3 Areas Where Retaining Walls Add Value and Look Great

Retaining walls offer countless benefits. They can be a gorgeous aesthetic element that shows your home design and landscaping personality. More than that, though, they’re functional. Retaining walls help prevent run-off, guard against erosion, and can protect your home’s foundation.

But there are three places in particular that retaining walls can be especially beneficial. Those places are at your driveway and/or stairway, around your flower beds, and when either placed next to, or used as, fencing.

Retaining Wall Around Your Driveway or Stairway

One of the most important things a retaining wall can do for your landscape is provide additional support for architectural and functional features. This is especially true when it comes to your driveway and/or the stairway to your home. It’s all about the slope of your land, here: a retaining wall and help correct less than ideal slopes. This means that a retaining wall at your driveway and/or stairway is less likely to shift. An added bonus is that a retaining wall here can be both attractive and an added safety feature.

Retaining Walls and Flower Beds

Retaining walls are one of the best ways to create the lawn of your dreams. By building retaining walls, you can turn a blank space into an array of raised beds full of color, texture, and height. All of these elements are pleasing to the eye and make the best use of every bit of available space.

Retaining walls that create flower beds don’t just provide an instant home for your favorite flowers and plants. These retaining walls also help do what all other retaining walls do: they help prevent excessive run-off, help control soil erosion, correct slopes, and protect the foundation of your home.

Retaining Walls and Fencing

Let’s face it: replacing a fence isn’t an inexpensive endeavor. Why not consider a retaining wall instead? Doing so means you can maximize not just your budget, but the design potential of your space. This doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision: by working with a professional landscaping company, you can choose to use a retaining wall as a fence, install a fence on top of a retaining wall, or add a fence and/or guardrails around the retaining wall.

No matter where you want to install a retaining wall, there are serious concerns to keep in mind. Knowing the slope of your land and how the water drains is vital. So is having a clear understanding of what your city or town’s regulations are when it comes to building or installing new features.

As an Olathe landscape company that works throughout the Johnson County and greater Kansas City area, we know those requirements and can work with you to find the best option for your space. Reach out when you’re ready to learn more.

How Installing Retaining Walls Can Help Your Landscape and Prevent Spring Runoff

How Installing Retaining Walls Can Help Your Landscape and Prevent Spring Runoff

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.

What’s Your Slope?

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.

How Retaining Walls Work

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.

 

Retaining wall considerations

Do I Need a Retaining Wall?

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.

Why Would I Want a Retaining Wall?

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.

Best of Both Worlds

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.

Details Matter

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.

Ask the Right Questions

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.

4 Low Water Usage Olathe Landscaping Ideas

Some think your lawn can’t look great unless it’s April through July and the grass is as green as it’s ever been before.

At Huston Contracting, we know that’s just not true. So we wanted to show you a few low water usage Olathe landscaping ideas. Using these unique ideas, you’ll be able to improve your lawn and keep your landscape looking good.

It won’t matter if the rain isn’t falling or you’re looking to cut back on the watering, you can still implement these ideas.

Low Water Usage Olathe Landscaping Ideas

Let’s take a look at these ideas and how you can improve your Olathe landscaping without using much water:

  • Create an Outdoor Environment

This is the easiest way to improve your Olathe landscape without using a ton of water. You can add features like an outdoor kitchen, retaining wall, or a covered porch. These unique features won’t cost any water and will add significant value to your landscaping, especially in the backyard area.

Don’t delay, though! By investing in an outdoor kitchen early in the season, you’ll be able to enjoy it even more this year.

  • Find the Right Plants

Certain plants require water every single day. If you don’t water some species of plants daily, they will look withered and weak. On the other hand, there are some plants that look great year around – whether they get a ton of water or not.

If you plant species like Agave, Sage, Lavender Cotton, and more – you won’t have to water these plants often. These species simply don’t require a lot of water to look great, especially in the spring and summer.

  • Walkways Galore

Walkways are one easy way to change the whole face of your landscaping without using much water or breaking the bank. Using natural stone to create unique walkways to your covered porch, outdoor kitchen, or a sitting area is a great Olathe landscaping idea for the coming months.

  • Maybe a Little Mulch

Ok, this idea might be a little basic. We get that. But there’s really never a bad time to add a little mulch around your landscaping. Fresh mulch looks exactly like it sounds – fresh! You don’t need any water to add a little mulch and this small change will add a lot of life to your landscaping like never before.

Create Your Ideal Landscape…Today!

You don’t need to waste water all the time to keep your lawn looking ideal, especially around this time of the year. Just get in contact with Huston Contracting. As the Olathe Landscaping experts, we’re here to help you create the lawn of your dreams. We look forward to working with you!

 

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Olathe Outdoor Kitchen

While wintertime may not be the ideal time to build an outdoor kitchen, there’s no reason you can’t improve the one you’ve got. With that in mind, we wanted to detail a few ways our clients have been adding, improving, and updating.

At Huston Contracting, we specialize in Olathe outdoor kitchens. We know how important an outdoor gathering space can be for families and friends. We also know a few minor tweaks can take your space from a place to cook to the premier gathering spot in the neighborhood.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Olathe Outdoor Kitchen

With that in mind, here are a few different ways you can improve your Olathe outdoor kitchen in the coming year:

  • Strip Lighting

One quick and simple way to add a ton of value to your outdoor kitchen? Strip lighting. Use strip lighting to highlight stairs, walkways, and so much more. You can even put lighting under fixed seating areas and storage units.

Strip lighting partially makes a space look great, but there’s another aspect to it. Strip lighting is a safety feature when it’s dark out.

  • Fire Pits For All

One way to add huge entertainment value to your outdoor kitchen area? Add a stunning fire pit that the whole family can sit around.

These days there’s a fire pit for every size and situation. They have some that can be moved around to different areas, while others are designed to stay in one place. They even have fire pits that can double as coffee tables.

  • Build the Bar

Often, a family builds an outdoor kitchen with cooking and socializing in mind. Building an outdoor bar is often an afterthought. But maybe it shouldn’t be.

Most Olathe outdoor kitchens would only need a few minor updates and additions from a professional, like our staff here at Huston Contracting, to turn your outdoor kitchen into a bar/kitchen combo space.

  • More Stone

At Huston Contracting, we’re a little partial to outdoor kitchens with natural stone. While you can build with any style you please, we’ve found natural stone truly compliments the outdoors better than almost any other material. If you’re looking for a quick improvement, add a little stone around the area.

  • Covered Porches

Ok, this is a little bit more than a quick and simple improvement. In fact, most will want to work with professionals to add a covered porch to their outdoor kitchen.

But, there’s no denying the benefits of adding covered space. Many families start to use their outdoor kitchen more and more each passing year. Instead of taking the food inside, they want to eat it in the great outdoors – where it was cooked.

That’s where a covered porch comes in. Instead of baking in the sun or worrying about the rain, you simply cook the meal outdoors and then eat it under the comforts of your covered porch. A true win-win!

 

 

Thinking of Doing Some Landscaping This Summer? Let’s Get Started

The summer is right around the corner. The sunshine is fine, and the heat is almost here. It’s almost pool time. Boating season isn’t far off. We’ll all be breaking out the bathing suits soon.

But that doesn’t mean you can neglect your lawn and landscaping. You should pay your yard a little more attention during this time of year. There are a few fun things that are best done during the summer landscaping season.

Thinking of Doing Some Landscaping This Summer?

If you’re interested in doing some summer landscaping in Olathe, Kansas – get in touch. Here at Huston Contracting, our professional landscapers and designers work year around to keep your yard looking great.

A few of our summertime specialties include:

This should come as no surprise. Lawn care and maintenance are essential to keeping your landscape looking good in the summertime. With even a few weeks of neglect, you lush lawn could go from green to brown.

At Huston Contracting, we can help you keep things green and clean. Our experts offer services like:

  • Mowing
  • Pruning
  • Mulching
  • Weed control
  • Cleanup services
  • Irrigation systems

…And more!

There’s nothing better than a good ole’ fashion Kansas City barbecue. Well, except for one that happens in your backyard outdoor kitchen. Put simply – there’s no better time to install an Olathe outdoor kitchen than the summer.

You’ll get more use out of your outdoor kitchen in the summer and fall than any other months. You’ll be able to host barbecues and gatherings with ease – all from the comfort of your home.

For veteran Olathe landscapers looking to take things to the next level, nothing says “pro” like adding a water feature or two to your yard. At Huston Contracting, we can change the focus of your landscape by offering features like:

  • Natural stone waterfalls
  • Pondless waterfalls
  • Koi ponds
  • Natural creek beds
  • Bubbler rocks

…And more!

Remember how amazing the fireplace feels inside your home during the winter months? Adding an outdoor fireplace to your landscape can offer similar benefits during the breezy summer nights in Olathe.

If you’re looking for focal point of your landscape to change, an outdoor fireplace can do just that in the backyard.

No matter what type of Olathe landscaping services you need, we can help change the look of your yard this summer. From irrigation design to natural stone installation to sod installation and drainage solutions – Huston Contracting is a full-service professional landscaping company.

Get In Touch With Huston Contracting Today!

Summer is nearly here. Don’t wait another day. If you’re looking to tackle some big landscaping projects before the blistering heat, get in touch today. Our team looks forward to hearing from you and helping you have the best yard in the whole neighborhood!

Is Springtime Ideal For Olathe Retaining Wall Installations?

Olathe Retaining Wall

While seemingly simple, Olathe retaining wall installations can become surprisingly complex. There’s a lot of science that goes into taking uneven terrain and building a stunning wall to even it out. Olathe landscape designers often have their hands full when a new wall is under construction.

The Best Time For Olathe Retaining Wall Installations:

While our professional staff here at Huston Contracting can install a wall whenever you need it, there is an ideal time. During the right timeframe, retaining walls can be installed quicker and better than during other parts of the year. So what time is absolutely ideal?

To determine that, let’s take a look at precipitation and temperature. Ideally, we’d like to perform Olathe retaining wall installations during dry months with spring-like temperatures.

With that premise in mind, a quick dive into Olathe weather on Google should give us a decent answer. Olathe’s rainiest months come in May and June. Thus, it may not be the best idea to schedule a retaining wall installation during these periods.

However, the months with the least precipitation December, January, and February – which can also be problematic due to the cold weather. While hot streaks are becoming more common during these months, they aren’t the best months for such a job. That title goes to March, April, and October. 

There’s Wiggle Room

While we at Huston Contracting do believe March and April to be some of the best months for Olathe retaining wall installations, there’s some wiggle room from a temperature and precipitation standpoint.

You can install a retaining wall at any time of the year if you’re working with professional landscape designers who know what they’re doing. The key is to do things properly no matter what time of year it is.

Retaining Wall Tips and Tricks

If you’re about to tackle an Olathe retaining wall installation alone or with the help of a professional, there are a few things you want to consider. Some of the most important aspects of any wall include:

  • Always incorporate the retaining wall into your lifestyle and design of your landscape.
  • Any wall over four feet should require some professional attention from an engineer.
  • Manufactured blocks and stones keep things simple and remove the guesswork out of installing. Plus, they look natural and fantastic.
  • Creating a solid base before doing anything else is essential.
  • Make sure you account for drainage.
  • Backfills are essential for full support.

The Retaining Wall Professionals You Need

If you’re looking to add a stunning retaining wall to your landscape this spring or summer, get in touch. At Huston Contracting, our landscape designers and engineers are ready and willing to help you create a beautiful retaining wall. We look forward to lending a helping hand to the landscape of your dreams.

5 Quick New Year Tips From an Olathe Landscaper

As the New Year rolls in, we all make resolutions and focus on improving certain areas of our life. Some of us focus on fitness. Others make our family, friends, and relationships a priority in the coming year. Many focus on finances, too.  Whatever you choose to focus on in the coming year, we want to wish you the best of luck in achieving your resolution.

The Olathe Landscaper in us hopes you make your lawn, landscaping, and garden a priority in the coming year.

If you’re planning to improve your landscaping and lawn in 2017, here are five quick tips from an Olathe Landscaper:

  • Find Inspiration

Motivation is always necessary. No matter what you’re doing, you need to have the motivation to get it done. Landscaping is no different. You don’t need to drive around for hours on end admiring the neighbors’ lawns from the car. Just open a browser and start looking through landscaping ideas from around the world on the web.

  • The Perfect Plan

Once you have a few fun ideas and some inspiration, it’s time to plan your landscaping ideas out. Make a strategy and stick to it. How many days do you need to complete a landscaping project? Do you need to hire a professional Olathe landscaper?

To ensure your plan will work to perfection; you’ll want to map everything out precisely. Make sure everyone will have space to walk around your landscape. You’ll also need to plan for growth because your plants will grow during the year.

  • Stick to the Script

The best way to avoid a landscaping disaster is to stay on schedule and stick to the script. This means you need to plant your garden at the suggest time of the year. Listen to the horticulturalists. You can’t plant a perennial in the dog days of summer and expect great things.

  • Create the Contrast

Some of the best landscapes I’ve ever seen offer a stark contrast to the exterior of the home. For example, if you have a modern designed exterior, then a Zen-like garden could provide a tranquil, yet stunning contrast to your home.

  • Understanding Maintenance

Before you go head over heels on a challenging landscaping project, make sure to pay attention to maintenance. Be honest about the amount of effort you’re willing to spend on maintenance and only plant things that fit within your lifestyle.

Luckily, there are plants for every effort-level. You can find high and low maintenance plants. Just ask your Olathe landscaper to give you some helpful hints when picking plants in the New Year. 

Another interesting aspect of maintenance is pest planning. You’ll want to understand the pest found in your area and take them into account from a maintenance aspect. You may need to add fencing or wire mesh during certain times of the year to ensure your efforts don’t get destroyed.

What Does an Olathe Landscape Architect Actually Do?

landscape_design_02An Olathe landscape architect sounds like a fancy term for someone who cuts lawns with lines in it. However, landscape architecture is a profession that varies vastly and encompasses much more than mowing lawns. To clear the air, we wanted to break down what it means to be a landscape architect and what they do.

What an Olathe Landscape Architect Does

More than mowing lawns, landscape architecture is the profession associated with the design and planning of the land. Olathe landscape architecture is all around us. From the retaining wall in your backyard to the design of the playground down the street to the highways you drive on to work – an architect has designed every aspect of our urban land.

Here are a few things Olathe landscape architects work on:

Site Planning

Every home, office building, shopping center, or community requires site planning to ensure the spaces are created for human use. This aspect of the job includes technical aspects like utility layouts, circulation patterns, and more. Often, site design includes minimizing environmental impacts and costs.

Landscape Design

The core concept of becoming an Olathe landscape architect stems from landscape design. Site analysis, sharing of spaces, design concepts, a balance of indoor and outdoor spaces, selecting construction materials and much more go into this part of the job.

Park Planning

Designing parks in urban areas are big business. So are the redesign and cultivation of recreation spaces. Parks, golf courses, basketball courts, waterfront developments, and national parks all benefit from this part of landscape architecture.

Urban Design

Designing a full city or town is not an easy job. A lot of planning and strategy is involved. Plazas and streetscapes don’t just form themselves. Providing detailed plans and designs for implementation in cities is a huge aspect of the profession.

Land Development & Design

Undeveloped land often has city regulations and roadblocks to development, especially for commercial use. Olathe landscape architects connect policy with individual redesign projects to ensure economics, real estate, regulation and more come together to make a project reality.

Regional Landscape Planning

Regional landscape planning really took off once environmentalism became a hot button issue in the 1970’s. Before an urban development project can begin, surveys of natural resources, habitats and much more must be concluded. This is a major area of practice for many within the profession.

The Best Olathe Landscape Architects

At Huston Contracting, we have an experienced and professional landscape architect ready to turn your next project into a design masterpiece. Reach out today for a consultation. We can handle any project and look forward to making your landscaping dreams become a reality.

Why Olathe Retaining Wall Installation Is So Important

Olathe retaining wall installation has garnered considerable importance over the years. Due to the uneven terrain in parts of our city, many yards have required a retaining wall for a variety of reasons.

Often, we install retaining walls in Olathe homes to solve a problem. A problematic slope needs conquering or aesthetics of a space need improved. The problem with these problem-solving solutions is mathematic. A structure designed to hold back tons upon tons of dirt offers no room for error.

What is a Retaining Wall?

Other than a bad idea for a DIY project, a retaining wall is essentially a structure built to hold dirt or land. Often, these structures remove precarious slopes from a yard, offer safety or improve the look of Olathe landscaping.

Normally, a retaining wall has six main components. Different materials may offer changes, but usually, these six aspects are present in every wall:

  • Drainage Stone
  • Filter Fabric
  • Batter
  • Weep Hole
  • Footing
  • Footing Drain

Retaining Wall Materials

There are many materials one can use during an Olathe retaining wall installation. Popular materials include:

  • Timbers
  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Concrete Blocks
  • Poured Concrete
  • Interlocking Concrete Blocks

While we don’t recommend DIY Olathe retaining wall installation projects due to the intricate nature of the math, you can attempt to do so. The best materials for DIY retaining wall include timbers and interlocking concrete blocks.

Poured concrete is not usually an option for a DIY, but the material is durable and offers great flexibility in design for many interested in Olathe retaining wall installation.

Traditional Olathe retaining walls often are made of masonry. Materials like stone, brick, and concrete blocks are all common place. However, your best bet is hiring a professional Olathe landscaper to create a wall with these materials. At Huston Contracting, we have a number of masonry styling to choose from when designing your wall.

Awesome Olathe Retaining Wall Projects

There are number of ways to add a wall to your landscaping. Some of our favorites include:

  • Stairs to sidewalk or another part of property
  • Creating a terrace in the backyard
  • Making a terrace
  • Creating a driveway

Upgrading Your Structure

It’s easy to take an old retaining wall from funky to fresh with a little professional help. Often, we upgrade old walls through a few different processes, including:

  • Smoothing Stucco
  • Staining
  • Adding Veneer

Captain Save-A-Wall

Not every retaining wall can be saved. Often, redoing the wall, not revamping it, is what needs to happen, but we certainly can try to save your wall. Occasionally, a wall suffering from the below can be brought back to life:

  • Cracking
  • Leaning
  • Bulging
  • Sagging

Olathe Retaining Wall Installation

If you’re looking for any Olathe retaining wall installation services or repairs, we hope you’ll get in touch. At Huston Contracting, we have perfected the art of the retaining wall. We look forward to helping you with any and every Olathe landscape project.