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.

 

The Best Drainage Options for Your Lawn and Landscape

Drainage Options for Your Lawn

The Best Drainage Options for Your Lawn and Landscape

We all know the saying: April showers bring May flowers. While it’s always exciting to see the colors and beautiful flower beds of Spring, there’s another vital element to be aware of to keep your lawn and landscape healthy. That element is drainage and how improper or inadequate drainage can cause harm.

Why Is Proper Drainage Important?

There are several reasons proper drainage matters when it comes to your outdoor space. One of the most important reasons is soil erosion. If your space does not have proper drainage, the risk of water runoff is high—and when there’s runoff, there’s a risk of soil erosion.

That might not seem like a big deal until you realize that soil erosion can cause foundation issues for your home, which can be dangerous and expensive. Erosion can also harm the health of your lawn and ruin the landscaping you’ve worked so hard to install.

What is erosion? Erosion is what happens when water carries your landscape away. Think about a Spring rainstorm and how the water can flow down a street in search of the gutter. If you watch, you’ll see it brings any debris and litter with it. The same is true in your yard: runoff can pick up and carry away soil. This means all your hard work will be gone. Left over time, erosion can become a substantial problem, not just for your lawn, but for your home.

Fix Erosion with Proper Drainage

The way to stem this troublesome erosion is to ensure that you have proper drainage. There are basically two types of drainage: surface systems and subsurface  systems.

Surface draining systems are options that are on the surface of the ground. They use the power of gravity to pull excess rainfall away from places it might cause harm. Subsurface draining systems are underground but work in a similar way.

Types of Drainage: Surface and Subsurface Options

An example of a surface drain is called a channel drain (which is also sometimes called a trench drain). This type of drain moves water through an underground drainage system—picture the gutters on your home, but used in your yard instead. Channel drains can be used wherever you need to direct overflow to a different area.

An example of a subsurface drain is called a French drain. If you’ve seen a rain barrel, you already have an idea of how a French drain works: excess water is collected and held so it can seep slowly into the ground. The difference is that a French drain is installed in the ground and often includes different layers that help filter impurities out of the water. It also has small holes that allow the water to seep into the ground slowly, while a rain barrel is an enclosed system that requires a spout and/or hose to extract water manually.

The type of drain—or types, depending on your particular space and needs—can be trick to determine and install, but we’re here to help. To learn more, visit our projects page or give us a call. We’d love to work with you.

Attracting Butterflies and Birds to Your Landscape

The best, most successful lawns and landscapes are the result of a partnership between you and your landscape professionals. Why? Because from the planning stage to the maintenance stage, working together to create, plant, and maintain an outdoor space you love will be a combination of one-time events (like building a waterfall centerpiece in a backyard garden, for example) and daily habits (like watering your flower beds at the right times, so they continue to thrive).

There’s a third party that plays a vital role in the health and vitality of your outdoor space, as well: nature itself. This is especially true if you want your lawn and garden to be filled with butterflies and birds. Read on to learn why.

Why Attract Butterflies and Birds to your Landscape?

Butterflies and birds aren’t just beautiful and fun to observe. Both can fulfill a vital role in keeping your outdoor space healthy. They do this by feeding on the nectar of various flowers and plants. When they feed, they also help pollinate, which helps flowers and even some vegetable gardens thrive.

Hummingbirds and bees, especially, are crucial to the pollination of various plants and flowers. By providing a space that’s safe for them to land and feed, you’re ensuring that pollination will continue to happen—and that your outdoor space, by extension, will continue to grow.

The Perfect Pollination Spaces

Birds and butterflies need flowers and plants that provide nectar. In the Kansas City and Johnson County area, native nectar plants include rose verbena, columbines, bee balms, milkweeds, clovers, and Indigo Bush.

These plants need lots of sunlight to bloom and survive, so be sure to plan a space that gets full sun from mid-morning to afternoon. A sunny spot is also important for butterflies, because butterflies are cold-blooded and require the sun’s heat to survive.

Make Your Landscape a Home for the Caterpillars

While butterflies are beautiful, their life span is surprisingly short. In fact the average life span of an adult butterfly is two weeks or less. This means that if you want to truly make your outdoor space—or a portion of it—home to butterflies, you must also make it a home to the baby version of butterflies: caterpillars.

In a perfect world, an adult butterfly will lay her eggs on a host plant—and that plant isn’t a flower. In fact, the only food for Monarch butterflies is Milkweed. Black Swallowtails feed on members of the carrot family (think Queen Anne’s Lace, fennel, parsley, and Golden Alexanders).

Want to learn more about creating an outdoor space that perfectly suits you and your family? We’re ready and eager  to work with you—so get in touch today!

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!