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.

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.

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.

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 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!

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Don’t Drown Them! How to Water Your Plants

Ask any Olathe landscape architect and they’ll tell you – watering your plants properly may be the most important part of keeping them healthy. Surprisingly, it takes a little more than continually giving them water to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

Watering your plants is an art and science. Done properly – you’ll have lush, lovely plants that’ll leave all the neighbors green with envy. If you don’t water your plants properly, you’ll have flat, stubborn shrubbery that fails to live up to its lush potential. And for goodness sake – don’t drown them!

 If you’re ready to keep your plants healthy and happy, here are a few quick tips to ensure you garden stays lavish and well watered:

On a Need Be Basis

Don’t water your plants all the time! You only need to water when your plants need it. If it’s been raining a lot, then stop watering so much. This doesn’t have to be rocket science. Too much water will hurt your plants.

First Things First

You’ll want to always water your plants first thing in the morning. Don’t let your plants sit outside in the sun dehydrated. If you forget to water in the morning, your greens will often look lifeless in the evening.

Tools Matter

Gone are the days of just dumping or spraying water on your plants. If you really want them to grow, then a soaker hose or drip irrigation system will work wonders.

Root Zoning

Always put a lot of focus on the root zone. The leaves don’t need watering. The roots do! You’re wasting water if you wet anything besides the root zone. You can also spread disease by watering the leaves.

Get Deep

Make sure the water gets deep down to the plant’s roots. Certain plants like trees and shrubs can feature roots that are over a foot deep. So you’ll need a plan to ensure water reaches these roots in a timely manner.

Mulch on Mulch on Mulch

You should be mulching everything on your property – from trees to gardens and more. Mulch reduces surface runoff and can slow evaporation that stems from the soil. This means mulch will help plants get more water.

The Olathe Landscape Architects You Need

This article could be alternatively named, “A Beginner’s Guide to Watering Your Plants.” We didn’t go too deep with this piece. We didn’t reach all the way down into our Olathe landscape architects toolbar with this one. We just wanted you to correct a few small mistakes we see happening all too often.

If you’re truly committed to keeping your lawn lush and your garden growing all year long (yes, even in the winter), then get in touch. At Huston Contracting, we specialize in providing the Olathe landscape architect services your lawn needs to succeed.