Have you ever taken a good look at the foundation of your outdoor living space? The ground under your feet on your patio or deck isn’t just your lawn—it’s a foundation built of material like wood, stone, or concrete.
Concrete foundations offer particular advantages. They can last longer than wood and they withstand weather well. And, because concrete is poured, it can be designed in a way that enhances the overall aesthetic of your space.
But concrete isn’t a one-size-fits-all decision. It can be colored (stained) or stamped to create a look you love. Keep reading to learn a few of the differences between stained and stamped concrete.
Stamped concrete is concrete that is poured and patterned to create an entirely different look. Stamping concrete allows you to emulate the look of brick, stone, slate, tile—and countless other options. It’s common to stamp concrete for patios, decks, sidewalks, and driveways.
The process of stamping concrete is akin to using a cookie cutter to make shaped cookies in that the concrete is stamped in a way that markings are left in/on the concrete so that as it dries, the markings and indentations become permanent. This is how a landscaping company can turn a smooth slab of concrete into a surface that looks like brick, for example; rather than creating the surface brick by brick, one pour is stamped to look like brick.
Stained concrete is concrete that has been tinted to another color. Think of it as wood stain but for concrete—it can be opaque or translucent, shiny or matte, monotone or ombre. Staining concrete can turn a space from industrial-looking to sleek or homey, depending on the colors and finishes selected.
Adding stamped concrete to your outdoor space increases your design options. No longer are you limited to a plain foundation slab; now you can build something that looks like natural stone but has the durability of concrete.
One advantage of opting for stamped concrete is budget. Because stamped concrete can last longer and is easier to maintain than natural elements, it requires less money as it ages. And, unlike wood, it doesn’t need to be replaced as often. Another advantage is maintenance. Stamped concrete can require less upkeep than stone or other natural elements.
More and more people are opting for stained concrete because it can combine the best of both worlds: economical durability and creative license. The colors concrete can be stained are limitless, which means design options are plentiful. And, depending on how much work and detail you want your space to have, a stained concrete foundation can be a work of art in and of itself.
No matter which option you find most interesting, 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.
Summer in Olathe and surrounding Johnson County is hot and often dry. These conditions can wreak havoc on landscaping. From dehydrated lawns to dying plants and damaged trees, summer weather conditions can ruin the landscape you’ve worked so hard on—and invested money in.
Watering your lawn simply to keep it alive might seem an easy task. But determining how much water your landscape needs is more math equation than intuition: you need to know how much water your soil can absorb at a given time, how much flow your irrigation system produces, how much water is absorbed by the atmosphere, and how much it will rain.
Those are a lot of variables to worry about every week. But it’s necessary to be consistent; a lack of water results in dehydrated lawns, dead grass, and wilting or dead gardens. This isn’t just an aesthetic issue; it’s also monetary. The same is true of watering too much. The grass might be green in that case, but it won’t be healthy. Excessive watering can also lead to soil erosion, pest problems, and even foundation issues.
Installing an automatic irrigation or sprinkler system might seem like an unnecessary luxury, but it isn’t. Installing a system that makes it easier to keep your lawn and landscape properly hydrate can save money in the long run because it preserves the landscape you’ve worked so hard to create.
It can also save you time. Instead of hooking up hoses and moving sprinklers and standing at your flower bed, you could be working or spending time with family or even traveling—all while maintaining your lawn, trees, shrubs, and landscaping.
Irrigation systems allow you to customize how much—and when—you water your lawn and landscape. This means you can use technology to ensure that you’re not only protecting your investment, but also the environment.
Excessive watering can lead to run-off and soil erosion. It can also waste water, which is a precious and sometimes scarce resource. By installing a newer, more precise system, you can beautifully and easily maintain your lawn and landscape and help protect our environment.
Ready to explore the idea of installing a custom irrigation system? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Remember the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In the story, a family of bears goes for a walk when their breakfast porridge is too hot to eat. While they’re away, a girl named Goldilocks goes into their house, sees the food, and decides to eat. She tries the first chair, which is too big and too hard and the porridge is too hot. She tries the second chair, which is too soft, and the porridge at that place setting was too cold. Finally, she tries the third chair, which was just right for her. The porridge was just the right temperature, too, so she ate it all.
That’s not the entire story, of course, but it’s one that might come to mind when you think of watering your Olathe landscape, especially in the thick of summer. How much water is too much? How much is not enough? And how do you get it “just right?”
Read on to learn more about how you can determine the right amount of water for your Johnson County lawn and landscape.
Generally speaking, Olathe landscapes and lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. This can come from rainfall or watering. And, of course, this is a very broad stroke of a guideline. Factors including type of grass, soil type, regional conditions, and lawn age can make a difference and change the ideal amount of water for your particular landscape.
Another oft-followed rule of thumb is to water to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, which is the desired depth of healthy, thriving roots.
Kansas City’s predominately heavy, clay soil means that water can be absorbed at only .2 inches per hour. Of course, no one can control the weather or how much rainfall we receive each week or month. But when deciding how often—and for how long—to water your lawn and landscape to supplement natural rainfall, it’s important to remember that overwatering soil that can’t readily soak it all in can not only result in run-off, but also in wasted money.
Master gardeners at the Johnson County Extension Office advise determining the flow rate of your sprinkler/irrigation system. This page describes an easy way to measure how much water your sprinklers deliver per time period.
Once you know the flow rate of your system, you can determine how long you should run your sprinklers to supplement whatever rainfall has been received in a given week. To measure and keep tabs on whether or not your lawn is being watered effectively, try the screwdriver test: press a 6-inch screwdriver into the soil. If it goes in easily, your lawn is hydrated. If you have to fight to get in all the way, it’s time to water.
The information shared here is general, meaning it’s a guideline for most lawns and landscapes in the Johnson County area. But what if the type of grass you’ve planted requires more or less moisture? What if your hardscaping is unique or if you have a water feature that makes your yard more humid than your neighbor’s yard?
Working with a landscape architect can help you determine even the routine measures taken to keep your lawn and landscape healthy and beautiful, like watering enough, but not too much. We’re ready and eager to help you create and maintain the lawn and landscape of your dreams. Contact us to learn more.
When we talk about landscaping, so often we focus on what grows in your space. Lush grass, strong trees, colorful flowerbeds: they’re all common elements of a beautiful lawn and garden space.
But there’s another category of landscaping feature that also deserve as much attention, and that’s water features. Not sure what a water feature is? Most commonly this category includes waterfalls, koi ponds, and natural creek beds.
These water features share some common advantages. They can add visual drama and texture to a space. They can be environmentally friendly by helping to conserve water and by providing safe spaces for friendly critters. And they can improve mental health and provide other documented health benefits.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of incorporating one or more of these elements into your landscaping.
Let’s start with one of the most striking elements you can add to your outdoor space: a waterfall. Not only can a backyard waterfall be a visually stunning focal point of your landscape; it can also help create a calm space that promotes rest and contemplation. Studies have shown that the sound of moving water can help reduce blood pressure and countless people meditate to the sound of waterfalls via phone app and headphones. Adding this feature to your backyard can help you create an oasis that multi-tasks as both beautiful and therapeutic.
Deciding which materials to use when constructing a water feature for your landscape is an important decision. Natural stones offer unique advantages. One of those advantages is that water flows differently over and through natural stones than it does over other surfaces like soil or synthetic building materials. This could potentially improve drainage in your yard, which both helps your landscape look better and keeps the living elements of your yard healthy and flourishing.
Like waterfalls, koi ponds can bring a calm, relaxing aesthetic to an outdoor space. But a koi pond is more than just a pretty addition; a koi pond becomes a home to countless living species, and not just fish! A koi pond provides a place for snails, crustaceans, and insects. In addition to providing a home to other friendly creatures, koi ponds can help reduce mosquitos in your yard.
In nature it’s sometimes difficult to enjoy water features—like a pond or a waterfall—after sunset because it’s impossible to see. The same doesn’t have to be true of your home landscape. With the right underwater lighting, water features can provide around the clock benefits without being intrusive. Working with experienced landscape architects to determine which underwater lighting sources are best for your particular landscape is the best way to ensure the water feature you choose can be enjoyed as often as possible.
A natural creek bed can be just as dramatic a focal point as a waterfall or a koi pond. It can also serve to add interest to a space, provide sunny and shady areas, and divide space for different purposes.
Ready to explore the idea of adding a unique, stunning water feature to your landscape? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Summer in Olathe and surrounding Johnson County can be brutal without a screened-in porch to proved shade coverage. While we all want to spend time outside, we also want to stay safe—and we all know that too much of a good thing can be harmful. That’s especially true when it comes to being in the summer sun!
One way to still enjoy the outdoors, even in summer’s intense heat, is to build a screened-in porch, deck, or patio. Read on to learn more about the advantages of each.
Adding a screened-in porch offers countless advantages. It can keep you free from pesky bugs by keeping insects out. It can extend your living space without forcing you out into your backyard. It can multi-task: at times, it can be a space to entertain or to be with younger kids but it can also be a respite when you crave quiet and time to yourself.
In addition to those lifestyle advantages, adding a screened-in porch can increase the resale value of your home.
Adding a deck to your property offers many of the same advantages of a screened-in porch. A deck will extend your living space and give you more room to entertain or to spend time with family (or alone).
A deck, however, is typically open to the sun. This might make you wonder why we’d include it in a blog post about keeping out of the sun! The answer to that is simple: opting for a deck rather than a screened-in porch means you have more options. You can add furniture with an umbrella to shield you from the sun when necessary. But you can also opt for umbrella-less furniture in Spring and Fall, when you want more of an open space and unobstructed sky views and fresh air.
A patio differs from a deck in that while a deck is attached to your home, a patio is free-standing. Most patios are a short walk from an entrance to your home; but because a patio isn’t attached to another structure, it starts as a blank canvas.
This means you have options: use natural stone or slate for the patio for a natural look. Or opt for wood for a more rustic feel. Add a pergola for visual interest or a mini outdoor kitchen for easy snack and drink access. Like a deck, a patio affords flexibility for furnishings and it’s easy to adapt to the seasons.
No matter which option you choose, you can spend more time outdoors, even when the summer temperatures rise. Things to consider when planning an enclosed porch, a deck, or a patio include the current circumstances of your space, how much room you have, your budget, and your personal preferences.
Ready to explore the idea of adding a sun-free outdoor space to your home? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Have you ever asked the question: what is a landscape architect? Are you curious how a landscape architect is different from a landscaper? If so, you’re not alone. These are important questions to ask, especially when you decide to trust someone with your home.
The technical answer to the first question is this: landscape architects analyze, plan, and design environments that are both natural and man-made. They design areas that help define and improve communities.
Sure, the terms “landscape architect” and “landscaper” are sometimes used interchangeably. And it’s true that sometimes the functions of each overlap. Here at Huston Contracting, for example, we offer both landscaping and landscape architect services.
These jobs aren’t the same, though each relies on the other in various ways. A landscape architect plans spaces, not unlike how an architect plans buildings. Think about taking your expansive backyard and building an outdoor kitchen, for example. Or consider a community playground or a garden. The landscape architect does what’s necessary to build those spaces. A landscaper tends those spaces once they exist. They work together to make the spaces the best they can be.
Becoming a landscape architect requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. But it’s not unusual for landscape architects to hold master’s degrees. Additionally, they must maintain a license from their state. In Kansas, licenses are renewed biennially, and the state requires 30 professional development hours as a condition of renewal.
Landscape architects can work in any environment. College campuses, gardens and arboretums, historic preservation sites, monuments, hospitals and prisons, and urban design are a few examples. It’s likely that whenever a space is planned, a landscape architect is involved.
Many architects opt to specialize in residential landscaping. This means they plan and build everything from retaining walls to outdoor kitchens to backyard waterfalls. The continuing education required of landscape architects means they are aware of new technologies and environmental concerns. It also means they understand our evolving lives and how we use spaces both as individuals and as a community.
Choosing to work with a landscape architect company means working with a team that understands every aspect of making your space the best it can be. We know how to maintain the space you already have. And we can also can help you build the space you’ve always wanted.
Learn more about our team here and know that we are always happy to talk with you about your current and future projects.
Thinking of investing in retaining walls as part of your landscape design? There are great reasons to do so. Read on to learn more.
When a retaining wall is planned and built properly it can increase the resale value of your home. This is especially true when the retaining wall both complements the aesthetic of your landscape and is built to best suit the slope and conditions of your yard.
Part of this equation is curb appeal. Some of the functional reasons for installing a retaining wall (like preventing soil erosion) create eyesores. Building a retaining wall can be both functional (i.e. it solves or alleviates the problem at hand) and beautiful. Working with a local landscape professional can add further value because when built correctly, retaining walls last a long time and require little maintenance.
One of the main functions of a retaining wall is to prevent soil erosion. Erosion is what happens when soil is washed away. This most often happens because of a combination of factors including the slope of your land, stormwater, and runoff patterns.
Installing a retaining wall provides a barrier and can stop soil erosion. It can also stem the flow of runoff water to places that might be detrimental, such as your home’s foundation. By stopping and diverting excess water in this way, you can better preserve your land while helping it look beautiful, too.
Unlike planting a variety of perennials and annuals to add color and interest to your landscape, installing a retaining wall requires very little maintenance once the project is complete. Effort needed to maintain your retaining wall will likely vary depending on which material you choose. For example, wood likely won’t last as long as stone.
Another point to consider when determining necessary maintenance is size. Ongoing care can be different for a smaller, garden-size wall than for a larger, lot-sized wall. Other considerations include the grade or slope of your land, soil type, climate, and how much rainfall is typical in your area.
Think about it: a retaining wall can add visual impact to a space that few other elements can. This is because of size, of course, but also because a well-planned, well-built wall will suit your design style. When you use a retaining wall as a decorative element, you can leverage its inherent elements to add different nuances to your space. Think of the height, color, and texture, a retaining wall can add to your landscape. This is especially true of tiered walls that allow for additional planting opportunities.
Ready to explore the idea of building a retaining wall (or walls) on your property? If so, we’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact us to learn more.
Choosing the right flowers for your home landscape design entails more than just choosing your favorite flowers.
Aesthetics is only one element of planning the perfect flower garden. You also have to consider growing conditions, space considerations, the characteristics of each plant, your ability to maintain the growth year to year, and much more.
To learn a bit about how to choose the best flowers for your home landscape, keep reading. You might also want to read this post about annuals, biennials, and perennials to help you decide which flowers will work best for you.
Once you have an idea of how often you want to plant, take an honest assessment of your space. How much sun does it get? Plants can thrive in all conditions—from full-shade to full-sun—but only if you plant the right plants in the right place.
To properly assess which plants will thrive in your space, you need to know how many hours of direct sunlight the space receives every day. Then, choose flowers that will love that spot and the sun it gets.
Like most landscapes, your space likely has spots with varying amounts of sun exposure. And that’s a good thing! The most interesting landscapes are often those with variety: both shade and sun plants, different heights and colors.
The best landscapers in Olathe will tell you that scale matters. That doesn’t mean you have to plant only small flowers in a small space or large flowers in a sprawling landscape. But it does mean that considering how large a flower plant will grow is an important part of planning the perfect-for-you landscape.
Another thing to speak to your landscape expert about is plant spread. Some flowers will grow more than others and overtake a space. Think about sunflowers and how tall they can grow; if you plant only sunflowers and marigolds, the space might not look as nice as you’d hoped. You need something more proportionate, or additional flowers to fill that middle space.
Knowing when and what to plant for a gorgeous landscape can be a fun DIY project, for sure. But working with a knowledgeable expert can help expedite the creation of a garden, flower bed, lawn, or landscape. If you’re ready to work together to create the landscape you’ve always wanted, contact us to learn more.
It’s ok if choosing flowers for your landscape is overwhelming. There are so many choices, a rainbow of colors, and considerations that reach beyond picking what you think is pretty—like budget, the amount of time you have to tend your landscape, the composition of your soil, and what grows well in your climate.
So let’s start with the basics. First, flowers are typically organized in one of three categories at the nursery: annuals, biennials, and perennials. Here’s the difference: annuals live for one season only. Biennials live for two years. And perennials come back year after year.
Knowing this can help you decide which flowers best fit your current goals and lifestyle. For instance, if you’re planning to move soon or want to experiment with flower type and placement, annuals or biennials might be a good choice. Or, if you have settled into your dream home and know exactly how you want your landscape to look, perennials will continue to flower every year.
Remember that annuals will flower in one season, but biennials won’t. Instead, a biennial grows and stems, but doesn’t bloom. This means the flowering doesn’t happen until year two. Choosing these means you have to have patience, but the results are so often breathtaking: think of a field of poppies or Black-Eyed Susans!
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question other than to say that rarely does one have to choose one over the other. There are so many considerations when it comes to choosing the right flowers for your Olathe landscape, only one of which is how often you want to replant those plants.
If you’re looking solely at how long plants will last, think about this: planting annuals has to be done more often (every year) than choosing perennials. If you’ll be in your home for more than a year or two, and you’re most concerned with not planting every year, then planting perennials might be your best option.
However, choosing annuals means you can vary your plants year to year. This means the overall look of your landscape can change more often. Weighing these considerations: the time that must be invested vs. the ability to change how your landscape looks can help you determine which plan to implement.
If you aren’t steadfastly set on either planting only once (as might be the case with perennials) or being able to completely change your garden every year (as might be the case with annuals), your best option might be to plant a combination of annuals, biennials, and perennials.
No one knows what grows best in Olathe gardens like local landscape experts. Curious about which flowers grow well in the Johnson County area? Give us a call; we’d love to talk to you about your landscaping projects.
Goodbye winter, hello sun!
Spring spruce-ups aren’t just for kitchen cabinets and family rooms! Daylight Savings Time has given us back a bit more daylight and the temperatures will start to tick upward. This means it’s time to start thinking about how to de-winterize your home landscape and prepare for the upcoming warmer weather. And what you do now is particularly important to creating a home landscape that you’ll love all year. Keep reading for easy steps to take to prep your yard for spring.
Did you winterize water lines or outdoor kitchens before freezing temperatures hit? If so, it’s time to reverse those actions. Turn the water back on and flush hoses and lines. Make sure lines are clear, and check for any maintenance issues. Be sure to pay special attention to your irrigation system so you’re ready to properly water plants once the time is right.
The best landscapers in Olathe will tell you that the difference between a typical lawn and a landscape that wows is part planning, part hard work, part timing. Now’s the time to think about what you want your space to look like and to speak to your lawn and landscaping experts.
The first step is to clean up what winter left behind. Are there dead branches and debris? Plants that need to be pruned and/or relocated, because they’ve outgrown their current space? As you clear what’s no longer healthy and/or attractive, think about replacement options.
You might not be thinking about weeds just yet, but now is the time to get a head start on weed control. The best way to control weeds is to prevent them, and landscape experts know when and how to prevent weeds in your lawn and garden.
Now is also the time to think about a schedule: do you know when to plant, when to fertilize, when to aerate? You can search online to find tips, but the best way is to trust the experts. We know Johnson County and can help you create the lawn and landscape you’ve always wanted.