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.
When temperatures rise and you want to keep your home as cool as possible, cooking in your outdoor kitchen is the best solution. Which elements make an outdoor kitchen the best it can be? That’s simple: a grill, a fireplace, a patio, shade, and ample seating.
Let’s face it: when we think of cooking outdoors, we think of grilling. Whether it’s a quiet family night or a bigger gathering, having the right grill means easy but delicious burgers, steaks, seafood, and veggies. You can even make dessert on the grill! Fruits like peaches and pineapple are easy to grill and mouthwatering on their own or when paired with ice cream. And if you want to try something new and fun, you can even make a unique salad on the grill! Hint: there’s watermelon in it!
Key factors to consider when choosing an outdoor grill include the energy source (natural gas, electric, or propane), location, ventilation, and budget. If you dream of a built-in grill under a stone awning, for example, you’ll need a proper ventilation system. And think about the food you love to grill and what flavors you want. Charcoal can be messy but gives food a flavor unlike any other.
What’s an outdoor party without s’mores? OK, it’s true—there are more benefits to a fireplace than just sweet treats. Depending on how you use your outdoor space, those benefits might include warmth for cool evening gatherings, a design focal point, or simply the ambiance of a roaring fire on a summer evening.
Key factors to consider when planning an outdoor kitchen fireplace include budget, material, design aesthetic, and layout. Like a built-in grill, having proper ventilation is important. Knowing if a fireplace will impede traffic or block a view matters, too. A skilled landscape architect will help you determine the best place in your backyard to put a fireplace. They can also help you decide if a custom-built fireplace is best or if opting for a pre-built package is a smart solution.
An outdoor kitchen is an extension of your indoor living space, so it makes sense that you’d consider some of the same factors when planning. Perhaps one of the most important considerations is how you’ll use the space, and there’s a high likelihood that gathering with others, whether that’s family or family and friends, will be high on the list. Having the proper space for others to sit and stand is important—and that’s where a patio comes in.
Key factors to consider when planning an outdoor kitchen patio include budget, space, materials, and the intended use of the space. The placement of a patio can create the layout of your outdoor space. When planned properly, it helps designate areas: lounge chairs and bench seating for casual gatherings, a table and chairs for sit-down events, and space to move in between are important.
Because most people migrate outdoors when the weather starts to warm, it makes sense that planning for added sun protection is an important part of your outdoor kitchen plans. Adding a pergola can not only create the illusion of a room outdoors, but it can offer shade and much-needed relief from direct sunlight and extreme heat.
Key factors to consider when choosing a pergola or shade option for your outdoor kitchen include design aesthetic, space, and budget. Like so many other elements of your outdoor kitchen, you have countless options of materials and design. Working with your landscape expert can help make those decisions easier.
Outdoor kitchen seating is all about comfort and function. Planning lots of meals eaten outdoors? You need a table and chairs. Envision many a night spent around the fireplace, sharing stories and laughter? You need individual chairs and benches to accommodate additional people. Truth is, most outdoor spaces need both types of seating.
Key factors to consider when choosing your outdoor furniture start with function: how will you use the space? Then you can consider budget, design, and space planning.
Ready to explore the idea of building your dream outdoor kitchen? 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.
Just like any other lawn or landscaping project, planning must be part of your process. Before you can estimate how long it might take to build your perfect outdoor kitchen space, you have to decide on the details. For example: what kind of stone do you want to use? What elements do you want to include? Do you want a sink and a pizza oven, a bar, a grill, lots of seating?
When you think through how you’ll most often use the space, you’ll be able to determine the answers to these and other important questions—and these answers will help your landscaping professional help you determine how long the space will take to build and how much it will cost. Part of these considerations include the other professionals necessary to complete the project. For instance, you might need an electrician or a plumber to work with your landscaper.
If you’re curious about general guidelines, they’re hard to determine because every space is different. But, building an outdoor kitchen typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. If there is existing concrete, the time can be shorter, even perhaps 3 to 4 weeks.
Once you’ve worked out those details, you can sit back and relax as your landscaping company builds your space—and once built, you can reap long-lasting benefits.
An outdoor kitchen can add significant living space to your home. Think about it: with an kitchen outside, when the weather is right you can cook, relax, chat, and entertain in your outdoor space. An outdoor kitchen adapts easily. It’s just as lovely for a small family dinner as it is for a larger celebration.
When you cook and bake inside on hot days, your air conditioning system has to work harder. And that can translate into bigger monthly bills. Using your outdoor kitchen to cook can help save on those costs.
Adding one can also increase the resale value of your home. If you plan well and install an outdoor kitchen with quality materials that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing, you can expect significant returns on your investment. How much? That depends on too many variables to give a hard and fast number, but estimates range from 55% to 100%.
Having an outdoor kitchen opens up so many options for busy families. Want a delicious dinner in a beautiful space but don’t want to wait in line at a restaurant? Use your stainless-steel grill and invite the neighbors! Want to cook fish or deep fry a turkey, but don’t like the lingering smells in your kitchen? Use the kitchen that’s outside! Want to host a party for your kids and their friends? Fire up the pizza oven!
The truth is, when you work with a landscaping professional who understands not just what you want your space to look like but how you hope to use it, you can custom create the kitchen of your dreams. We’d be honored to work with you on making that dream a reality
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.
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.
Yellow might be the perfect color for your favorite flower bed, but it’s not what you want to see in your lawn! Spring means green—St. Patrick’s Day, sure, but also lush, green grass. Read on for tips to turn your lawn into a space that makes your neighbors green with envy!
Aerating is the act of making small holes in the surface of your lawn. This allows water, nutrients, and air to soak deeper into the soil. This, in turn, nourishes roots—and healthy roots lead to healthy lawns! It’s best practice to always aerate before fertilizing.
Do you know the right fertilizer to use for your specific soil and grass? Have you had your soil tested? The K-State Extension Office says that soil testing provides accurate information about the chemical makeup of your lawn, which will help you understand which fertilizer will best suit your needs.
After you’ve aerated and fertilized, it’s time to put down seed. Not all grass seed is created equally, but we can help you determine what works best for your budget, your desired aesthetic, and our climate and soil conditions. If you decide to DIY your planting, remember that a general rule is that grass seed has the best chance of sprouting if laid in cooler weather. So you want to think early spring rather than just before summer.
It’s true that this one is out of our control, but there’s no doubt about it: seeds need sun to sprout and grass needs sun to grow. What’s also true is that taking the necessary steps above (aerate, fertilize, plant, water) means that when the sun does shine, your lawn will be ready to grow!
Ready to make your lawn the greenest it’s ever been? So are we! Check out some of our work, visit us on Facebook, or shoot us a message. We’d love to help you plan and then create the lawn and landscape you’ve always wanted.
Hardscape: it’s a word you might not know, but you’ve certainly seen it in landscaping. Simply put, hardscapes are the solid, hard elements of your landscape design that remain the same for years. Unlike trees, grasses, and flowers that can change with the season and your preferences, hardscapes are often static. They are the foundation—or the base and/or structures—that determine the design, organization, and look of your space.
Elements like patios, walkways, outdoor kitchens, water features, retaining walls, decks, and driveways are hardscapes. Once completed, they don’t change unless major projects require they do so, or if major repair is necessary. Of those various hardscape elements, patios are one of the most popular.
Design aesthetics aside, there are practical reasons to include a patio in your landscape plan. The obvious is the creation of additional outdoor living space. By turning part of a grassy or barren area into a patio, you can extend your living area. This creates room for relaxing, entertaining, cooking, and a myriad of other outdoor activities.
Practically, patios also make financial sense. Patios are typically less expensive to install than decks. Patios also usually require less maintenance. The drawback might be that installing a patio may not increase the resale value of your home as much as a deck might.
The best landscapers in Olathe will tell you that you have countless options in patios. One of the first choices to make is whether you want your patio to be ground level or raised. Like retaining walls, raised patios can help with uneven slopes on your property. They can also create a more dramatic, unique look that can enhance your overall landscape design.
Your choice of materials for a patio, whether ground level or raised, are different than that of decks. Decks are usually built from wood, composite, or plastic. Patios can also be built from wood, though it’s a choice that requires more maintenance and frequent replacement when compared to materials like stamped concrete, pavers, stone and flagstone, gravel, or tile.
The first step is to talk to your landscape designer. We can help you determine the best use of your space and the perfect material for our personal design preferences. We’ll also help you determine the best options for climate concerns. And we’ll talk about your willingness/ability to maintain and repair your hardscape.
It’s also important to think about how you want your patio to look. Concrete is a popular option but offers little design appeal, as it can be bland. Stamped concrete can fix that by offering more design options. The downside is that it also requires more upkeep. Gravel is the most popular patio option and is affordable. Stone and flagstone are elegant and beautiful, but also expensive.
Ready to design the patio of your dreams? Check out our previous projects and call to discuss how we can help you turn those dreams into a reality.
It’s time to think about ice, snow, and freezing temperatures—and how those elements affect your lawn. Before it turns too cold to be outside, think about doing the following to ensure your lawn is prepared for its long winter’s nap.
We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it again: it’s vital to rake leaves and remove debris from your lawn before snow and ice settles in. If there’s still time to mow, do that now—not only is it important to cut your grass shorter before winter comes, but mowing will shred any leaves you’ve missed while raking.
Now’s the time to aerate and seed for next season. Doing so in the fall helps fill in bare spots. It’s also important to water your lawn, fertilize trees, and cut back perennials. Not sure how or when to aerate, or need help with seeding your lawn? We’d love to help.
You want to protect your plants as much as possible to help them survive freezing temperatures. To do this, be sure to mulch; remove dead leaves/branches and debris; and, if appropriate, wrap with burlap or another protective cover. Have roses? Learn more about caring for them here.
If you have an outdoor kitchen, it’s imperative to turn off water sources and to drain lines. Same is true of your sprinkler system. Making sure all water is drained will prevent freezing, which can lead to significant damage.
Even though you can see your breath on some Fall mornings, the soil is still relatively warm, which means it’s a great time to plant bulbs, trees, and shrubs. October is the prime month for this planting, so don’t wait—if you haven’t yet, get busy and cross this task off your list! You’ll be glad you did once the snow clears and buds start appearing next Spring.
Need help getting your lawn and landscape ready for our impending Kansas winter? If so, you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help, whether it’s landscaping, snow removal, or prepping for warmer weather. Take a peek at the projects we’ve been working on over on our Facebook page, or give us a call to talk!