I recently toured ten city gardens in Chicago’s Lincolns Square where home owners have transformed their yards into gorgeous outdoor spaces. During a time when home values and home owners can be a bit challenged these days, these faithful gardeners are adding thousands to their home values and at the same time increasing the appeal of the neighborhood through hands on gardening.

As I walked through the front yards, parkways, back yards, outdoor living rooms, maintenance free yards that don’t need watering or grass cutting, I noticed that they are becoming the norm in this neighborhood. Home owners are going outside and creating inviting spaces for neighbors to gather, kids to play, and birds and butterflies to make their homes, adding trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, even vegetables gardens.

Taking pride in their homes and living up to their goal of working together to make the community greener for current and future generations is really why they are so invested in their home gardens. This garden walk happens every year in August so don’t miss it.

Feel free to search other homes in the neighborhood or read more neighborhood details.

Maggie Finegan, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


RISMEDIA, March 31, 2011”According to DIY shopping and support website Trades Supermarket, the improved spring weather means more than giving the lawn a trim for homeowners; it signifies the time to undertake necessary repair and maintenance checks, not only to make sure the house and garden look good and are safe for summer but also to save expenditure on major improvements in the long run.

The strong winds over the winter months may have impacted the safety of areas in and around the home, notes Tommy Walsh, TV favorite and member of the Trades Supermarket team. These impacted areas can include roofs, guttering and fences. Walsh suggests that homeowners ensure wooden fence posts are still intact and embedded properly in the ground, and consider treating them by applying a new coat of preservative. Checking guttering, fascias and roof tiles for damage and movement, as well as clearing out any leaves and debris that have built-up over the winter, are must-do jobs. Walsh adds that ladder work is always a two person job, and that people who are not confident should consult professionals.

According to Walsh, checking for the onset of rot in wood is another important safety check, especially on sheds and decking, which could cause serious injury to people if they collapsed. With decking, Walsh suggests looking at the condition of the posts and making sure the planking is nailed or screwed firmly in place. Shed owners should not only inspect the wood but also make sure the roofing felt has not shrunk or ripped”replacing it if necessary to prevent leaks”therefore avoiding further damage to the wood or the shed™s contents. If decking or sheds are due for a fresh coat of a preservative treatment, Walsh advises making sure the timber is washed down using a stiff brush and lightly sanding before application.

œDoing maintenance checks around the home are jobs that are often put off until ˜next weekend™ but many of these checks are for safety reasons, says Walsh. œYou don™t want to risk any accidents or end up spending more money having to replace things, like your fascias or decking, in the long run.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


Maggie Finegan at the Chicago Flower ShowAttention Chicagoland homeowners. Did you know that you can divide, replant or trade your perennials, rather than buying new, and enhance the curb appeal of your home without spending a lot of money.   If you like to garden in Chicago as much as I do, and have a limited budget, it’s a great year to divide your overgrown perennials and replant them in bare spots in your gardens.   I have noticed that my perennials have almost doubled in size since last year, due to all the rain we are having.   You can also trade the divisions with your neighbors, and increase your variety, rather than buying new.We are dividing up the hostas at our townhome on Ravenswood, and replanting the divisions at our townhouses on Paulina.

Friends in Evanston, who are re-landscaping their front yard, have given us three large boxwood bushes that we are planting along the driveway of our townhouse.   We are also putting down a lot of mulch, to help insulate the plants from extreme heat in drought that often happens in July and August.   For a local perennial gardening ideas, visit Gethsemane Gardens on North Clark Street in Edgewater/Andersonville, Chicago, or visit the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Highland Park, Illinois for acres and acres of gardens in a gorgeous setting.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


You can just feel Spring in the air.   Time to get working in the garden and make some decisions. Lately, I’ve been researching organic gardening in Chicago which can be difficult to navigate on a first try but not hard to overcome.   Even those who have experience find organic gardening hard to do.

First, let me explain organic gardening.   Basically, you are not using any chemicals for fertilizer and pesticide. If you’ve been spoiled by the convenience of gardening products, this can be a transition.   When making the switch, you have to make your own fertilizer and rely on a natural process to get rid of pests.

The first rule in organic gardening is to check your soil.   Make sure it’s healthy. All gardeners know this, but few really understand what it means. Nourishing the soil and caring for it will take care of your plants providing the nutrients your plants need.

Adding nutrients to the soil comes from fertilizers. Organic gardeners create their own fertilizer from food scraps made into compost, which can also include dried leaves, remains of plants and animal waste if you have pets. Not the most appetizing for us but sweet nectar for your plants.

As much as your plants like fertilizer so do pests. Organic gardeners do not use pesticides like ordinary gardening and farming. They rely upon natural processes, which you can manipulate ocassionally and makes organic plants more susceptible to pests. Experts advise being vigilant and at the first sight of a problem, take care of it before it becomes something that you can’t control.

On second thought, I might start with an element of organic gardening and work my way into a full-fledged organic garden next year.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team


RISMEDIA, April 13, 2011”(MCT)”All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first warm day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar. ”Helen HayesSo go ahead and dig your fingers into the soil. But put down the shovel and park the tiller. Here™s a different plan that will seem almost sacrilegious to backyard gardeners: Don™t till.

Marty Kraft, a Kansas City, Mo., environmentalist, says it™s better all around ” for the soil, your plants, the planet ” if you completely refrain from that satisfying habit of turning over the soil in the spring.

Make holes in your garden bed only for planting, he says.

œWhen you till, when you turn the soil over, you expose the organic material, which becomes more vulnerable to bacterial attack, Kraft says. œYou™re breaking down your organic material and sending it up into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Kraft is on a mission to spread the word about no-till gardening and has launched a website.

It™s going to take some persuasion.

Ben Sharda, executive director of Kansas City Community Gardens, said the organization doesn™t teach no-till gardening. He™s not opposed to the practice but sees some drawbacks.

œYou can have a great garden both ways, Sharda says. œPeople have been tilling for thousands of years, and it works.

Kraft knows that the prospect of not tilling, although less work, could also be seen as disappointing: œJust looking at that dark earth feels good, it smells good.

But, he says, œYou deplete your soil in the process. Some people say tilling makes as much sense as if we threw our cities in a blender every year and rebuilt them.

While fans of garden tilling say that turning over the soil loosens it, which is better for new plants, and breaks the weed and insect cycles, no-tillers say those reasons are overblown.

Tilling can bring buried weed seeds to the surface, making it easier for them to sprout. And mechanically loosening the soil is only temporary, they say. Bad soil will re-harden quickly.

Gardeners can make real improvements to their soil by not disturbing it and by layering it with mulch and other organic material, such as compost and manure, Kraft says. Water and microorganisms pull the good stuff down into the soil. It™s the natural way soil is improved.

In organic, no-till gardening, Kraft says, weeds are controlled by covering the garden bed with layers of newspaper and maintaining a thick layer of mulch, such as leaves and straw. Don™t use landscaping bark, he says.

Sharda worries that no-till can require a lot of attention, more than beginning or even average gardeners may want to devote to their garden bed.

No-tillers particularly like the nexus of creating locally better soil while sequestering carbon, however small the individual impact.

œThis is an opportunity for us to have an effect on global warming, Kraft says, œand in the process to learn something about soil biology. You can™t help but become a better gardener.

(c) 2011, The Kansas City Star.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Maggie Finegan, ABR, Move with Maggie Chicago Real Estate Team

Copyright © 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


The North Center Neighborhood Garden Walk will be held on Sunday, June 27, from 12-6pm in the North Center Neighborhood of Chicago which encompasses the area bounded by Ravenswood to the Chicago River and Addison to Montrose Avenue.   The North Center Neighborhood Garden Walk will benefit The Common Pantry which is a food pantry located at 3744 N. Damen Avenue.

The Garden Walk is organized by the North Center Neighborhood Garden Club began in 2007 with the goal to share their love of gardening and create community in the North Center neighborhood.   The Garden Club also meets bi-monthly to share in their love of gardening with speakers and various activities.

Take in the beautiful sights and smells in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood during its 4th annual garden walk and enjoy the architecture of its hosts along the way.

Ann Marie Walker, ABR, Move with Maggie Team


In May, The Rogers Park Garden Group, whose motto is: People + Plants = A Caring Community, A Beautiful Community,   A Working Community, awarded 17 small project grants for their Adopt a Way Program. The grants were made available for public parks, parkways, two businesses, two commercial street scapes, a school, and two houses of worship.

Projects like these can directly impact not only the local area’s spirit but it can also mean growing property values for the surrounding area’s homes and condos. An article published by the The American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association stated, community gardens can effect the surrounding area as far as 1000 feet (or about 3 blocks around the garden).   The nicer the garden the more it can impact the value, as much as 9.4 percent over a 5 year period in certin neighborhoods.

Rogers Park has a long history of supporting its public spaces and parks. One of the first projects began in 1952, as a grassroots effort, when community members banded together and stopped private developments on the lakefront. They ensured that today’s Rogers Park residents still get to enjoy the beautiful unobstructed beach, even without having to cross busy Lake Shore Drive. Today the effort to create green spaces for the community to share is still going strong in the Rogers Park area.

Rogers Park has many garden spaces for its residents to enjoy. This offers Rogers Park residents outdoor spaces to get back to nature, as well as the chance to farm and harvest their own crops. One such community garden can be found just behind Devon Hardware, on Boseworth near Shreiber Park.   This garden is in its second year. Community members began this year’s growing season on May 1st and it’s scheduled to last through to about September.

Another garden space can be found at 1401 W Devon Ave, Uncommon Ground, a progressive resturaunt that grows its own food on the rooftop garden.   Their rooftop garden is the first of its kind in the neighborhood.   They grow a large variety of organic food that they then cook fresh and serve in the downstairs restaurant.

Uncommon Ground   is not the only restaurant in Rogers Park that has taken advantage of their rooftop space. The Heartland and the No Exit Cafe have started a container garden on their rooftop, a perfect example of how community members can grow healthy food and promote a green lifestyle using creativity and innovation within unused space.

These gardens add color and tranquility to the Rogers Park neighborhood. These gardens are bringing community members together, creating a more engaged group of neighbors who take pride in their community.   To get your hands in the dirt contact the Rogers Park Garden Group for their upcomming event Pondering The Pond on June 29th at 7pm, where you will learn what it takes to keep an aquatic garden.

Adele Paslaski, Move with Maggie Team


Wondering how green space affects the value of your home?   I recently attended the 23rd Anniversary celebration of the Greening of Ravenswood, an initiative of Alderman Schulter, that benefits home owners in the Lincoln Square, Andersonville, and North Center neighborhoods in Chicago. The celebration honors individuals, businesses and organizations for their commitment to keep the communities beautiful.   Cathy Kartheiser, principal of Coonley School was honored for extensive greening of the school grounds over several years.

Greening in Ravenswood started years ago with landscaping and flower beds along blighted railroad tracks. Soon home owners in west Lincoln Square will love the view as they look out of their homes and walk the neighborhood to see the new streets, sidewalks, storefronts, flowers, and benches on Lawrence Avenue between Western and Ashland.

Greening of Ravenswood supports green education and beautification in the community, landscaping projects, community gardens and scholarships for youth, in the Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, and Northcenter Chicagoland communities since 1987. Research indicates that improvements such as green space, flowers, and trees have a significant effect on real estate values in Lincoln Square, Andersonville and Northcenter neighborhoods in Chicago.

Maggie Finegan, Move with Maggie Team


For those who know me, one of my passions is gardening.   And as you can see by the photo, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier.   The show closes this Sunday so be sure to get over to Navy Pier this weekend.

The show will always present a beautiful array of gardening options and new horticultural techniques.   Of particular interest this year is the “New” Plant Varieties Exhibit.   What’s new (or soon to be new) in the consumer market will be on display from new impatiens that thrive in full sun and the latest in drought-resistant plants, to new vegetable and fruit hybrids with improved taste and texture.

Several of the resources I found extremely valuable include the Conservation Foundation.   This organization helps property owners protect and create yards that are environmentally friendly.   This group was founded in 1972 by business and community leaders to preserve open space and natural lands, protect rivers and watersheds, and promote stewardship of our environment.

With Earth Day just around the corner, I’m going to be reviewing several other programs covered at the show.   They are great programs to help home owners utilize green practices in and around the home.


Have you considered the advantage of biodynamic farming in raising and cultivating house plants? The technique is not just effective in growing common agricultural crops. Whatever kind of plant, be it ornamental or vegetable, biodynamic farming is not only useful but also fiscally responsible. The use of earthworms in helping make the soil richer and more fertile for planting is one effective strategy. Thus, vermiculture technology is of great help.Vermiculture worms are the best fertilizers for potted house plants. Those small, crawling creatures, which have been disgusting many people since time immemorial, are actually very helpful when it comes to keeping good health and spurring the growth of plants. You’ll also have significant savings from being your own horticulturist.

The use of earthworms for cultivation and maintenance of house plants can be traced back to ancient history. In ancient Egypt, earthworms were used to boost productivity and fertility of food-producing soil, especially near the Nile River, which is noted in history as the cradle and site of early agricultural civilization. From Egypt, the use of earthworms as soil fertilizers spread quickly to Europe and eventually to the rest of the Western civilizations.

The use of earthworms for potted plants or house plants is a very clear example of how local ecology could benefit from the introduction of foreign species or organisms. Did you know that in North America, earthworms were not thriving abundantly until potted plants with earthworms and vermiculture worms were shipped from Europe? A little bit of trivia: Most native earthworms in the region died from the onset of the last Ice Age, about 70,000 years ago.

The US Department of Agriculture has also been coming out with studies about house plants and earthworms. Several findings indicate that presence of earthworm castings in potted house plants is a factor necessary for productivity and optimal growth of such plants. Research commissioned by the agency have been highlighting improved growth of house plants if alive or even dead earthworms are added to the potted soil.

Whether your house plants are raised as ornaments or part of your plant collections, earthworms added to the soil would be sustain and help growth. You can opt to buy soil already beefed up with numerous worms or you could buy vermiculture worms from specialty agriculture shops. You need not be scared or disgusted by the presence of earthworms in your potted house plants. Not to worry, the worms won’t leap from the pots. Earthworms are sensitive organisms and are not very tolerant of too much light, less humidity, lack of moisture and inexistence of soil.