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.

How Adding Lights to Retaining Walls Can Make a Lasting Impression

Retaining walls aren’t always the most glamorous element of landscaping to talk about. They’re not often pretty, like flower beds or gorgeous trees, and they can be valued more for what they do than for how the look.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make your retaining wall pull double duty. With inspired vision, a bit of creativity, and the help of a professional landscaper, you can turn your retaining wall into a feature that not only works hard, but also lends a unique design aesthetic to your home.

Think About Your Space

Retaining walls are often installed along driveways or walkways. This makes them the perfect place to also install lighting. Rather than thinking of these two things as opposing projects, why not talk with your landscape designer about how to integrate both elements together?

Adding lights to your retaining wall can improve the safety of your home by providing necessary light to make pathways visible. They can also be security features—we all know that a well-landscaped, well-lit yard is a deterrent to criminals. But adding lighting to a retaining wall can also be a design element.

Let Your Personality Shine!

Think about it: different lights evoke different looks. Inside your home, you might prefer brighter light in the bathroom than you do in the bedroom. You might like overhead light in the garage but prefer cabinet-mounted spotlights in your kitchen. There are logistical concerns to lighting, to be sure, but lighting can also be an interesting design element.

When you think about your outdoor space, think about how you use it. If your retaining wall is in your backyard, for example, and you love to entertain, consider adding lights that set the mood but don’t flood guests with glare. If you need a retaining wall built in your front yard, think about installing lighting that marks a pathway or guides you safely into the garage.

The Choices are Endless

The hardest part of using lighting to enhance a retaining wall is choosing which option you like best. There are so many! The good news is that by working with a professional landscaping company that understands how you use your space and how you want it to look, you have help narrowing down the options to find the best one for you.

Ready to turn your space into one you love? Reach out. We’d love to talk with you.

3 Olathe Landscaping Tips for Maintaining Your Lawn During the Hot and Dry Summer Season

With summer comes hot, sticky days; and for Olathe landscaping, it could mean trouble. Most sources say temperatures in the Kansas City metro area hover in the 90-degree range. If that makes us sweat, imagine what it does to our lawns! If not properly cared for, lawns can suffer in the summer. Grass can wilt and even burn if the temperatures rise and care isn’t adjusted to beat the heat.

The good news is that there are ways to help keep your Olathe landscaping and lawn healthy and beautiful all summer long—and one of those tactics means you get a break from being outside!

1) Water More When the Temperature Spikes

Just like your body needs more water when the temperatures rise, your lawn requires additional moisture to stay healthy. Believe it or not, there’s science behind how often you should water your lawn. Factors that matter include the type of soil in your lawn, the slope of your property, and the type of grass you’ve planted.

Kansas City’s dirt is clay-packed and absorbs water at a rate of no more than two-tenths of an inch per hour. Slope matters here too: a flat area can take less water than an area that is sloped.

There are different schools on summer watering. You can learn about the soak and cycle method, which is what the K-State Research and Extension Office recommends. Or you can call us, and we’ll help you devise a customized plan to keep your summer lawn lush.

2) Mow Less

That’s right—stay inside and drink something cool, and don’t worry about mowing as often as you do in the Spring. When you do mow, make sure to mow no lower than 3 inches. Doing so alleviates some of the stress lawns experience due to dryness and heat.

Of course, exactly how often a lawn should be mowed will depend on too many variables to account for here. A general rule of thumb, though, is to mow less often than during cooler months. We can help you understand when to cut your grass and when to let it grow. Just ask!

3) Utilize Water Efficient Seeds and Fertilizers

There are countless scientific advances that benefit our lawns and landscapes, especially when temperatures are a concern. In summer months, it’s best to opt for seeds and fertilizers that are optimized to work best with less water.

Doing so doesn’t just make your space prettier, it also conserves water during the summer, which is vital to the community as a whole—and it sure helps with those water bills!

Curious which water-efficient seeds and fertilizers are right for your lawn? We’re here to help.

How Installing Retaining Walls Can Help Your Landscape and Prevent Spring Runoff

How Installing Retaining Walls Can Help Your Landscape and Prevent Spring Runoff

Spring means the beginning of watering lawns and landscape. That also means it’s time to worry about runoff. What is runoff? The technical definition is: the flow of water that occurs when excess storm water, meltwater, or other sources flows over the Earth’s surface. Running water is powerful—it has carved canyons and moved boulders. You might not worry about issues of this scale, but it’s a fair question to ask what runoff might do to your landscape.

The short answer to that question is erosion. Spring runoff can lead to erosion on your property. This isn’t just an issue of being an eyesore. Erosion can affect your home’s foundation. Installing a retaining wall can help prevent soil erosion. By doing so, you can help protect your landscape and your property.

What’s Your Slope?

It can be a bit technical, but the slope of your landscape dictates what kind of retaining wall you need. It’s something best left to experts, though there are resources to consult if you want to learn more, like this guide from the National Resources Conservation Service. Is it possible to DIY your retaining wall? Sure it is, though in our opinion it’s best to consult an expert. If you decide to go solo, be sure to do your homework and to consider every option carefully.

How Retaining Walls Work

Simply put, a retaining wall holds soil in place.  When designed properly, retaining walls also ensure that excess water drains in ways that don’t erode the soil. Think of these channels almost like water slides at a big amusement park: with the right structure and construction, you can change the direction of drainage in your space, making sure that runoff water goes where you want it to go.

There are several options to consider: full retaining walls, partial walls, and raised terraces with plantings, just to name a few. Construction can vary too, depending on design need and aesthetic preference. Concrete, brick, and wood are all options. The best way to decide is to discuss the variety of options with a company that specializes in retaining walls in your area. We do just that.

 

spring tips for olathe kansas lawns

Spring Cleaning Your Olathe Lawn

It’s officially Spring in Kansas: the snow is gone (fingers crossed!), April’s showers have begun in March, and lawns are being uncovered again. Does yours look ready for the new season? Don’t stress if your answer is a resounding “no!” There’s time to prep before warm weather turns too hot.

Easy Steps to Ready Your Olathe Lawn for Warm Weather

Start with the most obvious tasks: clean up any debris that’s settled since you last tended your lawn. Raking helps remove grass and other growth that didn’t survive the last few cold and snowy months. Raking can also help loosen clumps that might harbor mold and prevent new growth. Pro tip: rake when the soil isn’t muddy, so you don’t loosen healthy growth.

It’s also time to think about aerating, but how often aerating should be done depends on the type of grass in your yard. Aerating promotes healthy roots, which are essential for a gorgeous, green lawn. Learn more about when and how to aerate here, or work with us to determine the best schedule.

Know When to Stop

It might seem counterintuitive, but experts recommend not overwatering in the spring. Why? The experts at the Kansas State Extension office say that there’s enough moisture to sustain your lawn. Additionally, withholding water will toughen up your lawn for the hotter temperatures sure to hit in June and July. Expert tip: successful watering depends on reaching your lawn’s roots, not the surface, so think deep and infrequent when it comes to irrigating.

The same is true of fertilizing; in fact, the Kansas State Extension office says to forgo fertilizing entirely. Why? It all comes down to harming the ecosystem with leached chemicals. Sound complicated? It can be, but we’re adept at knowing just the right balance. Call us to create a plan that’s perfect for your lawn.

Keep Planning

Once you’ve cleaned up your lawn and set a firm foundation for warmer summer months, let your imagination run: do you want an outdoor kitchen, a new retaining wall, a gorgeous hedge of vivid flowers, a tree for shade? With a little hard work and help, you could have the backyard you’ve always wanted!

Landscaping in Olathe with Native Plants

Do you think that Spring is the only time to plant native grasses and flowers? If so, you’re not alone—that’s a common misconception. But Olathe landscapers will tell you it’s simply not true. With a little bit of planning and preparation once the calendar flips to Fall, you can start establishing warm season grasses and native wildflowers before it’s time to decorate your Christmas tree.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cold Season Seeding

In fact, with native grasses in particular, dormant season seeding (Fall, in this case) imitates natural reseeding.  Once frost sets in, things change a bit: frost seeding (which is the spreading of seed over frozen soil after the first killing frost) results in some natural stratification—which means that the seed and seed coat change enough to enhance germination. There’s also good seed-to-soil contact because of the moisture frost brings.

Patience is Still a Virtue

Even though this can all be done successfully in the Fall and Winter, most germination probably won’t occur until Spring; the exception to this might be some cool season species. This is when working closely with an Olathe or Johnson County landscaping company can be especially beneficial; not only can Olathe landscape architects help you understand which plants are native to the area, but they can also help you determine when and where to plant for the best results. Curious who you’ll work with if you choose us? Learn a bit about us here.

It’s Not All Good News

There are disadvantages to seeding during dormant seasons. Seed loss is possible, usually due to decay and consumption by wildlife. Weeds can also be an issue—in fact, the best time to start preventing weeds is when the weather is cooler, before the weeds germinate and start to take root. Smart tip: take the time to mulch well. Not only will doing so hinder weed growth, but it will help the soil retain moisture and provide protection for seeds and soil.

Curious and want to know more about native Kansas plants? The best thing to do is to talk to an Olathe landscape architect or Olathe landscaper. Another great resource is the Kansas Native Plant Society.

Other Important Cool and Cold Weather Landscaping Tips

What else should you be doing to make the most of these cool Fall days? Prune and trim perennial plants, shrubs, and hedges. Pruning trees can be a monster of a job—and sometimes it’s best left to a professional landscaper. Not sure if you should try it on your own or bring in an Olathe landscaping company? Ask us!

Once you’ve trimmed, make sure to remove clippings, branches, fall leaves, and other debris from your lawn. Why? Anything that covers your grass impedes sunlight, and when the sun’s rays can’t reach your grass, growth can be slowed or even stopped. This all leads to a lawn that looks more lackluster than lush—and might even leave dead or spotty patches in your yard.

Speaking of Mulch…

Mulch looks good, no doubt. But it also serves as a blanket of sorts for the soil and the roots below—and happy roots mean happy plants! Different areas require different mulch strategies; you want beds to have 1-2 inches of mulch, but you don’t want to cover the trunks of shrubs or trees. Once severely cold weather is imminent, tender and early-flowering plants will need extra protection. Consider staking around the plants and covering them with burlap to keep them as protected as possible.

 

 

 

 

Winterizing Your Olathe Outdoor Kitchen Space

If the colder temperatures crept up and surprised you this past week or so, don’t despair! Instead, use it as a reminder that it’s time to take care of your Olathe outdoor kitchen spaces so they’re all safe once winter really hits and ready to enjoy once Spring comes again.

This is particularly true of outdoor kitchen spaces. If you want to be ready to grill burgers once the weather is more temperate, it’s imperative that you take care of your space and equipment now: make sure it’s cleaned, that water sources are turned off, and that each element is winterized. Keep reading for tips on each.

Olathe Outdoor Kitchen

Water and Winter Pipes Don’t Mix

Have an outdoor sink, refrigerator, or ice maker? Make sure to shut off the water supply to each (if you’re in the planning stages of designing your outdoor kitchen space, consider an indoor shutoff), drain each line, and either unplug or turn off circuit breakers that power these pieces of equipment. Letting water sit in pipes in freezing temperatures can cause pipes to crack or burst. Drain valves should remain open.

When you clean your refrigerator and ice maker, start by removing all contents, trays, and bins. Clean and then carefully wipe the interior to remove all traces of moisture—and don’t cover these appliances. Your intentions might be good, but moisture can build up and cause damage.

Remember to remove sink faucets and store them inside.

Not sure how to properly winterize your outdoor pipes for the winter? We’re here to help! Just give us a call or send a question.

Mind Your Surfaces

If you have stone countertops, be diligent about sealing the surfaces before winter hits to prevent stains, chips, and cracks. Remember that freezing moisture isn’t your friend and can wreak havoc on your Olathe outdoor kitchen.

If you have an outdoor grill, be sure to secure its cover securely. Same is true with sinks. Covers that fit well and are secured help prevent debris from accumulating and settling in drains and pipes; they also help extend the life of your equipment.

Plan Ahead

We know how cold temperatures can plunge in Olathe and the Johnson County area! Make like a grizzly and let your outdoor space hibernate. Moving things around can cause breakage—just think about how brittle everything gets when ice heads our way. The chance of damaging equipment is just too high, so once you have everything in place, leave it be until next Spring.

Have other equipment in your Olathe outdoor kitchen and want to be sure your space is protected well before the elements hit? Curious what an Olathe landscaper can do to improve your outdoor space? We’re here to help and love customizing our solutions to each client’s wishes. Call us at 913-782-1333.

Fall Landscaping Tips for Olathe Lawns and Landscapes

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

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

Landscapers Share Tips for Fabulous Fall Lawns

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

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

Olathe Landscaping Company Huston Contracting is Here to Help

Fall Landscaping Tips for Olathe Lawns and Landscapes

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

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

How to Improve Curb Appeal with Olathe Landscaping

For many a Olathe landscaper, increasing curb appeal is the number one thing on their mind. You might be in a similar position.

Sure, you enjoy the landscaping process and down a refreshing lemonade while admiring your work in the evenings, but let’s be real here.

Landscaping increases property value. You’re not sweating away in the hot summer heat just for giggles. No way, Jose. You’re doing it because curb appeal equals extra value for your home.

If that sounds like you, then keep on reading, y’all. In this article, we’ll detail exactly how to improve your curb appeal over the next few years. We’ll show you how to take your Olathe landscaping to the next level.

How to Improve Curb Appeal with Olathe Landscaping

But enough with all the fluff and introductions, let’s dig in and take a look at how to improve your home’s curb appeal with unique Olathe landscaping projects.

Let’s go:

Spring and Fall Cleanup

It’s baffling how many homeowners don’t do a deep clean once the weather changes. At Huston Contracting, we started offering this service professionally – as many homes were in need of dire cleanup come new seasons.

By properly cleaning your landscape, you’ll find curb appeal just pops. Sure, we like to keep things tidy throughout the year, but every now and then – you’ve gotta go the extra mile. That’s what spring and fall cleanup is for.

Add Natural Stone

One simple way to add an elegant, crisp look to your landscaping is through natural stone. And of course, a few stones here and there can add massive value to your curb appeal.

As Olathe landscapers, we’ve found creating natural stone pathways to certain areas around your home is an inexpensive way to make your lawn and landscaping look so much better.

Always Be Mowing and Mulching

Keep the basics covered. Your lawn should always look sharp. Mow that bad boy once or twice a week. Never too short. Heck, sometimes having a professional do it is a great idea.Then make sure you keep your mulch fresh. Fresh mulch adds a pop to your landscaping that faded browns will never be able to. Plus, it only takes an hour or two to add some mulch to your landscaping.

Tree Installation

Sometimes your yard is just missing something. Maybe your front landscaping just doesn’t have anything extra. Your lawn looks lovely and your home is in pristine condition. But there’s nothing that says, “Put me on a postcard” – when people drive by. There’s no automatic seller.

In these types of situations, you can add an adult tree in the perfect area. In doing so, you create a focal point of your front yard landscaping and often, send curb appeal skyrocketing in one simple installation.

Make Your Olathe Landscaping Count

If you’re ready to increase curb appeal, then you need to make your Olathe landscaping effort count. You need to make a memorable impression. You might need to work with a professional landscape design team.

If that’s so, get in touch with our team at Huston Contracting.