Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas


Top 10 Kansas City Landscape Plants

1. Allegheny Viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophylloides ‘Allegheny’)Viburnum-x-'Alleghany'

This works great when you need a large shrub to add structure to the back of a bed or as a screen in the back yard.  it is not tidy enough to be used as a specimen or in any highlighted position With care it can grow to 12 feet tall in less than 5 years.  I have several planted as a screen against a shed in my backyard and I have pushed them hard – but they are over 15 feet tall in just 5 years. 

The shrub has thick 6” that are thickly textured and beautifully colored.    It has a surprising delicate white flower that persists for Most of May and then ripen into bright red fruits by October.  I call it semi-evergreen because about 1/2 the stay attached for most of the .

This is one of my favorite and I recently used it in a  very fun project that turned out very well (despite the quality of the photographs).  These will grow beautiful and provide the perfect screen for this deck and offers an alternative to the overused juniper and arborvitae.  

Kansas City Landscape planting of Viburnum 


2. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Sweet Bay Magnolia in Kansas City

often come and go as peoples favorite plants.  However, this one has and always will be my  favorite for planting in City .  It is better suited than many for our zone and grows luxuriously well.  My favorite form is when it is grown as a multi-stemmed shrub.  It has a striking upward growing habit that gives it a strong architectural presence and lends itself well to be a focal plant in planting. 

I have two of these planted as pillars on the front corners of my house.  They have performed very well for about 4 years now and have grown taller than the roof of my raised ranch. 





3. Hardy Banana  ‘Musa Basjoo.

The Hardy Banana plant is a plant that grows VERY well in .  I have had them growing at my house for going on 4 years and a customer has had them successfully growing for over 8 years. 

These pictures show them growing in my yard in early .  By September they had pushed leaves higher than the roof of the porch you can see there.  That is approx 18 feet high. 

Musa Basjoo in Kansas City P7090106 Phone 036


Although these look very tropical they are easily grown  even in our unpredictable winters.   They will die back to the ground in the winter and begin to grow again in the .  The more protection you give them the bigger they will get the following year because you will protect more of the plant – giving it a head start on next years growth. I try to protect several of the biggest plants so they will grow as large as possible the following .  I protect them by building 4’ tall  cages around them and filling them with leaves.  This si the secret to really big plants.  However, even unprotected plants will reach 10’  

Another bonus – they reproduce madly.   You will easily triple your number of plants every year as new pups sprout around the base of the mother plant.


4. Walker’s Low Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii)walkers low catmint 2

I would choose this plant as one of my all time favorite perennials to use as a llandscaper.  Not because of how showy it it or how rare it is  or for any ONE attribute.  Rather,  because it has so many very good uses and it has never let me down.

This plant has small bluish green leaves that are highly fragrant leaves that smells like mint.  The plant grows in a mound about 1 foot high and 2 feet across.  however after its first season in the bed you will not be able to tell its shape because it will have spread through runners and be taking up much more space than that.  In fact this may be the only time I would not use catmint – is if you need it to stay perfectly contained because it is so hardy and likes to spread.  The flower begins blooming in June.  If about 3 weeks later you shear off the old blooms you can easily extend its blooming into late .  The blooms are a pale lavender and spread across the plant like a purple mist.

It was named Perennial of the Year in 2007 for its versatility and hardiness.

5. False Indigo (Baptisia australis)


I have been in love with this plant since the first time I saw it in full bloom when driving past a very neglected baptisia false indigo in the middle of July.  Everything else in the had died including what looked like remnants of stella d’ oro’s and some poorly placed care-free roses.  I quickly took a mental note and the next time I was at my favorite nursery I bought a couple plants. 

I was not immediately impressed.  The plant just stood there for the entire season.  The next year it was about the same.  But, by the third year it had really taken off and is now one of the plants people always notice when they walk around and see that part of my garden.

Baptisia has since proved its worthiness in many designs and ahs often become a favorite plant to use in landscape designs.  It does have it quirks though.  Number one – it is a plant that you have to plant and leave it alone.  it does not transplant well once it is established in your bed because of it unique rooting structure (which is also responsible for its durability.  Secondly – I have found it is incredibly sensitive to any kind of sprays.  In my incessant meddling I am always trying things that will supercharge my plants. During one of these ‘experiments’ I was spraying a mixture of compost tea and iron on  few plant in my garden around the Baptisia – and it turned black over night – the entire plant.  The plant recovered fully – but it took a while.  I have since learned that any foliar spray will have varying degrees of the same effect.

6.  Little Henry Sweetspire (Itea Virginica)Henry's Garnett Sweetspire

This shrub is a great plant that fits into almost every kansas city landscape in some part.  In order for a plant to become a favorite of mine, it has to be versatile, tough and at least interesting in sweetspire fall foliageall season.  Sweetspire does this.  It is deciduous shrub that can grow up to 5 foot tall in a roughly globular fashion.  There is a very similar variety call Little Henry’s Sweetspire that is nearly identical – but more compact.  This shrub has two times of the year that it is a knockout.  One time is in early June when it shows off its long beautiful blooms.   It is equally beautiful in the fall when the foliage turns into a striking shade of crimson…and…the leaves persist well into mid winter.  


7. Drift Roses (Rosa ‘Meijocos’)

drift rosesI will have to admit that although I hate to admit it I do love Knock Out Roses.  I was one of their first big proponents and had a bush that was kind of secretly handed to me before they were publicly being sold.  However, in the last 10 years they have become victims of their own success and are now way over planted and used in every subdivision entrance, every front yard bed and around every park sign.  Now I feel a little guilty when I  reach out for the knock-out rose once again for the customer that says they want low maintenance year-round color.  There just is not another plant that can match up in those situations – unless – you were looking for something smaller.

From the same breeders who gave us the knockout rose we now have the Drift rose.  This is essentially a groundcover rose (around 3 feet high) with all of the great benefits of the knockout rose, but in a  smaller package.  It blooms from early spring until the first , it is disease resistant, and it is extremely cold hardy. 

I find it works great to line a walkway with when you do not want the height offered by a knockout rose.  It can also work great planted at the edge of a rocky wall.



I am going to continue this list – so check back soon – or better yet sign-up here to get regular updates.


It is COLD!


City is feeling the cold this as we experience a true Winter!

It will be interesting to see how some of the newly release in fare in this typical winter.  We haven’t had one in a  while.

Overland Park Landscaping


Repairing Damage to Kansas City Trees and Landscapes

— the life blood for , flowers and and is exactly what City gardeners pray for more than anything else.  EXCEPT when it comes down and freezes on the branches, and trunks of the trees in our .  Then it becomes a massively destructive force.

Beautiful Frozen Weeping Birch The victims are predictable, elms, , birches, and willows.  These are some of ’s favorite trees — but they are on a ’s hit list.  There wood is brittle and their growth structures is suspect.  They cannot withstand the mighty weight that puts upon their branches.

If your trees have major damage, your first course of action is to make a decision. IS THE TREE WORTH SAVING?  Look at what the damage is.

Is it major damage to an already weak tree?

Will the aesthetic value of the tree be ruined permentantly?

Will the damage make a weak tree more prone to disease and future damage?

The costs of major repairs can be the same as removing a tree altogether.  Kansas City has a plethora of UGLY trees dotting our streets and landscapes from past years growth.  Many of these trees, even under the care of a certified arborist, would not be able to saved and would have been better off if cut down and replaced with another high quality tree that would add to the homes value and looks.

Remember – -the best time to a tree was 10 years ago! The second best time is today!The next question to answer is – Can you handle the repair y0ourself? Small limbs can be easily repaired with or pole-loppers provided they are within reach. Otherwise you will have to climb a ladder up into the tree. Unfortunately – more people are killed from ladders and tree climbing in the United States than are killed skydiving – so this can be more dangerous than you might expect. Power tools should NEVER be used from a ladder since this compounds the danger incredibly. Some repairs you might consider doing yourself.Broken limbs – These should be removed back to the next major branch. Do not leave branch stubs – they lead to decay and disease.Broken tops - For trees with tops broken out, remove the snags to the next major interior branch. Generally, this will be a major fork. Avoid topping the tree to allow small side branches to grow out and continue the tree’s height growth. These branches will be weak and prone to breakage.

If the bark has been stripped from the trunk of the tree when it the ice broke the limb then cut any ragged edges off the trunk. Take care not to pull any extra bark off the tree. Cut any loose bark away with a sharp knife in the shape of an elongated football standing on it tip.

To avoid doing further damage to the trees as you cut it then this 3 step procedure should be used when cutting any heavy branches off of the tree. The first cut is made on the underneath side of the branch about 18 inches out from the trunk. The cut should be approximately half-way through the branch or until its weight first starts to bind the saw. The next cut should be made on top of the branch about 1 to 2 inches in front (toward the end of the branch) of the bottom cut. Continue cutting until the branch drops free. The last cut removes the remaining branch stub from the trunk. The cut should be made from the top of the branch at the branch collar. The collar is the slight ridge where the branch attaches to the tree’s trunk or another major branch.

Trees with split trunks or major limb forks may possibly be salvaged if the split is not too extensive. Repairing this type of damage will involve a cable and brace technique that should be left to a professional tree service. Some small to medium-sized trees may have been uprooted. It may be possible to straighten these trees and brace them with guy wires. Do not attempt this unless one-half to one-third of the tree’s original root system is still in the soil and the remaining exposed roots are relatively compact and undisturbed. Before straightening the tree, remove some of the soil from beneath the root mass so the roots will be placed below the existing grade level. Attach two to three guy wires to the trunk and anchor the wires 10 to 12 feet away from the tree. Corrective pruning to help improve the shape of damaged trees is best done now. The tree will respond quickly this if it has not been severely damaged. Take care not to remove more than one-third of original branches. This will severely retard the tree’s growth in the and may damage it beyond recovery. Treatment of the trunk and limb wounds with tree paint is not necessary. In fact, research shows that painted areas can lead to increased rot and decay due to trapped moisture in areas where the paint cracks open. You may want to fertilize your tree this spring with a good quality tree now to encourage new growth in the spring.


Preparing your Landscape for Ice Storm in Kansas City KC

may soon be pounded by a severe .  If this is the case one of things you should be prepared for is the possible damage that could happen to all the valuable and you having your can be very damaging to both people and in your . Fortunately, there is a few things you can do to prepare or protect your plants from the upcoming damage.

and Junipers

These multi stem can be protected by tying all of the leaders together in the middle. This will protect them from becoming damaged by splitting in the middle from the weight of the ice.

Small High-Value Specimen Trees (Japanese maples, etc)

These trees can be protected by placing burlap or plastic over the top of the canopy — This will distribute the weight of the ice amongst all the branches and help prevent major Breakage.

Young Trees with Low Limbs

If you have young trees with low overhanging limbs these can be supported with 2×4′s, shovels, or anything else that will help bear the weight.  Place the brace about 1/4 of the total length of the branch away from the trunk.


Shrubs, especially evergreens, can be split by the weight of ice on individual branches, I highly recommend that you go out and a piece of cord around the middle of theses shrubs and then possibly place a piece of burlap or plastic over the top of the shrub.With these few preparations your landscape will be better off if City is hit with major ice this week.  However, it won’t protect your larger trees, which are also very susceptible to losing limbs that get too heavy.   Unfortunately, there is nothing we will be able to do that will prevent these limbs from breaking off now.   If this occurs, check back with the and I will give some advice on the best way to repair damaged trees and shrubs.As Gary says, Prepare for the worst and HOPE for the best