Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas


Fungus Soon to be Among Us

Kansas City will soon be subjected to the ideal conditions for such as brown patch in tall fescue and summer patch in bluegrass . The moist ground combined with 80 degrees plus will be like throwing a match on disease all across Kansas City’s grass.

If you are interested I have already wrote written an article on how to identify and deal with lawn diseases

If you need any help diagnosing or treating a lawn disease that shows up in your lawn I will be happy to come out and decide on  the next best step.

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Clean-Up in the Spring Garden – Trimming the Knock-Out Roses

Knock Outs are almost Maintenance Free


Taking care of Knock-outs in Kansas City gardens is a little like parenting a very well behaved child.  Most of the time they are darling and beautiful and very well behaved.  However, occasionally you need to show them some tough love.  The tough love is not fun, can be a little prickly, and may even draw some blood.  However, your tough love will be rewarded with continued beauty and good behavior.  Put off your tough love – and it only gets harder.

The tough love that Kansas City gardeners need to show their roses is a good hard pruning in early Spring.  By hard I mean almost tot he ground. We call this rejuvenation pruning.  In most situations I suggest doing this every year.  You might get away with skipping the first year after you plant them.  However, after that – they do best if pruned every year.  I think my parenting analogy still could apply here, don’t you?

The nice thing about this hard pruning is that you really don’t need any special training – if you can cut with a  pair of scissors you can prune knockout roses.  You don’t need to know the details of growing points and inward facing canes like you would if we were doing in-season pruning of a hybrid tea rose.  All  we are going to do is cut every cane off about 6 – 12” of from the ground.

Step 1: Gather your supplies

The first step to trimming your roses is gather your supplies. I suggest that you have

  • Long sleeved shirt and pants to protect you from thorns.  (my attorney would also say I should probably suggest you wear eye protection too….but life is more fun with a little risk involved).  You’ll also want some nice heavy leather gloves.
  • A decent set of pruners.  No need to run out and buy a  $50 pair of Felco pruners.  Instead I would suggest a nice pair of  $10 pruners for this job and save the Felco’s for the important pruning.
  • Some twine to tie up your bundles.  After you cut down the roses canes – you are going to need to dispose of them and tying them in bundles works well for that.

Step 2: Approach the Naughty bush and begin cutting

Knock Out Rose that needs to be trimmed

You should now see your ugly Knock out rose Bush in your yard.  It is not pretty and it needs to be rejuvenated.  Your going to do this garden task most likely sitting down on your bum so that you can scoot in under the plant and cut each cane about 6-10” off the ground.  Notice I did not include a ruler in your needed supplies.  No need for that amount of exactness.  The canes you cut off are not going to grow any more.  However new shoots will branch off these existing canes and be your new branches. 



Knock Out Rose cut back




Step 3: Check your Work


Your newly ‘parented” roses should look like this.   All the canes are cut off approximately 10” off the ground. 





Step 3: Wait for Growth

Soon your cut off rose will begin to appreciate the tough love it ahs given and begin shooting up some new growth!  This will be the start of this summers beautiful plants!

New Growth on Knockout rose

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Top 10 Kansas City Landscape Plants

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

This plant 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 plant 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” leaves 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 leaves stay attached for most of the Winter.

This is one of my favorite plants 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 Kansas 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 landscape 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 Kansas City.  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 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 spring.  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 Spring.  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 summer.  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 indigogarden in the middle of July.  Everything else in the garden 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 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.

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Kansas City Landscaping Riddled with Webworms



Kansas City with





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




Well, you’re not alone.  They have appeared all over Kansas City 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 leaves of the tree.  Although the space where they are feeding will lose its leaves – 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.

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A Gradual Start to Spring for Kansas City Landscaping

This year, Kansas City has seen a Spring that was more gradual than in past years.  This has been good for the plants and in Kansas City .  Consistently cool Kansas City temperatures with only rare and short warm-up have allowed us to gradually slip into Spring and avoid the pitfalls of moving too fast.  like slow springs because very few plants have been hurt by April freezes this year and although it has been fairly dry the plants have faired well.  However, gradual will soon give way to rapid growth as soon as we get some heat.  Lawn Mowing will soon be the most common weekend chore for most Kansas City homeowners. 

Blue Grass and Fescue have thrived in this slightly cooler temperature.  They have been growing laterally and down for the last several weeks.  The imminent heat will spur rapid upward growth – we will soon be mowing VERY often!

One of the negatives of this low soil temperature ahs been for any new spring lawn seeding.  The grass has not grown much at all if any.  That is again due to cooler than normal soil temps.  This may not be a great thing for Spring seeded since it simply will not have the time needed to grow before summer heat sets in.  However, if my inside sources at NBC Action News are accurate, we may have a cooler than normal Summer which would be good for all of Kansas City’s

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Seeding Kansas City’s Lawns

Summer is still burning strong and we surely have several weeks left of stifling heat in Kansas City. Many of the in the city are showing the stresses of surviving yet another brutal summer of heat and dryness. If your lawn no longer looks thick and healthy or has more weeds than grass, it is time to renovate. Renovating your lawn involves removing all unwanted weeds and grass types and then reseeding with improved varieties of your choice of turf. Timing is critical for successfully renovating your lawn – late enough to avoid the worst of the summer heat yet early enough to allow ample time for growth before the freezing arrives


In Kansas City, the first week of September is usually the ideal time to seed. 


To seed your lawn properly requires a broad knowledge of grass, several different pieces of specialized equipment and a large commitment of time.  For these reasons, I suggest that homeowners contact a qualified professional who specializes in growing quality turf.  Although cost is a consideration, when you look at the time, supplies and rental fees you might quickly realize that using a pro will pay off. Every year, I am disheartened by the dozens of calls I get in late fall from homeowners who have spent hundreds of dollars and lots of hard work seeding their with poor results. I have to tell these customers that we have missed the ideal time for seeding and the repair will require considerable extra time and cost without the guarantee of superior results.


Of all the tasks needed each year, I strongly believe that lawn seeding is the most important one to be done by a professional.


When you hire a company, you will want to check their license, insurance and references to make sure you are working with a professional.  Then ask them about their seeding process.  The highest quality lawn will come from a professional who includes all of the following steps:


  • Soil Test - imperative to start by fixing and soil chemistry problems (4 weeks prior)
  • Spray Herbicide - important to control weeds prior to seeding (4 weeks prior)
  • Spray with Growth Regulator - slows down growth of existing turf so it does not compete with new grass (2 weeks prior)
  • Plant seed - prepared by first aerating and then followed with a slit seeder that will slice precise grooves into the soil creating ideal areas for seed to grow
  • Starter fertilizer and Rooting stimulant - applied to the soil to provide nutrients to emerging seedlings



Now, the professional’s work is done and it’s time to care for your newly planted lawn.  You will need to moisten the ground daily for two weeks to promote germination and then to pamper the young seedlings.  As the grass grows stronger, you will begin to establish a regular schedule of deep, thorough watering.  Proper watering is essential to your success and it involves quite a commitment – however, it is the last step to the lush, healthy lawn you envisioned when you started the renovation process. Soon you will be walking barefoot through your lawn enjoying the thick green carpet, underfoot.


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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 Kansas City, you have a landscape full of exotic plants. Your bluegrass lawn is from Europe, your beautiful Dogwood is from Japan, your lush impatiens can trace their roots back to Africa and even Kansas City’s favorite plant, the yew, can trace its lineage back to Ireland. Although all these plants can survive Kansas City’s heat and cold, they need supplemental watering to thrive. Watering each plant can seem overwhelming, but with a little knowledge and a few tips you can have a beautiful, well-watered landscape.

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


Your lawn is one of the thirstiest parts of your landscape. Most require 1” of water per week. This can either come from rainfall or supplemental watering. The most important (and most often broken) rule of lawn watering is to water deeply and infrequently. Kansas City’s most proud gardeners, with their spirits blinded by the glory of our lush spring, begin watering 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 lawn is not allowed to dry between watering, the roots of the plant grow very shallow, encouraged by the ample water and warmth at the surface. However, Kansas City’s glorious spring is only the opening act to our reliable, but dastardly summers. Shallow roots are a death sentence to your lawn. By watering only when the top 6” of soil have dried out, you will be dispensing some tough love that will result in your lawn being able to survive the summer.

For systems in Overland Park and other cities, you should be watering 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 watering 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 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 watering because of the perception that such a large plant 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 Kansas City, 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. Watering for trees should be done by observation, not a schedule. When you see signs of stress such as wilted or dropping leaves, 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 plant needs it.


Perennials have widely varying watering needs based on species and type. It is important to know the specifics for your plants when watering. 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 plants need and not a drop more.


Watering annuals is different than watering other types of plants. Annuals tend to be shallow-rooted and need ample watering 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 leaves to dry out preventing disease from hurting your plants.

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

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Japanese Maple – ‘Emperor 1″

Japanese Maple Emperor 1


This is on of my favorite trees to plant in Kansas City.  ‘Emperor I’ is very similar to ‘Bloodgood’ in growth habit, although this tree has a lighter almost translucent quality to the leaves. 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 Kansas City landsapes.  it does best if protected from hot afternoon sun.

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Clover – Kansas City Lawn Weed



Kansas City lawn with clover

is a common weed in Kansas City .  It spreads rapidly by stolons or above ground roots structures.  The plant takes root from the stolons at nodes along the stems when they come in contact with the soil. is one of the most easily identified of the common weeds in Kansas City.  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 is with good cultural practices that promote a thick healthy lawn.  Fertilizing and caring for your grass year round will make any other control of unnecessary. 

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

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

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Crabgrass annihalated from Kansas City Lawns

I have great news! Crabgrass has been eradicated from the state of Kansas. Absolutely annihilated every single plant! Not a single plant growing in anyone’s yard anywhere in the state or Kansas City. Ok here is the bad news, this is not a result of any miraculous event or secret government work. Instead, since crabgrass is a warm season annual, it all died after the first hard frost.

However, there are literally billions of small crabgrass seeds laying in wait for the soil temperature to rise to 55 degrees for 10 consecutive days. Each crabgrass plant in your yard last year produced upwards of 180,000 seeds and flung them into the air. Even if you didn’t have a single plant in your yard last year your neighbors did and they generously shared their crop of invasive weeds with you guaranteed. Don’t worry though you can outsmart the crabgrass and keep it from ruining your otherwise pristine yard. Here’s how.

The battle against crabgrass is two pronged. One uses chemical warfare to initially suppress the onslaught and the second uses good cultural practices to make your lawn uninviting and able to fight off the crabgrass gremlins before they get a chance to grow.

Before you can fight the enemy you have to know the enemy. Read the rest of this entry »

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