Before and After

For over 30 years Van Zelst Inc. has provided professional landscaping services throughout Northern Chicago and the Chicago North Shore. Browse our work below to see how we can transform your landscape! We’ve showcased some of our past projects (Before & After). These projects demonstrate our attention to design as well as help you gather design ideas.

Glenview IL Outdoor Living Room

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A full renovation of the house and landscape meant the site was a blank slate for the landscape architecture team.

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Comfortable seating, with tables of varying heights, extend the living space into a cozy outdoor living and dining room. Surrounded by plantings and hardscape, the space provides beautiful views in every direction.


Glenview IL Pool and Spa

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An expanse of grass and mature trees had been largely untouched by the previous owners.

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The space has been transformed into a favorite retreat for family and friends who take advantage of the stone-and-concrete spa, as well as an inviting pool, whenever the weather permits.


Lake Geneva IL Waterfall

As the first planting bed seen upon approaching the home, it needed to be transformed into a more welcoming focal point. A pond and water feature accompanied by trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals were designed for this space.

As the first planting bed seen upon approaching the home, it needed to be transformed into a more welcoming focal point. A pond and water feature accompanied by trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals were designed for this space.

Closer to the home, a pond and waterfall showcase the family’s beloved bronze statue. Surrounded by shrubs and perennials, the outdoor art personalizes the landscape and makes it fully unique. The bronze figure was sculpted from a photograph of the homeowner as a child. Water pours from his bucket onto the stone and into the pond. Due to its location at the property’s low point, pond drainage presented a challenge. French drains were installed to catch water flowing from the house, drive and lawns to prevent overflow.

Closer to the home, a pond and waterfall showcase the family’s beloved bronze statue. Surrounded by shrubs and perennials, the outdoor art personalizes the landscape and makes it fully unique. The bronze figure was sculpted from a photograph of the homeowner as a child. Water pours from his bucket onto the stone and into the pond. Due to its location at the property’s low point, pond drainage presented a challenge. French drains were installed to catch water flowing from the house, drive and lawns to prevent overflow.


Lake Geneva IL Driveway

Straight, uninteresting bedlines flanked the drive. These gave way to more pleasing shapes through the addition of turf and changes in the bed shapes.

Straight, uninteresting bedlines flanked the drive. These gave way to more pleasing shapes through the addition of turf and changes in the bed shapes.

Incorporating a variety of colors, textures and heights, generous plantings and natural stone add visual interest beneath the trees. The winding entry drive is now a beautiful welcome for the homeowners and arriving guests.

Incorporating a variety of colors, textures and heights, generous plantings and natural stone add visual interest beneath the trees. The winding entry drive is now a beautiful welcome for the homeowners and arriving guests.


Lake Geneva IL Creek Bed

Before renovation, the beds near the creek were overrun by ground cover and accompanied by only hostas and naturalized ferns. These plants remained in the redesign, but were augmented by more variety.

Before renovation, the beds near the creek were overrun by ground cover and accompanied by only hostas and naturalized ferns. These plants remained in the redesign, but were augmented by more variety.

As the path meanders past established trees, the plantings give way to a variety of shade-loving perennials, annuals and ground cover. Special attention was paid to choosing interesting shapes, sizes, textures and colors in the flowers and foliage to make every area of the garden visually stimulating.

As the path meanders past established trees, the plantings give way to a variety of shade-loving perennials, annuals and ground cover. Special attention was paid to choosing interesting shapes, sizes, textures and colors in the flowers and foliage to make every area of the garden visually stimulating.


Lake Forest IL Outdoor Bar

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An expansive patio provides tremendous opportunities for outdoor entertaining, but dwarfs a standalone grill.

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An outdoor bar becomes the center of activity. Made of the same tumbled concrete used for the new patio, and featuring a bluestone top, the bar integrates a built-in grill as well as preparation and serving areas.


Lake Bluff IL Curb Appeal

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The existing landscape, while adequate, didn’t fully complement and enhance the look of the home.

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Adding judicious touches of color and a few taller elements, and filling window boxes, makes a significant difference in how the home appears from the street.


Winnetka IL Spa & Garden

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Very little had been done to improve the home’s landscape or maintain the health of the existing plants, giving the new homeowner free rein.

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A new spa, generous plantings and an integrated bluestone seatwall make the garden ideal for entertaining while creating a clear flow for guests throughout the space.


Chicago IL Front Garden

Even the simplest plantings were difficult to keep attractive and healthy in this small, shady urban space.

Shade-loving plants replace difficult-to-manage grass and add height to maximize the tiny footprint. Stone slabs, columns, planters and taller plant choices make the most of the vertical space.


Northbrook IL Stonework

Dated stonework and a few types of grass, shrubs and groundcover repeated throughout the landscape don’t enhance the drama of the home.

Bluestone and fieldstone work together to complement the stone used in the home’s exterior. Adding variety and color to the plantings brings out the colors in the facade and creates greater visual excitement.


Northbrook IL Garden

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As with many shady areas, the beds bordering this home’s driveway featured expected foliage plants.

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Colorful shade-friendly annuals and perennials, as well as mid-height shrubs, wake up the shady garden and significantly improve the home’s first impression.

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