Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas

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Kansas City Landscaping dodged a bullet

Kansas City gardeners can breathe a sigh of relief that we did not reach the forecasted lows last of week of -20. For many years, we have been lulled into thinking that we may have shifted into zone 6. However, it only takes one very cold night to ensure that we are truly a area. The plant hardiness zones are based on the average lowest temperatures for a 10 year period. We are about to reset those if we approach -20 degrees. are rated to their zones based on laboratory tests as well as the experiences of growers in the fields. rated as hardy to generally survive low temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees. Zone 6 are only expected to survive to -10 degrees.

Of course, zones are only part of the answer to how your will during this cold snap. Zones define large areas, but not small microclimates that exist around your home. If your lie in a low lying area or out on a windswept plain, they are going to have considerably more exposure to cold temperatures than if they are nestled in a protected courtyard, along a south facing wall or on the wayward side of a hill.

That being said, many in Kansas City are going to suffer from this cold. Dan Simmons of Show-Me Horticulture and I were talking about what effect this could have on . We both agreed that a few of the standouts are that have started being popular at retail nurseries lately despite being unproven (or proven poorly) to thrive with very such as this years. A few that are going to be strongly affected are southern such as Bracken Brown Beautys, crape myrtles, azaleas, rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens. These are all better suited to Zone 6. They may have done quite well in Kansas City the last several years, but will be well-tested this to see if they have enough protection to survive the extremes.

Even a few proven will still be stressed. Boxwoods, yews, and many broadleaf evergreens will likely show some damage come next from the prolonged cold combined with dry winds that we have experienced over the last several weeks. Another group of that will very likely show some signs of stress will be some of the ornamental grasses such as the ornamental fescues, the Japanese Silver grasses and the fountain grasses. Some of the larger such as Zelkova, Golden Rain Tree, dogwoods and redbuds could suffer some superficial damage to outermost branches as well.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to protect your now. If your went into the relatively healthy and unstressed they will have a much better chance of survival than if they were stressed already. Newly planted will have a harder time than older, more established . The that is insulating the ground is the biggest protection we have right now and this can be bolstered if you are inclined to pile around the crowns of your most valuable . Another option that can be helpful is to build a windscreen around broadleaf evergreens to help protect them. Lastly, to help bounce back as much as possible, give them a good slow soaking of water as soon as the ground thaws and repeat at least monthly throughout the . This will help immensely as your begin to heal their wounds.

This will be quite revealing as we learn a lesson of what truly are able to survive Kansas City’s coldest temperatures. We will be better gardeners if we observe and learn from what nature teaches this week and choose that will thrive in Kansas City even during when it is at its coldest.

If you have any questions, please feel free to visit me at www.HamonsLandscaping.com or posting questions as a comment to this blog post. I enjoy talking to other plant lovers and answering any questions you might have.

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Overland Park Lawns suffer from Brown Patch

Lawns all across Overland Park are suffering from a disease known as Brown Patch Rhizoctonia solani.

Overland Park lawn with Brown Patch

brown patch tall fescue kansas City lawn

 

Brown Patch is a serious infection on Type Tall Fescue lawns that often can be clearly identified by the large circular brown patches that quickly appear in a lawn.  Unfortunately – what often happens when homeowners ere these patches appear they assume drought stress – since brown patchy usually appears during the first very hot humid stretch of the year.  However, this usually will only help spread the disease further since Brown patch thrives in lawns that are moist for a prolonged amount of time when night time temps remain above 70 degrees.

 

The good news is that Brown patch rarely kills the entire plant and rather just causes leaf tissue damage and a thinning of the – which will recover once fall brings cooler temperatures and more vigorous grown back to Kansas City’s lawns.

Once Brown Patch is present follow these recommendations in order of importance:

  • Stop all overhead watering except in the early morning hours.
  • Bag grass clippings and dispose of them off site. 
  • Use a fungicide such as Prostar, Bayleton of Daconil.  These are expensive and only somewhat useful as a curative.
  • Once Brown Patch has stopped spreading – fertilize with a  light .25#/n dose of nitrogen from an  organic source such as Miloganite, Bradfield’s or Espoma. 

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      Frost Hardiness of Kansas City Plants

       

      Here are some general guidelines for the hardiness of in Kansas City Gardens

      Vegetables

      Hardy Tolerant Tender Warm Loving
      Asparagus Beet Snap Bean Lima Bean
      Collards Broccoli Sweet Corn Cucumber
      Endive Brussels Sprouts Tomato Eggplant
      Kale Cabbage   Muskmelon
      Kohlrabi Carrot   Okra
      Lettuce Cauliflower   Pepper
      Mustard Celeriac   Pumpkin
      Pea Celery   Squash
      Potato Chard   Sweet Potato
      Rhubarb Onion   Watermelon
      Rutabaga Parsnip    
      Salsify Radish    
      Spinach      
      Turnip      

      Annuals

      Hardy Tolerant Tender Warm Loving
      Corn Flower Black Eyed Susan Aster Ageratum
      Ornamental Cabbage Calendula Nicotiana Balsam
      Pansy Coreopsis Petunia Begonia
      Primrose Dianthus Scabiosa Celosia
      Violet Snap Dragon Statice Cosmos
      Sweet Pea Sweet Alyssum Impatiens
      Torenia Verbena Lobelia
      Marigold
      Portulaca
      Phlox
      Salvia
      Vinca
        Zinnia

      Thank you to the University of Purdue for supplying information needed to create this informative chart.

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      Seeding Kansas City’s Lawns

      is still burning strong and we surely have several weeks left of stifling heat in Kansas City. Many of the lawns in the city are showing the stresses of surviving yet another brutal 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 . Timing is critical for successfully renovating your lawn – late enough to avoid the worst of the 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 .  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 lawns 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 lawn care 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 lawn care 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 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 lawns 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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      Kansas City Lawn and Landscape Watering Guidelines

      Kansas City’s Lawns and Landscapes will benefit dramatically if you know how to properly water them. There is no other homeowner controlled aspect of caring for your more critical than proper irrigation. It is also the number one mistake I see Kansas City homeowners doing

      It is essential to first understand what your want in an ideal world. Most of our lawns and landscapes in Kansas City will thrive on 1.5” of water per week. This can come from either rainfall or irrigation. Ideally 1.5 inches would be applied in one long and slow watering. However, in Kansas City, our clay based soils have a hard time absorbing more than ½ inch of water per hour before water begins to run off the surface so we have to water very slowly – hard for sprinklers to do – or water on multiple days in smaller amounts. Counter intuitively, we want these watering cycles to be on successive days, not spread evenly through out the week since our goal is to water deep into the ground and not to keep the surface moist.

      Knowing how much water we need is the first step – the next step is knowing how to apply that water and for how long. Most homeowners will either be applying water by manual sprinklers or an automatic irrigation system. Both require you to know how much water is applied in a given amount of time by your system.

      To measure the output of your sprinkler heads…

      1. Set a container with straight sides (I use a butter dish) in the middle of the sprinklers path. a Turn on the sprinkler and monitor the amount of water in the container.
      2. Turn off the sprinkler when the amount of water in the can has reached one inch (measure with a ruler – it can be deceiving)
      3. This is how much water that sprinkler system puts out in one hour.


      Now, I know most of you will not take the time to accurately measure out your sprinklers output – despite its importance. So here are some rules of thumb for determining your sprinklers output. For automatic irrigation systems – spray heads (the ones that pop up and don’t move) typically need about 45 mins to put down 1” of water and rotors (the ones that sweep back and forth) need about 2 hours. So a generic program that I suggest for my customers is designed to put down 1.5” of water spread between 3 separate watering cycles. I set it so that the lawn gets watered Monday, Tuesday and Friday. This is a good compromise of watering deeply but also making sure that the water does not run off.. I set zones with spray heads to come on for 30 mins and zones with rotors to come on for 60 mins. This is adjusted if the soil is unable to absorb this amount of water. Also, all watering should be done to supplement mother nature. If she gives us ½” of rain then you can reduce watering by that amount.

      For those of us unlucky souls who do not have automatic irrigation it takes a much longer to water our lawns. Most of the typical impact sprinklers used if set on full circle put out about 1/3 of an inch per hour. Since they water slower they can be left on longer. I usually suggest you water twice a week for 2 hours before moving the sprinkler. If you are only using the sprinkler in a half circle then you can cut that in half

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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 . 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 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.

      Turf

      Your lawn is one of the thirstiest parts of your landscape. Most lawns 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 , begin watering their lawns religiously. Convincing themselves that if they can get their lawns green enough now – they will stay green through the . Unfortunately, every ounce of excess water they throw on the grass in the early 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 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 .

      For irrigation 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 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/shrubs

      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 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, will need a little extra water in the middle of the and a couple times during the hottest part of the . Watering for 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 plant needs it.

      Perennials

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

      Annuals

      Watering annuals is different than watering other types of . 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 , 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 landscape. You will be rewarded with beautiful, healthy that can thrive year round in Kansas’ foreign landscape.

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      Simple but Elegant Rain Garden Project in Kansas City

      Kansas City Rain Garden

      Rain Gardens can be a great way to solve landscaping problems in Kansas City.  landscapers can use them to effectively deal with that have been plaguing homeowners for years and are often  better solution than simply sending the water further down the hill to the neighbors yard.

      Here is a concept rendering for a rain garden I will be installing soon in a customer’s landscape.  I will chronicle this build and update the blog with its progress including before and after shots.

      If you have any questions about rain gardens please be sure to leave a comment and I would be happy to share what I know,.

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      Kansas City Landscaping get ready for Heat

      It is time for Kansas City Landscapers to prepare for the heat.  forecasts are showing that Kansas City will soon be hitting 90 degrees for the first time this year.  This tends to be a  tipping point for the lawns and landscapes.

      You can help your and lawn care service by taking care of your lawns watering needs.

      New or

      Water new or when the top 3″ of the soil dries out completely.  Water the slowly and deeply allowing the entire root system to become soaked.  larger take more time.

      This is very important.  You cannot give a time to water because every soil will absorb water at a different rate.  The goal is to water the entire root system and then let the entire roots ystem dry out just before adding new water.

      Lawns

      Lawns should be water with 1″ of water per week.  This is best done with one long slow watering if your soil will absorb that much water.  Most Kansas City lawns will do just fine with one long irrigation.  Depending on the type of sprinkler being used — This may require up to 1 hour of watering.  It is best to measure the water rather than guessing.  I use a straight sided margarine tub placed int he middle of the sprinklers path to tell.

      Watering is an essential part of maintaining your landscapes.   It does not have to be difficult but it does have to be consistent and done correctly.  If you have any watering questions feel free to leave a comment to this post and I would be happy o help you out.

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      Kansas City Landscaper’s Favorite Plant — Cole’s Prostrate Hemlock

      When I am designing a Kansas City landscape I try to use unusual in ordinary places and ordinary in unusual places.  This plant is one that tends to be on the unusual side.  I love how it adds instant age to a new landscape.  It is slow growing and has relatively few pest problems in Kansas City’s Landscapes.

      I have found this plant is an excellent choice for may of my landscape designs when I am looking to add an interesting and hardy low growing plant.

      Coles Prostrate Hemlock

      Key Benefits
      This evergreen spreads along the ground showing a unige and interesting mix of branches and needles. Adds age and character to anew garden.



      Average Landscape Size
      Slow grower to 1 ft. tall and 4’ wide.


      Water Needs
      Water regularly, when top 3 in. of soil is dry.


      Sun Exposure
      Full to part shade sun


      Cold Hardiness
      -30 to -20 F

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      Aeration Essential for Kansas City Lawns

      Look out your window. Do you see the millions of gasping, choking organisms yelling for help? You didn’t do it on purpose, but slowly you have contributed to the painful suffocation of your prized Kansas City lawn. The incriminating activities have seemed innocent enough; children playing on the lawn, weekly mowing, and diligent fertilization. However, the traffic of people and mowers has compacted the soil and eliminated all of the small spaces found throughout healthy soil. Without these spaces, oxygen has not been able to penetrate into the root system of the grass. Additionally, the use of chemical fertilizers has dramatically reduced the amount of living microorganisms naturally oxygenating the soil. To verify that your lawn suffers from compaction problems, take the largest flat tipped screwdriver you have and push it into the ground. If it does not go down at least 3” with ease, then your lawn is in serious trouble. Luckily, you don’t have to continue to watch your lawn suffer. You can give it CPR and revive it with core aeration.

      To core aerate your lawn, Read the rest of this entry »

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