4 Reasons to Add Decorative Stone to Your Landscaping

Landscapes can be more than just trees, shrubs, and flowers. Decorative stone can be a modern and elegant addition to your current landscape for any homeowner. While adding a beautiful look to your property, decorative stone can also provide some very practical benefits, making it great option for any property. Here are four reasons to incorporate it into your landscaping.

It Helps Reduce Weeds

Weeds are a common problem in all yards, some more than others. Although there are many weed-killing products available, there may be reasons why a homeowner prefers not to use herbicides. You may be concerned about other plant life accidentally being exposed to it. Maybe you have young children you know will need to be kept an extra close eye on to make sure they don’t play or walk through it. Decorative stone is a great option for helping reduce weeds because it blocks sunlight that support weed growth.

It Helps Insulate Roots

For the plant life around decorative stones, it helps protect roots by insulating them from heat in the summer and cold in the winter. This is especially beneficial during brief cold or hot snaps in the weather that aren’t conducive to plant life. Cool soil-loving plants can die if their roots get too warm, just as plants that prefer mild-climates will suffer if their roots get too cold.

It Is Durable

In addition to the benefits decorative stone provides with landscape upkeep and healthy plant life, it also is highly durable and will last a long time. You won’t have to worry about needing to replace it in just a few years. The durability and low maintenance of decorative stone means it can tolerate any weather the elements may bring, making it a solid investment for any yard.

It Is Aesthetic

Last but not least, in addition to the practical benefits, decorative stone can give any yard an extra aesthetic appeal. Not only does decorative stone come in a wide range of colors and textures — from large red granite to multi-colored pea gravel and everything in between, different shapes and sizes offer many different options to give you just the right look to add to your yard.

Turn to The Landscaping Experts

With great practical and aesthetic benefits, decorative stone makes a great addition to any residential property. For superior decorative stone installation services, turn to the landscaping artists at Central Services Company. Be sure to visit Central Services website for more information and connect with a professional today.

3 Reasons to Hire a Professional Landscaper

If you’re a homeowner, you may see the necessity of hiring a professional landscaper. Those who do so take pride in making the outside of their home look just as good as the inside. Not only do you want the exterior of your house to look well-kept and up-to-date, but your yard as well. A beautiful yard is the perfect complement to your home. Whether you’re a new homeowner or have owned your home for 20 years, there is a lot that goes into the beginning formation of a new yard, maintaining an established yard, or making changes and updating your yard’s look. No matter which stage you’re at, a professional landscaping service like Central Services has the experience and means to meet your needs. In case you’re still not sure, here are three good reasons to hire a professional landscaping service.

1. Having a professional to collaborate with.

Regardless of what stage you’re at with your yard, unless you already know exactly what you want, it can be overwhelming making decisions with so many options available. If you’re not sure what you want but know you want to do something, having a professional landscaper to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm, and collaborate with about layouts, design, and aesthetics, is a great way to get to your ideal yard and remove some of the stress of trying to make all the decisions on your own. A professional landscaper can also talk with you about best options for cost and on-going maintenance. Central Services offers a free initial consultation to discuss your wants, needs, visions, and budget.

2. Knowing you’re getting the right plant life for your property.

Many homeowners decide to just do their landscaping on their own and that can work out just fine. The benefit, however, of having a professional landscaper is that they can help you make sure your property offers the right setting for the greenery you’re buying. With Central Services, a site evaluation will also be done on your current location and soil conditions. This will help determine what plants and hardscape will perform best for your property. You can have the peace of mind knowing your money is being well-spent and not having to worry about shelling out more cash because new plants or trees need to be purchased.

3. Getting to see what it can look like before going through all the work.

DIY projects can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. But sometimes what you picture in your mind and what actually is created can be two different things. A professional landscaping service can provide you with a visual of what the final product looks like and take away the guess work of what the finished result will be.  Central Services will provide you with a site plan/design drawing that includes all planting and hardscape details; the design will have an individualized plant and material list as well that is included with the drawing for you.

Turn to the Professionals

Between having a professional to collaborate with, peace of mind you’re getting plants that will thrive in your location, and getting to see a pretty good idea of what the final product of your financial investment will be, hiring a professional landscaping company is a great option for any homeowner. For more information on the landscaping services Central Services can provide for you, check out their website, explore the landscaping tab and more.

Protecting Your Lawn from Snow and Ice

Springtime in Wisconsin tends to give us some pretty inconsistent weather, and it’s important that we continue to prepare and protect our lawn for those unforeseen snowfalls. Snow and ice can be dangerous to you and your landscape. Knowing how to manage their effects can help your landscape stay beautiful during the snow removal season. Here are some tips for protecting your lawn before a hard snowfall hits.

Do the following before a heavy snowfall:

Inspect Your Trees

When in doubt an arborist can help you determine if your tree is healthy. An arborist can determine whether your trees or branches have insect damage or are experiencing dieback. Dieback occurs when the branch begins to die from the tip to the base. Remove dead or diseased branches before the next winter storm to stop the spread of dieback.

Prune Your Trees

Winter is usually a good time to prune deciduous trees. This is because the leaves are gone, making the inspection of branches and tree structures much easier. Check for branches that will catch heavy loads of snow. This could result in the collapse or damage of your tree. You should refrain from pruning trees when the ground is frozen, as it will cause the tree to lose a lot of water and moisture.

Hydrate Your Plants

Even in the winter, evergreen plants can lose moisture through their leaves, so they need plenty of water. When plants are well-hydrated, they are more likely to survive a hard freeze. You can water your trees manually (a five-gallon bucket should be sufficient). You can also look for an anti-transpirant to guard your plants against moisture loss and protect your winter lawn from snow and ice. Simply spray it on the top and bottom of the leaves to create a wax-like protective layer.

Protect Your Plants

Cold winter winds can take the moisture out of your leaves. Before a hard freeze, consider wrapping your plants in burlap. The woven material allows air to pass in and out and eliminates the risk of creating a heat moisture trap. Once the cold spell is over, remove the burlap to prevent your plants from overheating.

Do the following after a heavy snowfall:

Don’t Shake Branches

This can be an additional risk to your plants and branches. Wait until everything has melted before assessing the damage caused by the snowfall.

Remove Branches When Appropriate

Remove any damaged wood when the snow and ice have melted. Make a clean cut on a broken branch or limb to prevent insects from inhabiting in your trees and plants.

Practice Caution with Your Equipment

When shoveling your driveway or walkway, be sure you don’t place snow on any plants or shrubs as it will only will damage them further. Exercise caution when using a chainsaw or snow blower in wintery conditions.

Protecting your winter lawn is easy when you consider these tips. The professionals at Central Services can help with all your lawn and landscaping needs.

5 Spring Landscaping Tips

Spring in Wisconsin is just around the corner, and you’re probably looking forward to bringing your yard back to life. Taking care of your spring landscaping early in the season is the best way to guarantee a beautiful and vibrant yard for many months to come. Consider the following factors when beginning your spring landscaping endeavors.

Shrubs and Trees

Examine your shrubs and trees for broken branches caused by heavy snow and strong winter winds. You can prune and remove these branches yourself or hire a specialist to do it for you. For shrubs that bloom in mid to late summer, you should prune in late winter or early spring. If you have shrubs that flower in the springtime, you’ll want to prune the branches once the flowers fade. Keep in mind that dead trees are not only unsightly, but can also be dangerous during a storm. If you are unsure, contact a professional to examine the tree.

Lawn Care

You should rake and thatch your yard in late winter or early spring for best results. Aerating your lawn will free up areas that have become compacted. Apply a light fertilizer to your lawn when doing your early spring landscaping. Seed in the areas that need it, and make sure your lawn is getting at least 1 inch of water per week.

Mulching

Mulch flower beds and tree bases during the early spring. Mulching helps your plants retain moisture and acts as an insulator for the roots in case the temperature drops. Apply an inch or two of mulch, but never more than 3 inches in any one spot. Mulch comes in a variety of colors and textures, and you’ll be want to sure you choose one that compliments your landscape.

Plants

You’ll want to choose plants that are compatible with your soil. The soil acidity, nutrients, and soil makeup will determine how well a plant will do in your yard. Consider whether a plant needs direct sunlight or shade in order to thrive, and make your choices accordingly. When in doubt, contact a nursery professional or professional landscaper. Pick colors that compliment your home and landscape.

Maintenance

Examine your lawnmower and determine the condition it is in before using it on your lawn. You should replace spark plugs, sharpen the blades, and make sure the oil is changed. Storing your lawnmower properly during the winter will make all the difference. Something as seemingly trivial as dull lawnmower blades can actually tear your grass instead of cutting it, which can lead to fungal growth. Furthermore, you should inspect your sprinkler system for any damage before turning it on for the season.

Taking care of your spring landscaping at the beginning of the season is key to achieving a stunning yard all season long. The team at Central Services is happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have about your own Wisconsin spring landscaping.

How Creating an Ecoscape Helps The Environment

These days, more people are interested in creating an ecoscape because sustainability has become such a major factor in landscaping. Many homeowners want to find ways to create landscapes that are environmentally friendly.This method, referred to as “ecoscaping,” incorporates drought and disease resistant plants that need fewer chemical sprays. In addition to making gardening easier and less time consuming, ecoscaping creates more natural looking and sustainable landscapes.

Transitioning to an Ecoscape

There are a variety of techniques you can use to create an eco-friendly landscape. The main goals of ecoscapes are ecological balance and nature conservation, so keep this in mind. You can transition to an ecoscape gradually or all at once.

Here a few strategies for creating your new ecoscape:

  • Use natural products instead of artificial decorations.
  • Add trees that require less use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Group plants by light and water needs for easier maintenance. Protect your new plants from factors such as wind, heat, cold, and weeds.
  • Add soil barriers that keep your ground soil intact.
  • Consider hardscaping. Construct paths and driveways so you can avoid guests stepping on your landscaping.
  • Invest in either a self-contained water reservoir or a rainwater harvesting system. This will save the water that naturally comes into your garden. You can use this water to fill fountains and ponds, wash cars, or for anything else that doesn’t require treated water.

Benefits of an Ecoscape

1. Conserves Water

Ecoscapes promote economical water use and can actually save you more than 50% in water use.

2. Improves Productivity

Ecoscapes attract pollinators to your backyard. When you choose the right plants, birds and various insects, such as ground beetles and ladybugs, will pollinate your fruits and vegetables. You should choose plants that provide enough shelter for these insects to thrive.

3. Wide Variety of Plants

Your eco-friendly backyard can support a wide variety of beautiful plants. The climate and conditions in North America can support new varieties of conventional plants that do not require any chemical support in order to survive and can thrive in modern ecoscapes. Easy-care plants such as daylilies, lantana, and juniper varieties can add beauty and color to your new ecoscape.

4. Simple Maintenance

Maintaining ecoscapes is actually easier than maintaining more conventional landscapes. Ecoscapes require less mowing, weeding, and watering.

As you can see, there are many great environment-friendly benefits to creating an ecoscape in your own backyard. You can save time, money, and effort in the long run by making the decision to transition to eco-friendly landscaping, while also giving back to the environment around you. The team at Central Services works with people in the Milwaukee and Waukesha area to maintain healthy and eco-friendly landscapes. If you have any questions or concerns about the transition to an ecoscape, contact us today!

 

Prepping Your Yard for Winter

Milwaukee winters are harsh, and this year will likely be no exception. It is important to perform steps to prep your yard for the winter ahead. When you follow these tips for winterizing your yard, you’re ensuring that when spring comes around your yard will be beautiful once more and less of a headache for you.

Fertilize

It is recommended you fertilize your lawn in October or November. This is because plants respond to external triggers in the fall, such as temperature changes and day length, by slowing growth and shifting food reserves from the the leaves to the roots. This is characteristic of many kinds of plants, including grass. Plant roots remain active in the soil, however, and when you fertilize your grass in the fall you feed these roots and give them nutrients to store for the long winter ahead.

Fertilizing now results in beautiful and healthy grass come spring.

Weed and Test Soil

Be sure to remove any weeds, as they compete with your plants for nutrients and water. You should also perform a soil test on your lawn to test the pH levels. If tests show your soil has excessive acidity, you should apply lime as soon as possible. If tests show that your soil is too alkaline, be sure to apply sulfur before winter rolls around.

Don’t Forget the Garden

If you have a garden:

  • Make sure you harvest any fruits or flowers.
  • Remember to remove any old plant matter and put it in your compost bin to prevent future plant diseases.
  • Rototilling in the fall can make your spring landscaping endeavors go much smoother.
  • If you choose to rototill now, be sure to also apply lime if soil pH levels indicate that you need to. If you wait and apply lime in the spring, it will be too late.

Trees and Shrubs

The damage trees and large shrubs face in winter is often a result of their inability to draw water from the frozen earth. This damage can largely be prevented by watering properly in the fall.

You should avoid watering trees and shrubs in late summer/early fall before the leaves fall. This allows them to harden off for the winter. Then, after the trees have lost their leaves but before the ground freezes, give your trees and shrubs a deep watering. Be sure to cover the entire root area.

Prepare Your Tools

After spending all that time and effort winterizing your yard, it is important not to overlook your tools. Proper storage and maintenance of your tools will make springtime gardening a real (spring) breeze. Our tips:

  • Bring the garden hose in and make sure to turn off its water source to prevent pipes from bursting in cold temperatures.
  • Drain the gas from your lawn mower after you use it one last time. This will prevent the gas from getting gummy and creating future problems for your lawnmower. (It is recommended you do this in late fall to prevent matting under snow.)

Winterizing in the Fall Means a Better Spring!

It may seem like a lot of work, but properly winterizing your yard in late fall will allow you a smooth transition into your landscaping endeavors when spring finally arrives. And don’t forget to check out our article on how to revive your grass after winter.

Tips for Fall Mulching

Mulching is a great way to protect your plants and nourish your soil in anticipation of winter. During the winter, the ground is in a constant cycle of freezing and thawing, and mulching helps to prevent extreme temperature fluctuations in soil that stress your plants out.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Mulch This Fall

1. Mulch With the Best Materials Available to You

Straw is preferable to leaves, which compact, provide less absorption, and resist absorption. If you do decide to use leaves, it is recommended you shred them to help them decompose more quickly, or combine them with other materials (such as straw). Grass clippings and animal manure are also good choices.

Wood by-products, such as bark chunks (pine bark is an especially good choice), provide good insulation. Your local tree service may be willing to provide you with wood chips for cheap or even free.

2. Don’t Mulch Too Deeply

Remember that while you want to have maximum insulation, you also want any excess moisture to evaporate. If you mulch too deeply, it is more difficult for this vital evaporation to occur. The recommended mulch depth is 3 to 4 inches for medium- to coarse-textured materials.

3. Anchor Your Mulch

You want something that won’t blow away come the first winds of winter. Shredded leaves and straw, while good mulching materials, can blow away easily. If you live in a windy area, you may want to consider anchoring your mulch with chicken wire or other material available to you.

4. Don’t Let Mulch Pile Up Around the Trunks of Trees or Bases of Shrubs

This is often referred to as volcano mulching. Volcano mulching will keep your trees and shrubs from drying out properly and can also create the perfect conditions for rot and disease. The mulch area should extend to the drip line of the tree branches or cover a 4- to 5-foot diameter around the trunk.

5. Stay Away From Moldy Leaves

If your leaves have started to decompose, you may not want to use them. Leaf mold compacts tightly and creates a barrier between the air and the soil.

6. Organic Mulch Should Be Composted or Treated Before Use

This will kill insects, weed seeds, and disease mircroorganisms. Composted mulch also tends to have a more uniform texture.

7. Consider Mowing Fallen Leaves

This is an easy and effective way to mulch. Mowing shreds the leaves, allowing them to decompose over the winter. Your grass will thank you for this source of nitrogen in the spring.

8. Think About Your Mulch’s Presentation

While mulch’s functionality is important, you also want a mulch that is visually appealing in your landscaping. As mentioned earlier, composted mulch tends to have a uniform texture, which gives it better curb appeal.

9. Keep Your Mulch Thick

While many people try to save money by spreading a thinner layer of mulch, this doesn’t allow it to properly insulate roots and retain moisture loss. We recommended you maintain a 3-inch layer of mulch.

Remember: It Is Never Too Late to Mulch in Milwaukee

Even if it’s mid-winter, mulching will have a positive impact on your plants come spring. Mulching will ultimately make your spring better and more beautiful.

Follow some or all of these tips to properly mulch your yard in anticipation of the harsh winter ahead. And get over those winter blues by checking out some of our spring landscaping ideas.

How to Prepare a Garden for Winter

Did you know that one out of three households in the U.S. grows their own fresh produce? It’s true!

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there’s no question that growing your own fresh tomatoes, herbs and pretty flowers can have a therapeutic effect. Gardening is good for the body, mind, and planet. However, when winter rolls around in Milwaukee, many home gardeners don’t know how to protect their plants and landscaping elements for the cold.

If that sounds like you, then you’re in luck. Here you can learn how to prepare a garden for winter.

Plant covered with frost, snow falling in the background landscape

Prepping Your Garden for Winter

Leave the Plants in Place

When preparing your landscape or garden for winter—if aesthetics aren’t too important to you—you can allow your plants to die naturally. When this happens, they cover the soil, adding nutrients as they decay.

It doesn’t look great, but the nutrients added to the soil from the dead plants can then be used next spring. Not only does this help next year’s crop or flowers, it can also save you some work.

Compost and Cover

If you want things a bit neater (especially if your garden area is close to your house), you can compost the organic material. The material can then be used for covering other plants, which is why crops used in this way are called cover crops.

Legumes and grasses are commonly used for this. Recently gardeners have also started using various types of brassicas for this, however, many different plants can do the trick.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

If you decide not to put in a cover crop, it’s important to mulch. Doing so protects your roots, soil, insects and other living organisms during the winter. While this means that some “pests” are protected too, the benefits for your landscape definitely outweigh the few negatives.

Take Care of Weeds

If there are some parts of your garden that are lost to the weeds, you still have options. You can cover the offending plants with a layer of cardboard or black plastic to try and weaken and starve them out. Just make sure to leave the covering in place throughout the winter season.

Prepare a Garden for Winter for a Better Spring

Doing what you can to prepare your garden for winter often pays off with easier-to-care-for landscaping in the spring. And, by protecting plants and soil now, you help protect the investment in time and money that you’ve made in them.

If you don’t think you have the time or ability to prepare your garden for winter, consider hiring professionals to do it for you. Hiring pros not only saves you time and effort, it ensures that your garden and landscape get the proper care.

Our team of professional, experienced landscapers can help ensure your garden makes it through Milwaukee’s coldest season. And, if you’d rather enjoy the winter from the warmth of your living room, we also offer snow removal services in Milwaukee for residential and commercial properties.

Contact us today for more information or our rates.

When Is the Best Time to Plant Trees in Milwaukee?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a big oak tree in the yard to provide shade in the summer? If you’ve been thinking about planting a tree to spruce up the garden or yard, you’ve come to the right place!

But when is the best time to plant trees? Plant the wrong tree or at the wrong time and your tree may not take root. Read on to find out more about planting trees in Milwaukee.

graphic of tree showing three different seasons

Best Time to Plant Trees in Milwaukee

Generally, we recommend to people to plant trees in the spring or fall. But to understand which season is better, you must understand what type of tree you want to grow.

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous trees are characterized by the fact that they lose their leaves in the fall. What this means is that they require less water to grow in the fall. This makes fall the best time to plant them because there will be more water for the roots to develop.

You can plant a deciduous tree in the spring or summer, but keep in mind that it might not grow as fast or as strong because all the other trees in the area will be competing for water to grow their leaves.

Common types of deciduous trees in Milwaukee:

  • Sugar maple
  • Norway maple
  • Silver maple
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Dogwood
  • Hawthorn
  • Birch
  • Box elder
  • Tree of Heaven
  • Alder
  • Eastern redbud

Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees hold onto their leaves all winter but they brown due to less water. Once the ground becomes frozen, the roots cannot absorb water as well. For this reason, you want to avoid growing them when the grounds are still frozen.

The best time to grow an evergreen tree is during the beginning of fall. This will give the tree sufficient time to grow roots before the winter arrives and continue growing during the spring. If you plant one right before winter, make sure you wrap it up to keep it warm and prevent frost from growing on it.

Common types of Evergreen trees in Milwaukee:

  • Fir trees
  • Junipers
  • Spruces
  • Pines
  • Taxus, yew
  • Arborvitae

Get Planting

When figuring out when is the best time to plant trees in Milwaukee, the most important thing to remember is that trees grow best in the spring and the fall. The second thing to remember is that roots cannot grow when there is frost and that any trees you plant will grow best in cool soil. Fall is when the soil is not too hot or too cold.

In Milwaukee, the last frost usually ends in late April to Mid May, and then it begins again in late October. If you plan on growing a tree in the fall, make sure you do it at least a month before frost beings. If you plan on growing one in the spring, make sure you plant it at least a few weeks after the last frost.

Now you know when to plant, but do you know what types you want? For expert landscape design advice, give us a call or visit our website for more information. And remember: It’s not to late—fall is a great time to spruce up your property with some new trees!

How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn? Here’s the Real Answer

Mowing the lawn is one of the classic chores associated with owning your own home. But how often should you mow your lawn? Is there an ideal way to space out your sessions cutting the grass? Read on to find out.

Someone mowing or cutting the long grass with a green lawn mower

Factors That Affect Mowing Frequency

Time Isn’t That Relevant

If you’re looking for a simple answer to how often to cut grass, you’re out of luck. There’s no general rule of thumb like “once a month” or “every other week.”

How often grass needs to be cut varies depending on several different factors, including:

  • Type of grass
  • Amount of rain
  • Amount of sun
  • Use of fertilizer and mulching
  • Use of sprinklers and irrigation
  • Weeds, bugs, and other stressors
  • Other soil conditions, including pH balance

Unfortunately, these factors can change week-to-week and season-to-season. For instance, some summers can be hot and dry, while others are wet with frequent showers. Cutting habits will also be different between the summer and the cold Milwaukee winters.

Because of the many variables, you might only be able to go a few days without cutting or you could go several months between cuts. Regardless of the weather, however, remember:

  • Don’t feel tempted to cut just because it’s been a while since your last day outside with the mower. Cutting when you don’t need to can actually damage your lawn.
  • Don’t mow the lawn based on time. Only cut when the grass needs it.

Length Matters

Rather than cutting based on a set schedule, you should pay attention to the length and overall health of your grass.

In many ways, mowing the lawn is an art, not a science. Your personal preference for length will be a major factor in choosing when to cut. This is why most homeowners can tell with the naked eye when their lawn is getting a bit too tall for their liking.

Don’t Cut Too Low

If you’re cutting based on when the grass gets too tall, it might make sense to cut the grass very low so you can go further between mowing sessions. However, this is not recommended.

Cutting grass too low puts dangerous stress on your lawn. For example, cutting the grass short during a hot, sunny summer can remove necessary shade from the roots, causing them to dry out. Shortcuts can result in yellowed and dying grass.

Golf courses tend to have very short grass, but these courses are given great care and daily maintenance. Do not try to replicate this on your own lawn unless you have a specific type of grass and take special preparations.

As a rule of thumb, never cut more than 1/3 of the length of the blade of grass. This will keep the grass healthier and looking its greenest.

Know Your Grass

Several types of grass are used for Milwaukee lawns. These different grasses can look best at different lengths. This is why knowing what grass you have can help you cut your lawn correctly.

Check out this guide for the ideal height ranges for popular grass types.

So, How Often Should You Mow Your Lawn?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to how often should you mow your lawn. Due to many factors, the way grass grows is never truly consistent. Your best bet is to monitor your grass length and mow when it’s about one-third taller than you wish it to be.

For more insight into proper lawn care, check out our blog. And, if you find that you don’t have the time or patience to maintain your lawn yourself, give us a call. We offer year-round landscaping services in Milwaukee and Waukesha!