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

Mature trees are a valuable commodity in the yard because they take a long time to establish and then become gorgeous specimens that provide shade and year-round benefit to wildlife. Protecting them by keeping them in great health is an effective way to invest in the long-term look of your landscape, says Houzz contributor Falon Mihalic.  Mihalic continues, from protecting their roots to watering effectively, learn how to ensure your valuable specimens’ vigor for years to come:


Trees fill this Barrington Hills Landscape, Schmechtig Landscapes



Front Yard Trees, Schmechtig Landscapes, Glencoe, Illinois

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

See how designers and homeowners cleverly incorporate container gardens into their home designs from Annie Thornton, a Houzz Editorial Staff Member.  Thorton continues, many of us, especially those who live in apartments and condos, know what it’s like to feel limited by our square footage and lack of outdoor space. But that doesn’t mean plants can’t be part of our lives. In fact, in a small space they can even be more of a focus. These container gardens featured previously on Houzz utilize creativity and style where soil and space are lacking.  Read more:

Courtesy of and Annie Thorton


Published in Landscaping

Designing a landscape is so much more than just about plants and patios. What do you remember about a special landscape? The maple trees, the bed of petunias, the driveway? It's not the specifics, but the feel of the space that evokes memories. With landscape design the space is multi-dimensional, artistic and sensory. It's not just about what plants go where, it's about all the landscape ideas you have when determining how to landscape your property and the materials and supplies needed.



Landscape Design using Container Pots and Outdoor Lighting Features, Schmechtig Landscapes, Lake Forest, IL.


Our landscape designers look at the site from many views when creating a landscape design. Creating a feeling is what landscape design is all about. One aspect of design that should not be overlooked is the use of structures in the landscape. Unique landscape structures add dimension and interest to any design. A custom designed pergola, which supports a client's favorite fragrant plant, may be a design focus. Or a pergola that not only protects a family from the afternoon sun, but repeats an architectural element of the home is as important as the plants and hardscapes.



Landscape Design with Pergola, Schmechtig Landscapes, Winnetka, IL.

Each design should be unique to the owners, their home, property and desires. By incorporating unique pieces of sculpture (fountains, pots and statues) as well as custom built structures such as gazebos, pergolas and arbors, the design becomes personal. Landscape design is more than just placing plants; garden structures have become an integral element as well, and should be an important part of each project.



Historic Landscape Preservation using statue, pergola and pots, Wilmette, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes



Fire Pit Design, Schmechtig Landscapes, Winnetka, IL.

Published in Landscaping


Ready your furniture for spring and summer with these tips for removing sunscreen stains, mildew and more from Jennifer Christgau-Aquino, a Houzz Contributor.  Jennifer continues, "Your outdoor cushions probably have spent the winter outside, exposed to the elements, or crammed into storage. If you’re anything like me, you may have even put them away with a blob of ketchup that has since dried and cracked. Now your task is getting those cushions ready for another season of barbecues and poolside lounging. Never fear, we’ve got you covered with these tips".

See them here:







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

Natural quarried stone products such as cut & weathered edge drywall, flagstone, steppers and rock outcroppings, provide unique design elements to
your landscape design setting.



Schmechtig Landscapes, Winnetka, Illinois; Front Walk Design using blue stone and pavers


Real stone contributes special aesthetics to any landscape environment, giving a look of permanence and exceptional beauty to walkways, steps, walls, gardens, waterfalls and more.



Water Feature with Stone, Schmechtig Landscapes in Barrington Hills, Illinois 



Spring Flowering Tree Ideas, Patio with pavers, Schmechtig Landscapes, Barrington, Illinois



Outdoor Dining Room with seatwalls, fireplace, stone and pergola with outdoor chandelier, Schmechtig Landscapes in Barrington, Illinois



Architectural Stone Ideas, Schmechtig Landscapes, Long Grove, Illinois

Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 18 February 2016 09:40

Recipe Thursday - Herbed Quinoa

Quinoa is a great ancient whole grain that is nutty and protein-packed. A simple dressing and some chopped herbs are enough to turn this grain into a hearty accompaniment for fish, chicken or meat.


Herbed Quinoa


2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups quinoa

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.
For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Total Time: 23 min
Prep:8 min
Cook:15 min
Yield:4 servings

Recipe courtesy of and Giada De Laurentiis

Published in Landscaping
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