Environmentally Friendly Landscaping Practices

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing the right things to be environmentally friendly as you create your perfect outdoor space? It can be confusing to know which products and practices actually help, rather than harm, the environment. Working with a landscaping architect is a great first step if this is one of your goals. We can help you understand what steps are necessary to make your space as environmentally friendly as possible while still achieving your goals. Projects like building a retaining wall to help stop soil erosion or creating a rain garden make the most of native grasses can just as much of a benefit to the community at large as it can be to your outdoor space.

But it can be difficult to sift through the myriad products on the shelves—and without a degree in chemistry or horticulture, much of it can sound like word soup. This post aims to provide some basic starting information and remember: we’re always here to help, no matter what project you have in mind.

Easy Landscaping Steps to Help the Environment

One of the easiest things you can do if your goal is to benefit the environment is to leave grass clippings on your lawn after you mow. Why? Because clippings are basically green debris, which is another way of saying that it’s nature’s fertilizer. Grass clippings contain nitrogen—one of the main ingredients in chemical fertilizer. By leaving clippings on the ground rather than bagging and disposing of them, you let nature work in its own way to nourish your soil.

You can also choose to compost clippings rather than dispose of them. This is true of most lawn and garden debris. If you don’t compost at home, most communities provide where residents can bring lawn waste to be turned into either mulch or compost. In Olathe, for instance, there is a compost facility drop-off location. Just load up your bags of lawn waste and drop it off at the designated location. The city then turns that waste into either compost or mulch, both of which residents can pick up for free.

Keep Your Landscaping Native

Another easy way to be environmentally friendly is to choose native plants and grasses for your gardens. Native plants and grasses are simply those that flourish in our particular climate and soil conditions, which means they need less chemical help than non-native plants to flourish.

Native plants and grasses are important to rain gardens and to nurturing a home for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Learn more about native plants and grasses and how they benefit rain gardens (and how rain gardens can be part of your outdoor space) here.

Re-think Your Irrigation Systems

If you haven’t evaluated your irrigation systems for some time, you might be surprised at how options have evolved to be better for the environment and for your budget. Newer system options can decrease the amount of water used. It can also ensure that water is being used in the right spots and at the right time. A consultation with your local landscape architect can tell you if your system could benefit from an upgrade or a redesign.

Want to learn more? Reach out or visit us on Facebook!

Spring 2021 Lawn and Landscape Checklist

While Spring doesn’t officially happen until March 20th, the days here in Olathe and surrounding areas are starting to feel like the season is already here. And you know what that means: it’s time to pay attention to your lawn and landscape! This is true if you want to make big changes as the weather gets warmer, but it’s also true if you just want to revive your space. No matter your plans for the coming year, doing these few things in Spring will ensure a beautiful lawn and landscape.

Take a Good Look Around

You don’t know what you can do until you know what you’re working with. Once the temperatures start to warm, you can start inspecting your lawn and landscape. Pay particular attention to shrubs and trees. Look for broken branches and overgrowth, and prune if necessary.

This is also an ideal time to assess the possibilities your space has to offer. Look around: do you have a sunny spot that might be good for a flower bed? Or a partially sunny corner that might be a great home for an herb garden? Take a little time to think about what you want in your space. Maybe a birdbath and bird feeder, or a butterfly garden, or even a new gazebo or outdoor kitchen. The first step is assessing your space and seeing where there’s potential to grow.

Get Your Tools In Order

If you stored your tools properly before the cold temperatures set it, this step might be as simple as unpacking everything. But if you let hoses sit out during our freezing temperatures or if you let your tools sit outside, where they were subject to moisture and rust, then you might have to take inventory. While some tools can be cleaned and used again, others might need to be replaced.

Prep Your Soil

Do you know the Ph of your soil? Have you determined the right fertilizer and how often it should be applied? How about nutrient profiles—do you know what your soil needs and how to supply it?

It’s absolutely fine if you answer those questions by saying no. Spring is the perfect time to assess all of this information. Connect with your local extension office (many offer free soil testing) or visit your favorite lawn and garden store. Once you know how to best nourish your soil—and which plants will grow best in the soil you have—you can plan the lawn and landscape of your dreams.

Spring Clean Your Yard

Spring cleaning isn’t just for kitchens! Take this time to rake leaves and other debris, clean up refuse that got trapped under snow, and clean up the edges around your lawn, trees, and flower beds.

Want help turning your Johnson County landscape from boring to gorgeous? We’d love to talk to you. Shoot us an email or call—or visit our Facebook page to see various projects.

What is a Rain Garden and Why Should You Consider Having One?

What is a Rain Garden and Why Should You Consider Having One?

All the choices you have for making your lawn and landscape look amazing can get confusing. How do you choose between a flower garden, herb garden, or even a rain garden? A gazebo or an extended deck? A fire element or an outdoor kitchen?

All of these decisions, no matter how economical or expensive, have multiple factors. Budget, of course. The amount of time you can devote to planning, executing, and maintaining the finished product. And, of course, the natural limitations of your property—including layout, space available, available sunlight, moisture levels, and more.

One feature to consider might be a rain garden. Read on to learn more.

What is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are comprised of native plants and grasses and are generally planted on a gentle slope of land, in a depression of the ground. The overall idea of a rain garden is to create a place that can temporarily hold water so it can eventually soak, slowly, into the ground. Rain gardens are an ideal way to leverage run-off from roofs, patios, or other sloped areas.

Why Native Plants and Grasses?

It’s vital that the plants and grasses in a rain garden are native to the area. The reason is this: native plants have deep root systems. Those deep root systems are the best way to channel the run-off water that might normally erode a landscape deeper into the soil. This prevents erosion.

Native plants and grasses also thrive without the use of added fertilizers or chemicals, because they are uniquely able to grow in our exact conditions. This is important because the water that a rain garden collects will seep directly into the earth. Using native plants and grasses means fewer chemicals, which means there are fewer chemicals in the water that seeps into the ground.

What are the Benefits of a Rain Garden?

Like other gardens, one of the main advantages of a rain garden is how it looks. Because rain gardens are full of native plants and grasses, they are typically lush and full—and that means a rain garden can be beautiful to look at.

But rain gardens are also practical because they can help prevent erosion, which is normally caused by a runoff water, by giving that water a place to slowly seep into the ground. The native plants and grasses also filter storm and rainwater before it can get enter local waterways. Finally, rain gardens can provide a safe, abundant spot for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Curious about ways we can help you create new, interesting spots in your lawn and landscape? From small projects to huge undertakings, we love working with clients to make their dreams come true. Give us a call or email for more information.

Did You Have a COVID Garden? What to Do Next

Did You Have a COVID Garden?

One of the results of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 was the rise of home and backyard gardens. Most often supplemental gardens (those used not as sole sources of food, but as supplemental supplies) and often container based rather than in-ground, these COVID gardens gave people something productive to do.

But, as COVID fatigue set in—and as temperatures plummeted during winter—the shine that these gardens once had might be a bit scuffed. If you built a garden last year and want to change things up a bit for the upcoming season, here are a few ideas to make the most of your space.

New Year, New Gardens

If you planted a garden last year by purchasing or building container gardens, you likely remember how those crops fared. Did your tomatoes grow tall and leggy but produce few fruits? Did your watermelons fizzle? Make notes about each crop you planted.  Pay attention to placement in your garden, your watering habits, and the results.

Chances are, you can rotate your crops this year to better leverage your space. If your containers are portable, consider place where you’ll get optimal sunlight; if you cannot move your containers, take some time to determine where sunlight falls in your space and for how long, then follow the guidelines set out for each crop. For example, tomatoes have different sunlight needs than green beans.

Consider Adding New Elements

If you know what you’re planting, whether that’s vegetables or flowers or a combination of both, and you have the space, you can consider adding other elements to your garden. Some communities reimburse homeowners for environmentally friendly garden elements, like rain barrels or butterfly gardens. You could also add a hardscape, like a patio, or a water or fire element.

Combine Garden and Outdoor Living Concepts

One outdoor trend, according to Veranda, is the return of the cutting garden. Another is a more seamless integration of outdoor and indoor spaces. You can breathe new life into your outdoor space by considering these trends. For instance, use a currently barren corner to plant zinnias or sunflowers—and then use those cuttings to decorate both your patio tables and in your indoor bouquets.

Another option is to expand your garden and add seating elements. This can be as easy as adding a bench so you can sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor, or by building an umbrellaed dining area complete with countertops and an outdoor oven.

Do you have big plans for your outdoor space? We’d love to hear about them. Share on our Facebook or shoot us an email.

 

2021 Outdoor Living Trends

The new year is traditionally a time to take stock of what we value most in life. For some, that means making resolutions to be healthier or to spend more time with family. For others, it means setting financial or professional goals.

This year, as we move from the unique year that was 2020 and into 2021, we have a chance to reflect on having spent more time at home and with family. And as the seasons turn from winter snow to spring sun, we can plan for the improvements we might make to our homes and outdoor living spaces to better accommodate our current reality of staying close to home.

To that end, let’s take a look at what design and industry experts are naming top outdoor living space trends for 2021.

Year-Round Outdoor Living Spaces

Like some of Kansas City’s most popular outdoor dining spots, our own outdoor spaces can go from summer-only to (almost) year-round with the addition of elements that help temper the elements. Think heating elements to warm up on cold or cooler nights, like portable heaters or built-in fireplaces, as well as additional areas of shade to make being out in the sun less harsh. Retractable shades and umbrellas are perfect options, especially when paired with fans to help circulate the air.

Lighting Makes a Difference

Because so many people are entertaining more in their outdoor spaces, the lighting in those spaces has become more important than ever. Whether your space needs to illuminate a border or path (or driveway) or you want to spotlight your favorite trees or foliage, a custom plan to place just the right lighting in just the right spots can turn your outdoor living space from ho-hum to brilliant.

Extending Your Living Space

You’re likely familiar with the idea of extending your living space by making your outdoor space look and feel more like the rooms inside your home. But because we’ve been spending so much more time inside, people are thinking more about making the outside not only more livable, but more beautiful. Think about it—our gardens, front lawns, and back yards have been our view for the past year and will likely continue to be this year. Why not make it a view you love?

Maximizing your view can be as simple as rethinking your gardens; but it can also be an elaborate project, like adding a water element or finally building that retaining wall. Regardless of how simple or how involved your project might be, we’d be honored to help you make your outdoor living space the perfect space for you. Visit us on Facebook or reach out to learn more.

 

Olathe commercial snow removal company

How Proper Snow Removal Can Save You Money

Olathe commercial snow removal company

How Proper Snow Removal Can Save You Money

It’s officially winter in Kansas and that means snow… and the removal of snow. Even though the amount of snow that Olathe and surrounding areas in Johnson County get can vary, two things are constant: there will be snow at some point, and someone will have to shovel it.

If you’re a DIYer at home, there are great tips here to help you clear snow from your space in a safe way. If you’re a business owner, though, how you deal with the white stuff is different. Instead of shoving a driveway, you may need to plow a parking lot. In that case, choosing the right snow removal service can save you cash, not to mention a lot of sweat. Keep reading to learn how.

It’s All About Value of Snow Removal

Red Adair famously said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” Red was a smart man. He was an oil well firefighter who turned that knowledge into a business. His advice, to hire a professional, is one of his most famous quotes, and for good reason. Professionals get the job done right the first time, which saves you money. Why? Because even if you pay a little bit more upfront, you don’t have to pay repeatedly to get the job done correctly. Or worse, to have mistakes that shouldn’t have happened in the first place fixed.

Like any other service, it’s possible to find providers that charge far less than any other provider. While that might seem like a good deal, it’s often true that providers who rely on price alone tend to offer services not quite on par with those who charge more. This isn’t to say that you should overpay! But knowing what a service fairly costs and choosing a provider that falls into that range means you’re hiring someone who values the work they do for you.

It’s All About Know-How

There are right and wrong ways to remove snow. Hiring a company that specializes in snow removal saves money for several reasons. First, because we do this professionally, we know how to do it properly. And that means working efficiently. Second, because we do this year after year, we know what you need. We know that you use your front lot, for example, but never the back lot. So we know what’s important to you and work only on that. All of these factors save you money.

It’s All About Trust

There’s a cost to worrying about whether or not the company you call can get the job done, or if they’ll do it correctly. It might not be a financial cost, though it could translate to that in various ways. But it also pays to consider the value of peace of mind.

Knowing the people behind the plow means knowing that when you call, the job will be completed and done correctly. You can hang up assured that there’s nothing more you have to do—which means you can work on your business or spend time with your family.

There are other ways working with the right snow removal company saves you money, and we’re here and would love to talk to you about those advantages. Give us a call to learn more…before the snow hits!

More Bang for Your Buck: Getting the Best Snow Removal Deal

Snow. It’s a school kids’ daydream, an artist’s muse, and an important element of more than one Christmas song. But for business owners, snow removal can range from a minor inconvenience to an expensive business liability.

While a business owner cannot control the weather—or whether or not it snows—there are things you can do to minimize the impact snow has on your business. Specifically, there are things you can do to minimize the cost of snow removal. Read on to learn more.

Plan Early

Like so many other elements of running a business, one of the major ways you can get the best price on snow removal in Johnson County, Kansas, is to plan ahead. If you don’t yet have a trusted snow removal contractor to service your business, give us a call (or reach out to trusted friends for referrals).

Planning early and hiring a snow removal professional in Olathe before it snows gives you more leverage when negotiating the terms of that company’s service. It also gives you the time to make decisions without needing to immediately make a decision. There’s nothing worse than having to pay more than the going rate because everyone else is booked and your parking lot is full of snow!

Know What Matters Most

Knowing your priorities when it comes to snow removal can help save money in the long run. Give careful consideration to how big a space you need cleared to accommodate customers and their vehicles. Think about the most often used paths into and out of your business and docks. Ensure the right traffic patterns are clear, but consider leaving little used areas alone. Leaving some snow to melt on its own, provided that snow doesn’t present a physical hazard or impede foot traffic, can save money.

Know Your Snow Removal Professional

Like any other business decision, you want to know in advance who you’re working with. And working with a reputable, trusted, insured company can save you money. Why? Let’s break it down.

Trust matters for so many reasons, one of which is manpower. If you hire someone you don’t trust, you might have to have an employee there for backup and that employee (or employees) needs to be paid. There’s also an important element of peace of mind—you want to know that the job is being done right the first time.

Making sure that whichever company you work with carries proper insurance is a must. If there’s an accident on your property, you want to be sure you’re not left in the precarious position of being financially responsible for damages. Of course, this is something you should always speak with your accountant and/or legal counsel about.

There are other ways to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your snow removal needs, and we’re here and eager to help when you’re ready. Give us a call to learn more…before you have a pile of snow that needs to be moved!

Why Working with a Professional for Snow Removal is Good for the Environment

It’s early November now and the afternoon temperatures feel close to perfect. But before we know it, we’ll be dealing with colder temperatures and—sooner rather than later—we’ll have to start thinking about snow removal. In fact, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the Kansas City area will be colder and snowier than in years past.

What does this mean for you? If you have a business that depends on foot traffic or people being able to navigate your parking lot, it means you’ll need snow removal services. It’s something we do well—and something we’d like to help you learn more about. Keep reading to learn why contracting with a professional snow removal company can be environmentally friendly.

Grab Your Shovel!

It makes sense that the most environmentally friendly method of snow removal is by shoveling. Other perks of shoveling are cost (shovels and brooms are inexpensive) and exercise (is there a better workout?).

But there are also drawbacks and limitations. If you have a large area to clear, if the snowfall is significant, if you’re short manpower, or if you have health conditions that prevent you from exerting yourself, shoveling won’t be an option for you.

Add Snow Removal Equipment

If you have a small area to clear or the snowfall is manageable, you might be able to manage the chore by using a snowblower. If you’re concerned about the environmental impacts of using such equipment, you want to pay attention to the power source.

Gas powered equipment has a bigger carbon footprint than equipment powered by electricity or batteries, so it makes sense to opt for equipment powered by the latter. That doesn’t always mean, though, that those options are affordable or easily available.

But, like shoveling, snow blowing is often not a viable option for businesses. It might be that you have too many other tasks to do in the running of your business to make time for removing all that snow; or it might be that you don’t have the staff or know-how necessary to get it done well.

If that’s the case, contracting with a professional snow removal agency can be both an environmentally friendly option and it can help you save money and time in the long run.

Snow Removal Experts: We Get the Job Done

How can a professional snow removal company help save you money and time and protect the environment?

One way is by having the right equipment. Snow removal companies in the Kansas City area have industrial size snowplows and trucks; this means less time powering equipment, which means less of a carbon footprint.

We also know which products are safest to use. For example, some chemicals in deicing products can adversely affect your landscaping and road surfaces. By using the correct products, a snow removal company can efficiently remove snow without harming your landscaping, your parking lot, or our community’s roadways.

There are countless other reasons to trust a professional with your snow removal needs, and we’re here and eager to help when you’re ready. Give us a call to learn more…before the snow starts to fall!

Dropping Temperatures Ahead: Should You Add a Natural or Gas Outdoor Fireplace?

You feel the chill in the air lately, don’t you? Mornings and evenings here in the Kansas City area are definitely starting to feel like Fall. And here in the Midwest, we know that when the leaves start to turn and sweaters become part of our everyday wardrobe, winter—and freezing temperatures—can’t be far behind.

But before we think too much about what’s to come, let’s think about the coziness of this season. As the temps start to dip, we can spend more time comfortably outdoors. We can fire up the bonfire or grill dinner without sweating through our shirts. And we can settle in on the deck for a drink as we enjoy the company of family.

If your idea of a perfect outdoor space includes a outdoor fireplace, keep reading! You’ll learn a bit more about the difference between natural and gas fireplaces and things you should consider before taking the plunge.

What Is a Natural Outdoor Fireplace?

A natural fireplace is one that burns natural material—i.e., wood—for fuel. Constructed from a wide variety of materials including metal, stone, and brick, a natural fireplace can be an interesting way to add a fire element to your landscape.

Like other fire features, natural fireplaces require safety precautions. An obvious precaution is to ensure that the fireplace is not near trees or hanging limbs, or overhead electrical wires. Another precaution is to use the right fuel to stoke the fire, meaning wood meant specifically for burning. Never use trash, plastic, or other materials. Also, work closely with your landscape architect to ensure that embers from the fire move up, rather than out.

What Is a Gas Outdoor Fireplace?

A gas fireplace is one that relies on gas as fuel. Think of this as the difference between a charcoal grill and a propane grill–a gas fireplace is like the latter. It’s similar to a natural fireplace in that it can be made from any number of materials. But unlike a natural fireplace, you have additional safety considerations unique to gas. Making sure there’s proper clearance between gas lines and structures is one. Ensuring proper ventilation is another.

Outdoor Fireplace Safety Considerations

No matter your choice of fuel source, there are things you must consider before building any outdoor fireplace. Location is one: a fireplace needs to be built an appropriate distance from other outdoor structures, like your home and garage. It also needs to be placed in a way that keeps the area around it safe. For example, if you have many trees, this might affect where you put an outdoor fireplace.

It’s also important to check with your town or city to make sure local ordinances allow the building of outdoor fireplaces. If they do, there might be additional parameters that you’ll have to be aware of before you start building. The same is true of homeowners associations. It’s best to make sure you comply with all applicable rules right from the start.

The Advantages of an Outdoor Fireplace

A 2018 survey conducted by Houzz found that 51% of homeowners spent more time outdoors after completing improvement projects. It also found that the addition of outdoor heating sources like fire pits and fireplaces encouraged people to entertain outdoors year-round.

Studies like this confirm what we already know: \when we create an outdoor space that makes us happy, we’ll do two things. We will spend more time outdoors, and we’ll invite others to join us. Adding an outdoor fireplace to your space might be the perfect way to ensure that even when the weather turns colder, you can still enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends.

No matter what type of outdoor fireplace you think will work best for you, it’s always a good idea to discuss your plans, budget, and timeline with an experienced landscaper. We’re here and eager to help when you’re ready.

Extend the Seasonal Use of Your Outdoor Living Space by Adding an Outdoor Fireplace

outdoor fireplace olathe

Extend the Seasonal Use of Your Outdoor Living Space by Adding an Outdoor Fireplace

It’s happening: the mornings are a bit cooler. Evenings, too. As our Olathe temperatures drop below the sweltering point of high summer, it becomes easier to think about the seasons to come.

But those seasons also bring colder temperatures, which means less time spent outdoors. Sure, autumn can be cozy during the day; but when night falls and the sun is no longer warming our outdoor spaces, even fall nights can be uncomfortably chilly.

One way to keep using your outdoor space, even when colder temperatures set in, is by adding an outdoor fireplace.

Types of Outdoor Fireplaces

To say that outdoor fireplaces come in different shapes and sizes is to say that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are a simple coffee drink. There is no “typical” outdoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace can be a simple fire pit or fire bowl; a fire table or fire column; a chiminea or a pizza oven. It could also be a simple patio heater or an elaborate fire and water feature.

The point is this: no matter your budget, your design aesthetic, or how often you might use an outdoor fireplace, there is one that fits your needs.

What to Consider When Deciding on an Outdoor Fireplace

Like other landscape decisions, installing an outdoor fireplace requires thought and planning. How often you’ll use it is a good place to start. Also consider what you’ll use it for: do you simply want a spot to gather with friends and family? If so, a fire pit that can be used whenever the temperature warrants might be the perfect choice. You can even toast a marshmallow or two or make s’mores over the flame of a fire bowl.

But if you want to cook outdoors, you’ll need something better suited to that purpose. Or, if you want a show-stopping, breathtaking, architectural attraction as part of your landscape design, you’ll need more than a simple fire pit.

Of course, the more elaborate the fireplace, the more you’ll need to budget. And remember to think of the space you have available, too; some spaces will only accommodate a small fireplace while others can handle something larger.

The Advantages of Outdoor Fireplaces

It’s easy to see how cozy an outdoor fireplace can make your space. By adding a fire element to your outdoor landscape, you can extend the length of time you’re happy while outdoors. Because you can add warmth to a colder evening, you might venture outside more often in the cooler autumn and even winter months.

Other advantages might not be so immediately apparent, but they’re nonetheless important. You’ll not only be creating an ambiance that makes entertaining more fun, but you can also increase the value of your home.

Regardless of which outdoor fireplace is best for you, we’re adept at helping homeowners create outdoor spaces they enjoy year-round. Give us a call and let us show you how beautiful your outdoor space can be.