Warmer Days Colder Nights

Warmer days are coming!

Downspout with Air Gap

Warm days and cold nights are here … couple that with rain and these weather changes can spell disaster for your house.   The ground and drain pipes could still be frozen!  You need to have an air gap in the 

Sump Pump with Air Gap

downspout lines and especially for your sump pump line.  If the sump pump does not have an air gap, the sump pump could back up and flood your basement.  The air gap is not the prettiest thing to look at.  I know that, however it will  allow for the water to be outside of your house.  The area could become very muddy and messy, but that is better than having a lot of water in your basement.

If your sump pump or down spouts do not have an air gap, it is an easy thing to take care of and will be a fairly inexpensive fix given the damages that could happen.  NLD can help you with that repair.  Click here to contact us for more information on how we can help.

Winter Pruning … Is it beneficial?

Winter Pruning

Why is Winter Pruning important?  What benefit does it have?

Winter Pruning (sometimes called Rejuvenation Pruning) will actually help bring the natural shape of the plant back, as well as help with disease issues.  Ornamental trees and shrubs with with dense canopies can have more disease issues due to the fact that there is any air flow through the tree.  Better air flow through the plant means fungus and insects are less likely to turn the plant into a home. 

Winter Pruning (Rejuvenation Pruning), also helps to make the plant stronger by removing the older, less healthy branches.  The over structure of the plant is improved by winter pruning.  Since the leaves have dropped, it is much easier to see crossing and diseased branches. 

Why not do this during the growing season?  

The plant is dormant, or shut down, in the winter months.   Winter Pruning allows the customer the ability to take more off and it is FAR less stress on the plant.  During the growing season pruning should be limited to slight shaping and minor ‘control’.  Removing anything more than 15%-20% of the canopy can cause undue stress to the plant.

Some plants (such as Oak trees) can only be pruned in the winter months.  When the plant is pruned, an open wound is caused by this action.  This wound could invite insects.  Some trees (such as Maple Trees), if pruned at the wrong time of the season will produce more sap at the wound, and will not be able to transport the nutrients the tree needs as well as it could have.

Having a landscape professional, who knows the trees and shrubs, will be able to help you out and give you recommendations on how best to handle each plant.  The landscape professional preforming this pruning, can actually help improve the overall health of the plant.

Call now at 815-337-8873 or contact us here and take advantage our our reduced rates on Winter Pruning!   Check out our Facebook page for more ideas!

Winter Pruning

Left: Before Right: After Habit has been restored

Winter Prune

Thinned Canopy, Removed Suckers

Plan And Design Now … Enjoy Later!

Plan And Design Now … Enjoy Later!

Landscape Design

Backyard Landscape Plan

It may not seem like it with 2″ of snow on the ground, but this time of year is the perfect time to be thinking about your yard and the landscape design you could have!  Beat the Spring Rush for your landscaping work and get the designing and planning completed now.  Get on the list early and enjoy your beautiful property all  season long!

Our Design and Production Teams have over 90 years of combined experience!  We work our hardest to produce the best (and most amazing) landscape design and installation process you have ever been a part of.  We strive to make the process easy and enjoyable.  We also offer a variety of landscape maintenance, fertilizing and mosquito control packages for you to choose from, as well.

Take a look at our portfolio to see how NLD can help you.  There are more samples on our Facebook Page.  NLD has landscape designers on staff to help you make your landscape dreams come true.  Call us at 815-337-8873.

To water or not to water ….


When and how do I water my landscape?

To water or not to water …. that is the question!  Whether your landscape is brand new or well established, watering will always play a key roll.  As most people know, when your landscape is brand new, watering is key.  Here are a few tips for watering your newly installed landscape.

NOTE:  The information outlined below is a very simple guide for properly maintain your new landscape. Although many factors can come into play – watering2such as location (sunny-shady), soil conditions(well drained-heavy clay), individual plant requirements, current weather conditions, etc. – by using the instructions listed and a little common sense, success is guaranteed.  These instruction are also noted for the Midwest Region of the US.


Whenever watering, water thoroughly. The conventional wisdom is that most plants need 1″ of water a week. A sprinkling that doesn’t penetrate more than 1/2″ of soil will only encourage plant to keep their drinking roots near the surface and make them less able to survive droughts than if their roots had to strike deep for water. Some plants need far less, although if the soil is well-drained, they won’t mind that much water.  Watering should be done so that it goes to the roots rather than onto the foliage.  Try to water plant in the morning, so if the leaves do get wet they can dry off during the day. Watering in the evening and letting the plants sit wet over-night encourages fungi and molds to colonize on the foliage. It is especially important to water in the first half of the growing season, when most plants are doing most of their growing. As important as it is to water, it is equally important not to over-water. The way to check the need for water is to place your finger as deep as possible into the soil next to each plant. If it is wet don’t water.


Newly installed sod and seed must be kept damp/moist (but not soaked) on a daily basis until the first mowing for the sod and third mowing for the seed.  When checking moisture levels of sod, gently lift on *several pieces* of sod in different areas and examine the soil. You should find it moist and cool. You should never over-water to the point where it will rot. When you can no longer lift the sod, it is ready for mowing and regular watering practices. Established lawns should receive 1″- 2″ of water per week.  When checking moisture levels of seed, a visual inspection will suffice.  Examine
The soil to insure it is moist at all time but never has standing water. Standing water will rot the seed. Once the seed is at a height of 2 ½ – 3″ and the soil is firm, mowing can be done. Continue to water daily until the third mowing, then follow the watering instructions for established lawns as stated above. Never walk on a new lawn whether it is seed or sod until it is established. You can water by positioning a sprinkler around the perimeter of the lawn area and pulling the sprinkler across to the desired location.


Existing landscapes and turf areas will not require as much watering.  In a ‘normal’ season, watering typically will not need to be done.  In times of drought, soaking the area around the base of the plant, working the water deep into the soil, will be the best for the plant.  Getting a deep rooter feeder (available at most local stores) is a great way to get the water deep into the soil, and the best part, hardly any water is lost to run off from surface watering.

If you have more tips for watering, let us know!

Drainage Issues?

Do you have Drainage Issues?

All this rain we have received in the past couple of weeks has me thinking: What do you do … What do you do if have standing water in your yard after a rain event?  Or worse, right next to the foundation of your home?  What do you do if you have water running into a window well?  What do you do if your sump pump is dumping right next to your home?  I know, personally, have dealt with these exact same questions at my house and my parents house growing up in McHenry County.  NLD-Nierman Landscape and Design deals with these exact questions, and more, all the time.  Sometimes, these questions are asked a little too late, but we develop a solution to try and prevent it from happening again.  In the last 2 weeks or so, I have recorded over 4.5 inches of rain at my house in central McHenry County.

If at all possible, a drainage swale or correcting of pitch (or grading) is going to be your best option.  Why is that you may ask:  If you can see it, you know it works.  Even if your grade changes are minimal, a swale will still be the best option.  You need at least a 2% pitch (ideally) to move water in green spaces (1% in hardscapes).  Obviously, the more pitch you have, the better off you are to move that water.   Of course you can always use catch basins, piping, pop-ups, etc.  It is a matter of what best fits your needs and your circumstances.  A good landscaper will be able to help guide you to your best case scenario.drainage_systems-1024x664

In a typical drainage system, NLD will use PVC pipes, and not corrugated.  Reason being is PVC is more rigid, so the line will have the proper pitch.  It will also hold up better to compression over time.  If debris gets into the system, it is easier to clean out as well.   Again, every system is different, every scenario is different.

Weather (yes I did that on purpose) you are looking at trying to keep water from entering your house, or trying to keep it away, NLD- Nierman Landscape and Design has the know-how and the tools to fix the water issues you may (or will have).  With almost 100 years of combined experience, we have seen pretty much every problem imaginable, and we have been able to develop solutions.  Whether you live in Walworth, McHenry, or Lake County, we work to come up with the most cost effective solution that will work, and work correctly for a long time.

Different Trees

Different Trees Can Make Your Yard Awesome!

There are those staple plants that everyone wants.  The plants that can survive even the worst of the ‘killer thumbs’.   Whether it is trees, shrubs, perennials or even annuals; there are those plants that everyone seems to want.   There is a long list of plants that are tough, can withstand a lack of care, and still look fantastic! Why have the same Trees as your neighbors?  Give some of these different trees a try.

The Emerald Ash Borer has made its presence  very well know in the area (even in my yard).  The loss of the Ash Tree is this generations version of Dutch Elm Disease, which destroyed millions of American Elm Trees in the 50’s and 60’s.  Due to the loss of all these wonderful trees, everyone wants/needs to replace them.  However, if we replace them with a same tree over and over again, we will run into the same problem.

Like I said before: There are a lot of tough plants out there, but for this posting, I will stay with a few shade trees.  Please note:  This posting is based on USDA Zone 5 and there are always new trees that are being developed.

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) This tree is a seed propagated (every tree is a little different) and is a very unique tree.  It is tough, durable and transplants fairly easily.  The deeply corrugated bark is a very neat characteristic.  The Hackberry has a little more of an irregular habit, but as it matures, it really comes into its own.  The lime green leaves of the summer will turn into a light yellow in the fall before they drop.

Shawnee Bald Cypress

Shawnee Brave Bald Cypress in Fall

‘Espresso’ Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus diocus ‘Espresso’) This is a newer variety of the extremely tough Coffee Tree.  This variety is seedless, so one does not need to worry about the large seed pods that can develop.  The leaf color during the season is a blue-ish – green color, which lasts a long time into the fall months.  A young Kentucky Coffee Tree is very ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Tree’ looking.  Given a few years (when the trunk is approx. 5″ in diameter) it starts to look impressive, and only gets better from there.

‘Shawnee Brave’ Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’) This variety has been around for several years, but is just now starting to gain in popularity.  The Bald Cypress is a very cool plant.  When planted on the edge of a pond it will develop ‘knees’ that will come up out of the water.  On the other side of the coin, when it is planted in a dryer location, the tree is less prone (if ever) to develop those knees.  The Bald Cypress is also a ‘deciduous conifer’.  This means it looks like and evergreen with the little needles, but every fall it turn a gold-ish – brown color, and it with lose all the needles.  It is a fun prank to play on people the first year it planted in your yard.

Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata) This is a tree that is tough all around.  It does well in drought situations and is very tolerant of pollution, which makes it great for city settings.  The bark on older trunks has a little bit of an ‘exfoliating’ or pealing character.  This tree looks similar to an Elm in leaf shape.  Pests and disease are a minor problem with this tree as well.   One down side: it can be hard to find sometimes.

These trees (and others) are great options for any yard.  My only caution:  If you don’t site a tree properly it will never perform.  I’ll continue with later blogs where I will list out some other plants that are great options for Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

Different Trees – Part Deux

Different Trees Can Make Your Yard Awesome!

Part Deux – Return of the Ornamentals!

There are those staple plants that everyone wants.  The plants that can survive even the worst of the ‘killer thumbs’.   Whether it is trees, shrubs, perennials or even annuals; there are those plants that everyone seems to want.   There is a long list of plants that are tough, can withstand a lack of care, and still look fantastic! Why have the same Trees as your neighbors?  Give some of these different trees a try.

This posting will focus mostly on Ornamental Trees.  What is an Ornamental Tree?  They are, simply put: A small tree or large shrub, single stem or clump form … I know very specific, right? 🙂  Generally they are the plants that will tend to be anywhere from approx. 10′ to as large as 30′ (either tall or wide)

Tree Replacements

Bark of the Hornbeam

Like I said before: There are a lot of tough plants out there, but for this posting, I will stay with a ornamental trees.  Please note:  This posting is based on USDA Zone 5 and there are always new trees that are being developed.

American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) Also called Muscle Wood, is a tough native that can withstand clay soils.  It is a slower growing tree, but it is the bark and habit is where its strength lies (yes, pun intended) :-).  The older branches and  trunks have a textured appearance giving it a look of flexing muscles.  Fall color tends to be a little more towards the oranges (into yellows and/or reds), but very nice, soft shades.

Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamillia) This is not a common tree, however, it has performed well the last few winters here in northern Illinois.  It will have an initial flush of flowers on the spring, but continues to sporadically flower through July.  The flowers are a nice white, and the extended bloom time will make a nice addition to any landscape.

Summertime Maackia (Maackia amurensis ‘Summertime’) The Maackia is a shorter relative of the Yellowwood Tree.  It is a very versatile tree and has flower similar to that of the Yellowood.  Almost pure white, and flowering around August!  A tree that will flower in August is a great addition to almost any landscape.

Replacement Tree Options

Yellowwood in Flower

American Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentuckea) The American Yellowwood is on the larger end of the spectrum for ornamentals, but I wanted to include it.  It does better in protected spaces, and looks really neat on the edge of a woodland area.  It has a really cool flower, but doesn’t flower every year.  When they are in flower, it is a real treat.

These trees (and others) are great options for any yard.  My only caution:  If you don’t site a tree properly it will never perform.  I’ll continue with later blogs where I will list out some other plants that are great options for Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.

A Landscape Design is your ‘Landscape Road Map’

Your Outdoor Living space is important, starts with a plan!  But how?

Have you ever sat back in your yard and wondered what plants would work best with your property?  Too much shade?  Not enough shade?  Wet areas in your yards?  Areas where you can’t get grass to grow?  ‘How can I get more color, but low maintenance?’  A skilled, professional landscape contractor will be able to help you answer these questions and more.

Landscape Design,

Your landscape plan is your road map. Take ‘site seeing’ adventures as you complete your plan

If you are not sure where to start, or the entire process seems over whelming, connect with a quality landscape company.  The designers/salespeople are trained and have the experience to help guide you in the best for your specific situation.

A landscape design or landscape plan is a perfect place to start.  It gives you a ‘road map’ from the start to the end.  Best part: you will be able to complete it as you wish.  You can go as fast as you want or as slow as you.  You are in the driver’s seat.

Nierman Landscape and Design are the professionals who can answer your questions and concerns, offer solutions, and help improve your yard to become your dream property.  Every client, every home, every property has its own special and unique qualities that we enjoy working with.

Whether you live in Woodstock, Lake Geneva, Arlington Heights, Wilmette or anywhere in between, the friendly folks at NLD will be happy to help make your landscape dreams become a reality.

Whether installing a $500 shade tree for future enjoyment, or installing a $50,000 whole landscape, NLD will be there every step of the way to make sure your dreams become reality.

Here are some examples of how NLD can help  you: http://www.houzz.com/projects/944859//crystal-lake-lakefront-residence

Gardens and Gardening

Gardening?  I wouldn’t know where to start ….

Have you ever thought it would be nice to have your own garden?  Not sure where to start?  It is not as hard as you might think.  It can be as easy as herbs in pots … growing in your kitchen window.

If you are new to the idea of gardening, pots (filled with herbs) in or near the house is always a great way to start.  When the herbs are close at hand it is easy to snip them and add to your favorite dish.  Oregano, basil and thyme are very easy to start, and they can take a fair amount of the ‘Oops, I forgot to water’ moments.

If you have a little more room and want to start something in the yard, or are more adventurous, you can try lettuce (leaf type), spinach, tomatoes, peppers and beans to just name a few.  To start a garden in your yard, find a spot in full sun, and make it only as big as you think you can handle.  My suggestions: start with an 8′ x 8′ square and mix some mushroom compost in.  If you feel comfortable with this size, you can always make it larger next year.  Gardens typically like about 1″ of water a week (specific plants might require more or less, depending on plant), and do best if they are weed free.

Gardening Association

Gardening is an easy adventure!

For me, my personal favorite in the garden is the tomato plant.  I love eating them right off the vine.  Sprinkle a little salt on it and bite into it like an apple.  That brings back a lot of great memories.  Best part is, the tomato plant is really easy to grow (although it will require approx 3′ x 3′ area to grow) and will supply you with great tasting food from about July (depending on variety) through the rest of the season.

Gardening can be a relaxing hobby, minus the weeds 🙂 and you can save money by growing your own veggies.  A great website for more information is the The National Gardening Association (NGA)