Why Now Is The Right Time To Build Outdoors

Is there a "best time" to build a patio? YES! The best time to build a patio, outdoor kitchen or other hardscape is... "WHEN IT'S DRY!" Most people don't think about timing on hardscaping, but we do. Hardscaping is much easier for all concerned if it's done when weather is dry. Temperature doesn't effect the job nearly as much as moisture. As long as the ground isn't frozen deep, or wet and sloppy, hardscaping can be done. Generally this means that June through December are better times to build. Not only does it make for a better wall or patio foundation, it allows us to work more efficiently and with less mess. A faster, neater project leads to less frustration all around. The other big advantage to doing the work during colder temperatures is that the homeowner doesn't typically spend large amounts of time outdoors, so we're not in your way during construction. So consider doing your hardscape projects now and you can start to enjoy them when the first warm day of Spring arrives.  

 

Posted on October 3, 2013 .

The Need For Seed

This time of year my clients’ questions usually turn to seeding. Is it to early to seed? What kind of seed do I use? Should I kill the weeds first? How much should I water? These are all good questions, and it's enough to make a person crazy! The simplest answer is to call us and let us handle it all for you, but for you do-it-yourselfers, I have a few suggestions...

1) Purchase a quality broadcast spreader. (About $80-$150 for a residential grade unit)

2) Purchase 3-5 lbs. of fine blade fescue for every 1000 ft. of turf.

3) Purchase starter fertilizer. I like 18-24-12.

4) Make sure you have a quality sprinkler and plenty of hose if you don't have an irrigation system.

5) Rent an aerator and a verti-slice machine.

6) Make sure the entire lawn is watered well to facilitate high performance from the verti-slice and aerator.

7) Aerate entire lawn.

8) Verti-slice heavily thatched areas and use a hard rake to remove debris.

9) Spread seed over entire lawn at 3-5 lbs. per 1000 square feet of turf. (It should look like pepper on a potato)

10) Fertilize entire lawn with starter fertilizer as directed on the bag label.

11) Water twice daily about a 1/4 inch per area.

12) Sharpen your mower blade and wait.

Many people like to wait until September to seed, but late August works just fine. In fact, on heavily shaded lawns, August is actually better because you can have mow-able turf that has been cut several times before you start raking leaves and you don't have to clean up every time you want to water the new seed.

I honestly believe this is an operation that most people would be better served by hiring it done. The machinery is heavy and difficult to transport, as well as being exhausting to operate. Calibrating the spreader can be tricky and if you’re not careful, you end up making numerous trips to the store. The cost of having a professional do it is about $35 per thousand square feet. A 10,000 square foot lawn will cost the homeowner about $200-$250 to seed properly. It would be approximately $350 to have us do it. 

Because of the tedious nature of the operation, our results are generally much better. We also repair any sprinkler damage, re-touch areas that didn't perform well, and have the trucking available to import topsoil if you have a few low spots that need to be filled. If you do decide to do it yourself, please feel free to give us a call. We're always happy to give advice, and the best part is that it's free! 

 

Posted on August 6, 2013 .

A Rose Is A Rose

...so the poem goes. However, there are many problems with roses. Tea roses are beautiful, come in many beautiful varieties but are very high maintenance. Shrub roses, particularly knockout and double knockout roses are very beautiful and easy to maintain. Unfortunately they are dying like crazy in Kansas City and I believe that architects, homeowners and landscapers like myself carry much of the blame. In the 25 years that I have been in the green industry I have seen the same thing happen with Bradford Pears, Ash trees and Knockout roses. OVER PLANTING! I'm as guilty as anyone, but I'm doing something about it! I'm resisting the urge to plant these varieties and encouraging my customers not to use them. Bradford pears fall apart after about 20 years because they are brittle and hold their leaves well into the winter season. This compounds the weight of snow or ice in early winter storm conditions. Ash trees are susceptible to the emerald green ash borer (Chicago had to clear cut their parks and roadways) and knockout roses are vulnerable to "rose rosette" disease. This is a virus spread by a wingless mite less than 1/100th of an inch in length. Because they have been over planted almost every commercial and many residential landscapes have been affected. The only known solution is to dig out and destroy them. DO NOT COMPOST ROSES!!!! Which brings me to another potential victim: Red Maples. We are way over planting because we love their beautiful crimson foliage every fall. I feel certain that there will be a price to pay in the future. So please consider what you’re planting when deciding what to put in your landscape and as always ask a professional for advice. I hope to hear from you soon!  Mike 

 

Posted on July 11, 2013 .

Watering Do's and Don'ts

Let’s talk about water. It's that time of year to start watering the lawn, but look out! You could cause problems for your landscaping if you water incorrectly. I know most of us think that watering is simple. Just drag the hose out or hit the start button on the irrigation system, and you’re finished, right? WRONG! Different plants have different watering needs, and so does turf. Water turf deeply, and only in the morning two or three times a week. Anything more than that promotes fungus in the lawn, and that's expensive to treat. Over watering and under watering in turf and bedding plants often causes the same symptoms. Brown areas occur in the turf when either problem is present. Call us if you think you have a problem. Fungus can be difficult to diagnose. In bedding plants, under watering causes droopy, lifeless looking leaves and sometimes defoliation. Guess what? When a landscape plant is over watered it exhibits exactly the same symptoms! There are many scientific ways to test the moisture but we prefer the finger method. Stick your finger in the soil at the base of the plant. If it's dry, water. If it's muddy, don't. If you have questions, call JMP Landscape, and we'll be happy to help. Thank you again for checking us out, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Don't forget to call us for all of your irrigation, bed maintenance and shrub trimming needs!

 

Posted on June 24, 2013 .

The Secrets of Proper Mulching

Cleaning and mulching beds is a very important part of maintaining the health of any landscape. Mulch helps plants hold moisture in the root zone, provides a cooling effect in hot weather and improves the aesthetics of any property. It's important to purchase a high quality mulch from a reputable supplier. Inferior mulch may not only carry disease and insects, but can also be poorly ground and contain undesirable materials. Black walnut mulch is always a bad idea! It contains a chemical called "juglone." Juglone is a respiration inhibitor that can cause yellowing in leaves and eventual death in many plant species. (Source: University of West Virginia). Ground hardwood mulch does not provide a food source for termites. Termites prefer solid woods like the lumber used in homes and decks. When choosing mulch for a play area always use a designated "safety" mulch. It costs about twice as much, but knowing that it is free of glass, metal and other dangerous  materials makes it well worth the additional cost. Don't forget that it's best not to get mulch closer than two inches from the "weep holes" or siding on your home.The goal is to improve the home, not cause damage. 

Any benefits that mulch provides can quickly be undermined if the beds aren't properly prepared before your mulch project begins. The organic debris accumulated through Fall and Winter must be removed and disposed of before mulching operations begin. Simply burying the debris provides an excellent environment for insects, fungus and plant diseases to develop and thrive. It's important to remove material from the interior structure of the plants. It can be difficult and time consuming to perform this operation when dealing with thorny plants like roses or barberry but the improved health of the plants makes it well worth the time. Please feel free to call me if you have questions and thanks again for looking at "Mike's Garden."

Posted on March 21, 2013 .

Kansas City, It's Pre-emergent Time!

The idea behind pre-emergent lawn treatments is to make the area inhospitable for grassy weeds, like crabgrass and foxtail before they can take root in the soil. Right now, when mother nature is warming up the earth is precisely when these weeds start to wake from their winter hibernation. Once your lawn reaches ___ degrees, consider the welcome sign illuminated. Make sure you hit them with a good quality pre-emergent treatment before they move in for good.

Posted on March 12, 2013 .