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.

Take Back Control of Your Yard with Hired Landscapers

4 Advantages to Hiring Professional Landscapers

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.

1) Pro Landscapers Save You Time

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.

2) Right Products for Your Lawn, Guaranteed

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.

3) Maintenance Done the Right Way

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.

4) Ensure Your Yard Boasts a Professional Look and Design

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!

Rearrange Your Spring Flower Beds with the Help of a Landscape Architect Designer

Spring is the perfect time to reassess your flower beds—and working with a landscape architect designer can help you make the most of your space, no matter the size.

Quiz Time

Your designer will likely ask you lots of questions before planning. They’ll ask about the light—do your beds fall in full or partial sun, or shade? How much moisture do your beds get (depending on where your beds are in relation to downspouts and runoff, the answer might be different than for the rest of your space)? They’ll ask about which flowers or plants have done well in the past and which ones struggled. They’ll also ask what you’d most like to see in those beds, with details like which colors you love: do you want a monochromatic look, a wildflower look, or a curated look with carefully coordinated shades of various colors?

Plan First

spring flower beds olathe landscape architects

Start with paper and pencil: draw a rough replica in the shape of your available beds, then indicate which flowers you’d like to plant where. Consider size (good rule: tallest in the back, mid-size in the center, shorter plants in the front if the bed will be viewed head-on. If you’ll be looking at your completed bed from multiple angles, start in the center and think in circles: tallest plants in the bullseye, mid-size in the next ring, shortest plants in the most outer ring).

Follow Directions

If you’re going it alone, be sure to read the instructions on seed packets and/or pot stickers and follow those directions when it comes to planting depth and space, feeding, and watering guidelines. You can also check your local extension office for seasonal and planting information.

Better yet, reach out to a landscape architect designer to make the most of your unique space. Working with a pro makes the process easier and opens a world of knowledge that comes only with time and experience.

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.

 

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.

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.

Fall Landscaping Tips for Olathe Lawns and Landscapes

Temperatures are starting to dip ever so slightly here in the Kansas City metro area, which means our thoughts turn to everything warm and cozy: sweaters and blankets, apple cider and pumpkin lattes, just to name a few. Just as this is the perfect time to switch out Spring and Summer décor for Fall colors and accessories in your home, it’s also the prime time to turn your attention to your landscaping areas, such as your lawn and outdoor living areas.

Just because it’s getting colder doesn’t mean it’s time to stay indoors! Take advantage of this time to not only bring some new color to your lawn and garden, but also to plan for the upcoming Winter weather. But first, here’s the trick to bringing all of the following tips together: sit down with a calendar and plan when, what, and how you’ll plant, tend, and maintain your landscaping as the weather grows colder.

Landscapers Share Tips for Fabulous Fall Lawns

How can you take advantage of this cooler weather to make your landscaping shine? Prune and mulch your perennials to be sure they’re as well insulated as possible before colder weather hits. Spend a sunny but cool morning planting bulbs, then make a schedule to feed and water what you’ve planted so each can spend the Winter growing and preparing to burst through thawed ground once Spring hits. Take special care with trees—studies show that trees planted in the Fall are more successful and the cooler weather means less watering and maintenance for you. The little bit of patience you’ll need now will be well rewarded once Spring comes again.

Here in Johnson County, it’s also wise to get a jump on weed control now, rather than waiting until Spring or Summer. Why? K-State Research and Extension Center explains that broadleaf weeds (think dandelions, henbit, and chickweed) germinate in September and October, then overwinter as small plants. You have to look closely to see them—they’re no bigger than a quarter. Taking care of those weeds now means the Spring and Summer proliferation that so often overtakes even the most methodically attended lawns can be stemmed before it starts. Be sure to choose your control method wisely; granular and liquid chemicals both work, but each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Olathe Landscaping Company Huston Contracting is Here to Help

Fall Landscaping Tips for Olathe Lawns and Landscapes

And this is why having a schedule matters: if you plant grass seed in the cooler Fall months, you shouldn’t treat your lawn with herbicide until those seedlings have been mowed two-three times. Taking a few minutes to think about coming weather conditions and how you’d like your landscaping to look once the snow melts.

Want to know more about prepping your lawn for cold weather? Have questions about what an Olathe landscaping company can do for you now and through the year? We welcome questions and would love to hear what you think. Send us a question or give us a call—we’re here to help!

9 Essential Outdoor Kitchen Design Tips

Entertaining family and friends is one of the best aspects of home ownerships. Everyone heads over to your place for an afternoon or evening of food, drinks, and good times. The host often comes away from these gatherings feeling exhausted and left out.

It’s hard to mingle when you’re stuck cooking and cleaning all day and night. No one wants to come inside and chat with the chef while a summer barbeque is going on in the backyard. Many homeowners find themselves away from all the action when hosting get-togethers.

The outdoor kitchen solves this problem and many more. Here are 9 essential Olathe outdoor kitchen design tips:

1) Keep good kitchen design principles

An outdoor kitchen is still a kitchen. You still must keep kitchen design principles intact. The cold areas, wet areas, hot areas, and dry areas must all work in unison. Make sure you allocate enough space for each.

2) Set and store

You don’t want to be continually heading back inside when cooking outside. Your outdoor kitchen design must include enough space to place and store everything you’ll need to prepare. This means ample countertop and refrigerator space.

3) Start with the floor

When beginning your outdoor kitchen design, you’ll want to start from the ground up. Plan the layout of your kitchen with the floor in mind. Pay attention to different weather elements you may encounter and select a durable flooring type before moving forward.

4) Outdoor materials and equipment

All materials in your outdoor kitchen should be made with outdoor materials. Stainless steel is great for an outdoor kitchen. Concrete countertops are long lasting. Even if your kitchen doesn’t bare all the elements due to certain factors – you’ll want to select materials that could.

5) Build it to blend in

One of the most valuable outdoor kitchen design tips I can give you is to blend it in. Your outdoor kitchen should not stand out from the design of your home. The space should add to your home’s ambience and blend in with the inside of your house.

6) Ambiance lighting is needed

The last thing you’ll want in your outdoor kitchen is bright light when you’re trying to relax. While you’ll need decent light to cook, you’ll also wish to incorporate ambience lighting for the times when you want to relax.

7) A bar area is important

You should think about incorporating a bar area into your outdoor kitchen. One of the best aspects of cooking outside is the opportunity to interact with others. Building a bar area around your outdoor kitchen will give you time to catch up with family and friends as you do your cooking.

8) Water and beer tap need to be at the end

You won’t want people bumping into you while you’re cooking. Even if they’re just trying to grab a glass of water, beer from the fridge, or some brew from the tap – they’ll be in your way. Build the water tap, beer tap, and refrigerator into an easily accessible area of the kitchen.

9) Include entertainment

A bar area, a lounging area, music, television, and more can all be included in your outdoor kitchen. Make sure you include entertainment in your initial outdoor kitchen design plans. It can be a hassle to add entertainment options after the fact.

As always, we recommend you consult with Huston Contracting Inc. before you start any Outdoor Kitchen Design in the Olathe or Johnson Country area!