Choosing “The Right” Landscape Contractor

Choosing the right contractor can be difficult, whether the project is large or small or whatever the need may be – plumbing, electrical, roofing, etc.  However, when it comes to finding a Landscape Contractor, the choice can be even more difficult because a good landscape contractor must have a diverse set of qualities.  A landscape contractor must have a good designer with vision and creativity, have skilled and knowledgeable installation crews for a number of different tasks, have access to necessary equipment and tools, and have a reputation for excellence. And that’s not all! A good landscaper must also provide a high level of service and communication with the client.   Continue reading

Welcome to Kelly’s Greenscapes

Thank you for taking the time to check us out! Kelly’s Greenscapes LLC is a Design/Build Landscape Company serving southeastern Wisconsin. We operate out of Sussex, WI, and most of our work can be found in the Lake Country area in Waukesha County. We have also travelled as far as West Bend and Elkhorn. Our company was established in 1999, and we have designed and installed hundreds of professional landscape projects since! Continue reading

How Winter Salt Affects Your Landscape

Winter in Wisconsin offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enjoyment! Skiing, sledding, ice skating and more keep us active outside for the winter season. Not to mention we have holidays to look forward to in winter and plenty of family time! With so much excitement, it is easy to forget about your landscape. What is going on under all of that snow, anyways? Well, one major consideration for your landscape is deicing chemicals, especially “rock salt” or sodium chloride.

Sidewalk and street salt, while necessary to keep driving conditions safe, can be detrimental to some of our common ornamental landscape plants, not to mention our cars, our pets and even the paving surface itself. It is always a good idea to minimize the amount of personal sidewalk or driveway salt used to protect your pets, vehicles, plants and property. If possible, use sand or calcium chloride products rather than sodium or magnesium products to reduce damage. Even when we minimize the amount of winter salt we use personally, we still need to consider salt from public streets.

In regards to landscape plants, there are two types of salt damage to be concerned with – aerial salt and soil salt. Soil salt levels can be very high in areas adjacent to streets, walkways or driveways, especially where plowed or shoveled snow is dumped. Aerial salt can be an issue near highways or heavy traffic streets, where salt spray is evident.

If you have noticed any of these signs, you may be noticing the symptoms of salt damage:

Signs of Salt Damage

Aerial Salt

  • Bud and twig dieback
  • “Witches Brooms” or unsightly clusters of twigs sprouting from one location
  • Late or poor bloom/leaf out in Spring
  • Small or off-colored leaves
  • Brown leaf margins
  • Signs of damage most evident on side of plant facing street or source of salt spray

Soil Salt

  • Plants “dry out” more easily
  • Nutrient deficiencies in soil, especially magnesium and potassium
  • Off-colored, often yellow leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Brown leaf margins
  • Potential plant death, especially in turf or smaller perennials

Once you have identified a problem with soil or aerial salt, there are a few things you can do to minimize the negative effects.

If you notice problems due to high salt levels in soil, it is beneficial to minimize the amount of sodium chloride exposure in those areas. Try using calcium chloride, or if you must use sodium chloride, mix a small amount with sand. If you need to replace plants in those areas, choose plants that have demonstrated a higher level of tolerance to soil salt. A few good options in our area are shrub roses, daylilies, hostas, some ornamental grasses such as Karl Foerster Reed Grass and junipers.

Problems with aerial salt spray are often more difficult to prevent. Try to plan accordingly and use salt tolerant plants in areas that are exposed to heavy salt spray. In some cases, burlap can be used in winter to create a barrier to protect plants. If you choose to use burlap for this purpose, be sure to maintain an air gap between the burlap and the plant. If the burlap becomes saturated with salt spray and is in contact with the plant, damage can still occur. A fence or salt-tolerant hedge near the source of the salt spray can sometimes help to reduce damage to plants in the rest of your yard. Upright Juniper and Ponderosa Pine are two good options for this. Salt spray can travel quite a distance into the air and away from its source, especially from higher speed roadways. Choose salt tolerant trees if you live near a highway or high speed traffic. Honeylocust, Cockspur Hawthorn, and Japanese Tree Lilacs are among the trees most tolerant of salt spray in our area.

To simplify a complex issue, remember that salt water makes us thirsty, and it makes our plants thirsty too! High levels of salt in the soil, or directly contacting your plants can absorb water that would otherwise be used by your plants. Your plants will very likely have to deal with some salt issues each winter, but by following these tips you can minimize the negative effects of deicing products. Start preparing in fall by giving your plants plenty of water to prepare for winter. In spring, try not to wash slush or salt from the sidewalks into your yard or planting beds. Enjoy your winter wonderland and healthy plants next spring by using salt products responsibly and following these landscaping tips!

2014 Home & Garden Shows

At Kelly’s Greenscapes, we are gearing up once again for “Home & Garden Show Season”! Every year, we enjoy participating in home shows in the Milwaukee area. For us, home shows are a perfect opportunity to showcase our talents, interact with other contractors from our industry and related industries, and share our expertise with home owners, like you! For the 2014 season, we will be taking part in the following 4 shows from January to March!

MBA Building Lifestyles: Home Building and Remodeling Show
Location: Wisconsin Center, downtown Milwaukee
Date: January 10-12, 2014
Additional info available here:

NARI Spring Home Improvement Show
Location: Wisconsin Expo Center, State Fair Park
Date: February 13-16, 2014
Additional info available here:

Express News Home, Garden & Landscape Show (Booth #’s 97 & 105!)
Location: Waukesha County Expo Center
Date: February 21-23, 2014
Additional info available here:


GMAR Realtor’s Home & Garden Show (Booth #8!)
Location: Wisconsin Expo Center, State Fair Park
Date: March 21-23, 2014 & March 26-30, 2014
Additional info available here:


We really enjoy how home shows allow us to keep up to date with advances in our industry. There are always other landscape contractors there like us, which is great for discussing trends in our industry. There are also professionals from related industries, such as home builders or interior remodeling companies there who give us plenty of opportunities to learn about related trades and, in some cases build business relationships.

We also love designing and building our displays each year! Different shows allow us to showcase varying aspects of our business. Many times, we can provide a full scale sample of the work that we do. In the past, we have included stone seat walls, arbors, pergolas, waterfalls and ponds, fire pits, built-in bars and grills, and of course a sampling of plant material! Home shows provide a design challenge that we enthusiastically accept each year!

More than anything, we love meeting the home owners who come to the shows! It is such a pleasure to meet and talk with people from all over SE Wisconsin and discuss their unique landscaping needs! Often times, home shows have been the start to making our clients’ dreams come true! We are more than happy to schedule a free consult right at the show and follow up with each and every potential client.

There are absolutely no obligations attached to a free consult, but more often than not, once the ideas start flowing, our clients cannot wait to move forward with our design and installation process! Whether you are planning a home improvement project for 2014, or are just interested in getting some ideas, stop down and see us at one of the home shows this year!