See how magical moonlight can be by relaxing outdoors after the sun goes down on vacation says. Laura Gaskill, a Houzz Contributor.  It seems natural to end up outdoors in the evening and even into the night when you are out of town on holiday.  Here are a few ideas to incorporate the joy of being outdoors at home:


Outdoor Fire Pit Ideas, Winnetka, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscapes


Outdoor Patio Ideas to Watch Sunset and Star Gazing, Glenview, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscapes 


Outdoor Dining Room Ideas with fireplace, pergola and outdoor chandelier for al fresco evening dining, Barrington, Illinois Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 11 July 2014 09:18

Light Your Patio, Extend Your Evening

Cast a magical spell on a summer night with decorative outdoor lighting as sleek or as rustic as you please. A perfect summer evening? Indeed. But you can make it last even longer, says Mike Dietrich, a Houzz contributor, just by adding lights to your patio. 

Here are a few ideas:

Lake Forest, Illinois, Schmechtig Landscapes, Outdoor Lighting Ideas, Patio Design Ideas

Published in Landscaping

Get over the hurdle of choosing a fence design by considering your needs, your home’s architecture and more.  Matthew Ankeny, a Houzz Editorial Staff member, shares the questions to ask.  Read more:


Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 11:33

Great Fire Pit Ideas for Summer

Here are ten great fire pits for summer:


The above picture features an Ecosmart insert.  This is a brand we incorporate in our designs and work with our colleagues at Vesta located at 1357 West Concord Place in Chicago. See more Ecosmart models at or contact Vesta at 773-252-7300.



Fire Pit Ideas, Winnetka, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes



Outdoor Fireplace and Stone Patio Ideas, Barrington, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes



Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 08:15

Grow a Lush Privacy Screen

No need to wait forever for patio privacy the green way. These 10 ideas from Christine Tusher, a houzz contibutor, will get your screening up and running in no time.  Read more:


Privacy Screening, Evergreens and Perennials, Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes



Privacy Screen Ideas, Wood Fence with Outdoor Artwork and Raised Plant Beds Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Privacy Screen Ideas, Stone Wall with Water Feature, Barrington Hills, IL. Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping

No need for chemical treatments on your deck or pergola. These woods stand up to weather, insects and time beautifully on their own.  Natural wood is a lovely choice for adding warmth and texture to garden structures like raised beds, fences, decks and trellises. Much lumber is chemically treated to prevent it from rotting. However, some woods have superior rot resistance naturally and can be used outdoors without chemical treatment. Falon Mihalic, a Houzz contributor, shares the different type and uses. Read More:


Pergola Patio Structure, Winnetka, Il.

Published in Landscaping

It's Schmechtig's Recipe Thursday.

Here's a new twist on the classic.  Adding early-sesaon herbs in a pesto dressing makes the same old potato salad perfect for spring/summer. (Courtesy of Andriani)

• 1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes , scrubbed
• 1/3 cup Parsley and Mint Pesto (see below)
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red wine red wine vinegar
• 2 stalks celery , thinly sliced on the diagonal
• 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives (about 10 pitted olives)
• 1/4 cup grated ricotta salata
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; add water to cover.

Bring to simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.

Drain in colander; cut potatoes in half when cool enough to handle.

In a large bowl, stir together pesto, oil, and vinegar.
Add warm potatoes, celery, olives, ricotta salata, salt, and pepper.
Gently toss until combined; serve warm

Servings: Makes 4 servings

 Parsley and Mint Pesto
This is delicious with New Potato Salad or on a lamb sandwich with roasted peppers.
Servings: Makes 3/4 cup
• 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
• 1 small clove garlic , peeled
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher kosher salt
• 1 cup packed fresh Italian parsley packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
• 1/2 cup fresh mint fresh mint leaves
• 1/2 cup fresh basil fresh basil leaves
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive extra-virgin olive oil , plus more for storing
• 1 1/2 tablespoons crumbled ricotta ricotta salata
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out almonds on a baking sheet; bake 8 to 10 minutes or until fragrant and golden. Let cool.

Place garlic and salt in a mortar. Add about 1/3 of the almonds, parsley, mint, basil, and olive oil. Using a pestle, crush against bottom and sides of mortar until a coarse paste forms. Note: This pesto can be made in a food processor: simply combine the ingredients and blend 20 to 30 seconds, to a coarse paste.

Working in batches, add another 1/3 of the almonds, parsley, mint, basil, and olive oil; crush as directed. Repeat with remaining batch. Stir in ricotta salata and pepper; transfer to an airtight container, cover with a layer of extra-virgin olive oil (to prevent oxidation), and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 07:33

8 New Uses for Your Side Yard

Turn your side yard into a glorious garden room.
Lovely to look at and delightful to use, these side yards meet a home's needs as dining, entertaining and living areas.
Read and see more of Debra Prinzing, a Houzz contributors ideas:



Side Yard Garden Idea with Fountain, Blue Stone and Blue Stone Gravel, Glenview, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes



Side Yard Idea: Sitting area to backyard, Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landcapes

Published in Landscaping

Make your home’s outdoor space bloom using the most important elements. Whether you are entertaining family and friends or enjoying a private retreat experience of peaceful renewal by a water feature, the exterior room concept is here to stay.  Here are the Ten Commandments for outdoor decorating from MSN Living and Hearst Publictions:


Published in Landscaping

Stop fearing that dirty dumping ground and start using it as the streamlined garage you’ve been wanting
Read More from Laura Gaskill, a Houzz contributor,


Published in Landscaping
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