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.
Barrington Wetland Native Plantings
Lakeside before native plantings were added
Lakeside after native plantings were added.
Winnetka Front Entry Makeover
The landscape before lacked color and was separated from the street by the wrought iron fence.
The clients were looking for a more inviting, colorful entrance/curb appeal from the street.
We opened up the iron gate, added a stepper path, gravel seating area, and planted more perennials and annuals for color and texture underneath the existing shade trees.
A Reimagined Front Entry in Wilmette
The existing asphalt driveway and front entry landscaping.
A five-course brick paver border and new stone columns vastly improve the curb appeal.
The street view before the redesign.
The redesigned entry features new stone columns with lighting, white picket fence, and lush planting beds.
Landscape Transformed in Wilmette
The existing front entry had a nice lawn, walk lined with boxwood, and concrete driveway.
What a transformation. Our team added a new clay paver driveway and walk and a large planting bed to add additional curb appeal.
The existing concrete driveway was ready for a face lift.
A new brick cobble driveway is a wonderful improvement.
The homeowner wanted to improve the curb appeal and add some drama.
The house went from gray to a rich blue and the Van Zelst team added a large sweeping bed to the front edged in cobbles.
The previous back yard featured a flagstone walk and minimal plantings.
The new stonework and pergola punched up the rear entry dramatically.
Complete Front Entry Makeover in Glencoe
The old driveway was tired and featured a mix of asphalt and concrete pavers.
The new red brick paver driveway is a showstopper.
The front entry lacked curb appeal and had a simple concrete walkway.
The new front entry features a direct approach to the front door. Red brick pavers and stone steps are combined to give a polished look while the front entry garden provides even more curb appeal.
Winnetka Patio Complete with Outdoor Kitchen and Fireplace
The existing raised patio space.
The new bluestone patio features a built-in outdoor kitchen, fireplace, and an outdoor dining area.
The old front entry wasn't terrible but the homeowners wanted to improve the curb appeal. We transformed the front entry by removing the lawn, upgrading the hardscape, and filling the beds with low-maintenance perennials.
The improved landscape is a showstopper and features a new bluestone walkway. The driveway has been lined with clay pavers and the perennial beds are filled with plantings that will bloom throughout the season.
Complete landscape transformation in Wadsworth
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.
Curved Bluestone Walkway Installation in Lake Forest, IL
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
Built-In Pool and Spa and Pool in Highland Park, IL
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.
Modern Landscape in Mettawa, IL
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.
Natural Stacked Stone Wall in Bull Valley, IL
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.
Outdoor Living Room in Glenview, IL
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.
Pool and Spa in Glenview, IL
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.
Naturalistic Waterfall in Lake Geneva, WI
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.