Author Archive for Sharon

Backyard Makeover: RYCO Landscaping Helps a Family in Need


Back of house before the makeover

In May of 2011 the Zeeck family of Prospect Heights, Illinois lost their home and everything in it due to a devastating electrical fire. Sadly, this included their beloved dog. It took a year to rebuild while they stayed in a nearby rental home.


While thankful their family is healthy and able to enjoy time together at their new (old) home, they missed entertaining with family and friends on their patio in the cozy backyard that had to be demolished to build the new structure.


The Daily Herald Backyard Makeover to the Rescue


Fast forward to the spring of 2012 when Sharon Zeeck read the Daily Herald was having a “Get Your Summer On” contest – with first prize would be a free backyard makeover. As did other contestants, she shared their story with the Daily Herald in the hopes of being the lucky winner.


How they received the good news is especially interesting. One day Harry was reading the Daily Herald’s Home & Garden section and noticed a landscape sketch said to Sharon, “This would fit with our house perfectly.”


Then he said, “This looks like the back of our house.” And of course in the next moment the couple together realized it was indeed theirs. They were the lucky first prize winners of a complete backyard makeover valued at $20,300.


When Belgard Pavers approached RYCO VP Colin Taheny with the idea of helping to make the Zeeck’s dream a reality, he jumped at the chance. The RYCO team all agreed this was a wonderful opportunity to help a member of one of a community that has supported us over the years.


It Takes a Community


The Zeeck’s are a family of five with two grandsons, so they needed a generous space for outdoor cooking, dining, and play. So, in addition to the main terrace, a secondary patio space was designed with a fire pit, seat wall and pond.  With the additional privacy of new plantings, it will be a great spot to spend an evening sharing stories by the fire while enjoying the relaxing sounds of the nearby waterfall.


Crews working hard on one of the patio spaces

The RYCO family is honored to contribute our expertise to helping this family once again enjoy their new outdoor space where they can enjoy old memories, and make new ones. A big personal thank you to the many employees from RYCO Landscaping who donated their labor to this cause.


We are so lucky to have such great team members!


This backyard makeover would not have been possible without the generous donations and efforts of many companies, including The Daily Herald for putting it all together, Belgard for donating the pavers, Aquascape in St. Charles for the water feature, and NorthWest Lighting and Accents in Mount Prospect for all the lighting. The Solaire grill came from PMA Outdoor Equipment in St. Charles.


Finishing touches included outdoor furniture from Northwest Metalcraft of Arlington Heights and plant materials from Knupper Nursery in Palatine. GFS, Binny’s Beverage Depot, and Two Fat Guys Gourmet Barbecue Sauce also contributed goodies.


The Zeecks celebrating with Colin Taheny after the installation at a open house party.

The job is done and it is time for the Zeeck’s to start enjoying their new outdoor living space. They have already announced a celebration with neighbors and everyone who helped the family this past year, including those of us who contributed to the makeover.


When you have community support, dreams do come true, don’t they?


How to Choose a Landscape Designer

We survived the brutal heat of the summer and are now heading into the fall.

Are you wishing you would have hired a landscape designer to create a beautiful environment that turns your back yard into an instant vacation retreat?

This is an ideal time to make this happen. Why?

Autumn is a time for reflection and change. Children are back in school, businesses have started their planning for the coming year.

How about you? Are you ready for a change?

Drive around different neighborhoods and check out what others have created that you appreciate. Then envision your perfect paradise.

You may be surprised at what is possible. We are, here at RYCO. Our capabilities for constructing water features, outdoor kitchens, entertainment spaces, and even meditation gardens is beyond what we could have imagined in the beginning.

Dream big.

The rest is just details when you find the right designer.

Here’s what to look for.


 #1 – Practical Experience

A great landscape designer will have great ideas and a portfolio of successful projects with testimonials to prove it. RYCO Landscaping has more than 16 years experience and a team of collaborative designers. We are quite familiar with what works and what doesn’t – and that can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Visit the properties you admire. Friends are happy to share, and so are those who are proud of what they have accomplished. Seriously, ring doorbells and you will be amazed at how strangers will open their doors.

Speak to other homeowners.  Ask about the designer/company and how well they carried out the work. Did they adhere to the budgets?

Was the process enjoyable?  It should be. You won’t know unless you ask.

An experienced  landscape designer will have a grasp of the big picture – as well as the details. They will provide you with a written agreement that clearly lays out a process for realizing your dream.


 #2 – A Multi-Disciplinary Team

To maximize the potential of your project work with a company that  has the resources for handling any challenge.

RYCO employs a process that integrates artful design skills with practical construction methods. This is the benefit of working with a design-build company.  Nothing is lost in translation from design to construction because everyone is on the same team.

When designs are implemented by construction companies that bid on the work, the responsibilities can be compromised. We’ve seen it happen.

A designer with limited construction experience may specify a feature that is not viable or sustainable.  To ensure the integrity of your investment for years to come, consider a multi-disiplinary team.

It comes down to this. What is built rarely matches the design because unforeseen circumstances inevitably arise.  Work with a team with the experience to manage the unexpected.

A  design-build process that has been refined over time takes a beautiful design and makes it better  via the skills of the construction professionals that bring their experience to it.

That is not to be underestimated.


 #3 – A Graphic Design Preview

In these times of multi-media technological capabilities you should be able to see your design before you write the check.

How can you buy something if you don’t know what it will look like? Make sure your design professional can at least provide a colorfully rendered drawing.

Better yet is to expect a simulated 3-dimensional preview of the finished work.


#4 – A Comfortable Relationship

You want to work with a company that wants to work with you.

Do they show respect for you and your property? Do they show attention to detail?

Do you get the feeling that they really want your business?

When a client is happy, that means more than expectations were met.  It usually means they were exceeded, and that only happens when there is an intense focus on the customer.

This is possible only if there is a bond between you and your designer and the company behind them. Get to know the principals in the company. Are they involved?

RYCO is a family business. Our culture permeates every aspect of sales, marketing, and customer service.

You will not have to ask if we care.  You will know it from the first phone call.


#5 – The Process is Fun

Make sure the design company you choose is one you are comfortable working with.

Designing and building a landscape can be an emotional process that tests your patience.

Your project should be an exciting journey that leads to something more than you expected. This is not possible if the company you have chosen has not earned your trust. Trust your intuition.

This may be the most important consideration in choosing a landscape professional.

If you follow these guidelines when choosing a landscape designer, you are much more likely to end up with beautifully designed and installed landscape, and despite the challenges, it will be worth it.

When your project is complete and you are enjoying your new paradise, you will remember the journey that was integral to its accomplishment.

Make it count.

Now for the good news.  To celebrate our 16 years in business RYCO Landscaping is giving away 16 FREE designs.

If you are interested in receiving a free design click here and fill out request for estimate and one of our designers will contact you.

Don’t hesitate because – This offer is only good from Sunday, August 26, 2012 to September 10th, 2012.

We hope to hear from you soon, but whatever you decide we wish you the best for achieving your dream landscape.


Our dream is to build more beautiful landscapes – what’s yours?


How to Save Your Landscape From Drought

Drought conditions have taken over our Barrington and Chicagoland area, and watering is certainly a challenge.

Are you ready to give up? The answer is no. You need to prioritize your watering to suit the needs of your landscaping.

Turfgrass is often the focus because it is so visible, but that is the least of your worries. While it may appear dead it is only dormant – big difference.

Therefore, focus your efforts on what matters most

 Managing Turfgrass During Drought Conditions

During drought conditions you have two choices:

  1. Water your turf to keep it healthy and vibrant by watering to a depth of several inches.
  2. Let it go dormant by giving it only a a little water every couple of weeks.

Avoid fertilizing as this will stress the turf and increase the need for water. Fertilizers are salts, so when you add them you effectively make your lawn thirsty.

Be willing to accept a less-than-perfect turf and tolerate a few brown or yellow spots.

Set your mower to remove only 1/3 of the blade of grass at a time and make sure your mower blade is sharp. An if you can adjust your mower, raise the blade to its highest cutting level so that the blades of grass shade the roots to retain available moisture.

Trees are the Single Most Important Living Element in Your Landscape.

Trees are slow to grow and slow to die.  For this reason, they may appear to be healthy when in fact are in desperate need of water. Make them your highest priority.

Turf is easily replaced, but imagine replacing that mature tree that you have nurtured for years for the reward of a beautiful canopy and abundant shade.

In drought conditions you should study your trees for any signs of stress.  There is a lot going on underground and the condition of the canopy will give you clues for appropriately responding.

Here are some tips:

Check frequently for wilting, yellowing, and browning of leaf edges, defoliation, and branch-die-back. In a continued drought, leaves may be smaller than normal and drop prematurely.

Although drought stress may not kill a tree outright, it could set it up for more serious diseases or insect infestations in following years.

Water deeply and slowly. Apply water so it moistens the soil in the root zone to a depth of at least 12 inches, with the recommended watering depth being 24 to 36 inches here in Chicagoland.

Never fertilize a tree that is under drought stress. Fertilizers can stimulate growth, which results in additional foliage for the root system to maintain.

Be careful when pruning. Pruning can open up canopies and cause sun scald on branches. Remove broken, dead or crossing branches because leaving these weakened branches could set the tree up for secondary infections.

How much water your tree should receive obviously depends upon its size. A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering.

Measure trunk diameter at knee height. General formula: Tree Diameter x 5 minutes = Total Watering Time.

Additional Watering Tips

When draining your kids’ pools pour the water under a tree.

Redirect your rain gutters toward your trees.

Although we received some rain last week, the amount was not much more than a band-aid, and will be insufficient for a major turnaround in soil moisture.

The good news is there is always a significant break in the weather during back-to-school time – the 3rd week in August. So, hang in there and keep up with the rain dances!

Maybe after this hot, dry summer you have had enough with the watering and are leaning towards artificial turf . Click here for more information on the benefits of artificial turf.

If you have questions or need help please give us a call at 800-955-7926 or visit us at

We are here for you.

RYCO Landscaping Teams with Volunteers to Help Children

Founded in 1978 by Dr. Edward Baum, a pediatric oncologist at  Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, COSI – Children’s Oncology Services, Inc believes that a cancer diagnosis should not prevent a child from experiencing the simple joys of childhood. So does RYCO Landscaping, and that’s why we are privileged to serve our 5th year as a volunteer for the Children’s Oncology Services, Inc (COSI) summer camp in Lake Geneva, WI.

Dr. Baum recognized that the isolation from school, activities, and peers can have negative social and developmental consequences for cancer patients. With the help of 14 volunteers, friends, and colleagues, he created COSI. The first summer they welcomed 40 children with cancer to a life-changing week of hope, strength and support.

Today, COSI continues to be volunteer-driven, relying on more than 350 volunteers (including many former campers) to plan and operate a wide portfolio of camping and recreational and educational programs for children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer. From the popular two-week Summer Camp, which now serves nearly 300 children, to skiing excursions and education programs, COSI is a leader in providing empowering and fun experiences to young people facing cancer.

During every camp a substantial medical staff is available to help with the needs of every camper. This includes necessary treatments such as chemotherapy that would otherwise prevent their participation.  The children appreciate this because for the most part they all face similar circumstances.

COSI offers several different camps throughout the year for all different ages and needs.

    • Brain Tumor Family Camp – The name of this camp says it all.  It provides an enjoyable break for families who have a child diagnosed with a brain tumor, while also addressing some of their unique needs.
    • Dude Ranch Adventure – This camp gives our campers the chance to have an authentic experience like no other – living, working, and participating in real ranch life. Campers learn horsemanship as they brush, saddle, and then ride 2-3 times a day. COSI takes campers ages 11-16 with all levels of experience, from those who have never touched a horse to experienced riders.
    • Family Camp – This fun getaway weekend in Lake Geneva, WI for families whose child is newly diagnosed with cancer has the opportunity to participate in games and other activities, while creating friendships and a much-needed respite from the medical world.
    • Seabees Leadership Program – This one week program is for former campers 20 years old and older who have limitations due to their disease or treatment. Guided by facilitators, this program focuses on personal growth through achievement and service to the camp.
    • Sibling Camp – Everyone is touched by cancer, especially siblings, who have the opportunity in this camp to bond with other children who understand what its like to have a sibling with cancer.

For more information on COSI please visit One Step at a Time Camp.

How to Choose the Best Landscape Company


Spring is here and we are all dreaming of beautifully landscaped yards and picturesque scenery. In order to achieve this you may be in the market to hire a landscaper.


Have you ever wondered with so many landscape companies out there, how you choose the right one?


Following are some suggestions on how to make choosing a landscaper a little easier.


Choosing the best landscape company will require careful consideration of a number of factors, that at the very least should include their capabilities, professionalism and concern for you and your project.


You are looking for a company in which you have mutual respect and chemistry with, so it will turn into a longstanding relationship.


What kind of work do you want done and what is your budget? By defining this you can narrow down your search. Are you simply looking for someone to maintain your yard and possibly add a few plants, or is your project more extensive?


Some landscapers offer maintenance only.  If you are looking for more than that you should choose a company with more extensive capabilities and credentials.


Have your neighbors or friends had landscaping done at their house? Ask them about their landscaper, over 40% of landscapers are chosen based on referrals. So, this is a good place to start.


Here the three more suggestions for choosing a landscape company.

 #1 – Are They Qualified?


Do they have insurance?  If they are not properly insured and someone gets hurt on the job, you could be liable for accidents or injuries during their time on your property. Make sure you check for proof of insurance and verify that the policy is valid.


What professional affiliations do they belong to? If they are affiliated with professional associations, this means they are more likely to be current on the latest landscaping trends.


Do they have experience? Find out how long the company has been in business, the longer they have been in business the more experience they have and they also are probably more knowledgeable on what works and what does not.


Are they licensed? Being certified by the state will mean that the service is both accountable to you and the highest legal standards. And it normally implies that the employees have passed tests which prove a higher level of education, professionalism, and quality of work.


 #2 – Do They Take Pride in Their Work?


Do they show concern and respect to you and your property? Do they show attention to detail – how is their appearance and are their truck and equipment well maintained and looking good?


A company should take pride in what they do and how well they do it.  When a client is happy, that means more than client expectations were met.  It usually means they were exceeded.


Do they offer warranties on their work and how long does the coverage last? You do not want to hire a company to do a job and then a year later the plants are dying or the hardscape is falling apart and you have no warranty.


Get at least three references – and take the time to ask them the difficult questions.  For example, ask them if they would do business with the company again.  Follow that up with a question on what they would do differently when working with the company again.


 #3 – Will You Enjoy Working with Them?

Are they respectful of you and your project? Do they communicate efficiently and effectively?  communicating everything clearly and up front builds a foundation for a successful relationship.


Make sure the company provides a written contract with details of your project clearly laid out and prices for each detail. If you can, get a detailed graphical layout of the work as well. Also, get a quote on changes or possible problems or unseen factors that may arise during the job.


Learn the company’s processes and procedures. They should be able to communicate a clear, step-buy-step path from your initial inquiry to a successfully completed project.


If you follow these guidelines when choosing a landscape company you are much more likely to end up with a property that you will love. If you take shortcuts and fail to obtain the services of a professional contractor, the results likely will be less than satisfactory in the end.


You may have heard that a well-designed and installed landscape adds considerable value to your home (14 – 17 percent), while also allowing you a return on your investment of 100 to 200 percent.


Of course, this is only valid when you work with true professionals.


Do you have questions we can answer to help you make your decision?


You can contact us by completing the contact form here,  or by simply calling us at 815-459-7926.



Artificial Turf for Pets, Putting Greens, and People

Artificial turf has come a long way in recent years.  In fact, even some experts cannot tell the difference between artificial and natural turf – pets and people included.


Whether your are tired of maintaining your not so perfect lawn, want to transform your roof top, patio or terrace, or want to finally have your own personal putting green, then you may want to consider artificial turf.


Here’s why.


Ryco has teamed up with FieldTurf


Over the past several years, synthetic grass has become a viable alternative to natural grass and is one of the fastest growing home improvements. Synthetic grass, done correctly, provides homeowners with an always beautiful lawn, pays for itself in water and maintenance savings and increases home value at the same time!


Safe, Happy Pets

Due to its unmatched durability, artificial turf has proven to stand up to the most challenging of pets and is used by many local dog facilities. FieldTurf is the only synthetic grass solution for a pet damaged lawn.


The patented drainage system allows pet waste to drain deep into the soil…draining better and cleaner than real grass! No muddy grass, brown patches or bald spots and has a natural look and feel that dogs love.


Dogs could care less and will generally conduct their business as always. Nothing gets by them.


Cats seem to gravitate to bordering planting beds. Nevertheless, and regardless of a pet’s preferences, their business is and can be more easily removed and washed away than it can on grass with no harm or effect on the synthetic fibers. Such cannot be said of grass. Pet Tested. Owner Approved.


Putting Greens

The reason artificial grass golf practice systems are so great is that they ensure an experience that duplicates natural grass in every way.


It provides a flawless landing zone for a driving range and tees can be inserted, unlike mats or carpet. A “True Roll” for the most realistic golf practice area surfaces with no divots, no weeds and low maintanence fringe and maintenance primarily limited to blowing or lightly raking debris. Designed to withstand every climate.


Valuable Living Space: Transforms previously unusable or rarely used areas into valuable living space.


Ideal for Rooftops, Patio Areas Terraces Decks Built to last and customized to your game and space, a FieldTurf synthetic putting green is the only choice for your backyard country club!


Kids love FieldTurf because it is softer and safer than real grass and they have loads of fun playing on it. Some consider it their own personal sports field.


Parents love the fact that there are no more stained pants and scraped knees. In fact, Fieldturf is the turf-of-choice of hundreds of daycare centers around the nation.


The sliding soles of children’s feet have virtually no wear and tear effect on the synthetic surface.


FieldTurf and its in-fills are absolutely sterile, hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, non-carcinogen materials that are common to the everyday life of every person and animal on the planet.


The FieldTurf products and infill specifications have been time tested at installations that have been in existence for more than 15 years. The product is warranted for 8 years.


No watering, no mowing, no fading, no edging, no fertilizing, no chemicals, no pet damage, no pests, no allergies and no muddy paw prints…and a lower overall cost too.


Artificial Grass…beautiful lawn without the hassle!


Curious about how FieldTurf can work in your environment?


Give us a call at 800-955-7926.


We’ll be happy to talk or personally visit with you.