We’re mid-way into the first month of the new year—time to think about the resolutions you made! If you’re a homeowner, chances are at least one of your resolutions is about your home. Maybe you’d like to make it more comfortable, more aesthetically pleasing, more cost-effective, or more “you.”
It might seem counterintuitive to think about outdoor and yard and lawn goals in the dead of winter, but the opposite is actually true. Taking time now to plan for the year and giving yourself ample time to research, talk with professionals, and hire the perfect expert for the job will ensure that when the weather thaws, your lawn and gardens will be ready to bloom.
So the question at hand is this: are there tips for hiring the best possible landscape architect? And the answer to that question is a resounding yes!
It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to hire the right person for a job when you don’t know what that job is. This month is the perfect time to really think about what you want from your lawn and gardens. Do you want to keep things as simple as possible? Repeat what you did last year? Change things up and plant something new? Think not only about how you want your lawn and garden to look, but also what it might take to achieve those goals. Think about your budget, and how much you are comfortable and/or willing to invest in professional help. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the coming year, think about curb appeal and be sure to consult a real estate expert to discuss which investments garner the best returns.
And your coworkers and your friends, especially those who maintain outdoor spaces that you admire. Ask what they wished they’d known about retaining walls before they had one installed or pepper them with questions about how and why they use their outdoor kitchen. Ask, too, for referrals—and make sure to check out each referral for references, both public and private. The most reputable businesses have fans eager to sing their praises!
Every business model is different, but ours is built on a foundation of trust, communication, and quality. We always work with our clients to meet their budget and their needs, and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional service and products. Why? These are the qualities we look for in others, so we embody them ourselves—and we’ve been in business for 50 years now. So don’t be shy–reach out to ask us questions. We enjoy being a resource to our clients and because we’re always learning something new, we’re always sharing new and exciting information.
First things first: what is a retaining wall? Simply put, a retaining wall is a barrier that holds in place earth that would otherwise erode or collapse. Retaining walls can be small DIY projects or larger-scale and professionally constructed. Retaining walls can be constructed from a range of materials and can vary in size, shape, and design.
There are two main reasons to consider a retaining wall. First, because it’s physically necessary to correct a slope, prevent erosion, or otherwise level the earth in your yard. These retaining walls serve a functional purpose. In residential settings, retaining walls are necessary when there might be an abrupt separation of ground elevation. Reasons a retaining wall can be necessary include sunken patios, walkout basements, and other hardscapes. Aesthetics are the second consideration. Retaining walls can create tiered gardens or flowerbeds, which add visual interest to otherwise ordinary spaces.
Of course, landscape and hardscape elements can be both practical and beautiful. This is certainly the case with retaining walls, and is an important reason to work with a landscape architect when considering the installation of a retaining wall.
An expert landscape artist with retaining wall experience can help determine construction specifics as well as design aesthetics—meaning experienced landscapers will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various materials, placement, and size.
Remember that there are specific considerations in determining if you need a retaining wall, some of which you might not know until you consult with an expert. Among those considerations: the slope of the earth at the location and the current drainage situation at the location in question, type of soil, and weather conditions (such as freezing).
As is the case with so many projects, building a retaining wall can be a DIY project for some, but working with an expert familiar with retaining walls and your geographical area ensures that the retaining wall built will be not only attractive, but will also function as intended.
Knowing whether or not you need a retaining wall is more involved than just knowing you’re ready to build, and working with a professional landscape and construction company can help ensure all considerations: practical and financial, logistical and aesthetic, are fully researched and planned before construction begins.
Curious about retaining walls and your options? Contact us to learn more.
Have you ever wondered why you need a professional landscaper—or have you been curious about what, exactly, a landscaper does and what makes some Olathe landscapers more successful than others? Some of a landscaper’s job duties might seem obvious: they take care of landscapes, right?
Right! But there’s more involved in that than you might think. Read on to learn more.
A landscaper’s primary job is to cultivate and care for lawns, gardens, and other landscapes. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all job! It encompasses planting flowers, planting and mowing grass, preventing and pulling weeds, and building and repairing structures, and more. Successful landscapers are also life-time learners and understand that each of these tasks is dependent upon a unique set of circumstances. Circumstances can vary by region or because of space or budget. All of this means that the best landscapers are curious and flexible and enjoy learning new things.
By specializing in native Kansas grasses, plants, and flowers, your Olathe-based landscaper can leverage plants that thrive in our unique climate. By doing this, they can help you cultivate a vibrant, healthy, prolific lawn that will be the envy of your neighborhood.
Landscapers love being outdoors; after all, it’s where they spend most of their time. Because the weather (especially here in Kansas) is always changing, they have to be flexible. It’s important that landscapers are willing to work in all climates and conditions. The best landscapers are voracious learners; they might have to learn to safely use new or different tools, understand how weather and the seasons affect growth patterns, and know other local resources to tap for best results. Landscapers must be comfortable with constant physical activity because they’re usually on their feet and always moving around.
Sure, most landscapers mow, mulch, prune, and fertilize. But others offer a full suite of services including irrigation design and building, hardscape design and building, natural stone installation, river rock installation, drainage solutions, finish grading, sod grading, and retaining wall planning and installation, just to name a few things.
This tip is true, no matter the position: the best people make the best landscapers. When you trust someone with your lawn, garden, or backyard kitchen you want to know they are diligent, knowledgeable, honest, and responsible. We believe the same, so you’ll find everyone you speak or work with here is friendly, helpful, and eager to make your experience one you’ll rave about to family and friends.
Be honest…have you ever thought of making a holiday meal in your Olathe outdoor kitchen? Picture it: a twinkling landscape of snow as your backdrop, blazing fire in your custom-built fire pit, and your family and friends in cozy coats, fuzzy hats, and super-warm gloves gathered round to toast the blessings of the holidays. All that’s missing is the food, right?
Grilling a Holiday Meal
If you have an outdoor kitchen, you can plan and execute a holiday meal made—if not entirely, then partially—outdoors. Like any other successful party, the process begins with planning. Do you want a traditional meal? Are you feeling adventuresome and want to change things up by preparing a non-traditional feast? How about timing: do you have your heart set on dinner, or would a lunch—or even a brunch—be better? Take some time now to really think about what you want; that will make pulling off an impressive gathering much easier.
Bring on the Bird!
Now it’s time to get down to details. Going traditional? You can cook a turkey on your outdoor grill, provided the grill is large enough to accommodate the bird you choose. You can prepare sides, too; roasted vegetables are easy either wrapped in foil or skewered, but you can make other things in cast iron cookware: stuffing, casseroles, and even dinner rolls. You can even make dessert on the grill! In this respect, cooking a meal in your Olathe outdoor kitchen isn’t much different than cooking indoors: you still have to make a schedule and figure out what takes longer to cook. Start there—and keep your options open, just in case you hit a snag or two.
Get a Little Crazy
Not feeling a traditional menu this year? Hosting an Olathe outdoor kitchen holiday meal gives you the perfect backdrop to change things up. Consider grilling your favorites; ribs are especially good for a crowd! Fill your table with other non-traditional holiday foods like grilled corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, and baked beans (cooked in cast iron, of course).
Other options include a chili fest, burgers and brats, or a potluck. This is your party—you get to make the rules! Just be sure to let your guests know ahead of time what to expect; you don’t want anyone disappointed because they thought “holiday meal” meant turkey or ham and the typical fixings.
Make It Cozy
Don’t forget to make sure your guests are comfortable–and in this case, details count. Have extra wraps or blankets ready, stock up on knit gloves and mittens, be sure you have plenty of warm drinks, and have a warming spot inside just in case someone needs to take a break from the cold.
Let’s Talk Logistics
You’d never throw a party without cleaning and prepping your home, would you? Same holds true for an outside holiday party. Take time now to make sure each component of your kitchen is in working order, plan for adequate—and warm—seating, and plan for Plan B: keep the inside warm and ready, too, just in case one or more of your guests needs a break from your winter wonderland. Check out our tips for prepping your Olathe outdoor kitchen for cold weather, or give us a call to discuss your needs. We’re always here to help!
Wondering how to create an outdoor kitchen or need help planning your backyard landscape? We might be based in Olathe, but we plan and create outdoor kitchens throughout the Kansas City Metro. Check out our Facebook page for photos of recent projects or reach out to learn more.
Do you think that Spring is the only time to plant native grasses and flowers? If so, you’re not alone—that’s a common misconception. But Olathe landscapers will tell you it’s simply not true. With a little bit of planning and preparation once the calendar flips to Fall, you can start establishing warm season grasses and native wildflowers before it’s time to decorate your Christmas tree.
In fact, with native grasses in particular, dormant season seeding (Fall, in this case) imitates natural reseeding. Once frost sets in, things change a bit: frost seeding (which is the spreading of seed over frozen soil after the first killing frost) results in some natural stratification—which means that the seed and seed coat change enough to enhance germination. There’s also good seed-to-soil contact because of the moisture frost brings.
Even though this can all be done successfully in the Fall and Winter, most germination probably won’t occur until Spring; the exception to this might be some cool season species. This is when working closely with an Olathe or Johnson County landscaping company can be especially beneficial; not only can Olathe landscape architects help you understand which plants are native to the area, but they can also help you determine when and where to plant for the best results. Curious who you’ll work with if you choose us? Learn a bit about us here.
There are disadvantages to seeding during dormant seasons. Seed loss is possible, usually due to decay and consumption by wildlife. Weeds can also be an issue—in fact, the best time to start preventing weeds is when the weather is cooler, before the weeds germinate and start to take root. Smart tip: take the time to mulch well. Not only will doing so hinder weed growth, but it will help the soil retain moisture and provide protection for seeds and soil.
Curious and want to know more about native Kansas plants? The best thing to do is to talk to an Olathe landscape architect or Olathe landscaper. Another great resource is the Kansas Native Plant Society.
What else should you be doing to make the most of these cool Fall days? Prune and trim perennial plants, shrubs, and hedges. Pruning trees can be a monster of a job—and sometimes it’s best left to a professional landscaper. Not sure if you should try it on your own or bring in an Olathe landscaping company? Ask us!
Once you’ve trimmed, make sure to remove clippings, branches, fall leaves, and other debris from your lawn. Why? Anything that covers your grass impedes sunlight, and when the sun’s rays can’t reach your grass, growth can be slowed or even stopped. This all leads to a lawn that looks more lackluster than lush—and might even leave dead or spotty patches in your yard.
Speaking of Mulch…
Mulch looks good, no doubt. But it also serves as a blanket of sorts for the soil and the roots below—and happy roots mean happy plants! Different areas require different mulch strategies; you want beds to have 1-2 inches of mulch, but you don’t want to cover the trunks of shrubs or trees. Once severely cold weather is imminent, tender and early-flowering plants will need extra protection. Consider staking around the plants and covering them with burlap to keep them as protected as possible.
If the colder temperatures crept up and surprised you this past week or so, don’t despair! Instead, use it as a reminder that it’s time to take care of your Olathe outdoor kitchen spaces so they’re all safe once winter really hits and ready to enjoy once Spring comes again.
This is particularly true of outdoor kitchen spaces. If you want to be ready to grill burgers once the weather is more temperate, it’s imperative that you take care of your space and equipment now: make sure it’s cleaned, that water sources are turned off, and that each element is winterized. Keep reading for tips on each.
Have an outdoor sink, refrigerator, or ice maker? Make sure to shut off the water supply to each (if you’re in the planning stages of designing your outdoor kitchen space, consider an indoor shutoff), drain each line, and either unplug or turn off circuit breakers that power these pieces of equipment. Letting water sit in pipes in freezing temperatures can cause pipes to crack or burst. Drain valves should remain open.
When you clean your refrigerator and ice maker, start by removing all contents, trays, and bins. Clean and then carefully wipe the interior to remove all traces of moisture—and don’t cover these appliances. Your intentions might be good, but moisture can build up and cause damage.
Remember to remove sink faucets and store them inside.
Not sure how to properly winterize your outdoor pipes for the winter? We’re here to help! Just give us a call or send a question.
If you have stone countertops, be diligent about sealing the surfaces before winter hits to prevent stains, chips, and cracks. Remember that freezing moisture isn’t your friend and can wreak havoc on your Olathe outdoor kitchen.
If you have an outdoor grill, be sure to secure its cover securely. Same is true with sinks. Covers that fit well and are secured help prevent debris from accumulating and settling in drains and pipes; they also help extend the life of your equipment.
We know how cold temperatures can plunge in Olathe and the Johnson County area! Make like a grizzly and let your outdoor space hibernate. Moving things around can cause breakage—just think about how brittle everything gets when ice heads our way. The chance of damaging equipment is just too high, so once you have everything in place, leave it be until next Spring.
Have other equipment in your Olathe outdoor kitchen and want to be sure your space is protected well before the elements hit? Curious what an Olathe landscaper can do to improve your outdoor space? We’re here to help and love customizing our solutions to each client’s wishes. Call us at 913-782-1333.
Temperatures are starting to dip ever so slightly here in the Kansas City metro area, which means our thoughts turn to everything warm and cozy: sweaters and blankets, apple cider and pumpkin lattes, just to name a few. Just as this is the perfect time to switch out Spring and Summer décor for Fall colors and accessories in your home, it’s also the prime time to turn your attention to your landscaping areas, such as your lawn and outdoor living areas.
Just because it’s getting colder doesn’t mean it’s time to stay indoors! Take advantage of this time to not only bring some new color to your lawn and garden, but also to plan for the upcoming Winter weather. But first, here’s the trick to bringing all of the following tips together: sit down with a calendar and plan when, what, and how you’ll plant, tend, and maintain your landscaping as the weather grows colder.
How can you take advantage of this cooler weather to make your landscaping shine? Prune and mulch your perennials to be sure they’re as well insulated as possible before colder weather hits. Spend a sunny but cool morning planting bulbs, then make a schedule to feed and water what you’ve planted so each can spend the Winter growing and preparing to burst through thawed ground once Spring hits. Take special care with trees—studies show that trees planted in the Fall are more successful and the cooler weather means less watering and maintenance for you. The little bit of patience you’ll need now will be well rewarded once Spring comes again.
Here in Johnson County, it’s also wise to get a jump on weed control now, rather than waiting until Spring or Summer. Why? K-State Research and Extension Center explains that broadleaf weeds (think dandelions, henbit, and chickweed) germinate in September and October, then overwinter as small plants. You have to look closely to see them—they’re no bigger than a quarter. Taking care of those weeds now means the Spring and Summer proliferation that so often overtakes even the most methodically attended lawns can be stemmed before it starts. Be sure to choose your control method wisely; granular and liquid chemicals both work, but each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.
And this is why having a schedule matters: if you plant grass seed in the cooler Fall months, you shouldn’t treat your lawn with herbicide until those seedlings have been mowed two-three times. Taking a few minutes to think about coming weather conditions and how you’d like your landscaping to look once the snow melts.
Want to know more about prepping your lawn for cold weather? Have questions about what an Olathe landscaping company can do for you now and through the year? We welcome questions and would love to hear what you think. Send us a question or give us a call—we’re here to help!
For many a Olathe landscaper, increasing curb appeal is the number one thing on their mind. You might be in a similar position.
Sure, you enjoy the landscaping process and down a refreshing lemonade while admiring your work in the evenings, but let’s be real here.
Landscaping increases property value. You’re not sweating away in the hot summer heat just for giggles. No way, Jose. You’re doing it because curb appeal equals extra value for your home.
If that sounds like you, then keep on reading, y’all. In this article, we’ll detail exactly how to improve your curb appeal over the next few years. We’ll show you how to take your Olathe landscaping to the next level.
But enough with all the fluff and introductions, let’s dig in and take a look at how to improve your home’s curb appeal with unique Olathe landscaping projects.
Spring and Fall Cleanup
It’s baffling how many homeowners don’t do a deep clean once the weather changes. At Huston Contracting, we started offering this service professionally – as many homes were in need of dire cleanup come new seasons.
By properly cleaning your landscape, you’ll find curb appeal just pops. Sure, we like to keep things tidy throughout the year, but every now and then – you’ve gotta go the extra mile. That’s what spring and fall cleanup is for.
Add Natural Stone
One simple way to add an elegant, crisp look to your landscaping is through natural stone. And of course, a few stones here and there can add massive value to your curb appeal.
As Olathe landscapers, we’ve found creating natural stone pathways to certain areas around your home is an inexpensive way to make your lawn and landscaping look so much better.
Always Be Mowing and Mulching
Keep the basics covered. Your lawn should always look sharp. Mow that bad boy once or twice a week. Never too short. Heck, sometimes having a professional do it is a great idea.Then make sure you keep your mulch fresh. Fresh mulch adds a pop to your landscaping that faded browns will never be able to. Plus, it only takes an hour or two to add some mulch to your landscaping.
Sometimes your yard is just missing something. Maybe your front landscaping just doesn’t have anything extra. Your lawn looks lovely and your home is in pristine condition. But there’s nothing that says, “Put me on a postcard” – when people drive by. There’s no automatic seller.
In these types of situations, you can add an adult tree in the perfect area. In doing so, you create a focal point of your front yard landscaping and often, send curb appeal skyrocketing in one simple installation.
If you’re ready to increase curb appeal, then you need to make your Olathe landscaping effort count. You need to make a memorable impression. You might need to work with a professional landscape design team.
If that’s so, get in touch with our team at Huston Contracting.
Steve and Suzy are great people, but you don’t want them meddling in your business all day and night. Especially when you’re looking to relax and unwind in your backyard on a refreshing summer eve.
That’s exactly why we’re here. To show you how to create a private backyard oasis on your property. An oasis that your neighbors won’t be able to watch you from. An oasis where you’ll truly be able to unwind and relax through the day and night.
If that’s of interest to ya, well, keep on reading.
So, how do we create the privacy you’ve always dreamed about in your backyard? How do we keep prying neighbor eyes out of sight? That’s simple.
Well, it can be complex. It really depends how you want to do things. This is your oasis, after all.
But enough with my fluff, let’s dive in and look at a few ways to add privacy to your backyard:
Tall Tree Install
This one is common sense. The easiest way to add privacy is to install mature trees around your backyard.
These trees can block the vision of your neighbors and keep things a little more private around your backyard.
For a first move, this is one of the easiest ways to increase the privacy of your backyard. At Huston Contracting, we can help you find and install the tallest trees money can buy. And we certainly recommend this in some situations.
However, this isn’t an end-all, be-all solution. Other times, you may be better off working with other landscaping solutions to add privacy.
A high fence is a key to privacy in the backyard. Without a fence, your backyard may feel open and inviting to any and all of your neighbors. Even before installing trees, make sure your fencing is up to par.
By installing the highest fence your homeowner’s association will allow, you’ll find privacy all around you. The only issue will be spying neighbor eyes from above.
To further your privacy, covered porches can add barriers from the neighbors. These cover and/or screened-in porches will ensures eyes from above cannot see what’s going on in your backyard.
This is ideal while enjoying a cold one as the stars come out, but not enjoyable if you’re looking to get some sun while enjoying the backyard.
Many don’t know this, but you can build your outdoor kitchen with privacy in mind. As the kitchen is usually tall, the grilling areas and more can all create natural barriers to nosy neighbors.
Many of our Olathe landscaping clients have asked us to build extravagant and tall outdoor kitchens with the idea of adding privacy to the outdoor spaces. And of course, we happily obliged.
These are just a few ideas. While the team here at Huston Contracting believe in being friendly with the neighbors, we understand there’s times when we all need a little privacy to truly enjoy our outdoor spaces.
In those times, just get in touch to learn more about your Olathe landscaping options.
Investing is a tricky word these days. You’ve got the stock market. You’ve got your home. Maybe you even have some Bitcoin. These are all things people consider investments. Many consider the items listed above to be solid ones, too.
But your landscaping? Most don’t consider landscaping an investment. Some do, but most don’t. For most, landscaping is about planting a few flowers and mowing the grass.
If you’re reading this, you may have different thoughts. You may believe investing in your landscaping is worthwhile. Maybe you find it’s a great way to increase the value of your home.
That idea couldn’t be truer. Seriously, investing in landscaping can add huge value to your home. Most people don’t realize it, but landscaping is one of the easiest ways to increase the value of your home.
For example, some have suggested that proper maintenance and upkeep of your landscaping could lead to a 6-13% increase in the value of your home.
Think about those numbers:
You have a home that’s roughly valued around $400,000 right now. You invest a little bit of money each year on landscaping projects and upkeep. When you go to sell the home, you get a 13% increase in value due to your landscaping. Now your home is worth $452,000!
That’s a pretty huge increase in value if you ask me, especially when all you had to do was add a few landscaping projects here and there.
Now, how do you see this increase? Well, here’s a few ideas for the Olathe homeowner looking to add value through landscaping:
By investing in your landscaping, you’re investing in your home. You’re investing in selling your property for a higher value. Plus, you get to enjoy stunning landscaping while you live in your home. A true win-win.
If you need help doing just that, get in touch. The experts here at Huston Contracting, Inc. We love to help Olathe residents build the yard of their dreams – while building their future, too.