5 Must-Do Landscaping Tips to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

6 Must-Do Landscaping Tips to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

6 Must-Do Landscaping Tips to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

It’s time to think about ice, snow, and freezing temperatures—and how those elements affect your lawn. Before it turns too cold to be outside, think about doing the following to ensure your lawn is prepared for its long winter’s nap.

1) Keep It Clean

We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again: it’s vital to rake leaves and remove debris from your lawn before snow and ice settles in. If there’s still time to mow, do that now—not only is it important to cut your grass shorter before winter comes, but mowing will shred any leaves you’ve missed while raking.

2) Aerate and Seed

Now’s the time to aerate and seed for next season. Doing so in the fall helps fill in bare spots. It’s also important to water your lawn, fertilize trees, and cut back perennials. Not sure how or when to aerate, or need help with seeding your lawn? We’d love to help.

4) Prep Your Plants

You want to protect your plants as much as possible to help them survive freezing temperatures. To do this, be sure to mulch; remove dead leaves/branches and debris; and, if appropriate, wrap with burlap or another protective cover. Have roses? Learn more about caring for them here.

5) Clear the Lines

If you have an outdoor kitchen, it’s imperative to turn off water sources and to drain lines. Same is true of your sprinkler system. Making sure all water is drained will prevent freezing, which can lead to significant damage.

6) Plant for Later

Even though you can see your breath on some Fall mornings, the soil is still relatively warm, which means it’s a great time to plant bulbs, trees, and shrubs. October is the prime month for this planting, so don’t wait—if you haven’t yet, get busy and cross this task off your list! You’ll be glad you did once the snow clears and buds start appearing next Spring.

Need help getting your lawn and landscape ready for our impending Kansas winter? If so, you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help, whether it’s landscaping, snow removal, or prepping for warmer weather. Take a peek at the projects we’ve been working on over on our Facebook page, or give us a call to talk!

10 Great Fall Decorative Ideas to Enhance Your Landscaping and Curb Appeal

10 Great Fall Decorative Ideas to Enhance Your Landscaping and Curb Appeal

10 Great Fall Decorative Ideas to Enhance Your Landscaping and Curb Appeal

It’s officially fall —the seasons have changed! Have you noticed the shift in places you frequent? Grocery stores are sporting pumpkins and apples, clothing stores are filled with muted plaid long-sleeved shirts and cozy scarves, and restaurants are featuring new specials—think portobello ravioli or roasted acorn squash.

Just like those places, your landscaping is ready for a change, too! And Fall is the perfect time to not just ready your lawn for winter, but to add special decorative touches that amp up your curb appeal—and just might make you the envy of your neighbors.

You might think that you have to make major changes to improve your fall landscaping, and it’s true that big projects like retaining walls or outdoor kitchens can make a huge difference. But there are more modest, easy to implement ideas that will enhance your landscaping and increase your curb appeal. Here are a ten of our favorites:

1) Start with a Clean Slate

We talk about Spring cleaning, but Fall cleaning matters too! Power wash your hard surfaces, clear out your gutters, and remove debris from your space. This is the first step to making your landscape shine.

2) Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!

Not all mulch is created equally. Sure, mulch is practical: it helps prevent weeds and can make your space look better. But you have a choice when it comes to which mulch you use. Instead of picking up a discount bag, check out shredded hardwood mulch—or try a colored variety.

3) Break Out the Shears

Fall is a good time to prune bushes and trees, but there’s a catch: you have to do it at the right time. Learn more here.

4) Add Color

Mums are the (un)official arbiter of Fall flower beds. Choose from yellow, rust, orange, red, or purple and pair them with ornamental cabbages or peppers for a potted arrangement that screams bonfires and s’mores.

5) Focus on Your Porch

Think of your porch like you would your dining room table and plan a display that reflects your personal or family aesthetic. Love Halloween? Turn your porch into a spooky spot with store-bought decorations. Prefer Thanksgiving? Stack a hay bale or two, strew various sizes of pumpkins, add a bench with a cozy blanket.

6) Short on Space?

Even if you don’t have a porch to decorate, you can spiff up your entryway to welcome the season. You might consider painting your front door an interesting new color. If that’s too much of a commitment, opt for a new wreath.

7) Light it Up

Even if you don’t have substantial installations like a retaining wall, you can add lighting to enhance your curb appeal. Try pathway lights that sink right into the ground or hanging lanterns to add a spooky (or welcoming) glow.

8) Replace Bulbs

While you’re at it, make sure your existing lighting has fresh bulbs. It’s starting to get dark earlier, which means longer hours for porch and other outdoor lights. Be prepped and ready.

9) Keep Raking

As the leaves fall, it’s important to keep your lawn free of debris. Surprise wet or snowy conditions can trap extra leaves and lead to unwanted lawn issues. But don’t worry if you don’t get every single stray leaf; once you mow, you’ll shred any stragglers that might cause problems.

10) Take Note

As you enjoy the chilly air and spend time outdoors, think about what you want for your space next Fall. Wish you had a firepit? Dream about firing up the outdoor oven to prep a pizza? Think having an outdoor dinner party would be fun—but you just don’t have the right set-up? Write it down, then call us. We’ll work with you to make your space perfect for you.

How Adding Lights to Retaining Walls Can Make a Lasting Impression

Retaining walls aren’t always the most glamorous element of landscaping to talk about. They’re not often pretty, like flower beds or gorgeous trees, and they can be valued more for what they do than for how the look.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your retaining wall pull double duty. With inspired vision, a bit of creativity, and the help of a professional landscaper, you can turn your retaining wall into a feature that not only works hard, but also lends a unique design aesthetic to your home.

Think About Your Space

Retaining walls are often installed along driveways or walkways. This makes them the perfect place to also install lighting. Rather than thinking of these two things as opposing projects, why not talk with your landscape designer about how to integrate both elements together?

Adding lights to your retaining wall can improve the safety of your home by providing necessary light to make pathways visible. They can also be security features—we all know that a well-landscaped, well-lit yard is a deterrent to criminals. But adding lighting to a retaining wall can also be a design element.

Let Your Personality Shine!

Think about it: different lights evoke different looks. Inside your home, you might prefer brighter light in the bathroom than you do in the bedroom. You might like overhead light in the garage but prefer cabinet-mounted spotlights in your kitchen. There are logistical concerns to lighting, to be sure, but lighting can also be an interesting design element.

When you think about your outdoor space, think about how you use it. If your retaining wall is in your backyard, for example, and you love to entertain, consider adding lights that set the mood but don’t flood guests with glare. If you need a retaining wall built in your front yard, think about installing lighting that marks a pathway or guides you safely into the garage.

The Choices are Endless

The hardest part of using lighting to enhance a retaining wall is choosing which option you like best. There are so many! The good news is that by working with a professional landscaping company that understands how you use your space and how you want it to look, you have help narrowing down the options to find the best one for you.

Ready to turn your space into one you love? Reach out. We’d love to talk with you.

3 Olathe Landscaping Tips for Maintaining Your Lawn During the Hot and Dry Summer Season

With summer comes hot, sticky days; and for Olathe landscaping, it could mean trouble. Most sources say temperatures in the Kansas City metro area hover in the 90-degree range. If that makes us sweat, imagine what it does to our lawns! If not properly cared for, lawns can suffer in the summer. Grass can wilt and even burn if the temperatures rise and care isn’t adjusted to beat the heat.

The good news is that there are ways to help keep your Olathe landscaping and lawn healthy and beautiful all summer long—and one of those tactics means you get a break from being outside!

1) Water More When the Temperature Spikes

Just like your body needs more water when the temperatures rise, your lawn requires additional moisture to stay healthy. Believe it or not, there’s science behind how often you should water your lawn. Factors that matter include the type of soil in your lawn, the slope of your property, and the type of grass you’ve planted.

Kansas City’s dirt is clay-packed and absorbs water at a rate of no more than two-tenths of an inch per hour. Slope matters here too: a flat area can take less water than an area that is sloped.

There are different schools on summer watering. You can learn about the soak and cycle method, which is what the K-State Research and Extension Office recommends. Or you can call us, and we’ll help you devise a customized plan to keep your summer lawn lush.

2) Mow Less

That’s right—stay inside and drink something cool, and don’t worry about mowing as often as you do in the Spring. When you do mow, make sure to mow no lower than 3 inches. Doing so alleviates some of the stress lawns experience due to dryness and heat.

Of course, exactly how often a lawn should be mowed will depend on too many variables to account for here. A general rule of thumb, though, is to mow less often than during cooler months. We can help you understand when to cut your grass and when to let it grow. Just ask!

3) Utilize Water Efficient Seeds and Fertilizers

There are countless scientific advances that benefit our lawns and landscapes, especially when temperatures are a concern. In summer months, it’s best to opt for seeds and fertilizers that are optimized to work best with less water.

Doing so doesn’t just make your space prettier, it also conserves water during the summer, which is vital to the community as a whole—and it sure helps with those water bills!

Curious which water-efficient seeds and fertilizers are right for your lawn? We’re here to help.

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 tips for olathe kansas lawns

Spring Cleaning Your Olathe Lawn

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.

Easy Steps to Ready Your Olathe Lawn for Warm Weather

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.

Know When to Stop

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.

Keep Planning

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!

olathe retaining wall installation

Everything You Need to Know About Retaining Walls

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.

Why Might I Need a Retaining Wall?

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.

There’s More than One Olathe Retaining Wall Option

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.

Knowledge is Power

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.

 

planning your yard's best year

Plan Your Yard’s Best Year

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.

Digging a Little Deeper

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.

Take a Walk…or Go Surfing

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!

Expand Your Reach

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!

tips for hiring the best olathe landscape architect

Tips for Hiring the Best Landscape Architect

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!

Start by Dreaming and Scheming

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.

Talk to Your Neighbors

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!

Interview the Experts

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.

Landscaping in Olathe with Native Plants

Do you think that Spring is the only time to plant native grasses and flowers? If so, you’re not alone—that’s a common misconception. But Olathe landscapers will tell you it’s simply not true. With a little bit of planning and preparation once the calendar flips to Fall, you can start establishing warm season grasses and native wildflowers before it’s time to decorate your Christmas tree.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cold Season Seeding

In fact, with native grasses in particular, dormant season seeding (Fall, in this case) imitates natural reseeding.  Once frost sets in, things change a bit: frost seeding (which is the spreading of seed over frozen soil after the first killing frost) results in some natural stratification—which means that the seed and seed coat change enough to enhance germination. There’s also good seed-to-soil contact because of the moisture frost brings.

Patience is Still a Virtue

Even though this can all be done successfully in the Fall and Winter, most germination probably won’t occur until Spring; the exception to this might be some cool season species. This is when working closely with an Olathe or Johnson County landscaping company can be especially beneficial; not only can Olathe landscape architects help you understand which plants are native to the area, but they can also help you determine when and where to plant for the best results. Curious who you’ll work with if you choose us? Learn a bit about us here.

It’s Not All Good News

There are disadvantages to seeding during dormant seasons. Seed loss is possible, usually due to decay and consumption by wildlife. Weeds can also be an issue—in fact, the best time to start preventing weeds is when the weather is cooler, before the weeds germinate and start to take root. Smart tip: take the time to mulch well. Not only will doing so hinder weed growth, but it will help the soil retain moisture and provide protection for seeds and soil.

Curious and want to know more about native Kansas plants? The best thing to do is to talk to an Olathe landscape architect or Olathe landscaper. Another great resource is the Kansas Native Plant Society.

Other Important Cool and Cold Weather Landscaping Tips

What else should you be doing to make the most of these cool Fall days? Prune and trim perennial plants, shrubs, and hedges. Pruning trees can be a monster of a job—and sometimes it’s best left to a professional landscaper. Not sure if you should try it on your own or bring in an Olathe landscaping company? Ask us!

Once you’ve trimmed, make sure to remove clippings, branches, fall leaves, and other debris from your lawn. Why? Anything that covers your grass impedes sunlight, and when the sun’s rays can’t reach your grass, growth can be slowed or even stopped. This all leads to a lawn that looks more lackluster than lush—and might even leave dead or spotty patches in your yard.

Speaking of Mulch…

Mulch looks good, no doubt. But it also serves as a blanket of sorts for the soil and the roots below—and happy roots mean happy plants! Different areas require different mulch strategies; you want beds to have 1-2 inches of mulch, but you don’t want to cover the trunks of shrubs or trees. Once severely cold weather is imminent, tender and early-flowering plants will need extra protection. Consider staking around the plants and covering them with burlap to keep them as protected as possible.