Creating a Butterfly Garden

Now that Spring has come around, you may be interested in creating a butterfly garden. Butterfly gardens add beauty and brilliant color to your landscape, but they also do so much more than that.

Butterfly numbers have been dwindling in recent years. Creating a habitat for these creatures in your very own yard will help the species survive. Furthermore, it can be fun and fascinating to observe butterfly behavior and identify different types.  

Butterfly gardening is not as complicated as you may think. Simply choose a sunny location in your yard and plant caterpillar plants as well as plants that produce nectar for butterflies. Try to avoid using pesticides and herbicides, take care to moisturize your plants, provide shelter with trees and shrubs, and learn to identify caterpillars.

Choosing the Right Plants

When deciding on which plants to use in your new garden, choose ones that are good nectar sources.

Plant large sections of each type of flower. You want to have a large diversity of flowers that bloom at different times to attract the most butterflies to your yard. The butterflies will enjoy having a variety of nectar sources to choose from.

You should also include caterpillar food plants in your butterfly garden.

Butterflies lay eggs on food plants, and caterpillars will rely on the host plants for food. When you plant groups of each plant species, any caterpillar damage will be less noticeable.

Creating the Right Conditions

Be sure to provide shelter and resting spots in your butterfly garden. Trees and shrubs are great places for butterflies to roost overnight and escape predators and harsh weather conditions. Pick a sunny spot for your new garden, and include large flat rocks. Rocks provide butterflies with a place to warm themselves in the sun.

Keep your plants well moisturized. When you mulch beds with composted leaves or shredded bark, you reduce the need for constant watering. This also adds nutrients to your soil.

You should avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides kill butterflies, caterpillars, and many other beneficial insects. Herbicides wipe out dandelions, which are a great nectar source.

Fill a small, shallow container with sand and keep it moisturized. Butterflies will sip water and nutrients from here.

Finally, do your research! Once you identify the kinds of butterflies you have in your garden, you can read up on their preferences. Some butterflies prefer rotten fruit or sap to nectar. You can place a dish of rotten fruit out for these special cases.

In Conclusion

Butterfly gardens can be as rewarding as they are beautiful. Take the time this spring and summer to create a safe space for endangered species in the comfort of your own backyard!

April Gardening Ideas

As you likely know, April is an extremely busy month for gardening in Wisconsin. For many landscaping enthusiasts, April is the month to officially begin work on your garden.

There are many different projects that can be taken on in the new and inviting April weather. Consider doing some or all of the following when you begin gardening this year to create the garden of your dreams.

Perennial Herbs

April is the perfect time to plant perennial herbs such as mint, thyme, lavender, oregano, sage, and chives. These herbs need to be in a sunny spot and should receive somewhere between six and eight hours of sunlight per day. Mix compost or sand into your soil if it is heavy and course. This will improve drainage and help your herbs thrive.

Plant Roses

Container-grown and bare-root roses prosper when they are planted in April. Consult with the experts at your local nursery and choose a landscape variety that offers continuous bloom. These varieties will be easier to care for and will be beautiful and bold in color. Pick a location for your roses that offers at least six hours of sunlight a day. Consider pairing them with Black-eyed Susans or catmint to make your garden even more beautiful.

Move Indoor Plants Outside

When the frost has officially ended, move your houseplants outdoors. Pick a somewhat shady spot and make sure they are protected from any high winds. Many houseplants will experience a rapid growth burst once moved outside. Be sure to check on these plants daily and feed them with diluted liquid fertilizer.

Tend to Your Lawn

Rake any bare spots on your lawn to remove dead grass and debris. Then, seed your lawn with the grass of your choice and lightly cover the seed with soil to improve germination. Be sure to purchase a grass seed with a 70 percent or higher germination rate.

Monitor Rainfall

Purchase a rain gauge for your garden if you don’t already have one. Most plants require somewhere around one inch of moisture a week. Use your rain gauge to track rainfall and water your plants accordingly. This will both save money and conserve water. Be sure to empty your rain gauge after each rainfall for accurate measurements.

Set Up Birdhouses

Birds add more than just a beautiful visual to your garden. Nesting songbirds will devour pesky insects and stop them from ruining your garden. When selecting birdhouses, choose ones with the appropriate sized hole for the birds you want to attract. Be sure to mount them at the correct height and location.

Looking for More?

The above tips and ideas can help your new April garden bloom and thrive. Check out Central Services’ other spring landscaping tips to help you create the spring landscape you’ve been dreaming of.

Renewing Your Garden Tools

Spring is finally starting to make an appearance in Wisconsin. Early spring is a perfect time to renew your garden tools. It is important to do this in order to have your tools pristine and ready for your spring landscaping endeavors. Use the following tips to clean and sharpen your tools to get them ready for the spring and summer landscaping season.

1. Clean and Remove Rust from Tools

Your various hand tools, such as shovels, picks, loppers, and trowels should be cleaned, sharpened, and properly oiled.

Start by giving your tools a good scrubbing to remove any stubborn oil. A wire brush works wonders. You can also keep some steel wool handy to clean off any rust on your tools.

Try to use as little force as possible when removing rust from your tools. Too much grinding or scraping of the steel can make your tools thinner and weaker over time.

Pure white vinegar also does wonders for rust removal. Pour the vinegar into a small plastic tub or bucket and submerge your pruning shears. Soak the shears in the solution overnight, or for up to 24 hours. The acid of the vinegar will eat away at any and all rust. Wash off your tools with water the next day and they will be good as new.

2. Sand Tools

Smooth any worn tool handles with medium grit sandpaper. This will remove and prevent splinters, as well as any deteriorated finish. Sandpaper can also be used to remove any remaining rust from surfaces and tricky crevices. It can also be used to polish the metal. After sanding, wipe down your tools to remove wood and metal sanding dust.

3. Sharpen Tools

A metal file can be used to sharpen the edges of your garden tools. Use the file to smooth any nicks, remove burrs, and give your tools a nice clean edge for the season ahead. Take care not to grind away too much of the metal. Some cutting tools, such as axes and hedge clippers, require that you use a sharpening stone lubricated with oil. This will give your tools a finer edge.

4. Oil Tools

Use a clean rag to apply lubricating oil to your tool’s wooden handle and metal blade. Take time to thoroughly rub the oil into the surface and wipe off any excess. Oiling prevents rust and also conditions the wood to prevent it from absorbing water and cracking.

After the handle has dried, apply a second coat of oil if needed. If you prefer to refinish your tools, make sure the wood is completely dry before applying any varnish.

Keeping Your Tools in Shape

Be sure to perform preventative maintenance on your tools to keep them looking like new and functioning at their best.

  • At the end of every gardening day, rinse your tools and scrub them as needed to prevent soil from clinging and creating rust.
  • Wipe tools down and let them dry in the sun.
  • Take care to hang your tools up rather than standing them on their edges.
  • Oil your tools as needed to keep them fresh and functional.

We Can Help

Renewing garden tools is an important and often overlooked aspect of landscaping. Taking the time out to care for your tools will make your spring landscaping a real spring breeze. For anymore information on how  to better care for your garden, reach out to Central Services here.

Attract Pollinators With a Bee-Friendly Garden

Gardens are beautiful to look act and a great way to connect with nature. Gardens that are pollinator-friendly take this one step further, creating a place for bees, birds, and insects to thrive.

Bees are vital to our ecosystem and a garden that is bee-friendly benefits both the bees and the gardener. Bee-friendly gardens help prevent colony collapse disorder, which is the phenomenon that is leading to a rapid decline in honeybee populations. Research has found that areas with more gardens have larger and more diverse bee populations.

Bee-friendly gardens also attract predator insects. These predatory insects are valuable because they keep pest insects from harming your plants. This, in turn, helps increase the quantity and quality of your fruits and vegetables.

How To Create a Bee-Friendly Garden

To create your own bee-friendly garden, be sure to do the following:

 

 

  • Whatever you choose to plant, plant a lot of them. It is recommended that you have at least 3 x 3 feet of each plant species.

 

  • Avoid using pesticides. Pesticides kill bees. Use compost to help develop healthy soil. Healthy soil creates healthy plants.

 

  • Plan out what you plant. You want something blooming for as many months as possible. Native bees and honeybees need forage during the entire growing season.

 

  • Create a habitat for nesting. Seventy percent of native bees are ground nesting. Leave some soil bare for these bees. You can also put up bee nesting blocks for crevice nesting bees.

 

  • Provide a cover. Bees need a break from the sun and heat. Coleus is a great plant for bees to rest under between feedings and flying.

 

  • Place shallow dishes of water in and around your garden. If you have a fountain, place stones or rocks inside it that bees can sit on while they rehydrate. Bees need water just as much as we do.

 

  • Plant bee balm. Bee balm is a hardy perennial that looks beautiful while attracting various types of bees to your garden.

 

  • Keep color in mind. Bees love blue, purple, and yellow plants and flowers. Keep these colors in mind when planning out your garden.

 

  • Plant flowering fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, zucchini, strawberries, and apples are a great source of pollen for your garden visitors.

 

  • Be mindful of bees. If you have small children, teach them not to kill or swat at bees. If you are respectful of bees’ space, they will be respectful of yours.

 

The success of bee-friendly plants varies according to region, but some common choices that thrive in the Midwest include sunflowers, poppies, lavender, sages, and goldenrod. Having a bee-friendly garden is a great way to both give back to nature and have a prospering garden. For more information on how to create a bee-friendly garden, reach out to our team here.