It’s happening: the mornings are a bit cooler. Evenings, too. As our Olathe temperatures drop below the sweltering point of high summer, it becomes easier to think about the seasons to come.
But those seasons also bring colder temperatures, which means less time spent outdoors. Sure, autumn can be cozy during the day; but when night falls and the sun is no longer warming our outdoor spaces, even fall nights can be uncomfortably chilly.
One way to keep using your outdoor space, even when colder temperatures set in, is by adding an outdoor fireplace.
To say that outdoor fireplaces come in different shapes and sizes is to say that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are a simple coffee drink. There is no “typical” outdoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace can be a simple fire pit or fire bowl; a fire table or fire column; a chiminea or a pizza oven. It could also be a simple patio heater or an elaborate fire and water feature.
The point is this: no matter your budget, your design aesthetic, or how often you might use an outdoor fireplace, there is one that fits your needs.
Like other landscape decisions, installing an outdoor fireplace requires thought and planning. How often you’ll use it is a good place to start. Also consider what you’ll use it for: do you simply want a spot to gather with friends and family? If so, a fire pit that can be used whenever the temperature warrants might be the perfect choice. You can even toast a marshmallow or two or make s’mores over the flame of a fire bowl.
But if you want to cook outdoors, you’ll need something better suited to that purpose. Or, if you want a show-stopping, breathtaking, architectural attraction as part of your landscape design, you’ll need more than a simple fire pit.
Of course, the more elaborate the fireplace, the more you’ll need to budget. And remember to think of the space you have available, too; some spaces will only accommodate a small fireplace while others can handle something larger.
It’s easy to see how cozy an outdoor fireplace can make your space. By adding a fire element to your outdoor landscape, you can extend the length of time you’re happy while outdoors. Because you can add warmth to a colder evening, you might venture outside more often in the cooler autumn and even winter months.
Other advantages might not be so immediately apparent, but they’re nonetheless important. You’ll not only be creating an ambiance that makes entertaining more fun, but you can also increase the value of your home.
Regardless of which outdoor fireplace is best for you, we’re adept at helping homeowners create outdoor spaces they enjoy year-round. Give us a call and let us show you how beautiful your outdoor space can be.
Have you ever taken a good look at the foundation of your outdoor living space? The ground under your feet on your patio or deck isn’t just your lawn—it’s a foundation built of material like wood, stone, or concrete.
Concrete foundations offer particular advantages. They can last longer than wood and they withstand weather well. And, because concrete is poured, it can be designed in a way that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.
But concrete isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision. It can be colored (stained) or stamped to create a look you love. Keep reading to learn a few of the differences between stained and stamped concrete.
Stamped concrete is concrete that is poured and patterned to create an entirely different look. Stamping concrete allows you to emulate the look of brick, stone, slate, tile—and countless other options. It’s common to stamp concrete for patios, decks, sidewalks, and driveways.
The process of stamping concrete is akin to using a cookie cutter to make shaped cookies in that the concrete is stamped in a way that markings are left in/on the concrete so that as it dries, the markings and indentations become permanent. This is how a landscaping company can turn a smooth slab of concrete into a surface that looks like brick, for example; rather than creating the surface brick by brick, one pour is stamped to look like brick.
Stained concrete is concrete that has been tinted to another color. Think of it as wood stain but for concrete—it can be opaque or translucent, shiny or matte, monotone or ombre. Staining concrete can turn a space from industrial-looking to sleek or homey, depending on the colors and finishes selected.
Adding stamped concrete to your outdoor space increases your design options. No longer are you limited to a plain foundation slab; now you can build something that looks like natural stone but has the durability of concrete.
One advantage of opting for stamped concrete is budget. Because stamped concrete can last longer and is easier to maintain than natural elements, it requires less money as it ages. And, unlike wood, it doesn’t need to be replaced as often. Another advantage is maintenance. Stamped concrete can require less upkeep than stone or other natural elements.
More and more people are opting for stained concrete because it can combine the best of both worlds: economical durability and creative license. The colors concrete can be stained are limitless, which means design options are plentiful. And, depending on how much work and detail you want your space to have, a stained concrete foundation can be a work of art in and of itself.
No matter which option you find most interesting, it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans, budget, and timeline with an experienced landscaper. We’re here and eager to help when you’re ready.
Summer in Olathe and surrounding Johnson County is hot and often dry. These conditions can wreak havoc on landscaping. From dehydrated lawns to dying plants and damaged trees, summer weather conditions can ruin the landscape you’ve worked so hard on—and invested money in.
Watering your lawn simply to keep it alive might seem an easy task. But determining how much water your landscape needs is more math equation than intuition: you need to know how much water your soil can absorb at a given time, how much flow your irrigation system produces, how much water is absorbed by the atmosphere, and how much it will rain.
Those are a lot of variables to worry about every week. But it’s necessary to be consistent; a lack of water results in dehydrated lawns, dead grass, and wilting or dead gardens. This isn’t just an aesthetic issue; it’s also monetary. The same is true of watering too much. The grass might be green in that case, but it won’t be healthy. Excessive watering can also lead to soil erosion, pest problems, and even foundation issues.
Installing an automatic irrigation or sprinkler system might seem like an unnecessary luxury, but it isn’t. Installing a system that makes it easier to keep your lawn and landscape properly hydrate can save money in the long run because it preserves the landscape you’ve worked so hard to create.
It can also save you time. Instead of hooking up hoses and moving sprinklers and standing at your flower bed, you could be working or spending time with family or even traveling—all while maintaining your lawn, trees, shrubs, and landscaping.
Irrigation systems allow you to customize how much—and when—you water your lawn and landscape. This means you can use technology to ensure that you’re not only protecting your investment, but also the environment.
Excessive watering can lead to run-off and soil erosion. It can also waste water, which is a precious and sometimes scarce resource. By installing a newer, more precise system, you can beautifully and easily maintain your lawn and landscape and help protect our environment.
Ready to explore the idea of installing a custom irrigation system? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Remember the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In the story, a family of bears goes for a walk when their breakfast porridge is too hot to eat. While they’re away, a girl named Goldilocks goes into their house, sees the food, and decides to eat. She tries the first chair, which is too big and too hard and the porridge is too hot. She tries the second chair, which is too soft, and the porridge at that place setting was too cold. Finally, she tries the third chair, which was just right for her. The porridge was just the right temperature, too, so she ate it all.
That’s not the entire story, of course, but it’s one that might come to mind when you think of watering your Olathe landscape, especially in the thick of summer. How much water is too much? How much is not enough? And how do you get it “just right?”
Read on to learn more about how you can determine the right amount of water for your Johnson County lawn and landscape.
Generally speaking, Olathe landscapes and lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. This can come from rainfall or watering. And, of course, this is a very broad stroke of a guideline. Factors including type of grass, soil type, regional conditions, and lawn age can make a difference and change the ideal amount of water for your particular landscape.
Another oft-followed rule of thumb is to water to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, which is the desired depth of healthy, thriving roots.
Kansas City’s predominately heavy, clay soil means that water can be absorbed at only .2 inches per hour. Of course, no one can control the weather or how much rainfall we receive each week or month. But when deciding how often—and for how long—to water your lawn and landscape to supplement natural rainfall, it’s important to remember that overwatering soil that can’t readily soak it all in can not only result in run-off, but also in wasted money.
Master gardeners at the Johnson County Extension Office advise determining the flow rate of your sprinkler/irrigation system. This page describes an easy way to measure how much water your sprinklers deliver per time period.
Once you know the flow rate of your system, you can determine how long you should run your sprinklers to supplement whatever rainfall has been received in a given week. To measure and keep tabs on whether or not your lawn is being watered effectively, try the screwdriver test: press a 6-inch screwdriver into the soil. If it goes in easily, your lawn is hydrated. If you have to fight to get in all the way, it’s time to water.
The information shared here is general, meaning it’s a guideline for most lawns and landscapes in the Johnson County area. But what if the type of grass you’ve planted requires more or less moisture? What if your hardscaping is unique or if you have a water feature that makes your yard more humid than your neighbor’s yard?
Working with a landscape architect can help you determine even the routine measures taken to keep your lawn and landscape healthy and beautiful, like watering enough, but not too much. We’re ready and eager to help you create and maintain the lawn and landscape of your dreams. Contact us to learn more.
When we talk about landscaping, so often we focus on what grows in your space. Lush grass, strong trees, colorful flowerbeds: they’re all common elements of a beautiful lawn and garden space.
But there’s another category of landscaping feature that also deserve as much attention, and that’s water features. Not sure what a water feature is? Most commonly this category includes waterfalls, koi ponds, and natural creek beds.
These water features share some common advantages. They can add visual drama and texture to a space. They can be environmentally friendly by helping to conserve water and by providing safe spaces for friendly critters. And they can improve mental health and provide other documented health benefits.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of incorporating one or more of these elements into your landscaping.
Let’s start with one of the most striking elements you can add to your outdoor space: a waterfall. Not only can a backyard waterfall be a visually stunning focal point of your landscape; it can also help create a calm space that promotes rest and contemplation. Studies have shown that the sound of moving water can help reduce blood pressure and countless people meditate to the sound of waterfalls via phone app and headphones. Adding this feature to your backyard can help you create an oasis that multi-tasks as both beautiful and therapeutic.
Deciding which materials to use when constructing a water feature for your landscape is an important decision. Natural stones offer unique advantages. One of those advantages is that water flows differently over and through natural stones than it does over other surfaces like soil or synthetic building materials. This could potentially improve drainage in your yard, which both helps your landscape look better and keeps the living elements of your yard healthy and flourishing.
Like waterfalls, koi ponds can bring a calm, relaxing aesthetic to an outdoor space. But a koi pond is more than just a pretty addition; a koi pond becomes a home to countless living species, and not just fish! A koi pond provides a place for snails, crustaceans, and insects. In addition to providing a home to other friendly creatures, koi ponds can help reduce mosquitos in your yard.
In nature it’s sometimes difficult to enjoy water features—like a pond or a waterfall—after sunset because it’s impossible to see. The same doesn’t have to be true of your home landscape. With the right underwater lighting, water features can provide around the clock benefits without being intrusive. Working with experienced landscape architects to determine which underwater lighting sources are best for your particular landscape is the best way to ensure the water feature you choose can be enjoyed as often as possible.
A natural creek bed can be just as dramatic a focal point as a waterfall or a koi pond. It can also serve to add interest to a space, provide sunny and shady areas, and divide space for different purposes.
Ready to explore the idea of adding a unique, stunning water feature to your landscape? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Summer in Olathe and surrounding Johnson County can be brutal without a screened-in porch to proved shade coverage. While we all want to spend time outside, we also want to stay safe—and we all know that too much of a good thing can be harmful. That’s especially true when it comes to being in the summer sun!
One way to still enjoy the outdoors, even in summer’s intense heat, is to build a screened-in porch, deck, or patio. Read on to learn more about the advantages of each.
Adding a screened-in porch offers countless advantages. It can keep you free from pesky bugs by keeping insects out. It can extend your living space without forcing you out into your backyard. It can multi-task: at times, it can be a space to entertain or to be with younger kids but it can also be a respite when you crave quiet and time to yourself.
In addition to those lifestyle advantages, adding a screened-in porch can increase the resale value of your home.
Adding a deck to your property offers many of the same advantages of a screened-in porch. A deck will extend your living space and give you more room to entertain or to spend time with family (or alone).
A deck, however, is typically open to the sun. This might make you wonder why we’d include it in a blog post about keeping out of the sun! The answer to that is simple: opting for a deck rather than a screened-in porch means you have more options. You can add furniture with an umbrella to shield you from the sun when necessary. But you can also opt for umbrella-less furniture in Spring and Fall, when you want more of an open space and unobstructed sky views and fresh air.
A patio differs from a deck in that while a deck is attached to your home, a patio is free-standing. Most patios are a short walk from an entrance to your home; but because a patio isn’t attached to another structure, it starts as a blank canvas.
This means you have options: use natural stone or slate for the patio for a natural look. Or opt for wood for a more rustic feel. Add a pergola for visual interest or a mini outdoor kitchen for easy snack and drink access. Like a deck, a patio affords flexibility for furnishings and it’s easy to adapt to the seasons.
No matter which option you choose, you can spend more time outdoors, even when the summer temperatures rise. Things to consider when planning an enclosed porch, a deck, or a patio include the current circumstances of your space, how much room you have, your budget, and your personal preferences.
Ready to explore the idea of adding a sun-free outdoor space to your home? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
When temperatures rise and you want to keep your home as cool as possible, cooking in your outdoor kitchen is the best solution. Which elements make an outdoor kitchen the best it can be? That’s simple: a grill, a fireplace, a patio, shade, and ample seating.
Let’s face it: when we think of cooking outdoors, we think of grilling. Whether it’s a quiet family night or a bigger gathering, having the right grill means easy but delicious burgers, steaks, seafood, and veggies. You can even make dessert on the grill! Fruits like peaches and pineapple are easy to grill and mouthwatering on their own or when paired with ice cream. And if you want to try something new and fun, you can even make a unique salad on the grill! Hint: there’s watermelon in it!
Key factors to consider when choosing an outdoor grill include the energy source (natural gas, electric, or propane), location, ventilation, and budget. If you dream of a built-in grill under a stone awning, for example, you’ll need a proper ventilation system. And think about the food you love to grill and what flavors you want. Charcoal can be messy but gives food a flavor unlike any other.
What’s an outdoor party without s’mores? OK, it’s true—there are more benefits to a fireplace than just sweet treats. Depending on how you use your outdoor space, those benefits might include warmth for cool evening gatherings, a design focal point, or simply the ambiance of a roaring fire on a summer evening.
Key factors to consider when planning an outdoor kitchen fireplace include budget, material, design aesthetic, and layout. Like a built-in grill, having proper ventilation is important. Knowing if a fireplace will impede traffic or block a view matters, too. A skilled landscape architect will help you determine the best place in your backyard to put a fireplace. They can also help you decide if a custom-built fireplace is best or if opting for a pre-built package is a smart solution.
An outdoor kitchen is an extension of your indoor living space, so it makes sense that you’d consider some of the same factors when planning. Perhaps one of the most important considerations is how you’ll use the space, and there’s a high likelihood that gathering with others, whether that’s family or family and friends, will be high on the list. Having the proper space for others to sit and stand is important—and that’s where a patio comes in.
Key factors to consider when planning an outdoor kitchen patio include budget, space, materials, and the intended use of the space. The placement of a patio can create the layout of your outdoor space. When planned properly, it helps designate areas: lounge chairs and bench seating for casual gatherings, a table and chairs for sit-down events, and space to move in between are important.
Because most people migrate outdoors when the weather starts to warm, it makes sense that planning for added sun protection is an important part of your outdoor kitchen plans. Adding a pergola can not only create the illusion of a room outdoors, but it can offer shade and much-needed relief from direct sunlight and extreme heat.
Key factors to consider when choosing a pergola or shade option for your outdoor kitchen include design aesthetic, space, and budget. Like so many other elements of your outdoor kitchen, you have countless options of materials and design. Working with your landscape expert can help make those decisions easier.
Outdoor kitchen seating is all about comfort and function. Planning lots of meals eaten outdoors? You need a table and chairs. Envision many a night spent around the fireplace, sharing stories and laughter? You need individual chairs and benches to accommodate additional people. Truth is, most outdoor spaces need both types of seating.
Key factors to consider when choosing your outdoor furniture start with function: how will you use the space? Then you can consider budget, design, and space planning.
Ready to explore the idea of building your dream outdoor kitchen? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Have you ever asked the question: what is a landscape architect? Are you curious how a landscape architect is different from a landscaper? If so, you’re not alone. These are important questions to ask, especially when you decide to trust someone with your home.
The technical answer to the first question is this: landscape architects analyze, plan, and design environments that are both natural and man-made. They design areas that help define and improve communities.
Sure, the terms “landscape architect” and “landscaper” are sometimes used interchangeably. And it’s true that sometimes the functions of each overlap. Here at Huston Contracting, for example, we offer both landscaping and landscape architect services.
These jobs aren’t the same, though each relies on the other in various ways. A landscape architect plans spaces, not unlike how an architect plans buildings. Think about taking your expansive backyard and building an outdoor kitchen, for example. Or consider a community playground or a garden. The landscape architect does what’s necessary to build those spaces. A landscaper tends those spaces once they exist. They work together to make the spaces the best they can be.
Becoming a landscape architect requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. But it’s not unusual for landscape architects to hold master’s degrees. Additionally, they must maintain a license from their state. In Kansas, licenses are renewed biennially, and the state requires 30 professional development hours as a condition of renewal.
Landscape architects can work in any environment. College campuses, gardens and arboretums, historic preservation sites, monuments, hospitals and prisons, and urban design are a few examples. It’s likely that whenever a space is planned, a landscape architect is involved.
Many architects opt to specialize in residential landscaping. This means they plan and build everything from retaining walls to outdoor kitchens to backyard waterfalls. The continuing education required of landscape architects means they are aware of new technologies and environmental concerns. It also means they understand our evolving lives and how we use spaces both as individuals and as a community.
Choosing to work with a landscape architect company means working with a team that understands every aspect of making your space the best it can be. We know how to maintain the space you already have. And we can also can help you build the space you’ve always wanted.
Learn more about our team here and know that we are always happy to talk with you about your current and future projects.
Just like any other lawn or landscaping project, planning must be part of your process. Before you can estimate how long it might take to build your perfect outdoor kitchen space, you have to decide on the details. For example: what kind of stone do you want to use? What elements do you want to include? Do you want a sink and a pizza oven, a bar, a grill, lots of seating?
When you think through how you’ll most often use the space, you’ll be able to determine the answers to these and other important questions—and these answers will help your landscaping professional help you determine how long the space will take to build and how much it will cost. Part of these considerations include the other professionals necessary to complete the project. For instance, you might need an electrician or a plumber to work with your landscaper.
If you’re curious about general guidelines, they’re hard to determine because every space is different. But, building an outdoor kitchen typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. If there is existing concrete, the time can be shorter, even perhaps 3 to 4 weeks.
Once you’ve worked out those details, you can sit back and relax as your landscaping company builds your space—and once built, you can reap long-lasting benefits.
An outdoor kitchen can add significant living space to your home. Think about it: with an kitchen outside, when the weather is right you can cook, relax, chat, and entertain in your outdoor space. An outdoor kitchen adapts easily. It’s just as lovely for a small family dinner as it is for a larger celebration.
When you cook and bake inside on hot days, your air conditioning system has to work harder. And that can translate into bigger monthly bills. Using your outdoor kitchen to cook can help save on those costs.
Adding one can also increase the resale value of your home. If you plan well and install an outdoor kitchen with quality materials that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, you can expect significant returns on your investment. How much? That depends on too many variables to give a hard and fast number, but estimates range from 55% to 100%.
Having an outdoor kitchen opens up so many options for busy families. Want a delicious dinner in a beautiful space but don’t want to wait in line at a restaurant? Use your stainless-steel grill and invite the neighbors! Want to cook fish or deep fry a turkey, but don’t like the lingering smells in your kitchen? Use the kitchen that’s outside! Want to host a party for your kids and their friends? Fire up the pizza oven!
The truth is, when you work with a landscaping professional who understands not just what you want your space to look like but how you hope to use it, you can custom create the kitchen of your dreams. We’d be honored to work with you on making that dream a reality