residential-retaining-wall-olathe-ks

Do You Need a Retaining Wall?

Do You Need a Retaining Wall?

How do you know when it’s time to invest in larger landscaping projects? The prospect of building something bigger than a garden or seeding your lawn is one that can cause stress. There are budgets to consider, finding the right company to do the work, and considerations about how long you might stay in your current home. residential-retaining-wall-olathe-ks

A retaining wall is one of those larger projects that can take time to plan and execute. But it’s also a project that offers both practical and aesthetic advantages. Not only can you prevent serious issues like improper drainage and soil erosion with a retaining wall; you can also add a beautiful, unique architectural element to your outdoor space. 

If you’ve ever wondered if you might need a retaining wall, keep reading. We’re sharing a few things to consider before you start planning the project.  

Consider Your Yard’s Slope

If your home sits on land that isn’t level, a retaining wall might be necessary to create a flat surface. This will allow you to install additional landscaping features like a fireplace or a patio, or to plant a garden. 

Installing a retaining wall can also help prevent soil erosion, which can happen when water runs through sloped soil and causes the soil to move from one area to another. This runoff can be detrimental to your home’s foundation and is actually one of the primary reasons retaining walls are necessary. 

Track Your Water Drainage

Because improper drainage and soil erosion can lead to detrimental–and expensive–foundation damage, understanding the drainage in your yard and around your home is imperative. Knowing where water will pool can help you understand where adjustments should be made. Similarly, knowing how water runs after it rains can help you pinpoint soil erosion. All of this will help you plan how to mitigate the issues that might cause damage at some point.

Once you understand how your space operates without a retaining wall, you can talk with a landscape architect to determine where to place a retaining wall as well as what kind of wall you want. 

Consider How You Use Your Space

If your outdoor space is large enough to accommodate different activities, installing a retaining wall might be a great way to add a pleasing visual element to the space while also organizing it for those activities. 

Let’s say, for example, that you are an avid gardener and want to start composting. But you’re not crazy about the idea of looking at a compost pile every day. You could design a space that includes a shorter retaining wall that will block the unsightly–but highly beneficial–compost pile from your everyday view. 

Or you might want to separate an outdoor patio from your pool, or the pool from your children’s play area. There are countless reasons why a retaining wall might be the perfect addition to your outdoor space.

Going It Alone–or Without Help

Depending on the height and placement of your retaining wall, you may be able to do the project on your own. While that’s an option, we think it’s best to work with a professional landscaping company. We’ve built retaining walls for clients throughout the Olathe and Johnson County area, and would love to work with you on your next project. 

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!

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.

irrigation systems Olathe landscapes

How the Right Irrigation Design Protects Your Landscape Investment During Hot and Dry Seasons

irrigation systems Olathe landscapes

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.

Why Smart Irrigation Matters

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.

Why Automation Saves You Money

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 are Environmentally Friendly

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.

healthy green grass and cloudy blue sky

What Is the Right Amount of Water for Your Olathe Landscape?

healthy green grass and cloudy blue sky

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.

The General Rule Might Apply

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.

Johnson County Lawn and Landscape Watering Needs

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.

Know Your Flow Rate

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.

Your Olathe Landscape Might be Different

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.

Benefits of Water Features

What Makes a Great Landscaping Water Feature?

Benefits of Landscaping Water Features

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.

Waterfalls

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.

Natural Stones

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.

Koi Ponds

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.

Underwater Lighting

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.

Natural Creek Beds

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.

Outdoor kitchens in Olathe and Johnson County Kansas

Build Your Outdoor Kitchen Just in Time For Grilling Season

Outdoor kitchens in Olathe and Johnson County Kansas

Thinking About an Outdoor Kitchen? Start Here!

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.

The Practical Benefits of moving your Kitchen Outside

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.

The Financial Benefits of an Outdoor Kitchen

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%.

The Convenience Factor of an Outdoor Kitchen

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

retaining wall retainer wall olathe kansas

3 Key Benefits of Adding or Building Retaining Walls

retaining wall retainer wall olathe kansas

Thinking of investing in retaining walls as part of your landscape design? There are great reasons to do so. Read on to learn more.

Key Benefit #1: Adding Retaining Walls Boosts Your Home Value

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.

Key Benefit #2: Adding a Retaining Wall Protects Your Land

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.

Key Benefit #3: Adding a Retaining Wall Is (Almost) Maintenance Free

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.

Bonus Benefit: Adding a Retaining Wall Can Be a Gorgeous Design Feature

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 annuals and perennials for your olathe garden

Olathe Flowers: the Difference Between Annuals and Perennials and Choosing the Right Ones

choosing the right annuals and perennials for your olathe garden

Start with Basics

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!

Should I Plant Annuals or Perennials?

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.

Why Pick Just One Flower Type?

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.

Employ the Olathe Flower and Landscape Experts

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.