Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas


Clean-up the Spring Garden – Cutting back the Ornamental Grasses

need to have Ornamental Grasses trimmed back once per year!


Ornamental grasses are a favorite in ’s …and for good reason.  They provide beauty throughout the year with relatively little maintenance.  The one "chore” required in order to keep them looking their best is that they need to be cut back each Spring so that the new growth can grow and the old stuff can be composted.  If you leave the old and stems – The grasses will still grow and the old will slowly fall off and spread themselves around your yard!

This video shows a few hints when you are cutting down the grasses in your yard.





There are a few things I wish I would have shown more clearly on the video.  First – what the grasses looked like once they were cut down.  I like to cut them about 6” off the ground.    They should look like this.




Any other questions – let me know how I can help.

Related posts


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 Winter.

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

Magnolias often come and go as peoples favorite .  However, this one has and always will be my  favorite for planting in .  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 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 is a 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 July.  By September they had pushed 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 KC winters.   They will die back to the ground in the winter and begin to grow again in the spring.  The more protection you give them the bigger they will get the following year because you will protect more of the – giving it a head start on next years growth. I try to protect several of the biggest so they will grow as large as possible the following Spring.  I protect them by building 4’ tall  cages around them and filling them with .  This si the secret to really big .  However, even unprotected will reach 10’  

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


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

I would choose this 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 has small bluish green that are highly fragrant that smells like mint.  The 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 summer.  The blooms are a pale lavender and spread across the 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 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

I was not immediately impressed.  The 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 people always notice when they walk around and see that part of my .

Baptisia has since proved its worthiness in many designs and ahs often become a favorite to use in designs.  It does have it quirks though.  Number one – it is a that you have to 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 . During one of these ‘experiments’ I was spraying a mixture of compost tea and iron on  few in my around the Baptisia – and it turned black over night – the entire .  The 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 that fits into almost every in some part.  In order for a 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 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 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 frost, 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.

Related posts


Preparing for Early Fall Freeze for Kansas city Landscape

Frost coming to

Frosted Grass and Leaves

For your plants — the transition into winter is a dramatic and often sudden one that is dictated by the first frost or freeze. As the caretaker of plants, there is very little you need to do in order to protect your plants from a frost or freeze unless you are simply trying too eek out a few more days/weeks before the inevitable end.

This may be true if we have a particularly early frost or freeze. Most plants can be best protected by erecting a tent around a plant. The ideal material for the tent is a thick insulating cloth that covers the plant completely all the way to the ground. It is important NOT to use plastic because it does not insulate well and can further damage by trapping moisture close to the plant therefore increasing damage caused by forming frost crystals.

Many of the plants we love to plant in the fall are chosen especially because they are fairly frost tolerant. Flowers such as pansy, kale, ornamental cabbage, Hardy Mums are all frost tolerant and can extend the beauty of your garden by several weeks. A complete list of frost tolerant plants

Your lawn will not be so strongly affected by the frost. Its correlation with lowering soil temperatures will have an effect but the actual grass tissue will likely not be harmed by the frost in any way. The only caveat to this is that if you walk on frosted turf you can damage the grass blades and they will turn brown if conditions are just right. This is because when you step on the turf while frost is on the grass, you can explode the frozen tissue causing it to die away. This is just cosmetic damage but can stay visible for a long time until next Spring when new growth replaces the killed tissues.

My primary suggestion when dealing with fall frost is to allow nature to decide when its time for this years growing season will end — knowing some seasons will be longer and other will be shorter.

Related posts


Kansas City Landscaping Riddled with Webworms








Have you seen webs in your trees that look similar to this?




Well, you’re not alone.  They have appeared all over this summer.  The good news is they are relatively harmless tot eh trees they are in.  They are the protective casings made by caterpillars while they feed on the of the tree.  Although the space where they are feeding will lose its – next season you will not even be able to tell they are there.

They especially like birch, walnut and ash tress in my experience.


Here is a quick video that shows webworms alive in there webs.



Spraying is not necessary.  If they are unsightly – a broom works well to remove them from trees.

Related posts


Leaves falling on Kansas City Lawns

A gift has been bequeathed to you. As part of this gift, each homeowner in will be given over 200 pounds of this miracle product –guaranteed to revitalize your soil, allow it to store more moisture, improve soil structure and provide high grade . The gift will fall from above and scatter itself over your . Many of your neighbors will even freely share with you – some even purposely blowing this gift into your yard.

If you haven’t yet figured it out, this gift is the from trees.

Leaves in Overland Park Lawn

The sad thing is hundreds of people will throw this gift out. Collect it, bag it and put it on the curb.

Instead of raking and bagging those bulky , save yourself some time and put them to good use as a natural mulch and soil amendment from your .

I suggest two ways of utilizing this gift for your based on your personality type. To determine your personality type, consider the cast of the popular TV sitcom Friends’. If your personality type mirrors the character of Monica, you are Type A. If you are more closely aligned with Joey, then you are type B. If you do not know what the show Friends is, you can assume you are Type A.

The Monica Personalities

Since you are very concerned with every detail of your , the best way for you to use your is by regularly mowing your with the bag attached. Use a mower with a bag attachment to quickly gather your and shred them into mulch. This will vacuum and clean your as well as shred the at the same time. These shredded are more valuable than gold for all the in your . They can be piled in vegetable gardens to be tilled in later or they can be added as mulch in perennial gardens. Then spread these up to 12" deep in your gardens. Mulching with conserves moisture, controls weeds and grasses, protects against extreme heat and cold, and prevents soil erosion. Additionally, they can be composted in a compost pile to be used later.

The Joey Personalities

As a Type B personality you are focused on long term results of your . You are willing to deal with a little bit of shredded leaf clutter on the knowing that in the long run your will look better and be healthier. Mow your with a mulching mower regularly. The mulching mower will shred the into fine particles which will filter down through the blades of grass onto your where they will disappear and benefit the soil. With regular mulch mowing, many homeowners would never have to rake their as an acre of can recycle the of 60 trees.

Either of these methods is paramount to the old standby of raking and trashing your . By raking and trashing you are adding immense amounts of waste to our landfills and depriving your of necessary nutrients and organic matter. But more importantly, at least to all of us TYPE B’s in the world; it is a whole lot less work! There is only one reason I can see where raking is ever necessary. If you have small children, it is imperative that you rake the largest pile of you can possibly assemble in the middle of the yard. Then, spend at least 3 hours jumping in and redistributing them all over your yard before mowing them by one of the methods mentioned above.

Enjoy the gifts that fall from the sky this autumn and make sure you fully utilize them to make your more healthy and lush.

Related posts


Watering Kansas City Landscapes

Quick, look out your window! Your Kansas City lawn is inhabited by exotic residents from faraway lands. They have come from all corners of the globe and they plan on staying. They will require you to take care of them. No use complaining, after all, you not only invited them, you planted them. If you are like most homeowners in , you have a full of exotic . Your bluegrass is from Europe, your beautiful Dogwood is from Japan, your lush impatiens can trace their roots back to Africa and even ’s favorite , the yew, can trace its lineage back to Ireland. Although all these can survive ’s heat and cold, they need supplemental to thrive. each can seem overwhelming, but with a little knowledge and a few tips you can have a beautiful, well-watered .

By dividing your into four categories, you will better able to manage your needs.


Your is one of the thirstiest parts of your . Most require 1” of water per week. This can either come from rainfall or supplemental . The most important (and most often broken) rule of is to water deeply and infrequently. ’s most proud gardeners, with their spirits blinded by the glory of our lush spring, begin their religiously. Convincing themselves that if they can get their green enough now – they will stay green through the summer. Unfortunately, every ounce of excess water they throw on the grass in the early spring is deadly. If the soil in the is not allowed to dry between , the roots of the grow very shallow, encouraged by the ample water and warmth at the surface. However, ’s glorious spring is only the opening act to our reliable, but dastardly summers. Shallow roots are a death sentence to your . By only when the top 6” of soil have dried out, you will be dispensing some tough love that will result in your being able to survive the summer.

For irrigation systems in and other cities, you should be every as little as possible but as deep as possible.  I usually start by suggesting that homeowners try to water 3/4″ for each zone on two consecutive days.  So they will water on Monday and Tuesday and not again for the rest of the week.  This long deep and infrequent si the kept to healthy grass all summer long.  If you grass cannot quite make it through the whole week without looking wilted then you can give another 3/4 inch on Friday.  To get 3/4″ of water from an irrigation system usually requires atleast 40 minutes on rotors and 20 minutes on spray heads.  However, every sytem is differnt and you should ideally measure how long it takes for yuor sytem to apply that amount of water. Use a straight sided container placed out in the middle of the sprinklers zone and turn it on and let it run until it has fille dup with 3/4″ of water.  That is how long it will need to run.


Trees and are often ignored when it comes to because of the perception that such a large must be able to pull water from deep down in the soil. However, most of a tree’s roots are in the top 3 feet of the soil. Although trees can and will survive in , supplementing their water just few times through the year will reward you with increased growth, enhanced beauty and bolstered resistance to disease and stress. Typically, trees will need a little extra water in the middle of the winter and a couple times during the hottest part of the summer. for trees should be done by observation, not a schedule. When you see signs of stress such as wilted or dropping , apply 3” of water to the area under the braches. This can be done with a well-adjusted impact sprinkler or a soaker hose. The method of application is not as important as making sure ample water is applied where and when the needs it.


Perennials have widely varying needs based on species and type. It is important to know the specifics for your when . These can generally be learned by talking to your favorite or nursery. However, there is still a guideline that will lead you to the healthiest and most beautiful flowers – water only as much as your need and not a drop more.


annuals is different than other types of . Annuals tend to be shallow-rooted and need ample to thrive. Annuals should be watered when they first show signs of stress. In the heat of the summer, may mean every day. If you water annuals from overhead, do so early in the day. this This allows the to dry out preventing disease from hurting your .

Water is the most important gift you can give the exotic residents of your . You will be rewarded with beautiful, healthy that can thrive year round in Kansas’ foreign .

Related posts


Japanese Maple – ‘Emperor 1″

Japanese Maple Emperor 1


This is on of my favorite trees to in ‘Emperor I’ is very similar to ‘Bloodgood’ in growth habit, although this tree has a lighter almost translucent quality to the . It holds its red color well throughout the summer months, and has a brilliant crimson fall display. It grows to about a maximum of 15 feet tall and 7 feet wide.    This tree does very well in landsapes.  it does best if protected from hot afternoon sun.

Related posts


Clover – Kansas City Lawn Weed



Kansas City lawn with clover

Clover is a common weed in .  It spreads rapidly by stolons or above ground roots structures.  The takes root from the stolons at nodes along the stems when they come in contact with the soil. Clover is one of the most easily identified of the common weeds in .  It tends to grow in dense patches in that are not especially thick.  It needs consistently moist ground to survive and prefers soils low in nitrogen.  It has white or slightly pink flowers during late summer and early fall.  The flowers are a favorite of bees and other nectar sucking insects.


The best way to prevent clover is with good cultural practices that promote a thick healthy .  Fertilizing and caring for your grass year round will make any other control of clover unnecessary. 

To control clover chemically,  use any product that contains 2-4d and carfentrazone.  As important as the herbicide when spraying clover, is the use of a great spreader/sticker.  Clover has a very waxy film over its that can make control hard if the proper additives are not used.

do not need to have clover if they are well cared for and taken care of.

Related posts


Kansas City Landscaping about to Freeze

in will soon be hitting the deep freeze.   Well, maybe not the deep freeze.  However even with temperatures reaching down into upper 20′s — it is important to have all the information necessary.

First of all this is not at all like the freeze of 2007 — although the dates are not that different.  The difference lies in the of March.  In 2007, ’s was unseasonably warm.  were a good 3 – 4 weeks ahead of normal development.  Last year I already had Iris blooms poking up in my yard.  This year, I barely have coming through last falls .  Freezing temperatures this weekend will only be a slight problem for and homeowners in .

Different will need different amounts of care this weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related posts


Henbit – Kansas City Lawn Weed

Henbit in Kansas City LawnHenbit flower Kansas City Lawn

This week’s weed of the week is henbit. Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule, is a winter annual. Right now Henbit is growing and showing itself in . Some defining characteristics of henbit is square stems, and a pink to purple flower. The are round to heart-shaped with a rounded tooth leaf margin. Henbit can develop stems up to sixteen inches in length. Henbit can be frustrating for homeowners because it is often the one of the first weeds they see and it also is most prolici when are at their weakest. A good fertilization and care program will help keep henbit out of your .

Related posts