Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:27

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

It's Recipe Thursday! 

Here's a favorite using Zucchini's from your garden.


Olive Oil Cooking spray

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce) or more to taste

1/4 cup italian style bread crumbs (Progresso Brand is best)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.  Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.



Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 10:46


Landscaping using container plants is a strong trend in landscape design. Although landscapes are designed to mature and bloom throughout the seasons, including winter, adding unique planted pots provides another dimension to the setting and gives you the opportunity to add a color or design shape that normally isn't found in your garden adding interest. Instead of being limited by climate, potscaping allows you to escape the seasonal choices of our weather area.  Adding the uniqueness of tropical or exotic plants transforms the space into a truly unique outdoor living room. Unique plants, normally not used in containers, will provide a distinctive yet interesting entrance as pictured above.



Lake Forest, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes



Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Container pots can offer either a formal look or a more casual feeling depending on the container, placement and plants chosen. For a formal entry, balance is important, and using containers that blend or highlight the architecture of your home is key.  But for backyard use, pots can be moved and changed throughout the season to provide the at-home getaway look and feel you desire.


Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 26 August 2013 10:33

Talking Design - Perennial Flowers

Designing a landscape using perennial flowers is the best way to have something wonderful blooming throughout the seasons. Most fallblooming perennials are hardy, long-lived and come in vivid colors. Fall bloomers, late summerblooming perennials and ornamental grasses are the three components of a well-planned garden, which provide beauty and enjoyment throughout the colder seasons. Fall bloomers have all season to grow so many are tall and bold when they flower. The top ten perennials that we use in our landscape designs are the Aster, Turtlehead, Chrysanthemum, Joe Pye Weed, Toad Lily, Perennial Sunflower, False Sunflower, Sedum, Goldenrod and the Blue Mist Shrub. Most of these will bloom from the end of summer until frost.


Lake Bluff, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Ornamental grasses and late summerblooming perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, Coneflower and many others, have dried flowers and interesting stalks that remain into the fall and throughout the winter. These dried perennials and grasses should not be underestimated in the garden. The colors of these fall-blooming perennials compliment our yellow, orange and red fall colors magnificently.

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 23 August 2013 10:22

Color in your Landscape

"I want a lot of color in my landscape" is the most common phrase we hear from a client. To a designer, this phrase has broad appeal because there are so many ways to add color into a landscape design. Adding color in diverse and creative ways is what makes a landscape come alive. Add layers of color into the landscape design that extend from early spring and continue into the fall and beyond. The early spring layer of color comes from bulbs like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. These plants usually bloom between mid-March and late April. When planted in ground cover beds they will pop up through the foliage and add color to that space. Bulbs are easy to plant and become a welcomed sign of the summer months ahead.



Barrington Hills, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

The next layer is provided by the spring flowering woody plants such as crabapples and ornamental shrubs. These plants will flower from April through May, depending on variety, and last for 2 to 3 weeks. With the relatively short bloom time of woody plants, the foliage (or leaf) color becomes important as well. Contrasting foliage colors add visual interest.



Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Perennial and annual flowers are the summer and fall layer of color. Consider perennial flowers with late bloom times and integrate them into the foreground of planting beds like a ground cover. Fall and winter color is provided by foliage and branch color. Additionally, ornamental grass combined with bright-colored red dogwoods and evergreen trees provide winter color. Contrasting colors again become important. Remember the key is to layer color each season to provide the year-round desire for color in your landscape.

Published in Landscaping

Tomatoes, Basil and Cucumbers – Two classic easy salads for your summer vegetable garden harvest.

Caprese Salad


3 vine-ripe tomatoes cut into slices about 1/4-inch

1 pound fresh mozzarella (in the water) cut into slices
about 1/4-inch

20 to 30 leaves fresh basil

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Coarse salt and pepper to taste


On a large platter, layer alternating slices of tomatoes
and mozzarella, add a basil leaf between each. Drizzle the salad with
extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a hot crispy loaf of italian bread and your favorite wine.


Cucumber Salad with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette


For the Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

1 Tbs. fresh squeezed lime juice

1 Tbs. creamy peanut butter

2 Tbs. peanut oil

1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil

¼ tsp. salt, optional

For the Salad

4 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced

¼ cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

2 Tbs. cilantro leaves

Sriracha sauce for garnish, optional



Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

In a small bowl whisk lime juice and peanut butter

Stir peanut and sesame oils until blended.

Stir in salt, if using.


Arrange cucumbers in single or double layer on platter

Drizzle with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

Add a touch of sriracha sauce (if using)

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves

Serve with your favorite grilled chicken recipe.

Published in Landscaping
Monday, 12 August 2013 12:58

Secret Garden

With a structure to grow on, plants in this garden
can create living walls that offer privacy and seclusion.

Here, a cedar arbor boasts a dense covering of roses that forms a natural "roof,"

while a boxwood shrub anchors the base of each column.

The result is an intimate seating area that can be used for relaxing or dining.

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 09 August 2013 13:28

Kitchen Gardens - Potagers

"A place to grow the things you bring into the kitchen  -  herbs, vegetables, fruits, berries and even the cutting flowers for your table."

The French have been combining flowers, herbs and vegetables in their gardens since medieval days and Americans are following suit. The popularity of kitchen gardens, or as the French call them "potagers", has taken off.


HGTV - Landscappers Challenge, Schmechtig Landscapes, Schaumburg, IL.

In combination with an outdoor kitchen, this type of garden can truly create an extension to your home and cooking. This garden is one that the kids like to be involved in; they are more apt to eat what they grow and harvest. It is truly a personal area unique in design, details and individual to your family.  

Bon appétit!


Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 08:56

Courtyard Gardens

Courtyard gardens are gardens enclosed by walls, buildings or fences on more than two sides. They have many uses and offer unique design elements for your home and landscape. By incorporating a courtyard garden into the design you can make good use of exterior walls and form a protected space that provides a comfortable seating area. You are also able to establish a unique garden area and create an attractive focal point from both inside the house and from the rest of the landscape.


Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Additionally, courtyard gardens tie in other garden features such as decorative arbors, pergolas and fences and eliminate the need for grass by including decorative hardscape material and plants. Both formal and informal spaces can be designed and are determined based on the type of layout, symmetry of space, plant materials selected and simplicity of design. A beautiful courtyard garden always enhances the entire garden as it ties in all the architectural aspects of the home.

Published in Landscaping

Finding creative ways to extend your living space into the outdoors begins with a unique vision and landscape design. Although we don’t utilize our outdoor living space year-round, we can use it spring through fall and enjoy the view throughout our cold Chicagoland winters. Adding elements beyond the traditional patios, decks and walkways provides an opportunity to add additional living space. With the addition of the landscape trends, your family time and entertaining space expand dramatically.


HGTV's Schmechtig Landscapes Project, Schaumburg, Illinois

Today, homeowners understand the value of taking their interior design style outside their homes. Traditional furnishings, artwork, rugs and decorative containers appear as part of the new outdoor rooms. Kitchens, firepits and fireplaces along with water features are key elements for your outdoor living space. Fountains and ponds bring the soothing sound of water into any space.



Barrington Hills, Schmechtig Landscapes

Water works magic in any garden, providing a focal point and relaxing rhythm. Moving water provides delightful background music and masks the noises associated with living our busy lives. Another way to extend this outdoor living space late into the fall and even winter is the addition of a fireplace or firepit which should blend seamlessly with the home and landscape.


Long Grove, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscapes

Homeowners have an appreciation for special and distinguishing design features to make their home a unique and complete living environment. By unifying the interior and exterior spaces of your home you create a total coordinated environment calling you to enjoy yourself both inside and out. Knowing and understanding the power of design, interior professionals and landscape architects/designers, work together to arrange the fundamental points that are visible from the doors and windows of your home to extend the interior design through to your exterior spaces, providing you a total and inviting living experience.  At Schmechtig, we call this InEx-teriors  and we introduced this to our clients in 2009.  Chicago's Merchandise Mart invited us to utilize this concept and be the first landscape company to design the outdoor space for its 2010 DreamHome.  By incorporating colors and textures, furniture, fabrics, lighting, water features, art, container pots, accessories, etc. your landscape becomes an extension of your home, not just an accent.

Published in Landscaping
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