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.
Wadsworth IL Landscape Design
A vast expanse of grass made the home feel imposing and stark, particularly during the long, cold Midwest winter.
A more formal, linear layout complements the home's symmetry. Brick walkways meet at a fountain atop bluestone and tumbled concrete pavers, creating a framework for layered plantings of shrubs and perennials.
A steep slope away from the house made it difficult to use or enjoy the backyard.
A stepped design creates spaces for plantings and a new pool. A tremendous amount of soil was removed, and natural boulders were brought in to retain the tiers. Trees, shrubs, perennials and seasonal planters add rich color.
Lake Forest IL Curved Bluestone Walkway
A new side entrance took advantage of a shady, neglected patch.
Bluestone slabs offset the home's red brick exterior. After enriching the soil, existing shrubs and new shade-friendly foliage thrives
Highland Park IL Built-In Pool and Spa
The sweeping backyard was underutilized, devoted fully to a difficult-to-maintain lawn and uninspiring deck.
Natural stone hardscape brings the garden into focus, connecting a new pool, spa and planting beds to the home. A deck expansion and refresh, plus thoughtfully arranged shrubs and flowers, soften the space.
Mettawa IL Modern Landscape
A grassy lawn feels like a missed opportunity next to this stunning, dramatic modern home.
Linear plantings in varying shades of green echo the lines and simplicity of the house. Native grasses add height and texture in the summer and retain interest when the temperature drops.
Bull Valley IL Natural Stone Wall
Perched on a hill, this new home's property required extensive leveling and regrading, but offered endless possibilities.
Limestone retaining walls, built by stacking more than 160 tons of outcropping stone slabs, form a tiered garden planted with bountiful perennials.
Glenview IL Outdoor Living Room
A full renovation of the house and landscape meant the site was a blank slate for the landscape architecture team.
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.
An expanse of grass and mature trees had been largely untouched by the previous owners.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lake Forest IL Outdoor Bar
An expansive patio provides tremendous opportunities for outdoor entertaining, but dwarfs a standalone grill.
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
The existing landscape, while adequate, didn't fully complement and enhance the look of the home.
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.