1. Consider more landscapes, and less lawn: beneficial not just in less humdrum lawn, but better for habitat (less chems).

    April 10, 2019 by MAX
    Interesting article and numbers in this NYT article:
    By Ronda Kaysen
    Spring is here, and that means millions of Americans will soon be seeding, fertilizing and mowing their grass.
    America has a lot of lawns. Add them all together, and they’d cover an area roughly the size of Florida, making grass the most common irrigated plant in the country. And all that grass comes with an environmental cost.
    To keep weeds at bay, homeowners dumped around 59 million pounds of pesticides onto their residential landscapes in 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of those leach into the waterways, potentially exposing children and pets to harmful chemicals.
    Grass is thirsty, too. Americans use about 7 billion gallons of water a day, a third of all residential water consumption, to irrigate. Roughly half of that water is wasted because of runoff, evaporation or overwatering. And then there’s the mowing, edging and leaf blowing. According to a study by Quiet Communities, a nonprofit group, that equipment, mostly powered by gas, emitted 26.7 million tons of pollutants into the atmosphere in 2011. Those emissions contribute to climate change.
    Despite the time and resources needed to maintain a tidy lawn, they provide no habitat for bees, butterflies or the birds that feed on the insects.
    “Lawns are a significant environmental problem,” said David Mizejewski, a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation. “We put in these lawns, and we basically turned these important habitats into dead zones.”
    The good news is: You don’t necessarily have to let your yard go wild, or dig the whole thing up to plant rocks, in order to lower your environmental impact.
    You can reduce your lawn by chipping away one weekend and one season a time, dedicating a few of the hours you might normally spend caring for your lawn to planting native grasses, shrubs, trees, flowers and food.
    Consider replacing some of that needy grass with a low-maintenance ground cover like clover, creeping thyme, mint or strawberry. You can also plant a tree and surround it with a bed of mulch. If you already have trees on your property, you could put in shade-loving plants — like hostas, ferns, impatiens and primrose — below the canopy.
    Before you head to the nursery to buy any new grass, plant, shrub or tree, try to choose something that’s native to your area and not an invasive species. If you’re not sure, punch your ZIP code into the Native Plant Finder, which is managed by the National Wildlife Federation.
    Another option for reducing lawn area is to start a flower bed or a kitchen garden. The beauty of these plots is that they can start small and expand a bit each season. Plus, they look great, you can get fresh food and herbs, and they’ll support butterflies, bees and birds.
    Whatever you plant, avoid pesticides and aerate the soil instead. Fertilize grass with leaf clippings and accept that you may need to coexist with dandelions. 
    landscape with no lawn
    Spring time in a near-lawn- less garden

    Bluebells and other bulbs, ephemerals etc will vanish by May, then mow as usual.

    Contact us about landscaping with less lawn, we have solutions!


  2. Witch-hazels: an overlooked shrub group

    March 31, 2019 by MAX

    The Witch-hazels are a fascinating group belonging to the family Hammemalis: found on several continents including North America with the fall blooming Hammemalis virginiana and the vernalis, a spring bloomer, both having a slight fragrance, both native to Illinois.

    A purple flowering type., seen in mid March.

    Photos here of blooms from plants at the Missouri Botanical Gardens and their extensive collection of Asian cross hybruds and a few cultivars from my own gardens here is West Chicago. . A fantastic and overlooked shrub group, with winter blooms, and fantrasitc fall colors. And an ideal plant for shade gardens and woodland setting, as they are understory species. Pollinators appreciate them as well!

    Missouri Botanical Gardens Witch-hazel collections
    maxlandscape company in Winfiled, West Chicago, Wheaton shade gardens and landscaping
    Native and ornamental witchhazels attract pollinators, especially important early in the season- as seen in this colorful landscape in West Chicago Wheaton area, see the hungry honeybee here. On March 12th.

    Hammemalis x Arnold Promise'
    Wonderful fall colors, with bright yellow blooms in winter!

    If you have that shade are and need a garden redo, now is the time to go!

    Landscape designs , woodland gardens, native species use, shade beds.



  3. Native trees of Illinois: The Famous White oak of McNab Illinois. The State Champion oak tree – and what a tree it is!

    January 18, 2019 by MAX
    White oak state champion tree seen by Ed Max in McNab Il, SW of Starved Rock.
    An incredible specimen. And the photo does not do justice. This White Oak 
    (native to Illinois and the Midwest ) is the largest of its species, 
    nearly 120 ft across!
    The white oak is a durable oak, and can grow to immense size as
    seen here. White oak or Quercus alba has a small acorn, and helps
    to support 100’s of species ; from mammals to fungi, to insects.
    And important species that we should be using much more in our
    urban and suburban landscapes, where space allows.
    A species for the future:
    As the climate continues to warm, the White oak may be a suitable landscape tree (native to the south), able to tolerate a tougher, drier, warmer climate going forward.





    Plant an oak today! Call Arborist Ed Max to set up a consultation on caring for your oaks, or for installing a few new red, bur or white oak, in your landscapes.


  4. The newest Illinois state champion tree: the lg. 200 year old Cottonwood near Byron Il. (plus the previous state champ…the giant bald cypress of the Shawnee, est to be nearly 1250 yrs old)

    January 3, 2019 by MAX

    The Champ- a huge, two-stemmed Cottonwood (Champ trees are determined by their height, trunk circumference, and crown spread (points x 3 categories) which totals to make this giant the largest tree in the state of Illinois.

    A Native Cottonwood- and largest tree of Illinois. There are dozens of native trees in Ill, and few grow the size of Cottonwoods, or as fast.
    Quite a giant; situated in a protected valley, near gravel prairies, and wind swept hilltops. An easy trip from the Chicagoland area. That’s me, Perspective: That’s me, Ed, in the pic….and Im 6ft 4″.

    Cottonwoods (Populus Deltoides) can grow to enormous size and usually the tallest trees of the urban forests and wilderness areas of the Chicagoland region. Perching birds (eagles, hawks, owls) can often be seen in tall cottonwoods as they are great vantage points for spying prey, and awesome roosts!
    Fond of water, they are usually found along stream beds or low-lying areas that rarely dry. Also found in the arroyos of the SW, and the wetlands of the east….a vast territory for this species.

    New clones of cottonwood can be found for sale, though usually male, so as not to create the dreaded ‘cotton’ plumes of summer.

    Discovered a few years ago, near the Bald Hill Prairie thus knocking out the Cache river Bald Cypress (seen below) ….another serious giant, found in the watery backwaters in the Cache (the everglades of the north) in the Shawnee N.F..

    The Cache swamps are the northerly- most naturally occuring wetlands containing bald cypress and tupelo in North America. Taxodium can be found all the way to the keys in So. Florida, and along the gulf. Their range can be extended north into southern Wisconsin if placed in the right conditions.

    In the Chicagoland area; cypress are popular as street trees, landscape specimens and a great tree for wet areas.

    They can grow for a millenia!

    Bald cypress are fond of water- and will grow for centuries, or perhaps thousands of years if lucky.
    State champ bald cypress Il, 36 ft circ. 1200 yr old! Seen here with some from the Illinois Native Plant Society Annual gathering in 2016.

  5. Awesome winter landscapes (scenes from the forests and natural areas of Winfield, and West Chicago) …all flocked in snow from the late November 2018 blizzard!

    December 17, 2018 by MAX
    native oaks, Winfield mounds , flocked in snow, native landscapes of DuPage county, ed max, naturalist of west Chicago, il.
native landscapers maxlandscape.com
    Winfield Mounds F.P. after the blizzard, flocked by snow.

    This healthy forest is managed and burned often….” you can see the trees through the woods”…..with few if any invasive honeysuckle or buckthorn!


    flocked oaks of Winfield, West Chicago area after the big snow.

  6. Coldest, snowiest, wettest fall in a century!

    December 3, 2018 by MAX

    Read on

    PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHICAGO/ROMEOVILLE IL
    1332 PM CST SAT DEC 1 2018

    …A Look Back at the Climate for Meteorological Fall (September,
    October, November) 2018 for Chicago and Rockford…

    At Chicago, the average high temperature for the fall season was
    59.3 degrees, which is 2.5 degrees below the 1981 to 2010 average.
    The average low temperature was 44.8 degrees, which is 1.6 degrees
    above normal. The mean temperature for the season was 52.1 degrees,
    which is 0.4 degrees below normal.

    A total of 11.68 inches of precipitation was recorded during this
    past fall, which is 2.17 inches above normal. There was a total of
    12.7 inches of snow recorded at Chicago, which is 11.3 inches above
    normal.

    Records established or tied during the fall months:

    September: Record daily high temperature of 93 degrees on the 20th.

    October: Record daily precipitation of 1.56 inches on the 1st.

    November: Record daily precipitation of 1.20 inches on the 26th.

    At Rockford, the average high temperature was 58.1 degrees, which is
    3.8 degrees below normal. The average low temperature was 40.8
    degrees, which is 0.3 of a degree below normal. The mean temperature
    for the season was 49.4 degrees, which is 2.1 degrees below normal.

    A total of 13.02 inches of precipitation was recorded during this
    past fall, which was 4.42 inches above normal. In addition, a total
    of 15.8 inches of snow was recorded, which is 14 Inches above normal.

    Records established or tied during the fall months:

    September: None.

    October: Record daily precipitation of 1.65 inches on the 1st.
    Record daily low temperature of 22 degrees tied on the 22nd.
    Record daily precipitation of 1.36 inches on the 30th.

    November: Record daily snowfall of 1.8 inches on the 9th.
    Record daily snowfall of 2.1 inches on the 17th.
    Record daily snowfall of 11.7 inches on the 25th.

    Record Snowfall of 15.8 inches for the fall season.

    (Thanks to the NWS)

     


  7. Elasticity seen in various species during and after the heavy snows of late November 2018

    December 2, 2018 by MAX

    We all saw the effects of this crazy late fall blizzard: bent trees (almost strictly mulberry, boxelder and white pine were most impacted species), flattened arborvitae, snapped pine limbs, and lost power. It was a doozie of a system, not seen or experienced in the western suburbs of Chicago in some time!

    Seen here are pics of bent Bald Cypress (Taxodium dist.) , damaged White pine (P. strobus) and  much unfortunate damage to Arborvitae (Thuja), and redbud, which is a species obviously susceptible to snow lads as we saw in this last blast.

    landscaping for the changing climate with durable trees such as bald cypress. Native landscaper Ed Max using weltand species for native landscapes.

    Snow-laden cypress morning after the heavy winter storm of late fall, and the ability of tree species to withstand damage. Blad cypress are a nice species to consdider for wet areas of the yard, fond of moisture, but a versatile plant. Will grow large, so needs room!
    A deciduous evergreen tree species- loses it’s needle after turning a lovely copper color in fall.Native to southern Il where you can see taxodium over a 1000 years old at the Cache river preserve in the Shawnee N.F.

     

     

     

     

     


  8. An effort to preserve ancient oaks (and restore the woodlands)

    November 20, 2018 by MAX

    Ed Max is an arborist with Maxs Greener Places, of West Chicago, Wheaton area , maxlandscape.com

    We care deeply about the preservation and care of centuries -old oaks such as this behemoth (Bur oak) and the species that have coevolved among the oak biome. Ed Max is an arborist and naturalist involved in oak woodland projects in the Chicagoland Wilderness.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Woodland restorations begin in winter, planning and cleaning.


  9. Milkweed (time to rename this one- it ain’t no stinkin weed!) Its actually a fantastic plant for your garden, and it helps save an imperiled species. Whats not to like? Except the weed part in it name?

    July 23, 2018 by MAX

    Ed Max collects milkweed species and uses in designs where he can.

    One of our more common milkweeds, and a life line to the struggling monarch populations. Plant more milkweed! Maxlandscape plants milkweed and all the other pollinator species to benefit butterflys and pollinators.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    landacpe with natives, natural landscapes designs by Ed Max, West Chicago, Il.

    Butterfly milkweed at Bluff Spring Fen, Elgin (also an asclepias)

     

     

    more butterfly weed, is a milkweed. Very pretty! Maxlandscape is a natives design company

    Aesclepias, native milkweed near Belmont prairie

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As the summer winds along on its way-too-fast trajectory, do not let the summer slip away without planting pollinator friendly species- and milkweed. The bugs and pollinators will appreciate it! And so will you!

    Contact us about a nice list of mega pollinators- as in plants that really draw them in. Some do more than others!

    Late summer is a good time to seed, or plant plugs, well before winter. And have fun!

     


  10. A new design for a new home in Elmhurst: contemporary farmhouse style with a flattering landscape mix of vintage, traditional and native species

    July 11, 2018 by MAX

    New landscapes , oak park and elmhurst, riverside vintage style, designs by ed max, maxlandscape.com

    This lovely home built by Trinity Builders of Elmhurst, in a contemporary farmhouse style built in 2017. We followed up with the front landscape in fall of 2017, and the final back beds and permeable parking pad in 2018.

     

     

    Click on image to enlarge:

    Vintage Plant species used:

    Catalpa, lilac, juniper, roses, pagoda dogwood, azalea, peony and many species of perennials, some native. This mix promises to fill nicely , and soon offer screening and a vintage look to compliment the home’s style.

    new landscape designs for Elmhurst home, designs by Ed Max from West Chicago Il.,

    Vintage and heirloom plants used for this Elmhurst Il landscape design using Catalpa trees, junipers, natural stone steps and walls, a plus 3 hydrangea varieties for summer color, and loads of native and perennial bloomers.

     

    Updated pics to follow.