Schmechtig Landscapes is proud and honored to announce it has received the Best of Houzz 2018 Service award.  This is the 4th consecutive year we have been awarded The Best of Houzz in Customer Service and the 6th consecutive year Schmechtig has received a Best of Houzz award.

The companies who receive this recognition represent some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry and Schmechtig Landscapes is extremely pleased to be given this recognition and the Houzz platform to showcase its work and expertise.

The Best of Houzz 2018 badge helps homeowners identify top-rated home professionals who work in Chicago’s North Shore and Northwest Suburbs. “We are proud and honored to be the recipient of this distinguished Best of Houzz award. Our 58 years of successful practice comes from dedication to building long-term relationships with our clients and this is why the majority of our work comes directly from referrals,” says Michael Schmechtig President of Schmechtig Landscapes, “I am very proud of my staff who are some of the most talented and customer-focused professionals in our industry.” 

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
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 09:35

Hot Outside, Design a Landscape for Cooling

Summer is a good time to plan for a yard that will bring temperatures down, says Falon Mihalic, a contributor, and we agree.  Mihalic continues, The dog days of summer are upon us. With intense sunlight streaming over our gardens, we’re reminded of just how brutal August can be in the heat. The tricky part is that spots in the garden that are hot now may be less so at different times of the year. Good landscape design understands these seasonal aspects of the garden and plans accordingly.



Schmechtig Landscapes HGTV Project - Outdoor Dinning with Pergola for Cooling and Shade

There are three main things to consider when designing a garden that’s cool in the summer: Maximize shade, use light-colored materials and increase airflow. Look at your landscape now to understand where the hottest areas occur so that you can plan a garden that creates long-term shade for the summers to come.  How to's and ideas here:


Winnetka, Illinois Patio Design with Pergola for shading, Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping

Mid-summer is perfect time of year to get inspired to transform unused space alongside your home into a vibrant oasis. Here are 14 ideas for side yards to inspire you courtesy of Sunset and home and garden section:


Schmechtig Landscapes, Glenview, IL., side yard ideas using blue stone and blue stone chips and perenial plantings.



Schmechtig Landscapes, Wilmette, IL., historic landscape preservation side yard design using arbors, climbing roses and blue stone path


Published in Landscaping
Friday, 01 July 2016 10:41

Hardscape your Landscape

"I want the patio to look great, but I don't want it to be expensive."  This is sometimes heard from our clients that want any alternative to expensive stone.  Natural materials, such as flagstone or bluestone, are very attractive but they are costly because of the production processes. Fortunately, other materials exist that are both aesthetically-pleasing and economical.  One of these alternatives is pavers. Pavers, both concrete and clay, are available in a variety of colors and textures.  The blending of earth tones create a mottled quality in concrete pavers revealing diverse coloration and creating texture.  Clay's uniform color exhibits a consistent surface displaying a smoother appearance. Texture in some concrete pavers is actually formed by molds mimicking stone's natural appearance. Some pavers are tumbled, eliminating their sharp edges and softening their appearances. This process gives them a subtle character, blending them into the landscape.  Innovations in color and texture have allowed pavers to become a versatile hardscape option. By exploring the variety of these materials, a patio or walk can be impressive without being expensive.



Front Entrance Walkway using pavers, Schmechtig Landscapes in Glenview, Illinois

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

Supermarket Classic's all dolled up.  Homemade Snickers Bars and is easy to make. To view all homemade classics: Ho Ho's, Pop Tarts and more go to:

Homemade Snickers Bars

Recipe for one 9×13 pan.


Bottom chocolate layer:

1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter

Thoroughly grease you baking pan. Melt ingredients together in a saucepan or microwave, then pour into the baking dish and spread until even. Let cool and harden completely.


Nougat layer:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 1/2 cup salted peanuts chopped, roughly chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in sugar and milk, stirring until dissolved and bring to a boil. Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in fluff, peanut butter and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Turn off heat and fold in peanuts, then pour over bottom chocolate layer. Let cool completely.


Caramel layer:

1 14-ounce bag of caramels

1/4 cup whipping cream

Combine ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Let melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth – this took about 10 minutes for me. Pour over nougat layer and let cool completely.


Top chocolate layer:

1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter

Melt ingredients together in a saucepan or microwave, then pour over caramel and spread until even. Let cool and harden completely.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving, then cut as desired. These can stay at room temperature, but they do get gooey. I like them refrigerated best!

Note: for best results, buy one of the half-sheet aluminum cake pans at the grocery store. That way, you can pop the entire square out and cut from there!

Recipe courtesy of food and drink and


Published in Landscaping

Get glorious veggies and fruits on your patio with a pro’s guidance — including a recipe for potting mix. Most edibles do well in containers, and in some cases even prefer them, says Annie Thornton, Houzz Editorial Staff. For gardeners with poor soil, or no soil at all, container gardening can be a way to create the edible garden your landscape wouldn’t otherwise allow you — all within steps of your house. But where to start? Thornton shares San Francisco Bay Area gardening consultant and edible-garden designer Steve Masley 10 great tips to growing the edibles in containers.  Read More:

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 10:20

How to Hire a Landscape Architect

Find the best fit for your landscaping project with this guide to evaluating and selecting a professional landscape company from Falon Mihalic, a Houzz contributor.  Each neighorhood has a landscape that stands out, with lush manicured green lawns, colorful container flower pot displays and gardens that are meticulously maintained and catch your eye.  Think about the possibilities for your own home's landscape. Do you need a full-service landscape company, who will be your one-stop shop sprucing up and maintaining your landscape weekly with lawn care and garden weeding and edging, including all irrigation, lighting, lawn fertilization, plant fertilization, pruning, tree care and more? Here are Falon's thoughts on how do you know if a landscape architect is right for your outdoor landscape project and how do you hire the best landscape architect design company for you?


Backyard Landscape Design Including Outdoor Kitchen, Outdoor See-Thru Fireplace to Outdoor Dinning and Living Room, Schmechtig Landscapes HGTV Award


When Do You Need to Hire a Landscape Architect?

There is a lot of discussion on Houzz about the differences between landscape architects and landscape designers. The skills and expertise of designers and landscape architects vary widely, so I will stick to defining them based on legal definitions.

The difference between the two, by law, is that a landscape architect is regulated and licensed. There are times when you must hire a landscape architect to comply with local regulations.

Some examples things that require using a landscape architect:
◦Grading plans and site drainage design. Landscape architects are licensed to draw grading plans and can submit sealed grading plans as part of a permit application package.
◦Retaining wall design. This also varies by location. A new retaining wall might require prior approval, and the drawings need to be sealed by a landscape architect, an architect or a professional engineer, depending on the height of the wall, footing type and soil conditions.
◦Landscape plans and drawings that require a seal by a licensed landscape architect for permit approval. Again, this varies widely, depending on local regulations.
◦Sensitive sites and special conditions. Another example of when a landscape architect should be involved is if your property is located within a floodplain or contains protected wetlands, or if the proposed work requires altering a public right of way. These special conditions usually have stricter regulations and are more likely to require landscape drawings that are sealed by a landscape architect.
This is not an exhaustive list of circumstances for hiring a landscape architect. Consult your local department of building regulations and your homeowner’s association rules to determine whether your project requires a landscape architect.


Landscape Design, Outdoor Sunken Patio, Lake Bluff, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscape


Why a landscape design-build firm may be right for you?
Define Your Project’s Parameters

Before you begin your search for a landscape architect, establish the parameters for your project. When you have a clear idea of what you want, you will be able to convey this to the landscape architect and choose the best professional based on your needs.

What is your budget? It could be $5,000 or $500,000. Be realistic about how much money you can spend on the project.

What is the scope of work? Are you imagining an entire overhaul, or do you want to focus on a particular area? It’s helpful to print out an aerial photo of your property or mark up a photocopy of your plat of survey (scaled drawing of your property) to outline a specific area for the scope of work.

What are your priorities? Think of the big-picture things you want to achieve with your project. You may want to increase your property value, change your space to accommodate a growing family or have the saltwater pool of your dreams installed. Make a list of your priorities and have them on hand to discuss with the landscape architect.


Winnetka, IL. Landscape Design, Outdoor Entertaining with Pool, Schmechtig Landscapes


What to know about the concept design phase in a landscape project?
Find the Right Fit for You

What do you value? Get clarity on your values so you can find a landscape architect who shares them and has an aligned design philosophy. Do you value high-end design and upscale materials? Native plants and drought-tolerant gardens? Edible landscapes? A funky, playful garden space for your family? There is a landscape architect out there who specializes in what you value, and your best bet is to find that person or company.

When researching landscape architects on Houzz and reviewing their websites, you will see the same lingo used by many people. Yes, many of us strive to create beautiful places that are sustainable and make our clients happy. Dig deeper and get to the root of landscape architects’ design philosophies by looking carefully at how they describe their work and background. Also spend time reviewing the project descriptions, and jot down a few follow-up questions for when you meet in person. The landscape architect will be pleased that you took the time to thoroughly research his or her work, and it will help to build mutual trust from the outset.


Winnetka, IL., Landscape Garden Design, Schmechtig Landscapes

Set Up an Initial Consultation

Most landscape architects will visit your property and chat with you about your goals and their approach to the work. This initial consultation, or interview, is often free. Know that the landscape architect is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing him or her. Pay attention to how well you communicate with this person. Is the architect a good listener? Do you feel comfortable discussing your project goals and scope of work? You will work closely and have several meetings, and exchange many emails, phone calls and text messages. Make sure you feel that the landscape architect is trustworthy, dependable and professional.


Wilmette, IL. Garden and Pond Landscape Design, Schmechtig Landscapes


Tips for a Productive Initial Consultation

Many clients feel rushed at these first meetings, because they are overflowing with ideas. Don’t worry; you do not need to explain your entire dream and all of the potential challenges at the initial meeting. The initial meeting is just to simply meet and talk. It’s an opportunity for the landscape architect to get an impression of the property, and the main focus is to discuss the kind of work to be done. Your desired outcome for the initial consultation is to determine if the landscape architect is the right person for the job. The dreaming, planning and scheming come later, once you’ve signed a service contract.

Here are some questions to ask the landscape architect at your initial meeting:
◦Have you worked on a project like this before? Look for relevant experience and project examples that are similar to yours.
◦How do you charge for your services? Services can be charged at an hourly rate, with a not-to-exceed amount, or as a lump sum based on the scope of work. A less common method in the landscape profession is to charge as a percentage of construction costs.
◦Can you provide client references? Call references and ask how pleased they were with the design. Also ask about professionalism: Was the landscape architect punctual? Were the lines of communication open? Were issues handled in a professional manner?
◦What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges for my project? This is an approachable way to understand the landscape architect’s initial reactions to the site. It’s also a great way to learn how the landscape architect thinks through design problems.
Ask to see a portfolio. The projects featured on a firm’s website are usually just a small selection of a larger portfolio of work. Ask the landscape architect to bring along a portfolio of project images. Review the portfolio together and ask questions about anything that catches your eye. Are there themes in the work that you like? Discuss them with the landscape architect and ask about the guiding design principles for the projects.

Talking about previous work with landscape architects is a great way to understand how they might approach your landscape. It’s also OK to talk about previous challenges and for the landscape architect to share stories about awkward or tough moments in a project. This can be enlightening for clients, because they can see how a landscape architect is a good problem solver.
Talk about money. This is one of the most important parts of the conversation, and sometimes people struggle with the best way to start the discussion.

Simply put your numbers out to the landscape architect. Talk about the amount you want to spend on the project and tie that to talking about your biggest priorities.

That way the landscape architect knows what you want and can respond to whether your scope of work is feasible or not with your budget.

Discuss the scope of work. Are you looking for a landscape site plan, a planting plan or someone to do the whole process, from concept design to construction administration? - a design build landscape firm


Front Yard Landscape Design and Construction Project, Wilmette, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Use a pencil to to define the areas on your property’s aerial photo or plat where you want to focus the project. This will be useful for your discussion with the landscape architect about the scope of work — especially if your property is large and you want to revamp only certain areas. If you want to include the entire property in the project, it’s still useful to have an aerial photo or plat on hand for your initial discussion.

Talk through which specific design services you want. The design services can be specified as phases, like concept design, or as the creation of specific drawings, like a concept-level site plan. The scope of work will be defined in the service contract in detail.

To read more of Falon's article click here:


Published in Landscaping

Hiring one company to do both landscape design and construction can simplify the process, says Falon Mihalic, a Houzz contributor.  Falon continues "For homeowners who are looking to get a landscape project under way, a landscape design-build firm streamlines the process. Using a design-build service may have pluses and minuses, depending on the scope of work and goals of the project. Landscape design-build companies are typically landscape contractors — some with a landscape architect on staff — who package a design service with installation." Read more of Falon Mihalic's thoughts on the pros and cons for deciding if a landscape design construction company is right for you:

Here are a few examples of Schmechtig Landscapes' Design Build Projects throughout Chicago's North Shore and Northwest Suburbs:


Backyard Outdoor Patio with Stone Fireplace and Pergola including Blue Stone and Pavers - a Schmechtig Landscapes Design-Build Project in Barrington, IL.


Historic Landscape Preservation in Wilmette, IL., a Schmechtig Landscapes Design Build Project


Backyard Entertaining and Backyard Family Retreat with Swimming Pool, Winnetka, IL., Landscape Design Build Schmechtig Landscapes


Outdoor Patio Landscape Design with Stone and Pergola, Winnetka, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes


Outdoor Patio with Blue Stone and Fire Pit Design Build, Long Grove, IL, Schmechtig Landscapes


Backyard Pool Landscape, Design-Build, Northbrook, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes


Pond Ideas for your Landscape Design, South Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Front Entrance Landscape Design, Schmechtig Landscapes, Winnetka, IL.

Published in Landscaping
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