The Benefits of Utilizing Salt for Snow and Ice Prevention This Winter

Salt: it’s our oldest food seasoning, an essential nutrient for good heath, a relaxing and therapeutic addition to a hot bath, and, in some religions and cultures, part of rituals and deeply held beliefs.

It’s also what we dispense on roads in winter to keep them safe for travel even when there’s winter weather. Why? There’s science behind the importance of ice prevention and winter-weather salt procedures. Salt lowers the freezing temperature of water and melts ice because heat is generated when salt is in contact with water. This chemical reaction is what results in decreasing temperature and, therefore, melting (rather than solid) ice.

Because of this, it’s a common practice ice prevention by salting roads before a storm or to use salt to melt ice that’s accumulated on sidewalks and roadways. Doing so has been proven effective; according to the American Highway Users Alliance, salting roads decreases collisions by up to 85%.

Use Salt for Snow and Ice Prevention

But it’s not just roads that get icy or snow packed. Sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots need attention, too. Some of this is easy to do on your own. By keeping a container of commercially available salt and salting before the snow or ice hits, you can prevent dangerous conditions.

What kind of salt is best to use?

What differentiates table salt from ice melt isn’t the chemical composition of each. The salt you buy to spread on your sidewalk is the same, structurally, as the stuff you shake into your bowl of soup. What’s different is the size. Table salt is small and fine while commercially available rock salt/ice melt is larger and coarse. This means you could, technically, use table salt to keep ice off of your sidewalks. The question is, would you want to?

It’s Natural, So It’s Safe. Right?

The answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no. Yes, salt is a natural mineral. But just like having too much in your diet can lead to unwanted and dangerous health conditions, using salt incorrectly or in excess to remedy winter weather conditions can also have unwanted consequences.

It’s important to take care when sprinkling salt. It can adversely affect metal, for example—and if you’re salting your driveway or parking space, this means that it can affect your car or other vehicles. Simply put, the more your vehicle is in contact with salt, the more rust you can expect. You can also track salt into your home via boots, which means it might embed in your carpet.

Think Globally, Act Locally

There are other considerations, to be sure. And many of those factors affect you and your neighbors, both on local and global scales. The truth is, damage to infrastructure sometimes occurs when using salt. In fact, it’s estimated that damage due to corrosion costs between $3.5 to $7 billion dollars every year.

These concerns don’t mean we shouldn’t overlook the benefits of using salt for snow and ice prevention. But it does mean consulting with professionals to understand which salt is best to use, to determine best practices in application and frequency, and to ensure that it’s being used in the most economically and environmentally favorable way.

We can help with all those questions and we’d love to discuss this with you before the first flake falls this winter! Reach out to start that conversation.

Essential Landscaping Tips for Preparing Your Olathe Lawn for a Rapid Spring Bloom

3 Essential Landscaping Tips for Preparing Your Olathe Lawn for a Rapid Spring Bloom

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.

Start With a Clean Slate

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.

Dig In: Give Your Soil Some TLC

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.

Get Ready

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!

Spring and Summer Native Plants for Your Olathe Landscape

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.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Native Plants

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.

Native Plants Bring the Birds to Your Yard

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.

Native Plants Help the Planet

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.

 

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.

Olathe Landscapers

What Does an Olathe Landscaper Do?

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 Is Your Yard’s Best Friend

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.

Traits of Successful Landscapers

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.

Olathe Landscapers Do More than Mow Lawns

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.

Landscapers are People Too

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.

Winterizing Your Olathe Outdoor Kitchen Space

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.

Olathe Outdoor Kitchen

Water and Winter Pipes Don’t Mix

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.

Mind Your Surfaces

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.

Plan Ahead

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.

Why Investing in Your Olathe Landscaping Just Makes Sense

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.

Why Investing in Your Olathe Landscaping Just Makes Sense

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:

  • Monthly Maintenance: Just take care of your lawn. Mow it weekly. Have professionals fertilize the grass quarterly. Install an irrigation system to ensure your landscaping gets ideal amounts of water all year. That’s about it.
  • Outdoor Environments: One of the most valuable ways to increase your home’s value through landscaping is with things like outdoor kitchens, fire pits, porches and more. The addition of these items can send your home’s value skyrocketing.
  • Water Features: Some buyers love water features, others not so much. Ideally, you use small water features to add value. We’ve had great success adding natural creek beds to landscaping lately, as it’s a hot ticket item for new homeowners.

Build Your Olathe Landscape, Add Value to Your Home

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.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Summer Landscaping in Olathe

It’s here. The warm weather is almost upon us. Gone are the days of freezing cold weather and ugly brown Olathe landscapes. Coming are the hot months, pool days, and lavish landscaping weather.

If you take Olathe landscaping seriously, like I imagine you do, then you’ve prepared for this weather all year around. You planted seeds in the fall. You kept things tidy during the winter months.

When spring rolled around, you were more than ready to pay your dues and get those thumbs green. Your lawn has already started to look good, but you understand that the coming months are key to a solid landscape from June through October.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Summer Landscaping in Olathe

Let’s dive in and see exactly what to do and what not to do this summer:

Don’t Water When It’s Not Needed

There’s many times in the spring and early summer where your lawn won’t need any watering. So, don’t give it any.

There are too many times we see lawns and Olathe landscaping looking awful because of overwatering. Just don’t do it. Only water your lawn when it needs it. This means when they’re newly planted or if they start to look slightly unhealthy, starting to wilt, or brown.

If your lawn looks nice and green while there’s been consistent rain, leave the sprinklers off for a change. Your lawn will thank you.

Do Water Deeper

When you believe your plants and lawn need a little watering, then do it right. A typical sprinkler often doesn’t do much in the warmer months – because the water simply evaporates before the roots of any plant can get to it.

Instead, try using a soaker hose with a full stream of water. This type of watering will penetrate deeply into the ground and ensure the roots of plants actually receive the water they need to succeed.

Don’t Ignore Those Weeds

If you ignore the weeds in your lawn and let them seed, then they’ll soon spread. What was once a few weeds will become a massive problem.

Never ignore your weed issue. Always pull all the weeds you can find with a legitimate weeding tool – not just your hands. You need to get the roots out of the lawn.

Do Fertilize Your Lawn

Always. Be. Fertilizing. This is especially important during the rapid growth times of spring and early summer. During these months, your Olathe landscape can turn from good to great. You just need to add a little fuel to the fire.

By fuel, we mean some great fertilizers. Use fertilizer when the weather is a little cooler, either in the spring or in the morning during the summer months. This allows your plants and landscaping to absorb the nutrients and fight the summer heat.

Get Your Olathe Landscaping Down Pat!

With the do’s and don’ts above, you’re sure to have the best looking lawn on the block. If that doesn’t happen for some reason, just get in touch. Our professional team here at Huston Contracting will have your lawn looking lovely in no time!

 

 

How to Clean Up Your Landscape After a Brutal Winter

Make no mistake about it! The winter is not easy on your lawn. From the brutally cold temperatures to the lack of sun, it’s easy for a lawn to go from green to lean when the winter months roll in. The good news is there are a few simple solutions.

By properly cleaning up your lawn after the tough winter months, you can get your lawn back on track quickly. That’s where we come in. At Huston Contracting, we specialize in getting your lawn looking great again – and fast! That’s what professional Olathe landscapers are supposed to do.

How to Clean Up Your Landscape After a Brutal Winter

With that in mind, we wanted to talk a little bit about how to clean your lawn up after winter and share some tricks and tips to make life easier. So, that’s exactly what we did. Below you’ll find a detailed guide for cleaning up Mother Nature’s mess after wintertime:

Get Rid of Debris

First and foremost, you must get rid of any and all debris. Seriously, winter can spread trash, branches, road gravel, and so much more all over your lawn. All these items look bad, but that’s not even the worst part. They can affect how your grass grows and looks.

Don’t let debris fester throughout your property. Clean the stuff up before spring has sprung and flung. Or hire a team of Olathe landscapers to do it for you. Either way, this is the first step before moving on to anything else on the list.

Fresh Fertilizer

Once you have a clean and debris-free yard, it’s time to get your lawn looking even lovelier. This means adding a little fuel to the fire by laying down grass seed and fertilizer. You want everything looking good as summer rolls in and a little fertilizer will surely do just that.

Some people opt for professional help here. At Huston Contracting, we offer fertilizing services in and around the Olathe area. For landscaping veterans, you could also do this yourself.

Add New Life

Once the lawn is cleaned up and the fertilizer laid down, it’s time to add to your Olathe landscape. This means bringing new plant life into the fold. Spring is the ideal time to add elements to your landscaping.

One of our favorite ideas? Spring is the perfect time for annual flower designs and installation. A few fresh flowers always make a landscape look lovely, especially when blooming.

Quick Springtime Tips, Impressive Results

Here at Huston Contracting, we’re all about quick tips that get great results. By implementing the three ideas above, you’re sure to turn that wintertime frown upside down and have your lawn looking amazing before the heat hits us.

If you need any Olathe landscaping help, we’re always here. Just reach out to the professionals at Huston Contracting and we’ll be in touch.

 

Going Green! 5 Ways to Conserve Energy Through Landscaping

Going green has become popular in nearly every industry. We’re all trying to be environmentally-friendly these days, and that’s a great thing. However, most industries have to make huge changes to help the environment while improving their operations.

With Olathe landscaping, things are a little different. See, by changing your landscape just a little bit, you can also help the environment. There’s tons of ways to do this. Why? Because your landscape is the environment.

A tweak here and a change there can mean hundreds in savings for homeowners. Plus, the environment wins, too. A true win-win situation!

5 Ways to Conserve Energy Through Landscaping

So without further ado, let’s dive into the five ways you can conserve energy with your Olathe landscaping:

  • Shade Over Everything

The easiest way to save money on your landscaping is to shade your home. When the sun beats down on your home, things heat up inside. In the summer months, this means your home continually gets hotter and hotter. A hotter home always equates to higher A/C bills.

By using leafy trees to shade your home, you can drastically lower your utility bills in the warmer summer months. At Huston Contracting, we believe this is the best way to go green. Add some large trees to your property.

  • Wild Wind

In the winter months, the cold wind actually does more damage to the inside temperature of your house than just the cold. As such, you’ll want to insulate your home from the wind as much as possible.

How do you do that? Simple, add some evergreen trees and shrubs around the sides of your home. These plants will take the brute force of the cold winds and keep your home as warm as can be. This will lower heating bills.

  • Landscape Design

One costly concern for landscapers around the world is water. In Olathe, there are many months that our lawns need water. As such, many Olathe residents spend hundreds of dollars a year watering their lawns.

There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s certainly not a “green” principle. Luckily, there’s a simple solution. By working with a landscape design professional, you can incorporate drainage solutions and irrigation systems into your landscape.

By adding these two things to your landscape, you’ll be able to significantly lower your water bills in the hot months. We believe this is one of the more efficient ways for Olathe landscapers to truly go green.

Go Green Today!

If you’re looking to increase efficiency within your home through landscaping, get in touch today. At Huston Contracting, we have dozens of ways for specific homeowners to lower energy bills through their landscape.

We look forward to hearing from you!