Posted on January 16th, 2013 No comments
Our clients purchased this charming 1920’s Dutch colonial house with plans of making it their own.
The existing landscape consisted of a traditional front lawn with overgrown shrubs and a scattering of perennials. Our clients wanted to simplify the maintenance, add curb appeal and create a garden for all to enjoy.
After remodeling the home’s façade, they were ready for a fresh look for the front yard. We removed the lawn and plantings, saving some perennials to transplant. Removing the overgrown plant material revealed a beautiful stacked limestone retaining wall. A new paver sidewalk and sitting area were installed to provide a place for the homeowners to enjoy their garden and chat with passersby. Stepping stones tie the areas together and allow one to meander through the lush cottage garden. A mixture of evergreens, hydrangeas, roses, grasses and perennials were added to create a year-long showcase and welcome birds, bees and butterflies. Containers of colorful annuals, landscape lighting and drip irrigation complete the garden rejuvenation.
Posted on December 17th, 2012 No comments
Say goodbye to the dreariness of winter, by installing a fantastic plant (or two!) that will bring plenty of inspiration and interest in your winter garden.
Paperbark Maple, Acer griseum, is a low-growing, small deciduous tree with scarlet red fall color and striking cinnamon-colored bark that exfoliates.15-20’h x 10’w. Full sun-part shade.
Kousa Dogwood, Cornus kousa, is a terrific deciduous tree with multi-season interest. In spring, it’s covered with pretty, star-shaped blooms, in fall, leaves turn a beautiful reddish orange and in winter, it shows off its exfoliating bark in shades of gray, tan, brown and orange.Many selections are available. 20-25’ x 20-30’w. Part shade-full sun.
Blue Princess Holly, Ilex x meserveae ‘Blue Princess,’ is a beautiful evergreen shrub with shiny, spiny, dark green leaves. Paired with Blue Prince Holly, will bear bright red berries in winter. 4-6’h x 4-6’w. Full sun-part shade.
Globe Blue Spruce, Picea pungens ‘Glauca globosa’, is another evergreen shrub that offers distinctive silvery blue needles year round that have the added benefit of deer and rabbit resistance. 3-5’h x 4-6’w. Full sun.
Falsecypress, Chamaecyparis, are slow-growing, finely textured, touchable evergreens that are deer and rabbit resistant and serve as wonderful specimens in a protected, sun to part shade location. Sullivan Falsecypress C. lawsoniana ‘Sullivan’, has softly drooping branches and a fluffy yet narrow form. 15’h x 8’w. Golden Mops Threadleaf Falsecypress, C. pisifera ‘Mops’, a pretty little plant with a low-mounding, pyramidal form and brilliant yellow, thread-like foliage. Best color shows when planted in sun. 5’h x 3’w. Fernspray Cypress C. obtusa ‘Filicoides’ has an upright form and an open, irregular habit and unusual sprays of lush, fern-like foliage. 5′h x 4′h.
Coral Embers Willow, Salix alba ssp. Vitelline Britzensis, is a deciduous shrub with fantastic bright orange stems. As with all willows, it requires consistently damp soil with good drainage. 4’h x 4’w. Full sun.
Ornamental Grasses such as Maiden Grass Miscanthus, Switch Grass Panicum and Feather Reed Grass Calamagrostis shine in summer and fall, and when left uncut in the winter, offer structural interest with their dried flower plumes and golden tan foliage. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and thrive in full sun.
Posted on December 17th, 2012 No comments
For the second consecutive year in a row, Nature’s Perspective Landscaping has been awarded the prestigious Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor bestowed annually on approximately 5 percent of all the businesses rated on the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service and health providers.
“We’re thrilled once again to earn the Super Service Award from Angie’s List. Our reviews serve as a testament of the dedication and commitment to quality that everyone in our company has,” said Barbara Schwarz, Vice President.
“Only a fraction of the businesses rated on Angie’s List can claim the sterling service record of being a Super Service Award winner because we set a high bar,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “The fact that Nature’s Perspective Landscaping can claim Super Service Award status speaks volumes about its dedication to consumers.”
Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have met strict eligibility requirements including earning a minimum number of reports, an exemplary rating from their clients and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines. Ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List, but members can find the 2012 Super Service Award logo next to Nature’s Perspective Landscaping in search results on AngiesList.com
Posted on November 2nd, 2012 No comments
Nature’s Perspective recently completed construction of a restorative water garden at Three Crowns Park, a senior community in northwest Evanston that has served its residents for over a century.
In the early spring of this year, Ariel Schrodt, a new resident of Three Crowns Park, had a vision of creating a memorial garden for his late wife, Ellen. He wanted to recreate the pond that he and his wife had lovingly built together at their previous residence. He donated several tons of Chilton Limestone boulders that he had used to build his own pond.
Nature’s Perspective was contacted to work alongside the community at Three Crowns to turn his vision into a reality. We began the process with multiple concepts and renderings to show how his vision could be incorporated into a restorative garden.
Throughout the summer, the community at Three Crowns came together to raise funds by selling memorial pavers and other donor items. In late summer, the community’s fundraising goal was reached, and our design for a restorative water garden was selected.
We began construction in October. Being a large site, access was easy, but utilities were not. We were challenged by having to incorporate our garden into the existing irrigation system. Other obstacles included wiring a GFI outlet for the water feature, routing lighting cable, and securing benches to a solid foundation.
The end of construction coincided with the 5th anniversary of Three Crowns’ 2007 facility expansion. Despite the cold and windy weather on October 29th, many made it outside for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Restorative Garden Design Principles
Outdoor spaces of all sizes and settings are designed based on a set of principles. An outdoor area at a senior community must be easily navigable on paths of a smooth hard material. It must also allow access, circulation, and full use by persons with disabilities. Beyond accessibility, these photos show other design principles that came into play in this design:
These photos show how the layout invites exploration. The path was designed with materials that replicate the colors of a forest floor. It winds through other garden elements to create hidden views.
The senses are brought alive in this space, especially when viewed at night. Moonlighting is a landscape lighting technique that casts shadows of tree branches and leaves onto the ground. Here, moonlighting is used for wayfinding.
A memorial garden can be the perfect place for quiet reflection. Three seating areas in the restorative garden provide safe, protected areas surrounded by lush plant life changing by the season. We can’t think of a better place to sit and enjoy nature.
Posted on September 14th, 2012 No comments
Another summer’s behind us, and autumn is the time to be preparing your garden for winter. Our winters can be long, dry and brutal. Here’s what you can do now and in the coming weeks to help your garden endure the cold and snowy months ahead.
- If you fertilize only once a year, now is the best time to do it.
- September and October are the best months to apply broadleaf weed control.
- Mow until the grass stops growing, usually sometime in November. The last mow should be short, approximately at a two-inch blade height.
- Rake and dispose of all leaves and other debris before winter to prevent diseases.
Trees and Shrubs:
- Apply a 2-inch layer of organic mulch, which reduces weeds, controls soil erosion, and maintains soil moisture around roots. When applying, keep mulch at least 6 inches away from the tree trunk to prevent trunk rot. Apply after a hard frost in the fall.
- Fertilize trees and shrubs when dormant in late October or early November, before the ground freezes.
- Watering plants deeply is the single best thing you can do to get plants through the winter. Watering helps prevent desiccation, or drying out caused by water loss. Soak plants well when temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit; you can water usually right up until Thanksgiving.
- Certain trees and shrubs benefit from fall pruning, which also adds a preventive measure to reduce ice and snow damage.
- Cut back plants 3-4 inches above ground after they have been touched by frost.
- Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch after the ground has frozen. Shredded leaves (done with your lawnmower) or compost is ideal for mulching, as it won’t need to be removed. Evergreen boughs laid on the ground also offer winter protection, are attractive and fairly easy to remove in spring.
Annuals and Bulbs:
- You can overwinter certain annuals such as Begonia, Impatiens and Coleus by taking cuttings and propagating them. Be wary of bringing the entire plant in, as it is likely to be infested with insects. Shade-loving outdoor annuals will require full sun indoors.
- Dig up tender bulbs such as Dahlia and Gladiola after leaves have been blackened by frost. Any soft bulbs should be discarded. Allow them to dry, and store in vermiculite or peat in a cool, dry place.
Taking these steps now will give your garden a great start next spring, for another summer of entertaining, barbecuing and relaxing under the sun.
Posted on August 3rd, 2012 No comments
Drought has been called the “slow motion disaster”. Tornadoes, hurricanes and floods happen in a matter of minutes or hours; drought unfolds over days, weeks and months. This drought of 2012 is truly historic; some compare it to 1930 dust bowl. In Illinois, all but three counties have been declared disaster areas- Cook County is one of those that has avoided disaster status because of the few meager rains we have received.
Many people have irrigation systems, most others have dragged hoses around to keep their gardens alive. We at NPL have been watching and warning our customers to Water, Water, Water. Amazingly, many gardens are looking great; perhaps plants like the seemingly endless supply of sunshine and 90+ degree days if you can give them water!
Several years ago we had a project where we planted 60 street corners near our office here in Evanston with perennials and ornamental grasses. These corners are at the street intersections, sort of a “no man’s land”. Nobody actually owns these corners, they are the City’s property, nobody has watered them, the corners are just here for the neighborhood. The most wonderful thing is that during all this hot, dry weather they have continued to flower and flourish. We think everybody should know what these incredibly hardy plants are, and should consider them blessings in any garden.
Purple Pavement Rose, Rosa rugosa “Purple Pavement’ is a tough, easy-care shrub that bears fragrant, purplish-red blossoms in summer, followed by attractive rose hips that turn dark red later in fall. 4-5′ tall. Full sun.
Walker’s Low Catmint, Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, has fragrant, steel blue foliage and sprays of blue flowers that keep going all summer long. Truly a tried and tested perennial. 18-24″h. Full sun.
Summer Beauty Allium, Allium ‘Summer Beauty’, features pink blooms on upright, glossy, strap-like leaves. Drought-tolerant and long lived. 18-24″h. Full sun.
Happy Returns Daylily, Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’, is a re-blooming daylily with soft yellow blooms. 12-18″h. Full sun.
Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, is an ornamental grass with a strong vertical habit, and bears tall, tight feathery plumes of purplish-gold in summer 36-48″h. Full sun.
Northwind Switch Grass, Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’. A stately, columnar ornamental grass with greenish-blue leaves and delicate sprays of seedheads in late summer. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. 4-6′ tall. Full sun to part shade.
Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, is a shade-tolerant ornamental grass with bright, chartreuse green foliage, bearing distinctive, quaking seedheads on arching stems in August and September. 24-36″ tall. Full sun to part shade.
Hosta species, Hosta spp., come in hundreds of varieties, from the miniature ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ to the magnificent ‘Blue Angel’ (shown above), which grows 4 feet wide by 3 feet high. Most varieties perform very well in the shade garden; certain varieties like ‘August Moon’ and ‘Sum and Substance’ tolerate sun.
Zagreb Coreopsis, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’, has finely textured foliage and vivid yellow flowers from May to June. 18-24″h. Full sun.
Willowleaf Amsonia, Amsonia tabernaemontana salicifolia, is a tall, upright plant covered with steel blue flowers in late spring. Leaves turn a striking golden yellow in the fall. 24-36″h. Full sun-part shade.
Ladys-Mantle, Alchemilla mollis, is an easy-to-grow perennial with sprays of lime green flowers in June. Leaves hold dewdrops beautifully. 12-16″h. Full sun to part shade.
Posted on August 3rd, 2012 No comments
Japanese Beetles have descended on the Chicago area. Half-inch to three-quarters of an inch long, with an iridecent green head and copper colored wing covers, they are here in greater numbers than usual due to our mild winter and the hot, dry summer. They eat many different kinds of plants, most notably lindens, crabapples, cherries, birch, roses and many perennials and annuals. They will skeletonize the foliage and eat the petals off the flowers. After they have devastated the garden, their grubs will live in the lawn, eating the roots of grass plants and causing severe dieback of the turf. They are difficult to control because they are so numerous and new ones keep hatching.
How to control them? They can be handpicked and dropped into a jar of soapy water, or sprayed with chemical-based insecticides. We have found success controlling them with neem oil. Neem oil is derived from the Neem tree found in India, where it is valued for its many uses. It is available as an organic spray that is as effective as anything we have tried; it may need to be applied weekly but it also works on other insects and fungus as well. Lawns should be treated with an insecticide such as Merit as soon as damage is noticed, or if your lawn has had grubs in the past. There is also an organic control called Milky Spore that can be applied to the turf, but it takes about three years to build itself up in the soil in sufficient amounts… so if you have grubs you will need to treat with an insectide or risk losing your lawn.
New beetles keep hatching out for weeks, so be vigilant during July and August. Your garden deserves to be protected from these pesky pests.
Posted on July 19th, 2012 No comments
What is a dwarf conifer? A conifer is technically a plant that produces cones… pine cones immediately come to mind. Most conifers are evergreen. Dwarf conifers are cone-bearing plants that are smaller in size than their straight species. They are not plants that have been severely pruned or stunted with poor nutrition or difficult growing conditions; rather, when full grown they will be mature trees that have been selected for their small size. They have the same needle color and branch characteristics as their larger cousins; they just don’t get as big.
This can be a real asset for our urban properties. The small stature of dwarf conifers enables them to fit into most landscape situations. Most properties don’t need a 60-foot tall evergreen to screen the neighbors when one that matures at 20 feet tall will do.
With today’s busy lifestyles, adding dwarf conifers to the landscape is a great way to reduce overall maintenance while adding year-round interest. Perennial gardens are lovely, but take a great deal of time to maintaim. The addition of a Globe Blue Spruce or a Golden Mops Chamaecyparis will fill the space and reduce the number of plants needing regular deadheading, staking and pinching. They will provide interesting color, texture and structure to any garden bed. In winter, after perennials have died back and deciduous shrubs have lost their leaves, these small evergreens hold the bed together and provide winter interest.
One note of caution: we don’t recommend Dwarf Mugo Pine. Although they a beautiful dwarf evergreen, they are very susceptible to Pine Sawfly larvae. When they are attacked, they can be completely stripped of last year’s needles within a day or two. This damage ruins their form and makes them unsightly.
These are a few of our favorite dwarf conifers:
Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce Picea pungens ‘Glauca Globosa’ has a rounded shape with a flat top. Silver-blue needles look especially blue when they first emerge in spring. Deer and rabbit-resistant. 3-5’ tall x 4-6’ wide. Full sun.
Fat Albert Blue Spruce Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’. Unlike its awkward name suggests, this showy, blue-needled evergreen actually has a refined pyramidal shape, and its taller height allows for more landscape uses. Deer and rabbit-resistant. 10-15′ tall x 10′ wide. Full sun.
Bird’s Nest Spruce Picea abies ‘Nidiformis’. Small and squat, with a hollow center, this little evergreen with bright green needles looks like its common name suggests. Deer and rabbit-resistant. 2-3′ tall x 2-3′ wide. Full sun.
Dwarf Hinoki Cypress Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Compacta’. A distinctive pyramidal evergreen with coiled, deep green branches that are reminiscent of corals. Perfect for the Asian-themed garden. Best in a location protected from wind and salt. Deer and rabbit-resistant. 6-8′ tall, 3-5′ wide. Part shade.
Fernspray Cypress Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Filicoides’. An upright evergreen with an open, irregular habit, and unusual sprays of lush, fern-like foliage. Also perfect for an Asian-themed garden. Deer and rabbit resistant. Best in a protected location. 6′ tall x 4′ wide. Full sun-light shade.
Little Mops Cypress Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Mops’. Dainty and delightful, this low-mounding evergreen is also called Threadleaf Falsecypress. It has a very fine texture and brilliant yellow, scale-like foliage. Grows slowly to 5′ tall x 5′ wide. Full sun-part shade.
Fire Chief Arborviate Thuja occidentalis ‘Congrabe’. A unique selection with green needles that have orange-red tips. Best color in full sun. 3-4′ tall x 3-4′ wide. Full sun-light shade.
Mr. Bowling Ball Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis ‘Bobazam’. A perfectly round, small evergreen with soft, finely textured, gray-green foliage. 2-3′ tall x 2-3′ wide. Full sun-light shade.
Compact Tanyosho Pine Pinus densiflora ‘Umbraculifera’. Also known as Japanese Umbrella Pine because of its shape, it offers striking orange bark and long, upright needles. Makes a very beautiful specimen. 8-10′ tall x 10-12′ wide.
Posted on June 15th, 2012 No comments
What better way to spend a Father’s Day than creating some good old home brewed beer with Dad! With home brewing all the rage and many home brewing retail locations opening, you can start a home brewing operation for under $200.00. Brewing beer is a very simple process that many do-it-yourselfers have grown to love. Northern Brewer, a home brewing supply company, states “If you can cook macaroni and cheese from a box you can brew beer.” Beer only consists of four major ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. Many home brewers find this hobby very rewarding, especially when enjoying the fruits of their labor. After a few batches many home brewers have gained experience and are constantly experimenting and attempting to improve their recipes. One fun and exciting way is to grow, harvest and use your own hops for brewing.
Nature’s Perspective is pleased to announce that we are now carrying a variety of hop vines available for installation. Growing hops is an exciting and fun way to add a new twist to your brew. Hops come in many varieties that can produce very different flavors and aromas. All hops are grown from a root-like cutting known as a rhizome. Hops grow in a vine form commonly known as bines. Hops grow in full sun, so southern exposure is ideal. They grow exceptionally fast and spread over 25’ in a season, and can weigh over 20lbs. It’s important to use a strong trellis or other structural support to ensure a bountiful crop. Hop cones are typically ripe and ready for harvest in late summer or early fall. Just one or two hop plants can produce a healthy yield that would satisfy any home brewer. After the hop cone is harvested, it is dried in a paper bag or on a screen and then weighed and measured. At this point you can decide to use the hops to brew or vacuum-seal them and put them in the freezer for proper storage for a later brewing date. At the end of the season the hop bines are typically cut back to 3 feet, and survive over the winter. Growing hops is a great way to add some green to your back yard and add a personal touch to your home brew. We currently have Chinook, Tettenger, Nugget, Cascade, Centennial, Mt. Hood, and Golden varieties of hops available. Supplies are limited, so if you are a home brewer and want to take the next step, give us a call!
1) Hop bines beautifully grace an arbor. Talk about double duty!
2) Hop cones ready for the picking.
3) Paul harvests a bounty of hops… grown right on our premises!
4) Once dried, hops are ready for brewing, or can be stored frozen for later use.
Posted on May 25th, 2012 No comments
The most important thing you can do for your landscape during the summer months is also the simplest: WATER, WATER, WATER.
Chicago summers are hot, and plants need you to make sure they have moisture. This not only keeps them growing, but also helps ward off diseases that attack plants weakened by thirst.
Don’t over-water, though. Plant roots need oxygen, and too much continuous water keeps the soil from breathing. Water thoroughly and then allow the soil to dry enough so that the air can penetrate before watering again.
When you water, water well. Just wetting the leaves and soil surface quickly may do more harm than good. This encourages plants to develop shallow roots that will be extremely vulnerable in dry spells or to sudden freezes.
Most people don’t have the time or patience to water a whole garden with a handheld hose. Use a sprinkler. Until you become accustomed to the rate your sprinkler distributes water, you may want to use a rain gauge (or a cup or can) to measure. A measured inch of rain or sprinkler water will penetrate the soil about 10 inches. In dry periods, water at least a measured inch every week. Note that it may take several hours for a sprinkler to distribute an inch of water.
Interestingly, a 35-foot tall tree loses 30 gallons of water on a hot summer day. During a dry spell, even large trees must be watered to ensure good health and promote growth. Give special care to all new plants. Trees, shrubs, evergreens and groundcover planted within the past four years should be considered newly planted. Generally, soaker hoses deliver insufficient water for newly planted trees and shrubs. When you water, water well.
The simplest rule of thumb? If your plants are looking dry, water them!