How a Rain Garden can Save Your Lawn

A rain garden provides a healthy solution to drainage problems that can save you time and money in the long run. With winter slowly rolling in, you’re probably already hoping for spring to come sooner. But all the wet weather ahead may be disastrous for your lawn. Heavy snowfall and rain can lead to problems with drainage that impacts your lawn. Here’s how a rain garden can save your lawn!

What is a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is normally decorated with flowers, plants and other vegetation. Essentially, a rain garden is a depressed area in your lawn that mimics the look of a small pond. It is designed to absorb water and filter out pollutants, cleaning the water and soil. Rain gardens offer ecological and economic benefits while adding a touch of elegance.

Conserves water and reduces pollutants

The stormwater that runs off may leach pollutants into your lawn. A rain garden can help reduce the amount of runoff a lawn accumulates. According to a fact sheet from the United States Department of Agriculture, rain gardens can absorb thirty to forty percent more runoff than a regular lawn. This amazing benefit also helps water conservation and blocks the flow of pollutants from runoff into natural waters. The natural look and feel of a rain garden gives a warm welcome to wildlife.

How American Landscape can make your lawn more sustainable

Inhabits wildlife and drives out the pests

Your lawn should be open to all wild inhabitants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, rain gardens provide a habitable place for butterflies and birds. Of course, you don’t want all the animals flocking to your lawn. Fear not; according to research from Penn State, the rain gardens drainage abilities prevent standing water, which often attracts mosquitoes. Creating a space for wildlife is only part of a rain garden’s ability to add biodiversity.

Biodiversity adds a touch of beauty

The vast amount of vegetation and plants that can be hosted in your rain garden adds beauty to your lawn. The most important part of choosing plants for your rain garden is making sure they can withstand wet and dry conditions. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, choosing prairie flowers that are native to Wisconsin may be your best choice; they can withstand long periods of dryness, which works well with our iffy climate.

Rain gardens require little to no maintenance

Taking good care of your rain garden is easy and adds longevity to your lawn. According to a fact sheet from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, simply weeding, watering and trimming your plants is the best practice for maintaining a rain garden. Rain gardens do a great job circulating water, allowing your plants to maintain good health over long periods of varying weather.

A Final Word on Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are fascinating, beautiful and ecologically beneficial. If a plain, green lawn isn’t cutting it for you, a rain garden may spruce up the liveliness of your home. Not sure where to start? American Landscape specializes in sustainable lawn care, and many other services. Give us a call for more information!

Getting a LEED Certification for Your Wisconsin Home

Did you know that buildings account for 73% of Carbon Dioxide emissions in the United States? According to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), getting your home certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) reduces your ecological footprint. If you want to go green, here’s how you can get started.

What’s a LEED Certification?

The LEED Certification works on a point-based system. Members who score 40 to 49 are certified, but you can work your way up to silver, gold and platinum memberships the more you score points. So, homeowners earn points by making their homes more environmentally friendly. Firstly, homeowners must apply for certification with the USGBC.

How do I get a LEED certification?

There are a few steps in the LEED certification process:

1. Register your project

The USGBC will review your project to make sure it complies with occupancy, environmental, and property laws. The USGBC has an index of projects that comply with these rules for reference. After that, you’ll begin the application process.

2. Apply for LEED certification and wait for the review

You’ll have to fill out the proper paperwork and pay the certification fee. After your application is reviewed and your project is approved, you will be LEED certified.

What type of projects can earn LEED certification?

Any project that helps the environment adds points to your LEED rating. According to the USGBC’s website, a building is rated on location & transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, materials, indoor environmental quality, innovation, and regional priority. Therefore, there are several projects you can do that can boost your home’s value and sustainability.

Green Roofs

Green roofs are a roofing system made of vegetation and a waterproofing membrane. The objective of a green roof is to provide a drainage system that reduces stormwater runoff and reduces carbon emissions. A green roof is a sustainable landscape that can help you rack up points towards your LEED certification. According to a post from Green Roof Plan, green roofs can give you points for energy & atmosphere, water efficiency, and sustainable sites.

See our post on how you can improve your building with a green roof!

Also, homeowners can earn LEED certification points by installing rain gardens in the yard.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are drainage systems that help water & soil quality while providing a habitable space for wildlife. It also allows you to grow a diverse range of plants to add appeal. A rain garden can easily rack up points towards a LEED certification for water efficiency, sustainability, materials, and regional priority. Since a rain garden can act like a living thing, you can easily check innovation off that list too! If you’re interested in what a sustainable landscape can do for you, see our guide to building one!

Creating a Greener Home

Making your home greener is an amazing step forward as a homeowner. As more people look towards building sustainable landscapes, the rewards and benefits continue to grow immensely. American Landscape specializes in sustainable landscapes, so give us a call today to start going green!

How a Green Roof Could Improve Your Building

A green roof is more than just a roof—it’s a natural-looking, beautiful way to support the environment in a developed area. The times of grey, rock-bedded roofs and blacktops are being overtaken by more environmentally aware efforts, and the results are worth it.

From its start in ancient Egypt to evolutionary phases in Europe, green roofs have come a long way. And the ecological benefits they can provide are needed now more than ever. Which is probably why there are more green roofs in Milwaukee now than ever before too, like this one on the Milwaukee Public Library.

If you are thinking about getting a green roof, understanding the benefits and considerations should be your first step.

What Are the Benefits of a Green Roof?

They Reduce Pollutants in Water

Because green roofs absorb rainwater, they reduce wasteful runoff, which promotes healthier soil and water.

According to research from Michigan State University, 60%to 100% of stormwater is absorbed in green roofs. Reducing runoff into existing soil and water sources reduces the flow of pollutants, which improves soil and water quality. And that’s not all—green roofs also lower energy use.

They’re Energy Efficient

Green roofs provide natural insulation that can reduce energy emissions and, subsequently, a building’s carbon footprint.

According to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, in the colder months heat is retained and in summer the vegetation absorbs the heat from direct sunlight. Just how much can a green roof save you? The National Parks Services estimates that green roofs can save $200,000 over a 40-year span, with two-thirds of the savings coming from reduced energy.

They Support Agriculture and Vegetation

Giving your roof a platform for growth breathes new life into the atmosphere, literally. The EPA’s study on reducing heat islands illustrates that allowing vegetation to grow on your roof promotes plant growth while reducing pollutants.

Here’s how it works: The most common pollutants emitted from buildings are carbon dioxide and monoxide. And, as you may or may not know, plants absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. So, by having a green roof on your building, you can effectively prevent the emission of this pollutant into the atmosphere. This is great for the plants and the atmosphere.

Considerations for Green Roof Installation

According to an article from Forbes, a leaking green roof is a common myth (among many). In fact, in a well-planned green roof, the root barrier absorbs water, so it’s unlikely to leak. True, a missing root barrier could lead to leaking, but if the roof is properly planned and maintained, it shouldn’t. This is why it’s important to work with a qualified and experienced green roof landscaper and installer. Neglecting to do so could mean long-term structural damage to your property.

A few other things you will want to keep in mind include:

  • There are three types of green roofs you can choose from: extensive, intensive, and semi-intensive.
  • An extensive green roof is considered the most cost-efficient.
  • Extensive green roofs consist of small grasses, sedums, and herbs that require low maintenance.
  • Intensive green roofs are larger in scale but offer more room for vegetation, as well as increased biodiversity.

Which is right for your building depends on your space, goals, and budget.

Contact Us for a Consultation

No matter the type, a green roof can have a positive effect on the environment and your property. Whether you’re hoping to improve your property’s looks or carbon footprint, a green roof can help. And there are plenty of other sustainable landscaping options available too.

If you’re ready to learn more, contact American Landscape. We’d love to help you bring your roof to life!

How to Choose the Best Cold Climate Plants for Milwaukee Gardens

Planting a beautiful garden in a place like California is a no-brainer. The weather is nice year-round and you can tend to it 365 days a year. The same can’t be said for Milwaukee.

Milwaukee winters are a challenge. Most days have a high below freezing from late November to early March and as little as nine hours of daylight. So, how do you create a beautiful garden? The answer is cold climate plants.

Not sure what plants are suited for Milwaukee’s climate? No problem. Read on to learn everything you need to know!

plants frosted over in the winter

Choose Cold Climate Plants Suited to Your Hardiness Zone

The United States Department of Agriculture produces a map of the US that divides the country up into hardiness zones. These are zones that are optimal for specific plants to grow. It is updated every year to reflect any potential changes in climate throughout the country.

Milwaukee is firmly within hardiness zone 5b. When you consider whether you want to place a plant in your garden, be sure to check its hardiness zone. Most have a range of zones in which they can grow.

So, what plants are best for hardiness zone 5b? A lot!


There are plenty of perennials that work very well for zone 5b gardens. A perennial is a plant that lives longer than two years. In fact, most live longer. Perennials that work well in 5b include echinacea, poppy, peony, and lavender for ground cover.

Trees and Shrubs

If you’re looking for seasonal color in your garden, try deciduous trees like the Autumn Blaze maple, Pin oak, or Cleveland Select pear tree. Gingko trees are also a great option, but be sure to look for male trees so you don’t have to deal with a stinky garden.

If you prefer evergreen, plant trees like the Colorado Blue spruce, white pine, or hemlock. Look into juniper, boxwood, or yew for shrubbery.

Go Native

Native gardens are a great way to pay homage to the land on which you live. Native gardens consist of plants, trees, and other vegetation that grows wild where you live. These plants are well adapted to your area, and in fact, thrive there.

In Milwaukee, a native garden means that you have a miniature prairie around your home. These low maintenance plants include grasses like prairie dropseed and little bluestem. For flowers, look for purple coneflower, prairie blazingstar, cream false indigo, and smooth aster.

Native garden bonus: Native gardens are an excellent way to attract wildlife like hummingbirds and butterflies. In fact, they are very beneficial to wildlife that is rapidly losing habitat.

Check Out Our Blog for More Info About Landscaping in Milwaukee

Cold climate plants a great solution for anyone who wants a beautiful garden in Milwaukee. Whether you select plants that are suited to Milwaukee’s climate zone or plants that are native to the area, you’ll end up with a beautiful garden you can be proud of year-round.

Need more tips about gardening in Milwaukee? Check out our blog for information about everything from winterizing your garden to attracting wildlife. Happy gardening!

5 Gorgeous Zone 5 Perennials to Liven Up Your Landscaping

We don’t see grand garden landscapes today the way we once did. No one plots acres of hedgerows or fields dotted with a hundred different types of rose for their own backyard anymore. Today’s garden is smaller and more manageable—but it doesn’t have to be less beautiful than the aristocratic roaming grounds of a bygone age.

If you want your little slice of Menomonee Falls to rival Alnwick and Versailles, you should first explore your own climate. A garden in southeast Wisconsin will not nurture the same plants you might find in the hills of Texas or the swamps of Louisiana.

Peony Bush in a Garden

Plant hardiness zones indicate which plants will thrive in your backyard. Wisconsin is in zone 5, where temperatures may reach a cold extreme of -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re not sure what plants are appropriate for your neighborhood, here are five zone 5 perennials that will thrive in a Midwestern weather.


This flowering plant, whose blooms cluster together in bursts of yellow (and sometimes red or pink), is hardy and eye-catching. It’s an ideal pick for zone 5 gardens. Yarrow is drought-resistant, insect-resistant, and has a bitter taste that discourages wildlife from nibbling at it.

If you like your plants to come equipped with fun facts, you can entertain visitors with some of the historical uses for the yarrow plant. Ground yarrow mixed with water was once used as a paste to heal sunburns!


Allium blooms tower above garden beds, and they are useful if you want to feature some taller specimens among your flowers. Their flowers are usually a vibrant purple, and exposure to full sun will ensure they stand tall to greet passers-by.

And here’s a secret: Allium is a type of onion! Because of this relation, their blossoms give off a mild scent that acts as an animal repellent. If your garden contains flowers likely to tempt the local wildlife, a few allium bulbs could save you a headache.


If you’re in need of ground cover but you’re bored with plain, old green, potentilla is an excellent option. This shrub typically has small white or yellow flowers. One variety even features a variegated, dark orange blossom that lightens to yellow at the edges.

In the winter, the leaves and flowers fall away to reveal reddish stems. They peel slightly throughout the season, giving your winter garden a little color and interest.

Russian Sage

This aromatic member of the mint family adds delicate hints of blue and lavender to a garden. It can grow quite tall, and it is a great addition to a rustic gardenscape. Russian sage enjoys direct sunlight and is drought-resistant.

Russian sage (which is neither from Russia nor sage, by the way) is popular with pollinators, including bees!


Peonies are a great choice if you want to be able to walk through your garden and collect flowers for a vase on the dinner table. These zone 5 flowers are showstoppers and last up to a week cut.

Peonies are slow growers, so it can take a few years for a plant to mature and bloom. They also require more maintenance than some other plants on the list. The soil in which peonies are planted may need fertilizing, and they should be deadheaded to encourage a healthy bloom.

Enjoy Your Zone 5 Perennials Gardening Adventure

Armed with your list of zone 5 perennials, there’s little stopping you from planting the garden of your dreams. Now you just need a great landscape design to pull it all together!

If you need help with the initial design or ongoing maintenance, let us know. We offer garden design and ongoing maintenance for landscapes throughout Milwaukee and Menonomee Falls.