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, 05 July 2016 13:56

Trees: Beautiful Money-savers

Besides the beauty trees offer our landscapes, energy conservation and pollution reduction are also achieved.  The Garden Council estimates
that one properly watered tree can produce a cooling effect in its lifetime equal to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
By planting trees that shade your property, you benefit from energy savings in the summer, and if placed correctly, screening from freezing winter winds. In addition, trees absorb atmospheric gases  along with fine particles of dust and soot and become living air scrubbers.  Trees are as beautiful as they are functional; they symbolize new life in the spring, and provide a beautiful palate of color in the fall. It all adds up to one fact: trees are good for you visually, environmentally and economically. 


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
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
Monday, 17 November 2014 09:38

Entertain Like a Pro

James Beard award winner David Rosengarten dishes on the best knives, pots, stemware — and what to serve with them.  Throughout his career as a food journalist and an author, David Rosengarten has had the chance to taste the world’s best food and wines and try out the best cookware, glasses and cutlery. In his quarterly newsletter, The Rosengarten Report, he shares his insights on the crème de la crème of foods, wines and cookware; right now he’s into classic Japanese knives, Wagyu beef and dry Lambrusco. Inspired by the perfectly curated collection at his Manhattan penthouse, Rosengarten suggests kitchen tools from the Shop Houzz collection and shares his best deviled egg recipe to help you entertain like a pro. See the products:












Outdoor Living and Outdoor Design Ideas with Fireplace, Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 13 November 2014 09:37

Recipe Thursday - Mushroom Soup

This soup is a great start to a holiday meal or to warm you on a chilly night and it takes 50 minutes start to finish! 

Mushroom Soup
• 2 tbsp butter
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1lb (450g) mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped
• 7oz (200g) potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1 quart (1 liter) vegetable stock
• 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• horseradish cream, to serve (optional)
• 1- Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion, celery, and garlic, and cook for 3–4 minutes, or until softened.
• 2- Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5–6 minutes. Add the potatoes and the stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer gently for 30 minutes.
• 3- Using a blender, process the soup until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, stirring a little horseradish cream into each soup bowl, if desired, for an extra kick.
Yield  4 servings
Prep Time 10 min
Cook Time 40 min
Courtesy of The Soup Book By Sophie Grigson


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 10 November 2014 10:30

These Are Not Your Grandparents Junipers

Dislike junipers? Jay Sifford, a Houzz contributor, says "Maybe it’s time to discover new varieties and new uses for this garden workhorse"
See and read more about the new varieties and which type will work in your zone:

Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:04

Recipe Thursday - Spicy Peanut Chicken

Spicy Peanut Chicken
Boneless chicken thighs and Broccolini, both coated in a chili-spiked peanut sauce,
emerge deliciously caramelized after just 10 minutes under the broiler.  Serve with sliced cucumbers.

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sambal oelek (**
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
4 skinless chicken thighs
1 bunch Broccolini or Broccoli

Directions :
Preheat broiler.
Mix together peanut butter, water,
sesame oil, soy sauce, sambal oelek, and rice vinegar.
Toss chicken thighs and Broccolini in sauce.
Place on a rimmed baking sheet.
Broil 10 inches from heat until chicken is cooked through,
about 10 minutes (watch to make sure it doesn't burn).

**Because Sambal Oelek's main contribution is heat, you can substitute using one of the following:
sriracha, chili paste, harissa, Tabasco, red pepper flakes,or chili powder.
Servings: 4
Double or triple based on number of chicken thighs you will be preparing.
Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 2012

Published in Landscaping

Customize your Halloween decor with pumpkin topiaries, glam mantels, glowing tabletops, wreaths and more.  Vanessa Brunner, a Houzz Editorial Staff Member, shares great ideas and inspiration photos. Read more:


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 06 October 2014 08:03

13 To-Dos: Your October Home Checklist

It’s a great time to clean your gutters, swap out seasonal clothes and wallow in favorite fall traditions, says Laura Gaskill, a Houzz Contributor. From raking leaves to sharpening knives, see which of these 13 to-dos make your list this month. Read More:


Published in Landscaping
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