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.
Can you feel it? Yes, the air is still hot here in KC, but there’s a tinge of Fall in all these high temperatures. Maybe it’s the back-to-school shopping or the Halloween and pumpkin displays already popping up at local stores. Or maybe it’s because Starbucks is bringing back the much-discussed pumpkin latte earlier than ever this year. Whatever it is, there’s no escaping that Summer is waning and Fall is ready to return to Kansas City.
Before that happens, give some thought to what you can do now and as the temperatures start to chill out to bring the most value to your landscape and your home. In fact, think about how much value the right professional landscaping can add to your home!
Let’s talk about curb appeal. It’s a buzzword for real estate pros and it’s important for every homeowner to understand. Simply put, curb appeal is how appealing your property is to the average viewer. Think about when you take a walk or a drive: you look at neighborhoods, don’t you? And you look at the houses in those neighborhoods. You can’t see inside, but you can tell something about the property from the curb and what you see makes an impression.
That first impression—that curb appeal—can mean more money in your pocket when it comes time to sell, if planned and executed right.
How much value can positive curb appeal put in your pocket? This article says well-landscaped homes sell for 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent more than non-landscaped homes. If your home is worth $300,000, that means quality landscaping can add between $16,500 and $38,100 to the value of your home.
Let’s be clear, though: simply cutting your grass or planting a few flowers won’t make for stunning curb appeal. It takes planning, vision, and commitment to turn a hum-drum lawn to an oh-wow display—and all of that takes time and professional help.
Most buyers want stunning curb appeal. They want sophisticated layouts and mature trees and plants. It’s been proven that large, deciduous, evergreen and annual, colorful plants increase a home’s resale value. Working with a professional landscaping company can not only save you time; it can also ensure that your space is planned in the best possible way.
Now is the perfect time to reassess your landscaping plan with an eye to curb appeal and resale value, and we have great ideas to bring Fall flair to your lawn and garden. Reach out to learn more!
Sure, there are reasons to DIY your lawn and landscape this summer. But if you look a little deeper, you might realize that hiring landscapers will save you time, money, and frustration.
It’s a romantic notion that taking the time to work on your yard yourself will save you wheelbarrows of cash, but think about the real economics of this scenario for a second—and then do the math.
The truth is, your time is valuable. Even if you don’t have to take time off of work to get everything done, whatever time you spend tending to your yard takes away time you could be spending doing other things. Some of those things might make you more money. Some of those things might bring you more joy—and if there’s anything we all know for sure, it’s that we cannot put a price on time. There’s no substitute for time spent laughing and making memories with family and friends.
Have you walked into a home improvement store lately and looked at the rows and rows of lawn care products on the shelves? Do you know which ones will work for your lawn? Consulting with professional landscapers to take care of your outdoor space isn’t that different from consulting a pharmacist when you need medication. Chemicals and products interact in ways only trained professionals know. It’s vital to the health and look of your lawn to use the best, most appropriate products. Doing so saves you money. It also ensures that your yard will be gorgeous and healthy, even if you haven’t studied the intricacies of grasses, plants, and landscaping.
Believe it or not, there’s a method to what we do. There are right times to plant, to cut, to mulch….you get the idea. There are also right ways to tend a tree, manicure a lawn, or edge a border wall. And those times and procedures vary from yard to yard, depending on a set of circumstances that are unique to your space. So learning exactly what you need to do and when those things need to be done can be a full-time job.
Sure, you could spend time searching online, watching videos, asking for help from your handy friend at work, or checking out a stack of books at the library to learn how to maintain your yard the right way. Or you could call us and let us do what we do best, so you can have the best looking lawn possible with zero hassle.
Admit it: there are some yards you drive by and have to slow down to look at because they’re just so beautiful. Chances are, those eye-catching designs were done by a professional that the homeowner trusted to design and maintain the right way. We can do the same for you!
What, exactly, is a retaining wall—and what do you need to know about Olathe retaining wall installation? Simply put, a retaining wall is a free-standing barrier. This barrier prevents dirt and sediment from succumbing to the forces of gravity. That means a retaining wall can keep dirt where it is needed instead of letting it wash away—and that’s important for homeowners.
Talk of retaining walls typically includes words like “slope” and “gravity” and “gradation.” And those words are important, to be sure. But retaining walls are about more than just dirt, and they’re one of the elements of landscape design that can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
The best Olathe landscape architects will tell you that reasons abound for building a retaining wall. It might be a logistical decision if there are issues of slope or runoff. Making sure your home’s foundation is protected is one of the most important considerations you’ll make as a homeowner, and foundations can be threatened by sliding hills, washout, and erosion. It might also be a design decision. For example, if you want a tiered garden to make the best use of a small space, a retaining wall might be a great option. It also might work for you if you’re looking for a way to add extra seating options.
A retaining wall can, in fact, be a multi-tasking element of your landscape design. It can provide practical, necessary protection to your home and landscape. I can also add a beautiful, unique design element to your yard. Even better, it can help create a unique focal point that expresses your personality and design tastes. The best way to ensure that you achieve each goal is to consult with a professional. Take that time to ask questions and to learn all you can about why a retaining wall might work for you.
A retaining wall should first be practical, for certain. There are too many issues to worry about if done shoddily, so be sure to consult with a professional. But that doesn’t mean it can’t look great, too. As you think of options, remember that you have choices. You can opt for concrete, brick, stone, even wood. Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each option; for example, wood might better suit your design and personal taste, but likely won’t last as long as stone or concrete.
Truth is, every yard is different and there’s no way to adequately tell you everything you need to know about retaining walls unless we actually have a conversation. But there is one important thing we can say to everyone: don’t go it alone. While we could give you a checklist of things to be aware of, there are technical issues that matter. This is especially true of the behind-the-scenes technicalities of properly constructed retaining walls. Remember that a proper retaining wall needs proper drainage, sturdy construction, and careful planning. Working together with a dedicated Olathe landscaping company can help you find just the right solution. So reach out to ask questions, or to see examples of projects we’ve completed.
What does it take to be an exceptional Olathe landscaping company? That’s a big question that boils down to a few things, most of which hinge on this: we want your yard to be the best yard it can be, and we want you to be happy with the service and products we offer.
In our last post, we talked about things to consider when hiring the best Olathe landscaper possible. And in that post we also mentioned a variety of things to consider that apply to the planning of a successful yard and garden. A few of those things include dreaming up what you want your space to look like, how much you want to spend, and how much help you want to have as you turn your plans into reality.
All of those things are important, but we barely skimmed the surface in the last post. So it’s time to examine your dreams a little more in depth. To do this, you have to consider your yards of years past. What were you happy with? What did you dislike and want to change or eliminate? Even if you’re not the list-making type, jotting these thoughts down in a place that you can easily access will help you as you plan. It will also help you better articulate your thoughts to your Olathe landscape architect.
Think, too, about the work it took to make those yards of years past possible. Did you spend more time working on your lawn than you did enjoying it? Did you enjoy that time spent working? Or would you have rather spent it with family or friends—or traveling, going to the movies, or learning something new?
You’ve read it in countless business books, but it bears repeating: your time is money. Considering how much time you invest in your lawn is an important part of planning for future years. Weigh the pros and cons carefully.
Sometimes it takes seeing something to realize its potential. These cold winter months are the perfect time to spend a weekend afternoon at a home and garden show. Or you could search Pinterest for gorgeous lawn and landscaping ideas, or flip through a seed catalog. Who knows—you might realize you know exactly what you want, or you might find something you never knew you couldn’t live without!
We’re here to help you make your lawn the best it can be and we’d love to talk to you about the lawn and landscape you want to create in this new year. As you’re surfing online, take a minute to read a few testimonials and if you’re ready, reach out and take the first step to making your dream lawn a dream come true!
We’re mid-way into the first month of the new year—time to think about the resolutions you made! If you’re a homeowner, chances are at least one of your resolutions is about your home. Maybe you’d like to make it more comfortable, more aesthetically pleasing, more cost-effective, or more “you.”
It might seem counterintuitive to think about outdoor and yard and lawn goals in the dead of winter, but the opposite is actually true. Taking time now to plan for the year and giving yourself ample time to research, talk with professionals, and hire the perfect expert for the job will ensure that when the weather thaws, your lawn and gardens will be ready to bloom.
So the question at hand is this: are there tips for hiring the best possible landscape architect? And the answer to that question is a resounding yes!
It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to hire the right person for a job when you don’t know what that job is. This month is the perfect time to really think about what you want from your lawn and gardens. Do you want to keep things as simple as possible? Repeat what you did last year? Change things up and plant something new? Think not only about how you want your lawn and garden to look, but also what it might take to achieve those goals. Think about your budget, and how much you are comfortable and/or willing to invest in professional help. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the coming year, think about curb appeal and be sure to consult a real estate expert to discuss which investments garner the best returns.
And your coworkers and your friends, especially those who maintain outdoor spaces that you admire. Ask what they wished they’d known about retaining walls before they had one installed or pepper them with questions about how and why they use their outdoor kitchen. Ask, too, for referrals—and make sure to check out each referral for references, both public and private. The most reputable businesses have fans eager to sing their praises!
Every business model is different, but ours is built on a foundation of trust, communication, and quality. We always work with our clients to meet their budget and their needs, and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional service and products. Why? These are the qualities we look for in others, so we embody them ourselves—and we’ve been in business for 50 years now. So don’t be shy–reach out to ask us questions. We enjoy being a resource to our clients and because we’re always learning something new, we’re always sharing new and exciting information.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every lawn is different, but grass is grass. As an Olathe landscaping company, we know there are a number of factors that make a difference in how your grass looks. Does your lawn get enough sun? Is there some shade? How does water flow throughout your lard on a rainy day?
The questions could go on and on. The important thing to understand is that your lawn, every lawn, needs fed. If you don’t feed your lawn correctly, it will look horrific.
Being an Olathe landscaping company has given us great insight into how to feed a lawn and what works best for each season. If you want to keep you lawn looking healthy, you’ll need to feed it well.
The first step in feeding your lawn properly is ensuring it has a better root system. Better roots help combat numerous variables your lawn faces, like:
…And much more!
Now before we dive in too deep, it’s important to note that how you feed your lawn will be determined by the season and weather. You can’t treat your lawn the same in the spring and winter – then expect your grass to stay lush and lovely.
If you follow the ideas and scheduling below, you’ll be able to feed your lawn just like your favorite Olathe landscaping company would. If you’re ready to keep your neighbors green with envy and your lawn green as ever, follow our tips below:
In Late February through April, you’ll want to start feeding your lawn regularly. This will help to strengthen the roots after a long winter. If you had crabgrass the prior year, look into a lawn food that has crabgrass control. You should start laying down lawn food around the time it needs its first mowing.
Your lawn needs a lot of food until late June, early July. So make sure you stick to a regular lawn feeding schedule during these months. If you fed your lawn properly at the start of spring, you should start seeing some green – a lot of green! Just remember to keep feeding and not admire your newly lush lawn too much.
Late June, July, and August are too hot! Every Olathe landscaping company will tell you to keep your grass hydrated during these months. Keep feeding your lawn during this time, as well. Summer is hard on your lawn, and you need to keep up the care to ensure strong roots and stunning color. Make sure to feed your lawn one last time right before fall rolls around.
Your grass is basically hibernating once the first frost hits. Your work is done in the spring and summer when lawn care is considered.
If you’re looking to keep your lawn as lush as possible all year, then Huston Contracting is your one-stop-shop to a guaranteed great lawn. Get in touch today to learn more about our offerings and how we can help you.