Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas


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

Magnolias 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 .  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 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 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 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 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 zone maps if we approach -20 degrees. Plants are rated to their zones based on laboratory tests as well as the experiences of growers in the fields. Plants rated as hardy to generally survive low temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees. Zone 6 plants are only expected to survive to -10 degrees.

Of course, zones are only part of the answer to how your plants will during this cold snap. Zones define large areas, but not small microclimates that exist around your home. If your plants 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 plants 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 plants. We both agreed that a few of the standouts are plants 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 plants that are going to be strongly affected are southern Magnolias such as Bracken Brown Beautys, , azaleas, rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens. These are all plants better suited to Zone 6. They may have done quite well in Kansas City the last several years, but will be well-tested this winter to see if they have enough protection to survive the extremes.

Even a few proven plants 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 plants 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 trees such as Zelkova, Golden 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 plants now. If your plants went into the winter relatively healthy and unstressed they will have a much better chance of survival than if they were stressed already. Newly planted plants will have a harder time than older, more established plants. 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 plants. Another option that can be helpful is to build a windscreen around broadleaf evergreens to help protect them. Lastly, to help plants bounce back as much as possible, give them a good slow soaking of as soon as the ground thaws and repeat at least monthly throughout the winter. This will help immensely as your plants begin to heal their wounds.

This will be quite revealing as we learn a lesson of what plants 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 plants 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 post. I enjoy talking to other plant lovers and answering any questions you might have.

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Snow is good for Kansas City’s Lawns and Landscapes

Kansas City has had a record storm this week. Gary Lezak reports that most areas received between 10 and 14 inches in Kansas City. Although can be a hassle for traveling and moving around in, it is GREAT for plants.

Not only does the insulate the plants crowns from widely swinging temperature extremes, it also will add important winter moisture applied slowly and evenly.

You can even help your plants out with extra moisture by choosing where you toss the when shoveling your walks and driveways. By piling it on flower gardens and around trees you will be giving them extra moisture. However, if you used any kind of deicer or melting product, be very careful as concentrating these in one area could be harmful. Here is a great article on using deicers around your plants.

About the only time can be damaging is if it stays around for weeks and weeks without melting it can cause some disease issues. However, in Kansas City we rarely see stick around for longer than a week before it melts away.

So enjoy the and rest well knowing that your plants are well taken care of while you enjoy them from the outside.

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Preparing for Early Fall Freeze for Kansas city Landscape

Frost coming to Kansas City

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.

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It is COLD!


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

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

Overland Park Landscaping

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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 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 is one of the thirstiest parts of your landscape. Most lawns require 1” of per week. This can either come from rainfall or supplemental watering. The most important (and most often broken) rule of watering is to 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 they throw on the grass in the early is deadly. If the soil in the is not allowed to dry between watering, the roots of the plant grow very shallow, encouraged by the ample 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 . By watering 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 .

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 3/4″ for each zone on two consecutive days.  So they will 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 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 . 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 .  That is how long it will need to run.


Trees and shrubs are often ignored when it comes to watering because of the perception that such a large plant must be able to pull 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 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 in the middle of the winter and a couple times during the hottest part of the . 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 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 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 landscaper or nursery. However, there is still a guideline that will lead you to the healthiest and most beautiful flowers – 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 , may mean every day. If you annuals from overhead, do so early in the day. this This allows the leaves to dry out preventing disease from hurting your plants.

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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Kansas City Landscaping about to Freeze

in Kansas City 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, Kansas City’s was unseasonably warm.  Plants 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 leaves coming through last falls leaves.  Freezing temperatures this weekend will only be a slight problem for landscapers and homeowners in Kansas City.

Different plants will need different amounts of care this weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

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April Freeze Effects Kansas City Landscaping

It’s hard to believe that the killing April freeze of 2007 was one year ago today in Kansas City. It devastated so much of Kansas City . Many of the trees and shrubs that were hurt never recovered. Japanese Maples were one of the most dramatically effected plants. Most of the maples died back considerably and did not look good last year. I recommended that most of my customers wait until fall and then cut back the dead wood and see how they look. However, it has become apparent that most of them will lose there attractiveness and it will take years until they look good again. Most people will end up replacing them.

Japanese maples are still good choices for Kansas City . The combination of climatic features that led to the April freeze were rare and will likely never happen to that degree again.

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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 Kansas city. Some defining characteristics of henbit is square stems, and a pink to purple flower. The leaves 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 Kansas city lawns are at their weakest. A good fertilization and care program will help keep henbit out of your .

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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 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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