Protecting Your Garden from Rabbits and Deer

A common landscaping problem mid-westerners face is how to control the local deer and rabbit population. These creatures, while beautiful to observe, can cause a lot of damage to your landscape. Try the following if you have a problem with rabbits and deer.

Fencing

If you want to keep rabbits out of your landscaping, you should have a fence high enough to prevent them from jumping over it. Three feet is typically a good height to keep rabbits out.

Rabbits may also try to dig under your new fencing. Be sure that your fence is buried six inches to keep this from happening.

Keeping out deer is another matter. A fence must be 10 to 12 feet high to properly keep deer from jumping over. This is unrealistic for many landscaping enthusiasts. However, there are a number of alternatives to fencing.

Repellent

There are a variety of sprays being made to deter rabbits and deer from nibbling at your beautiful landscape. These sprays typically have a bad odor and taste to protect your plants from becoming lunch for deer and rabbits.

Repellent sprays should be sprayed on and around your plants. Don’t be afraid to use a lot, and remember to spray the soil and objects all around your garden. Spraying your yard’s perimeter deters many animals from entering in the first place. Continue to spray every 3-4 weeks.

Many landscaping enthusiasts also use predator urine as a sort of natural repellent for deer and rabbits. Coyote urine will deter rabbits, while Mountain Lion urine is the preferred repellent for deer.

Plants

There are a number of plants that deer and rabbits detest.

Rabbits have strong noses and strongly dislike plants with strong scents. They particularly dislike earthy smells. Plants rabbits are known to dislike include, but are not limited to: lavender, sage, butterfly bush, artemesia, and columbine.

Deer dislike certain plants as well. They tend to stay away from trees such as blue spruces, common hackberry, and Douglas fir. Deer have also been found to dislike lavender, chokeberry, goldenrod, delphinium, and chocolate flower.

Conclusion

The perfect way to keep rabbits and deer out of your garden or yard is a combination of all of the above methods. It is important to protect your landscape throughout the upcoming summer. Check out Central Services’ other landscaping blogs to create your perfect summer garden!

Creating a Butterfly Garden

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

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

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

Choosing the Right Plants

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

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

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

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

Creating the Right Conditions

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

What to Do to Your Yard After Winter

A midwest winter can really take a toll on your yard. Heavy snow will kill your grass and create unsightly patches on your lawn. You can restore the appearance of your yard and make it beautiful for the spring season with the following tips.

Eliminate Dead Turf

Getting rid of any dead turf is the first step to restore your lawn to its former glory after winter. Inspect your yard for dead turf. To eliminate the dead turf, simply pull any dead grass from the soil. The dead grass doesn’t have any roots bound to the soil, so removing it should be a fairly easy task. You can remove the dead turf with your hands or use a rake to save time if you have a large yard. Eliminating the dead turf will allow water, fertilizer, and oxygen to reach the roots of your grass.

Reseed

Reseeding is the next step to restore your lawn after winter. You should wait for the frost to thaw before you begin this process. Ideal soil temperatures for reseeding are between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to till the soil on your lawn up to four inches deep. After tilling, rake the top of the soil in order to remove debris and weeds. If weeds are a big problem for you, you can apply a pre-emergent weed killer before your lawn resumes growth. Finally, scatter your seeds onto the soil. Be sure to do this evenly, using either your hands or a mechanical seeder. Rake the soil lightly, covering the seeded areas with a quarter-inch area of soil. Water the seeded areas regularly until the seeds begin germinating.

Irrigation

As mentioned, watering your newly seeded lawn is important. You should irrigate your lawn either daily or weekly depending on the amount of rain you are receiving. Deep watering helps greatly in the germination process, which is vital to restore your lawn. You want to supply enough water to your lawn so that it is moist, up to six inches deep, allowing the grass to form deep and strong roots. Irrigation stops your grass from drying and keeps it vibrant and beautiful.

Fertilize

If you want to restore the health of your lawn after winter, you must fertilize. The soil and roots of your lawn need nutrients in order to prosper and stay healthy. You can use either high-phosphorus fertilizer or organic manure to improve your soil’s fertility. You may want to consult with a professional to choose the right fertilizer for you and your lawn. The knowledgeable team at Central Services is happy to help.

Caring for your yard properly post-winter will leave it looking beautiful and refreshed. Once your yard is properly restored, consider implementing some of our Spring landscaping ideas.

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.

April Gardening Ideas

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

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

Perennial Herbs

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

Plant Roses

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

Move Indoor Plants Outside

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

Tend to Your Lawn

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

Monitor Rainfall

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

Set Up Birdhouses

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

Looking for More?

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

Renewing Your Garden Tools

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

1. Clean and Remove Rust from Tools

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

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

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

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

2. Sand Tools

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

3. Sharpen Tools

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

4. Oil Tools

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

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

Keeping Your Tools in Shape

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

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

We Can Help

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

Attract Pollinators With a Bee-Friendly Garden

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

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

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

How To Create a Bee-Friendly Garden

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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!

 

When To Grow and Remove Trees

When good weather comes back around, you may find yourself needing to remove trees. They may appear small and lacking the fullness of leaves. There are ways to grow strong and healthy trees, but sometimes they cannot be saved and will need to be removed. Here are a few tips and tricks that will make you feel like a horticulture expert in no time.

Making Trees Grow Faster

Once you plant a new tree, you’ll need to remember the following to keep it growing healthy and strong:

Don’t Hit Your Trees

Trees are living organisms, and any time the bark of a tree is injured it can be detrimental to that tree’s overall health. While it may seem a minor error, any time you accidentally knock your tree with your lawn mower, edger, or weed whacker, open wounds are created. These open wounds are vulnerable to infectious pathogens that can really harm your tree.

Give Your Trees Space

When you’re planting your tree, make sure you dig out at least three feet away from the trunk. This is important because it ensures that any neighboring plants can’t steal essential nutrients from the tree roots.

Create a Healthy Root System

Trees need healthy root systems in order to pull nutrients and water from the soil. You want to make sure you have good soil to provide these nutrients. If the dirt around your tree is hard or of poor quality, take time to loosen it up and mix in compost, mulched leaves, or even coffee grounds.

Identifying Dead Trees

You might not be sure yet whether your tree is dead or dying. The following tests can help you determine the state of your tree:

  • Bend Test: Bend a few of the small branches on the tree. If the branches snap quickly without first bending, the branches are dead.
  • Scratch Test: Scratch off a little section of the outer layer of bark on the trunk of the tree. There should be a green layer underneath if the tree is still alive. If it is brown and dry, the tree is dead.
  • Trunk Damage: When trees age, the bark should replenish itself. New layers of bark should continuously replace the old layers. If the trunk of your tree has layers with no bark, your tree might be dead or dying.
  • Fungus: If your tree has fungus growing on the trunk, this may be a sign of internal rot.

 

Removing dead trees is important because, if your tree is dying or dead, it is more likely to fall over during a storm or in strong wind conditions. If your tree is rather large, it can cause extensive damage to the area around it. The team at Central Services is happy to help you with any issues you may have with your trees and provide you with advice and assistance. Check out our article on planting new trees to replace any that you have lost.