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:

  • Determine which bee-friendly plants will work in your garden. Consider the different pollinator plants that thrive in the Midwest region (Midwest Pollinator Plants List).
  • 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, contact 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.


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.


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.


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.



Using Sod on Your Lawn

When you’re ready to create the lawn of your dreams, you’ll have many important decisions to make. One of those decisions will be whether using sod or seed is the right choice for you. Both sod and grass seed are viable options for creating a healthy lawn, but they have different costs and benefits.

Read on for more information about using sod for your lawn.

About Sod

Sod, also known as turf grass, is commonly used in residential and commercial areas because it establishes a lawn quickly and improves the look and feel of a landscape.

Sod is made of sections of grass that are tied together, either by a root system or a thin layer of biodegradable material. You may commonly see sod on golf courses, recreational fields, or on the lawns of homes, schools, and businesses. It is visually appealing, provides erosion control and prevention, and enhances air and water quality. It also improves drainage, which helps prevent flooding.

Advantages of Using Sod

  • Sod provides immediate cover of exposed soil. And, in doing so, it prevents erosion and provides stabilization. For this reason, sod is commonly used on hillsides and new construction sites.
  • You can plant sod at any time of year, provided the ground is not frozen. Seed, however, can only be planted at moderate temperatures (when it is not too hot or cold).
  • A sod installation is reliable and stable. Sod cannot dry out, blow, or wash away like grass seed can.
  • After laying the sod down and watering it for two weeks, you and your family are free to walk, run, and play on your new lawn.
  • Sod is fairly hardy and takes root quickly.
  • It requires daily watering in the summer but is a good choice for those looking for a more low maintenance option.
  • Sod is the cleaner choice, leaving less dust or mud than seed.

With so many advantages to using sod, it’s easy to see why so many property owners choose it. But, it does have a few drawbacks.

Disadvantages of Sod

  • Sod is quite a bit more expensive than seed, and it may be too costly for large areas of land.
  • Proper installation is important. Most professionals recommend that you hire a professional to install your sod.
  • There are limited options for sod. Grass seed, however, comes in many more varieties.
  • If some sections of sod do not take root, removal and replacement of these sections is necessary.

Learn More

If you would like to learn more about caring for your lawn and landscaping, check out these articles on how often to mow your lawn, the best time for lawn aeration, and the best grass for Wisconsin lawns.

Remember: Whether created with sod or seed grass, the health of your lawn makes a huge difference in your yard’s look and feel. Central Services recognizes this, and we can help you make the difficult decisions when it comes to your lawn’s health and aesthetics. Call us today to schedule a consultation for your Milwaukee- or Waukesha-area property.

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.


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.


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 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.