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Client Review: A Chicago Courtyard Gets a Makeover

By Axis Fuksman-Kumpa July 12, 2021


With his three kids grown, Will Kernahan recently relocated to an apartment in downtown Chicago just steps away from the Lincoln Park Zoo. He took an interest in his new apartment building’s courtyard, which had been somewhat neglected and lacked year round interest. Will decided to spearhead renovations for his building with the understanding that the budget was limited, they wanted a quick process, a landscape designer who understood Chicago's climate and a "backyard" space everyone in the building could enjoy. That’s when a friend recommended Tilly!

Read more about how Tilly made Will's landscape renovation a breeze in this Tilly client review.

As a realtor with @properties, how do you think about landscaping when working with clients?

I believe that attractive and well-kept landscaping adds value to real estate. I work with clients to help them declutter/tidy up their landscaping before putting their house on the market. When I have a client that is looking to buy a house, I make sure to discuss landscaping ideas with them.

Describe the state of your courtyard before working with Tilly. What challenges did you have with your space that you wanted fixed through landscape design?

The courtyard had been suffering from many years of very low sunlight due to two large trees that dominated the space. There were very few flowering bushes or perennials. There were mostly old evergreen ground cover. There was no symmetry to the landscape at all.

Why did you choose Tilly?

We needed a plan created by an outside firm that would be presented to the building’s Board for approval. Tilly was recommended by one of the building's residents.

What did you think about your final Tilly plan?

Having an interactive plan allowed us to get a better impression of what the landscape would look like before making a decision. The plan enabled our landscape committee to present a thorough plan to our Board, making the decision making process much smoother.

How did you use your plans when installing your design?

The plan helped us decide where to install certain types of plants with an eye on what the plantings would look like in 3-5 years. We could then install certain plants in areas where we needed different heights of plants.

Did you phase your design?

We did the installations over two years. Our budget is somewhat limited so we couldn’t afford to install everything we wanted at one time. Plus we wanted to see how certain plantings looked in areas and make adjustments if needed.

Have you had any previous experience with landscape companies? How did your experience with Tilly compare?

We did have some other landscape companies provide plans but Tilly was more responsive to changes. And we liked being able to be more in control of what we wanted and not feel like we were being forced to do it a certain way.

Tell us about your use of the space now?

The courtyard is valuable outdoor space that is used by many residents of the building, of all age levels. The design gives us enough space for small children to enjoy throwing a ball around or play hide and seek while also looking attractive to the adults. Our residents are comfortable eating in the courtyard as well as working on their computers or reading a book. It works for everyone.

What have you learned along the way about landscape design and gardening through the process?

We have installed many flowering bushes and shrubs that have a variety of colors and different bloom times. We learned how difficult it is in our particular climate to strike a balance with colors through our relatively short summer. Working with a professional definitely helped achieve this!

You can check out more Tilly client reviews here.

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