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Landscape Blog

Vernon Hills, IL—

As homeowners become more and more aware of their effect on the environment, one of the unique ways that they are going green is through their landscapes.


For example, many individuals are choosing to reduce or completely eliminate the use of pesticides due to their deleterious effect on the ecosystem. Pesticides often seep into the ground and eventually make their way into bodies of water where they can harm wildlife. Manual labor is often a more effective way to keep weeds at bay.

“We love helping homeowners learn about the different options for making their landscapes environmentally friendly,” said Heidi Sibert, Senior Vice President and Landscape Architect at James Martin Associates (JMA). “We show them how it’s possible to create a landscape that is both ‘green’ and gorgeous.”


JMA offers many sustainable options for their clients, including organic-based fertilizer and mulch, drip irrigation, native plantings, rain barrels, and cisterns.

Some homeowners are going a step further and creating backyard sanctuaries for pollinators. Bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators have experienced a deep decline in populations, mainly due to pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change.


Photo Credit: Tamima Itani

Sibert recently worked on a project in Evanston in which the client, Tamima Itani, had become passionate about building a haven for pollinators.


Photo Credit: Tamima Itani

To start with, the landscape designers at JMA recommended the removal of all turf from Itani’s backyard, and then conceptualized the idea of interlocking gravel paths and segmented gardens. After these were constructed, Itani could easily walk through the yard and view each garden area individually.


Not only did Itani research native Illinois plants to incorporate into each garden, but she also discovered which flowers should be planted together to attract pollinators to specific gardens.

As an avian photographer, these gardens created ideal conditions as she could then photograph the birds without disturbing them or trampling through the garden beds.


Photo Credit: Tamima Itani

Only a few months after installation, the garden started attracting pollinators such as birds, bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. Also, despite the fact that pesticides have never been used, the garden has flourished for several seasons.


Photo Credit: Tamima Itani

“To date, I have documented 75 bird species that have visited my pollinator garden,” Itani said. “I love being able to spend time among the plants, flowers, insects, and birds. My whole yard feels alive now.”


Photo Credit: Tamima Itani

The garden is now certified as a Wildlife City Habitat in Evanston, and is just one of a growing number of gardens to incorporate green solutions into their conception and development.

Contact James Martin Associates to learn more about how to create a beautiful and environmentally friendly landscape.


About James Martin Associates, Inc.

James Martin Associates, located in Vernon Hills, celebrates over 40 years providing commercial and residential customers with comprehensive landscape management services. The company is an industry leader in commercial snow management and specializes in providing innovative and award winning landscape design, installation and maintenance. For more information about James Martin Associates, please visit www.jamesmartinassociates.com.



Ashley Atkinson-Leon

James Martin Associates


[email protected]

Tuesday, 02 October 2018 12:29

An Introduction to Flower Bulbs


Bulbs signal the start of spring and provide a welcome, colorful sight after a long winter. Read on to learn more about different bulb species, their life cycle, and how to properly plan your bulb garden.

Most bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, are grown in the Holland region of the Netherlands. During the summer, they start to go dormant, and it is during this time that they are shipped throughout the world for fall planting.

In the US, after they are put into the ground, they start developing root systems anywhere from October to December. They need at least 45 days below 45° to bloom in the spring. If they don’t receive this, they will still grow, but they won’t produce flowers.


In the early spring, both snow melt and rain create the wet environment that bulbs thrive in and they often start to bloom as early as March and April. However, their growth is primarily triggered by the sun.

During the summer, the bulbs will begin to go dormant, but it’s important not to cut down these plants for 6-8 weeks after blooming as the leaves are still photosynthesizing. The bulb acts as food and the entire plant is replenishing itself so that it can survive the winter.

Some bulbs species will come back year after year, but other bulb species diminish in appearance and size, and they often need to be replaced after a few seasons.


Tulips are some of the most popular bulbs because of their variety and beauty, but they are essentially treated as annuals because they will diminish over time. Crocuses are also a popular option but homeowners will need to be cognizant of the fact that both tulips and crocuses are a favorite of wildlife and will need to create some kind of fencing or other protection for them.

Snowdrops and blue scilla are usually the earliest to bloom because their roots are closer to the surface and they are among the first to feel and react to the warmth of the sun. Scilla are a hardy plant that most animals refuse to eat, and homeowners in the northern Chicago suburbs will often see these growing along Sheridan Road.


Alliums, daffodils, and chionodoxas are robust and reliable plants that grow back year after year and will often sprout additional blooms each season. Alliums will be some of the latest bloomers, often showing up in May.

Muscari are a unique bulb because they will bloom and produce leaves in the spring, and then they will sprout a second set of leaves in the fall, all in an effort to collect energy from the sun.

Bulbs can be planted up until the ground freezes so any time between summer and early winter is ideal for them to go in the ground.


However, if homeowners are looking to transplant them, it’s better to move them in the spring when it’s easier to see the bulb. If they wait until the plant has gone dormant, it’s a guessing game as to where they’re located underground. With proper technique, most bulbs can do quite well after being transplanted.

Bulbs bring a landscape to life after a dreary winter. With proper planning, homeowners can enjoy a bulb garden from early to late spring. For example, snowdrops will bloom in February, carpets of scilla will sprout in March and April, and a variety of colorful daffodils will carry a garden into May.

If you’d like to find bulbs that are perfect for your landscape, contact us today and we’ll help you choose from the hundreds of stunning varieties available.