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.
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.
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!
It’s officially fall —the seasons have changed! Have you noticed the shift in places you frequent? Grocery stores are sporting pumpkins and apples, clothing stores are filled with muted plaid long-sleeved shirts and cozy scarves, and restaurants are featuring new specials—think portobello ravioli or roasted acorn squash.
Just like those places, your landscaping is ready for a change, too! And Fall is the perfect time to not just ready your lawn for winter, but to add special decorative touches that amp up your curb appeal—and just might make you the envy of your neighbors.
You might think that you have to make major changes to improve your fall landscaping, and it’s true that big projects like retaining walls or outdoor kitchens can make a huge difference. But there are more modest, easy to implement ideas that will enhance your landscaping and increase your curb appeal. Here are a ten of our favorites:
We talk about Spring cleaning, but Fall cleaning matters too! Power wash your hard surfaces, clear out your gutters, and remove debris from your space. This is the first step to making your landscape shine.
Not all mulch is created equally. Sure, mulch is practical: it helps prevent weeds and can make your space look better. But you have a choice when it comes to which mulch you use. Instead of picking up a discount bag, check out shredded hardwood mulch—or try a colored variety.
Fall is a good time to prune bushes and trees, but there’s a catch: you have to do it at the right time. Learn more here.
Mums are the (un)official arbiter of Fall flower beds. Choose from yellow, rust, orange, red, or purple and pair them with ornamental cabbages or peppers for a potted arrangement that screams bonfires and s’mores.
Think of your porch like you would your dining room table and plan a display that reflects your personal or family aesthetic. Love Halloween? Turn your porch into a spooky spot with store-bought decorations. Prefer Thanksgiving? Stack a hay bale or two, strew various sizes of pumpkins, add a bench with a cozy blanket.
Even if you don’t have a porch to decorate, you can spiff up your entryway to welcome the season. You might consider painting your front door an interesting new color. If that’s too much of a commitment, opt for a new wreath.
Even if you don’t have substantial installations like a retaining wall, you can add lighting to enhance your curb appeal. Try pathway lights that sink right into the ground or hanging lanterns to add a spooky (or welcoming) glow.
While you’re at it, make sure your existing lighting has fresh bulbs. It’s starting to get dark earlier, which means longer hours for porch and other outdoor lights. Be prepped and ready.
As the leaves fall, it’s important to keep your lawn free of debris. Surprise wet or snowy conditions can trap extra leaves and lead to unwanted lawn issues. But don’t worry if you don’t get every single stray leaf; once you mow, you’ll shred any stragglers that might cause problems.
As you enjoy the chilly air and spend time outdoors, think about what you want for your space next Fall. Wish you had a firepit? Dream about firing up the outdoor oven to prep a pizza? Think having an outdoor dinner party would be fun—but you just don’t have the right set-up? Write it down, then call us. We’ll work with you to make your space perfect for you.
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.
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.
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 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.
We’re not the only ones ready for Spring, are we? It’s not just the warmer temperatures that make us so happy this time of year; it’s also the riot of color that comes from fields of Spring blooms. If you’re looking for insights on how to encourage rapid Spring blooms in your own backyard, read on.
First things first: you can’t have a glorious bloom of new growth if your yard and gardens are full of debris and dead remnants of seasons past. Take the time to clear away old growth—remove any remaining leaves, random branches, and anything else that’s settled in over winter’s colder months to make way for new growth. If you do so early enough, Spring’s new buds have a clear space in which to bloom, and you’ll be able to see the shoots break ground!
Don’t forget about your trees and shrubs, either. This is the perfect time to trim and prune—but to do that, you have to be sure your tools are in optimal shape, too. Take the time necessary to scrub blades and metal tools with soap and water. Wooden handles can be revived with an application of mineral spirits. Looking for nifty storage options to keep your tools handy and in their best shape? There are tons of options here.
It all starts with healthy soil, and ours needs some attention now that it’s Spring. Turn it over (use a pitchfork to break it up, pull soil from beneath to the top, and turn the current top layer under. Add compost (either your own) or commercially prepared fertilizer. Compost adds vital, necessary nutrients to the soil, but be wary: it takes at least a couple of weeks after adding compost for soil to be ready for new plants. If you prefer commercially prepared fertilizer, remember that different fertilizers are best in various seasons. Learn about fertilizers best used in Spring here.
It’s a bit too soon to plant everything outdoors—temperatures will still dip, which is dangerous for tender roots and shoots. But it’s the perfect time to start many plants indoors. Starting from seeds and nurturing the plants indoors mean you have a private set of seedlings ready when the you know the weather will stay warm. And take advantage of this time, too, to build new beds and raised garden structures, if that suits your space. This prep work now will make it possible to enjoy what often seems like a too-short Spring window of perfect weather—and perfect landscaping conditions.
Want help with your Spring plans? Looking to make your space the one you’ve always dreamed of? If so, reach out and talk to us!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Be honest…have you spent more than a little bit of our snowy winter thinking about the glorious garden you want to grow come Spring? How about new ideas for your lawn? Or maybe you’re daydreaming a way to incorporate a few new WOW! elements this year?
Some of us might still be chipping ice from our sidewalks, but now is actually a great time to think about your warm weather landscaping plans. And even if you didn’t find the time or inclination to plant last Fall, planning for Spring and Summer is still an achievable goal. This is especially true if you want to include native Kansas plants in your Olathe landscape design.
You’ve heard the saying “bloom where you’re planted,” right? Thing is, not all plants bloom equally. But native plants have an advantage because they’re uniquely suited to the soil and conditions in our area.
By definition, native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They’re part of the ecosystem and play an integral role in providing food for insects and small animals. Studies actually show that without native plants, some species of insects and animals might cease to exist.
Another bonus: birdwatching! Planting native plants can actually draw birds to your yard—and you can choose different plants to attract the bird(s) of your choice! Use the handy tool here—just enter your zip code and scroll through which native Kansas plants attract the bird (or birds) you’re hoping to attract.
Not only are native plants naturally beautiful, but they are ecological workhorses, too. When a plant is native to an area, it requires less intervention to flourish: you water less and use less fertilizer. You also have more time to just sit back and enjoy being in your outdoor space, because native plants require less maintenance.
Curious about which native plants to include in your space? Get in touch and ask us. We’d love to help you create a lawn and landscape tailored just for you.
We’re mid-way into the first month of the new year—time to think about the resolutions you made! If you’re a homeowner, chances are at least one of your resolutions is about your home. Maybe you’d like to make it more comfortable, more aesthetically pleasing, more cost-effective, or more “you.”
It might seem counterintuitive to think about outdoor and yard and lawn goals in the dead of winter, but the opposite is actually true. Taking time now to plan for the year and giving yourself ample time to research, talk with professionals, and hire the perfect expert for the job will ensure that when the weather thaws, your lawn and gardens will be ready to bloom.
So the question at hand is this: are there tips for hiring the best possible landscape architect? And the answer to that question is a resounding yes!
It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to hire the right person for a job when you don’t know what that job is. This month is the perfect time to really think about what you want from your lawn and gardens. Do you want to keep things as simple as possible? Repeat what you did last year? Change things up and plant something new? Think not only about how you want your lawn and garden to look, but also what it might take to achieve those goals. Think about your budget, and how much you are comfortable and/or willing to invest in professional help. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the coming year, think about curb appeal and be sure to consult a real estate expert to discuss which investments garner the best returns.
And your coworkers and your friends, especially those who maintain outdoor spaces that you admire. Ask what they wished they’d known about retaining walls before they had one installed or pepper them with questions about how and why they use their outdoor kitchen. Ask, too, for referrals—and make sure to check out each referral for references, both public and private. The most reputable businesses have fans eager to sing their praises!
Every business model is different, but ours is built on a foundation of trust, communication, and quality. We always work with our clients to meet their budget and their needs, and we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional service and products. Why? These are the qualities we look for in others, so we embody them ourselves—and we’ve been in business for 50 years now. So don’t be shy–reach out to ask us questions. We enjoy being a resource to our clients and because we’re always learning something new, we’re always sharing new and exciting information.
First things first: what is a retaining wall? Simply put, a retaining wall is a barrier that holds in place earth that would otherwise erode or collapse. Retaining walls can be small DIY projects or larger-scale and professionally constructed. Retaining walls can be constructed from a range of materials and can vary in size, shape, and design.
There are two main reasons to consider a retaining wall. First, because it’s physically necessary to correct a slope, prevent erosion, or otherwise level the earth in your yard. These retaining walls serve a functional purpose. In residential settings, retaining walls are necessary when there might be an abrupt separation of ground elevation. Reasons a retaining wall can be necessary include sunken patios, walkout basements, and other hardscapes. Aesthetics are the second consideration. Retaining walls can create tiered gardens or flowerbeds, which add visual interest to otherwise ordinary spaces.
Of course, landscape and hardscape elements can be both practical and beautiful. This is certainly the case with retaining walls, and is an important reason to work with a landscape architect when considering the installation of a retaining wall.
An expert landscape artist with retaining wall experience can help determine construction specifics as well as design aesthetics—meaning experienced landscapers will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various materials, placement, and size.
Remember that there are specific considerations in determining if you need a retaining wall, some of which you might not know until you consult with an expert. Among those considerations: the slope of the earth at the location and the current drainage situation at the location in question, type of soil, and weather conditions (such as freezing).
As is the case with so many projects, building a retaining wall can be a DIY project for some, but working with an expert familiar with retaining walls and your geographical area ensures that the retaining wall built will be not only attractive, but will also function as intended.
Knowing whether or not you need a retaining wall is more involved than just knowing you’re ready to build, and working with a professional landscape and construction company can help ensure all considerations: practical and financial, logistical and aesthetic, are fully researched and planned before construction begins.
Curious about retaining walls and your options? Contact us to learn more.