Landscaping Your Front Yard

The presentation of your front yard is everything. It’s the first thing visitors, neighbors, and passerby see, and it makes an impression. Here are a few simple but impactful landscaping ideas that can transform your front yard design and make it beautiful.

Driveway Details

Your driveway probably takes up a great portion of your front yard. Many homeowners forget that you can decorate and customize the driveway area! Obviously, your driveway should be both durable and functional, but it should also be visually appealing.

To add to your driveway’s “curb appeal,” you can:

  • Illuminate it. Use LED lights to give your driveway a beautiful, nighttime appeal.
  • Use a variety of materials. Using different materials, such as decorative flagstone, can accent your concrete.
  • Add a gate. Whether large or small, a nice gate can add sophistication to your driveway.
  • Remove barriers. This will make your yard look and feel bigger.
  • Add edging. Pavers can complement your driveway and contain planting areas.
  • Add fountains. This option adds great beauty and sophistication, and it pulls your yard together.

Expand Your Porch

A large porch is extremely visually appealing and functional. You may have a small porch now, but expanding it will add new value to your home and yard. Central Services can help with any questions you may have about expanding your porch or upgrading the design of your front yard.

Lighting

Shine a light on what you’d most like to highlight in your beautiful front yard. Strategically placed lights can really make all the difference. Remember to pick lights that match your home’s style. For example, modern light fixtures are not the best choice for a traditional style home. The color of the light fixtures you choose will also make a difference.

Add Trees

Accent trees are a great addition to any front yard. Accent trees can also change the look and feel of your front yard drastically, which makes them great for landscaping makeovers.

When choosing trees, remember:

  • If you are partial to evergreens, you may want to consider a blue spruce or a Douglas fir.
  • If you want your yard to be a mix of beautiful colors in the fall, add a sugar maple or Japanese red maple.

The Little Things

If you’re looking to update your front yard’s presentation without breaking the bank, there are plenty of small accents you can sprinkle in. Consider adding fencing around any flower beds. You may also want to add rocks to flower beds or line your front walkway. Even the little things can make a big difference! A small tweak to your front yard can add appeal for years to come.

While many focus on the backyard, the front yard is the first impression your house gives, so give it the attention it deserves. Central Services recognizes the importance of making your yard unique and beautiful, and can help with any questions or concerns you have.

For more ideas on increasing your front yard’s appeal, check out this article on adding a vintage touch to your garden.

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.

Snow Removal Rates in Milwaukee

Did you know that each winter in the US, around 100 people die while shoveling snow? In fact, doctors advise that people over 55, who are overweight, have coronary diseases, are smokers, or aren’t in the habit of exercising avoid shoveling snow.

Why? Probably because the strenuous exertion of lifting snow causes the blood pressure and heart rate to jump, and the cold, winter air causes a person’s arteries to constrict. In other words, you get the ideal conditions for a heart attack. And, even if you are physically able to shovel, the amount of snow and the time it takes to clear it may make it impractical for you to do it yourself.

snowplow clearing snow after a storm

If it’s unsafe or unwise for you shovel your snow, it’s time you learn more about snow removal rates in Milwaukee.

What Affects Local Snow Removal Costs?

Snow Removal vs. Snow Plowing

Though these two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. If you hire someone for snow services, they’ll typically offer two slightly different services:

  • Snow plowing, which refers to clearing your driveway and stacking the snow on your lawn.
  • Snow removal, which refers to clearing your driveway and also taking the snow away with them in a truck to some pre-approved drop site.

Obviously, having snow removed from your property is more expensive. Yet, if you don’t want a 5-foot mound of snow blocking your windows, you may prefer snow removal.

When you request services, make sure you understand which service they are offering.

Equipment Used

The price you pay has a lot to do with the type of equipment your snow removal company will be using.

The less time they need to spend clearing your property, the less cost to you. For instance, using snowblowers makes removing snow a lot quicker than using shovels. Yet, some surfaces or tight areas make using a snowblower impossible.

Discuss your surface and space with the companies you contact to ensure you get an accurate quote.

Driveway Size and Design

As we mentioned, the size and surface of your driveway will play a role in the price you pay for snow removal or clearing. For instance:

  • Long, steep or curved driveways will cost more.
  • Dirt and gravel driveways typically cost more as well.
  • Paved, straight driveways are the least expensive to clear.

Response Time

How quickly do you want the snow cleared? If you need to be in your car and on your way to work by 6 in the morning, you will likely be paying a premium to get you to the top of the list for clearing your driveway.

If you’re more concerned with getting the best snow removal rates you can, be prepared to wait for awhile after any big snowfall before you get plowed out.

Per-Service or Flat Rate

Many residential snow removal companies will charge you a flat rate for each time they come to clear your property. Other times, companies will give you a monthly rate. This means that whether it snows 40 times or once, you pay the same price.

Here are a few other important things you should know:

  • Most companies have a set amount of snowfall that they will let sit before they come. Usually, you’ll need around 2 inches of snow accumulation before they will come to clear it away.
  • During blizzards or snow storms that last for days, snow removal services will typically return periodically to clear your property, providing continuous service throughout the extended period of snowfall.
  • The average yearly snowfall in Milwaukee is 50 inches. Keep that in mind when you choose per-service or flat rates.

The Extras

When you shop around for snow removal prices, make sure to ask about the extras, such as your porch, paths, steps and so on. Some companies include these extras in their snow removal rates and some don’t.

Confirm with the business what is included and what is not.

Get the Best Snow Removal Rates in Your Area

Before you hire anyone, your best bet to find the best services and the best prices in Milwaukee is to do your research. Our suggestions:

  • Read each company’s reviews online and ask your friends for referrals.
  • Make sure you know the size of your driveway, so you can get accurate snow removal rates without later getting additional costs added.
  • Look for a company that is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has a good rating.
  • Don’t forget about quality of service! There’s little point in getting a great rate but poor service.

For great service at fair rates, contact us for a quote today. Our professional team provides around-the-clock snow removal services in Milwaukee and Waukesha.

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.

How to Choose the Best Stones for Gardening

There are very real benefits to having stones in your garden. For instance, instead of being just decorative, stones prevent weeds from growing and can serve structural purposes.

There is, however, a lot to consider when you’re looking at stones for gardening. Your yard has unique needs and you have your own preferences, so you’re going to need a little help finding the right stones for your landscape.

stone path in garden surrounded by smaller stones

Finding the Right Stones for Gardening

You have to consider a number of factors when you’re putting new stones into your garden. While it may seem like you can just pick a stone, put it in, and forget about it, there are actually consequences to picking the wrong material.

What Is the Landscape?

Are your stones going to be laying flat or will they be on an incline? Are the stones going to be directly next to your plants? Do you experience a lot of heavy rain?

If you live in an area where heavy rain is a normal thing, you’ll want to choose your gardening stones carefully. Smaller stones are easily shifted and moved in terrains where heavy rain is normal. This can cause serious problems to the structure of your garden and soil.

This problem is accelerated when the rocks are situated on an incline. This is something to consider seriously when you’re buying stones.

If your rocks are used as mulch and are directly next to your plants, they are going to absorb a lot of the sun’s heat. While this isn’t a problem when the rocks are isolated, rocks can radiate and reflect heat onto your plants and dry them out. This can seriously damage the quality of your garden.

Other Considerations

You will need to consider the general feeling that you are going for in your garden. Once you’ve found a material that suits your needs, you’ll also need to choose the size and color of the stones you want.

Size

Smaller rocks are more suited toward smaller gardens, patches of shrub, and areas that are situated away from your home. Medium-sized stones are more common and serve as a great option for those looking to fill their gardens.

Larger stones are nothing to rule out, though. A large-stoned garden is typically found in areas that have larger plants and decorations.

Color

It’s no secret that the color of something can change its mood. This is no different when it comes to garden stones. When it comes to color:

  • It seems that grey, blue, and red are the most common options for people choosing stones.
  • Blue gives a calming feeling, grey is known to be pretty neutral, and red gives more of a lively atmosphere.

Before you decide, remember to explore different colors and choose colors that will make your garden have a unique feel of its own.

Looking into Gardening?

If you’re just starting out on your path to having an excellent garden, there’s still a lot to learn. It’s not just about picking the right stones for gardening. There’s also the landscape design to consider, the winter maintenance, and more.

For more information on gardening, be sure to continue exploring our blog. And, of course, if you’d like professional landscaping help in the Milwaukee or Waukesha areas, contact us for an appointment or estimate.

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!

What Is Landscaping? 4 Facts for Milwaukee Residents

Milwaukee sits smack dab in the middle of Zone 5B on the USDA Hardiness Map. This means that for landscaped plants to survive here from year to year, they must be able to survive temperatures all the way down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

But, what is landscaping? And how can you find the right plants for your location and landscape?

First, it’s important to understand that landscaping is both the physical landscaping in your yard (like the grass, the trees, the plants, and constructed elements) and the activities one does to keep up their property (like building a retaining wall or clearing debris).

Then, it’s important to understand that, due to regional differences, landscaping is different in different areas. What works well in one place may not work well in another. Once you understand that, then it’s just a matter of learning what landscaping works best for your area. No problem.

So, if you’re curious about what landscaping is like here, read on to learn more about what works for landscaping here!

Naturally sculptured flat top rocks placed in a beautifully landscaped backyard among a variety of perennial evergreens and shrubs.

What Is Landscaping in Milwaukee?

Having good landscaping in Milwaukee is all about having landscaping elements that can sustain the climate changes of this region.

For instance, you already know the winters are harsh. But, did you also know that the changes in temperature can cause shifts in the ground, especially where you may have pavers and other hardscapes installed?

If you want the garden and outdoor spaces of your dreams, knowing a little about how  four common elements can affect your landscaping is key. These are plants, trees, hardscapes, and maintenance.

Perennials vs Annuals

One of the key concepts in landscaping is to know the difference between perennials and annuals. These are the types of flowers you can buy for your landscape. When picking your plants, remember:

  • Perennials will last many seasons (if not longer), while annuals will only bloom for a few months before they die off.
  • Some perennials to consider planting include echinacea, daylily, lavender, peony, and various types of ferns.

Trees

Trees are an important part of any landscape because they provide shade and keep the air clean. There are a few different types of trees that fit well in the USDA zone 5B, including:

  • October Glory
  • Autumn Blaze Maple
  • Cleveland Select Pear

Hardscapes

Hardscapes are anything in your yard that are built with brick or concrete. This includes elements like retaining walls, patios, steps, and decorative stones.

Maintenance

Regular maintenance of your landscape is suggested to keep it clean and free from overgrowth. Your hardscapes should also be inspected from time to time, just to make sure they’re holding up to the elements and don’t need repairs.

What Is Landscaping in Milwaukee? A Year-round Task!

What your landscaping is really depends on where one lives, how one has designed their land, and what they want to achieve. For those in the Milwaukee area who work with professional landscapers, that typically means integrating great plants with great landscape design.

So, what is your landscaping like? Is it doing everything you want it to do?

If not,  contact us. We can guide you through the process by integrating the right plants with the right landscaping elements for your space and region. And we can maintain your landscape throughout the year so you don’t have to!

What Are Hardiness Zones and What Are the Best Plants for Milwaukee?

Gardening in the U.S. has risen in popularity in recent years, with over one-third of American households now growing food at home or in a community garden.

If you’re one of these green thumbs, it’s more important than ever to know in which hardiness zone you live so. That way you can raise plants that thrive in your climate. For Milwaukee residents, that means zone 5, which means you can grow plants that can survive winter temperatures of -20 degrees Fahrenheit and higher.

This quick guide explains the definitions of zones and plant hardiness, and give suggestions for zone 5 plants that do well in the Milwaukee area.

Colorful tulips and daffodils

Hardiness of Plants

When a plant is considered hardy, it means it can withstand living in colder temperatures.

This is important for gardeners to know when deciding upon the best flowers, plants, and grass to choose for their landscape design. And to do that, you need to know in which hardiness zone you live.

How to Use the Hardiness Zone Map

To know which plants are suitable for your geographical area, you will need to look up your hardiness zone. A hardiness zone is a section of the U.S. that is defined by its average annual winter temperature.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map allows you to find which zone you live in. Each zone is also technically divided into two sections (a and b). While Milwaukee is located in zone 5, most of the city lies in zone 5b.

The USDA’s map divides the nation into thirteen main zones and has been updated through the years as new weather data indicated climate change. The most recent version of the map takes into consideration changes in elevation and closeness to bodies of water when determining where each zone begins and ends.

Prior to the map, farmers had to rely on their own common knowledge and publications (such as the Farmer’s Almanac) to know what crops were most suitable for their climates.

By the 1970s, however, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map emerged as the favorite and most accurate map. That’s why it is used to this day as the planting standard for gardeners and landscapers.

Zone 5 Plants

As a Milwaukee-area resident, you probably know that our weather is defined by its cold, snowy winters and warm, humid summers. What you may not know, however, is that our zone experiences a growing season that usually begins around May 15 (the last average frost date) and ends by mid-October.

Zone 5 is not the coldest zone in the U.S., but it does mean you need to choose plants carefully. Fortunately, there is no shortage of colorful perennials and bulbs that thrive in zone 5 that are perfect for Milwaukee-area gardens and lawns.

Here is just a partial list of flowers that do well in zone 5:

  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Lilies
  • Delphinium
  • Garden phlox
  • Lavender
  • Hollyhocks
  • Hyacinths
  • Poppies
  • Bee balm
  • Purple coneflower
  • Violets

In addition, these plants for great for ornamental touches:

  • Ferns
  • Hosta
  • Zebra grass
  • Ligularia
  • Jacob’s ladder
  • Coral bells

Several varieties of grass also do well in zone 5. These include bluegrass, fescue, buffalo grass (which is native to this area), and ryegrass.

Get Planting

There’s still time this season to polish your home’s landscaping. The plants listed above are suitable for zone 5, which is a great place to start.

And, if you’d like help with your garden design or ongoing maintenance, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We offer professional landscaping design and grounds maintenance solutions throughout Milwaukee and Waukesha.