Here's our second installment - Fall Landscape maintenance check list.

Trees and shrubs

Plant trees, shrubs, and vines - Planting now through the
end of October/November gives most plants a head start in the spring, since
roots will grow in still-warm soil long after air temperatures drop. Be sure to
soak the root ball thoroughly and apply mulch to prevent
the soil around plants from thawing and refreezing, which can damage tender new

Protect plants from rodents - Keep mice, moles, and other rodents
from feeding on the bark of young trees in winter by wrapping a cylinder of
1/2-inch-mesh hardware cloth around the trunk. Leave at least 1 inch between
the mesh and trunk, and push the mesh 3 inches into the soil. Plastic wraps
that extend 2 feet above the snow line protect the trunk from rabbits. Remove
the mesh in spring.

Protect tender evergreens from cold - Boxwood,
holly, and rhododendrons often suffer in winter because their leaves lose
moisture, or transpire, on sunny days without replacing it from the soil when
it's frozen. Surround these plants with a shelter of burlap or old sheets.
Drive three to five narrow stakes around the plant and pull the material taut
over them so that it doesn't rest on leaves or branches; secure in place with
staples. The material creates shade and slows wind, both of which serve to
reduce transpiration. Provide additional protection by using an
anti-transpirant spray on the foliage after the first hard frost. The spray
will dry into a thin film that reduces the moisture lost by transpiration.

Water - Soak soil around trees and shrubs if rainfall has been
light to ensure that plants enter winter fully hydrated.

Pruning – Winter (Dormant Pruning) through early summer is the
time to prune most trees and shrubs. Prune lightly to repair broken or damaged
limbs or to minimally shape trees and shrubs.

Published in Landscaping

Fall is one of the best times to improve your lawn, trees, shrubs, and garden. The basic maintenance you do during this "second spring" after summer will pay off in healthier growth and fewer problems next spring and summer. The soil is still warm despite the falling temperatures, the weeks ahead are an ideal time to put many plants into the ground. Here's the first of three blog installments on your fall landscaping checklist.

Part One: Lawn care
Fertilize - Fall fertilizing helps keep lawns vigorous and healthy where growing seasons are long and reduces the length of a dormant period during which the lawn is an unattractive brown.
Weed - Dandelions, broadleaf plantain, and ground ivy, can be pulled out by hand anytime. But autumn is when they're most vulnerable to weed killers.
Continue mowing - until grass has stopped growing.
Seed - fall is a good time to lay seed so that your lawn gets a head start in the spring.
Water your lawn thoroughly - Rains have been sparce recently, apply plenty of water, even if temperatures are cool. Lawns that enter winter stressed from drought are more likely to have damage by cold weather and arrive weaker in the spring.

Published in Landscaping

The recipe can be made with yellow squash or zucchini or a combination both.


4 to 5 medium yellow squash/zucchini or combination (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 and 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

2 garlic cloves minced

Salt to taste

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper - to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup shaved fresh Parmesan cheese



Shave squash into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. (stopping at core and discard seeds)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook 1 minute, add squash and cook 3 minutes or until onion is tender, gently stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat.

Add salt, red pepper, and black pepper, and toss gently to combine.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 13 September 2013 08:27

Fall Container Pots

With the cooler temperatures this weekend you can't help but think Fall. Remember, container pots are a wonderful enhancement to your landscape providing you the ability to create a whole new garden every season.


Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:27

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

It's Recipe Thursday! 

Here's a favorite using Zucchini's from your garden.


Olive Oil Cooking spray

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce) or more to taste

1/4 cup italian style bread crumbs (Progresso Brand is best)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.  Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.



Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 27 August 2013 10:46


Landscaping using container plants is a strong trend in landscape design. Although landscapes are designed to mature and bloom throughout the seasons, including winter, adding unique planted pots provides another dimension to the setting and gives you the opportunity to add a color or design shape that normally isn't found in your garden adding interest. Instead of being limited by climate, potscaping allows you to escape the seasonal choices of our weather area.  Adding the uniqueness of tropical or exotic plants transforms the space into a truly unique outdoor living room. Unique plants, normally not used in containers, will provide a distinctive yet interesting entrance as pictured above.



Lake Forest, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes



Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Container pots can offer either a formal look or a more casual feeling depending on the container, placement and plants chosen. For a formal entry, balance is important, and using containers that blend or highlight the architecture of your home is key.  But for backyard use, pots can be moved and changed throughout the season to provide the at-home getaway look and feel you desire.


Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 26 August 2013 10:33

Talking Design - Perennial Flowers

Designing a landscape using perennial flowers is the best way to have something wonderful blooming throughout the seasons. Most fallblooming perennials are hardy, long-lived and come in vivid colors. Fall bloomers, late summerblooming perennials and ornamental grasses are the three components of a well-planned garden, which provide beauty and enjoyment throughout the colder seasons. Fall bloomers have all season to grow so many are tall and bold when they flower. The top ten perennials that we use in our landscape designs are the Aster, Turtlehead, Chrysanthemum, Joe Pye Weed, Toad Lily, Perennial Sunflower, False Sunflower, Sedum, Goldenrod and the Blue Mist Shrub. Most of these will bloom from the end of summer until frost.


Lake Bluff, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Ornamental grasses and late summerblooming perennials such as Black-eyed Susan, Coneflower and many others, have dried flowers and interesting stalks that remain into the fall and throughout the winter. These dried perennials and grasses should not be underestimated in the garden. The colors of these fall-blooming perennials compliment our yellow, orange and red fall colors magnificently.

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 23 August 2013 10:22

Color in your Landscape

"I want a lot of color in my landscape" is the most common phrase we hear from a client. To a designer, this phrase has broad appeal because there are so many ways to add color into a landscape design. Adding color in diverse and creative ways is what makes a landscape come alive. Add layers of color into the landscape design that extend from early spring and continue into the fall and beyond. The early spring layer of color comes from bulbs like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. These plants usually bloom between mid-March and late April. When planted in ground cover beds they will pop up through the foliage and add color to that space. Bulbs are easy to plant and become a welcomed sign of the summer months ahead.



Barrington Hills, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

The next layer is provided by the spring flowering woody plants such as crabapples and ornamental shrubs. These plants will flower from April through May, depending on variety, and last for 2 to 3 weeks. With the relatively short bloom time of woody plants, the foliage (or leaf) color becomes important as well. Contrasting foliage colors add visual interest.



Winnetka, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Perennial and annual flowers are the summer and fall layer of color. Consider perennial flowers with late bloom times and integrate them into the foreground of planting beds like a ground cover. Fall and winter color is provided by foliage and branch color. Additionally, ornamental grass combined with bright-colored red dogwoods and evergreen trees provide winter color. Contrasting colors again become important. Remember the key is to layer color each season to provide the year-round desire for color in your landscape.

Published in Landscaping

Tomatoes, Basil and Cucumbers – Two classic easy salads for your summer vegetable garden harvest.

Caprese Salad


3 vine-ripe tomatoes cut into slices about 1/4-inch

1 pound fresh mozzarella (in the water) cut into slices
about 1/4-inch

20 to 30 leaves fresh basil

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Coarse salt and pepper to taste


On a large platter, layer alternating slices of tomatoes
and mozzarella, add a basil leaf between each. Drizzle the salad with
extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a hot crispy loaf of italian bread and your favorite wine.


Cucumber Salad with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette


For the Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

1 Tbs. fresh squeezed lime juice

1 Tbs. creamy peanut butter

2 Tbs. peanut oil

1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil

¼ tsp. salt, optional

For the Salad

4 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced

¼ cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

2 Tbs. cilantro leaves

Sriracha sauce for garnish, optional



Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

In a small bowl whisk lime juice and peanut butter

Stir peanut and sesame oils until blended.

Stir in salt, if using.


Arrange cucumbers in single or double layer on platter

Drizzle with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

Add a touch of sriracha sauce (if using)

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves

Serve with your favorite grilled chicken recipe.

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 08:56

Courtyard Gardens

Courtyard gardens are gardens enclosed by walls, buildings or fences on more than two sides. They have many uses and offer unique design elements for your home and landscape. By incorporating a courtyard garden into the design you can make good use of exterior walls and form a protected space that provides a comfortable seating area. You are also able to establish a unique garden area and create an attractive focal point from both inside the house and from the rest of the landscape.


Barrington, IL., Schmechtig Landscapes

Additionally, courtyard gardens tie in other garden features such as decorative arbors, pergolas and fences and eliminate the need for grass by including decorative hardscape material and plants. Both formal and informal spaces can be designed and are determined based on the type of layout, symmetry of space, plant materials selected and simplicity of design. A beautiful courtyard garden always enhances the entire garden as it ties in all the architectural aspects of the home.

Published in Landscaping
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