Kansas City Landscaping and Lawn Care Ideas

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Ready to Renovate Your Lawn?

 

Important steps to a makeover

is still burning strong and we surely have several weeks left of stifling heat in . Many of the lawns in the city are showing the stresses of surviving yet another brutal of heat and dryness. If your no longer looks thick and healthy or has more weeds than grass, it is time to renovate.

Renovating your 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 – late enough to avoid the worst heat yet early enough to allow ample time for growth before the freezing weather arrives. In , the first week of September is usually the ideal time to seed, to seed your 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 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 care tasks needed each year, I strongly believe that seeding is the most important one to be done by a professional. When you hire a 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 will come from a professional who includes all of the following steps:

  • Soil Test – imperative to start by fixing and soil chemistry problems
  • 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 – using a specialized slit seeder that precisely meters and places seed in the soil for maximum germination
  • 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 . 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 through . Proper is essential to your ’s success and it involves quite a commitment – however, it is the last step to the lush, healthy you envisioned when you started the renovation process. Soon you will be walking barefoot through your enjoying the thick green carpet, underfoot.

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Kansas Lawns suffer from Heat in Johnson County

 

Lawns suffer from Heat – Now What?

 

If your is like most in City then it is suffering!  The Hottest July in several years followed by the wettest Spring of several years has been particularly devastating to our lawns.  The super wet spring caused many problems from Lawn Diseases and reduced root mass.  This followed up by 16 days of temps over 95 degrees was a perfect storm of death for turf.

The good news though is that relief is around the corner and lawns are very resilient.  The course of action will depend on the severity of damage.  Most lawns I see will likely recover from some intensive care this fall.  Others, will need more than intensive care and will need to be reseeded.  How do you tell?  First – decide – what type of do you have?  Fescue, bluegrass, or I have no idea.

Bluegrass

If you have a bluegrass then it will recover quite quickly thanks to the quick growing rhizomes.  If dead spots in your are less than the size of a dinner plate then you can help it along by fertilizing 3 times this fall — September, October and November.   September and October I would use an organic based fertilizer such as Bradfields or Milorganite.  In December apply a mineral based fertilizer that gets it’s nitrogen from urea since the soil temperatures will have cooled off the microbes and they will not break down organic fertilizers.  In addition, I would aerate in September when doing your first fertilizer treatment. 

If damage is bigger than a dinner plate, then in addition to the above program you may also want to over seed with a  great gold-tag bluegrass mix. 

Fescue

Fescue lawns will not recover as quickly as a bluegrass since they do not have the ability to spread by rhizomes.  However, if damage is limited to spots smaller than a softball then intensive care of fertilizing in September, October and November can be quite helpful.  However, if the damage is larger than a softball you will need to so some overseeding.  I will write an article soon on the best practices for seeding lawns. 

I Have No Idea

If you do not know what type of grass you have then it is probably safe to assume it is a Fescue mix and should follow the guidelines above.

Another part of this to consider is that if you have that is more than 50% weeds, then the best course of action would be to completely kill the and start over.  This is not as hard as it sounds and will give you a greats tart to a beautiful !

 

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Kansas City gardeners should not have to deal with inferior Garden Hoses!

 

Landscapes Need Water! – Use a Good Hose

 

One of the things I have noticed in spending a lot of time renovating landscapes around City this is that homeowners have terrible hoses.  Most probably don’t realize what they are missing by using these inferior devices!

 

Here are some tips:

Spend money on  hose that will last

A $10 hose from Wal Mart will work well for a year or so then you will be replacing it.  A $70 hose will work better from day one and will last a lifetime. The money you are spending on hoses provides several very real benefits.  Thicker rubber for less kinks and better usability, strong solid brass fitting for easy on and off attaching, and a good outer covering.  This si one place where spending money almost always means a better products.  (except for gimmick hoses – read further)

Size Matters

Hoses generally come in diameters range from 3/8, to 1 inch. The smaller the diameter, the less water the hose will deliver in a given period, and the difference can be significant. For instance, at 50 psi (average household water pressure), a 3/4" hose delivers 3.5 gallons in 10 seconds, while a 1/2" hose delivers one and a third gallons in the same time.You want as much water to be delivered as possible.  You can always turn it down at the faucet.  Buy 3/4”

 

When it comes to length you want one long enough to reach as far as you need – but not any longer.  Since the water has to travel through the entire length of the hose no mater where you are , a hose that’s too long just adds weight for you and diminishes the water flow through the hose.  A good idea is measure from your hose spigot to the farthest place your hose will need to reach and then round up to either 25, 50, 0r 75 feet.

 

Couplings are Important

The better hoses will have large solid brass fittings that turn easily and are easy to turn on and off.   This will dramatically reduce the frustration that goes along with inferior quality hoses.

Accessories make all the Difference

We’re talking manifolds, sprayers, and sprinklers.  These also follow the same adage as above.  More money almost always means better quality.  Don’t buy cheap plastic wands instead buy high quality rugged sprayers.  My favorite nozzle is this one.

 

Its sturdy, strong and simple.  By turning the end you have a full range of patterns from stream to spray.

 

I use these on nearly every faucet I use.  They are great for attaching multiple hoses to one faucet.  Make sure and buy the solid brass ones – plastic will break almost immediately.

 

 

These are nice to have at the end of your hose so you can turn off the hose switch ends without going back to the faucet to turn off and then back on. 

Gilmour Brass Garden Hose Connector With Shut-Off Valve 03V


The Cart Before the Hose

This is one place I have not found a  great solution.  Hose carts and Hose reels are important because they make using a hose easier and keeps the inevitable tangles from making hose use frustrating.  However, I have found very few that are strong enough to last.  Please leave a comment and let me know if you have found a hose reel that was strong and easy to work. 

 

The bottom line.

Buy a high quality 3/4” hose with all brass coupling and then add some high quality accessories and the garden chores where a hose is need will seem less tedious!  …and your landscaper will appreciate you even more for it!

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Big Trees possible to be planted in Kansas City

 

Big Trees

 

 

The two trees on the left were planted 5 years ago as part of a project I worked on with a  customer.    These trees were planted by Instant Shade using a large tree spade.  If you want a large tree – this is a great option!

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Fungus Soon to be Among Us

City Lawns will soon be subjected to the ideal conditions for diseases such as brown patch in tall fescue and patch in bluegrass lawns. The moist ground combined with 80 degrees plus will be like throwing a match on disease all across 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 disease that shows up in your I will be happy to come out and decide on  the next best step.

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

Landscapes need to have Ornamental Grasses trimmed back once per year!

 

Ornamental grasses are a favorite in ’s Landscapes…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.

 

ornamental-grass-done-trimming

 

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

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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 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 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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Who will win a FREE landscape design?

A contest is underway at our Facebook Fan page to see who will have a FREE landscape design created for them by

Visit us and cast a vote for who you would like to see win!

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

This is one of my favorite 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 landscapes.  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 .  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 winters.   They will die back to the ground in the 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 .  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 that are highly fragrant 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 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 persist well into mid .  

 

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 dodged a bullet

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 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 City are going to suffer from this cold. 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, crape myrtles, azaleas, rhododendrons and other . These are all plants better suited to Zone 6. They may have done quite well in 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 plants will still be stressed. Boxwoods, yews, and many will likely show some damage come next spring from the prolonged cold weather 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 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 to help protect them. Lastly, to help plants 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 plants begin to heal their wounds.

This spring will be quite revealing as we learn a lesson of what plants truly are able to survive 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 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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