5 Signs of Drainage Problems

Flooding in your yard can happen spring, summer, and even fall in Wisconsin. As long as there is rain flooding has an opportunity to occur. Flooding happens as a result of drainage problems. Central Services, an expert in landscaping and grounds maintenance, helps resolve any drainage problems you might have. Here are 5 signs you might notice around your home hinting that you need drainage correction.

Water Ponding

Yes, this may be an obvious sign of drainage problems in your yard, but if you notice water ponding occurring, don’t put off addressing it. Hoping that the water will find other areas in the ground to be absorbed or that it’ll evaporate could lead to other damage on your property.

Wet Garages

You may think a little wetness in your garage after it rains is no big deal, even normal. But depending on where the wetness is coming from it may be pointing to a bigger issue, like a drainage problem. Especially if you have a driveway that slopes towards the garage, a trench drain will help save you a lot of trouble and water damage.

Damp Basements

A damp basement may not be the worst thing, but if you’re like most you store belonging in the basement. Having them exposed to moisture may cause mold as well as other damage. More than that, a damp basement may be a precursor to flooding in your basement. Make sure that doesn’t happen by being proactive and save yourself a lot of hassle and costs.

Foundation Damage

Foundation damage can be caused by a number of things but water is definitely one of them. Rainwater that doesn’t flow away from your home can cause foundation damage. Foundation damage isn’t always immediately obvious either. Look for things like gaps between exterior windows and walls, musty smells, and any cracks in the walls or floors. Hopefully, these things aren’t what tips you off to foundation damage, but if they are caught early they can be repaired before they get worse and you can look for the cause.

Loss of Plant Life

Many factors can contribute to a loss in plant life. One is them being oversaturated by water pooling too much in one area. If you notice plant life dying in just one spot, a drainage issue might be the culprit.

Contact Us

If you see any of these problems, you may need drainage correction that will repair landscaping drainage elements so that they properly drain rain and other water sources away from problem areas. Central Services can repair many types of landscaping drainage systems, including French drains, sump pumps, surface drainage, and dry creek river beds. Contact us today if you think you may need help correcting a drainage problem and we’d be glad to assist you.

4 Facts About Aeration

As a homeowner, there is a lot to know about lawn care if you want a beautiful looking yard. One of those things is aeration. Knowing what it is, when to do it, and if you need it are good to know so that you can have, not only a beautiful yard, but also a healthy lawn. Central Services, the expert in lawn care and lawn maintenance, offers aeration services and can help you determine if your lawn would benefit from an aeration treatment. Here are four facts you should know about aeration.

1. What is aeration?

Aeration is a process of perforating soil with small holes which allows air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. The main reason for aerating is to decrease soil compaction and help roots grow deeply, producing a stronger and more vigorous lawn. Compacted soils have too many solid particles within a certain space which prevents proper circulation of air, water and nutrients within it. Excess lawn thatch or heavy organic debris buried under the grass surface can also starve the roots from these essential elements.

2. How to determine if lawn aeration is needed?

There are a few determining factors that would indicate if an aeration treatment would be good for your lawn. If you’ve noticed that your turfgrass isn’t looking it’s best or water is having difficulty penetrating through the soil surface, it may be time to aerate. Also, if your lawn gets a lot of foot traffic or use, such as children and pets running around the yard, that contributes to soil compaction. Finally, if your lawn dries out easily or has a spongy feel it might mean there is an excessive thatch problem. To check, take a shovel and remove a slice of lawn about four inches deep. If the thatch layer is greater than one-half inch, aeration is recommended.

3. When should you aerate?

Some may think that summer is always the perfect time to work on your lawn when the days are longest, and the benefits of the sunlight is at its most. However, the ideal time to aerate is during cool seasons in the spring or early fall. Planning for aeration and fertilization in the fall gives cool-season grasses a buffer to protect the grass from summer drought stress and ideally enough time before the first winter frost arrives. Spring is also a good time for aeration because it’s the growing season.

4. What are the specific benefits achieved by aerating?

One of the best benefits of lawn aeration is that it can improve the overall health of your grass and reduce it’s maintenance requirements. 
Regular aeration breaks up compacted soil and lawn thatch that make it hard for your lawn to breathe. This improves your lawns ability to get nutrients and oxygen, encouraging more vigorous root growth. Reducing soil compaction also helps reduce water runoff and/or puddling and enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.

Contact Us

If you think your lawn could benefit from an aeration treatment, contact us today to schedule this service or just to discussion any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!

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.