How to Prepare Your Olathe Lawn for Winter

Our cooler nights and earlier sunsets mean one thing: winter is getting closer to Olathe. Soon we’ll be bundling up in layers and switching from AC to heat. Before colder temperatures move in, there are specific things you can do to help prepare your Olathe lawn and your outdoor spaces and protect them from the elements.

Prepare Your Olathe Lawn for Winter Weather

When it comes to your lawn and landscape, it’s important to remember that winter weather preparation comes down to two categories: preparation and preservation.

To prepare your lawn for coming cold and freezing temperatures, you should consider doing these things:

  • Clean up: make sure your outdoor space is free of debris. Rake up any remaining fallen leaves, trim back dead foliage, and generally clean the space. This not only makes your space look nice. It also helps your lawn and landscape elements direct energy to appropriate growth. Fallen leaves might look innocent–and pretty–enough, but can actually smother your lawn if not removed. This doesn’t mean that they can’t serve other purposes, though. Fallen and collected leaves are a fantastic addition to a home compost pile. If you don’t compost, you might check to see if your community does. Some communities, like Olathe, have community gardens that accept compost material. Others have drop-off compost sites like this one. Be sure to check the specifics for each. For example, the community garden compost at the Sunset Administration Building in Olathe accepts some kitchen scraps while the drop-off yard compost site in Olathe accepts only lawn waste. 
  • Aerate: Core aeration is a way to prevent compacted soil, which can lead to an unhealthy and unsightly lawn. Our soil in Johnson County is particularly dense because of the amount of clay it holds. Aerating helps open up that soil so that the roots of grasses and other plants can grow appropriately.
  • Overseed the lawn: Fall is the ideal time to overseed your lawn, particularly with tall fescue and bluegrass. But it’s not as easy as just tossing handfuls of seeds onto your lawn and walking away. You should use proper verticutting and aeration techniques, fertilize properly, and plant the right ratio of seeds to soil. 

If this all sounds confusing, we can help you prepare your lawn and plant the grasses you want. Just give us a call!


How to Preserve Your Lawn Over the Winter

  • Leave your grass shorter for the winter. Think of it as a nice haircut before hibernation sets in. Cutting it shorter than you would in warmer months help keep it pest-free (mice and other pests look for anything that will offer warmth as the temps drop) and keep it as healthy as possible. 
  • You can also fertilize your lawn in the Fall. If you’ve not yet tested your soil to see which fertilizer is best for your lawn, you can do that as well. Getting the right mix of fertilizer elements is key to properly nourishing the soil and the grass seed you will plant.

    One final tip: when it does get icy, try to not walk on your lawn if at all possible. Scott’s says that even the strongest lawns can become weak if walked on too much. 

We’re ready to help you transition from summer to winter! Keep track of what we’re up to on Facebook or send us a note to get started. 

Landscaping Projects to Do Now So You Can Enjoy Fall

Landscaping Projects to Do Now So You Can Enjoy Fall

Landscaping Projects to Do Now So You Can Enjoy Fall

Sure, summer is great. We love the longer days, the backyard gatherings, time at the pool. But if you’re looking forward to cooler temperatures and want to be sure you can still spend time outdoors even after the weather cools, there are landscaping projects you can consider now that might just make this next Fall your best Fall. 

Landscaping Projects to Do Now So You Can Enjoy FallStart With a Small Landscaping Change

If you just want to adjust for the season but you’re not ready to make a huge investment with your landscaping, you might consider planting a cooler weather garden

Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale grow well in cooler temperatures. So do brassicas like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Other crops to consider include beans, radishes, turnips, and carrots. 

If you’d rather plant flowers, Fall is the perfect time for mums, pansies, asters, and dianthus. You can also create gorgeous container gardens with flowering kale, crotons, and fountain grass. 

Dream Big and Tackle Big Landscaping Projects

If you’re ready for a bigger project, think about installing a fire feature before the weather turns cold. Not only is a fireplace a focal point, but it provides a place for family and friends to gather long after the weather turns cooler. 

Outdoor fireplaces in Olathe can be built from a variety of materials including stone and can be either gas or wood fired. Like other architectural elements of a landscaped yard, your fireplace can look however you want it to: it can be round or rectangular, built in a fire-pit fashion or a wall. It can look rustic or sleek. 

An outdoor kitchen is another example of a larger project that will enable you to continue spending time outdoors even once the weather turns cooler. By installing an outdoor oven or cooktop as well as seating and prep space, you can extend the usable space of your home and take advantage of the beautiful Fall weather. 

Other projects you might consider are those that also add additional living space to your outdoor space. These options include a patio, covered deck, screened-in porch, or pergola. Adding one of these features will serve you year-round, not just in the Fall. A covered space will offer respite from the sun during these waning summer months. And a screened-in porch can offer additional space almost year-round, except for the most brutal winter months. 

Get Help with Your Olathe Backyard Fireplace

Part of planning your perfect outdoor space is understanding the seasons in Olathe and the surrounding Kansas City area. Our landscape architects know how to best leverage our seasons to create outdoor spaces that are both beautiful and functional. We’d love the opportunity to review your goals and help you create a plan to achieve them.

residential-retaining-wall-olathe-ks

Do You Need a Retaining Wall?

Do You Need a Retaining Wall?

How do you know when it’s time to invest in larger landscaping projects? The prospect of building something bigger than a garden or seeding your lawn is one that can cause stress. There are budgets to consider, finding the right company to do the work, and considerations about how long you might stay in your current home. residential-retaining-wall-olathe-ks

A retaining wall is one of those larger projects that can take time to plan and execute. But it’s also a project that offers both practical and aesthetic advantages. Not only can you prevent serious issues like improper drainage and soil erosion with a retaining wall; you can also add a beautiful, unique architectural element to your outdoor space. 

If you’ve ever wondered if you might need a retaining wall, keep reading. We’re sharing a few things to consider before you start planning the project.  

Consider Your Yard’s Slope

If your home sits on land that isn’t level, a retaining wall might be necessary to create a flat surface. This will allow you to install additional landscaping features like a fireplace or a patio, or to plant a garden. 

Installing a retaining wall can also help prevent soil erosion, which can happen when water runs through sloped soil and causes the soil to move from one area to another. This runoff can be detrimental to your home’s foundation and is actually one of the primary reasons retaining walls are necessary. 

Track Your Water Drainage

Because improper drainage and soil erosion can lead to detrimental–and expensive–foundation damage, understanding the drainage in your yard and around your home is imperative. Knowing where water will pool can help you understand where adjustments should be made. Similarly, knowing how water runs after it rains can help you pinpoint soil erosion. All of this will help you plan how to mitigate the issues that might cause damage at some point.

Once you understand how your space operates without a retaining wall, you can talk with a landscape architect to determine where to place a retaining wall as well as what kind of wall you want. 

Consider How You Use Your Space

If your outdoor space is large enough to accommodate different activities, installing a retaining wall might be a great way to add a pleasing visual element to the space while also organizing it for those activities. 

Let’s say, for example, that you are an avid gardener and want to start composting. But you’re not crazy about the idea of looking at a compost pile every day. You could design a space that includes a shorter retaining wall that will block the unsightly–but highly beneficial–compost pile from your everyday view. 

Or you might want to separate an outdoor patio from your pool, or the pool from your children’s play area. There are countless reasons why a retaining wall might be the perfect addition to your outdoor space.

Going It Alone–or Without Help

Depending on the height and placement of your retaining wall, you may be able to do the project on your own. While that’s an option, we think it’s best to work with a professional landscaping company. We’ve built retaining walls for clients throughout the Olathe and Johnson County area, and would love to work with you on your next project. 

Common Summer Landscaping Challenges and How to Tackle Them

Common Summer Landscaping Challenges and How to Tackle Them

Common Summer Landscaping Challenges and How to Tackle ThemThe high temperatures of summer bring unique challenges to lawns and landscaping in the Olathe and general Johnson County area. How do you know if you’re doing everything you can to ensure that your yard and your outdoor spaces are healthy and look as good as possible?

We’re going to tackle a few of the biggest challenges you might encounter during these long summer days, along with a few suggestions of how to approach them. Remember, however, that even though there are lots of ways to DIY your lawn and landscape jobs, consulting with a professional is often the easiest and most cost effective way of making sure your space looks and performs exactly how you’d like.

Summer Landscaping Challenge #1: Unsightly Plants and Weeds

It never fails: you take great pains to plant the perfect flower bed or you work with your landscape architect to create a gorgeous water feature or outdoor environment, and everything is gorgeous. But then, they appear. Weeds! Nuisance plants, like ivy or thistle!

This happens so often in the summer months because the conditions are just right: you’ve prepped your soil. You are watering (or it’s raining) and applying the right fertilizers. Just as those conditions make for gorgeous plants that you want, they also make hospitable conditions for weeds and plants you didn’t intend to include in your outdoor space.

While it’s not possible to prevent all weeds and invasive plants from trying to lay claim to your lawn or landscape, it is possible to keep them to a minimum. This requires frequent weeding, which can be most enjoyable earlier or later in the day. Try to weed by the root, meaning pull the entire plant from the soil when possible. If you just weed-whack them flush with the ground, you’re leaving the root system intact, which means they’ll continue to grow.

Be sure, too, to properly dispose of those unwanted weeds and plants after you’ve pulled them. Bag them and either put out for pickup or take them to a compost facility. If you pull them and let them linger on your lawn or in your garden, they just might decide to stay!

Summer Landscaping Challenge #2: Getting the Moisture Levels Right

Summer can be fickle. Sometimes it’s too dry and you have to worry about dry soil and burnt plants. Other times, you have to worry about too much moisture, which can lead to unsightly mushroom growth and other issues.

One way to mitigate this issue is to install automatic irrigation systems that will water your lawn when it’s dry. Another factor to consider is proper drainage. Working with a landscape architect firm to create these systems before extreme weather hits is best; but it’s never the wrong time to start.

Summer Landscaping Challenge #3: Not Wanting to Be Outdoors

It’s okay to admit that sometimes it’s just too hot to spend much time outside. Whether that means that you’re not up for pulling weeds or mowing the lawn, or that you want to grill dinner but can’t stand to stand in the sun for that long, there are ways we can help.

One way is to hire us to do your maintenance so you don’t have to. This is a time when you really can have it all: a gorgeous lawn, no matter the season, without having to do the work to get it.

Another way is to let us help you create a space that feels good, even when it’s hot. Think of adding a swimming pool if you have the room or a koi pond or water feature if you prefer. You might also consider a covered deck or patio, so you can sit outside but still be in the shade. The truth is, we love working with clients to find creative yet practical ways to make their outdoor spaces perfect for them. We’d love to do the same for you!

How Outdoor Commercial Spaces Can Benefit from Working with a Landscape Architect

How Outdoor Commercial Spaces Can Benefit from Working with a Landscape Architect

If you’ve read our blogs, you might notice that we talk quite a bit about how to make your outdoor living space the best it can be. But outdoor spaces aren’t limited to residential areas. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll see that a landscape architect can have a hand in planning and improving almost every area, from shopping malls to office parks and more.

Commercial properties have different challenges than residential properties. Their intended use is different, of course: we live in our homes but we come and go from our workplace. That doesn’t mean, however, that the outside environment of our workplaces don’t impact our daily lives. They do—and because that’s true, we think it’s important to make those spaces as good as they can possibly be.

You don’t have to settle for uninspired, utilitarian outdoor commercial spaces, especially if you work with a landscape architect and landscaping firm that specializes in custom solutions. Keep reading for a few ideas of how you can improve your outdoor commercial space with our help.

Tips from an Olathe Landscape Architect

Option #1: Get Shady

Just like residential spaces, outdoor commercial spaces can feel oppressive and unpleasant when the elements are just too much to handle. Think of how uncomfortable it is to sit outside on a patio on a hot summer day when the sun is at full strength. This is the same in an outdoor commercial space.

At the same time, office workers and others in a commercial building might go outside looking for a break from work or whatever is happening inside. Having a space with a built-in shade structure, such as a covered deck or patio, might be the perfect solution.

Creating a shady space means that outdoor seating is more comfortable and might actually provide a spot of rest and relaxation for people throughout a hectic workday. This not only looks nice; it can also improve productivity and morale.

Option #2: Add a Feature

This could be a water feature or a fire feature. It might seem elaborate, but it’s not. For example, Kansas City is the city of fountains, and those fountains come in all sizes. Water features are proven to be relaxing. The sound of the water from the fountain can also work like white noise does in an office; more than one conversation can occur in a space, but a modicum of privacy can still be maintained.

A fire feature can be a fantastic spot for colder weather months. Businesses with a fire pit and seating might use the space for teambuilding exercises, client gatherings, or for entertaining.

Option #3: Invite the Community

If your business if community focused and you have the space, there are countless opportunities to use part of your outdoor space in this way. Consider a community garden, plant a fruit-bearing tree, or use a hydroponic garden tower and invite employees and others to help themselves to herbs and fresh greens.

Granted, this last option might take a bit more coordination and planning than just building a bench or adding outdoor seating, but for the right business, it could be a great way to invest in the community.

For more great ideas, reach out to talk to our team.

How to Spend More Time Outside, Even When It’s Hot

Soak in the shade and actually enjoy these hot Kansas summers with a brand new covered deck or patio!

Summer in Kansas is no joke! With temperatures already topping one-hundred degrees, it might seem like the perfect time to settle into a comfy chair inside and crank the air conditioning up a touch higher.

But if you love being outdoors and want to spend as much time in the sun as possible, we have a few tips for you.

Be Prepared!

There’s an old adage in the hiking community that says: there is no bad weather, there is only poor preparation. While that might be a bit of a generalization, there is truth to it. Being prepared for the challenges super hot days bring can help you enjoy your time outside more.

What should you do to prepare? We have a few ideas:

Tip 1: Plan your time wisely. Maybe you want to get up a little earlier so you can soak up the early morning sun, rather than waiting until the hottest part of the day to venture outside. Maybe consider a sunrise walk or having your morning coffee on the deck, then going inside once the thermostat starts to rise.

Tip #2: Stay hydrated. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get distracted and not drink enough water. When the temperatures get this hot, it’s vital to drink water—not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

Another great way to stay cooler is to use water on the skin. Try misting your face with cool water or splashing cold water on your wrists and hands. If you’re going to be outside for awhile, stock a cooler with ice and water, and throw in a few frozen washcloths (washcloths you wet with water then freeze). When you need a reprieve, place the frozen washcloth around your neck or on your scalp. It might be a temporary reprieve, but it will feel amazing!

Tip #3: When possible, opt for shade. If you can, stay in the shade. This can mean spending time under a tree, on an enclosed deck or patio, or under a wide-brimmed hat.

Be Flexible

As much fun as summer can be, sometimes it’s important to just admit that being outdoors for too long, without the proper equipment, isn’t ideal. Be flexible with your plans. Be willing to move a get-together indoors or reschedule for earlier or later in the day, if necessary. Remember that you can’t enjoy the sun if you’re not feeling well.

Make Plans for Following Years

Since it’s been so hot already this summer, you might be thinking about ways to make future summers more enjoyable. We’re here to work on those projects with you! So pay attention to how you’re using your outdoor space, and which improvements would make it even better. We’ve worked on great options for Johnson County families that have helped them enjoy the outdoors more, even in hot weather. One option is to invest in a covered deck. We can start from scratch, with a custom-built deck. Or we can simply add a covering to your existing deck.

A few covering options include a pergola, a retractable shade or awning, or curtains. These options would also work well for a covered patio. Each has its own distinct advantages and challenges, depending on your budget and your space. We’d love to show you what will work best for your unique situation—so get in touch when you’re ready!

 

 

 

Questions You Should Always Ask Your Landscape Architect

landscape architect

Questions You Should Always Ask Your Landscape Architect

The idea of hiring a professional landscape architect to turn your outdoor space into the space you’ve always wanted can be overwhelming. Where do you start? What questions should you ask? What research should you do prior to calling different companies?

Don’t worry—we’re going to break it down for you.

First Things First: Plan

We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: before you hire a professional to make improvements to your lawn and landscape, you should be thinking about what changes you’d like to make. Do you want a retaining wall? New outdoor lighting? A water or fire element? Are you ready to expand by adding a gazebo or an outdoor kitchen? Or are you looking just for landscaping?

When you have an idea of what you might want, the next step is to determine—roughly, not down to the exact penny—you budget. This will help you understand how much you can get with the money you have available, but it will also help the professional you choose know how to prioritize your budget.

Once you’re clear about what you want and how much you’ll pay for it, think about a few other things. Like how much of your own maintenance you are comfortable doing, and how often you want the company you hire to perform services. Having a few parameters around what you expect, and what you feel comfortable with, will help when you start having conversations with different providers.

Now It’s Time to Talk

Here are a few considerations as you take the leap from thinking about hiring a professional to interviewing candidates:

Tip 1: Contact more than one landscape architect. Like all other services, it’s important to compare your options so you can start to get a feel for how different providers work. Ask for referrals from family and friends you know and trust; they’ll point you in the right direction, and that’s a great start. You can also check with your local chamber of commerce. Church and civic organizations can also provide valuable insight into a company’s involvement in the community.

Tip 2: Come prepared. It’s not a test—but it’s a good idea to come with a few prepared questions, especially when those questions are really important to you. For example, if you’re on a strict budget, you want to be sure to remember to discuss that. Or if you want an outdoor kitchen, you want to be sure the potential landscape architect has experience in that area. Coming prepared means you’ll be able to ask everything you need to know.

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. Your prepared list of questions is a good start. But don’t be afraid to let the conversation expand so you can learn as much as possible about a potential service provider. Ask open-ended questions. For example, ask “tell me about an outdoor kitchen you recently worked on, including a challenge you faced and how you found solutions,” rather than simply asking, “do you do outdoor kitchens?”

Ask About the Entire Team

Chances are you won’t meet everyone at a company that makes their work for you possible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask how things work behind the scenes. It’s important to ask about communication preferences. For example: “if I have an issue, how should I get in touch with you?” or “If I reach out, how long should I expect to wait for a return call and will it be you who calls back, or someone on your administrative team?”.

We’re always available to chat about your projects—and we share information about our business, our community, and our staff on our Facebook page. We think it’s important to do this, so you can get to know us. If you’d like to learn even more or you’re ready to get started on a new project, we’d love to work with you. Please reach out if we can offer options or assistance.

Which Outdoor Landscaping Improvements Will Increase the Resale Value of My Home?

Which Outdoor Landscaping Improvements Will Increase the Resale Value of My Home?

The housing marking in Kansas City is hot right now. Homes are selling for higher prices and showings abound as soon as a new property hits the market. But what if you’re not ready to sell right now? What if you’d rather stay in your place a bit longer and make improvements that will increase the resale value even more?

If that’s you, read on to learn about some outdoor improvements can increase the resale value of your home once you are ready to sell.

Your Outdoor Landscaping Matters Most

Not surprisingly, Consumer Reports says that improving your landscaping is the number one way to increase the resale value of your home. Zillow even says that adding the word “landscaping” to your sale listing can add 2.7% or more to the sale price.

Why? Curb appeal! Your front lawn and whatever features it includes, whether that’s shrubbery, a flower bed, or something bigger like a water feature, give a potential buyer a first impression. And that first impression can’t be changed. When your lawn and landscape is well-maintained and attractive, a potential buyer will think that the inside of your home is also well-maintained, tidy, and attractive.

Of course, we’d recommend working with a landscape architect or landscaping firm to make sure your outdoor space is ready for potential buyers. But if you choose to do the work yourself, focusing on a few key things will give you the best return. One of those things is to mulch with dark-brown or black mulch. You should also mow your grass to the appropriate height. Another important task is to trim foundation hedges so that first-floor windows are clear.

Think About Your Outdoor Landscaping Lighting

Adding new or improved lighting to the outside of your home can have a dramatic effect on your resale efforts. According to Zillow, listings that included the words “outdoor lighting” sold 3.1 days faster and for 1.6% more than other homes (on average).

We specialize in outdoor lighting and would welcome the chance to help. But if you’re DIYing your way through selling your home, there are a few things you can consider first. Those include path lighting, spotlight lights, or solar options to make the most of your efforts.

Making the Most of Your Outdoor Space

If you have an outdoor living area like a patio or deck, an outdoor kitchen, or a fire or water feature, be sure that those areas are working and staged. It’s important to show potential buyers how the space is intended to be used. But it’s also important to keep your personal “stuff” out of that space. Too many personal touches, like personalized decorations, can work against you by making it difficult for potential buyers to see themselves using the space.

If you’re working with a team on the sale of your house, we’d love to be part of it. Reach out for a consultation or a discussion to see how we can help you net more when you sell your home.

Organic Pest Control Options for Your Johnson County, Kansas Lawn and Landscape

Kansas Lawn and Landscape

Organic Pest Control Options for Your Johnson County, Kansas Lawn and Landscape

Deciding which options are best for controlling pests in your lawn and landscape can be tricky. Should you opt for all-natural options or chemical intervention? Perhaps a mix would work best for your particular space. If you’re curious about whether or not organic options might work for your lawn, garden, or landscape, keep reading.

Determine Which Pests You Need to Control

Keeping pests in check in your outdoor space is different, of course, than mitigating pests in your home. When we’re looking at controlling pests in the outdoors, the ideal is very rarely to eliminate pests altogether, like it might be inside your home. Rather, the ideal is more often to create a space that fosters the good critters and keeps the ones that cause harm out of your space.

To that end, it’s important to know which pests cause the most havoc in the Kansas City area. That list includes ants, clover mites, chiggers, crickets, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, and ticks. For more detailed information on all of these pests and more, visit the K-State Extension office page here.

Remember: Organic Doesn’t Mean Homemade

It might seem natural to think that organic options for pest control can be made with ingredients you might already have in your pantry. But this is untrue. Organic pest control options aren’t homemade potions. Rather, they are treatments that are derived from natural matter. That might include greenery or living matter—like seaweed or bone, for example.

This means that there are organic options on the shelves right next to chemical pesticides, should you choose to go the DIY route. Be sure to read the labels and perform your due diligence to ensure that the pest control options, even though organic, are safe for the humans and pets in your family.

Making the Choice: Organic or Conventional Pesticides

Determining which pest control option is best for you and your outdoor space can include considerations that only professionals know, such as how each option has performed over time and what, if any, long-term effects those options have caused.

Because we’ve worked on countless lawn and landscapes in Olathe and Johnson County, we know how every pest control option affects both your space and the community as a whole. If you’d like to learn more or have help determining how to make your space the best it can be, we’d love to work with you. Please reach out if we can offer options or assistance.

 

 

How to Maximize Privacy Through Landscaping

Maximize Privacy Through Landscaping

Maximizing Privacy Through Landscaping

The idea of a wide-open space filled with elements you love might seem like the perfect set-up. That is, until you remember that you live close to others and value your privacy. Luckily, you can use a few landscaping tips to have the best of both worlds.

Landscaping Tips to Maximize Privacy

It’s easiest, of course, to achieve this goal if you are just starting on your outdoor space. This means you can plan for privacy by planting a row of trees, for example, or by installing a retaining wall that doubles as a privacy fence.

If you are remodeling, this is an option too. Sit down and talk with your family and with your landscape expert about what you love about your current space and what you’d like to change. Where, exactly, do you need privacy? Is it for the entire yard, or just for a particular area? Do you want to block sightlines into the space, or remove your neighbor’s ability to see into your windows?

Knowing exactly what—and where—privacy is most important to you will help you determine which elements will work best going forward.

Using Trees and Shrubs for Privacy

An obvious way to make your space more private is to install natural elements that impede an outsider’s view or access. This might be a row of shrubs that obstruct a clear view into a window or a line of trees that prevent people from crossing your property line.

You can also use non-living elements to achieve the same goal. Consider building a privacy panel with additional sheets of lattice or a privacy wall that mimics a fence, but shields a seating area from prying eyes.

Keep Your Privacy: The Landscaping Options are Endless

Truth is, creating privacy in your outdoor space can be an endeavor that is just as individual as you are. You can use living elements like trees, bushes, or vine-covered fences. You can build a pergola that you outfit with drapery that can be opened and closed whenever you want. Or, you might build a huge water element that faces into your space and blocks your neighbors’ views. The options truly are endless.

The trick is deciding which elements you love and then incorporating them in a way that brings you just the amount of privacy you want. We’d love to work with you on a project like that, so please reach out if we can offer options or assistance.