Tag Archives: Winter

A 3-Month Landscaping Plan to Get Ready for the Spring

Preparing for the spring thaw (and subsequent bloom) requires a bit of a plan. It’s important to keep up with your landscaping during the winter months – or hire a landscaper to do it for you – in order to really reap the benefits. Here’s what you should do in December, January, and February to ensure that your landscape is beautiful and bountiful this spring.


December often marks the first major snow for most people in the local area, so it’s important that the following tasks are completed beforehand:

  • Mulching beds and tree roots – This will ensure that frost cannot penetrate the stems of small plants or into tree roots, causing serious issues when springtime returns.
  • Moving plants indoors – If you haven’t already, this is the perfect time to bring plants that are hardy but cannot tolerate long periods of cold indoors.
  • Pruning – Trim your trees and shrubs of old-growth or dead limbs so that you can make way for beautiful new growth come springtime.
  • Mow the lawn – December is also the perfect time to ensure that you’ve mowed your lawn to a length of 1” to 2” (or even 3” for some less tolerant species). This will keep the grass healthy, but it also prevents pests from calling your lawn their home.


January is all about keeping up with anything you did during December and the previous fall, but it also adds in a few tasks that help to ensure a better spring. They include:

  • Checking mulch depth – Every month or so, be sure that you check the depth of the mulch in your beds and around your trees. It should be at least 3” in the wintertime to provide ample insulation from the cold.
  • Watering at above 40 degrees – If it hasn’t been snowing or raining much, wait until the temperatures are above 40 degrees for a time and water your grass, trees, and plants Even though it’s cold, they still get thirsty.
  • Give your mower a tune-up – Finally, if you mow your own lawn during the warmer months, there’s no time like January to give your mower a tune-up. You can do it yourself relatively easily, but if you rely on a pro, they won’t be very busy in January – and you may even get a discount because of it.


February is often the coldest month, but it’s also the last full month of winter and the time when you want to make sure everything is ready for the big March bloom. You should:

  • Clean your tools – If you do your own landscaping (or even a part of it), then you likely have a collection of tools that you use for this very purpose. February is the perfect time to scrub and oil them (if necessary).
  • Plan your spring layout – The big thaw is coming, and that means it’s almost time to get your bulbs back in the ground. Take some time to look around your yard and figure out where you want various plants to go.

December, January and February aren’t quite as busy in terms of landscaping tasks, but there are still a few things that must be done. Use this handy list to keep up with them, or feel free to call a professional who will take care of it for you. In the end, a beautiful spring lawn with no dead grass and plenty of color is yours for the taking, but only if your winter maintenance is spot on.

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 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 is known as “sunscald” 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 is 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.

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.

Backyard in Lake Forest

5 Landscaping Chores You Need to Do Before the Ground Freezes

Although we have enjoyed some wonderfully warm autumn days here in the Chicagoland, winter will be here soon. As we get our gloves and coats ready, we should also be thinking about how we can landscaping. To start with a healthy lawn come spring, it’s important to prep our trees, plants and grass before the ground freezes.

While there is still time take care of these five landscaping chores before the frozen tundra comes back again:

1. Add new layers of mulch. Adding mulch around young plants before the first freeze can help new plants stay warm. It also helps control soil erosion and water runoff.
2. Aerate the lawn. Prevent the rainfall from pooling on the ground by aerating the lawn. This also helps nutrients and water reach the roots.
3. Remove dead branches. Prevent trees from experiencing further damage by trimming dead branches. Leaving the ends exposed helps them heal.
4. Do one last short lawn-trimming. Now is the time to give your grass one last clipping. Trim it down to 1 ¼” for the last mow of the season. This helps prevents disease growth.
5. Water the plants well. Plants that are well-hydrated are better protected against the cold. Air temperature should be above 40 degrees and you don’t want to water when there is snow or ice on the ground.

While we can’t keep the chilly days away, we can be proactive in how we protect our properties from the harsh Midwestern winters. For assistance with your Chicagoland landscaping needs, contact the expert team at Martin John Company. We help homeowners throughout the North Shore area get their lawns ready for winter. Contact us or call 847-634-2184 for more information on the expert landscaping services we provide.

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.

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.