April showers bring…. summer grilling? OK, that’s not quite how the saying goes, but one of the best things about the weather turning warmer is that we can double our kitchen space by adding an outdoor kitchen area. If you love gathering family and friends in your outdoor space to enjoy food, fun, and warm weather, then it’s smart to prep your outdoor space now.
It might seem nice now to hang out in your yard, but in just a few short weeks it will be hot here again in Johnson County. Those intense summer rays aren’t just uncomfortable; they can also cause sunburns and make us want to head inside. When you’re planning your outdoor living space, be sure to include ample shade, whether that’s a custom-built outdoor kitchen, a patio shade, or umbrellas secured in strategic places.
You can also add shade with the right landscaping. Talk to your landscape architect about shrubs, trees, and other installations that can create cool havens on hot summer days.
No, you don’t have to know exactly what you’ll serve every time you dine outdoors! But it’s a good idea to know what you like to cook—and what your guests like to eat! Why? Because having the right tools for the job is important, and when it comes to your outdoor kitchen that usually means a grill—or more than one, depending on your plans. Working with a pro can help you make the most of your layout and will ensure that the space isn’t just beautiful, but also efficient.
You can’t have a hot summer BBQ without cold drinks, and you can’t have cold drinks without a refrigerator and/or an ice maker! You can have both in your outdoor kitchen, which means family and friends will spend more time with you outside than they will trudging into your kitchen for a quick sip of something cold.
Ready to make your outdoor living space the best it can be? Get in touch and ask us. We’d love to help you create an outdoor kitchen that’s perfect for you!
Spring means the beginning of watering lawns and landscape. That also means it’s time to worry about runoff. What is runoff? The technical definition is: the flow of water that occurs when excess storm water, meltwater, or other sources flows over the Earth’s surface. Running water is powerful—it has carved canyons and moved boulders. You might not worry about issues of this scale, but it’s a fair question to ask what runoff might do to your landscape.
The short answer to that question is erosion. Spring runoff can lead to erosion on your property. This isn’t just an issue of being an eyesore. Erosion can affect your home’s foundation. Installing a retaining wall can help prevent soil erosion. By doing so, you can help protect your landscape and your property.
It can be a bit technical, but the slope of your landscape dictates what kind of retaining wall you need. It’s something best left to experts, though there are resources to consult if you want to learn more, like this guide from the National Resources Conservation Service. Is it possible to DIY your retaining wall? Sure it is, though in our opinion it’s best to consult an expert. If you decide to go solo, be sure to do your homework and to consider every option carefully.
Simply put, a retaining wall holds soil in place. When designed properly, retaining walls also ensure that excess water drains in ways that don’t erode the soil. Think of these channels almost like water slides at a big amusement park: with the right structure and construction, you can change the direction of drainage in your space, making sure that runoff water goes where you want it to go.
There are several options to consider: full retaining walls, partial walls, and raised terraces with plantings, just to name a few. Construction can vary too, depending on design need and aesthetic preference. Concrete, brick, and wood are all options. The best way to decide is to discuss the variety of options with a company that specializes in retaining walls in your area. We do just that.
We’re not the only ones ready for Spring, are we? It’s not just the warmer temperatures that make us so happy this time of year; it’s also the riot of color that comes from fields of Spring blooms. If you’re looking for insights on how to encourage rapid Spring blooms in your own backyard, read on.
First things first: you can’t have a glorious bloom of new growth if your yard and gardens are full of debris and dead remnants of seasons past. Take the time to clear away old growth—remove any remaining leaves, random branches, and anything else that’s settled in over winter’s colder months to make way for new growth. If you do so early enough, Spring’s new buds have a clear space in which to bloom, and you’ll be able to see the shoots break ground!
Don’t forget about your trees and shrubs, either. This is the perfect time to trim and prune—but to do that, you have to be sure your tools are in optimal shape, too. Take the time necessary to scrub blades and metal tools with soap and water. Wooden handles can be revived with an application of mineral spirits. Looking for nifty storage options to keep your tools handy and in their best shape? There are tons of options here.
It all starts with healthy soil, and ours needs some attention now that it’s Spring. Turn it over (use a pitchfork to break it up, pull soil from beneath to the top, and turn the current top layer under. Add compost (either your own) or commercially prepared fertilizer. Compost adds vital, necessary nutrients to the soil, but be wary: it takes at least a couple of weeks after adding compost for soil to be ready for new plants. If you prefer commercially prepared fertilizer, remember that different fertilizers are best in various seasons. Learn about fertilizers best used in Spring here.
It’s a bit too soon to plant everything outdoors—temperatures will still dip, which is dangerous for tender roots and shoots. But it’s the perfect time to start many plants indoors. Starting from seeds and nurturing the plants indoors mean you have a private set of seedlings ready when the you know the weather will stay warm. And take advantage of this time, too, to build new beds and raised garden structures, if that suits your space. This prep work now will make it possible to enjoy what often seems like a too-short Spring window of perfect weather—and perfect landscaping conditions.
Want help with your Spring plans? Looking to make your space the one you’ve always dreamed of? If so, reach out and talk to us!
It’s officially Spring in Kansas: the snow is gone (fingers crossed!), April’s showers have begun in March, and lawns are being uncovered again. Does yours look ready for the new season? Don’t stress if your answer is a resounding “no!” There’s time to prep before warm weather turns too hot.
Start with the most obvious tasks: clean up any debris that’s settled since you last tended your lawn. Raking helps remove grass and other growth that didn’t survive the last few cold and snowy months. Raking can also help loosen clumps that might harbor mold and prevent new growth. Pro tip: rake when the soil isn’t muddy, so you don’t loosen healthy growth.
It’s also time to think about aerating, but how often aerating should be done depends on the type of grass in your yard. Aerating promotes healthy roots, which are essential for a gorgeous, green lawn. Learn more about when and how to aerate here, or work with us to determine the best schedule.
It might seem counterintuitive, but experts recommend not overwatering in the spring. Why? The experts at the Kansas State Extension office say that there’s enough moisture to sustain your lawn. Additionally, withholding water will toughen up your lawn for the hotter temperatures sure to hit in June and July. Expert tip: successful watering depends on reaching your lawn’s roots, not the surface, so think deep and infrequent when it comes to irrigating.
The same is true of fertilizing; in fact, the Kansas State Extension office says to forgo fertilizing entirely. Why? It all comes down to harming the ecosystem with leached chemicals. Sound complicated? It can be, but we’re adept at knowing just the right balance. Call us to create a plan that’s perfect for your lawn.
Once you’ve cleaned up your lawn and set a firm foundation for warmer summer months, let your imagination run: do you want an outdoor kitchen, a new retaining wall, a gorgeous hedge of vivid flowers, a tree for shade? With a little hard work and help, you could have the backyard you’ve always wanted!
It’s almost here: Daylight Savings Time has given us more light-filled hours and the calendar says that soon it will be Spring. While it might not be quite time to toss your scarves and gloves for flip-flops and bathing suits, it is the perfect time to get your outdoor kitchen ready for Spring fun.
If you took the time to prepare your Olathe outdoor kitchen space for winter weather, you likely covered most surfaces to insulate and to keep snow and debris from accumulating on surfaces, clogging drains, and staining finishes. So when the weather starts to warm up, it’s time to strip the heavy winter coverings from your space and start from a clean slate.
Think Before You Do
Just like Spring cleaning, getting your outdoor kitchen ready for warm-weather parties, BBQs, and quiet family nights takes a little elbow grease. You’ll need to scrub away any debris, clean surfaces, and freshen the space so it’s ready to use.
Before you do—or while you’re cleaning, if you like to multi-task—take some time to think about how you want to use the space. If you’re planning many parties with neighbors, family, and friends, you might want to consider additional seating or storage. Or you might upgrade your grill, add another cooking surface, or shop for new cookware.
Work in Stages
Sadly, It’s true: it’s still cold enough outside that temperatures will dip below freezing. So you might not be hooking up your water source again, but you could be thinking ahead and breaking your summer-kitchen plan into easy steps. This is the perfect time to decide how you want to refresh or upgrade your space. Have you dreamed of a stone fire pit? How about a pergola? The best part of planning is the ability to make the space truly your own—and that’s what we love to do.
Do you have questions about how to transform your outdoor space from ho-hum to WOW? We’d love to help you, so reach out to start the conversation.
Be honest…have you spent more than a little bit of our snowy winter thinking about the glorious garden you want to grow come Spring? How about new ideas for your lawn? Or maybe you’re daydreaming a way to incorporate a few new WOW! elements this year?
Some of us might still be chipping ice from our sidewalks, but now is actually a great time to think about your warm weather landscaping plans. And even if you didn’t find the time or inclination to plant last Fall, planning for Spring and Summer is still an achievable goal. This is especially true if you want to include native Kansas plants in your Olathe landscape design.
You’ve heard the saying “bloom where you’re planted,” right? Thing is, not all plants bloom equally. But native plants have an advantage because they’re uniquely suited to the soil and conditions in our area.
By definition, native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They’re part of the ecosystem and play an integral role in providing food for insects and small animals. Studies actually show that without native plants, some species of insects and animals might cease to exist.
Another bonus: birdwatching! Planting native plants can actually draw birds to your yard—and you can choose different plants to attract the bird(s) of your choice! Use the handy tool here—just enter your zip code and scroll through which native Kansas plants attract the bird (or birds) you’re hoping to attract.
Not only are native plants naturally beautiful, but they are ecological workhorses, too. When a plant is native to an area, it requires less intervention to flourish: you water less and use less fertilizer. You also have more time to just sit back and enjoy being in your outdoor space, because native plants require less maintenance.
Curious about which native plants to include in your space? Get in touch and ask us. We’d love to help you create a lawn and landscape tailored just for you.
What, exactly, is a retaining wall—and what do you need to know about Olathe retaining wall installation? Simply put, a retaining wall is a free-standing barrier. This barrier prevents dirt and sediment from succumbing to the forces of gravity. That means a retaining wall can keep dirt where it is needed instead of letting it wash away—and that’s important for homeowners.
Talk of retaining walls typically includes words like “slope” and “gravity” and “gradation.” And those words are important, to be sure. But retaining walls are about more than just dirt, and they’re one of the elements of landscape design that can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
The best Olathe landscape architects will tell you that reasons abound for building a retaining wall. It might be a logistical decision if there are issues of slope or runoff. Making sure your home’s foundation is protected is one of the most important considerations you’ll make as a homeowner, and foundations can be threatened by sliding hills, washout, and erosion. It might also be a design decision. For example, if you want a tiered garden to make the best use of a small space, a retaining wall might be a great option. It also might work for you if you’re looking for a way to add extra seating options.
A retaining wall can, in fact, be a multi-tasking element of your landscape design. It can provide practical, necessary protection to your home and landscape. I can also add a beautiful, unique design element to your yard. Even better, it can help create a unique focal point that expresses your personality and design tastes. The best way to ensure that you achieve each goal is to consult with a professional. Take that time to ask questions and to learn all you can about why a retaining wall might work for you.
A retaining wall should first be practical, for certain. There are too many issues to worry about if done shoddily, so be sure to consult with a professional. But that doesn’t mean it can’t look great, too. As you think of options, remember that you have choices. You can opt for concrete, brick, stone, even wood. Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each option; for example, wood might better suit your design and personal taste, but likely won’t last as long as stone or concrete.
Truth is, every yard is different and there’s no way to adequately tell you everything you need to know about retaining walls unless we actually have a conversation. But there is one important thing we can say to everyone: don’t go it alone. While we could give you a checklist of things to be aware of, there are technical issues that matter. This is especially true of the behind-the-scenes technicalities of properly constructed retaining walls. Remember that a proper retaining wall needs proper drainage, sturdy construction, and careful planning. Working together with a dedicated Olathe landscaping company can help you find just the right solution. So reach out to ask questions, or to see examples of projects we’ve completed.
What does it take to be an exceptional Olathe landscaping company? That’s a big question that boils down to a few things, most of which hinge on this: we want your yard to be the best yard it can be, and we want you to be happy with the service and products we offer.
In our last post, we talked about things to consider when hiring the best Olathe landscaper possible. And in that post we also mentioned a variety of things to consider that apply to the planning of a successful yard and garden. A few of those things include dreaming up what you want your space to look like, how much you want to spend, and how much help you want to have as you turn your plans into reality.
All of those things are important, but we barely skimmed the surface in the last post. So it’s time to examine your dreams a little more in depth. To do this, you have to consider your yards of years past. What were you happy with? What did you dislike and want to change or eliminate? Even if you’re not the list-making type, jotting these thoughts down in a place that you can easily access will help you as you plan. It will also help you better articulate your thoughts to your Olathe landscape architect.
Think, too, about the work it took to make those yards of years past possible. Did you spend more time working on your lawn than you did enjoying it? Did you enjoy that time spent working? Or would you have rather spent it with family or friends—or traveling, going to the movies, or learning something new?
You’ve read it in countless business books, but it bears repeating: your time is money. Considering how much time you invest in your lawn is an important part of planning for future years. Weigh the pros and cons carefully.
Sometimes it takes seeing something to realize its potential. These cold winter months are the perfect time to spend a weekend afternoon at a home and garden show. Or you could search Pinterest for gorgeous lawn and landscaping ideas, or flip through a seed catalog. Who knows—you might realize you know exactly what you want, or you might find something you never knew you couldn’t live without!
We’re here to help you make your lawn the best it can be and we’d love to talk to you about the lawn and landscape you want to create in this new year. As you’re surfing online, take a minute to read a few testimonials and if you’re ready, reach out and take the first step to making your dream lawn a dream come true!
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.