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
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


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

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
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 12:58

10 New Hydrangeas You'll Want to Grow Now

The old-fashioned hydrangea's heavenly blue flowers are a showstopper but there's more to the well-loved shrub these days. New changeable hues are giving those classic blooms a run for the money.  Today's varieties don't stop their color show come Labor Day. Here are some of our favorites from among the newer varieties you might still find at your local nursery—or look ahead and order by mail for planting this fall. Read and see more:  and courtesy of's/home-and-garden section and Sal Vaglica of This Old House via 


Hydrangea's in the garden in Winnetka, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscapes

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
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