Installations and Projects
We have decades of experience creating gardens and wild spaces (among other things)
We install pollinator-friendly habitats, native rain gardens, smaller-scale prairies, vegetable gardens, raised beds, school and community gardens...
Riverside Middle School Garden (RMSG) - A Real Gem of Our Community
Planning out the beds is an important step in a successful garden
RMSG grew from around 1000 sq feet to 7000 sq feet in four years using grant funding
Our experience saves you time, money and energy when creating large-scale gardens
It's sometimes hard to visualize a garden- especially in winter!
Convincing school officials to get on board is the first step. We can show your district administration that a large school garden can supplement the current curriculum, be beautiful AND provide our kids with healthy food
We used red cedar for the raised beds. All the lumber was precut so we were ready for our April workday
We shop locally whenever possible- Zuern Building Products has been a wonderful partner of RMSG!
Volunteers arrive and the process of laying out the sixteen beds is underway
Many students had never worked with power tools and this was a fantastic experience for them
Look at all that STEM in action!
Beds are leveled as they are assembled
After about 3 hours all sixteen 4' x 12' beds were built
In the next phase we collected weeks worth of newspaper to line the beds. Beds are installed right on the grass- no chemicals or other site prep needed
Now the hard, but always exciting, job of filling each bed with soil, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow
School Gardens are a wonderful community-building activity
Cardboard boxes collected from the food service were first used under the pile of soil and then reused for the paths- right on the grass
Wood chips dropped off for free from the city- another vital link in a successful garden program
As planting day got closer, students used rulers, string and duct tape to lay out the 1' x 1' squares
Square foot gardening works well for most vegetables and gives kids a better sense of where to plant
Not only does RMSG feed our kids and community, but it is award-winning!
The finished product
(Unless we add more...)
Addressing Food Security
RMSG produce helps out our community seniors
We worked closely with our city's health department and the Get Well Watertown initiative which serves the Senior Center and Meals on Wheels
A dedicated Susan Wollin, from the city health department, kept the connection strong between RMSG and the senior lunch program - which serves two counties - and forty 'Meals-on-Wheels'
RMSG produce feeds our most vulnerable citizens during the summer
Many hundreds of pounds of food have been harvested for school lunches over the past five years as well as given to those facing food insecurity in our community
Students recognize the food they've grown and harvested and they EAT IT because they GREW IT
We put out bowls of carrots that are too small for the kitchen, but perfect size for snacking
Students take me up on the offer to steep and sip herbal tea during class
And just like kids who garden, kids who drink healthy teas become adults who drink healthy teas !
Students built a produce stand using a generous grant in spring of 2019 and on 24 September 2019 it saw its first action!
Students sold and gave away golden beets, peppers, Swiss chard, melons and squash to parents, staff and students
Alternative Garden Techniques
Community participation is vital for successful school garden installation and maintenance
After hours of prep, the vertical garden phase was in place
When an edible vertical garden doubles as a school sign it's a win-win!
This idea of re-purposed milk cartons won a $1000 grant award from Carton-2-Garden
Vertical gardening along with raised beds, straw bale planting and Hügelkultur are among the techniques we've used with great success
Roof Water Collection System
One of our larger grants paid for an 1150 gallon rain water collection tank
The middle school building design has the perfect nook for it
Students attached the spigot and the hose
Our first objective was to fill the 120 gallon 'spot watering troughs'
We plan and install features to make your yard healthier and more beautiful with LESS mowing!
Create a welcoming space on your patio with color and plants
Our gardens are designed to create a 'room' atmosphere- and many of or plants are edible and/or provide food for pollinators
Below are "before" photos of the area after removing the sod and the initial placement of reclaimed bricks
Simply moving plants that you already have can make the landscape fill in a bit quicker
All of the rock and brick were reclaimed for free from local sources, replacing the monoculture of lawn grass that dominated our property
Renovating your property doesn't have to cost a fortune- especially if you rely on our experience help plan it and you're willing to put sweat equity into the project
The brick patio is now covered with a gazebo the supports hop plants, giving a natural and clean canopy for shade
We can create an attractive solution to reduce mud in heavy-traffic areas of your yard while allowing water to percolate down to where its needed
This is a working garden sink made from reclaimed materials and most of it was free
This area was to be the site of our summer kitchen, complete with a wood-fired bread oven
We decided to redesign the wishing well into the oven. More to come on this process...
Raised Bed Herb Garden
The area is prepped by removing a lot of great plants- which were given away for naturalizing someone else's property
The lumber is cut to size, laid out and fastened
The corner 2x4's were cut to points and hammered into the ground and used for leveling
The paths are also leveled and the excess soil shoveled into the bed so there was no need to bring soil from offsite
Once the paths are ready, high quality landscaping fabric is installed, stapled down and covered with 3"- 4" of washed stone
Since we decided to not plant right away, organic matter (clean straw, leaves and branches from the yard) is layered in - a technique some refer to as lasagna
Allowing time for any 'weed' seeds to germinate and planting the following year reduces most unwanted plants. Any that do are pulled as they emerge
16 July 2019 - The culinary garden is going strong with onion, basil, lettuce, kale, sage, oregano, thyme, lavender, anise hyssop and bouquet dill
Installations that Encourage Rewilding, Healthy Land Use and
Attract Pollinators & Wildlife
Fall 2018 Landscaping Project - City of Madison Residence
Our clients built a beautiful home that featured a spectacular view of a naturalized area around a retention pond
Unfortunately the subdivision expanded and they lost the natural feel of the land
There was also a fair amount of erosion on their heavy clay soil
We don't use industrial herbicides for many reasons so we removed the sod using a sod cutter
The erosion fence was not really needed, but better safe than sorry
At this time, PhenoCulture Wisconsin, LLC is not equipped to move large quantities of material, including stone, so we subcontracted for large flagstone to be installed
The green flags mark where the flagstone walk will be laid
The homeowners wanted to attract more pollinators to their property so we seeded with an 80% forbs (flowering plants) and 20% grass mix
The seed was carefully broadcast to create a lower-to-higher transition to the retention pond
No industrial herbicides are used in our projects, but time was a factor so we opted to remove the sod and amend the heavy clay soil by lightly tilling in some organics
Mixing seed and live plants is quite economical compared to using using only plants, so we typically use both in our installations
Spring 2019 Prairie Dropseed and a variety of forbs were planted near the stone path
Neighbors looked on with interest at what was being being done on the property, so the owners made a sign introducing them to their 'baby' prairie - which is now a 'toddler' prairie!
The large flagstone path is filling nicely with wild thyme and it's already showing some colour in its first season (30 July 2019)
We planted 32 more live plants including Mountain Mint, Turtlehead, Wild Iris and Prairie Spiderwort (20 September 2019)
We also removed any flowers, especially if they were bearing seeds in order to give the plants as much energy as possible going into winter
This is the view from the clients' deck
We' get great results using Prairie Nursery near Westfield, WI
Municipal Native Rain Garden Project
First, we needed to prep the site where the rugosa were being moved offsite
There was a bed built here years ago, but the only plantings left are some sad High Bush Cranberries and we decided to work around them as they provide food for wildlife
This is the site that is being replaced with water tolerant natives
There are plans to redesign the bed itself, but for 2019 the pavers and shape will remain as is
Digging out the rugosa was not easy especially when dealing with healthy vines of poison ivy - which was found on both sites and disposed of without spraying chemicals
This is a case of making sure that your plants are well watered. There's hope for most of these transplanted rugosas, but they'll have a far better chance if they're watered often
The roses have been removed and dealing with the not-so-appreciated shredded rubber tire mulch was a little problematic
I have real concerns about the heavy clay soil and no real way for the soil to improve
After discussion, it was decided to leave it, but to apply a natural wood mulch after the plants gain a little height. My hope is that the wood will break down and add nutrients via a 'compost tea' as water percolates through
The first plants installed are Fox and Porcupine Sedges to create a gradual increase in height
Seventeen species of native plants were installed 19 June with another five species being planted in the fall 2019. This picture was taken right after transplanting
All in all, 140 plants found a new home!
These shots were taken 24 July - The plants are doing well!
Click Here to see the plants used in this installation
This parcel of city-owned land was under-utilized, too small to develop, had to mowed by city crews and was considered an eyesore to some
The first step in site prep was fence off the area and to hand spray a solution of salt, horticultural acetic acid (strong vinegar) and dish soap on the mowed field
Plastic was then used to 'solarize' the area, killing the reed canary grass and other undesirable plants
We tried both black and translucent plastic as an experiment
Middle school students purchased seed and started some native plants for transplanting
Once the grass was effectively killed off, the plastic was removed and the area seeded- mostly with hand-collected seed from local prairies
RMSG donated a small pergola and volunteers built benches along the planned walking path
Though this process takes longer to see full results, it's healthier for the environment
PhenoCulture Wisconsin, LLC would love to help more communities take the initiative and create landscapes that are not only healthy and beautiful, but will save money in the long run
Please support this Micropark initiative by liking the Facebook Page
Want to Urban Homestead? Building a coop and run?
We can help!
We started with a pre-fab coop from a local farm store which was painted with the same color scheme as the house and mounted on a 4"x 4" frame set two feet deep
Galvanized fencing was buried to keep out as many vermin as possible
Used concrete pavers were purchased from a neighbor and laid around the perimeter to further reduce predation
A 9'x 9' run is framed in and ready for chicken wire fencing
The wire is stretched and stapled in place
The door is built from the same treated lumber and mounted using reclaimed hardware
Building the bunny hutch
We purchased a pre-fab rabbit hutch from a local farm store
There frame is built from treated lumber and set on 4"x 4" posts set two feet in the broad with quick-set cement
In order to be able to remove the hutch if needed and to provide as much security as possible, an apron made of 2"x 6" was scalloped and the hutch nests snuggly
The frame is painted using the house trim paint color
The Angora bunnies arrive!
Awnings are installed to provide much needed shade
An addition was included when the rabbits reached full size
Bees, and most social pollinators, are fascinating. Hours can be spent just watching the coming and going of the colony
Humans can learn A LOT from the honeybee
Bees are extremely communicative. Watching the 'waggle dance' is amazing!
Not only do they tell all of their sisters where flowers are, they will let the colony know about water
It takes about 556 worker bees to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers
It takes around 55,000 flight miles to make one gallon, or 12#, of honey
We only collect honey if we lose the colony- and this happens most often during winter
Climate change, habitat loss and industrial chemicals are decimating the honeybee populations around the world
The average honeybee will make only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime - which is about 6 weeks during the summer
Honeybees pollinate almost a third of all the food that Americans consume
They pollinate 85% of all flowering plants and are responsible for 90% of all pollen transfers on our orchard crops
When it gets really hot or if the hive is ready to split or swarm they can be found 'bearding' on the hive
The bees that we see flying are foragers, the oldest bees in the hive, and during the last two weeks of their lives they gather nectar, pollen, water, and propolis
Swarms are what we see when the old queen leaves the hive, taking around half of the workers with her. Swarming bees are typically quite mellow so never spray or kill a swarm of bees! They're creating a new colony!
Queens are substantially larger than the worker and if the colony collectively decides that it's time to split, they'll make a larger cell. The queen can lay a million eggs during her lifetime
When honey is harvested it does require a few steps to get it ready for the honeypot
We can show you some of the tricks we've learned
We collect the propolis and pollen along with the honey and wax
Kids can be taught to love the honeybee
Arrange a presentation today!
Cafeteria Recycling Program
We designed the funnel from sheet metal to fit a five-gallon bucket and a tray
The dishwasher tray was perfect for draining out the milk cartons, saving time and water since it eliminated the need to rinse the cartons
Students mixed plaster of Paris for the base to hold the signage
A trial run before the program going full fledge
With staff guidance, students caught onto following the new procedure quickly
Between October 2016 – December 2017 our middle school cafeteria recycling program captured organics that were kept from the waste stream
12,030 pounds of milk which was donated to a local farm
7563 pounds of produce which fed sheep and pigs at a local farm
Over 63,000 milk cartons which were recycled by the city
Lambs from Asylum Farm that we offered our organic "waste" to brought into school for a visit
I had never seen this special needs student smile before
*We have been researching how to use the dairy, which is mostly chocolate milk proved to be too sweet to feed to livestock, to turn into fertilizer and biofuel
If any school or district out there would like to take this idea further, please contact us