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. 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.


  3. 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.

  4. 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.


  5. Parasitic beauty of our rare black earth prairies- Wood Betony (Pedicularis)

    May 10, 2018 by MAX

    Native landscape by ed max, butterlfy gardens of wheaton, glen elly woodland native species, west chicago native landscapes, natural landscape by ed max,

    Swirling beauty! This semi parasitic native of our higher quality prairies is quite a sight on the prairie. Easily spotted when little else is in bloom in the prairie or oak savanna.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Native species, landscaping with natives, pollonator friendly species, native landscapes by ed max, natural landscape design by max's greener places, oakbrook il native landscapes

    Its hard to not take photos of this beauty of our natural prairies

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Mid-spring is the best time to find these small and colorful blooms. Usually found in moist mesic prairie habitats in a handful of areas around the Chicagoland area.

     

     


  6. Think spring (and plan for it now) New landscapes, garden designs, revisit that old shade garden

    February 14, 2018 by MAX

    And NOW is the time to get in touch! We offer landscape designs, patio layout, paver renovations, Woodland and natural landscapes, plus shade gardens, and perennial bed installations: Wheaton, Geneva, Naperville, Oak Park, and many more communities where our landscapes can be seen. ED is also an arborist, so we can talk tree health and plant health!

    maxlandscape.com, West Chicago native wildflower

    Pure white blooms in mid spring, native to Winfield, West Chicago woodland areas

     

    We offer native and shade garden designs, to liven up those darker corners of the property,


  7. Liveliest colors in fall blooming aster, and pollinators love them all!

    September 25, 2017 by MAX

    New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is one of the Midwestern natives and late blooming. Showy purple blooms w an orange eye. Deer resistant too! Grows to 3 or 4 ft, good for background , rear of sun beds.

    Also very drought resistant. Bees love them, as do monarchs which seek out all aster for late season food source.

    native species, natural landscapes by Ed Max, maxlandscape.com

    Late blooming native perennial, hardy, offers some of the best color in the late gardens.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Contact us soon for advice on late season colors, designs, and pollinator friendly habitats!

     

     

    native aster, woods aster of Wheaton landscapes

     

    Contact us

     


  8. Another unique (and healthy) Custom Landscape of Elmhurst, Il. from Max

    June 16, 2017 by MAX

    custom landscapes of Elmhurst Il, edmax head landsxcape designer , natural landscapes, using natives for monarch and pollinator friendly habitat.

    Classic  (and newer) Elmhurst, Il. home with vintage architecture followed up w our naturalistic free-form landscape design (2 yrs aft.) using vintage and native species and a rain garden.  Unilock paver called ‘Thornbury’ was used for the patios, and large front paver walkway, plus a Bio-swale (to hold run-off from back) w wetland obligate species and pollinator friendly landscapes!  (Wetland species -Swamp white oak, winterberry, sedges, native wetland species), plus Bur oak (Quercus macro.) for truly majestic trees to frame the house (one day). A truly long-term plan w nature and pollinators in mind.

     

    Designs and consultation by Ed Max, certified arborist, naturalist and head designer of Max’s Greener Places and maxlandscape.com.

     

     

     

     


  9. Illinois State Champion White Oak (Quercus a.) near McNabb, Il.

    May 2, 2017 by MAX

    What a monster! To stand near this great plant is awesome! Thought to be at least 350 to 400 yrs old. SW of Starved Rock in the entrance to a farmhouse, you too can see it, near the roadside.

    native oaks, record size trees of Illinois

    Record size state champ, White oak. A very lg. tree.

     

    Oaks are an important species in the Midwest and in the Chicagoland area. Encourage oak planting. Many species rely on the oak for food and shelter. The native population of most oak species is on the decline due to disease, changing climate and especially due to invasive species such as buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle. Little to no regeneration of oaks means that as the large specimens as een here decline, we stand to lose a true legacy tree of the Midwest. Red , bur and white oak were the oak species most common a century ago, when fire was a common occurrence on the prairie.

    Today, with lack of fire, they are losing ground. So plant an oak today!

     


  10. Bluebells: a naturalizing beauty for any woodland or shade garden setting (seen here in a Wheaton, Il. landscape)

    by MAX

    native and natural landscapes, shade gardens of Wheaton

    Bluebells a bloomin!
    Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia) in bloom in Wheaton, Il. mid April. Quite a show. Mertensias  naturalize well, come up all over, then quickly vanish.

    Also a bumblebee magnet. Important and early species, provides important nectar for pollinators. Even competes well with invasive species such as garlic mustard!

    Bluebells (Mertensia virg.)  a native woodland ephemeral, good for wooded, shaded and wetter areas. Will spread well if content. Mix with later blooming plants such as fern, hosta, zig zag goldenrod, shrubs such as Spicebush, witchhazels, and pawpaw.