Founded in 1991 by an enterprising high-school freshman, Apex Landscaping dispatches more than 60 personable personnel to groom clients’ lawns and gardens. With today’s deal, choose between seven varieties of annual flowers to decorate your garden this summer—sprinkle gardens with dainty impatiens, light up a field with some fiery marigolds, or plant sharp snapdragon spikes below windowsills to deter pie thieves. A landscape technician will help homeowners decide where to place plants, then an army of installers will dimple gardens with holes to house 108 root systems. Upon request, they can also sprinkle new arrivals with organic fertilizer or sing them chlorophyll-themed lullabies to soothe the transition into their new homes.
As their name implies, Greenwise specializes in 100% eco-friendly landscaping services. Their maintenance packages for residential or commercial lawns use sustainable, renewable alternative products to keep Mother Nature from giving them a stern lecture. Propane- or electric-driven mowers trim grass with low amounts of emissions and their grass seed is fused with beneficial fungi that nourish turf without the need for added chemicals. Additionally, their fertilizers use nutrient-rich compost comprised of molasses and yeast, and weeds and harmful insects are eliminated with nontoxic, all-natural products.
Greenwise’s devotion to lowering carbon footprints extends to their landscaping design as well. They plant organic gardens that blossom with fresh fruits and vegetables to add aesthetic beauty to yards and cut down on trips to the grocer. They are also proponents of working with native flora, which make for a more sustainable garden and attract native birds and butterflies to yards to entertain bored lawn ornaments.
In 1952, after years of experience in the nursery industry, Urban Reckamp planted the first seeds of his own horticultural business, Harvard Nursery. Twenty years later, the next generation of Reckamps, Tim and Pam, took over, letting the nursery's success grow through word of mouth, an established reputation in the community, and a stockpile of magic beans. Bringing a bachelor's in horticulture and an education background in design, the third generation, Kevin and Nina Reckamp, sprouted their roots as the new management of the nursery in 2010.
Today, with 60 years of experience under its belt, the nursery offers visitors a plethora of greenery. Its retail garden center blooms with locally grown verdant saplings and effulgent perennials guaranteed to appease the pickiest of garden gnomes. In addition to onsite dealings, its experienced crew can also travel to nearby locations to perform landscape design, enhancement, and maintenance.
In 1955, James and Gladys Bluemel opened a small nursery dedicated to growing trees and shrubs and to helping locals with landscaping projects. Now, their son, Mike, runs the much-expanded family business, which thrives on bulk-supply sales, playground resurfacing, lawn care, and snow and ice control during snowman uprisings. Though he’s moved away from the nursery’s original shrub and tree business, he and his green-thumbed staff still maintain a garden center stocked with seasonal plants, garden décor, and essential supplies.
While customers browse Bluemel’s aisles, they'll likely spot a commonality between the perennials, annuals, flowers, herbs, and vegetables: a sticker reading “Dome Grown.” This label marks a plant born and raised in the garden center, which accounts for about 85% of the center’s living merchandise. Having tended and nurtured the plants since their geneses, the staff—who share 35 years of experience—can dispense tips on how to properly care for them, as well as share adorable baby-plant photos.
City Escape Garden Center and Design Studio fills 17,000 square feet of space with pottery and internationally sourced houseplants, trees, and shrubs. Take a topiary-centric trip to the Eastern Hemisphere with a japanese maple ($144.99 for 6 gallon), or adorn yards with an ornamental, evergreen, or conifer tree ($29.99+). Embed shrubs, 6-inch table ferns ($14.99), or stolen Betamax players in one of City Escape's indoor or outdoor pots made from cast stone, iron, or fiberglass ($8.99+). The ever-changing gardening gamut encompasses grasses, perennials, and annuals, as well as trellises, bird feeders, and other accessories. City Escape beckons motorists with plentiful free parking, keeping greenery gurus from crowding the rush hour "L" with yet another tree.
For the designer Marisa Gora of Kemora Landscape Designs, it's not enough for a garden or yard to be beautiful. It must also be functional, and it has to work with the natural environment it borders. It's no question that she holds her work to a high standard. But it's the way she surpasses even those standards that has earned her company awards from Angie's List, the Flower and Garden Show (which applauded Kemora's work on the American Girl Garden), and the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association.
Her business's mission to give beauty and function equal importance might have something to do with Marisa's background: she was pre-med at the University of Chicago when she decided to switch careers. Her love of drawing and previous work in landscape maintenance for the Wilmette Park District sparked the inspiration that eventually drew her to landscape design. After graduating and working in the industry, she founded Kemora, and today gives life to homeowners' design dreams.