Tag Archives: Snow

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!

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!

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.

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.

Snow Removal

How to Best Protect Your Plants during an Ice Storm

Did you know that ice can increase the normal weight of branches by as much as 30 times?  Few things can be more damaging to your plants and trees than an ice storm.  As the thick layers of freezing rain accumulate, they can snap branches, weigh down bushes and cover your entire landscape in a sheet of ice.  To better protect your vegetation from these types of storms, it is important to know what you should and shouldn’t do when ice strikes.

Below are some tips on how to best protect your plants during ice storms:

  • Always let the ice thaw on its own. Trying to remove it while still frozen can cause more damage and breakage.
  • Adding mulch to the base of most plants will help keep their roots moist.
  • Covering plants can help protect them from the cold and elements.
  • Don’t panic! While ice storms can kill some trees, many that are damaged will survive and come back to life in the spring.
  • Choose hardy vegetation varieties when planting. They are more able to withstand the harsh Midwest winters compared to less resilient options.
  • You may want to consider hiring an experienced landscaper such as Martin John Company to help clean-up fallen debris after the storm.

Powerful ice storms are nothing new to the Lake Forest and surrounding areas.  In fact, we often seen at least one powerful storm each winter season.  When disaster strikes, trust the team at Martin John Company to ensure your landscaping is protected.  Whether you need snow removal in the winter or plant replacement in the spring, we have landscaping services to fit every unique situation.  We are proud to be the local landscaping company Lake Forest residents trust for their property needs.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you maintain a safe and healthy property all season long.


Snow Removal

Six Things Your Snow Removal Professional Needs to Know

Although fall is in full-swing, the winter season will be here before we know it. Along with the cooler temperatures comes a task most homeowners dread – shoveling snow. Early morning hours spent blowing the driveway are never fun.

Hiring a professional snow removal team such as Martin John Company can be a smart way to take the load of your shoulders, literally. Whether you have worked with a company in the past or are considering hiring one for the first time, there are some things you’ll want to make sure they know.

Here are 6 things your snow removal company should know:

• Where you want them to pile the snow
• The location of mailboxes, water basins, catch basins, electrical boxes and fire hydrants
• Where your property line begins and ends
• Any specific city or neighborhood association guidelines for snow removal
• Any city or neighborhood noise ordinances, hours, and specific guidelines
• Your schedule – when you leave, get home, need access to the driveway

A reputable snow removal team will know to ask many of these questions during your initial consultation. If they are familiar with the area, they should also know your specific city ordinances and guidelines, but it is always helpful for the homeowner to be informed as well. Clear communication on all aspects of your snow removal services is always best for both you and your provider.

When choosing a snow removal partner, you want one with experience and professionalism. For those in the Chicago area that partner is Martin John Company. Based in Libertyville, we have assisted our Chicago neighbors with all of their landscaping and snow removal needs for 15 years. Our team works with both residential customers as well as commercial properties and multi-family complexes. Martin John is dependable, reliable and there when you need us most.

Contact our team today to discuss your snow removal plan!

Snow Removal

4 Late Winter Landscaping Tips

While it seems like these cold Chicago days will never end, the warmer temperatures will soon be here once again. The transition from winter to spring is often a welcomed change of seasons as green shoots begin sprouting from the ground and buds start forming on branches. As we wait for spring’s arrival, we can help give our landscape a head start with some basic winter care.

For a beautiful lawn in spring, take time in March to complete these four landscaping chores:

Prune plants in winter. Pruning during the late dormant season can help promote better growth in spring. Completing this task in winter leads to faster regrowth when the warm weather arrives. The bare branches also allow you to easily see the shape of the plant so you can make smart cuts.

Remove broken or snapped limbs. Heavy snowfalls can weigh down branches causing them to break and splinter. Remove them now so they can begin the healing process as soon as the milder temperatures return.

Watch for winter warm-ups. As winter winds down, there are often bouts of warm weather that seem to come and go. Keep an eye on covered plants during these milder temperature swings. Offer them some much needed ventilation by opening the burlap or other cover during the day and then reclosing it at night.

Consider your hardscapes. Sidewalks, walkways and driveways take a beating during cold weather, too. Extreme temperature changes can cause concrete to expand and crack. Excessive salt accumulation can wear away at surfaces. To keep your hardscapes in good shape, keep the area free of ice buildup. Watch for an excessive amount of water in any one spot. Also, while salt can be very helpful in minimizing slick surfaces, try to use it only when necessary.

Late winter is also a great time to start thinking about your landscaping contractor needs for the upcoming spring and summer seasons. Whether you have basic upkeep concerns or want to completely overhaul your landscape design, Martin John Landscaping is here to help. Serving the Chicago area, we offer residential customers quality lawn care services all year around. Visit our website to learn more about how we help homeowners throughout the North Shore area keep their plants, trees and flowers beautiful all season long.

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.

Chicago Snow Removal: The Three Step Approach to Keep Your Property Safe

The winter season in Chicago can be brutal. According the National Weather Service, the city of Chicago averages 29.1” of snowfall per season. That may not seem like a lot until you consider that nearly three feet of snow needs to be removed from every sidewalk and driveway each year. When facing this tough job, Chicago snow removal contractors such as Martin John Landscaping often tackle this task with a three step approach.

Step 1: Remove the Snow
The best first step in tackling a large snowfall is to first clear the area. A professional contractor such as Martin John will often use a truck to quickly remove large amounts of snow from the main driveways. They may also utilize a tractor for smaller areas larger vehicles can’t access. It is important to clear away as much of the excess snow as possibly so that the final layer on the bottom has the ability to melt.

Step 2: Protecting the Roof
Property owners often forget the importance of keeping their rooftops clean of snow and ice too. While the roof may not need to be cleared with every snowfall, there are circumstances in which this area will need some attention. Allowing an excessive amount of snow to accumulate on top can lead to heavy weight loads and ice damming. Roof collapses are even possible when underlying structural issues are combined with a large snowfall.

Step 3: Salting the surface
Applying salt to sidewalks and other surfaces can greatly reduce the amount of ice that builds up. Water mixed with salt has a lowering freezing point than just pure water. The more salt added to the waters composition, the lower the freezing point.

If you are in need of a new snow removal contractor or simply want to learn more about the service, contact our team at Martin John Landscaping. We work with both residential homeowners and commercial clients to keep their properties safe and clear all winter long. As a leading Chicago landscaping firm, we are proud to be the North Shore area’s most trusted partner for their snow removal needs.