Here's a very useful list of what pro landscapers do in the fall for their properties and their clients, which you should steal and tackle between now and the end of November from House Beautiful and Beth Kaufman.  We couldn't agree more with HB and Beth!

1. They give their lawn one last cut.

Continue to mow your lawn until it stops growing - yes, even if it's cold. "If grass blades get too long, they shade the other blades around them," says Scott Olivieri of Michael and Sons Nurseries in the New York City area. "Also, at snowfall, the too-long grass will get packed down and promote snow mold." The general rule of thumb? Keep grass around three inches tall - all year - so there is enough surface area for the sun to hit.

2. They test their soil.

This is good time to apply grass seed, but there's a crucial first step: "The soil should be tested to determine pH and nutrient availability," says Matt Owens, president of the Landscape Contractors Association. "Necessary deficiencies need to be corrected or you're just wasting time and money." Sending a soil sample to a professional for testing will cost about $15 - and it's well worth it. "Soil plays such an important role in the landscape, yet it often gets overlooked."

3. Then they reseed the lawn.

Once the soil is tested - and any deficiencies are corrected - it's time to aerate and seed the parts that are stressed from the summer's sun or trampled from foot traffic. It depends on the condition of the lawn, but you typically need about three pounds for every 1,000 square feet of lawn, says Josh Kane, president of Kane Landscapes in Northern Virginia. "I like to use certified seed, which means it's almost purely grass seed with very little weed seeds and no fillers."

4. They fluff up the mulch.

Officially, it's called turning the mulch. Fluffing it up gives flowerbeds a fresh look and cuts down on (or even eliminates) the need for more, fresh mulch. If you end up adding new stuff, keep the pile around two to three inches thick, Owens says. More than that, and the mulch becomes a hiding place for insects and plant diseases, and water could have a harder time being absorbed.

5. They make their own mulch.

If you find that, after you turn the mulch, you still need more, try making your own. There's no shortage of fallen leaves this time of year. "Run your lawnmower over your leaves a few times and use them as mulch for your flower beds," says Owens. "This is an excellent source of organic matter that your plants will love you for."

6. They do some planning and planting.
"Fall is a great time to plant," says Kane. "See what plants need to be divided or re-spaced (especially perennials like Hosta plants and daisies) and what areas of the landscape need to be filled in to make next year look even better." If you have summer annuals, swap them out for fall-appropriate mums and pansies.

7. They give their driveway and walkways some TLC.

Your lawn's overall look includes your driveway and walkways. "The fall is an important time to fill cracks in asphalt or concrete, and apply a sealant to help prevent water penetration damage from freezing and thawing," says Kane. Any time water gets into cracks and freezes, you are at risk for even more damage.

8. They water their evergreens.

"Make sure all evergreens are sufficiently watered in September and October to reduce the possibility of dehydration in the winter," says Kevin McHale of McHale Landscape Design in Maryland. How much water do you need? That depends on the recent weather. "If it's starting to be a rainy fall, no water is necessary. If it's less than four inches for the month, you'll need one or two thorough hour-long waterings once a week for up to three weeks."

 9. They do some pruning.
Trees and shrubs typically need a heavy pruning before the cold winter. "Some may need it to help prevent damage from snow and ice storms and some just for looks or to control size for next spring," says Kane. Just don't prune certain flowering plants like hydrangeas, lilacs and viburnum, because it could spoil the spring bloom.

10. They pack up for the winter.
When your chores are done, bring in all of your tools, sprinklers and, especially, hoses. "Water in the hose will expand when it freezes and damage the hose," says Olivieri. "And don't forget to have all irrigation lines blown out so lines, heads and valves don't crack."


Courtesy of's lifestyles home and garden section, House Beautiful and Beth Kaufman

Published in Landscaping
Thursday, 08 September 2016 15:28

10 Tips for Using Outdoor Fire Bowls

Now is perfect time of year to sit outside late into the evening, and nothing makes that better than the cheeriness and warmth of a fire, says Pangaea Interior Design.  They continue, if you don't want to spend megabucks on an outdoor fireplace and don't want to spend hours stacking bricks and slathering them with mortar to build a permanent fire-pit, what are you to do?



Permanent Fire Pit Design Schmechtig Landscapes. Sheldon Landscape, in Lake Geneva, is part of the the Schmechtig Family of Companies

Fire bowls are the answer. They can be as low-tech as a big fireproof bowl for burning real wood or they can be fueled by propane, natural gas or clean-burning gel. Either way, instead of spending your time on installation, you get to spend your time enjoying the ambience. Here are a few ideas:

Courtesy of and Pangaea Interior Design

Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 06 September 2016 12:56

Are You Happy With Your Landscape Company?


If you are not happy with your landscape company, September is the perfect time to make a change in landscape service providers.  This time of year gives you the opportunity to "try out" a new company for a couple of months giving you ample time to learn if it will be a good fit for the next season.  Landscape maintenance companies provide lawn assessments, weekly landscape maintenance services including your fall property clean up and if needed an irrigation system fall shut down service and fall outdoor lighting service estimate. 


When looking to change your landscape company this month, look to a full service company.  Full service landscape companies give you the  freedom of working with one company for all your landscape needs.  No need to call or contract with 3 to 4 different companies each season.  They will evaluate the needs of your landscape and develop a personalized program to maintain the health and beauty of your property.  Consider a company whose weekly grounds landscape service includes weekly mowing, trimming, pruning and weeding of plant beds.  Learn about what is included in a company's fall clean-up service.  Ask questions - does the company offer plant bed fertilization, lawn fertilization and weed control.  In addition, do they have team members who are knowledgeable in lawn health and garden health to ensure these areas are fit and pest free.  Does the landscape maintenance company you are considering offer services like lawn aeration, seeding or reseeding, mulching, rose care, winter plant protection, animal repellents, disease and insect control, seasonal planting of bulbs and annuals and the covering and uncovering of perennials in the winter.


If it’s personal service and professional results you are looking for, consider contacting a full service landscape firm, like Sheldon Landscape, who customize a landscape program for you.


Published in Landscaping

Getting to know your site is the first step to creating a wonderful garden, says Carol Bucknell, a Houzz New Zealand Contributor.

Follow Bucknell's 10-point checklist to get it right:


Multi Level Garden, Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva



Lake Geneva Landscape Design, Sheldon Landscape

Published in Landscaping

Paths, whether stretching from street to door or winding through gardens, have always intrigued me, says Jay Sifford, a Houzz Contributor. Sifford continues, perhaps it’s because their lines lead the eye and there are so many great design and material options for them, yet they often are so unimaginatively designed. Paths can and should tell a story, elicit emotion, promote exploration and make a meaningful connection with land and architecture. How do yours measure up? Jay Sifford, guides us through materials and placement choices that will take your pathways from ordinary to extraordinary:



Garden Path Landscape Design Ideas from Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin



Published in Landscaping
Friday, 29 July 2016 10:58

Creating a Little More Privacy

Have you ever felt like you can see more of your neighbor's house or their belongings than you would like or you wish your yard was more private? Well, you're not alone. Privacy screening is one of the most sought after landscaping elements. Through the use of plantings, non-transparent fences or
walls, unsightly neighboring items can be selectively hidden. In addition the use of screening materials creates a private, intimate space for your family to enjoy. Another use of these screening materials is to provide the perfect background for unique foreground plants.

A combination of at least two types of screens usually works best for both functionality and aesthetics. Since fence heights are most often limited to four to six feet high by the local municipality, the addition of taller trees can not only help screen the views above the fence, but also help soften it. Consideration should be given if year-round privacy is desired.

If it is important to have screening in the winter, evergreens should be used instead of deciduous plants which drop their leaves in the fall. As always, with good design, all things must be taken into consideration.  It is important not to just create a solid wall that may look out of place, but rather to integrate it into the overall landscape scheme to provide balance and harmony.


Using Evergreens to Screen Neighbors Year Round, Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva

Published in Landscaping
Friday, 01 July 2016 16:47

Baking Soda - indoors and out

I just read an article about baking soda on my favorite website by Meg Padgett – a Houzz
Contributor and blogger.  Here's what Meg shared...
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate is more than just an ingredient for pastries and cookies.  This powerful nontoxic and versatile household cleaning agent is an inexpensive, all-natural ingredient and is neck and neck with vinegar as one of the most nontoxic and versatile household cleaning agents.
- Before storing your patio furniture for the winter, clean it with baking soda and a wet sponge.
- Clean grime and mildew off pool toys with the basic mixture.
- Blast oil and grease stains in the garage or driveway by pouring baking soda directly on them. Scrub with a wet brush and rinse.
- Battle icy walkways with a sprinkling of baking soda.
Bedroom, living room and hall:
- Before you vacuum the carpets or clean your upholstery, sprinkle them with baking soda and let it sit for 15 minutes to remove any odors.
- Deodorize your closet by placing an opened box of baking soda on a shelf.
- Clean children's toys with the aforementioned basic mixture and a sponge. Rinse and let them dry.
- Deodorize stuffed animals with a light dusting of baking soda; let it sit 15 minutes, then dust or vacuum it off.
- Freshen shoes with a light dusting of baking soda on the inner soles.
- Use the basic mixture and a sponge to clean all kitchen surfaces.
- Rid your fridge or pantry of odors by placing an opened box of baking soda on a back shelf.
- Dust your stainless steel sink with baking soda and scrub for a sparkling shine.
- Deodorize trash cans and recycling bins with a sprinkling of baking soda on the inside of the cans. Every now and then, rinse the cans with 1 cup of baking soda dissolved into 1 gallon of warm water.
- Get your silver sparkling with a paste made from 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water.
- For stubborn stains on plastic storage containers, soak for 15 minutes in 4 parts baking soda and 1 part warm water. Scrub, rinse and dry.
- Rid your fruits and vegetables of dirt and insecticides by washing them in a sink full of water and ¼ cup of baking soda, then rinse.
- Remove baked-on residue on pots and pans by sprinkling on baking soda. Add warm water and dish soap, let soak for 15 minutes and wash clean.
- Extinguish small cooking fires by sprinkling baking soda directly onto the fire.
- Brighten your clothes by adding 1 cup of baking soda to the wash.
- For extra-fluffy sheets and towels, add ½ cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle.
- Banish stains with a paste made from 6 tablespoons of baking soda and ½ cup of warm water. Apply to the stain, rub and launder. For the toughest stains, let the paste sit for one or two hours. (Always check for color fastness.)
- Freshen babies' burp cloths by sprinkling on baking soda, rubbing it in and washing as usual.
- Clean floors with a bucket of warm water and ½ cup of baking soda.
- Use the basic mixture to clean your bathroom surfaces or sprinkle dry baking soda on tough-to-clean stains.
- Clean hairbrushes and combs once per month by soaking them in warm water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
- Deodorize and clean the toilet with a sprinkling of baking soda on the inside of the bowl; scrub and flush.
- For rust stains in the shower, sink or toilet bowl, pour in 1 cup of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda. Scrub and rinse.
Thanks Meg Padgett!  Meg is a Houzz Contributor and a budget-minded DIY lifestyle blogger at Revamp Homegoods ( Her design philosophy is based on the concept that combining thrifty finds with a little blood, sweat and (sometimes) tears a stylish home can be achieved without breaking the bank.

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 15:39

Perfect Porch Ideas

The best porches and verandas have all the style of an outdoor room - plus the beauty of nature.  Here are 8 fantastic ideas
courtesy of Elle Decor via's home and garden section:



Looking Out from Porch to Lake Geneva Natural Landscape Design by Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva

Published in Landscaping
Monday, 24 August 2015 12:54

Color in your Landscape

"I want a lot of color in my landscape" is the most common phrase we hear from a client. To a designer, this phrase has broad appeal because there are so many ways to add color into a landscape design. Adding color in diverse and creative ways is what makes a landscape come alive. Add layers of color into the landscape design that extend from early spring and continue into the fall and beyond.



Spring Colors, Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin


The early spring layer of color comes from bulbs like hyacinths, tulips and daffodils. These plants usually bloom between mid-March and late April. When planted in ground cover beds they will pop up through the foliage and add color to that space. Bulbs are easy to plant and become a welcomed sign of the summer months ahead.  The next layer is provided by the spring flowering woody plants such as crabapples and ornamental shrubs. These plants will flower from April through May, depending on variety, and last for 2 to 3 weeks. With the relatively short bloom time of woody plants, the Spring important as well. Contrasting foliage colors add visual interest.



Lake Geneva Landscape Design Using Color, Sheldon Landscape

Perennial and annual flowers are the summer and fall layer of color. Consider perennial flowers with late bloom times and integrate them into the foreground of planting beds like a ground cover. Fall and winter color is provided by foliage and branch color. Additionally, ornamental grass combined with bright-colored red dogwoods and evergreen trees provide winter color. Contrasting colors again become important. Remember the key is to layer color each season to provide the year-round desire for color in your landscape.



Color in your Landscape, Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva



Sloped Lake Front Landscape Design



Fall Garden Landscape Design - Sheldon Landscape at The Geneva Inn,

Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 28 July 2015 09:35

Fragrance in the Garden

Most gardens are planned for visual appeal, but using scent as a guideline further enhances the outdoor experience.  There are trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals that provide unique scents to enjoy throughout the season. Smell and memory are closely linked.


Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

A particular smell can transport you back to a moment, place or relationship. What better way to remember a wonderful moment than replicating that scent in your own garden. We find some of the most common requests for plants with scent include Lilacs, Roses and assorted climbing vines. But the inventory goes far beyond this short list. There are many other shrubs that offer sweet scents throughout their growing period. Also, the list of perennials and annuals that provide scent is extensive. Gardin Guides website: and Better Homes and Garden's website:  are just two sites that provide lists of fragrant plants to add a whole new level of enjoyment taking your garden beyond its visual beauty. 


Sheldon Landscape, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Published in Landscaping
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