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. 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.

     

     

     

     

     


  4. 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.


  5. River Forest Landscape renovations of spring, let’s change that garden design!

    March 4, 2018 by MAX

     

     

    landscaping with natives, natural designs by max

    Landscape renovations as we redid this River Forest gem, using perennials, buckeye, asters, roses, and native species, and grasses, oak trees too.

     

    Spring is here- let us know if you are in need of clean ups, corrective pruning, light tree care,

    consultation on that new landscape design!


  6. For the love of trees : part 1 (in progress) (with views from an arborist)

    November 15, 2017 by MAX

    And what’s not to love? Check in here periodically to catch up on my musings of the tree, the magnificent, the mysterious and the important tree!  As a lover of trees, and as a professional arborist I never stop learning and investigating the incredible and diverse universe that is the tree. Think about it: what other group of plants (or animals perhaps?) on this planet has benefited mankind as much? Trees offer shelter or some form of benefit  to us and a vast chunk of life on this planet.  I’ll attempt to cover many forms of life benefiting from trees, along with the oldest of various species, and of course their awesome beauty, beginning with the oak family.

    Record size trees of Mossuri, arborist Ed Max, rcord trees of Iliinois, champion trees of America

    This massive Bur oak blew me away. Its sheer mass and height is unreal. Many species of birds, fungi, insects and mammals earn their living off this live behemoth.

    There are studies done on the life cycle of the native oak, and the estimates are that well over 20,000 different species of organisms rely on the oak family (Midwest region) for sustenance (both above ground, and below)

    native oaks, record size trees of Illinois

    State Champion White oak of Illinois. A very lg. tree indeed. Located just SW of Ottawa Il.. To think that this plant has been here since before the founding of the U.S.!

     

     

     


  7. Osage Orange tree (Maclura pom.) Failure – A century and a half year old tree goes down in West Chicago, Il

    November 9, 2017 by MAX

    A tale behind the pictures below:  (with some embellishment).

    Picture this……Originally oak savannah, mixed with occasional tallgrass prairie…… early 1800’s perhaps…..pre-settlement, with sizeable native – American  (in what is today West Chicago Il. ).  Then…….along came settlers and farmers looking for arable, loamy  farmland.      And they found it.     So in the process of clearing and maintaining their holdings (as time went on), by the mid 1800’s the idea of hedgerows came to be the norm.

    And one of the more common and cheap forms of hedgerow materials was Osage Orange, a native to Texas and Oklahoma.  

     

    Tree care near Geneva and Winfield Il, arborist and designers on staff, maxlandscape.com for trees and garden design

    Osage orange tree failed in late October 2017.  There had been storms the past month, but none severe- it was too heavy w/ a co-dominant (or pair of) stems. This tree had been in this spot since the 1800’s…..now an unrecognizable jumble of weedy invasives.

    The farmer would then head out to his or her property borders and plant  the sections of live Osage Orange into the rich earth every few yards, and VIOLA!…..the lifeless (dormant) wood sprang to life. And live they did. For close to 2 centuries! (See annual growth rings pictured). This species was also used (by the U.S. and WCC) as hardy a windbreak during and after the dustbowl in the central U.S., to combat erosion and wind.

    So, if you ever come across a lonely row of Osage Orange along a roadside, or in a neighborhood, remember the lore of the farmer and his hedgerow.  HINT: Look for those odd, and rather decorative lime green fruits in fall. They are produced by the female Osage Orange. Yes, they are sexed- male and female (or dioecious). If you ever have the urge to plant for the fruit- you’ll need both sexes to have fruit. In today’s market, most Osage Orange are of the male clones only, so no fruit. And sadly- up until recently, Osage Orange are hard to come by. But I recommend such trees- as they are hardy, seem to have few insect or disease issues, and live for centuries!

    History of trees  in the Chicago area…..See our native tree list for more info on reliable and sturdy trees for our changing climate in the Midwest. Ed Max is a certified arborist and naturalist, and would be happy to stop out for a consultation. Fall is best time for planting, as is spring.

    Wheaton Il historic trees, native trees , Arborsit and landscape designs

    Osage Orange – ancient hedgerow species of the 1800s, arborist Ed Max tells the tale. Trees of West Chicago, Winfield, Il are his specialty and passion!

    * With a warming climate, and climate change- deciding on a tree for long term benefits is important – use native species such as oak, and hickory. Or Gingko, maple and Cypress.     Ed Max is a certified Arborist and a member of the International Arborist Society, and is a landscape designer in the western suburbs of Chicago.


  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. Rare and beautiful White Ladies Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium candidum), a beguiling and shy native not suited to most of our landscapes

    May 19, 2017 by MAX

    And best left in the wild!, as seen here, and in nice numbers at this rather secluded and secret site near West Chicago, Winfield areas. A super rare native orchid-  mostly due to illegal,(and  bone-headed) harvesting from the wild. When dug in bloom, mortality rate is off the charts.  Endangered in most northern states, l,isted as threatened in Il.,

    Best admired, and photographed, but leave alone and enjoy this cool plant structure!

     

    native and natural landscaping in West Chicago Il, Wheaton Il natural shade beds, landscapes by ed amx

    White ladies slipper mid may 17, and native species of prairies, Midwest landscapes

    A denizen of wet prairies and fen habitats, with few remaining, so habitat is critical.

     


  10. Dance of the Wood Betony (Pedicularis), a lovely parasitic native

    May 2, 2017 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 in spring.   Easily spotted when little else is in bloom in the prairie or oak savanna.

    • Not a plant easily obtained. Not recommended for most gardens – just a fun plant worth knowing and looking for while hiking.
    • Always buy native species (especially rarer types) from known and reputable growers. Never dig plants (such as betony), as they will most likely drop dead upon arrival to your gardens!
    • Inquire for plant lists and growers whom are local.
    • Designer Ed Max is also cert naturalist plus cert arborist, and designs many gardens , woodlands, and other properties (both traditional and naturalistic) and meshes native with non-native species for wonderful and varied garden and landscape!