Wednesday, 05 April 2017 15:35

25 Ideas to Perk Up Your Side Yard Landscape

Becky Harris, Houzz Contributor, says make this afterthought space enticing and useful.  Ah, the side yard. It’s often a neglected and sad alley where you stick air-conditioning units. But even if calling what’s along the side of your house “yard” is a stretch, there are plenty of things you can do to not only improve it, but make it a space you enjoy walking through or even spending time in. Consider these 25 elements when embarking on your weekend landscaping projects. Read and see Becky's thoughts here:


Willmette, Illinois, Side Yard Project, Schmechtig Landscapes


Barrington, Illinois, Side and Backyard Project, Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping
Monday, 06 March 2017 09:17

Driveways With Curb Appeal

Get creative with plantable pavers, stone slabs, geometric concrete patterns and less traditional paving materials say Lauren Dunec Hoang, a Houzz Contributor & landscape designer.  Hoang continues, driveways can take up a lot of front yard real estate but are rarely given as much thought as other areas of the garden. Instead of seeing the area as simply a track for cars, look at the driveway as an opportunity to increase curb appeal and set the tone for your front yard. Here are nine examples of driveway materials and placement from Hoang that go beyond the usual pavers, cobbles and gravel to complement different styles of front yards.  See them here:



Schmechtig Landscapes, Landscape and Driveway Design in Lake Bluff, Illinois



Schmechtig Landscapes, Landscape and Driveway Design, Wilmette, Illinois



Schmechtig Landscapes, Landscape Design and Driveway, Winnetka, Illinois



Schmechtig Landscapes in Winnetka, Illinois, Landscape Design and Driveway

Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 02 August 2016 10:24

Your August Home To Do Checklist

As summer wraps up take these steps to get your home and family organized for fall says  Laura Gaskill, a Houzz contributor.  Gaskill continues, with the transition from summer travels to the beginning of a new school year (and maybe some back-to-work blues), August can feel like a sudden downshift from the fun of vacation. Stretch out these last days of summer by squeezing in a few more home projects, savoring simple pleasures and, when the time comes, cleaning up the beach toys and preparing the house for a busy fall.

Pick from these to-dos to create your perfect August plan: Courtesy of and Laura Gaskill

Published in Landscaping

Go beyond plantings with these ideas for bringing bold colors to the exterior of your home.  Jennifer Ott, a San Francisco-based interior designer, architectural color specialist, and design writer shares: Spring has arrived, which means summer isn’t too far behind. Ott continues, if your outdoor hangout needs sprucing up, now’s the time to hatch a plan for improvements. Plants and flowers are one of the best ways to add color, but you can also perk up the space with paint, furniture and accessories. Read and see Ott's ideas to get you started:


Backyard Patio using accent colors, Schmechtig Landscapes in Barrington, Illinois



Using hanging and potted plants to spruce up patio with color, Schmechtig Landscapes in Winnetka, Illinois

Published in Landscaping

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a 385-acre living plant museum situated on nine islands and featuring 26 display gardens and surrounded by four natural habitats: McDonald Woods, Dixon Prairie, Skokie River Corridor, and Lakes and Shores.  On February 13th the Orchid Show opens. gives it a 5 star rating with the following coments: “Orchids Galore That Would Delight Dorothy!”, “An island in the snow” ,“The Orchid beyond words.”
Surrounding this incredible Orchid display are many special events.  Take a moment and decide which Orchid Show Special Event you will attend:

Valentine’s Day Brunch
February 13–15
Treat your valentine to the Orchid Show, and our chef’s special brunch at the Garden View Café. Members receive 10% off!
Live Indie Music + Orchids
February 18
Jam with indie stars The Accidentals at Concert with Orchids at 6 p.m., then meet and greet the artists and take in the Orchid Show—your ticket includes it all! Happy hour cocktails available for purchase.
Morning Music at the Orchid Show
Tuesdays & Thursdays
Start your day with live music. 10 a.m.
Orchid Marketplace
Saturdays & Sundays
Buy live orchids, and bring orchids for repotting every weekend! The event is hosted by the Illinois Orchid Society.

Cocktail Tasting + Orchids
March 10
Join us with your friends at Evening with Orchids for cocktails and an atmospheric walk through the Orchid Show. Buy tickets.
Lenhardt Library Talk
February 21
View the exhibition: Orchidology: Orchidaceous Investigations through May 8.


 See all the details including admission tickets here:  The Chicago Botanic Garden is located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, Illinois.

Information and photo courtesy of


Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 25 August 2015 08:22

77 Gorgeous Garden Gates

Enjoy these enticing entryways and the magical gardens beyond their doors. Bryan Anthony, a Houzz Editorial Staff member, compiled a collection of garden gates from all over the United States and beyond.  Inspiring! Read and see more:


Schmechtig Landscapes in Wilmette, Illinois, using pergola's as a gateway to garden

Published in Landscaping

Its tomato sesaon!  Here's an easy tart recipe to serve as an appetizer or a quick main dish.


Heirloom Tomato and Basil Tart


2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts* see Cook's Note
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

2 medium (12 ounces) heirloom or 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt

Crust -
1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust (recommended: Pillsbury)

For the crust - 
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the pie crust on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes until lightly golden.

Cool for 20 minutes.

For the pesto -
In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped.

With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until the mixture forms a smooth and thick consistency.

Add the Parmesan and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a spatula, spread the pesto over the cooled crust.

Arrange the tomato slices on top of the pesto and garnish with the sliced basil.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Cut the tart into wedges and serve.

*Cook's Note: To toast pine nuts, place on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned.

Total Time: 39 min
Prep: 12 min
Inactive: 20 min
Cook: 7 min

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Level: Easy
Recipe courtesy of and Giada De Laurentiis

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 09:40

Front Yard - First Impression

Homeowners seek out help with their property when the landscape has been neglected, dated or overgrown. Many times the current landscape conceals the beauty of the home's architecture and doesn't integrate the landscape and home. The importance of the first impression, or curb appeal, is not only for the homeowner's enjoyment but future resale as well.



Schmechtig Landscapes Glencoe, Illinois Front Yard 

This first impression goes beyond the home to the community in which the home is located. The Washington Post writes nice communities are composed of good neighborhoods, and good neighborhoods are built from well-cared-for homes. We believe well-cared-for homes are most often expertly and professionally landscaped. When a home is admired, all aspects of the property, including the landscape, are a part of the picture. The architecture of each home, along with the client's needs are the key factors as we design a new landscape.



Schmechtig Landscapes Winnetka, Illinois Front Entrance Ideas

As an example, with a ranch-style home, we emphasize the horizontal lines; with a formal home we match the symmetry. An English tudor is complemented with a more informal look. The front walk should be welcoming and inviting, the front door visible with any style home.  We frame the house using layers for depth and a variety of plants that complement each other for seasonal interest.



Schmechtig Landscapes Winnetka, Illinois Front Entrance Ideas

Lighting is another important element that completes and enhances the entrance. We have always believed that each home is unique and has its own style; our landscape designs are the same. Each is individual and truly a reflection of the home, setting and the homeowner's particular needs.



Schmechtig Landscapes Lake Forest, Illinois Landscape Lighting

Published in Landscaping

Planters are a great way to bring nature indoors, onto your patio or even up high on your balcony. Some styles, like raised garden beds and vertical garden designs, can even augment an already established green landscape, says the editorial staff of The modular nature of garden planters and planter boxes means you can create as small or as large a landscape as you like. While you plan your backyard vegetable nursery or floral paradise, here are a few things to consider from  To view all 5,236 Outdoor Pots and Planters:

With such a variety of plant pots and window boxes available, you’re bound to find one that meets your needs in terms not only of functionality but of color and style as well. Here are some of the more common types you may run into as well as pros and cons for each:

• Raised garden beds: A great choice for a large-scale outdoor planting, raised beds allow you to avoid soil compaction and deter pests and weeds. Adding one is a great way to gain and maintain control when growing a vegetable or succulent landscape, thanks to its excellent drainage capabilities and insulating qualities.



Raised Garden Bed and Outdoor Pots and Planter Ideas, Barrington, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscapes

• Vertical garden: This design moves your plants from the ground to unused vertical space on your walls. Perfect for homes with limited space for gardening indoors or out, adding one is a great way to decorate your walls as well.

• Window boxes: Another way to continue growing your landscape with limited space (or with lots of space!), window boxes can add instant curb appeal to your home. You can also find styles that allow you to grow a balcony garden by hanging your flowerpot on the railing. Don’t be afraid to add one to your kitchen window for a convenient place in which to grow edible herbs.

• Plant pots: Clustered around your patio or balcony, garden pots instantly add a casual finishing touch and brilliant colors. You can use them as architectural or sculptural accessories as well.



Plant Pot Cluster Ideas, Schmechtig Landscapes, Winnetka, Illinois

• Hanging planters: This style keeps delicate annuals off the ground and closer to eye level. Paired with plant pots, they can create a layering effect and provide dramatic visual interest for your exterior.



Hanging Planters, Schmechtig Landscapes, Winnetka, Illinois

What planter material is best?

Depending on your needs, your climate and the plants you plan to grow, certain materials will be more suitable for you. Here’s a roundup of some common choices:

• Concrete: With high durability, a concrete planter is a great choice if you often experience harsh weather. This material can also help insulate your plants in the winter, but be warned that it could cause problems for the plants’ roots in the summer when your planters heat up. Available in many colors and styles, concrete planters can also be more expensive than other choices.

• Clay: Terra-cotta and clay pots have an unique look, making them a popular choice for gardeners worldwide. Thanks to their porous qualities, they provide exceptional airflow to your plants’ roots. However, they tend to be more fragile than other choices and can easily crack, shatter or dry out, especially if left outside in the cold or heat.

• Metal: If you prefer a modern look, consider a metal planter or two. There is a wide variety of weights and styles available, and they tend to hold up well in cold climates. Most are coated in primer to prevent rust; however, it’s worth noting that they can damage your plants’ roots if left in the hot sun.

• Plastic or fiberglass: This choice is affordable and easy to maintain, plus durable and oftentimes resistant to frost. Quality fiberglass planters often mimic the look of ones made of more expensive materials like terra-cotta, but cheaper varieties may still look artificial. They retain moisture very well, so be sure they provide proper drainage so the plants’ roots don’t drown.

• Wood: Wood is a classic material, and wood planters have a beautiful, natural look. They retain water well and help insulate roots in colder weather. While they tend to be heavier than planters made of some other materials, they age well and can be made with rot-resistant wood like cedar or redwood.

Courtesy of -

Published in Landscaping

We've loaded this meaty pie with a whole pound of turkey sausage and given it a fabulous, flaky phyllo crust. Real men do eat quiche! Don't have phyllo, use a ready made or homemade pie crust.

Real-Man Quiche

Canola oil cooking spray
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage links, removed from casings
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cups baby spinach
4 eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted according to package directions
1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350°F and coat a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie pan with cooking spray.
2.Cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl lined with paper towels. Coat the pan with cooking spray, add onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add spinach and stir until just wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the sausage; set aside.
3.Whisk eggs, egg whites, milk and pepper in a medium bowl.
4.Unroll phyllo onto a clean, dry surface. Cover with a sheet of wax paper and then a damp kitchen towel. Place one sheet of dough into the prepared pie pan, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining phyllo, spraying and sprinkling between each layer, turning each sheet at a 45° angle to cover the entire pan. Trim the phyllo edge with kitchen shears to be level with the rim of the pan. Spread the sausage mixture in an even layer on top of the phyllo; pour in the egg mixture and top with cheese.
5.Bake the quiche until the top is browned and the phyllo is crispy, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Tip: Good with regular pie crust if you do not have phyllo.

Thaw frozen phyllo in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight before preparing the recipe. 
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Recipe Courtesy of 


Published in Landscaping
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