Milwaukee Landscaping

Welcome to Milwaukee, Wisconsin's home for landscaping and grading information!

The articles section should provide you with a wealth of information about different landscaping jobs. If you can't find the right article for you let us know and we will be glad to find if for you.


36 Features in Hardscaping

Here you will find another great page of articles from HGTV. This page is full of hardscaping and landscaping ideas, designs, and pictures.

100 Features in Patios
The experts at HGTV have over 100 articles ranging from laying pavers to creating shade for a patio that gets too much sun. It can be a great source for any patio project.

Retaining Wall Design and Construction
Pro Garden Biz created an article discussing retaining walls, what they do, and the correct way to go about making them.

How Hardscaping Works
As opposed to the plant life in a yard, which is called softscaping, hardscaping has to do with all the nonplant design elements of a yard.


Build your own rain garden!

Rain gardens are a way for homeowners as well as businesses to participate in the reduction of polluted runoff, simply by planting a specialized garden. It is a popular way to reduce nonpoint source pollution and protect our lakes and streams.

How to Grow Grass in Wisconsin Soil
If you live in a colder climate, like Wisconsin, the growing season for grass lawns is shorter than in many other climates. Having a green lawn is not without some difficulties and will need your attention.

Supranova Poa Supina Shade Grass
This is the best primo shade lawn grass on market today. Supranova Poa Supina shade grass has been developed over the last 20 years and the breeding keeps improving.

Drainage System Design: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Inadequate drainage, as any homeowner will tell you, can cause soggy lawns, muddy gardens, and flooded yards. These problems can often be corrected with a good drainage system design. You can avoid 3 common mistakes by designing and installing the right drainage system. If you live near Milwaukee and are having drainage issues contact a professional as soon as possible.

Here's a structure that won't provide shelter from wind or rain, and is only marginally better when it comes to the midday sun. So, why build it? Because in the absence of walls and a roof, it defines an outdoor space without constraining it. It's a unique architectural blend that places you both inside and out at the same time. The structure is called a pergola, and it's just the thing to bring backyard landscaping to life. Pergolas were common features of Italian Renaissance gardens, often covering walkways or serving as grape arbors. Today, the same design can be used to define a passageway or frame a focal point in your yard. Add a climbing plant such as wisteria or, yes, grapevines, and your pergola will provide color and shade as well. Building a pergola near Milwaukee might be the right choice for you.


Proper grading

Proper grading of the property is very important to landscaping projects. If you want to a avoid wet basement and puddles in the lawn, all hard surfaces like patios, driveways and walkways should slope at least one per cent away from the building. Lawn areas and garden beds should slope two per cent away, and remember not to block or change any existing municipal drainage plans.

Slope of land

The land should have a general slope away from the house. Land not properly sloped should be graded so water drains away from the house and doesn’t stand around the foundation. If the slope of the land is steep, it may have to be graded into a series of terraces. In some cases a retaining wall must be built to make the land more attractive, usable and to prevent erosion.

Subsoil may affect drainage

In the subsoil you will find washed oxides of iron and other minerals washed down from the topsoil often giving the subsoil a reddish or orange color.
These minerals may collect into a layer called “hardpan”, which is compacted soil that often blocks the penetration of roots and interferes with the drainage of your soil.

Ideal depth of water table

Ideally, the water table should be about 4 feet beneath the soil surface, where it can provide a reservoir for the deep roots of trees and shrubs. A water table can be only inches deep, as in a bog or marsh, or hundreds of feet deep.

A Watering Primer

Watering your lawn is something that, if not done properly, can do more damage than good. There are three basic concepts that you need to understand in order to irrigate properly.

First is timing. If you water your lawn on a regular, clock-work basis, be prepared to mow just as robotically and scout for pests that much more frequently as well. Watering when your grass needs it encourages drought resistance.

Second is the depth of moisture penetration. You need to moisten (not drench!) the soil to the bottom of the root zone. Between 4 and 6 inches, depending on grass type. In typical soils, one inch of water applied to the lawn will result in moistening the soil down 4-5 inches. Heavier soils will require more water, with some time with the water off to allow percolation. Sandier soils will require less water, but will need it more frequently.

A Soil Analysis

Nothing works better than having a soil analysis. Not only do you gain tremendous insight about what’s in your soil, you also get recommendations for correcting problems. Have a soil analysis performed by a qualified lab at least every three years. The small fee is a small price to pay for such a wealth of information.

Over Watering

Over watering is as bad as under watering. Over watering causes nutrients to be flushed away from fast draining, sandy soils. In clay soils, standing water can displace oxygen, suffocating soil-dwelling microbes and leading to poor soil. Water only deeply enough to moisten the desired root zone of the grass, and don’t water again until the grass begins showing signs of stress.

Wet feet

Poor drainage in soils is one of the most common causes for failure to grow vigorous, attractive lawns, trees and shrubs--plants can suffer from a list of diseases or problems, known as “wet feet”. This can occur if your landscape consists of clay soils which tend to hold moisture well, often causing the roots of a plant to rot.
In heavy clay soils, it is preferable to plant trees and shrubs a couple of inches above the grade of the surrounding soil.

Simple test for determining poor drainage in soil

You can tell if your soil has poor drainage by this test: Dig a hole about 2 feet deep, and fill it with water. If after 24 hours water still remains, drainage is poor.

Do I Need A Soil Analysis?

You might not need to have a soil analysis done, if you’ve had it done recently or if you haven’t noticed any significant turf performance problems. If initial signs of nutrient deficiency begin to appear, then you might consider having it done. If you’ve had a soil analysis performed in the last two years, you probably already know what factors might limit turfgrass performance, and you can take the appropriate steps.



Problems growing in wet soil

If your property is too wet, the high water table and occasional flooding may make it impossible to grow a good lawn eternally. It certainly will reduce the choices of plant material if the condition verges on “swampland”. A great many plants cannot adjust to having waterlogged soil constantly around their roots and will sicken and die.


Water Deeply, Not Often

Don’t water your lawn on a regular basis, unless you are certain that you can also mow, fertilize and monitor pests on a regular basis as well. If your sprinkler goes off every other day precisely at 7:00 am, then you must commit yourself to mowing, fertilizing and scouting for pests on a schedule that is no less precise.

Soaker Hoses

If you can’t use sprinklers (for whatever reason), use a soaker hose. A soaker hose is a section of specially constructed hose with small holes throughout the length. The end of the hose is closed off, forcing all of the water through the holes. The amount of water that these things can put out in a short period of time is amazing. They’re great for small lawns and lawns planted in sandy soils where the water percolates in rapidly.

Water In The Morning

Water your lawn in the morning, especially if night time temperatures are cool. Watering early in the morning, between 6:00 and 9:00 increases the likelihood that water percolates into the soil rather than evaporating.

Lawn Watering Needs

A 1,000 square foot, intensively managed stand of hybrid Bermuda needs 60 inches of combined rainfall and irrigation per year. That is the equivalent of nearly 37,000 gallons of water.

Check for internal drainage

While surface drainage is easy to observe, internal drainage of soil is often not known. Internal drainage can be checked quite easily. Dig planting holes in advance, and fill them with water. If all the water drains out in the first 18 to 24 hours, drainage is satisfactory. If the water stays for two days or longer, select water-tolerant plants -- In extreme cases, bermed plantings that permit root development above existing compacted soil may be preferable.

DIY Soil Analysis Kits

You may have seen the inexpensive soil analysis kits sold at home and garden centers. These are useful if you are interested in determining what might be causing a performance problem. However, they are not suited for pin-pointing the exact problem.

Planting in wet soil-consequences

Planting in wet soil can cause root rot. If the crown or major roots are affected by root rots, the entire plant can wilt and die rapidly. If only the small "feeder" roots are affected, the plant may decline slowly and just look sickly and unproductive. Sick or damaged roots may be present only on part of a plant’s root system, resulting in a one-sided appearance of yellow, stunted leaves.


Final lot grade important

The final lot grade or slope of your property is important when building --Whenever possible, provide good surface drainage without creating steep slopes, depressed areas or large level areas. The average lot should be raised at least 6 inches at the center or around the buildings. Soil types that tend to hold water need more slope than those that dry quickly after rains. Soil improvement should be made after grading is completed.



Conserve topsoil during construction

When building a new home, the desirable topsoil should be stockpiled during construction and replaced after construction is completed. When topsoil is eroded away or lost during construction, it becomes more difficult to grow plants in the remaining soil. How well you conserve and improve the soil is important to the survival of the trees or shrubs, etc that you will plant.


Under Watering

If the grass receives too little water, the plant functions begin to shut down. Chlorophyll production stops, photosynthesis slows to a crawl and growth diminishes. Parts of the plant begin to die, leading the plant to be susceptible to damage from traffic or pests. Water deeply enough to moisten the root zone, and water again as soon as you see signs of stress.


Impact Sprinklers

Use impact sprinklers if you don’t have an irrigation system. Impact sprinklers are designed to throw a uniform stream of water in a circular pattern. Overlapping these patterns slightly insures even watering. Other sprinkler types water unevenly or do not throw water fast enough for the water to percolate before it evaporates. A surface with more water on it does not dry as fast as a surface with less water on it. Running an impact sprinkler for one hour usually gets the job done.


Poor Man´s Sprinkler System

You can build your own sprinkler system for a fraction of the cost of expensive, commercially installed systems.

Equipment list:

3 or 4 impact sprinkler heads and the aluminum spikes they attach to.
Enough garden hoses to go between them.
One additional hose for the loop. This one needs to be as long or longer than the other hose lengths added together.
A T-connector with all three outside diameters (OD) matching the inside diameter (ID) of your hoses.
3 screw down hose clamps to fit the hose OD.


Remove the screw-on caps from each spike. Attach a sprinkler head to each spike top and tighten securely.

Screw the male hose end into the female connector on one side of the first spike. Screw the female end of a second hose to the male side of the first spike. Screw the male end of the second hose into the female end of the second spike. Continue until you have connected all of the spikes together.

Connect the female end of the last hose (the "loopback") to the male connector on the last spike. Cut the first hose in half, and cut off the male connector from the loopback hose. Insert the top two ends of the T-connector to each half of the first hose and insert the cut-off end of the loopback hose to the last end of the T.

Set your sprinkler heads where you want them in the lawn, connect the hose to the water faucet, and let’er rip. The loopback hose helps equalize the water pressure between the sprinkler heads. If you only use two heads, you may not need it. If you use 3, 4 or more and the last head barely trickles, the loopback insures even distribution.

Landscaping Grading & Landscape Drainage

Brick Streets and Paver Driveways make a comeback

Milwaukee homeowners hardscaping is gaining popularity. When your deck or concrete patio needs replacement think about replacing it with brick or concrete pavers installed by Bob's Grading Inc.  


Brick Streets Making Comeback!


By Steve Lake



Almost every town had them, at one time or another, those solid brick streets that used to lead the way all over the cities and towns of this country, that is.  German Village a small village in Columbus Ohio is one of the best known examples of communities who still get around on brick streets. Anyone who has visited that area knows the rumble of their tires passing over the ancient bricks covering the roadways.


Today Bricks are making a comeback with new more road-friendly designs and patterns to bring back the warm, friendly look from yesteryear.   Today’s paver bricks are an eco-friendly material that reduces the expense of repairs and/or resurfacing.  Other advantages of the brick road, aside from esthetics are bricks last for over 100 years and make small road repairs easier to manage as well. 


There are some who might think that Brick streets are a natural way to slow down the flow of traffic in town and in small villages.  New curbs, sidewalks and brick streets give a warm look and an identity to the road.  There is definitely a place for Brick and Paver streets although they would not be practical or comfortable on highways or expressways.


The higher cost of a brick road project is most likely offset by lower maintenance and less resurfacing.  That certainly would be a relief to those of us who loiter in our cars and trucks at summer resurfacing sites. Most agree the bricks slow traffic and enhance property values too.  The 2.5 inch bricks are usually laid over 4” of sand and 6” of concrete which explains their long life. Broken bricks and repairs are less intrusive to traffic and in most cases faster to manage. Today there are new designs in snow plow blades made of flexible materials to handle snow plowing in the winter.


If restoration is your interest then there are companies like Historical Bricks in Iowa City Iowa where reclaimed bricks are gathered, sorted and resold for driveways, walk ways. John Gavin at Historical Bricks says there is a market for older salvaged bricks and his company ships them all over the nation. Gavin’s company ships between 40-50 million pounds of reclaimed brick from Iowa all over the country.


In any event whether the cities or towns in and around your area are planning to resurface their streets you might want to put in a word for Brick and Pavers as a option to concrete and asphalt.


Sometimes there are brick streets under layers of decaying asphalt and in places like Winter Park Florida the city and residents liked the bricks so much better they decided to repave the city in Brick.  This led to residents adding brick walks and driveways.


Cumberland, Maryland had a downtown area paved in brick and in 2004 added another 6 square miles to Cumberland streets.  As the seasons change this would be a good time to do a little marketing to see if your company can get in on the rebirth of brick streets.  Homeowners often upgrade to brick and pavers too.

Brick and concrete pavers make a comeback

Brick is back: clay pavers make a comeback in city streets and backyards

The material our country was built on is coming back in style in a big way. Communities are restoring and creating brickscapes for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic in an effort to replace concrete jungles with a surface that exudes warmth and just keeps looking better as it ages. Brick paver use has increased 30 percent in recent years from 170 million units in 2000 to 240 million in 2002.



Historical areas like Bostons Beacon Hill have maintained their brick sidewalks for more than 200 years. Other communities, like Pittsburghs West Chester Borough, are emphasizing their history by creating new brick-paved districts. But not all cities who are choosing brick are doing it for historical authenticity. Large metropolitan areas are also choosing the material for areas with a distinctly urban feel. In Houston, for example, 19 blocks along the new state-of-the-art light rail corridor downtown was paved with brick. According to Guy Hagstette, director of Planning & Development of the Houston Downtown Management District, while other segmental paving products we have used are very durable, the aesthetics just dont hold up over time. The main benefit to clay pavers is their rich color and resistance to fading and staining.

Main Street is a special place, and we knew we wanted clay pavers."



The clay paver revolution is not just for these large-scale projects, though. Homeowners across America are increasingly using the product to bring the same rich look to their own backyards. They are discovering that the product made from the earth is the most natural choice for all their paving needs. Do-it-yourselfers find that laying clay pavers makes a great weekend project and saves them labor costs, as well.



"Trends in home improvement indicate that outdoor spaces, such as patios and enclosed courtyards, continue to be just as important to curb appeal and market value as the gourmet kitchen and luxury bathroom," notes Ted Corvey, paver director for Pine Hall Brick. Smart Money magazine estimates that landscaping and hardscaping can increase home values by as much as 15 percent, while the National Association of Realtors found that outdoor rooms can deliver 77 percent return on investment at sale time — and theyre less expensive per square foot than additions or kitchen or bath remodels.



While genuine clay pavers make the perfect "floor" for these outdoor living spaces, they are strong enough for a driveway and can even be continued into the garage for a unique upgrade to a space where design and beauty is often forgotten. Many people are surprised to learn that clay pavers are actually stronger than most other paving materials with strengths reaching up to 36,000 pounds per square inch (psi).



Visit the Brick Industry Associations new

genuine clay paver website at pavers1 to download free booklets, brochures and videos filled with ideas to get you started on your own backyard project.