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Congratulations TEAM!


Balanced Environments, Inc. has earned

the 2018 National Association of Landscape Professionals

Award of Excellence Gold Award


for its outstanding efforts at


“Kemper Lakes Business Center” in Lake Zurich, IL.



Kemper Lakes Business Center is a world class multi-tenant corporate campus with four interconnected buildings totaling more than 1.1 million square feet for three world headquartered corporations on site. The client expects the 150 acre grounds to be continuously maintained with a polished appearance that is consistent with the impeccable interior office spaces and common areas.  All of these expectations are achieved through a close partnership and collaboration of achieving a workplace unlike any other within distinct budget constraints.


Surrounded on three sides by a connected chain of lakes, shared with the adjacent renowned Kemper Lakes Golf Club, the property possesses changing water tables and soil types resulting in challenging irrigation requirements and demands.  Landscape maintenance crews are present on the property every weekday morning to police the grounds and deadhead seasonal color plantings preparing the property for the 4000 plus daily workforce. Experienced foreman and site supervisor are responsible for regularly inspecting the property.  The on-site property management team is an integral partner during the seasonal color display selection process. High expectations are set to achieve vibrancy and intensity of color using consistent varieties at different moisture and exposure conditions. The adjacent world class golf course provides a beautiful backdrop surrounding these grounds but periodic golf tournaments including the 2018 women’s PGA championship create unique challenges for our normal maintenance practices. 




Professional landscape management organizations provide comprehensive service offerings above and beyond mowing, trimming and weeding. Plant Health Care (PHC) is available to our clients to help prevent, detect and combat damaging insect and disease outbreaks that can have adverse effects on the landscape. This year, our staff Certified Arborist Leo Mendoza, has been scouting our client’s properties to protect them from detrimental pests. “The three primary insects we have been concerned about this season include;Viburnum leaf beetlesJapanese beetles, and Magnolia scale insect.”
Viburnum leaf beetle is a relatively new pest in the past few years but is becoming a menace to varieties of viburnum. They are initially very small and detection is usually after the damage has occurred. This pest is a concern as it has the potential to be serious defoliator of viburnums. 
The more common Japanese beetles are present usually feeding on linden and oak trees, roses, hydrangea and other host shrubs. The adult beetle feeds on the foliage of woody plants while the larvae (grubs) develop in the soil and feed mainly on turf roots. (see article below)
Magnolia scale insect has become an ongoing problem in northeastern Illinois. Indications of this scale insect include the characteristic white clusters clinging to branches and the black sooty mold present on leaves. Control measures can be effective using proper techniques and timing.





Could your Property Benefit from an Irrigation Audit?
Water is a basic necessity for all living things including our landscapes. The amount of moisture available to plants is critical to a great looking landscape. But enough is enough. Chicago precipitation has been exceedingly heavy. Rainfall totals have reached 7.63 inches through June 27th, the fifth wettest June on record. May rainfall totaled 8.21 inches, the wettest ever. Besides creating havoc for our mowing and service schedules, too much moisture can be as detrimental to our plants as not enough. Your irrigation system is designed to provide supplemental watering during times when natural rainfall is not available. It’s critical that your system is programmed, maintained and monitored properly to avoid over-watering.
With over 70% of the Earth's surface covered by water, it's easy to forget what a precious resource water is. During the rainy spring season, it's easy to think there is just too much water. Yet, conserving water is an imperative for all of us and the best way to ensure that water is being used optimally is with an Irrigation Audit of your property.
Irrigation system problems are often visible before conducting a formal irrigation audit. Below are some of the prevalent issues that can be easily identified during a walk-through with one of our technicians and how we can help you solve them.





Let the Fun Begin!
After a record breaking month of May relating to rainfall, we are finally experiencing some warm summer-like weather. Many of you have planned your summer trips or annual family traditions at your favorite summer getaway. Remember those fun-filled summer trips as a child spending quality time with your family swimming, boating and singing around the campfire? Now as adults we pass those memory making moments along to our kids, nieces, nephews and maybe even grandkids. Don’t forget to take the time to plan these unforgettable weekends before they get away from you. You won’t regret it.
The Great Outdoors
Scientific facts prove that spending time outdoors provides for us mental and physical benefits. One study suggests that spending 20 minutes in the open air gives your brain an energy boost comparable to one cup of coffee.





... Finally!
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
– Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg
Winter seemed to linger longer than normal this year. After a cooler than normalApril and late season snowfalls it looks like spring is finally here to stay. Spring is the time for plans and planting, a time to return to the outdoors and experience nature at its best.
Our landscape crews are at their highest level of activity as they endeavor to perform the many spring tasks required on your properties. Timing is everything in our landscapes and being proactive with spring tasks will result in a relaxing, enjoyable summer. 
Here is a list of tasks to consider having completed within the next four weeks:





April showers bring a few concerns...
Plants need moisture to survive and as we come out of another Chicagoland winter it’s important to understand the benefits and concerns of our typical spring showers. We are fortunate to live in a region where our soils are mostly rich dark topsoil that provides beneficial structure and nutrients for plants to thrive.
Although soil may seem rather solid, spaces exist between soil particles. These spaces hold vital air and water necessary for the plant roots system. Root survival is dependent upon absorbing oxygen from these air spaces in the soil. Spring rains fill the spaces in the soil with water, and the air is displaced. Gravity pulls on the water and it moves downward allowing the air to move back into the spaces. Too much water/rain saturates the soil which deprives the roots from the oxygen they need. Over time this will stop roots from functioning properly, make them susceptible to root rot infections and eventually lead to their death.
Our best defense against this situation is to make sure our landscape plants are growing in well-drained situations. This includes 





Balanced Environments Inc. earns INDUSTRY PARTNER of the YEAR Premier Award from IREM Chicago


Drake Hotel Site of 14th Annual Evening to Recognize Excellence in Chicago Commercial Real Estate

CHICAGO, March 2, 2018– Four Chicago area commercial real estate professionals and two leading companies were honored for excellence and outstanding contributions to the property management industry March 2 at the 14th Annual IREM Chicago Premier Awards and Casino Night.

These four professionals earned individual Premier Awards in their respective categories:

  • Steve Matre, CPM®, Banner Real Estate Group -- CPM® of the Year
  • David Newton, ARM®, CPM®, Draper and Kramer, AMO® -- ARM® of the Year
  • Celina Bright, Hillcrest Property Management, AMO® -- Leadership Award
  • Thomas Purrazzo, Hillcrest Property Management, AMO® -- Rising Star

Two companies that provide products and services to the metropolitan Chicago property management industry earned awards in their respective categories.

The gala event, held at Chicago’s historic Drake Hotel, drew more than 230 Chapter 23 members, Industry Partners and guests for an evening of food and beverage, casino games, camaraderie, and of course, recognition for the winners in six Premier Awards categories. IREM 2018 national President Donald Wilkerson, CPM® and 2016 IREM Chicago President Brian Lozell, CPM®, served as co-hosts.

A total of 19 nominations were submitted for consideration during the 2018 competition.

The Premier Awards were created to recognize people, organizations and companies for excellence in areas that include….



Your Trees Need Attention Too
The countdown to Spring is on and the growing season will soon be upon us. At Balanced Environments Inc., we would again like to thank you for choosing us for your maintenance needs, and look forward to providing you with a great experience.
One of our company objectives for 2018 is to enhance our Tree Division by offering a larger variety of services and increase our quality and response time. 
We are very pleased to announce that our new Tree Division Manager Leo Mendoza, was hired to carry out this objective. Leo has over 15 years of experience as a grounds man, plant health care technician, arborist climber, production manager, and sales. His certifications include ISA Arborist, ISA Certified Tree Specialist, ISA Utility Specialist, TCIA Tree Care Safety Professional, and Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED Trainer. 
He has a great deal of experience, but what excites us most is his enthusiasm to improve the foundation of services we already offer, and to add more that would allow us to better serve our clients.  
Tree Division Manager
  • ISA Certified Arborist IL-4893A
  • ISA Certified Tree Worker/Climber Specialist IL-4893AT
  • ISA Certified Utility Specialist IL-4893AUT
  • TCIA Certified Treecare Safety Professional #561
Immediately we took a look at our current Arboricultural Services, and we chose to add to our repertoire... the Tree Division has added the new services of Tree Inventories, Air-Spade/Root Crown Excavations, and Support Cables and Rods.
The Plant Health Care Division has already doubled the services we offered in 2017; beginning with....


Bruce Church  - Person of the Year

By Patrice Peltier, ILCA Contributing Author


Bruce Church, ILCA’s Person of the Year, thinks—and acts--outside the box.

Early in his career, he transformed Church Landscape, the company his father built, into a national player. In the process, he gave the green industry a new business model for strategic alliances. Recently, he and his family created a $100,000 scholarship fund to foster new green industry leaders who may also think outside the box.

Today, Church is president of Hard Surface Solutions Inc. and Balanced Environments Inc., companies with combined annual revenue of more than $25 million generated by more than 200 employees working out of five branch offices in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. It’s a business he learned—literally—from the ground up.

Bruce’s father Denny, an active participant in ILCA from its early days and president from 1971-75, started Church Landscape in 1963. Bruce recalls Denny’s vision was “to do a common thing uncommonly well.” He succeeded in the business and in instilling that vision in his son.

Juan Gomez, who joined Church Landscape in 1980, was a foreman when Bruce worked with the crews each summer. He remembers Denny telling him to treat Bruce like any other employee, and so he did. Today the roles are reversed. Gomez works for Bruce managing the fleet, facilities and security for both companies.

“He turned out real good,” Gomez says with affection. He fondly remembers Bruce and Denny sharing an office as father mentored son. He also remembers Bruce attending Gomez’s daughter’s Sweet 16 party, and appreciates the way Bruce socializes with employees. “He’s a great guy besides being a great boss,” Gomez says. “He is not just my boss, he is my brother.”

While working with the crews in summer, Bruce studied business and economics at University of Illinois, later also receiving an MBA from Northern Illinois University. After graduation, he joined Church Landscape as a maintenance account rep. He also made sure the company was on the cutting edge of using a new-fangled business device—computers.

“Bruce had done the hands-on work, mastered business and economics, and then, at 22 years of age, stepped into sales, and he was good at it,” recalls John Joestgen, Chief Operating Officer of Balanced Environments, Inc. “Bruce just kept building and expanding on his experiences,  and he was a natural at all of it,” Joestgen says.

Bruce soon got involved in the industry on a national level, making contacts with contractors across the country. A believer in professionalism, Bruce took the National Association of Landscape Professionals  certification test the first year it was offered, becoming a Charter Certified Landscape Professional (CCLP).

By 1998, Bruce had owned Church Landscape for ten years. Realizing that he could better serve his commercial clients by operating nationally, Bruce joined with six other contractors across the country to create a national footprint from South Carolina to California and from Texas to Minnesota.

“We merged and went public on the same day, creating new publicly traded company called LandCare USA (GRW on the NYSE),” Bruce recalls. “I knew that regional and national contracts were on the rise, and this was a way to capture that ever-growing market while sharing best practices and buying power.”

 “He saw the need to be able to operate nationally because of the needs of our commercial client base,” says Tom Kelly, now Vice President and part owner of Balanced Environments, Inc.  At the time, Kelly was a maintenance rep for LandCare USA.

“For me, as a rep, it was phenomenal,” he says. “The wider we could stretch our arms, the better we could meet the needs of our clients, and the better we could get in the door.”

Creating an alliance of smaller, regional companies set off an acquisitions race with ServiceMaster, who recognized the benefits of this structure.

“It created an acquisitions war, which had never happened before in our industry,” Joestgen recalls. In the process, Joestgen says Bruce became one of the industry’s leading experts in mergers and acquisitions, one of his responsibilities as a director of a public company.

“He developed a unique skill set,” Joestgen says. “He was one of four or five elite people in the landscape industry who really understood the process and knew how to be smart about it.”

“It was a fascinating and exciting time,” says Church. “We were in a feeding frenzy, competing against ServiceMaster for companies to buy. We went from a $135 million annualized run rate to a $335 million annualized run rate in nine months. We had some truly brilliant people on the management team, and it was as fun and enlightening as you could ever imagine.”

Within a year or so, ServiceMaster bought LandCare USA, making it part of TruGreen LandCare.

Constrained by an agreement not to enter into landscape contracting for five years, Bruce established Hard Surface Solutions to meet the asphalt and concrete repair needs of his existing customers.

“It was a strategic stroke of genius,” says Joestgen. “He kept up his relationships with every owner and property manager he had worked with. After five years, when he started Balanced Environments, he didn’t have to start from scratch. He had all those relationships intact.”

“We’re still working with many of the same clients as Church Landscape. We’ve grown with them,” Kelly notes.

One of the themes that runs through all Bruce’s companies—from Church Landscape to Balanced Environments—is a dedication to meeting the needs of customers uncommonly well.

“When it comes to our clients, there’s never a ‘no’, says John Ploss, Senior Landscape Project Manager at Balanced Environments. “Bruce’s approach is always ‘How can we help you do better? How can we fit into your scenario and give you something of value?’”

When people talk about Bruce, they often use the words “tenacious” and “driven”.  Ploss is no exception. “He’s a real go-getter. He has the tenacity and the urge to push and push and push to get the best work done,” says Ploss, who joined Church Landscape in 1991. “It’s great to work around someone who has that kind of drive.”

Bruce’s drive includes working with ILCA to make the whole green industry better. “As one of the early ILCA members, Denny laid the groundwork for the company’s involvement going forward,“ Ploss explains. The association’s emphasis on enhancing education and professionalism is “in Bruce’s wheelhouse,” Ploss adds.


Kelly agrees. “ILCA helps all of us. Everything ILCA does, we all reap the benefits,” he says. “Sharing best practices has always been a part of Church Landscape. When it comes to mentoring and sharing information, Bruce is always there with a helping hand.”

To help attract and support new green industry leaders, Bruce and other members of the Church family recently contributed $100,000 to the Illinois Landscape Contractors Educational and Charitable Organization (ILCECO) to establish the Denny R. Church Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded annually for 20 years and in rotation with other ILCA scholarships thereafter, according to ILCA Executive Director Scott Grams.

“ILCA is honored and privileged to be chosen by the Church family for this wonderful legacy,” says Rusty Maulding, ILCA president when the gift was made. “Denny had a great impact on our industry, and thanks to this substantial and generous contribution, his mark will endure through future generations of green industry professionals.”

“Denny always believed in education and made sure me and my siblings all went to college,” Bruce recalls. “He also understood that higher education would lead to more professionalism and hopefully higher wages for an industry that needed a higher wage scale to attract good, young talent to the fields of Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, Agronomy, etc. That is why my sisters and I decided a fitting tribute to such an admired and respected man would be to create a scholarship through the ILCA. The fact that this scholarship potentially brings even one more person into our field means the world to me.”

Bruce has also been involved in other associations. For instance, for more than 20 years, he has been active in the Suburban Chicago chapter of Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). In December, 2017, the organization recognized Bruce with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Joestgen isn’t surprised. “Ninety-nine percent of landscape contractors would never be exposed to the breadth of experiences Bruce has,” he says. “His success was not by accident. His goals were achieved through his intentional, well-thought-out approach coupled with his drive and determination to master each level and then build on that acquired talent to take on the next opportunity.”

It isn’t just Church Landscape that’s been transformed by Bruce, according to Joestgen. “The landscape industry has changed an incredible amount over the last 35 years, and Bruce has had the vision to see what’s coming and adapt his business model to stay out front and succeed with those changes,” Joestgen says. “For much of that time, I’ve gotten to watch Bruce create it and direct it to great success.”

Being named ILCA Person of the Year is a great honor, Ploss says. In fact, it’s an honor Bruce shares with his father, who was named ILCA Man of the Year in 1976.  “It’s a recognition of the legacy of Bruce and his family and an affirmation of the work he’s done.”

“Being named ‘Person of the Year’ by the ILCA is an honor beyond what words can describe,” Bruce says. “I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by peers that support my vision for my companies. As the leader for our industry in Illinois, the ILCA has brought the professionalism and education that Denny had envisioned and is carried out today by dedicated staff and volunteers alike. I am very humbled by the honor, and I share this recognition with every member of the association as well as my co-workers and family. It is an honor I will truly treasure the rest of my life.”

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