“We are thrilled with our landscaping!  The colors & varieties of plants chosen compliments our home very nicely.  The peony tree is so much appreciated!  We’ll enjoy the results of this project for years to come.  Thank-you!” – Ken & Julie Scheel, Pulaski

3rd generation Greenleaf Landscaping & Gardens focuses on family, faith!!!

A recent project showcased Greenleaf’s hardscaping skills, creating both a communal area and a path leading to an overlook ideal for private reflection.

Family runs deep in Greenleaf Landscaping.

Ken and Dorene Schuster took over the family firm from Ken’s father in 1984 and now they have all three children – Genine, Monica and Bill, plus a son-in-law, Bryan – working side by side with them. In addition, two of Ken’s brothers, Gregg and Warren, run crews and oversee hardscape work.

The couple took a leap of faith about 10 years ago when they opened a garden center on a busy rural intersection just 10 miles from Green Bay, Wisconsin. But leaps of faith are a common theme with the Schusters.

Several members of the Schuster family are involved in Greenleaf Landscaping & Gardens. Pictured, from left, in the front row are Dorene Schuster and daughter Monica Hanson; second row, Ken Schuster, son Bill Schuster and son-in-law Bryan Nowak; and third row, the Schuster’s daughter Genine Nowak and Ken’s brothers, Gregg and Warren Schuster. Photo: Marcia Gruver Doyle

“I believe in God’s direction,” Ken says simply.

Ken and Dorene say building the garden center – which now has a gift shop, outdoor plant and water feature display, along with housing their offices – has been an essential part of expanding their business.

“Our children wanted to come into the business and to do that, we needed to grow,” Dorene says. “It’s increased our sales tremendously. It gave us a storefront and a presence in the community.”

But the garden center isn’t the only way the $1.5 million firm has grown. When the business was headed by Ken’s father, the company concentrated on grading and lawn work, reflecting the senior Schuster’s construction background. When Ken and Dorene took the reins, they envisioned a full-service landscaping operation, paying attention to creating a professional image.

– See more at: http://www.totallandscapecare.com/loy-greenleaf/#sthash.dY526oPD.dpuf


A sense of professionalism

The Schusters carved out a client room in their offices, a place where they could showcase past projects and spread out proposed blueprints. In addition to a digital landscaping plan, clients also receive a booklet showing all plants, with care information and pricing.

This waterfall, built into the woodland slope, adds a live element to the quiet oasis.

“We close about 90 percent of the clients who come to the center,” Dorene says. “They can put a place with the people and see we are credible.”

The sense of professionalism extends to the jobsite. “When we arrive, we’re all in uniforms and our trucks and equipment are up to date,” Ken says. Once the job is done, they give their clients a follow-up survey to make sure they’re completely happy. If not, they take care of it.

Although Ken went to college to study landscape design, much of his and Dorene’s education has come through landscape associations and vendor seminars. As past president of the Green Bay chapter of the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association, Ken demonstrated his belief in sharing best practices. For example, after discovering an edger that cut perfectly to the exact depth, Ken brought it in to an association meeting so that the other members – many of them his direct competitors – could get a look.

Personal touch

Dorene takes a personal touch when marketing Greenleaf. She conducts seminars on a number of topics during the local home show, and spends part of the Wisconsin winter writing gardening tip columns that the local newspaper will use between spring and fall.

The company’s website, www.greenleaflandscaping.com, is a colorful, inviting front door, showcasing both the garden center and recent work, including before/after photography designed to give clients an idea of what’s possible.

But perhaps the most significant marketing push is their yearly Sunset Garden Party, which takes place in July. Tiki torches, live music, vendor tents from local microbreweries, wineries and cheese makers – plus a sale on both plants and gift items – make this a go-to local event.


When a client contacts them, “we listen twice as much as we talk,” Dorene says. This emphasis on hearing what the client envisions continues through the project stage. “We always let them know when we are coming, and if there is anything that doesn’t meet their expectation, we immediately take care of it,” Ken says.

Client Tim Weyenberg can attest to this customer care. “They were extremely accessible and flexible,” he says. “And they came up with alternatives to what I first thought I wanted. Those alternatives saved me $8,000 and in the end I got what I really wanted.”

Employee centric

“We are surrounded with employees who work and think like owners,” Dorene says. “Everyone is thinking about how we can be better and more creative and efficient.”

Greenleaf Landscaping & Gardens employees think like owners, say the Schusters, coming up with creative ways to accomplish tasks.

With about 25 employees, many of them seasonal, the Schusters promote teamwork with a “Hero of the Week” program. Each Friday, everyone nominates a fellow employee for an outstanding effort. The person with the most votes receives a $25 gas card.

The first Friday of each month, all are invited to go to church for Mass, followed by going to breakfast. The Schusters use this opportunity to read letters from happy customers and further recognize outstanding teamwork.

It helps that several of the Schusters’ employees are their children, whom they want to see become successful in their own right. Genine and Bill have landscaping degrees, and Monica’s created the company’s website and is now moving into landscape design. Dorene jokes that Bill knew how to say “spirea” before “mom” and “dad.”

“Our kids are determined to make this successful, and they work their tails off,” she says. “They’re always thinking outside the box.”

The Energy Saving Landscape

energy efficient landscaping picture

By: Bill Schuster

Landscaping is so much more than creating a visually pleasing yard. It is essential to the functionality of your property as well as your home. As energy cost rise in our area, homeowners are looking for more ways to conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs. Mindful landscape designs can play a large part in energy saving costs. Proper placement of shade trees, windbreaks, vines, foundation plantings, and pergolas, all contribute to the energy saving landscape.

Correctly placing canopy trees is essential to energy savings and a more comfortable outdoor living space. According to research done by Better Home and Garden Magazine, shaded area of your yard can be up to 6 degrees cooler than your sunny yard, and up to 25 degrees cooler than sunny pavement. University of Minnesota also has found that with proper landscaping heating and cooling savings are anywhere from 25 to 50%. A common mistake in shade tree placement is planting shade trees directly south of the desired area. Doing this has an adverse effect on energy savings. In summer as the sun is high in the sky the shadow of the tree will fall almost directly underneath the tree and the shade will miss the house. In winter the sun will be lower in the sky and the branches will provide unwanted shade on the windows. To properly utilize/deflect the power of the sun, large deciduous trees (Trees that lose their leaves in fall) should be placed on southeast and southwest corners of the home. The advantage of this in the summer is that the tree will block sunlight into the windows when the sun is at a low enough angle to reach in under the overhang of the roof. In the winter the leaves will be gone, thus letting light in the windows. Also the sun is lower in the sky resulting in sunlight entering the house under the overhang of the roof. In addition to shading your windows, trees can also be utilized to shade the air conditioner. Doing this will decrease the temperature around the air conditioner there for increasing its efficiency.

Placement of windbreaks on your property can reduce Heat loss from cold winter winds and divert snow drifting from unwanted areas. Effective windbreaks include multiple rows of tree that extend all the way to the ground. Dense growing evergreen trees are wonderful for this application. Effective area downwind of the windbreak is 10 times the height of the windbreak. Windbreaks should be placed on the northwest side of home due to prevailing winter winds. This placement will also allow southwest summer breeze to flow thru and around the home.

Foundation planting can assist the larger plantings in energy saving. The uses of foundation plantings can create dead air space between the plants and home acting as added insulation around the base of the home. These plantings can also reduce the reflective heat during summer months.Vines growing on the home or trellis can also reduce the amount of heat conduction from sunlight and can add a small amount of insulation during winter.

Pergolas and shade structures help by simply reducing sun exposure to paver areas, there for reducing absorbent and reflective heat during summer months.

Using the techniques I discussed will result in a landscape that will improve home heating and cooling efficiency as well as a more comfortable outdoor living space. Not to mention a beautiful yard that will improve curb appeal as well as resale value.

Peace Can Be Found in Nature

peace in your yard

By Dorene Schuster Designer

Our daily life has become so busy and crazy with all the stresses of work, family, and just the crosses of life. Where can we find peace? How can we slow down the pace of life? Let me see if I can help you….Put down your Smartphone, pull yourself away from the TV and Computer. Step outside and take a deep breath. Observe the clouds that are the only thing that separates us from heaven. Close your eyes and feel the sun warm your face. Get in touch with nature. Get your family out and experience watching a sunset, planting flowers and taking care of them. Play games in the back yard. Create a safe, comfortable, private place in your backyard that you can just be alone with God in prayer to enrich your mind, body, and soul. Have a well placed bench that invites you to a spot in the yard to do just that. A pondless water feature could drowned out the noises all around you and experience the tranquil effects of peaceful water flowing. Even a firepit or fireplace to experience the warm glow of an evening fire could give you a cozy retreat on a cool night. Get inspired to get back to nature and make your home landscape a place for peace.

My Fruit Tree is Fruitless!


By Dorene Schuster – Designer

This is a common and frustrating problem. You might be at the point where you want to get out the chainsaw, but wait…. There could be a good reason. Here are the most common issues / solutions.

1. Your tree could be too immature. If you purchased a small potted apple tree you can expect to wait 2-5 years. Pears trees, you will have to wait 4-6 years before fruiting. Plums 3-6 years  before fruiting. Cherries 3-5 years. Years are measured after planting.

2. Pollination could be the issue. Fruit trees need pollination to set fruit. If your tree is not self pollinating, it will need a pollinator nearby, on average of 50’. What helps pollination is bees, wind, and birds. If these aren’t present, you may get lots of blooms but no fruit. If you only
have 2 trees it is best to plant 2 that will bloom at the same time (example 2 early season varieties, 2 mid season and 2 late season) If you have several trees they will usually overlap in their bloom times.

3. Weather greatly affects fruit production. If a late frost zaps your trees blossoms or young fruit, it will not produce that year. Drought, intense heat or cold will adversely affect your tree and buds.

4. Regularly pruned trees are more apt to produce quality fruit. Fruit will more likely develop on limbs that have good air circulation and light filtration. This is the goal for pruning. Late winter is the best time.

5. Fruit trees that are planted to close together will compete for light and nutrients. If that is the case you will need to prune accordingly for proper light and nutrients. Fruit trees need 6-8 hours of full sun.

6. Soil conditions can alter fruit crop. If your soil is deficient and the tree is week looking this will cause a stunted crop or undersize fruit.l If your tree appears lush with no fruit it could be that is is being over fed. A soil test can tell you more. Apples also need a well drained site.  

Let’s get our Annuals Planted!


By Dorene Schuster Designer

When getting out your containers to plant this year, never use the old soil from previous year(s) or soil from your garden. Purchase soil made for annuals and containers. Thiswill make a huge difference in your plants health. Always clean and wash your container with mild bleach solution to kill bacteria from previous plantings in containers.

Make sure your pot has drainage by making or drilling holes to let water drain. A coffee filter works great to put over the hole to keep the soil from washing out. You can decrease the amount of soil needed and increase the drainage by placing some empty cans or bottles in the bottom of your pot. This also makes them lighter to handle.

Annuals prefer to be planted close together. Remember the rule….A thriller (focal point, taller plant), a Filler (medium plant), and a Spiller (a plant to flow over the sides). Think about the textures, mixing fine textures and course textures for interest. Choose colors that complement your home. Choose colors that are opposite on the color wheel.

Your pots need to be checked and watered once a day for cooler weather, and twice daily in hot weather. Don’t rely on rainfall to water your containers as plant foliage may not always allow rain to reach the soil.

Fertilize once a week for container plantings and fertilize annuals planted in the ground every 2 weeks. Use a fertilizer for flowering annuals such as Bloom Boost. This is the secret to awesome flower power.

Not all annuals need to be dead headed but if they are the kind that need to be, do it on a weekly basis to keep them blooming beautifully!

There is nothing that screams summer like annuals. There is nothing that can give you the ongoing color like annuals. Make sure to include them in your containers and in your landscape in key areas where you can enjoy them the most.


Vegetable Garden Tricks

By Dorene Schuster

To help keep weeds down, spread a 2” layer of mulch around each plant.  You can also check out organic roll weed barriers .  These are like thick paper that you can put around plants.

If you like vine plants, but don’t have the space…train your melons, squash and cucumbers on a vertical trellis or fence.   It saves space and looks cool!

Overwatering is worse than underwatering.  Test your soil before you water to make sure it is needed.

Natural insect repellants for your garden are Mums, onions, garlic and chives.

Vegetables that become over ripe are easy targets for pests.  Remove them as soon as possible.

When transplanting tomatoes cover the stem all the way up to the first set of healthy leaves.  Roots will form on that stem making it a healthier, stronger plant.

Water your garden in the morning to conserve moisture and avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases spread by high humidity.

By increasing the organic matter in your soil, it multiplies the soils ability to store water.

Use leftover coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid loving plants like blueberries.  A light sprinkling of ¼” once per month will keep the PH of the soil on the high side.

Sweetness of vegetables increases when compost is used in gardens.