Growing trend is to spend time outdoors
The more recently an artist has been trained, the more current his or her thinking is when it comes to design and method. This applies to many areas of artistic endeavor, including landscape design.
Matthew Mlynski, who owns A Garden Guy Inc. Landscape Design of Glenview, began by working for two other landscape companies and then earned his associate degree in landscape design from Triton College.
Today he has his own business through which he handles landscape design and installations, as well as the design and installation of hardscapes like patios, patio walls, walkways and driveways. He also does weekly landscape maintenance for between 70 and 75 customers.
"We handle the whole gamut, including low-voltage LED landscape lighting installation, built-in fire pits and barbecues, raised landscaping beds and water features like fountains and ponds," Mlynski said.
"Today people are seeking to spend more of their lives outside," he continued. "Homeowners want plenty of outdoor space so they can entertain out there, not just sit outside occasionally after work.
"So they are calling on us and our competitors to design and build complete outdoor living areas and to install beautiful landscaping throughout the lot."
Choosing plant materials that decorate your property and give it its unique personality is very important, as is choosing the materials and placement of fences, fountains, statuary and arbors, which punctuate a yard and make it your own private respite.
Mlynski also advises homeowners on their landscaping and installs whatever they wish.
When planting trees, Mlynski cautions homeowners to study the tree's height and circumference at maturity and plant it so it will not crowd your house or your fence. That type of information should be listed on its tag at the nursery -- or you can consult a knowledgeable staff member.
Shrubs, on the other hand, should be chosen and placed based on their natural color, unique texture and when they bloom (if they do). Other than that, they seldom outgrow their location, but they may need to be trimmed back. Privacy shrubs like arborvitae are particularly popular for planting along fences and property lines.
Beyond trees and bushes, Mlynski suggests the planting of perennials, which save on expense and labor since they come back each year. Knockout roses that bloom abundantly and need to be drastically cut back each fall are extremely popular with all ages, as are spirea.
"I advise homeowners to look for ideas at a local nursery -- not on the internet -- because local nurseries know what will survive and thrive in our Chicago-area climate," he said, adding big box stores sometimes sell plants that may not do well here.
In addition, he advised, only plant a few annuals in selected areas of your yard or in pots on your patio or deck.
As for what is currently out of favor among Chicago homeowners, Mlynski has found that old-style foundation plantings like junipers and yew are no longer popular, particularly with millennials. And fruit trees are less popular, as well, because young homeowners do not want to spend their free time cleaning up the dropped fruit.
Be sure to cross ash and elm trees off your list, as well, Mlynski cautioned. They have serious disease issues.
For more information, call A Garden Guy at (708) 288-8008 or visit www.agardenguylandscaping.com.