exterior can make attracting new people to the complex that much easier. A well-maintained outdoor space always creates a warmer, more inviting atmosphere.

Few things are worse than spending countless hours mowing or shoveling the many driveways and sidewalks throughout a large complex. Property managers save time when they partner with a contractor. A professional landscaper has the right equipment to efficiently and quickly perform the work allowing you to tackle other important tasks.

Slippery ice patches, deep snow drifts and overgrown weeds can make the property treacherous for both your tenants and their guests. Regular maintenance by a dedicated team leads to a safer environment. Having a professional landscaper ready to tackle those tough jobs means common safety hazards get taken care of right away before someone gets hurt.

Whether you handle one property or fifty hiring a professional team such as Martin John Company can be one of the best decisions you make. When is the best time to start looking? How about now? Finding the right Libertyville contractor before the winter season comes means you can start enjoying a lighter load with more time to manage your other tasks.

Let the team at Martin John Company be your preferred landscaping partner. Contact us or call 847-634-2184 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Martin John Vernon Hills Landscapping

Get Your Lawn Ready for Summer in 5 Easy Steps

With the cold spells we have had lately, it’s hard to believe that spring is nearly half way over already. It may seem impossible to think of flip-flops and swimming pools, but summer will be here before we know it. While the thought of working in the backyard may have you running to the nearest fireplace for warmth, there are a few landscaping tasks that should be completed before summer arrives.

Here are 5 easy steps to get your lawn ready for summer:

  1. Consider New Plants – Spring is a great time to begin planning what you want your landscaping to look like come summer. Consider what, if any, new plants you want to include in your overall design. Then begin researching which ones would work best with your climate, soil type and sun exposure.
  2. Schedule a Spring Cleaning – Set your lawn up for success by scheduling a spring cleaning with the expert team at Martin John. Whether you need some TLC for your grass or want to give your outdoor space a fresh new look, we have services to meet every need. Why not get these jobs done before you want to enjoy your BBQ’s and pool parties this summer?
  3. Look for Winter Burn – The wrath of winter can wreak havoc on your landscaping well into the summer months. Winter burn, a common problem, is often noticed on evergreens in the form of brown branches that were once green. Although it seems smart to prune these affected branches, it is best to let them fall off naturally over the next couple months. If they don’t heal on their own, prune them come late spring or early summer.
  4. Check for Salt Damage – You also want to check for any salt damage that has occurred near treated sidewalks and driveways. The salt can creep into nearby soil damaging plants and grass. Keep these areas watered and apply a thick layer of mulch to counteract the salt’s damage.
  5. Aerate the Grass – Spring is the optimal time to aerate the lawn. It helps loosen the dirt allowing for better plant growth. While this task can be accomplished on your own, a professional landscaping company has the right tools and equipment to quickly and effectively get the job done.

At Martin John Company, we specialize in assisting our clients in creating a lush, attractive lawn to enjoy all summer long. Whether you need new mulch for the flower beds, a fertilization treatment for your grass or regular mowing services, our experienced team can help. Serving Martin John is Chicago’s trusted landscaping company.

Pool and Grass

Everything You Need to Know About Snow Mold

Are you noticing small, circular patches of matted grass on your lawn during the spring months? If so, your lawn may be experiencing a common lawn disease called snow mold. Snow mold is a type of fungus that can greatly damage or kill any variety of grass. The disease’s devastating effects are typically noticed in late winter or early spring when the snow melts and its characteristic circular patches begin to appear. Before spring arrives this year, take time to learn more about the effects snow mold can have on your lawn.

Snow Mold Varieties
The two most common types of snow mold are gray snow mold and pink snow mold. Gray snow mold (typhula blight) is the least damaging of the two diseases. It is most commonly found in the Great Lakes region or other environments which experience heavy snow and cool temperatures. It can survive as sclerotia festering underground or in plant debris even through the hot summer months. Gray mold often only effects the blades and not the health of the grass itself.

Pink mold not only damages the grass blades, it also destroys the grass roots and crowns. It, too, can survive during warmer summer months in decayed plant debris as spores or mycelium.

Early Prevention is Important
While little can be done once the lawn has been affected by snow mold, there are steps you can take to prevent it in the future. The best and easiest way to ward off this disease is by following a regular raking and mowing schedule throughout the late summer and early autumn months. Some lawns may also need further care with the application of chemicals or other fungicides.

To ensure your lawn is actively cared for leading up to the winter months, hire a contractor with expertise in the field. The team at Martin John Landscaping offers professional lawn care services for both residential and commercial clients. We meet the needs of our customers by ensuring their lawn receives the care necessary to remain strong all winter long. Contact us today to learn more about the many services we provide.