Adding Winter Interest to the Landscape

This time of year landscapes can be a bit less inspiring.  We have a few ideas to help enhance your winter landscape:

    - Consider evergreens to provide some green - or explore those that have unique coloration. Chartreuse, bluish/greyish, or even copperish evergreens are available.  

    - Upright ornamental grasses may add more texture, color, and movement throughout the winter.

    - Providing habitat for animals and birds adds life to the dormant winter landscape.  Sources of water and food greatly encourage birds and the shelter of dense/ evergreen plants is critical for many species.  Leaving certain areas of a property less manicured can be beneficial both for the budget and animals.  

    - Berries can provide both a splash of color and food for birds and other wildlife.  Flowering crabs, viburnum (cranberry bush, etc), winterberry holly, and others are good options.


    - Plants with colorful or interesting bark and form.

    - Low-voltage landscape lighting is another way to really enhance the winter landscape.  Landscape lighting is especially beneficial in winter since nights are so long.  Highlighting trees with unique form and adding a wash of light to highlight a home's architecture are two great choices.  Simply having something “intentional and bright” in the evening winter landscape is         highly beneficial. 


Shearing isn't the only kind of pruning

Shearing shrubs and hedges can be appropriate in some settings- and with certain plants, but it shouldn't be the only kind of pruning you consider.

Shearing promotes density & a "witches broom" appearance on the outer edge of a shrub while entirely ignoring the inner structure of the plant.

hedge shearing - madison, wi

We often see ornamental trees like flowering crabs planted near the entrance of a home.  They are left unpruned for several years until it becomes obvious that they will outgrow the space.  So they are sheared into balls.  The idea of shaping a plant is fine, but the problem is that when shearing, interior branches are not considered at all.  Major branches continue to grow and over time begin crossing and rubbing on each other in any breeze - this creates open wounds that can't heal.  Because the exterior of the trees are so dense there is no air flow and fungal diseases can flourish.

We strive to site plants where they will thrive and fit the space with minimal pruning.  That said, we think it's important to address structural concerns within the plant every few years to ensure it can live a healthy life and grow successfully.

UW-Extension has some good info on pruning available at .  Take a look and feel free to let us know if you have any questions.



Establishing a Lawn in Madison, WI. Grass Seed or Sod?

We often work on sites where an older or historic home landscape has been uncared for over many years.  We are brought in to renovate the landscape and fix the lawn.  These are some tips and ideas that may help if you are debating between seed and sod.  Choosing between seed and sod isn't as simple as it might first appear and once you've made the decision, there are other questions to ask.

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A Note on Pruning

Many folks like to shear their plants into balls and cubes.  I really don't.  I like my plants to have a nice appearance, but with a bit more loose, natural look.

Beyond appearances, the main problem with shearing is that it ignores the underlying structural issues within a plant....  and, it's whats on the inside that really matters.  Below we've highlighted some common structural problems with trees. 

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